why everyone is afraid: http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid
okay why I am afraid.
but some golden nuggets, not of chicken, but of insight. sorry the copy/pasting is so extensive:
This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed. Reed derides this sort of political approach as essentially being a non-politics, a discourse that “is focused much more on taxonomy than politics [which] emphasizes the names by which we should call some strains of inequality [ … ] over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them.” Under such a conception, people become more concerned with signaling goodness, usually through semantics and empty gestures, than with actually working to effect change.
Herein lies the folly of oversimplified identity politics: while identity concerns obviously warrant analysis, focusing on them too exclusively draws our attention so far inward that none of our analyses can lead to action. Rebecca Reilly Cooper, a political philosopher at the University of Warwick, worries about the effectiveness of a politics in which “particular experiences can never legitimately speak for any one other than ourselves, and personal narrative and testimony are elevated to such a degree that there can be no objective standpoint from which to examine their veracity.” Personal experience and feelings aren’t just a salient touchstone of contemporary identity politics; they are the entirety of these politics. In such an environment, it’s no wonder that students are so prone to elevate minor slights to protestable offenses.
MAN, I want to have legitimate thoughts and experiences along with the wisdom to use them as touchstones with which to add depth and color to actual and solid bases of knowledge and opinions on Issues and Things.
The press for actionability, or even for comprehensive analyses that go beyond personal testimony, is hereby considered redundant, since all we need to do to fix the world’s problems is adjust the feelings attached to them and open up the floor for various identity groups to have their say. All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis —from due process to scientific method — are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.
I live in a world of uncertainties and “well, I see what she means…” — treading carefully and unable to grow in any analytic capacity for fear of being outcast as an outcaster. Because having actual opinions means having opponents to those actual opinions.
If we wish to remove this fear, and to adopt a politics that can lead to more substantial change, we need to adjust our discourse. Ideally, we can have a conversation that is conscious of the role of identity issues andconfident of the ideas that emanate from the people who embody those identities. It would call out and criticize unfair, arbitrary, or otherwise stifling discursive boundaries, but avoid falling into pettiness or nihilism. It wouldn’t be moderate, necessarily, but it would be deliberate. It would require effort.
And that is the thing! About anything worth the effort. Is that it requires effort to have and to hold.
In the start of his piece, Chait hypothetically asks if “the offensiveness of an idea [can] be determined objectively, or only by recourse to the identity of the person taking offense.” Here, he’s getting at the concerns addressed by Reed and Reilly-Cooper, the worry that we’ve turned our analysis so completely inward that our judgment of a person’s speech hinges more upon their identity signifiers than on their ideas.
A sensible response to Chait’s question would be that this is a false binary, and that ideas can and should be judged both by the strength of their logic and by the cultural weight afforded to their speaker’s identity. Chait appears to believe only the former, and that’s kind of ridiculous. Of course someone’s social standing affects whether their ideas are considered offensive, or righteous, or even worth listening to. How can you think otherwise?
and all this reading and copying and pasting and mmhmm-ing-even-though-my-feelings-are-tangentially-related-to-the-main-topic… to come to the bottom of the page to this related link: http://www.vox.com/2015/6/5/8736591/liberal-professor-identity
haha. internet, making me feel validated and then silly once more, in two quick clicks. blehg.