We are apolitical at the MBA School Of MBA Credentials.
Our challenge is to view the world through the lens of curiosity and apply MBA Thinking whenever problems need solutions.
And such a problem has arisen in some LinkedIn discussions I have been involved with in the wake of some US institutions like Middlebury College revoking an Honorary Degree previously bestowed upon Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics’ Senior Advisory Committee removing US Representative Elise Stefanik, citing her false statements about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
In the course of congratulating my peers on making decisive decisions in a LinkedIn discussion, a particular band of pro-Trump LinkedIn members (and I use this term neutrally and without malice, simply with care and curiosity) have pushed back and responded to me in ways hitherto unseen by me. Here are two I remember clearly:
It’s a bit galling to hear someone from South Africa whose history of repression outpaces even the US. We have our problems but they are our problems. I will end my comments with isn’t it strange that 74 – 80 million people believe there was fraud? The optics & perception is bad at best. Furthermore, the state is Texas have arrested a women for voter fraud & on video she claims 7 – 8k in vote harvesting. With that in mind if you have 100 such people you are looking @ 70 – 80k in fraud. Which in any of the swing states means the election (J M, High School Teacher)
And this was another comment that I received from J M, shortly after I said – to have earnest, thoughtful debate, it is wholesome to begin by trying to explain one’s opponent’s position with charity and await their endorsement of your interpretation. May I give you the honour of starting?:
Sebastian Longsword oh please don’t … my reasons are; 1) do you have any foundational understanding of American gov or American social mindsets. 2) it is interesting that someone from South Africa is lecturing the US on what free speech is 3) I am sure your information is from MSM & these sources are notoriously biased. So please for the love of god stop (J M, High School Teacher)
I am sharing this story so that others might learn how to conduct oneself when receiving criticism and how we must always seek to apply MBA thinking in all situations.
Not everybody shares our earnest curiosity
The first thing we should understand when entering public discussions is that not everybody holds our same mindset of earnestly (and sometimes cheekily) pursuing insights with curiosity in the way that Alice pursues the White Rabbit in Through The Looking Glass.
The rich vein of conversation with pro-Trump LinkedIn users began with this exchange in relation to Harvard’s removal of a US politician after her citation of false statements about voter fraud.
– It is not okay that our academic institutions are limiting freedom of speech and inquiry. This must stop! (C M, Social Science Educator)
– Are you wanting to protect these voter fraud conspiracists so you have more subjects to study as a social scientist? Well played. I know an epidemiologist who laments people washing their hands because it reduces her chances of encountering rich strands of new viruses. (Professor Longsword – me)
– Sebastian Longsword no. I simply believe in the Constitution. (C M)
Deflated by the emphatic use of “no”, I moved on to other discussions, not knowing that John and Armen were about to stir the waters and lead me to some profound insights.
Lesson: What sometimes appears as failure is often a success wrapped in shoddy wrapping paper.
The birth of the Reverse Citation
In torrent of comments that arose, from people taking issue about institutions distancing themselves from what they perceived as “bad players”, two main trends emerged.
The first one was a mantra-like, almost religious chanting of “I believe in the Constitution” and that as a “South African” I would have no understanding of this profound American document.
As it happens, it does appear to be that the First Amendment about freedom of speech applies to actions of the State and not to actions of private institutions.
This harkens back to Abraham Maslow’s enshrining of the Law Of The Instrument:
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Indeed, it does seem the bevvy of speakers in the LinkedIn “debate” had a large Constitution in their hands and were obsessed with swinging it around to hit any other comments or commentors within reach.
But the second them was the constant dismissal of my comments because I listen to MSM, or MainStream Media.
And this is where we hit a wall (not THAT wall) in the pursuit of enquiry, that then opened up the window of MBA opportunity.
When the only option for keeping pro-Trump writers engaged is to not quote from MSM sources, we should go one step further and use Reverse Citations to put them at ease. Here is an example of a Trump quote with citation:
I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything. DIC1
The new citation stands for Directly Identified Content. It would apply in this case because one can listen to the taped recording of Trump saying those words directly.
There is alternative Reverse Citation that is more emphatic. In this example, when quoting directly from Trump’s Twitter account, one could cite as follows:
These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. FOCK1
This citation stands for Free Of CNN Knowledge.
As you can see, academia must do its best to help shine the light of knowledge for all and if this small concession of Reverse Citations will help gain the trust of the “75 million” who voted for Trump, then I urge my peers at Harvard and Middlebury and all the other august institutions to employ this nomenclature.
The final word – more work needed
Perhaps, the final word should go to A M, because in one of his comments he raised the spectre of sexting and I am not sure how to insert superscript digits while sexting, to ensure correct citing.
Sebastian Longsword Yes and the earth is flat. You don’t know what the truth is. You only know what CNN and Fox tell you. Relax. It’s not ok to fire someone over ideology just like it’s not ok to fire someone due to their sextual preference. (A M)
You can learn how to view the world with the wonder and insight of MBA Thinking, by joining us during the Adelaide Fringe Semester to undertake your Luncthime MBA; come for lunch, leave with a qualification!