Opening Some Minds?

by Anniel8/12/15

A good article in The Atlantic on the “Coddling of the American Mind,” was sent to me independently by two of my children. It’s lengthy but well worth reading, and it does have a section on how to overcome some of the insanity in academe that is infiltrating the rest of society. At least a few college and university professors are waking up.

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12 Responses to Opening Some Minds?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    We have a word for all this: pansie.

    The press has typically described these developments as a resurgence of political correctness. That’s partly right, although there are important differences between what’s happening now and what happened in the 1980s and ’90s. That movement sought to restrict speech (specifically hate speech aimed at marginalized groups), but it also challenged the literary, philosophical, and historical canon, seeking to widen it by including more-diverse perspectives.

    What a bunch of horse manure. This “micro-aggression” and “triggering” is just a further fine tuning of political correctness and the feminist (feelings instead of standards) way of being. If anyone believes political correctness was in part about widening the curriculum, then they are in no position to analyze this current nonsense. Jeepers creepers.

    The current movement is largely about emotional well-being. More than the last, it presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And more than the last, this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally.

    Put another way, it’s the infantilization of the culture, staying forever a dependent and immature juvenile, never facing up to life’s reality.

    Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them. Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, and even to anger, on the way to understanding.

    Whatever utility “critical thinking” ever had, for decades now this has been the avenue for the Left to “critically think away” any notion of good that one had toward their own culture. Please mention this, Mr. Essayists.

    But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too.

    Ya think?

    It’s difficult to know exactly why vindictive protectiveness has burst forth so powerfully in the past few years. The phenomenon may be related to recent changes in the interpretation of federal antidiscrimination statutes (about which more later). But the answer probably involves generational shifts as well. Childhood itself has changed greatly during the past generation. Many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers can remember riding their bicycles around their hometowns, unchaperoned by adults, by the time they were 8 or 9 years old. In the hours after school, kids were expected to occupy themselves, getting into minor scrapes and learning from their experiences. But “free range” childhood became less common in the 1980s. The surge in crime from the ’60s through the early ’90s made Baby Boomer parents more protective than their own parents had been. Stories of abducted children appeared more frequently in the news, and in 1984, images of them began showing up on milk cartons. In response, many parents pulled in the reins and worked harder to keep their children safe.

    Sorry to be a broken record. But when men were marginalized, there was no one there to tell kids “Sticks and stone may break your bones but names will never hurt you.” I think these essayists are too immersed in the culture to be able to objectively see it. Blame feminism ultimately for most of this.

    The flight to safety also happened at school. Dangerous play structures were removed from playgrounds; peanut butter was banned from student lunches.

    Father’s tend to be the “helmet optional” fellows. Mothers would tend to make bubble-boys of their children. And with the feminization of men (thus the demonization of acceptable risk), we’re all chicks now.

    These same children grew up in a culture that was (and still is) becoming more politically polarized. Republicans and Democrats have never particularly liked each other, but survey data going back to the 1970s show that on average, their mutual dislike used to be surprisingly mild.

    That’s baloney. Politics used to be much, much worse.

    Anyway, that is indeed a long article and I have to bail on it now. But thanks for presenting it. It describes an awful phenomenon on campus but I don’t think the writers have a clue what it’s all about. The length of the article is a clue that they don’t.

    Buck up. Grow up. Sticks and stones. Be a man. All of that has been outlawed by feminism and the nanny-state mentality. Too much estrogen. Not enough testosterone. As simple as that.

    And, no, this isn’t part of a “war on women.” It’s a war on weak women doing silly things and the weak men who acquiesce to this nonsense.

    • Anniel says:

      I do fear for the ones who “get it” and have to pay a price for speaking truth. Can you imagine hiring one of these “protected wimps?” I look at my grandkids and wonder if they are ready for “real life.” But they at least have been told “no” and “grow up.” At this moment I would not hire any unseasoned candidate for any position at all for fear of being hauled into court for “micro aggressions” or whatever someone dreamed up to suit their whining.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        This type is also being trained in a fascist mindset. They’re creating not just emotional weaklings but little monsters.

        I can’t imagine that *your* grandkids aren’t given the benefit of your experience. Something tells me you’re not the type to sit by idly and watch nonsense.

        Come to StubbornThings where “micro-aggressions” occur six or seven times in just one paragraph. You’ll soon break the habit of being a pansie.

        Can’t wait until I run into the first instance of that on my block or in my job. As outspoken as I am, I’m not rude to people. But there is a limit to what I’ll bend to. And someone playing the “micro-aggression” card against me is going to get an earful. They’re going to get a micro-ass-whuppin’.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    An interesting article, particularly in its analysis of the various causes of this strange cognitive malady in our colleges. I do agree that the political correctness taught by their “educators” plays a larger role than liberals may want to admit, perhaps because so many liberals are themselves the victims. (Being utter wimps no doubt plays a role, as when student idiots forced a college president to apologize some months ago for saying “All lives matter” instead of the standard mantra.)

    Incidentally, one useful book for teaching how to think is McInerney’s Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking, a review of which was one of my first articles here.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I do agree that the political correctness taught by their “educators” plays a larger role than liberals may want to admit, perhaps because so many liberals are themselves the victims.

      I sometimes get impatient with such articles. We first have to admit that we are all political savants here. We’re not normal. But it’s always amusing to me to read an article that says we must engage in critical thinking (examination of our existing beliefs) and yet I’m not sure they’ve done that. I think people who have grown up in the atmosphere of the secular trinity (feminism, victimization, and multiculturalism) don’t see the ground (shaky though it might be) that they are standing on.

      It relates to what Dennis Prager says about cut-flower ethics, the fact that our basic moral structure in the West is based, for all intents and purposes, on the Bible. And you get a glimpse of this when you take a look at other cultures which may base it on something else. Look at Islamic countries, or India, or another other number of dives in the third world.

      The West has been plagued by more than its share of wars and violence. If only Europe had been a truly Christian continent. But it was only ever superficially so. Even so, Judeo-Christian ethics provided the parameters for what *should* be. And it is a vastly different system from, say, Cultural Marxism which is based on the tried-and-untrue pathetically simplistic system of filtering everything through economics (thus is has to be atheistic…that was not by accident) and then saying it all comes down to oppressors and victims.

      This is what these millennialists have stewed in. Only someone stewed in the paradigm of being a victim could find such micro-grained offense in words that have nothing to do with offense. Our enemy here, we should never forget, is Cultural Marxism, the ideology that sets up the entire ground rules of victimhood and oppressor. Sorry to burst anyone else’s bubble, but Marxism was not mentioned once in that article.

      Come to StubbornThings and be micro-aggressed for your own good! And if one wants a history lesson, political correctness started with Mao and the Red Chinese cultural revolution.

      Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll take a look at Amazon and maybe add it to the shelf. (Never mind. Once I saw the book cover I new I’d seen it before. You did a review.)

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        political correctness started with Mao and the Red Chinese cultural revolution.

        You got it! I have been amazed how Asian the United States has become in social and political attitudes. Self criticism was a powerful tool among the Maoists. They were not really worried what one thought. They simply wanted conformity and self-abasement. The the party line could constantly change, but bending to the party’s will, not consistency, was important.
        The Leftists leeches in the USA want the same thing.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Geez. Why pay extra for self-abasement? We can do that for them here for free.

          What we can expect in the next few years is a lot of these monster zealots entering the culture and being the sort of sociopaths that drove things such as Mao’s Cultural Revolution or the insanity of The Age of Reason in France following the French Revolution. We’re looking at institutionalized zealotry on a large scale.

          You see that now with libertarians who don’t just believe stuff, but *really* believe it. I suppose with mankind, thus it has always been. No shortage of kooks and zealots. But except for purposes of war, they’re not usually intentionally produced. And one could certainly say that the Left is at war with Western Civilization. Whether those who bizarrely and childishly obsess over “micro-aggression” know they are pawns in that war doesn’t change the reality of the battlefield.

          So I would suggest to the authors of this article to take a broader and deeper view. A number of people over the years have laughed off a number of these types of things as “political correctness,” as if that explained it. But unless you understand the phenomenon, I think one will be hard-pressed to do anything effective against it. You can navel-gaze all day (as they authors have done…not always to bad effect) and not get to the root of it. I think it just shows how much of the culture is absorbed without realizing it. The fish doesn’t see the water in which it is swimming.

          Some of the descriptions of that article are spot-on. But the analysis itself (from what I read) falls short. As rude and Trump-like as this may seem (or Palin-like), I could have given the prescription for this in two words: man-up.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Burns defines catastrophizing as a kind of magnification that turns “commonplace negative events into nightmarish monsters.” Leahy, Holland, and McGinn define it as believing “that what has happened or will happen” is “so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it.”

    What we used to call a “hissy fit.” We didn’t need a psyche degree to identify such a thing either.

    One of the problems with dealing with this stuff is not going crazy yourself by adopting the terminology and the mindset of those who forward this malarky. That’s why I like the non-technical term, “hissy fit.” And it should be used regularly to put down this stuff. Enough “sensitivity.” We need more common sense. It’s not going to destroy little Billy or Betsy if they are told to live in the real world instead of a make-believe one of hyper-sensitivity. They’ll survive and be the better for it.

    In March, the student government at Ithaca College, in upstate New York, went so far as to propose the creation of an anonymous microaggression-reporting system. Student sponsors envisioned some form of disciplinary action against “oppressors” engaged in belittling speech.

    How about this for micro-aggession: Anyone would even considers such a system is either an idiot or evil…both at the same time is a possibility.

    Surely people make subtle or thinly veiled racist or sexist remarks on college campuses, and it is right for students to raise questions and initiate discussions about such cases.

    No it isn’t. It’s the responsibility of people themselves to handle these situations, not run to tell teacher. Man-up. If true (not bogus) racism or sexism rises to the level of overt abuse, then that’s different. But slinging insults back and forth is pretty much the definition of a guy. But because this is, as I’ve said, a woman’s world, the rules of Kindergarten have been transplanted onto the adult world (or young adult world) and now everyone is acting like a 1st-grader and people are wondering what the cause of this is.

    Holy smokes. Again, man-up.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In the case of feminists, I like referring to them as hysterical in such cases. The word comes from the Greek word for “womb”, making it appropriate (though I don’t think feminists who use such linguistic atrocities as “herstory” would have any idea where “hysteria” comes from).

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    It’s also worth noting whose behavior an emphasis on “micro-aggression” is meant to rein in: primarily men. A man’s world — one could more broadly say, the world at large — is full of aggression, micro or otherwise. And note that there will be snowballs in hell before you see a campaign on college campuses against micro-fussing or micro-drama-making.

    These are uncomfortable words for many, which is likely why any article that tries to touch on the subject has to be so bloody long. We can argue that women can be aggressive as well. But it’s not the attitudes of women that are generally on trial on the college campus. It’s men who are seen as the disease.

    We also see in “micro-aggression” the clear shift to the centrality of emotions. It matters little if the actual language is completely neutral. What matters is what people “feel” about it. And that means feelings trump everything. That is not a man’s world I am describing.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      De-masculinizing undoubtedly plays a role, but so does the general underdog vs. overdog identity group mentality (which is why such concepts are closely linked to political correctness).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        but so does the general underdog vs. overdog identity group mentality

        I couldn’t agree more, Timothy. That’s why I said that any discussion of “micro-aggression” or “triggering” needs to start with the recognition of the general premises of Cultural Marxism. It is the victim/oppressor paradigm centered around race, class, and gender. (Important note: women are the victims, men are the aggressor or oppressors. This is just assumed and rarely stated, which is part of the problem of this article. It doesn’t get down to brass tacks, at least the parts I read.)

        This emphasis on made-up “micro-aggression” is also, of course, a specific and precise way to attack the race, class, and genders that you happen to dislike, although the useful idiot tier of the two-tier Leftist system likely does not have that on their mind. Oddly, they are the ones implanted with the “false consciousness” that Marxism says is the malady implanted in the rest of us by capitalism.

        There is power in this emphasis on “micro-agression.” And that it masquerades as “compassion” or “sensitivity” shouldn’t disguise this fact. That’s not to say that people, through long cult training, can’t actually be upset by the “micro-aggression” that they’ve been trained to see. Of course that is possible. And the only solution to that is to tell these people to man-up, to quit acting like fragile little narcissistic pansies.

        But, gee, all of these victims of “micro-agression” are made out to be victims. What kind of bully (such as myself) would be so “insensitive” as to “blame the victim”? That’s also why I mentioned that it was crucial to step outside the mad and maddening language of the Left. “Man-up” is not just an insult but a true and open assault on Leftist baloney and an attempt to re-take the language.

        People do need to man-up and save talk of the ills of “aggression” for real acts of aggression, not fantasies of aggression so that some people can manipulate others or play the lazy part of being the victim.

        Don’t look for academe to man-up anytime soon. But look for education to continue to deteriorate until it’s replaced with something else.

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