On Tuesday, several students at Princeton University walked out of a classroom due to an anthropology professor teaching a course on “Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy and Pornography,” repeatedly using the word “nigger” in class. Reported the Daily Princetonian:
According to students, during lecture for the course ANT 212: Cultural Freedoms, anthropology professor Lawrence Rosen asked students, “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a n****r?”
The lecture focused on the topic of oppressive symbolism.
“He was describing what is acceptable as free speech and what is not,” explained Devyn Holliday ’18 in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
According to students, Rosen allegedly said the word “n****r” twice more as part of discussions after his original question.
Shocked students apparently asked Rosen if he was going to keep on using the word, to which the professor allegedly replied, “Yes, if I think it’s necessary.”
“It’s supposed to deliver a gut punch, so that’s why I used it,” he was reported to have said.
Granted, the “N” word has truly appalling connotations and ghastly history of use, but it should be remembered that this was a class on ‘Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy and Pornography’. Forget the fact that the professor’s use of the word was strictly in the context of the subject being taught (as was my use of it above), if students didn’t want to hear nasty words, why on earth would they take the class?
The rise of this irrational, deeply troubling trend in college campuses has already created the mother of all backlashes with the Alt Right, and it is set to do further damage if left unchecked. Students are demanding new gender pronouns be written into law, creating human chains to block white students from going through certain areas on campus, demanding the resignation of professors and administrators who refuse to bow to their insane demands, and are rioting to prevent right wing speakers from airing their views on campus. For an example of this madness, just watch the 2015 protests at the University of Missouri featuring the notorious Dr. Melissa Click (pictured above), the poster child for identity politics who threatened to have a student reporter physically assaulted for taking photos:
This utter insanity is one of the reasons why Donald Trump was elected 12 months later.
In the never ending quest to “out woke” each other, modern students are quite literally losing the plot — and themselves as individuals. As Andrew Sullivan wrote today in a thoughtful (if somewhat exaggerated) essay on the excesses of identity politics:
When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large. What matters most of all in these colleges — your membership in a group that is embedded in a hierarchy of oppression — will soon enough be what matters in the society as a whole.
While Sullivan may be overstating the case a little, he has a point. In the past, I’ve been somewhat sympathetic to the rampant identity politics on the left, particularly after watching the government being hijacked by an equally insane right wing movement. Extreme Leftists are by nature almost completely incapable of organizing themselves given the savagery with which they attack each other, but the intellectual movement seems to be taking hold of society in an alarming way. If young people are incapable of listening to ideas and words they don’t like, militant on their allegiance to group identity, and completely intolerant towards anyone they deem inadequately oppressed (read white people), they will be woefully ill equipped to go into the real world. Worse, if they begin shaping society according to their insualr principles of “being woke”, a movement far, far nastier than the Alt Right is going to emerge that will make Donald Trump look like a centrist liberal. As Sullivan points out, the signs are that this is already happening:
Workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago. Voice dissent from this worldview and you’ll be designated a bigot and fired (see James Damore at Google). The media is out front on this too. Just as campuses have diversity tsars, roaming through every department to make sure they are in line, we now have a “gender editor” at the New York Times, Jessica Bennett. Her job is to “curate, elevate and expand gender reporting” throughout the newsroom. Among her previous work are forums on male abuse of power.
I’m not entirely convinced that all of this is bad, but if carried out to the extremes we are seeing on campuses around the country, we are going to be living in a society that fails to recognize the individual and makes group identity the sole arbiter of a person’s value. Given the complex ethnic, sexual and gender based identities we all have, it will be a nightmare to figure out which group gets to determine who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor.
The #MeToo movement has, I believe, been a huge positive for a society and a long overdue reckoning of the misogynistic culture women have had to put up with for a very, very long time. But its excesses are beginning to show, and identity politics madness has begun to dig its claws in. It is worth remembering that white women were attacked by radical feminists during the Women’s March last year for wearing “pussy hats” that were “exclusionary” to trans people. As Pink News reported:
The anti-trans sentiment on one particular sign at the Vancouver Women’s March was made worse by the prevalence of pussy hats, which many believe to be exclusionary.
The hats are said to limit the idea of a woman to those who have vaginas..
They fall under the banner of biological essentialism – that is, that a person is made female by their body parts, not how they self-identify.
While I’m an advocate of trans rights, this is lunacy. The women’s marches happened largely in response to the election of Donald Trump — a man who assaulted many white women and bragged of “grabbing ’em by the pussy”. To argue that they were somehow “exclusionary” to trans women for protesting against his vile misogyny, is completely ridiculous and an insult to the millions of women who have suffered various forms of sexual abuse and harassment.
The politics of oppression knows no end, and it is unwittingly destroying important causes that desperately need our attention. Police brutality against African Americans, xenophobia, the sexual harassment and abuse of women, homophobia and transphobia are all very real problems that our society has to come to terms with. Those walking out of classes because of words they don’t like, demanding cuddly toys in pillow laden “safe spaces”, and accusing people who practice Yoga of being “white supremacists” are not helping anyone other than themselves. They are creating more division and a far less tolerant society in the name of extreme political correctness, and there appears to be no way to talk them back off the ledge.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.