The “Royal Asses,” as this blog calls them, are student “agitators” (their word) at Harvard Law School who appear relatively uninterested in their legal studies, or in achieving any practical change in the world, and who instead are obsessed with ensuring that no one in the world ever again sees the following image, which is currently the official Harvard Law School crest:
You see, the three stacked wheat sheaves are borrowed from the family crest of Isacc Royall, a wealthy slaveowner who donated money to Harvard, money eventually used create its first law professorship.
This isn’t something discovered by the Royal Asses. It’s not any deep, dark secret that the law school is trying to cover up. The law school candidly notes its historical connection to profits from slavery on its web page, and two of its professors have spent considerable time researching and publicizing that connection (see, e.g., here, here, here, and here). In fact, during 1L orientation, Dean Minow personally calls students’ attention to this aspect of the law school’s history.
Not content with the law school being fully transparent about its past connection to slavery, the Royal Asses insist that this must happen:
So on October 23, they set up a Facebook page with that title: Royall Must Fall, and they held a rally, timed to attract attention from hundreds of alumni, who were visiting for reunions.
But no cared. No reasonable person should spend his or her time and energy caring what’s on the law school’s crest, given that the law school has been fully transparent about its historical connection to a slave-holding family. No one except the agitators attended the rally. Only about 25 people showed, about 1% of the student population, as one can see by viewing photos of the rally here.
The launch of the movement generated brief treatments in several publications, notably the Harvard Crimson, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and EAG News, but that was all the attention the Royal Asses got prior to November 19.
Now the Royall Asses are garnering worldwide attention for their movement, on account of “Tape-Gate” — the strips of black electrical tape, placed on the glass covering portraits of black law professors in the main classroom building, and discovered early in the morning of November 19. (See, e.g., Guardian, New York Times, Atlantic, New York Daily News, Daily Caller, American Conservative, and VDare; followup pieces in the Washington Post and Harvard Crimson; and op-eds in the Harvard Crimson and Harvard Law Record). Within hours of the tape being discovered, a professor allied with the Royall Asses was pointificating on public television about the importance of eliminating those stacked wheat sheaves from the law school’s crest.
Who are the “Royall Asses”? Any assessment of whether the Royall Asses might have staged Tape-Gate as a PR stunt needs to begin with that question. The Royall Must Fall Facebook page includes no membership list, but here is some background on its three key members, each of whom has been identified in media reports as a leader of the group and/or has done on-the-record interviews or op-eds, thus becoming public figures (with all the scrutiny that status entails).
Here he is leading the October 23 Royall Must Fall protest:
Interestingly, long before the professors’ portraits in Wasserstein Hall became known worldwide in the aftermath of Tape-Gate, Mr. Vormawor appeared to be fascinated by the portraits. He even featured a photo of one of the portraits as his Facebook profile picture, on October 19.
Mr. Vormawor also appears to enjoy taking extreme views and going to extremes in expressing those views, suggesting it may not be far-fetched to believe him capable of staging a “hate crime” hoax to bring attention to his agitation against the Harvard Law School crest.
For example, in Facebook posts — ones so poorly written that one wonders how he got admitted to Harvard Law School — Mr. Vormawor explains that he is “by nature a contrarian who does not believe that the establishment deserves to be supported.”
But he doesn’t want politicians with experience: “That fucking experience logic is what is driving us to the grave.”
He calls politicians in Ghana “animals,” justifying a “Military coup to wipe the slate clean.” But that’s not nearly enough, he says to cleanse “an entire nation living like uncivilised brutes”: “We need all to drown, disappear from the surface of the earth completely in a single act,” because “clearly we do not deserve our existence.”
He also has interesting comments on religion. For example, he mocks Christians who use Facebook because, you see, it’s “a platform powered by an amazing JEWISH youngman.” He mocks Jesus, who he describes as “the messiah . . . who’s [sic] fart raises the dead and cures schizophrenia.” And, he wonders “[h]ow on earth Islam got stuck with the rap sheet as the world’s most violent religion.”
Mr. Vormawor has many other interesting observations on his Facebook page, including on whether “learning to fuck from porn stars” is a good idea; on how “I have always fancied myself ASIAN“; and on “where the fuck do people get acid from?” His philosophy is that “I only have one life and i’m going to ride this one till the wheels fall off!” (Apparently he’s a Tom Cochrane fan.)
But Mr. Vormawor isn’t the only leader of the Royall Must Fall group.
Mr. Clayborne studied English at the University of Maryland but you’d never know it, given his horrible writing on social-media platforms (admittedly with ample opportunity for outside help he can turn in a competently written, if unoriginal, college thesis). It’s remarkable that he somehow, nonetheless, made it into Harvard Law School.
His Twitter account and Facebook posts reveal him to be a typical shallow-minded liberal. For example, he attacks Republicans as moral cowards and blatant hypocrites. He despises the NRA and Fox News. He presses for Muslim holidays to be observed by schools and attacks critics of Sharia law.
He seems obsessed with racial “microaggressions” — and not just what white people say to him. Just walking around campus gives him the creeps. Like Mr. Vormawor, Mr. Clayborne seems to have an unhealthy obsession with portraits of law professors which normal people barely notice. For example, he writes about how he gets “freaked out walking down the hallway lined with portraits of white man after white man.”
Viewing statuary is also a “triggering” event for Mr. Clayborne. He feels it’s racist that there’s an “enormous white marble statue of Joseph Story” in the library, “while Thurgood Marshall gets a poorly lit plaque” — apparently unaware that the statue was carved and donated by Story’s son (a famous sculptor) and that nobody donated a statue of Marshall (perhaps he should get a job, make some money, and do that, rather than complain about racist statuary).
Mr. Clayborne seems to have a bit of a lazy streak. For example, when he began law school he started “a blog for my family and friends back in Maryland . . . who would like to know what I’m up to while I’m away.” But he ended up writing only two further posts. The first one mentioned (revealing his sophomoric level of writing when unassisted) “the fun things I got to do while meeting my classmates this week,” including “basketball, a free lunch, free ice cream,” and promised that his next post would describe “my first day of class.” But he never got around to doing that. In his next and final post, six weeks later, he complained that he’d been “facing the beast of burn out,” and hoped that he’d be able to “post more often” — but he never posted again.
Mr. Clayborne complains about how boring law school classes are. He complains about “the way HLS does grades.” He seems much more interested in leisure pursuits than in studying law. When he’s not busy binge-watching TV shows such as The Wire, Key and Peele, and Neon Genesis Evangelion; critiquing comic-book movies, rap albums, and Star Wars haters; and playing video games, he enjoys practicing kung fu in his dorm room. For some reason he “endorse[s] the use of dogs as live bait for sharks.”
Occasionally Mr. Clayborne waxes prophetic: “Sometimes I feel like a self-aware Icarus. I know I’ve been blessed enough to fly close to the sun . . . but I’m scared to death that fickle fortune will melt my wings!” Now, it seems, the heat is on.
His personal blog (deleted, but archived pages are available here and here) reveals him to have the odd combination, like Messrs. Vormawor and Clayborne, of being both intellectually vacuous (for a sample of his sophomoric writing, see his 9/3/2012 entry on goat racing and his 9/10/12 complaints about the bureaucracy at a Ugandan university) and morally messianic.
As to his messianic tendencies, on 8/24/2012 he wrote that “[t]hroughout my academic career, I have been drawn to topics that reveal the extent of mankind’s capacity for evil,” for example, the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in Soviet Russia and Armenia.
Apparently seeing three stacked wheat sheaves on the law school crest displayed about campus, reminding him of a slaveowner who died more than two centuries ago, is too palpable a reminder of evil in the world for Mr. Klosterboer to have to bear.
Mr. Klosterboer has a track record of fighting other great evil in this world. In college he was a leader in students’ selfless fight against student loan debt, and participated in a conference call with President Obama on the subject.
So how did Mr. Klosterboer manage to get admitted to Harvard Law School? Apparently by playing the diversity/PC do-gooder card. He’s a gay Texan who attended college in Kentucky and then spent a year in Uganda studying “the emerging field of peace journalism.”
Perhaps Mr. Klosterboer’s most interesting claim to fame is being the co-founder and part owner of a bar in Uganda. Mr. Klosterboer is quite proud of being a bar owner. In his bio on the homepage of the law school’s gay-rights organization he brags about how he “started a bar and restaurant in Uganda before coming to law school.” He goes into more detail on his Linkedin page: He “[c]ollaborated with a Ugandan partner to establish a bar and restaurant in downtown Kampala” and designed its website (www.jakobslounge.com), spending 18 months on the project.
The bar is called Jakob’s Lounge. Check it out next time you’re in Uganda. It’s the Best bar in Kampala,” at least according to TripAdvisor contributor “BKLOS90.” “BKLOS90” rated Jakob’s as a 5 out of 5 and wrote a detailed review, suggesting it was the “perfect bar in Kampala” — the only one “that stocks good bourbon,” offering “a comprehensive menu with lots of international food . . . at very affordable prices.”
Isn’t “BKLOS90” exactly the TripAdvisor handle you might pick if your name was Brian KLOSterboer, who was born in 1990? It turns out that “BKLOS90” is also Mr. Klosterboer’s Twitter handle. So he’s on record as being the kind of guy who’s willing to stoop to fraud to promote his projects — for example, staging a fake “hate crime” to promote Royall Must Fall. (TripAdvisor policy on “Fraud Detection” clearly states that reviews “should only be written by TripAdvisor members that have had a customer service experience,” making it fraud for “an owner to boost his/her own property’s reputation by . . . [w]riting a review for his/her own property.”)
On second thought, don’t check out Jakob’s Lounge next time you’re in Uganda. Because it turns out that Mr. Klosterboer wasn’t able to write enough fake reviews to keep the tourists showing up. Evidently Mr. Klosterboer got scammed on that bar, a bit like he admitted getting hoodwinked by a pickpocket ring shortly after he arrived in Uganda. According to his blog (8/29/12), Jakob is a guy he met the first day he arrived in Uganda and who was real friendly. His name’s Jakob Suuda.
Here they are at the bar:
Apparently Jakob snookered Mr. Klosterboer into “investing” in the bar, to fulfill Jakob’s supposed “long-time dream.” Mr. Klosterboer spent considerable money and time (18 months) on the project, but it failed, and Mr. Klosterboer’s entire investment went down the tubes, shortly after he left for law school in July, 2014. The website Mr. Klosterboer brags about having designed is no longer active, and the bar’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated in a year.
It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Klosterboer is more successful in eliminating those three stacked wheat sheaves from the law school crest than he was on that bar in Uganda.