It really is amazing the degree to which the modern academic left is made up of a group of borderline lunatics who seem to be competing for some kind of peacock pageant of extremism. Let me give you one example, though it’s far from being the only one.
Back in 2019, Jazz wrote about a UC Davis professor named Joshua Clover, a Marxist author who made the local news after a bunch of old tweets surfaced in which he had advocated for the murder of police officers:
“People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed,” Clover said in response to the question “What’s wrong with society today?”
Several old tweets from Clover’s followed the same criticism of law enforcement.
“I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age #letsnotmakemore,” Clover reportedly tweeted on Nov. 27, 2014.
“I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” Clover also reportedly tweeted on Dec. 27, 2014.
Davis condemned what Clover had said but decided it was not intended as a true threat or incitement and therefore was covered by the First Amendment. He’s an extremist but not extreme enough to lose his job.
In any case, it seems Clover has once again become a focus of some attention, not because of his idiotic views of police but as the victim of a fellow academic, a Berkeley professor named Ivonne del Valle. Who is she? Well, let’s start with recent events. You may remember just over a week ago when a USC football game was delayed because a group of protesters took the field and refused to leave.
Protest broke out in Berkeley during the Cal vs USC football game. If more parents were Trojan supporters, none of this would have happened. pic.twitter.com/uSCgMVPKAA
— RareImagery 🇺🇸 (@RareImagery) October 29, 2023
This went on for about 7 minutes and many people wrongly assumed it was an anti-Israel protest demanding a ceasefire but that wasn’t the case. In fact, these were professor Ivonne del Valle supporters who were protesting Berkeley’s decision to suspend her as an an associate professor of colonial studies. Why was she suspended? Josh Barro explains.
Del Valle has become a cause célèbre despite having admitted to key aspects of the charges that led to her suspension, including that she keyed Clover’s car; sat outside his apartment and slid threatening notes under the door including “If you make me leave, it’ll be worse. I’ll keep doing this you can be sure of that”; spray painted “here lives a pervert” in the hallway outside his apartment; and dumped chunks of fermented pineapple on his mother’s doorstep. Extensive reports by KQED and the Chronicle of Higher Education, based on Berkeley’s Title IX investigation reports and interviews with del Valle herself, make clear that she was (and is) convinced that Clover, whom she barely knew before these incidents began, had hacked her electronic devices and was using the information he gleaned about her thoughts and actions in order to post coded messages about her on Twitter. Frustrated that police and Berkeley administrators did not take her delusional hacking claims seriously, she pursued a direct harassment campaign against her UC colleague, which she continued in violation of orders to stop contacting him. Again, del Valle admits these facts.
In sum, she was suspended for stalking and she has admitted to many elements of it. I took a look at the KQED report linked above and her admission is right there.
“I did write outside his door, ‘Here lives a pervert.’ I did that. And again, I’m not proud,” del Valle said. “If I had the opportunity to do things differently, I would do them differently.”…
In December that same year, del Valle acknowledged in the investigation knocking on Clover’s apartment door and telling him she “was not leaving until he opened the door and explained what he was doing by hacking her.”…
In a settlement agreement in 2020, del Valle agreed not to contact Clover or any of his friends, family, relatives or students. But the following year, del Valle violated that agreement, according to the second investigation conducted by UC Berkeley in 2021, when she left messages outside and near the home of Clover’s mother, among other violations.
“I do understand it’s hard to side with me in that moment, and I was punished for that without salary and benefits,” del Valle said.
So not only did she admit to doing all of this, literally forcing Clover to move out of his apartment, but she kept doing it after a settlement in 2020. And that’s why she was ultimately suspended. And still she didn’t stop. She violated the no-contact order again in 2022 by sharing a photo of Clover’s partner on social media. She seems obsessed, deranged and unable to control herself. But as Barro points out, this doesn’t matter to her supporters or to Clover herself. What matters is her identity as a minority woman.
Her student supporters, in an open letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, say it was “sexist” for the university to disregard her claims that she was the victim of cyberstalking by Clover.2 “Do women of color not enter into your version of feminism?” they ask. Del Valle, too, is avidly playing the gender and ethnicity cards. “I don’t want UC Berkeley to think that they can do this to a minority woman in order to protect a white, senior professor,” she said to KQED. “It’s not acceptable.”…
This story itself — about a far-left-wing humanities professor with obvious mental illness behaving badly toward another far-left-wing humanities professor and receiving a ludicrous, histrionic, and identity-based defense of both her actions and her mental state from some of her students and colleagues3 — is not terribly important. But the manner in which del Valle’s supporters have convinced themselves to stand with her — by looking away from all the facts that conflict with their pristine moral worldview about who’s oppressed and who’s the oppressor — bears resemblance to a much more consequential form of left-wing moral idiocy that we’ve seen on college campuses in recent weeks: the willingness of many students and faculty to excuse (or even in some cases celebrate) Hamas’ terror attack that killed over 1,400 people.
He goes on to say that this inability to conceive of a situation in which “the oppressed” are ever wrong is a childish and immature form of politics. For a long time the left has generally tried to ignore these extremists but that’s increasingly difficult to do. In the last month that’s true for a lot of people on the left. As Barro puts it, “one of the salutary aspects of the last month’s politics is that a lot of liberals who treated these ideas as a harmless academic diversion are now seeing the perverse moral places they can lead to.”
So there are two stories here. The first involves a police hating Marxist who was stalked by a deranged professor of colonial studies (did he ever call the police?) who was in turn defended by students who care more about her minority identity than her actual behavior despite her admissions of guilt.
That’s the pageant of leftist peacocks in microcosm. There are no sensible people involved, just differing degrees of fundamental moral derangement strutting their stuff in public and competing to be the most committed to some very bad ideas.
But the broader story is that stuff like this is happening a lot more often now because people like this are everywhere. It’s happening on campus and at left-wing advocacy groups. It’s happening in the newsrooms of major papers. It’s happening in elementary schools and any schools that use standardized tests. It has passed through major corporations and entire bureaucracies. It’s a big mess and as Barro suggests in closing, the only thing we can do about it is step up and say no to it more often.