The childish nature of modern American culture often gets me very depressed. Sadly, this depression is worsened by the fascist and intolerant culture that dominates much of America academia and that I have been noting with regular weekly reports since October. If our intellectual community acts like jack-booted thugs how can we expect our overall culture to be mature and civilized?
Anyway, here are a few more stories from the past week that unfortunately intensify my depression and the lack of enthusiasm I presently have for posting anything related to culture or politics. It all seems to be a cesspool, and horribly the academic community appears to relish the idea of swimming in it.
First, some stories indicating the close-mindedness and intolerance of the teaching community:
The second story is especially disturbing. The professor, Donna Riley, is head of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue. This is what she advocates for her school’s engineering program:
She claims that rigor can “reinforce gender, race, and class hierarchies in engineering, and maintain invisibility of queer, disabled, low-income, and other marginalized engineering students,” adding that “decades of ethnographic research document a climate of microaggressions and cultures of whiteness and masculinity in engineering.” She evens contends that “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing,” asserting that in the field of engineering, there is an “inherent masculinist, white, and global North bias…all under a guise of neutrality.”
To fight this, Riley calls for engineering programs to “do away with” the notion of academic rigor completely, saying, “This is not about reinventing rigor for everyone, it is about doing away with the concept altogether so we can welcome other ways of knowing. Other ways of being. It is about criticality and reflexivity.”
So, would you want to fly on a rocket built by engineers taught at Purdue, under this professor’s program?
Next we have stories that show that the intolerance is definitely not confined to the teachers, that the students are becoming as intolerant and as fascist.
In all three cases, the students themselves acted to squelch conservative views. Apparently, they have come to college to tell everyone else what they know (since they already know everything), rather than to learn something from others. Our future will sure be bright with them in charge!
Finally, two stories that indicate some hope.
The first story is about how Emory University has cleaned up its policies to guarantee the right of free speech. The action was instigated by the school’s professors in response to last year’s events when the now former university president tried to prevent students for writing “Vote Trump” in chalk on university grounds.
The second story suggests that in at least one case, acting out illegally and violently to prevent a conservative from speaking can get you in trouble with the law.
Though there does appear to be some push back in favor of freedom and free speech, overall I do not get the sense that the push back is big enough. Instead, my impression at this moment is that these positive stories are the exception that proves the rule, and that we are going to see a lot more oppression in the coming years.
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