January 28, 2005


Ethnic Warfare: A bitchy academic fight within SFSU's College of Ethnic Studies puts the future of the program in question (Tommy Craggs, sfweekly.com, 1/26/05)

The story of San Francisco State's College of Ethnic Studies, the first and still the only program of its kind, is a sort of shadow history of America's latter half-century. In it you'll find all the familiar blips of the past 40 years. There is student radicalism and campus rebellion; there is hopped-up idealism, followed closely by compromise and a struggle against an encroaching obsolescence. And today, the cold, gray Wednesday after the November election, there is this: the school's recently deposed dean, sitting in a Castro coffee shop, offering a postmodern sociosexual justification for using the word "bitch."

"As a gay man, in the Castro in San Francisco, and camp such as it is, we refer to ourselves in very gendered terms," says Tomás Almaguer, who spent 4 1/2 years as dean before resigning this past fall amid accusations that he created a hostile work environment within the college. "You might notice that my e-mail address is 'tomasa' -- it's a play. Have I ever referred to myself and my friends as bitches? All the time! I've been referred to as Queen Bitch of the Universe! Megabitch! That's one of my identities."

If state schools just automatically sent every high school graduate a college degree in the mail four years after high school graduation, would 90% be better off, or all of them?

Posted by David Cohen at January 28, 2005 2:06 PM

He made them work, diverted their budgets to other areas.

HAH! It's entertaining when one of their own expects them to live in the real world.

Posted by: Sandy P at January 28, 2005 2:51 PM

Ethnic studies is even a bigger scam than most humanities courses.

Posted by: Bart at January 28, 2005 3:24 PM

Here's a variation. Offer the diploma and a check in the amount of half the cost to the taxpayer for a four-year, for-credit cruise. Offer a diploma and a check for the full cost to anyone who, at any time and without necessarily attending the school, can pass a bachelor level learning competency test. Requier students wanting to graduate to take the same competency test. If they pass, they get the degree. If they fail, the pay back the full cost of wasting the taxpayers' money.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 28, 2005 4:41 PM

It would all be a big joke, except, a joke is supposed to make people laugh..

Posted by: M. Murcek at January 28, 2005 4:43 PM

We had a professor at the University of Nebraska a few years ago who regularly used the word "n*gger" when referring to blacks -- he even sent emails to black colleagues containing that word. A white man, he claimed that the word was simply a friendly colloquial expression and cited the fact that blacks use the word amongst themselves as evidence for his position. He claimed that the university was persecuting him for his pro-life views (yeah, that part had me doing a double-take, too).

Since Mr. Cohen is working on the Zen of conservatism, I would like to suggest that few things in the conservative lexicon are more deserving of treatment than the subject of "brilliant stupid people."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2005 7:58 PM

Matt, they're not even that brilliant.

This is a funny story, I love to see jackles eat their own.

Posted by: Amos at January 28, 2005 8:11 PM

Brilliant stupid people are the backbone of the conservative movement. Stupid brilliant people are leftists.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 28, 2005 11:33 PM

Oh man, that'll keep my one hand clapping for days on end.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 29, 2005 3:20 AM


Brilliant. In the late eighties I was doing a stint at the Canadian Foreign Ministry and had to escort a group of Members of Parliament to Moscow for a parliamentarian conference. It was an exciting time because things were changing there fast and everyone wanted to be a part of it. One of my charges was a Liberal M.P. of European background who had lots of degrees and progressive views on everything. He was beating the drum for "sustainable development", talked like a one-man Club of Rome to anyone who would listen and was a royal pain the the butt.

Anyway, one evening we were all on the subway amid hundreds of silent, ordinary people staring at the floor and trying to make themselves invisible. You didn't need a Ph.d in history to know where that habit came from. My genius charge surveyed them all thoughtfully and then said: "You can really see how the people in this city are all deep thinkers."

The stupidest educated man I ever met.

Posted by: Peter B at January 29, 2005 6:59 AM

Matt: Not where the neighbors can see, I hope.

Peter: You got out of the Foreign Ministry unscathed? The Canadian Foreign Ministry? My respect for you, already at flood stage, now overflows its banks and takes out a small town.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 29, 2005 8:46 AM


Yes, I decided it might not be for me the day I read an internal memo promoting some exciting new Asia/Pacific multilateral scheme. After listing all the wondrous benefits that would flow to all mankind, there was a short section entitled "Obstacles" which said: "The commitment to human rights of some Asian countires like North Korea is uncertain."

Posted by: Peter B at January 29, 2005 10:40 AM