Thursday, December 22, 2016

Progressives, Students and the Academy

After this last election members of the Academy have gone public in their need to reduce the fear and uncertainty in the poor students under their care. Frankly, I do not recall any such during the Vietnam War, but then people were getting killed, even fellow classmates. In this case we have "harmful" words. I gather the levels of harm have dramatically changed.

In the New Republic there is a classic example of this Progressive think that has taken over. Namely the author rebukes one of the NY Times Progressives, a fact in itself which is telling. The author states:

Kristof’s portrayal of campus liberals is just another form of elitist stereotyping, the mirror image of assumptions that every Trump supporter is a narrow-minded racist. By burlesquing progressives in academia, Kristof is making a faux-populist gesture of the very sort that drives the Trump-era right in its contempt for teaching and learning. Trump and his supporters have no regard for knowledge or debate, and thrive on petty caricaturing of political opponents. The right has turned the learning process that is student activism, with all of its inevitable triumphs and miscues, into national news fodder that’s meant to mock and discredit academia, not to bolster freedom of speech or ideological diversity. In this era of virulent anti-intellectualism, we don’t need more caricatures of academic life, especially from the left. We need more public intellectuals, especially progressive ones like Kristof, to stand up for the value of higher education—because without it, our political echo chambers would become that much worse.

One does not need to poke fun at Academia, they do the task so well themselves. It is not the right that turns the student absurdity into what it is, it is the acts themselves. The need to "protect", to deal with such things as micro-aggression, whatever that is. The conversational approach of asking about some students origin is now an overt hostile act. It at one time was a means of starting a friendly conversation. Now it is viewed as real aggression.

Now is it really true that Trump and all his supporters have no regard for knowledge or debate, and thrive on petty caricaturing of political opponents as noted above. What is the basis for that statement? If one were to ask such a question then the absurdity of the Left becomes apparent. In fact in a recent set of interactions I found the opposite may have some basis of fact.

This week in two cab rides I had two drivers. One was from Lebanon and the other from Egypt. Just a few hundred miles distance. The Lebanese was a Trump supporter the Egyptian a Trump hater. The Supporter went through his "on the one hand and o the other" which led to a conclusion. I just listened. The Egyptian was a Trump hater, stating each and every point one would hear on MSNBC. Again I just listened. I wondered which one was better off. I guess the Lebanese fellow, he did not spew forth anything.

As we enter our ninth year, I wonder if this issue will become more dominant. Will it be the focus of an ongoing battle with little benefit to the Country. Who benefits from it? That perhaps is the question.