Saturday, November 19, 2016

George Will: Higher Education Is Awash With Hysteria; That Might Have Helped Elect Trump

IMO every single thing in this is right.
First:
   Academia is descending into PC madness.
   My own school, which has seemed to be more-or-less immune to this bullshit, has gone a little nuts since the election. Members of the shadow administration have organized hug-ins (note: not the official name) in the wake of the election. Major parts of the institution have declared themselves "safe spaces," with specific reference to current events and suggestions that there may be some unspecified danger to individuals in the usual range of "valorized" (to us a favored paleo-PC term) groups. One committee has used a list of rumored incidents (including: "students crying in class." I'm not kidding.) to justify its long-standing demand for an expensive, external "campus climate" survey. (Note: we did our own just last year.) Trump is not named by name, but to call the references to his election thinly-veiled would be to exaggerate their substantiality.
Second:
   There's a decent chance that this contributed to Trump's win.
   PC is a real problem. It's a problem in a lot of places, but it's most powerful in academia. In fact, academia is the source of the madness. Trump explicitly made opposition to PC a major part of his platform. It's downright bizarre to deny the plausibility of the hypothesis that PC helped Trump win. If we're ever going to take informal political hypotheses seriously, then we should take this one seriously. And everybody at the level of bloggy discussions takes informal political hypotheses seriously. To suddenly pretend that our standards are higher and we can't even consider any such explanation until it's thoroughly tested by the poli sci department would be ad hoc, inconsistent and dishonest.
   I'm not in any way wedded to the hypothesis. I'm interested in getting people to understand how insane PC is, and interested in getting people to oppose it. I'm not committed to the hypothesis that PC and opposition thereto is a major force in American politics. I don't know whether it is or not. But I suspect that it is. It'd be pretty weird if it weren't, given what people are openly saying. I mean, denying that PC was a factor in the election would, I think, be rather like denying that illegal immigration was a factor. When a candidate says I'm really, really against x, and his supporters say We're for him because he's really, really against x...well, I think the burden of proof is on those who want to deny that x was a factor in the election.
   Finally, Trump, like the rest of the right, tends to paint everyone and every policy to their left as politically correct. That is, their conception of PC tends to be overly broad. We run into similar problems all the time. I don't see much of a reason to fret about that more with respect to "PC" than anything else. So: yes of course it's an imperfect bit of terminology. How could it not be, realistically speaking. So what? 'Twill serve.

(h/t the redneck raconteur)

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