Saturday, April 23, 2016

John McWhorter — When Slogans Replace Arguments

Justice is a protean subject that philosophers have spent millennia in disagreement about. The indignant, eye-rolling indoctrination in the guise of social justice — for example, in demands that all on campus submit to classes on microaggression, as if its definition were as incontestable as French irregular verbs — flies in the face of any reasoned conception of justice or morality.

(The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Many critics of the students protesting racism so vociferously on college campuses these days say they are just "whiners" who need to accept that life isn’t perfect and get back to their books. Political correctness has run so rampant, these critics say, that it threatens freedom of speech. Both claims are reductive analyses of something more complex

But the fact is that one need not suffer from residual bigotry, or even mere incomprehension, to find something amiss in the furious building takeovers, indignant slates of radical demands, and claims that life on today’s college campuses is an endless experience of racism. Protest is crucial in an enlightened and complex society, but something has indeed gone wrong — and college leaders and the faculty share as much of the blame as the students.

The "whiny" analysis is hasty — the now-famous lists of students’ demands always include some legitimate concerns. For example, if I were an undergraduate at Princeton today, Woodrow Wilson’s name on university buildings would rankle me. I am given neither to street-style protest nor to the idea that public buildings must be purged of the names of all figures whose social views we now find unpleasant. But Wilson, for all of his accomplishments, was especially bigoted even for his era and Southern origins.

Read the full article HERE.