Wednesday Links: Part 2: The Return
* Someone needs to check their Save the Cat: Video shows CEO kicking puppy in elevator.
* Elites spent months arguing we should attack Syria to dislodge Assad. Now these same elites want to intervene in the war on his behalf. “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?”
* The 14 Best National Universities According To Washington Monthly has Case at #9 and UC Riverside at #2. Arbitrary college ranking systems forever!
In addition to his constitutional claims, Salaita has an almost textbook version of a contract law claim under the doctrine of “promissory estoppel” (the classic case on the subject is Red Owl). The basic idea is simple: even if there is no formal contract between two parties (my expectation, as noted, is the court will find no contract between Salaita and Illinois), if one party reasonably relies on the promises and representations of the other, and then the other reneges, the injured party is entitled to compensation to the extent of his reasonable reliance. It was clearly reasonable for Salaita to rely on an offer letter from the Dean–an offer letter that specifically mentioned the academic freedom protections the University of Illinois affords faculty!–even with a clause saying the appointment was subject to approval by the Board of Trustees (after all, there does not appear to be a case in the last half-century in which the Board failed to approve a tenured appointment that went through the normal university channels, as Salaita’s did). Indeed, the reasonableness of Salaita’s reliance is enhanced by the fact that the University scheduled his classes this fall and even referred to him in public as a faculty member.
The harder question will be Salaita’s damages. At a minimum, he should recover for the costs of relocation, his housing costs this year (since he rented his prior home), the cost of insurance and related expenses, and his salary for this academic year; but he has a strong claim for asking for compensation for having relinquished tenure and his job and salary at Virginia Tech, i.e., for several decades worth of salary and benefits. In other words, I would expect Salaita’s lawyers to ask for several million dollars in lost wages and benefits extending over a career. Now there is always a duty in contract cases to “mitigate” damages–to take steps to prevent the unnecessary growth of damages–which here would mean seeking other academic employment. If Salaita can not secure such appointment–and given the smear campaign against him, aided and abetted now by the University of Illinois, it is hard to see a public university, vulnerable to the same political pressures, being able to hire him–then he has a claim for his lost wages and benefits as a professor for the next (roughly) thirty-plus years.
That respectability politics is the narrative of the oppressor digested and regurgitated by the oppressed is obvious. But we shouldn’t dismiss it without understanding its allure and durability: it reframes the terms of power, restoring agency into black hands. For the black upper class, it is the parable that allows them to rationalize their privilege as a sign of their own worthiness, while simultaneously giving them cover to righteously withdraw concern from the plight of the less fortunate of their race. It’s no coincidence that the black people advocating for blacks to somehow be cleansed of their blackness by bathing in the waters of post-racial healing are many of the same complaining that “we” don’t pay attention to “black on black crime”. For the black middle class, respectability becomes an aspirational fable, a promise that they, too can be free of racism if they become successful enough to transcend their race. For the black underclass, it becomes a morality tale that explains their own destruction. Respectability politics is a false narrative, but it maintains its power because, like so many powerful lies, it sits adjacent to the truth and set slightly askew: they are looking for a way to turn you into a nigger, and if necessary, they will find one. You will never leave a body pure enough to not be judged complicit in its own destruction.
* MA Police Apologize After Accusing Man Of Faking Photo Of Trooper’s Racist Bumper Sticker. Police trampled the makeshift memorial built by Michael Brown’s mom. That is to say: Police Drove Over Michael Brown Memorial, Let Dog Piss on It.
* Meanwhile: Ben Stein has awful opinions and should be ashamed.
* There is no way this is true: Milwaukee, Madison drivers among the nation’s safest. Real talk: Milwaukee drivers are some of the absolute worst drivers I have ever encountered.
* Did Tony die at the end of The Sopranos? Yes, and David Chase knows it.
* Elsewhere on the front lines of culture: Is Hello Kitty a cat? How dare you. How dare you.
* LEGO really, really letting down its fans. I knew I should have loaded up on the female scientist sets when I had the chance.
* Why we can’t have nice things: Americans strongly agree: You shouldn’t stop people from reclining on planes.
* When J.J. Abrams set out to make the absolute worst Superman movie possible. It would have been amazing.