Racial insensitivity is not good.
But then again, so is the lack of tolerance.
The departure of the University of Missouri president for having been tone deaf to racial concerns on his campus following a “strike” by football players sparked dialogue about casual racism. At the same time it is also putting a spotlight on the growing intolerance to other views that aren’t racist in the truest sense but simply aren’t embraced by the new Free Speech* Movement that’s becoming entrenched on college campuses.
The asterisk is for the underlying qualifying assumption of the self-styled campus Mario Savios of the 21st century — free speech is allowed only if they agree with it. George Orwell saw this one coming in “Animal Farm.”
uIn October, the student government at Wesleyan University initiated steps to cut funding for the student newspaper because it had the audacity to publish an opinion piece criticizing the movement known as Black Lives Matter. It dovetails into numerus other college flare-ups where Black Matters movement people have objected to those pushing All Lives Matter arguing it dilutes their speech.
uGeorge Will — a prominent nationally syndicated conservative columnist was uninvited in 2014 from speaking at a Scripps College program to promote conservative views because some students didn’t like some of his conservative views. Since then so many invited speakers at colleges have been “dis-invited” to speak or address commencement exercises because some students objected to something the invited speakers have said that a website has sprung up listing the uninvited.
uA lecturer’s email response to Yale University’s Intercultural Affairs Council pronouncement that students should avoid Halloween costumes such as blackface or Native American Indian garb that might offend touched off a firestorm of protests. The lecturer’s offending words? She suggested it might be OK to be “a little bit obnoxious . . . a little bit inappropriate or proactive or, yes, offensive.” You can see a representative posting of the reaction of some students by going to You Tube to view a clip of a Yale student screaming at the lecturer’s husband about his wife’s email comments. The husband also happens to be a Yale professor.
uA long-time University of Colorado sociology professor was forced to quit after a student protested they were offended with a skit she had been using for 25 years in her Deviance in U.S. Society course. (Remember the course name as you continue reading.) It involved volunteers dressing up to portray prostitutes. She was told by college brass that the skit “could offend students” based on nationality, gender, and sexual orientation. They told her she could take a buyout out or risk being terminated if another student complained. The professor — Patricia Alder — took the buyout.
Alder has been quoted as saying, “I don’t know what they (the students) expect to find when they go out into the world.”
Good question as some college students would find offense in Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World After All” attraction.
Intolerance at colleges of things that may offend those who as “offendees” find offensive has prompted comics to drop racy and biting commentary from their acts when stepping on a campus to perform.
Racism shouldn’t be acceptable, period.
But what is going on now on many campuses is not higher education but higher indoctrination.
One dare not take on the new establishment as defined by those empowered by the politically correct movement to censure any argument, viewpoint, or words as inappropriate unless they agree with them.
If they are operating under the pre-tense they are changing the world, they may want to take some upper division courses that delve into how dictators such as Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Francois Duvalier, Francisco Franco, and Saddam Hussein gained power. They got silencing those that disagreed with them down to an art.
Real change comes from an exchange of viewpoints and ideas. That involves engaging, listening, and reflecting. The in-your-face approach may work well when soldiers are being trained so that they won’t question orders in life and death situations but it does nothing to advance tolerance in society.
The world is indeed big enough for all kinds of views.
There are 7 billion people and counting out there. If you believe they all should either think like you or else be silenced there’s not much hope for the world.
The ouster of University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin that essentially was leveraged by concerns over losing lucrative TV money from college football underscores where we are headed.
If you don’t like a viewpoint or perceived inaction then simply outshout those you disagree with by proclaiming they offended you.
In Loftin’s case protestors were upset about his apparent lack of action on complaints of casual racism. He may indeed have earned an exit ticket. But in the end, how is that going to change the world?
Fear only keeps people “in line” for so long.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.