July
18th 2009
Talk about, um, constitutionality…

Posted under: American history, students, unhappy endings, wankers

This is funny–funny ha-ha as well as funny-awkward. Via Corrente, a couple of satirists attended a class taught by John Yoo at Berkeley:

Who are the students in his classes, and why are they protesting the protesters? Would you take a class taught by Charles Taylor? How about Augusto Pinochet? (Well, would you have, when he was alive?) How embarassing is it that it’s Australian rather than American people who did this? It’s like academia is the last refuge of right-wing scoundrels these days.

Having Yoo teach anything other than a course called “How I Wiped Dick Cheney’s A$$ with the U.S. Constitution, and How You Can Too For Fun & Profit” is just an abomination. Now that’s a class I would sign up for and take notes in the first row. For realz.

11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Talk about, um, constitutionality…”

  1. Fratguy on 18 Jul 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Wow, so John Yoo is not only soulless and humorless but also gutless. Robert McNamara, bless his black little heart, would have never backed down from engaging his detractors. Neither would Richard Nixon for that matter. I guess they don’t make war criminals like they used to. Having to justify your atrocities is just a sign of weakness.
    Oh, and memo to the little Eichman that kicked the satirists out of the classroom. Berkley is not a “prviate” institution, John Yoo has more blood on his hands than Ward Churchill.
    Thanks for a great morning cuppa joe, Historiann. Costumes, theatrics, disrespect, healthy sense of irony and entitlement as well as testicle jokes. What’s a Fratguy not to love?

  2. Historiann on 18 Jul 2009 at 11:17 am #

    Yeah–Yoo is just a turd, all the way around.

    I saw Robert McNamara talk at Harvard in ’95 or ’96, when he was flogging his book, _In Retrospect_. The crowd lined up around the block to get into the talk, which was (like the book) lively and informative and insightful, although revealing of McNamara’s curious obtuseness to his own complicity in the shaping of events. (As in the 60s, McNamara was a brilliant analyst but lacked a kind of emotional intelligence that might have brought him back from the brink.) In the Q & A session afterwards, a Vietnam Vet (complete with the army jacket look) stood up and just started screaming and denouncing RM, “my buddies died because of you!” etc. McNamara was PI$$ED OFF–which was a rather surprising and naive reaction, IMHO (what did he expect? Everyone was going to say, “OK, now we understand and forgive you?”) He started screaming back! He was a man’s man, which of course was probably a big part of the problem, but Yoo illustrates that masculinity isn’t sufficient, or maybe not even necessary, in war criminals.

  3. Z on 18 Jul 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    God, Yoo is disgusting. And so is that idea that it is a “private” classroom.

    And: so that dismissive and condescending tone is actually a gutless tone. That thought is going to be useful to me this academic year.

  4. Paul on 18 Jul 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    Huh. Well, regardless of what one thinks of the actions of people like John Yoo or Robert McNamara, it is amazing that they often seem to be surprised or shocked when angry people confront them. If a person is going to support things that are very controversial, they have to expect that a lot of people will be angry, and that they will have to defend their actions and decisions.

  5. Historiann on 18 Jul 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    Z (and FratGuy)–well, the classroom isn’t truly “public,” although it is at a public university. (Heck, I can’t even order an armed student to take his gun somewhere else at my public uni! I think universities can restrict classes to just enrolled students–the classroom is a space where there needs to be some trust and a sense of common mission.)

    My point was more what Paul suggests, which is, why aren’t these guys being hollered and screamed at all day long by everyone, everywhere? Why do they suffer only an occasional interruption, and why does Yoo have any students whatsoever?

  6. Z on 18 Jul 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Restrict to just enrolled students, I know, but the use of that word “private” is still distorting.

    Why he has students — well don’t a lot of people agree with Yoo?

    One could organize a permanent picket line of Boalt Hall, with people picketing Yoo on shifts.

    But I’ll bet the University has already thought of that and interdicted it on the campus sides of the building – and made a deal with the city police to interdict it on the city sides.

  7. Paul on 19 Jul 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    Z said Why he has students — well don’t a lot of people agree with Yoo?

    I was thinking the same thing – there is still a fairly large minority of people in the US who would agree wholeheartedly with Yoo’s position. I would imagine that most people who wanted to actually take a course of his (as opposed to protesting) would be more likely to agree with him.

  8. Mike on 19 Jul 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Unless this episode was from before last semester, I think the institution is not Berkeley, but Chapman, which is in Southern California (Orange County), and at which John Yoo was a visiting prof for 2008-2009. (There appear to be palm trees outside the window, too, which I don’t recall from any angle inside or even around any of the Boalt buildings.)

  9. DV on 19 Jul 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    I bet Mike is right, that film was from Chapman (the classroom was awfully small). I saw a friend of mine from Boalt a few weeks ago. She said that there are always one or two protesters, in costume, stationed outside Yoo’s office door in Berkeley. My informant also said that Yoo is scheduled to teach one of two sections of international law (or Con law, I forget) next fall. The lesser-known law professor who has the other section has a waiting list and Yoo had about five students signed up. While there are a good number of Americans who agree with Yoo’s definition of torture, my impression is that not many of them attend law school at UC Berkeley.

  10. Historiann on 20 Jul 2009 at 7:27 am #

    Ahhhh–DV and Mike, can you tell me more about Chapman? (All I know is that I looked Yoo up and linked to his faculty page at Berkeley this past academic year, and that’s where his academic home was widely reported to be in the past few years.) What is Chapman and why might there be so many toady students there?

  11. Mike on 20 Jul 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    Historiann – I don’t know too much about Chapman. It’s a small private school in Orange County (Southern California) and it’s not really on my radar except for a few interesting faculty (i.e., the undergrad program is not as well-known as, say, Occidental, and the grad program is not as well known as, say, Pepperdine). The law school is US News Tier 3 (unranked).

    I tend to think of at least the law school at Chapman as somewhat right-wing, based on some of its faculty (like neocon pundit Hugh Hewitt) and the fact that the school is in Orange County, which is something of a (neo)conservative area. That might explain some of the “toady students,” although the students at Boalt might not be too supportive of protesters, either, especially if the protest got in the way of the class time they are now paying near-market for, and to the extent that students self-select into John Yoo’s classes (except for first-year classes like Con Law, which are assigned).

    As well, that mild demeanor was not just an act for the camera. He’s like that in person, at least with students, actually kind and caring and a good teacher and advisor, so unless one was already foursquare convinced of his evil, I could see cognitive dissonance resolving as “don’t do this on class time.”

    I don’t know what John Yoo is doing at Chapman. I’m pretty sure he has tenure at Berkeley. I’d like to think that he’s taking neocon refuge from the protest heat at Berkeley. On the other hand, maybe it’s for other reasons. If he really needed to take neocon refuge in Southern California, he could have gone to Pepperdine (in Malibu!), whose law school “boasts” Kenneth Starr as dean.