Tuesday, March 06, 2007

kaplan statement now available

Okay, so ignore the timestamp, it's actually Monday at 4:10pm EST. Regarding the incident at Wisconsin linked from this post, Leonard Kaplan has made his statement. I've uploaded it here.

Update, 8:30pm: The headline that seems to be going for AP news coverage of this is "Wis. professor acknowledges remarks about Hmong caused pain" (here). Is that really the best one-sentence upshot of this statement? Does one really have to be a thousand miles away from Madison to see that media coverage of this whole episode has been insane?

15 comments:

shakha said...

Am I crazy? The PDF is blank when I download it...

jeremy said...

Are you sure? It opens on my machine.

shakha said...

yeah. Hmmm... Must be crazy. Could you link to it online? If not, I'll just do it through the SSC server... So, no worries.

jeremy said...

I don't know if it is online anywhere else yet. It opens on both my desktop and my laptop?

shakha said...

Must be a problem with my laptop/Mac. I can read it from wincenter.

shakha said...

His statement impressed me. For some reason it made me think of the childhood game, "telephone"...

Ang said...

Fascinating. If we are to believe his statement, I'm truly chilled by just how distorted the lecture became. Telephone, indeed. Frightening.

Sarahliz said...

I hadn't been following this until now. It strikes me as slightly less ridiculous than the whole niggardly fiasco some years back (2000 or 2001, I think) but only slightly so. The fact that the source of the quotations was someone not even in the class is pretty outrageous.

In my experience, discussing racism in a really deep way is very difficult and inevitably involves some major missteps and hurt feelings. I like that he acknowledges that if he had said what he is alleged to have said that people would be right to be angry with him. From the outsider's perspective that does make his apology feel more authentic.

Internet Ronin said...

I've been thinking about all the times I have heard about people who were in the same place at such-and-such a time having very different ideas about exactly what happened. It seems to me that people often repeat not what was actually said but their own highly personal interpretation of what was said. In other words, they "heard" what they expected to hear, and not even a video or audio tape of what happened will convince them otherwise.

True, this situation has been blown out of proportion by people who were not in the room at the time. The original criticism by one or two in the room played into those others' preconceptions and it snow-balled from there. How sad.

shakha said...

Ang: I have had moments where I thought to myself, "You guys got THAT from my lecture? Really?" Now, it was never anything as extreme as the response to Kaplan; but if I were teaching on race and ethnicity I could imagine people taking away some pretty distorted stuff. And then if a friend of a student relayed the information... well...

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good statement of what the professor wishes he would have presented in class instead of the typical half-baked musings. (Talk to students, not colleagues, who've had him.)

Any possibility his ego slipped into the classroom, someone who enjoys baiting and getting students to respond? Those Asian women certainly look honest to me.

This isn't a good teaching model regardless of how you tend to interpret the facts here -- who you believe more percentage-wise. He's not the ideal teacher, and this teaching style won't last much longer in the future classroom.

Entertainment movies, yes. They say you can learn something there too. But it's not a profitable classroom technique.

Anonymous said...

"I think this is a good statement of what the professor wishes he would have presented in class instead of the typical half-baked musings. (Talk to students, not colleagues, who've had him.)"


Proof positive that Kaplan should have simply ignored this whole thing (and that his "friends" who blew it up further did him a disservice). I ask again, you all DO have tenure in Flyover Country, don't you? Well...I think this is sorta what it is for.

6:46 AM: I'm sorry that Mommy and Daddy forced you to go to the big, bad law school at Wisconsin. I feel positively terrible about your lot in life. Its SO unfair!

Anonymous said...

Mommy and Daddy... wha ??

Oh yeah. I'm on a liberal blog. Mommy and Daddy cocoon is all they know. Sometimes that safety sucks eh, and you have to go looking for trouble. lol

Don't project on me is all I'm sayin. Oh and Merry X-mas in advance and all that PC noise.

Gwen said...

I had a situation last year that was similar, and that luckily I was able to figure out and take care of. I was giving a lecture on the use of the stereotype of the black male rapist in the early 1900s as an excuse for lynching. I repeatedly said that these were stereotypes, that most interracial rape was of white men raping black women, etc. We talked about why women--esp. white women--come to exaggerate their chances of being sexually assaulted, and why they fear black men in particular, when they're most likely to be raped by someone of their own race and whom they know.

That night I had a long message on my cell phone accusing me of saying all black men are rapists and wondering why I would say that, and saying this person (not a student) would be in my class the next class period and was very angry. I was really freaked out.

It turns out one of my students, who had totally understood the lecture, thought it was really interesting. He was trying to explain it to a friend, and finally just said the guy should read his lecture notes. Unfortunately, in his notes he didn't write down everything I said (obviously)and so it appeared that my lecture was about something very different than it was and that I was saying black men actually ARE the majority of rapists. His friend then looked me up, without talking to my student, and left the message. I called back and left a message that explained at length the point of the lecture and said I would be happy to have the person come to class and see first-hand what I said.

I went to class with a long, carefully-worded statement about the actual point of the lecture, and had a senior colleague sit in to verify what I said. But by then my student had found out what his friend had done and quickly corrected the misunderstanding. And the student also had the courage to come confess to me the whole thing, so I wasn't left wondering what on earth had happened.

But I can imagine in a different situation, maybe at a school that is more prominent and gets more attention, this could have turned into a huge fiasco. And once things become public, it doesn't matter what the truth was any more.

In my race class this semester I also talked about the Hmong and about some cultural practices that were totally acceptable in their culture (such as the bride price or the occasional practice of bride kidnapping) that did not go over well in the U.S. I was making much the same point he did. It's scary to think about how many things you say in class could be taken wrong, esp. when I take into account how many of my students occasionally fall asleep during parts of lecture and so don't hear the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Surely you're not implying the law students feel asleep, Gwen?

It's great that you're on your toes and conscious of every idea you're presenting in class. So many of your colleagues in the teaching profession are not -- you get the sense they like the thrill of "winging it".

I never thought the man was a racist, just a poor teacher (but perhaps an excellent scholar). Poor classroom teacher though. Plus, he did not know how to respond to the students effectively when they met with him.
This statement comes weeks later, after meeting with lawyers.

It's all about communication skills, in our personal lives and professions.