The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tough Love

Extreme political correctness on America's college campuses has been the target of more than a little deserved ridicule of late. The idea of "microagressions" and "safe places" within the ivy covered walls of academia is ... well .. laughable. The implication is clear—college students are too delicate, too sheltered, and too provincial to listen to views that are different than theirs. And if those views are mean-spirited or even worse, bigoted, they cannot bear to listen becuase it might traumatize them. In fact, they will dis-invite any speaker who might offend any group on campus and will shout down anyone who has somehow passed through their PC filter.

Colin Quinn does an excellent job of explaining the situation:

But fear not. Academics really don't like to be ridiculed. Two academics, Barry Glassner and Morton Schapiro, tell us not to be "so quick to mock colleges on 'trigger warnings' and 'micro-aggressions'.

They tell the story of "a brilliant young African American woman who had been highly engaged on campus and in her course work, an "A" student, recoil from her classes and her classmates after returning to her dormitory one afternoon."

The reason—racist graffiti she noticed on a poster in her dorm.

No one condones the low achievement, low IQ individuals who might scrawl racist graffiti, but is this the first time "a brilliant young African American woman" had encountered such? Certainly, the woman would be justified in her anger. She would be justified in demanding that the perpetrators be found and punished. But was she really so delicate that she "recoiled from her classes and classmates?" Is she really so weak that she needs a safe place within a safe place?

The world can be a nasty place and on the broader scale of nasty things, racist graffiti, although objectionable, doesn't even rise above the water line. To note just one example, genocidal acts against Christian minorities and sex slavery that includes children perpetrated by Islamic extremists in Syria today does rise above the water line, and a graphic encounter with that nasty reality would traumatize most of us. But graffiti?

The authors go on to state:
Wholesale denouncements of young people's concerns only hinder our efforts to do right by our students. Statements like the following sound more informed than they actually are: "Trigger warnings are presented as a gesture of empathy, but the irony is they lead only to more solipsism, an over-preoccupation with one's own feelings — much to the detriment of society as a whole." So wrote author Jenny Jarvie in the New Republic, echoing much of the commentary on this topic — and, we would note, the condemnation of rock 'n' roll music in its early days and Vietnam War protesters a decade later.

Today's college students would not be struggling to deal with sexual assault and racism from their childhoods and on our campuses had their parents and grandparents made the world as harmonious as we imagined we would. Let's hope the "square" generation will do a better job than we did.
Ahh, so it's us geezers who are to blame, huh? After all, if the world was all rainbows and unicorns, none of this stuff would be necessary.

Ya know, the academics might be right. After all, far too many members of the early baby boom worked near full time jobs throughout college so we wouldn't come out the other end with heavy debt. We didn't enroll in woman's studies curricula, but rather much more mundane disciplines that actually led to paying jobs. We had few illusions about changing the world, and we didn't have time for narcissistic navel gazing. We took jobs even though they might be drudgery, all in the hope that we would progress to better jobs, earn money for our families, and yes, send our kids to college in a way that didn't require them to work and study in equal portions.

There are spoiled brats in every generation who want to be shielded from the realities of life. But today, it seems that some college students are so weak that they refuse to listen to or encounter negative ideas. They're not in need of "safe places." They are in need of a little tough love.