[eDebate] Right, *Russia* is at the core of everything

Tom Meagher meagher.tom
Fri Apr 25 21:17:24 CDT 2008


JP,

I apologize for the use of the phrase "out of context." I know it is given a
more specific use in debate rounds than elsewhere, and this more technical
usage was not on my mind when I wrote that. I should have thought of that
before using it.

I apologize to Kansas if they feel that I think they "intentionally
distorted the meaning of evidence in the final round". There is no
accusation of cheating here. I would really like to hear from any KU folks
who have felt harmed by what I said. I'd like to rectify that if it is the
case.

But honestly, in this round KU used a piece of evidence because it argued
for "love," and they read it to support arguments that their author actively
says are opposite to love. I understand how this kind of mistake happens,
and I don't think they should have lost for it. They also read evidence in
the 1nr that was NOT about "love" but that was support for their alt author.
If I had been in this debate, I would have called them out for a) reading
the evidence in the first place and b) making multiple claims in the debate
that only make sense in a world where their alternative evidence is true to
the author's claim. They also c) define their alternative in cx (everyone
love everyone, direct quote) in a way that is not remotely supported by
their evidence.

Saying 'Sandoval's good - Davis 2000' is really what elevated the problem
here, and it's evident throughout the 1nr and 2nr.

JP, if you or anyone else would like to tell me the correct way to label
this evidence problem, without using the phrase "out of context", I'd
appreciate it to avoid mishaps in the future.

What I've meant all along is that KU read evidence without having any
understanding that, if the author's usage of the term "love" is understood
correctly, it directly contradicts nearly every other argument they make in
the debate. What's more is that one would need a high level of familiarity
with the text in question to realize this. They then read evidence in
support of their author instead of their argument, and specifically cited
the fact that they read this Davis evidence as a reason why Towson's
arguments did not apply to them. As far as I can tell, this meets all the
standards for causing significant harm and distortion in the round. And as I
stated earlier, I attribute NO intentionality to this issue.

Given the subject matter, I think it is ironic that you may be suggesting I
censor my criticism in order to more quickly gain allies. Obviously, I do
not fully agree or disagree with you. But I think you are either being
unfair to my criticism by suggesting that my terminology must mean I was
making an intentionality argue, or you are simply unaware of the magnitude
of the difference between KU's use of "love" and the 50 pages where Sandoval
explicitly defines what she means by love in this opening paragraph.

I do not want to be divisive. Calling out KU is a pretty damned big risk,
and I hope it can be appreciated that I did so only because I thought it was
a very telling and high profile event. KU has my blessing to keep doing
things the way they've been doing them, and I have much more respect for KU
as an academic institution than I could relate without becoming super
long-winded. It's my feeling that someone started cutting the book, couldn't
keep up with it (completely understandable) or did not have the time to do
so, and ended up blocking a few cards from the intro. This is an accusation
about the level of scrutiny they received, not about their original
practice, which is not out of the norm in debate.

I don't think that KU's use of that evidence warranted voting against them.
But at the same time... had it been about something else, like IR... as a
judge I absolutely would have entertained whether I should use some part of
the ballot (obviously, this is a lesser tool in out-rounds) to punish them
for doing so. I'm not saying I would or should have, but in a more widely
understood body of literature, it would have seemed at least somewhat
appropriate to do so.

I'd like to build bridges rather than shatter them, but hopefully it is
understandable that sometimes a bridge must also be subjected to scrutiny in
order to learn how to build new bridges.

Best,
Tom

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 6:44 PM, JP Lacy <lacyjp at wfu.edu> wrote:

>  Honestly, I don't disagree at all that the debate community could vastly
> improve its research about race and racism.
>
> But, when you write thing like "[this is not] an attack on anybody
> personally", but "[its] impossible for ... [KU's] ... alt to be taken more
> out of context," how many allies do you hope to gain?
>
> While you may be right that "Kansas got crossed up," why do you need to
> preface that with "your cards were out of context?"
>
> "Out of context" is the next most serious ethical challenge to
> "fabrication."
>
> Do you really think Kansas intentionally distorted the meaning of evidence
> in the final round of a National Championship? [Of course you didn't, what
> you meant was that the community is largely under-researched in a vitally
> important area.]
>
> I've said before that "trash talk" about Towson diminishes their
> achievement in winning the National Championship.
>
> So does accusing their opponents of cheating.
>
> --JP Lacy
> lacyjp at wfu.edu
>
>
>
>
> Tom Meagher wrote:
>
> I really should not be posting to eDebate but can't help myself.
>
> I debated in high school, and this is the sixth spring in a row I've
> considered returning to debate in some capacity. I miss it. I miss it
> painfully, as so many former debaters do. But each time I think about coming
> back, I actually have to do the research - talk to old friends, check out
> case lists, eDebate, et cetera, and see what debaters are talking about.
>
> So yeah, ridiculous though it may be, I've been following eDebate a little
> over the last month, watched CEDA finals, scoured case lists. I'll set as
> many of my opinions aside as possible to focus on the one issue that is
> abundantly clear:
>
> The debate community does a terrible job of researching racism.
>
> I understood why when I would make debates about issues related to racism
> in high school rounds in 2000-2002 the other team only had cards from law
> reviews. Lexis-nexis + a lot of lawyers and people on the legal track in the
> community. Same reason most of the cards I cut were from law reviews,
> especially since it was pretty hard for me to access research libraries at
> the time. But then I went to college, and discovered its limitless research
> potential. I spent the summer after high school excitedly using a research
> university's resources for the first time, and quickly discovered that I
> didn't care much about the treaties topic, especially when my research
> assignment was CO2 Good.
>
> And then TWO of the coaches on my top-ranked college squad told me to
> abandon my plans to make Ethnic Studies my major. And after 50 hours a week
> of CO2 Good for the next five weeks, I decided I'd rather not owe the squad
> anything more, and quit before going to a tournament. Debate was just not
> good for my academic pursuits, and as I stayed close to it as a dedicated
> high school coach for two years, this became even clearer. I'm not saying I
> could not have found a good setup in debate. There was a year in there where
> I'd convinced myself my life would have been pretty good if I'd reached out
> to Fullerton and gone there. But it's basically undeniable that I learned a
> hell of a lot more about racism, colonialism, and a myriad of other issues
> by being a hard-working student and independent researcher in an Ethnic
> Studies department. And I'll go toe-to-toe with any member of this community
> on the value of that education, so if you want to defend your legal studies,
> area studies, political science or postmodern literary or philosophical
> studies against me in front of any damn critic in this community, I'm game.
>
> I look at Calum's arguments for the Russia topic. Russia is foundational.
> Great argument. But can you even produce a decent argument that the history
> of European colonialism since 1455 is not at the core of US-Russia
> relations, and was not the engine of the entire Cold War? Perhaps you'd like
> to engage that debate, but have you actually researched it? Not to mention
> that global coloniality has dictated the course of agriculture, health care,
> education, arms control, genetic engineering, and, of course, reparations.
>
> I'm tempted to make these arguments here. But really, I'd much rather that
> the debaters following this topic discussion ask themselves whether they've
> done any substantial research on the topic of coloniality. And by
> substaintial research, I do not mean asking the scholars wedded to the
> disciplines that have emerged as technologies of coloniality what they think
> of racism. As long as debaters are almost entirely reading from legal
> studies, poli sci, area studies and IR, and Eurocentric philosophy
> (including the 'post-colonial studies' that largely divorces itself from
> centuries of decolonial scholarship and theory in order to appropriate
> Continental Philosophy), they are not going to be able to adequately address
> questions of racism. Period. If you want to take this as cause to research,
> go ahead. If you want to backchannel me for research suggestions, I pledge
> to go out of my way to assist and provide extensive bibliographies and
> support. But I'm not going to post a list of articles to serve as a
> strawperson (given the origins of the term, strawman really is a more
> accurate term, but that's a different though related discussion) for the
> right-wing vanguard. Feel free to try to change my mind.
>
> I am genuinely curious if Calum is willing to make the (correct) argument
> that the Soviet Union profoundly affected the US's racial politics and
> practices without also acknowledging that the US's racial politics and the
> period of global coloniality going back to 1455 are the only historical
> phenomenon that could possibly have caused the Cold War. Are the multitude
> of debaters who make 'capitalism' arguments unaware of a) the historical
> period that created the phenomenon of capitalism, b) the global division of
> labor that served as a prerequisite for it, and c) the intellectual history
> of discourse on capitalism? I think the answer to these question is that
> they are not by and large unaware, but they have been exposed primarily to
> paradigms that preclude an actual examination.
>
> Watching the final round of CEDA online was encouraging and disheartening.
> Please allow me to make an observation about the two main authors used in
> this debate as a comment on phenomena in the debate community. Please, try
> to see what I am saying as a response to the state of the debate community
> and not as a response to the individual teams or squads, who are both
> extremely talented and hardworking and had their reasons for choosing these
> arguments.
>
> Let me first address Towson use of Charles Mills' arguments from the
> Racial Contract. This is indeed a valuable piece of scholarship, and it has
> inspired much discussion. Let me relate the main argument against it that I
> am familiar with. Mills self-consciously adapted his arguments - which of
> course draws heavily from the lineage of decolonial theory and, especially
> for Mills, Caribbean thought - for Eurocentric audiences. Focusing on the
> concept of the Social Contract was a move related to legitimacy, and a close
> reading of the texts makes clear how his arguments are filtered and somewhat
> altered by his attempt to secure relevance to particular intellectual
> communities. Towson focuses on Mills' concept of the White Aesthetic, which
> for strategic purposes makes a great deal of sense. But "the White
> Aesthetic" is only a particular formulation of a concept that is widespread
> in decolonial theory, which is that the categories of thought, intellectual
> traditions, political insitutions, and even basic human ability to perceive
> the world with the senses are profoundly impacted by the completely
> unprecedented phenomenon of global coloniality (this phenomenon emerged in
> 1455 with the papal decree and Portugal's initial foray into African
> slavery, became the first truly global human phenomenon in 1492, and has
> shaped every element of history and nearly every element of human reality
> since). I take no issue with Towson's choice of Mills, and I haven't seen
> their previous debates so I can't offer commentary, but I must ask if it is
> significant that Towson's inclusion of a mainstreamed piece of decolonizing
> scholarship coincided with their ascension in results. Would they have been
> as successful if, for instance, they had based their arguments on a text
> that is denser and more uncompromising but ultimately more true to reality
> and the lived experiences of the underside of modernity? Could they have
> gotten anywhere with 'cards' from a text that was much more groundbreaking
> and influential than Mills' but that does not attempt to address itself to a
> contemporary U.S. white experience (I have in mind, as one example,
> Discourse on Colonialism by the recently deceased Aime Cesaire, which makes
> Mills' main points and many, many more in a much more concise fashion, but
> one surely deemed too out of touch and too easily dismissed for petty
> misunderstandings of meaning to resonate with the bulk of debate judges)?
> None of this, it should be clear, is a knock on Towson. I really
> congratulate you on actually accomplishing something that I chickened out on
> even trying multiple times.
>
> Now, let me bring up something that no one I've talked to seems to be
> aware of (maybe I'm talking to the wrong people). Kansas read alternative
> evidence for its 'love' argument from Sandoval 2000. This is Chela Sandoval,
> the head of UCSB's Chicana/o Studies program, from her hugely influential
> work Methodology of the Oppressed. This text offers a very thorough
> methodology, as the title promises (though I must note that her original
> title, Theory Uprising, better captures what the work is about but was
> rejected by the publisher). READ THIS BOOK. ABSOLUTELY. It is a masterpiece,
> and especially given debate's fascination with Continental Philosophy and
> her very tolerant treatment of it (which has, unfortunately, caused
> Sandoval's text to be misappropriated as a defense of Foucault, Barthes, et
> cetera when it is instead an appreciation of their relation to feminist and
> decolonial thought that offers an explicit challenge to them), it figures to
> resonate with many in the community and hopefully open them up to new areas
> of study.
>
> So you would expect me to be excited upon hearing this evidence. Except...
> uh, I heard the rest of the 1NC. And it is completely improbable and
> arguably close to impossible for a K alt to be taken more out of context.
> Kansas read a piece of eveidence from the FIRST TWO PAGES of the book, and
> their extension evidence was from Angela Davis' foreword. Did the person
> cutting the book just give up after getting those two cards? Because the
> entire book is about the VITAL NECESSITY of REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS and
> OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS. The two main tenets of Towson's aff that Kansas
> was critiquing! Sandoval's entire book outlines what she means by "love,"
> and to synopsize (again, read the book, pretty please with the topping of
> your choice), love is a process, a decolonizing movement that actively
> requires a specific methodology (i.e., the "methodology of the oppressed")
> which itself cannot "solve" without AFFIRMING REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS AND
> OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS. This is even in the paragraph that Kansas used
> in this debate (OK, oppositional consciousness is; for revolutionary
> politics, you could have looked at the table of contents or even just
> flipped forward to the concluding sentence of the book).
>
> Love, for Sandoval, does NOT mean, as Kansas stated, "everybody love
> everybody." Unfortunately, Towson was not familiar with that particular
> work, so they were not able to point out the obvious problem early in the
> debate. But then Kansas reads 1nr evidence from ANGELA DAVIS (which does not
> talk about 'love' but about Sandoval's Methodology of the Oppressed!) as an
> extension of their alt and then makes a multitude of nonsensical arguments
> that follow from this:
>
> "We are reading a multitude of authors, including African-American
> activists like Angela Davis which is a reason as to why your argument about
> white supremacy and epistemology of our arguments does not apply to us."
> (The obvious response being that grossly misinterpreting these authors and
> then using their identities as evidence that you are not subject to white
> supremacism is a move inextricable from white supremacism.)
>
> "What is the permutation? It is love and openness but with the infusion of
> revolutionary ethics in the 1ac ... it says that it is open but thrives on
> the rejection of the white aesthetic and potentially revolutionary partners.
> ... The perm is not open or loving." (When Sandoval's entire text is devoted
> to arguing that 'love' cannot exist without movements whose revolutionary
> ethics require that they explicitly reject particular 'aesthetics' and
> revolutionary partners! This is like if an aff running, I don't know, the
> Kyoto Protocol, faced a K that argued for the adoption of an environmental
> ethic using evidence only from someone who said that a) activists should
> lobby the US to ratify Kyoto and b) the US should ratify Kyoto, and then
> asserted throughout the 2nr that the perm could not be an environmental
> ethic because it included a policy.)
>
> "Revolutionary politics are something that she [Angela Davis] turned away
> from because they are not effective, because they were so rejective."
> (Riiiiiiiiight. And they said this after Towson called BS.)
>
> No knock on Kansas specifically. I understand how hard it can be to do
> this research, and I don't really blame anyone for seeing the text and being
> confused and just taking what could be found from its intro. I apologize in
> advance for bringing this up and calling you out, because I have much
> respect for all the debaters and coaches, and fondly remember Scott Harris
> being of amazing help to me at summer camp in 2000. Kansas got crossed up,
> and that happens. But I want to know: on an 11 person panel of major figures
> in debate, not one was able to identify that a major text in ethnic and
> gender studies which has been used at least by Fullerton was taken way, way,
> way out of context? And that none of the debaters I asked about this knew
> what the hell I was talking about? In a hugely publicized round? It's not a
> scandal that a team was able to win four ballots in the national
> championship from judges who voted for their alt card because it avoided
> criticisms that are directly antithetical to the alternative? Is anyone
> willing to take this as evidence that the debate community needs to
> massively upgrade the level of its research on racism?
>
> Andy Ellis and others have called for a topic that will put research on
> racism at the forefront, because debaters desperately need to improve their
> understanding and research of these issues. Calum Matheson makes the same
> argument for Russia. Put aside ground, mechanisms, etc., for a moment to
> consider whether the evidence is stronger for Andy's claim or Calum's. Do
> debaters, by and large, have a better basic understanding of Russia or
> coloniality? And even if Calum is ahead, if I win my 'coloniality influences
> everything about US-Russia relations' argument, shouldn't a research focus
> on coloniality come first?
>
> What's more is that the reparations topic actually does encourage new and
> better research in these areas than any previous topic. The civil rights
> topic, for instance, could be debated with a very high reliance on the legal
> literature, and was limited to a very small portion of the scope of racism
> and coloniality. Reparations actually requires a pretty thorough examination
> of a lot of things. And what's more, it requires a mechanism that has a very
> active solvency debate in concert with a limitless number of CP's with
> obvious grounding in the literature. If you do not think that there is good
> negative ground on a reparations topic, it is straight up because you are
> not familiar with enough relevant research. (I hope it is clear by now that
> the scope of relevant research is not the policy literature on reparations.)
> If you told me I had to go neg every round on the topic, I would be just
> fine, and you will not find people in the community who think that the
> oppressions the topic would address are more influential than I do.
>
> Please do not take this as an attack on anybody personally. I just wanted
> to present some of the evidence that this community has a very different
> depth and distribution of knowledge on race studies than it does for the
> main disciplines it draws upon, and even those who profess some level of
> expertise are often just very familiar with some limited and often
> specific-to-another-discipline scope. How many debaters go on to graduate
> studies in area studies, poli sci, or law, and how many pursue studies in
> racism? If you see that you may contribute to this disparity, are you okay
> with that because you think the other areas are more important? If so, is
> that a result of research or assumption/conditioning? And to the directors
> and coaches of the community: if, for pedagogical reasons, you are opposed
> to a race-focused topic, are you also incorporating or willing to
> incorporate a researched curriculum on race/coloniality in your debate
> program?
>
> ------------------------------
>
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