16 November 2015

Has Academia Created A Politically Correct Romper Room For Pretend Adults?

The people who came out of the ‘60s are currently in control of the [teaching American history] profession and it’s become essentially race-class-gender issues. ~ Professor Gordon S. Wood
College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars. ~ Professor Gordon S. Wood
"Romper Room" is actually a bad analogy. Those students and teachers were well-behaved. And it's becoming more and more difficult to determine who are the real adolescents - the students or the faculty and administration on college campuses. We all know it. The avalanche of the latest news about protests over Halloween and other made up "offenses" have made this undeniably clear. Undeniable to the honest among us and for those not complicit or afraid or too heavily invested to admit it.

While the intelligentsia in academia like to view themselves as the  mature, sophisticated and educated elite among us, they are actually, in many cases, the exact opposite. They are immature with little real world experience. If recent news hasn't convinced you of that, I would suggest you might be detached from reality. 

But detached from reality is what one could conclude reading the blogs of certain historians. They suggest anyone who sees or notes the kooky left-wing nonsense on college campuses is somehow projecting fantasies and that political correctness is much ado about nothing. But if they're not detached from reality, that leaves a few other possibilities:
  • They're complicit and are advancing the same agenda.
  • They realize it is nonsense, but are afraid to speak out. In other words, they're cowards.
  • They're woefully ignorant.
Gone are the days when criticizing the PC idiocy in academia can be credibly dismissed as "right-wing" fear mongering (please note that the attempt at dismissal comes primarily from left wing academics who are in denial). Recent events have made that abundantly clear, though most of us living on the outside of what is the bubble of academia and its allies already knew this. Let's consider some recent news and commentary. 

From the Wall Street Journal:
As one left-wing professor wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “After the Vietnam War, a lot of us didn’t just crawl back into our literary cubicles; we stepped into academic positions. With the war over, our visibility was lost, and it seemed for a while—to the unobservant—that we had disappeared. Now we have tenure, and the work of reshaping the universities has begun in earnest.” 
And . . .
The truth is that American universities are among the safest and most coddled environments ever devised by man. The idea that one should attend college to be protected from ideas one might find controversial or offensive could only occur to someone who had jettisoned any hope of acquiring an education. Many commentators have been warning about a “higher education bubble.” They have focused mostly on the unsustainable costs of college, but the spectacle of timid moral self-indulgence also deserves a place on the bill of indictment.
And this from Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz (hardly a "right-winger"):
Well, this is the same people who claim they’re seeking diversity. The last thing many of these students want is real diversity. Diversity of ideas. They may want superficial diversity of gender. Superficial diversity of color, but they don’t want diversity of ideas. We’re seeing a curtain of McCarthyism descend over many college campuses. You know, I don’t want to make analogies to the 1930s but we have to remember that it was the students at universities who first started burning books during the Nazi regime. And these students are book burners. They don’t want to hear diverse views on college campuses.
Is Professor Dershowitz "projecting a fantasy"? Hardly. He's spot on and I've noted the EXACT same thing here for years, while other history bloggers have scoffed and mocked. And, speaking of fantasies, how about the new trend of the chic-victim - "microagressions"?

As a recent piece in the LA Times noted:
Bradley Campbell, an associate professor of sociology at Cal State Los Angeles, said the movement is transforming society from a "dignity culture," in which people are taught to have thick skins and refuse to allow others to affect their sense of self-worth, to a "victimhood culture" that advertises personal oppression.
And this from, of all places, The Atlantic, regarding (see previous post) Halloween Costumes at Yale:
Everyone invested in how the elites of tomorrow are being acculturated should understand, as best they can, how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance.
Could it be that the "how" of the creation of this "flagrant intolerance" lies in the words and criticism of esteemed history Professor Gordon S. Wood (as well as many others):
It’s as if academics have given up trying to recover an honest picture of the past, . . .  and have decided that their history-writing should become simply an instrument of moral hand-wringing. .  .  . College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history.
"Obsessed with inequality." Obsession is unhealthy. It often leads to extremes and, as we've seen in recent events, violence. So the blame for all this should be laid at the door of those who have taught and supported these obsessions with the negative aspects of American History, while downplaying our founding principles of liberty and individual rights. A recent report of scholars and historians noted this imbalance and obsession. The report was signed by a few individuals who would be familiar to students of the War Between the States - Dr. Steven Woodworth and Kent Masterson Brown. A Washington Post article on the report made this observation about the report:
Dozens of academics, calling themselves “Scholars Concerned About Advanced Placement History” have published an open letter opposing the College Board’s new framework for the AP U.S. History course, saying that it presents “a grave new risk” to the study of America’s past, in large part because it ignores American exceptionalism. . . . The letter was signed by historians and others from a wide range of schools including Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Princeton universities . . .
And this . . .
Critics complained that the framework does not mention important American historical figures, such as Benjamin Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr., but focuses on some of the darker episodes in American history. [Kinda like what Jerry Springer does. The operative word here is focus.]
And . . .
The new framework is organized around such abstractions as “identity,” “peopling,” “work, exchange, and technology,” and “human geography” while downplaying essential subjects, such as the sources, meaning, and development of America’s ideals and political institutions, notably the Constitution. Elections, wars, diplomacy, inventions, discoveries—all these formerly central subjects tend to dissolve into the vagaries of identity-group conflict.
Are you beginning to see the pattern here? 

You can't focus on "identity-group conflict" and the "darker episodes in American history" without eventuating cause and effect. The recent turmoil on college campuses is the effect. The cause lies in how American history is being taught not only in college classrooms, but in high school as well.

And, once again, Gordon Wood nails the "cause":
Gone is the idea that history should provide a fund of compelling stories about exemplary people and events. No longer will students hear about America as a dynamic and exemplary nation, flawed in many respects, but whose citizens have striven through the years toward the more perfect realization of its professed ideals. The new version of the test will effectively marginalize important ways of teaching about the American past, and force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a perspective that self-consciously seeks to de-center American history and subordinate it to a global and heavily social-scientific perspective.
Beyond the inaccuracy of this perspective in teaching and the agenda-driven chaos it creates, it also creates a very immature and shallow perspective of American history. It creates young adults (and I use the term loosely) who have a chip on their shoulder about everything from offensive Halloween costumes, to being served certain ethnic themed cuisines, to the injustice of celebrating Columbus Day. It is, besides insane, childish.

Welcome to Romper Room 2.0, courtesy of academia and the education establishment.

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