Rebirth of Reason


The Berkeley Horror Files
by Katherine Brakora

I have resurrected, for myself, Rand's habit of keeping a Horror File—a compilation of articles, quotes, and instances from real life to remind myself that she never did exaggerate. Evil is alive and well, and appears to be thriving at the University of California, Berkeley. I know, why should this surprise me? It's Berkeley after all, that bastion of leftist politics, self-righteous radicalism, and intellectual decay, where force and social issues go hand in hand, where spectacular exponents of man’s intelligence live next door to socialist thugs. Sometimes they are the socialist thugs. And all is well.

I suppose my idealism (or is it naïveté?) stems from my noble view of man’s potential, reinforced by the frequent, excellent conversations I have with fellow grad students and faculty members about the science that interests me. Reason gets free rein, and the limits of your intelligence and rational imagination are the only restraints on your potential to know—and discover—“the way things really are.” I guess it’s easy to forget that this isn’t the norm outside of science, and that those who talk science 9-5 often turn off that better part of their brain when not “talking shop”.

My motivation to re-start my own Horror File is a product of last night’s monthly meeting of the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly (i.e., student government). In an unusual burst of political interest on my part, I volunteered to be a delegate for my department, mainly because I wanted to see how politics are organized at school, how the process works, and what people are concerned about. Last night was my second meeting. Rather than recapping nearly three hours of proceedings, I’ll just relay the two quotes so incredible I actually wrote them down. My blood is still boiling.

Chancellor Robert L. Birgeneau, head of the university (a physicist and 17-year veteran of administration at MIT), discussed his position on Proposition 209, the anti-affirmative action bill that passed in California a couple years ago, saying: "In America, not considering race is discrimination."

How's that for demolishing an idea and endorsing irrationality?

And ...

One of the delegates, responding to the Chancellor's support of voter education drives, particularly for the 4 million unregistered Hispanic voters in California, and how this might affect the outcome of a Repeal-209 vote, said, with full earnestness and a sneer: "You can't educate people. You have to trick them into voting for their own good and for the good of society. We need propaganda drives, not education." And, "Call it Civil Rights and they'll vote for it."

This from a Berkeley graduate student, ostensibly a very bright person, eloquently demonstrating that raw intelligence, reason, and morality are completely unrelated for many people. This—a militant, pragmatic endorsement of fraud, at the very least—received a polite “I guess I think more of people than you do,” from the Chancellor and, without further comment, the next speaker was called.

I nearly quit last night. This is the crap I have to argue against. My mind reels at the stupidity and—dare I say it—the evilness of it all. But I'll try again, stick it out one more time, and see if I can tolerate a group of intellectuals hostile to logic, questioning, principle, and the sole voice of reason saying “Nay.”
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