Thanks to the thousands of viewers from over 70 countries for making 2017 another awesome year for An Elephant in the Woods! Last year I added Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to further share my articles but I didn’t add any new outlets for this past year.
As is now a tradition, I wanted to share the top posts of the year and some thoughts in hindsight on why I think they mattered (for 2016’s top posts, read here, 2015’s top posts, read here, and for 2014’s top posts, read here!).
The story of Charles Murray at Middlebury was probably one of the most important stories in academia this year (along with Evergreen State as another highlight). During Murray’s speech, Middlebury professor Allison Stanger was assaulted and subsequently hospitalized because she dared to appear with him on stage to moderate the event.
Former Congressman Tom Perriello’s surprise entry into the Virginia Democratic primary shook up the race until he handily lost the primary. His comments were condemned by virtually everyone.
I was one of the first to break this story, where people who seem to be supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan hacked a variety of Twitter accounts with messages in support of Erdogan. This incident affected accounts ranging from the University of Chicago to Forbes to Amnesty International. The hacks followed a series of diplomatic flare ups between Turkey and the Netherlands. Erdogan subsequently claimed victory in a referendum to drastically expand his powers. The legitimacy of his win is highly suspect.
One of the fun aspects of this article is that my friend Asya Acka sent me these tweets (and helped me with the Turkish translation) as I was sitting in the airport before flying to South America, so I was on a strict self-imposed deadline.
Missouri’s governor, Eric Greitens, has an awesome background as a Navy SEAL that he highlighted during his 2016 campaign. With that in mind, it wasn’t quite surprising that he dropped from the ceiling to kick off a professional bull riding competition in Missouri, but it was an awesome sight nevertheless.
I’ve written a lot about Students for Justice in Palestine here, so this story wasn’t exactly surprising but was still worthy of highlighting. One of my articles from 2015, SJP’s Terrorist, was technically in my top posts once again this year but I’m not including it as its own section of this list since it’s not from 2017.
This year’s laughably named “Apartheid Week” at Columbia kicked off with an event that was simply called “Zionists are Racists.” You’d think that for people concerned about cultural appropriation that they would think twice before comparing Israel to actual apartheid in South Africa, but of course that’s not true.
I unfortunately missed this event at UChicago with Van Jones and S.E. Cupp because I was at CPAC, but I saw the highlights of it, that included Van Jones bashing safe spaces. The clip was great and is worth keeping in mind whenever people wrongly assert that only conservatives oppose safe spaces on campuses.
2017 was a banner year for Axios, Mike Allen’s latest news venture, and he reported on who would have made up an imaginary cabinet in a Hillary Clinton White House. If you haven’t already seen the list, most of it won’t surprise you.
This is just one of the latest instances of intersectionality at play. This story is as laughable as the headline.
I wrote this back in February and there has still been almost no progress on this front. Senator Orrin Hatch is still publicly undecided about whether he will seek an eighth term in 2018. President Donald Trump has publicly encouraged him to do so and his recent visit to Utah was likely part of his campaign to persuade Hatch to give the Senate another go. The deadlines are rapidly approaching for candidates to begin the process of getting on the ballot, so if Hatch does call it quits, it is likely that Romney will be the only person with the resources to put a campaign together.
During the 2016-2017 school year, University of Chicago Law School professor Randy Picker met with stakeholders from around the campus as he updated our discipline code to include a section on free expression related disruptions. This is welcome news because most schools lack policies such as these, and this can be a great way for UChicago to continue its leadership on free expression.
I came across a letter that Alabama’s Attorney General Bill Baxley sent to the KKK when Alabama was popping up on national radar with the recent special election kicking into gear. Senator-elect Doug Jones continued the saga Baxley started when he successfully prosecuted KKK members for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
In yet another example of student governments embarrassing themselves, Northwestern’s Student Government issued this absurd statement after Northwestern students shut down a class because a professor invited a ICE PR officer to speak to her class. I think this was one of the most important incidents in academia that didn’t receive nearly as much coverage as it should have. After the event, Northwestern’s Student Governor sided squarely with the students who shut down the class.
During a CNN Town Hall, a student decided to ditch the question he was approved to ask and asked Nancy Pelosi about why Democrats aren’t more socialist, and she responded that “we’re capitalists, and that’s just the way it is.” This incident was a good example of the tension that Democrats are facing as they head into the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election–how liberal should they be?
When Robert Costa was a fellow at the Institute of Politics this year, he invited Corey Lewandowski to one of his seminars. These are always off the record, and while I did not get a ticket to the event, I did wait outside to watch the protest. It was fine until they decided to try to storm the event. When they tried to do that they noticed the doors were locked and the protest dispersed fairly quickly.
Fieldson is a private school in New York that may be one of the most far-left high schools in the country. There is such a culture of intimidation when it comes to speaking out against their policies (including changing the name of “color war” because that name “will create a violent mindset that incites or promotes violence”) that I was sent these emails anonymously. This is indicative of how high schools are beginning to increasingly resemble colleges, and Fieldston might be the tip of the iceberg.
I broke this story after getting an email from Tufts about how their trustees shut down their student government, which passed a BDS resolution on the eve of Passover. This is far from the only time that student governments have passed resolutions supporting BDS right before Passover. One of the most infamous occurred a few years ago at Cornell.
Tufts has had serious problems in the past, but this was welcome news, and my friends from colleges around the country asked me to forward the email to them so they could prepare their trustees in the event that something like this happens at their schools. The fact that the trustees of Tufts did this is great because it suggests that any other school’s trustees can do the same.
In the days before Ben Shapiro spoke at Northwestern, this event sprang up on Facebook. This event was most likely satirical, and Shapiro’s event at Northwestern went off without a hitch. In fact, Northwestern’s students acquitted themselves really well. Almost every person prefaced their question by stating that they disagree with Shapiro on almost everything. I documented a lot of the problems at Northwestern this year, but this event was great.
That’s a wrap of the top 17 posts from 2017.
A lot of the posts I wrote from 2017 have to do with the good, bad, and ugly from college campuses. There were some other stories I enjoyed writing about, like Alaska’s cat mayor, Rhode Island’s governor who fought in the Civil War, and my time testifying in Wisconsin’s state legislature about free expression on campuses.
As always, let me know if there are stories that you think I should be covering, and if you have suggestions about anything else I should do for An Elephant in the Woods going forward. Thanks for reading!
That’s all folks! Here’s to a great 2018 for us all!