A small private college that received a $500 million donation from leftist billionaire George Soros is featuring a course this fall that aims to teach students how to “sell” abolishing prisons and the police.
Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson in Dutchess County, New York, lists “Abolishing Prisons and the Police” as a course for the coming fall semester.
Kwame Holmes is scheduled to teach the course, which has the following description:
This course explores what’s to be gained, lost and what we can’t imagine about a world without prisons. Through the figure of abolition (a phenomenon we will explore via movements to end slavery, the death penalty, abortion, gay conversion therapy and more) we will explore how and why groups of Americans have sought to bring an absolute end to sources of human suffering. In turn, we will explore a history of the punitive impulse in American social policy and seek to discern means of intervening against it. Finally, on the specific question of prison abolition, we will think through how to “sell” abolition to the masses and design a multi-media ad campaign to make prison abolition go viral.
Holmes’ bio states he is a “Scholar-In-Residence in the Human Rights Project” at Bard and is described as a “critical geographer, historian, and cultural critic with a particular interest in the emotional politics of urban development and inequality.”
“He reads the history of modern cities and social movements through a black queer studies frame,” the bio adds. “His work has appeared in Radical History Review, Occasion and No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies.”
Currently, Holmes is reportedly revising a book manuscript titled Queer Removal: Liberalism and Displacement in the Nation’s Capital.
Within a “pod,” neighbors construct a new, horizontally oriented social contract between themselves. While most mutual aid focuses on the delivery of essential services, neighborhood pods would also create intentional agreements around safety. Pod members may choose to pool resources to replace stolen property, to engage in rideshares if a car is vandalized, to supply food if someone is injured in a violent attack. Participants may agree to not call the police, refusing to absolve themselves of the responsibility to resolve conflict amongst themselves.
Holmes argued the establishment of “pods,” would “eliminate the false choice between an evil ‘doer’ and an innocent ‘done to;’ which in turn, reframes crime from an absolute ‘wrong’ to a blow to healthy communal relationships.”
“Abolishing Prisons and the Police” is listed as part of Bard’s “Hate Studies Initiative,” which is described on the school’s website as containing courses that pertain to:
Inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail, control, or combat, that capacity.” Courses noted with ** are new hate-centric courses supported with funding from the Bard Center for the Study of Hate (underwritten with a generous grant from GS Humane Corp).
The school describes the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, established in 2018 with what is referred to as a “generous endowment from the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation,” as an initiative that “works to increase the serious study of human hatred, and ways to combat it.”
“The Center will support faculty and students throughout the Bard network who want to study and/or combat hatred and its various manifestations,” Bard states on its website.
Bard added the grant will facilitate the school’s “exemplary educational and social initiatives, establish the College’s most substantial endowment ever, and set the state for a $1 billion endowment drive.”
The college also noted it is a founding partner of “the new Open Society University Network,” in partnership with Soros’ Open Society Foundations.