There’s an interesting dialectic being “covered” by the media. PC (politically correct) culture seems to be “on the rise” at university and college campuses around the nation, supposedly promoting soft-bellied infantilism at a detriment to intellectual discourse.
This new generation, described by a recent feature in The Atlantic as “shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable,” is purportedly numbing critical thinking and exchange and creating a young adult culture of narcissists.
If we, as young adults and college students, are going to accept this accusation, let us first find out where it comes from.
Identity politics and political correctness are nothing new. These concepts were hotly debated in the late 80s and early 90s, and well before. In fact, whenever one group or demographic begins to voice their concerns about fair representation and treatment in a capitalist society that creates, by definition, a lower caste of “losers,” those in power begin to feel a little uncomfortable.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a non-profit advocate for the defense of “individual rights at America’s colleges and universities,” funded in part by the Koch Foundation (which has regularly donated one-quarter to one-half of all revenue). It has argued litigation against the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice in their resolution with the University of Montana over negligent handling of sexual assault cases, where broader oversight and protection of victims was suggested.
It has also campaigned against the adoption of multicultural curriculum material at the University of Minnesota in their Teacher Education Department, stating that exposing students to the idea that some cultures and nations are more disadvantaged than others historically, calling it “remedial re-education” and “a severe affront to liberty.”
It has consistently provided legal support for students with religious “views” that place them at odds with anti-discrimination policies (such as the harassment of LGBT students) and for alleged sexual assault and rape perpetrators at colleges and universities.
FIRE’s most recent target is the perceived “PC culture” at universities such as Yale and Mizzou, where protests and allegations of racial discrimination have made national headlines.
The president and CEO of FIRE is Greg Lukianoff, who along with Jonathan Haidt, a professor at the NYU-Stern School of Business, authored the above-mentioned article in The Atlantic, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” one of the most widely-circulated pieces on the current Mizzou and Yale protests.
In the article, Lukianoff and Haidt criticize the idea of microaggressions, lambast trigger warnings for survivors of trauma, and assert that our morality “blinds” us to reality. In other words, if you have been victimized by the bastions of power that govern the Western world, sit down, shut up and color. The ability to express your worldview is only afforded to those with the most politically correct frame of reference.
Also, you’re making the powerful feel highly uncomfortable.
Also published in the SNC Eagle’s Eye on Dec. 3, 2015.