If you’re paying attention to the right sources, you’re increasingly encountering examples of American college and university administrators mired up to their mortarboards in political correctness.
Seems like almost daily, I hear about an American college or university chancellor, president, provost, or dean designating a “safe-space” for snowflakes (students who melt into tears or tantrums at the slightest politically-incorrect “trigger”), mandating new-student orientation sessions on “rape culture” (which doesn’t exist), offering a new course on “toxic masculinity” (which doesn’t exist), or hosting a conference on how “white privilege” (which also doesn’t exist) is to blame for certain (e.g., academic) achievement gaps between racial groups.
Meanwhile, only half-heartedly — if at all — do they express concern about keeping conservative students and speakers safe from being physically assaulted, let alone having their feelings hurt, on campus. And if anyone ever proposed mandating equally-absurd orientation sessions on “false-allegation culture,” or offering an equally-absurd course on “toxic femininity,” or hosting an equally-absurd conference on how “non-white privilege” is to blame for certain (e.g., athletic) achievement gaps between racial groups, they’d laugh that person out of their offices, if not ban the person from campus entirely for being a “sexist” and/or a “racist.”
Such hypocrisy belies both their ostensible commitment to the pursuit of objective truth and the (grossly-inflated) value of the product that they peddle. But when they go so far as to discipline students for expression contrary to p.c. orthodoxy, not only do they damage students intellectually and financially — they also damage them reputationally and professionally, negatively impacting those students’ good names as well as their graduate-school and employment prospects. Students are being shamed, forced to apologize publicly, subjected to “sensitivity training” — under threat of suspension or expulsion from academic programs, residence halls, and/or extracurricular activities — for wearing the wrong Halloween costumes, singing the wrong songs (e.g., “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”), failing to use feminine pronouns when referring to males….
One such travesty occurred just weeks ago at the University of South Dakota. There, the Student Bar Association was gearing up for its “Hawaiian Day” party, to which partygoers typically wear Hawaiian shirts and leis, when a student complained to the University that the party amounted to “cultural appropriation.” University “leaders” then told the Student Bar Association that they deemed the party a violation of the school’s “inclusiveness” policy, whereupon, rather than standing its First-Amendment ground, the Student Bar Association, comprised of law students who need to graduate and become lawyers so they can start paying off their student loans, capitulated (mostly) — apologizing publicly, changing the name of the party to “Beach Day,” and eliminating the leis.
To the students’ credit, they kept the Hawaiian shirts, which happen to have nothing to do with indigenous Hawaiian culture (historically, indigenous Hawaiians did not wear collared, short-sleeved, button-down shirts featuring bright floral patterns). To complain that a Hawaiian shirt is offensive to indigenous Hawaiians is even more absurd — if that’s possible — than complaining that a toga party is offensive to Italians (who at least actually wore togas historically). It’s like complaining that a “Crocodile Hunter” party, to which partygoers come dressed like the late Steve Irwin, is offensive to indigenous Australians.
But the students shouldn’t have capitulated on the leis either, because, just as there are no such things as “rape culture,” “toxic masculinity,” or “white privilege,” there’s no such thing as “cultural appropriation.”
For something to be “appropriated,” it must first belong to someone. Nobody owns a culture; therefore, nobody can “appropriate” a culture. Hence, everyone everywhere is free to wear a lei, use a surfboard, eat poi, dance the hula, even throw a luau where all of those things happen at once. And those who should be most thankful for the nonexistence of “cultural appropriation” are those who happen not to be mainland Americans; imagine what they’d have to forego if it were taboo for them to wear, use, eat, or be entertained by anything that originated in the mainland United States!
Moreover, the students shouldn’t have apologized. Not only is there no cultural appropriation; there’s not even a reasonable inference of any cultural insult (e.g., mockery) in throwing a “Hawaiian Day” party and wearing a lei and/or a Hawaiian shirt (a top Hawaiian textile export, by the way). The only reasonable inference to be drawn is one of appreciation for Hawaii (at least for beach culture/lifestyle in general). The suggestion that Hawaiians have cause to feel insulted by a “Hawaiian Day” party is as absurd as the suggestion that Italians have cause to feel insulted by a pizza party.
When I told a couple of friends, fellow attorneys, that I was writing this column, one remarked, “Hawaii is a complicated place with, race, history, etc., and they typically hate foreign comments,” to which the other replied, “Do Hawaiians consider mainland Americans foreign?” Which, of course, they’re not. Hawaii happens to be a state, one of the United States, so, that which is Hawaiian happens to be American. Hence, for a Hawaiian to complain about a “Hawaiian Day” party in South Dakota is as absurd as a South Dakotan complaining about a “South Dakota Day” party in Hawaii (not that anyone in Hawaii would ever want to throw a party to which partygoers come dressed in John Deere hats and overalls).
I often rail against Americans (especially young Americans) feeling “entitled” to things which must be earned, but in this case, even if the Hawaiian shirts were indigenously Hawaiian, even if the leis constituted “cultural appropriation,” even if those fashion statements were reasonably insulting to Hawaiians, and even if Hawaii and South Dakota were not part of the same nation, the students were — Constitutionally — entitled not to have their freedom of expression so abridged by government (and a public university happens to be a government entity). Had they held their “Hawaiian Day” party as originally planned, critics’ (peaceful) expressions of criticism should’ve been the only consequences that those students faced.
So why did the University’s “leaders” feel nonetheless entitled to force their political correctness upon the students?
As a psychologist who taught part-time at a large public university for over a decade (until administrators’ concerns about political correctness had so eclipsed concerns about academic performance and integrity that I no longer was proud to be associated with it), I’ll show you an enlightening illustration of their mindset:
Earlier this month, at the University of Missouri Kansas City, a conservative speaker was physically assaulted for stating that there are only two genders. After that incident, the school’s Chancellor issued a statement saying that, while the speaker's "opinions do not align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our goal of providing a welcoming environment to all people, particularly to our LGBT community…UMKC must maintain a safe environment in which all points of view, even extreme ones, are allowed to be heard.”
Two things stand out in that statement. First, the Chancellor either was, or pretended to be, oblivious to the glaring intellectual inconsistency in it — if UMKC is committed to diversity and inclusion and to providing a welcoming environment to all people, then it ought to be committed to diversity of thought, inclusion of conservatives, and providing a welcoming environment to conservatives as well as to the LGBT community. Second, he either believes, or pretends to believe, that stating the obvious — there are only two genders — is “extreme” if it’s politically incorrect.
That mindset — that pseudointellectual subjectivism — is precisely why President Trump’s recent executive order predicating federal funds for colleges and universities upon those schools’ commitments to freedom of expression is so important. I’m an ardent proponent of limited government, but protecting innocent citizens against ideologically-driven abridgments of their civil liberties by its own agents is among the things that government actually should be doing. At the same time, we alumni of America’s colleges and universities should be making it our business to know whether students’ rights are being abridged in the name of political correctness at our alma maters, and if so, to withhold our personal funds unless/until it stops.
Hopefully, when their inflated personal paychecks depend on it, the spineless, hypocritical chancellors, presidents, provosts, and deans driving politically-correct persecution on campus will adjust their mindset and recognize the “extreme” entitlements to freedom of thought and expression.
Brian Russell wanted to learn how people could live together as peacefully and prosperously as possible, so he studied what makes us tick (and got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology), how public policy keeps us in line (and got a law degree), and what motivates us to do our best (and got an M.B.A.). Then, he put theory to the test, practicing both psychology and law, starting his own small businesses, consulting with business leaders and lawmakers, and traveling the world comparing what does and doesn’t work in 40 societies. Now, he shares his expertise in people, public policy, and productivity on national television and radio, in his book, "Stop Moaning, Start Owning: How Entitlement Is Ruining America and How Personal Responsibility Can Fix It," and here on Newsmax. Learn more at DrBrianRussell.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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