Writing for the Far-Right website RedState, John Hawkins provides the following list of “15 Excerpts That Show How Radical, Weird And Out of Touch College Campuses Have Become”:
1) “College Students Say Remembering 9/11 Is Offensive to Muslims”: The everything-is-offensive brand of campus activism has struck a new low: Students at the University of Minnesota killed a proposed moment of silence for 9/11 victims due to concerns—insulting, childish concerns—that Muslim students would be offended.
2) “Portland State University Offers Course Teaching How to ‘Make Whiteness Strange”: According to Portland State University Professor Rachel Sanders’ “White Privilege” course, “whiteness” must be dismantled if racial justice will ever be achieved. The course description states that “whiteness is the lynchpin of structures of racial meaning and racial inequality in the United States” and claims that “to preserve whiteness is to preserve racial injustice.” Students taking the course will “endeavor to make whiteness strange.” In order to make whiteness strange, the description says students must “interrogate whiteness as an unstable legal, political, social, and cultural construction.”
3) “A University in the San Francisco Area Actually Told Students to Call 911 if They Were Offended”: Administrators at a Catholic university in the San Francisco Bay Area have rescinded an official school policy instructing students to clog up the regional 9-1-1 emergency reporting system to report ‘bias incidents.” The school is Santa Clara University, reports Campus Reform. Until this month, however, Santa Clara administrators have been instructing students to report “bias incidents” using the emergency service reserved for dispatching police, firefighters, and ambulances. “If the bias incident is in progress or just occurred: ALWAYS CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY,” the Santa Clara website instructed students in fierce, all-capital letters.”
4) “Educators in the Volunteer State are very concerned that students might be offended by the usage of traditional pronouns like she, he, him and hers, according to a document from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion”: For all you folks who went to school back when there were only him and her–-here’s a primer: some of the new gender neutral pronouns are ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr.
5) “A Professor at Polk State College has allegedly failed a humanities student after she refused to concede that Jesus is a ‘myth’ or that Christianity oppresses women during a series of mandatory assignments at the Florida college”: According to a press release from the Liberty Counsel, a non-profit public interest law firm, Humanities Professor Lance ‘Lj’ Russum gave a student a ‘zero’ on four separate papers because the 16-year-old did not ‘conform to his personal worldviews of Marxism, Atheism, Feminism, and homosexuality.’ The law firm has called for a full, private investigation of the professor and the course curriculum.”
6) “College Codes Make ‘Color Blindness’ a Microaggression”: “UCLA says ‘Color Blindness,’ the idea we shouldn’t obsess over people’s race, is a microaggression. If you refuse to treat an individual as a ‘racial/cultural being,’ then you’re being aggressive.”
7) “The phrase ‘politically correct’ is now a microaggression according to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: “The university’s ‘Just Words’ campaign is the work of UWM’s ‘Inclusive Excellence Center’ and aims to ‘raise awareness of microaggressions and their impact’—microaggressions like ‘politically correct’ or ‘PC.’”
8) ) “‘American,’ ‘illegal alien,’ ‘foreigners,’ ‘mothering,’ and ‘fathering’ are just a handful of words deemed ‘problematic’ by the University of New Hampshire’s Bias-Free Language Guide”: “Saying ‘American’ to reference Americans is also problematic. The guide encourages the use of the more inclusive substitutes ‘U.S. citizen’ or ‘Resident of the U.S.’ The guide also tries to get students to stop saying ‘Caucasian,’ ‘illegal Immigrant,’ ‘mother,’ ‘father’ and even the word ‘healthy’ is said to shame those who aren’t healthy.”
9) “Late yesterday afternoon, ACLJ filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brandon Jenkins against officials of The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) in Maryland for denying Brandon admission to its Radiation Therapy Program in part due to his expression of religious beliefs. As one faculty member explained to Brandon, on behalf of CCBC, the ‘field [of radiation therapy] is not the place for religion.’”
11) “According to Coastal Carolina University, sex is only consensual if both parties are completely sober and if consent is not only present, but also enthusiastic. This is a troubling standard that converts many ordinary, lawful sexual encounters into sexual assault, and it should frighten any student at CCU.”
12) “Clemson University Apologizes for Serving Mexican Food”: “Students took to Twitter to call the event culturally insensitive and to question the school’s efforts to promote diversity….Clemson Dining issued an apology to ‘offended’ students after hosting a ‘Maximum Mexican’ food day.”
13) “All-Women’s College Cancels ‘Vagina Monologues’ because It Excludes Women Without Vaginas.”
14) “The ‘Black Lives Matter’ leader who landed a teaching gig at Yale University delivered a lecture this week on the historical merits of looting as a form of protest, backing up his lesson with required reading that puts modern-day marauders on par with the patriots behind the Boston Tea Party.”
15) “Assistant Dean (at Cornell) Tells a Project Veritas Investigative Journalist that the University Would Allow an ISIS Terrorist to Hold a ‘Training Camp’ on Campus, Saying: ‘It Would be Like Bringing in a Coach to do a Training on a Sports Team.'”
I have a number of observations to make about this list.
First, although it links to many of the source articles, it does not provide any context for most of the items. So, for instance, to someone completely unfamiliar with race theory, item 2 on the course on whiteness may appear as odd as some of the other less easily explained items, but it is actually not very odd at all. White European culture has had such a predominant place in the U.S. that in order to understand its overriding influence over all aspects of American life, one does have to attempt to step outside of it, to appreciate how it looks from the outside. But, beyond this particular example, a great many fairly reasonable things can be made to appear very silly or weird simply by reducing them to details that, when isolated, may seem outlandish or by surrounding them with more outlandish items.
Second, even if one accepts that some significant percentage of the ideas are silly or more seriously weird, the article does not give one any context for understanding how typical these incidents are. If, for instance, they have occurred over the last fifteen years, that would average out to one per year, or if they have occurred over just this past year, that would average out to slightly more than one per month. Given the number of colleges and universities in the U.S., that is a very low incidence. And even if all of the items were culled from one week’s news, the very fact that they were culled from the news in a given week and not in other weeks would suggest that the number cited here is an aberration.
Third, I am fairly certain that if I were to scan the news for items that represent ridiculous expressions or demonstrations of Far Right ideology on our campuses, I could come up with at least a comparable list, if not a considerably longer one.
Fourth, the compilation of all of these items in a single list suggests that all of them have been equivalently endorsed by the institutions at which they have occurred. But, although a few of the items seem to have originated with university administrations, most of them involve professional staff, faculty, or students, acting individually or in groups, but not necessarily representing any official institutional positions. (I acknowledge that whether institutions can or should take positions on broader political, socio-economic, and cultural issues is itself an issue, but I am, here, simply trying to critique the assumptions behind making a list such as the one presented in this article.) So, some of the items may be things that were proposed but that never actually were endorsed by any significant number of people or any group that might be said to be representative of the institutions.
Lastly, we have to admit that, however well-intentioned they might be, some of the items are indisputably weird—and that a few may even seem to reflect a somewhat seriously skewed perspective. For, if we try to defend everything that those at our end of the political spectrum say or do, even when some of those things are ill-considered, then we must, in effect, own everything that the Far Right wishes to attribute to us. So, unlike many of those on the Far Right, we actually have to be willing to look critically at what those at our end of the political spectrum are saying and doing, and when necessary, we must be willing to say that what has been said or done should have been given more thought or nuance or, in some cases, simply should not have been said or done at all.
And, actually, if one follows the links provided in this list, a significant percentage of the sources are more progressive news websites and blogs, not Far Right sources.