Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Microaggression" "Training" at "Universities"

   In brief, here are some of the many things I think are wrong with this:
   [1] There's no such thing as a "microaggression." One of the central characteristics of the PC left is that it holds that anything that bothers the PC left is a type of violence. Disagreeing with the PC left is, of course, an act of violence. And any minor annoyance--or minor deviation from their myriad idiosyncratic and largely arbitrary rules--is, similarly, an act of violence. But aggression, of course, require intent. And intent is lacking in the relevant cases. Asking where you're from is not an act of aggression, and not anything even vaguely resembling an act of aggression. It's possible (though extremely unlikely) that I could ask such a question with the intent of annoying you...but that's an act of assholery, not an act of aggression. (I do realize that something that's innocuous if it happens once or twice can be maddening if it happens every day...but that doesn't make it an "aggression," micro- or otherwise...)
   [2] Characterizing this as training presupposes that the issues are not controversial. Someone might reasonably ask you to think about these issues, and might direct your attention toward arguments on each side of this controversy. But to characterize this bullshit as training is to indicate that the answers are known, and the information merely needs to be imparted to students.  And that is utterly, obviously, fantastically false.
   [3] This has the feel of Anonymous's theory in action. I now can't get the idea out of my head that this nonsense is being perpetuated largely by interstitial administrators and shadow faculty who run things like writing centers and orientation, who are trying to maintain their funding by creating a permanent constituency for (to quote A) "The Center For Safe Justice Life Action"...  A thinks that that's what this is mostly about...though I'm not convinced of that part. Also I think I'd add: the other leg of the triad (in addition to the administrators/shadow faculty and student activists) is leftist post-post-modern faculty in the humanities and social sciences. They're the ones pumping out the theoretical (or pseudo-theoretical) part of this stuff, pushing it in their classes, etc.
   Notice also that the person running the session in the story seems to be issuing rulings in response to student questions, not offering to discuss the issue. It's hard for me to not read "see me afterward" as meaning see me afterward so that I can explain to you must think, rather than come on up afterward and we can think about it / discuss it together. But maybe that's wrong. Also, I suppose this is [2], not a separate point. Also I could be imagining that part because I've totally lost my objectivity about this crap.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, One Track Anonymous here. Thanks, that was depressing. A few thoughts, beyond the basic rueful head shake:

(1) The incidents used to establish the need for training in avoiding microaggressions are never microagressions themselves, but plain old aggressions. The article mentions the UW instituted such training after someone slipped a racist note under a black student's door. And recall that the precipitating incidents at U of Missouri were a graduate student's having slurs yelled at him from a truck, and someone drawing a swastika on a wall in shit. It's impossible that any sane person, in picking up a turd for a crayon, did so because he lacked information that this might be offensive. The Nazi chimp's goal was to be hurtful. Now I don't really know the most effective means to prevent someone inclined to deliberately commit cowardly, hurtful acts from doing so. But providing purported information concerning unintentional acts sure isn't it.

The relation between this training and incidents of real aggression is like that between the TSA and the bombers: security theater.

(2) The list of example microaggressions provided is illuminating, but not intentionally so: “Of course he’ll get tenure, even though he hasn’t published much — he’s black.” Has any college undergraduate, ever, bigot or otherwise, commented on the tenure prospects of a professor? No, but this reflects the experience of the associate professor who drew up this list. “You are a credit to your race.” Sorry, this list reflects the experience of the associate professor who drew it up in 1971.

How is making sure not to insult the faculty by mistaking them for service workers supposed to help the undergraduates avoid offending each other? Whose benefit is this training for?

(3) That guy on the left in the picture of the training presentation wearing the shirt that reads "OBEY". Superb ironist? I sure hope so. Youthful mockery is a potent defense against this stuff.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

As for (1): right. I never think of those. I always think of the other end of things--e.g. "where are you from?" "I like your hair." "America is the land of opportunity," etc.

(2): LOL right on the money.

(3): I had not seen that. That is freaking beautiful.

7:09 PM  

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