The proposed renaming of my law school—heretofore GMU School of Law, henceforth Antonin Scalia Law School—has met with resistance among faculty members elsewhere at GMU. My colleague Lloyd Cohen has described the contretemps and ably defended both Justice Scalia and the renaming decision in the Wall Street Journal.
What of the opposition?
The faculty members’ protest letter complains that “[a]s a Supreme Court Justice, Scalia enacted direct harms to many in our student body, especially students of color, women, and LGBT students.” Indeed.
Who are these people? You can meet some of them here. Worth a visit, including the comment section. I grant that the protest community may be more “diverse” than the law school faculty—in the way the Star Wars bar is more diverse. I do not grant that any of these people have done anything useful with their lives beyond monetizing identity and grievances. And I suspect that they in fact do what the late Antonin Scalia, for all his immense powers, could never do: “enact direct harms” to the student body.
I’m pretty sure of that because last year, the University sent a Diversity Kommissar to one of our faculty meetings, to lecture us on the “pedagogy of the oppressed.” That agenda is based on a book that’s the bible for a dozen-plus departments and programs at GMU. It says that students must be “co-creators of knowledge” and entails, e.g., that doctoral (!) students in an otherwise content-free course must be prepared to share “strategies for successfully negotiating dialogic inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary academic exchanges, as well as to ask questions of clarification, exploration of various dimensions of lived experiences, power and privilege, oppression and marginalization.” I’ll teach that, Madam Kommissar, once I’ve figured out what it could possibly mean.
In addition to their firm opposition to Justice Scalia’s enactments, the protesters complain that they weren’t consulted on the renaming. Well, that goes both ways: no one at the law school has ever been consulted about the escapades elsewhere at GMU—not when some high-paid huckster on the faculty demands a RICO investigation of “climate deniers”; not when the administration fabricates racial “incidents”; and not when entire departments waste everyone’s time and make students pay to “co-create” knowledge because the faculty are bereft of it.
My lived experience suggests that the lack of dialogic exchange is probably a good thing for all concerned.