November 28, 2012

"Students told to disavow 'American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality.'"

Asserts a headline at The College Fix that's getting a lot of attention right now. See Memeorandum and Instapundit. But the text, even as it tries to stir up our outrage, does not support the assertion:
A political science professor at Butler University asks students to disregard their “American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status” when writing and speaking in the classroom – a practice the school’s arts and sciences dean defended as a way to negate students’ inherent prejudices.
Disregard? The headline said "disavow." There's a big difference between disavowing something and disregarding it.  But "disregard" isn't even the teacher's word. What is the teacher's word? I'm guessing, from reading this far, that the teacher would like students to become aware that their attitudes and opinions come from their own perspective and to enlarge their field of vision.
The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.” It is taught by a black, female professor.
So "do not assume"... It doesn't say "disavow" or "disregard." It says do not assume. Do not assume that do not assume means more than do not assume

The writer at The College Fix, a student at Butler, says he "dropped that politically correct political science class."
Clearly, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University believes its students were raised as racist and misogynist homophobes who have grown to harbor many prejudices, a stance that is both offensive and hostile to any student’s ability to learn.
Now, I don't see the evidence that the teacher deserves this harsh judgment, but I believe the student really did experience her expression in this very negative way. It's easy to point at the probable and amusing irony: He read the syllabus from the perspective of a white, middle-class, heterosexual, American male. Maybe he'd benefit from experimenting with reading it from different perspectives. The teacher said do not assume and he assumed a lot (as far as I can tell). He assumed that she assumed that the students were racist, sexist homophobes. He was afraid she thought that and afraid she wouldn't be fair or that he couldn't learn very much from her.

That's where the teacher failed. She didn't anticipate the way her message would be perceived by incoming students. She repelled this student. And there's the other irony: She was not — to use the word she seems to treasure — inclusive.

117 comments:

Pogo said...

"She repelled this student. And there's the other irony: She was not — to use the word she seems to treasure — inclusive."

Not ironic.

Repulsion was her intent. She detests Americans, males, whites, and heterosexuals.

Her point is to exclude them, as they are the cause of all the world's problems.

Matthew Sablan said...

I'm not going to even pretend to try and suss out the teacher's intent from what little that is there. This is another problem that two adults should have been able to solve by sitting down and talking to each other instead of letting it blow up on the Internet.

Larry J said...

"Political science" always has been and always will be an oxymoron. Political science majors are just morons.

Drago said...

Ann: "That's where the teacher failed. She didn't anticipate the way her message would be perceived by incoming students. She repelled this student. And there's the other irony: She was not — to use the word she seems to treasure — inclusive."

This would be the appropriate place to insert Fen's Law: The Left doesn't really believe in the things that they lecture us about.

Matthew Sablan said...

"'Our language doesn’t make it easy to write in ways that are inclusive,' Howard said. 'We don’t have a generic singular, I mean we have he and she. There is no pronoun that is gender-neutral there.'"

There's several ways to do this. You can simply accept that 'he' is acceptable for when you are referring to a generic thing don't know the gender or it doesn't matter.

One can also use "they," which is starting to be accepted as a gender neutral singular (by heretics, mainly.)

He/she is clumsy but acceptable. Using one ("One can write like this") is formal-ish, but acceptable.

Certainly, there's a trend to simply alternating between he and she in examples, or always using plurals (customers instead of the customer.)

With our language, it is painfully easy to write inclusively.

Bob Ellison said...

Well, "do not assume" and "disavow" and "disregard" are pretty similar. You're splitting hairs.

Students today have antennae for political correctness, even in elementary school. The science teacher talks about the water cycle, and the student watches for evidence that anthropogenic global warming is a major vector. The history teacher tells American history, and the student flinches in the expectation of genocide theory.

hawkeyedjb said...

Do not assume "American-ness" to be the norm? In America? In what other country on earth are there such self-hating people who seek to deny the normal?

The assumption is, as always, that there is something wrong with "American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status."

What, exactly? Perhaps someone in academia could explain.

Kohath said...

These kinds of things seem like an opportunity for some underemployed attorney out there:

- Recruit some students on a conservative web site.
- Go out and find these professors. The locals will know who they are.
- Sign up for their classes.
- Record this stuff at various colleges
- File sexual harassment/gender discrimination lawsuits against these colleges
- Settle them. Colleges pay. Attorney gets paid. College student gets money to pay for college.

Someone please go out and start doing this.

Michael said...

Rule #1 of college: immediately drop any class taught by an angry person with a chip on their shoulder. You're going to get screwed one way or another.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Well, "do not assume" and "disavow" and "disregard" are pretty similar."

-- They are radically different. If I tell you to not assume something, that means do not think it is true without analyzing it and knowing it is true. To disregard something means that this thing may be true or not true, it simply is not important in this specific case ("Disregard that you don't like flowers, what flowers would you wife like?") To disavow something means to take a thing which -is- true and insist that it is not true ("As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.")

They are radically different, and the fact the original author used them interchangeably does not sit well with me (or, apparently, Althouse.)

Paddy O said...

It's also not very good contemporary scholarship.

The idea that we can achieve some kind of objectivity, arise above our context, is seen as an impossibility. Except, I suppose, in those soft sciences of politics, sociology or journalism, which lag behind.

How can someone not be who they are? What would it mean for me to be not American, not male, not white, not heterosexual. That's denying much of who makes me who I am, and if I have to deny that, what really do I have to offer? I can only stay silent.

The better way is to acknowledge those realities in my life, to see those as my context and perspective, to see how my context can learn from other contexts. Not denying myself but to acknowledge the perspectives and bias from the beginning.

All knowledge is contextual, and if you deny any context a voice you are denying its role in shaping who we are.

It's bad teaching and its bad scholarship to say that being a male, heterosexual, white, American doesn't affect the kinds of experiences we have, questions we ask. It's denying our history as well. That's not to say such a history should be prioritized as in the past, but to say that the response to the past approaches is not to assume a vague and impossible non-being.

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

the wolf said...

Why is it that only "whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality and middle-classness" that has to be disavowed/disregarded/ignored/whatever? That gives away the game right there. If her intention was to encourage students to free themselves from their own experience (I would argue this is absurd, but whatever), then she should have applied it generically. It's clear that she is focused on one specific group.

Saint Croix said...

Why is she singling out white males and talking to them? Are there no women in the class? Are there no brown people in the class?

I don't see the evidence that the teacher deserves this harsh judgment

She is singling out white males in her syllabus. She is identifying them and telling them they need to do something that no other student needs to do.

Saint Croix said...

or, ditto wolf

chickelit said...

This not even amusing--it's disturbing.

wyo sis said...

Students should be used to doing this. It's part of the process of being a student to determine the teachers prejudices and respond accordingly. It's about grades. Teachers who assume their students are telling them anything but what they think they (the teacher) wants to hear are fooling themselves. Especially in liberal arts classes where there is no hard and fast correct answer.
You can't know as a teacher if the student believes what they say or if it's just a snow job.

Over time the prevailing liberal ideas take root by sheer weight unless the student has a solid grounding in thinking for themselves.
This teacher is just asking for what she knows she's going to get anyway. I suppose it's a way to keep from having to deal with students who speak up without having to confront it individually in class. It seems a little lazy on the teacher's part.

Matthew Sablan said...

From what little I read, it didn't sound to me like she was picking out white males. It sounded like the rather standard: "History is written by the winners, we must move beyond the dominant narrative of white, American males to fully understand the world." There's a more polite way to word that, of course, maybe something like: "Social history is important to consider along with the normal understanding of political and economic actors," but that was more the vibe I was getting from the actual quoted parts. Now, granted, I can see taking it the other way if the professor comes off as angry and hostile, but I don't think we have the evidence here to make any judgment that way.

phx said...

That's a lot of assuming from our host, IYAM.

John said...

I am a white, American, heterosexual male... in the famous words of Brendan Sullivan, "I am not a potted plant."

Ralph L said...

I think young men have figured out that maleness is the norm for only about half the country.

Bob Ellison said...

Matthew Sablan, that's a good dissection of the terms. Your definition of "disavow" is wrong, but otherwise you make good points. There should be room for "disclaim".

I don't think language works that way, though. In writing and in speaking, people try to communicate ideas, and others try to interpret them. The fine differences you point out do not work well, because people are not computers or dictionaries.

It's not journalistic malpractice.

Matthew Sablan said...

Eh, I think "refuse to acknowledge or accept" is close enough to "to take a thing which -is- true and insist that it is not true." Plus, it let me quote Mission Impossible, so, all pluses.

X said...

it's not bad advice if she's talking about dealing with the government.

wyo sis said...

Quoting Mission Impossible is most assuredly a plus. It's a reminder that government types have been disavowing all knowledge for a long time. It's practically a requirement.

Saint Croix said...

It's just bizarre trying to explain concepts like racism or sexism to liberals when the victim is a white male. They don't see it. They don't understand it. It can't happen. They're blind to it.

To single out people for being white, or male, is normal behavior for liberals. They think in racial and gender terms.

It's not what you say, what you know, what you learn, how you perform. It's who you are. It's your skin color, it's your gender, it's your sexual orientation.

It might be interesting to have a class where you explore those topics. But to only inflict it on some people in the class?

phx said...

To disavow something means to take a thing which -is-held-to-be true and insist that it is not true

Does that work for you?

damikesc said...

So, taxpayers are obligated to fund this type of nonsense...why? Just yank ALL public funding on colleges and let them sink or swim. Shouldn't ask people the faculty holds in low regard to foot their bills for them.

I'm guessing, from reading this far, that the teacher would like students to become aware that their attitudes and opinions come from their own perspective and to enlarge their field of vision.

As has been pointed out, non-white, lower economic class, and women are not asked to do the same. So, it is blatantly obvious who is being attacked.

It's easy to point at the probable and amusing irony: He read the syllabus from the perspective of a white, middle-class, heterosexual, American male. Maybe he'd benefit from experimenting with reading it from different perspectives. The teacher said do not assume and he assumed a lot (as far as I can tell). He assumed that she assumed that the students were racist, sexist homophobes. He was afraid she thought that and afraid she wouldn't be fair or that he couldn't learn very much from her.

Professor, if the words were identical but aimed at minorities or women --- there'd be protests at all times.

But, because it's white hetero males, it's a non-issue.

As a white hetero male, give me an argument why I should be forced to have my money stolen from me by the government to fund any colleges that engage in this idiocy? If we have to cut funding in government, cut colleges first. Their usefulness has deteriotated precipitously (nothing like giving a kid a MORTGAGE to pay before they even get their first real job --- but since a lot of college kids vote for the party supporting this, they deserve their suffering) and their intellectual validity is borderline non-existant. There is no free flow of ideas and any white, hetero male quickly knows, when they enter the class, that they have no chance. To argue otherwise is to ignore simple reality.

It's time for people to force progressives to live up to their professed standards. Make this professor defend this unbelievably bigoted and ugly syllabus (showing a clip of Obamaphone lady is ugly...but THIS isn't?) Make the college defend allowing it. Make them own up to ALL of this stuff, which is so common on campus that the professor hardly even notices things that would stun people who are not so attracted to the myth of the useful college.

Marshal said...

The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students

It's not clear to me the "disavow" summary relates to the quote you've highlighted. The inclusion of "goes on" seems to mean this is an additional point. It would be helpful to see the actual syllabus if that's what the claim is based on. Or the article could more clearly state the "disavow" characterization is the students summary of the professor's oral introduction and the syllabus review is added context.

Bob Ellison said...

I disclaim and disregard that definition of "disavow", phx.

Ann Althouse said...

"Well, "do not assume" and "disavow" and "disregard" are pretty similar. You're splitting hairs."

"Vow" is a very strong word. Here's an experiment. Next time you're getting married, if your betrothed refers to the wedding vows, respond by referring to them as "wedding assumptions." Come on! It will be fun!

Saint Croix said...

And I believe the point of putting this in the syllabus is to weed out the white male Republicans.

Garage, of course, stays in the class, while pretending he has a vagina, he's gay, and he's Korean.

Bob Ellison said...

Also, on the street, I shall "dis" it.

whoresoftheinternet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MarkW said...

Given that the student population at Butler is about 60 percent women (and the liberal arts college is probably more lopsided than that), instructing students not to assume *femaleness* would have made much more sense. But what are the chances of that actually happening? Nil, obviously.

It's true that her language is not as inflammatory as reported, but I think the student's assessment of the thinking behind it is probably pretty much on target.

Ann Althouse said...

"t's not clear to me the "disavow" summary relates to the quote you've highlighted. The inclusion of "goes on" seems to mean this is an additional point. It would be helpful to see the actual syllabus if that's what the claim is based on. Or the article could more clearly state the "disavow" characterization is the students summary of the professor's oral introduction and the syllabus review is added context."

This is why I talk about the "evidence" the student presents.

I'd like the full text of the syllabus and a transcript of the interview with the dean.

This student is just starting out, and he's going big before he's ready to do so. The school aims to teach writing, and he's got a lot left to learn. He's doing it in public. That's dicey!

But teachers are little tyrants in their classes. Students can break out and get the upper hand. Who knows what happens next? Most students won't break out of the teacher's grip like this. They have too much at risk.

As a teacher, I really care about not abusing the power we have over the students. This teacher is someone whose course has to do with power and the way those with more power take advantage. The teacher is herself such a person. She purports to enlighten students about the way power is used and to urge them into awareness of their own subjective perspective. She needs to set an example in that herself.

Ann Althouse said...

whoresoftheinternet is a well-known moby. Deleted.

virgil xenophon said...

Paddy O hits at the essence of the matter. His response is the same as those who respond to those who criticize the SAT for being drenched in white, middle-class "hetero-normal" values and hence putting minority test-takers at a disadvantage-hence the SAT should be "reformulated" to be "value free" from a cultural standpoint. But as Thomas Sowell and others point out, the entire point of the SAT is as an indicator of success in college, and as most college campii are exactly that: drenched in white, middle-class "hetero-normal" culture, the argument goes that the current cultural orientation of the SATs is entirely appropriate. NO ONE lives in a "value free" cultural bubble like the immune-deficient Houston "bubble-boy;" one can only function and interact with the dominant culture within which one finds one's self. To attempt to deny the reality of the very existence of these shaping effects by the overriding cultural norms which defines one's daily existence leads to a malformed view of the world as it actually works.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

Right after that class, I go to my "Black Queer Studies" class.

SGT Ted said...

The statement and requirement is anti-white racism and anit-male sexism. The college professor is a racist and sexist as well. Par for the course in todays academy.

Bob Ellison said...

"Next time you're getting married..."

Great phrase. Kinda like "Next time you get a dog." "Next time you buy a house." "Next time you adopt a religion."

SGT Ted said...

The "professor" merely reveals that she prefers to maintain a hostile learning environment towards white males.

phx said...

I disclaim and disregard that definition of "disavow", phx.

I refudiate your disclamature.

Bob Ellison said...

phx, I surrender. You have debested not-me.

UndeclaredWars said...

College enrollment is roughly 60/40 female/male. Per ABA data law school enrollment is 47/53 female/male for the 2011/2012 academic year, provided with the understanding that law school is viewed as a viable graduate degree for political science majors. 53% of voters were female in the 2012 Presidential election. Question: what percentage of white males comprise the enrollment in this professor's class? Did the professor consider writing "disregard that you're female" in her syllabus? I am a professor of a discipline that is highly technical, and in which it is impossible to earn your Ph.D. by simply being politically correct and/or a member of a specific demographic group. African Americans are almost nonexistent as professors in my field. Let's show at least a modicum of street smarts here and acknowledge that white heterosexual male used in this (and many other) context(s) is simply euphemistic for privilege. I like this professor's use of the word disregard. I think it would be appropriate to ask her to disregard the fact that she is a black female and attempt to teach her class so that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and be evaluated without first being specifically called out on her syllabus. It behooves us all to approach educational opportunities in an independent and unbiased fashion, but highlighting only the instance of the white heterosexual male is both unnecessary and bigoted.

AJ Lynch said...

IOW, they were told no Math required.

Forthenri said...

Ann: "It's easy to point at the probable and amusing irony: He read the syllabus from the perspective of a white, middle-class, heterosexual, American male. Maybe he'd benefit from experimenting with reading it from different perspectives."

It's also easy to point at the probably and amusing irony: you read the headline and syllabus from the perspectivve of a white, middle/upper class, heterosexual, American female college professor. Maybe you'd benefit from experimenting with reading all that from different perspectives.

Hey, that was easy! And then be sure to get back to us to tellus the perspectives you selected and used (and just how you did it) and how you benefitted.

ricpic said...

It's fascinating that black hatred of whites generally and white males in particular blinds them to the mortal threat posed to blacks far more than to whites by the hispanic invasion. The only thing that lifts creatures like this black female professor far above the natural socio-economic level appropriate to her abilities, such as they are, is the strange affliction of white guilt manifested in the insanity of black AA advantaging, the poisonous gift of white liberals to our society. As the country becomes more the Brazil that this worthless but untouchable creature longs for down she'll go, and fast.

Paco Wové said...

"The syllabus ... goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.”"

I see what the prof. is getting at here, but this is very badly worded – I would expect better from a professor. I can see how this would very easily be perceived as hostile by certain students.

Sayyid said...

Maybe someone forgot to tell that professor she should learn "to write and speak in a way that does not assume" anti-Americanism, liberalness, Democratic political affiliation, the evil of anyone who doesn't toe the line, etc. to be the norm. There exist people with views other than the far left.

Also, isn't it odd and/or bad writing in most contexts to NOT assume middle-class status of the readers? Just given the flexible definition of the words, and that about 80-90% of people consider themselves a part of the "middle-class" because of that. That's even before you factor in the tendency of lower class individuals to read less than other classes.

Saint Croix said...

Most students won't break out of the teacher's grip like this. They have too much at risk.

When you have a syllabus like this, that spells out in very graphic terms the professor's agenda, I can almost guarantee that she had some pushback in an earlier class, and she did not like it.

So now she puts her agenda in the syllabus. And the point of that is to chase out all the potential troublemakers on the first day.

It's no trouble at all to drop a class on the first day. But it is a problem to drop a class several weeks into it. Then it costs you money. You're liable to stay in the class, get aggravated, and then there is conflict.

So she's being honest and open in her syllabus about what kind of class the students can expect. I believe she's given up on the white males. If you're trying to reach the white males, you would lure them in. She's identifying them, in public, in her syllabus, and saying "you need to change."

That's an obvious threat. If you don't change, if you're still a white male at the end of the class, you failed the class. Which of course in Liberal World means you get a B or a C.

If Garage has a sex change, a skin grafting operation, and learns to speak Korean, then he might get an A.

Fr Martin Fox said...

This sort of thing is very familiar; it's been going on in universities for decades. So while it's right to look closely and make sure there's not exaggeration and overreaction, it's not as though this is a lightning bolt in a clear-blue sky.

A long time ago--early 1980s!--I took a "women's studies" course. No, I don't know why; "It seemed like a good idea at the time"(TM). There were three men in a class of mostly women. (Yes, there is a perfectly good motive for a guy to take this course. It was a benefit; but I wasn't bright enough to have that as a motive.)

The professor, as I think of her now, had kind of a Gloria Allred look. She dressed very well and was classy. I liked when she came to class, which was seldom. Most of the time we had the "T.A." She wore shapeless plaid shirts and faded blue jeans, didn't have much of a haircut, and sat cross-legged on the desk all the time. Something like Rachel Maddow, without the polish.

I only really remember one lecture. That was the day Professor Gloria Allred came. And she began the lecture with the question: "today we're going to discuss what your first period was like." (As in menstrual, if you didn't get that.)

A lot of the girls in the class were mortified; they looked at the three guys, and we looked at each other, and we sat there like furniture.

Oh, how I wish I had put up my hand to answer the question--and had the wit to give a really suitable one.

Now, of course, I'm not saying that's "oppression"; but that was about 1982. I can only imagine how we've "progressed" in 30 years--perhaps to some way men can...well, nevermind.

MnMark said...

The professor is a standard-issue transnational progressive whose ideal is a society where nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, and class are unimportant and people feel unconstrained by them. It is the standard liberal utopian worldview.

The white male student who objected to this did so on the basis that it was insulting to him to assume he was racist and sexist. But he's missing the point.

The real problem for him is that transnational progressivism, when implemented in the real world, does not result in a world where those crucial aspects of a person's identity are unimportant. The practical result is simply that countries where white men once built safe and prosperous societies for themselves and their families become hostile to them and their families. You just get a country ruled by a different identity group (or groups) for THEIR benefit.

South Africa is a perfect example of situation where whites were promised a multiracial utopia if they would give up control of their country. The real-world result is a country which is at stage 5 (and has been as high as stage 6) on Genocide Watch's threat scale.

The failures of race-blind, gender-blind transnational progressivism is the same as the failure of socialism. It is based on a false understanding of human beings.

The white student should not object to the course because the professor suggested he was a racist. He should object to it because it is hostile to his identity as a white male American. He should realize that for he and his loved ones to prosper and reach their full potential, they need a country for themselves where they can celebrate their identity as white Americans to the full. America used to be that country, and it is the desirable place it is BECAUSE white males built it...so desirable that black females would rather make careers of complaining about it than to go live in Africa where they would presumably not be persecuted for being black.

In short: don't complain about being accused of racism. Celebrate your identity, including your race, and don't apologize for it or try to pretend it doesn't matter.

SteveR said...

It won't be long before the standard of higher education for the last century becomes extinct. Not in time to free states from the burden of luxurious retirement packages for faculty and staff but the brick and mortar classroom model that evoled into liberal brainwashing is unsustainable (to use a good progressive term)

jacksonjay said...

Are we to "assume" "Americanness" in a Pre-Obama context or a Post-Obama context? Since we are in the process of "fundamentally transforming America" I'm not sure how one would go about "assuming" Americanness! Are we gonna get a grade on this?

mtrobertsattorney said...

"Do not assume anti-American-ness, femaleness, blackness, homosexuality, under-class status to be the norm."

There, it's fixed isn't it?

mtrobertsattorney said...

"Do not assume anti-American-ness, femaleness, blackness, homosexuality, under-class status to be the norm."

There, it's fixed isn't it?

MadisonMan said...

Do not assume "American-ness" to be the norm? In America?

I agree with Paco, above. What the professor is probably trying to do is an interesting experiment for College Students: Write from the point of view of someone else who is completely different from you. But she failed so miserably in the execution you have to wonder (not really) why she was hired.

I think a good question for a white male student to the professor would be: Will you be grading essays as a black woman, or will you be grading them using a viewpoint neutral mindset?

I could try to write as a black woman, but not being black, or a woman, I'm not sure I'd want to be graded on it, and more to the point: How will what I do in the future be guided by my ability to mask my true nature in (presumably) political writing?

I imagine I take a class that instructed me to write using Inclusive Language (What a vague term!) : “Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic backgrounds, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions,” the syllabus states, referencing a definition created by the United Church of Christ.

You better bet your bottom tuition dollar that I would be pestering that professor for quite some time for examples of sentences that do and do not use inclusive language, and for explanations of why the language is or is not inclusive.

Always mindful of the fact that inclusive is code for meaning inclusive of everything that is not white and male and heteronormative.

McTriumph said...

An easy A, just come to class everyday in a skirt and black face. How dit goin dar Kingfish?

wyo sis said...

The very fact that this is being discussed is evidence that it won't go on much longer. When hypocrisy is exposed it begins to have less power. It's push back from the young who are inclined to reject the values of the prevailing ruling class.
Now we're the old squares young people look at and say, "Yeah, you did such a great job. We think we can do better." They can't go more radical left, so they go conservative. It's a good thing, but it causes a lot of social back-and-forth. A turn-around will happen. It's happening. It might look more like the American Revolution than the 60's though. A complete political rejection and restoring of the virtues of freedom.

Paco Wové said...

"When hypocrisy is exposed it begins to have less power."

Or, conversely, it doubles down and pushes back harder.

"They can't go more radical left, so they go conservative"

Love your optimism. (Really, no sarcasm.) Wish I shared it.

Paco Wové said...

You know what really happened to the boy who said the emperor had no clothes? It wasn't pretty.

X said...

How Do You Write Leftist So Well?

I think of a man and I take away American-ness, maleness, whiteness, and heterosexuality.

Peter said...

One could make a case that assertions prefaced by "Speaking as a [insert identity here] ..." statements have little meaning for those who do not share that identity.

And therefore students should know when they're implying such a preface when speaking.

Nonetheless, this course sounds like nothing more than the usual mandatory corporate diversity training hell- the kind that constantly badgers anyone who is white, male, and heterosexual- repurposed for academia.

Students fleeing such as course are right to trust their instincts.

wyo sis said...

I live in a conservative part of the country and I don't see very many liberal radical types even in the university. (I'm speaking of students not teachers. They're plenty of old radical hippie teachers.)

Tim said...

This is bullshit on stilts.

There is no doubt this professor is a liberal, if not an outright leftist.

And, isn't it true, that is, don't we all know for the liberals and leftists, "identity" politics is, if not everything, nearly everything?

So, in that light, she is a hypocrite.

"Identity" is integral to politics, unless, of course, as she stated, the students are “American, male, white, heterosexual, and middle-class."

In which case their identity is an impediment, a sin, and to be disregarded.

So then.

Would she reject, or celebrate, the student who says in class, "as a poor, foreign lesbian of color,"...

We all know the answer.

gregq said...

Really, Ann? Let's try this thought experiment:

The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume femaleness, blackness, homosexuality, lower-class status, etc. to be the norm.” It is taught by a white, male professor.

Now, what would be the response to a white male professor who did that at inner-city school?

She is a racist, sexist pig, deserving of nothing but contempt.

And, in case she missed it, this IS America. If she doesn't want "Americanness", she can leave.

Rusty said...

phx said...
To disavow something means to take a thing which -is-held-to-be true and insist that it is not true

Does that work for you?


Not for me , but you can ask RC.

traditionalguy said...

How is tribalism working out where the only assumed not to exist tribe is mine? Legal equal does not apply to me either based on sex, skin color, and European ancestors. eTC.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.

So is this a political science class or a creative writing class? Maybe all the white guys should speak in Ebonics and all the Black students adopt a heavy Georgia cracker accent?

It never says what the focus of the Political Science class will be, other than it seems to denigrate or make 'uncomfortable' white, male etc students. In other words just more bullshit brainwashing, shaming and humiliation just as practiced in Communist China to force those who were still free thinking into conforming with the group. Conform or die.

The student was right to opt out. FIRST of all there is no SCIENCE in political science classes and SECOND the main purpose of the class is indoctrination and not in learning anything useful. And THIRD....he is paying for an education....not a semester in being humiliated and in a class where because he IS white etc and it is obvious that the person holding the class [I refuse to use the term teach] is prejudiced......he is guaranteed a crap grade.

Levi Starks said...

I would think a bright young student from *any* background would take this as a challenge. Going to college ceased to be about learning a long time ago. It's about proving you can be successful in an academic environment.
To me her course requirements say
"pretend you've just set foot on the earth for the first time today, and the only tool you have is a dictionary understanding of the English language"
Better yet prepare all your assignments in Esperanto.
Noting of course that while appearing to be a white male the creator of Esperanto is actually Jewish.

Paddy O said...

I could try to write as a black woman,

Herein lies the other side of the problem. If you did try that, your attempt to understand issues from the perspective of a black woman would be entirely rejected, and likely found outright offensive by this very same professor.

I cannot understand the world through the experiences that I do not have. I can listen and learn from people, inviting and welcoming different perspectives. If a teacher negates what I bring to the table, they're not going to welcome my attempts to speak out of different experience. The goal, really, is obviously simply negation, not diversity. The oppressed seek to be the new oppressors.

And the idea that history is written by the winners was very much true up to about the 1960s. That's entirely bunk now.

It's a very Modern approach to knowledge and learning. It's thirty years out of fashion and real contribution.

edutcher said...

The professor is full of hot air (among other things). How does being American, male, white, and heterosexual translate to "inherent prejudice"?

What were the non-American, female, non-white, homosexual students supposed to do?

It would seem the professor needs to rid herself of her inherent prejudices if she actually believes such nonsense.

And, yes, I loved picking fights with certain Lefty profs in my undergrad days

Chip S. said...

If this were a course in Int'l Relations, I could see a reason for inviting students not to view everything thru the perspective of a US citizen.

What's most troubling about this to me is that the only perspective that makes sense in a course called "Research and Analysis" is an analytical perspective. Finding primary-source material, understanding what it represents, and using the techniques of statistical inference should all be independent of any particular demographic group's "perspective".

This does not seem like a promising "R&A" class.

MadisonMan said...

there is no SCIENCE in political science

Bears repeating :)

roesch/voltaire said...

Our perceptions of life are full of sorts of assumptions that often are not examined in terms of how they are embedded in historical origins, power structures etc, and I see little problem with raising those issues in a class. But I would advise casting a broader net of assumptions to be more inclusive.

William said...

The values of rich, white, hetero men aren't so bad. If, as the left claims, this country is run by rich white men, why are so many people from Africa, Latin America, and Asia making such great sacrifices to come here?.....If they disregard whatever virtues rich, white men may have, aren't they in danger of replicating the societies from which they fled (or, worse, were sold into slavery by their own elites).....It wasn't just guns, germs, and steel that gave the white men an edge. They were products of far more cohesive and equitable societies than the ones they invaded. Marina, the Aztec consort of Cortes, is now reviled for betraying her people. Bullshit. Before Cortes arrived, Marina had been sold into slavery by her mother so her brother could have an undivided inheritance. There was no reason for her to be loyal to the Aztec way of life......In the 19th Century, this woman's ancestors fared far better as Aunt Jemina here than as the bride of the great Zulu King who requested all his two thousand brides to be put to death. He did this to show his deep mourning for the passing of his mother.

Conserve Liberty said...

At its most benign the professor is challenging her students to practice "Critical Thinking'" a logic discipline which "clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions."
Wikipedia Entry

At its most malignant the professor espouses an active denunciation of the core values of American culture and threatens to punish those who espouse them.

One must necessarily have been present when she presented her syllabus to ascertain her attitude.

MnMark said...

You guys are missing the point. I bet not many of you actually disagree with her basic premise, which is that no particular race, gender, etc should be considered the dominant, "normal" one.

To demonstrate this, image that instead of writing this in her syllabus:

...write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm...

she had written this:

...write and speak in a way that does not assume any particular nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic class to be the norm...

You would have no basis for complaining, right? Sounds kind of like "all men are created equal", right? It's transnational progressivism (liberalism). The woman is teaching a class where the students are expected to be good transnational progressives, and to practice that mindset in their thoughts and writing.

The problem for white men is that they can instinctively feel the hostility radiating from people like this professor, and they feel the implied threat to their well being from people like her becoming the rulers in a country where white men are a minority, but because they basically accept her liberal premises, they have no ground to stand on from which to object to it. Instead they have to try to criticize her statement as being inadequately liberal! "She's a racist, she's a sexist," cry the white men, not realizing that they are arguing from HER turf. All she has to do is reword her statement and the white men have no basis for objecting to it.

The problem is in accepting the liberal premise that nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, and class don't matter. They DO matter. They are legitimate and unavoidable parts of our identity and they are ignored at our peril, in exactly the same way that communists ignored human beings' economic self-interests at their own peril.

The right objection to this woman is not "you're a racist!", but instead "I am a white American heterosexual middle-class man, I am proud of it, and I intend to see that I prosper and that my people prosper and flourish. I refuse to pretend that those crucial aspects of my identity have no meaning, and I reject the anti-human transnational progressive viewpoint just as I reject the inhuman communist viewpoint."

Or something like that.

Amartel said...

Non-white, non-male, non-heterosexuals are just as narrow-minded (racist, sexist, sexually phobic) as white, male heterosexuals.
People are people. Durrrh.
Thus endeth the lesson.
I do have a problem with this class and commend the kid for dropping out. One, this really isn't something that people should be wasting time and money on in college. Two, the professor hasn't learned the lesson and is much too stupid and/or angry to be teaching.

glenn said...

Actually I'm fine with the lefties bashing guys like me. I'll be the one on the veranda relaxing while Women and gays and Minorities hump up and do the work I used to do. Get busy folks, my Social Security needs your contrubition. And BTW thanks.

P.S. The wine tastes really good.

karlpoppersghost said...

Ann "The Human Pretzel" Althouse. It's the German heritage.

I think we all know what the "teacher" meant. No need to twist yourself up trying not to understand.

He was afraid she thought that and afraid she wouldn't be fair or that he couldn't learn very much from her.

Yes, nothing but fear. White men afraid of scary black women. Fear and ugliness!!

The black female teacher needs to be educated to appreciate HER White male privilege.

She needs to eliminate from her life everything White men have ever invented, built, maintained, designed, created, organized, pioneered and died for.

Get rid of it and see what your life is like.

Now that's something scary.

Fernandinande said...

"He was afraid she thought that and afraid she wouldn't be fair or that he couldn't learn very much from her."

He was correct.

"That's where the teacher failed."

She failed to hide her sexism and racism.

Expat(ish) said...

@Fr Martin Fox

Funny you say that about a Womyns studies class in the 80's. I had a similar sort of experience, but I took it b/c it cleared a distribution requirement.

I turned in the first of three papers (no final, woot!) on the feminist perspective on political events (I chose the recent election of a female gov) and got a D on it.

Now, I was not perfect, but I was a solid B student and working my way through school. Quite aside from the ignomy of failing, there was a matter of 100% reimbursement for B or better.

I went to the teacher's office hours and asked if she would re-examine the paper as there were no real markings to let me understand the grade. She declined.

I very politely said that I would be happy to meet with her, the Dean of Arts and Sciences and my brother the lawyer, or we could settle on a B as that was the objective quality of the work.

I didn't have a brother or a lawyer but I got the B and we were both happy. And I learned a few good things in the course. And never took another one.

-XC

Big Mike said...

I believe the student really did experience her expression in this very negative way. It's easy to point at the probable and amusing irony: He read the syllabus from the perspective of a white, middle-class, heterosexual, American male. Maybe he'd benefit from experimenting with reading it from different perspectives.

Or maybe he had just passed his fed-up point. He's white, he's hetero, he's male, and he's proud. He is man, hear him roar!

mtrobertsattorney said...

It is classes like this that are responsible for the ever-growing number of low information voters.

Fr Martin Fox said...

ExPat(ish):

I'm sure that "women's studies" course I took filled some requirement, but I cannot recall what it was. Heck, I might have been required to take something "wimminish" but I don't think so. (I was in the seminary!)

I do know I got an A or a B. I recall almost nothing from the course beyond what I've recounted here.

bgates said...

write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm

So the white student is supposed to pretend he isn't white, and he won't suffer as a result?

There are certain limited but clearly defined ways in which white people are not allowed to express themselves. You think this instructor is going to celebrate the embrace of diversity if a white kid disregards his whiteness and expands his vocabulary?

Nigga, please.

Fr Martin Fox said...

One of the reasons I get irritated over these bash-America exercises, whether in books, or in academia, or in the church, is the utter lack of perspective.

Yes, European adventurers came here and settled, then expanded. Lots of suffering ensued.

Isn't that the entire history of humanity? Did you know Sweden once held sway over a large swath of Europe? Yes, mild-mannered Sweden once went a-conquering.

Then again, we are fed this fantasy that rapacious Europeans arrived, met by peaceful, conceived-without-sin indigenous peoples.

History is complicated, and it's not all roses; but a fairer way to look at it would be, not to say, we're terrible as the antidote to, we're wonderful; but rather to say, how'd we do compared with the rest of human history?

By that measure, I think we can have some genuine pride in a lot of our history, not because we never did wrong, but to the extent our country has made some pretty strong efforts to repair and get past that ugliness.

kimsch said...

Father Fox,

I would not have been able to answer the question about my first period. I can't remember. I don't even remember how old I was. It wasn't that important to me.

Sure, it marks "womanhood" and the ability to have children (for most but not all - some women are infertile even after menarche) but otherwise it's just a part of life.

I am not my ladyparts.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Kimsch:

My memory of that class is so dim, but of course the other guys and I just sat there while the discussion went on. My hunch is that the discussion took a turn toward something less embarrassing, as it usually does when the leader asks a question no one wants to deal with.

As I say, I would give one of my teeth (back teeth that is), if I could tell you the story of my devastatingly funny answer to the prof's question about "your first period." Alas, I'm just not a smart-alec at the right times.

Crunchy Frog said...

It's bad teaching and its bad scholarship to say that being a male, heterosexual, white, American doesn't affect the kinds of experiences we have, questions we ask. It's denying our history as well. That's not to say such a history should be prioritized as in the past, but to say that the response to the past approaches is not to assume a vague and impossible non-being.

That's what used to drive me up a wall about Crack. His personal point of view was shaped by his experiences - being a black man in Utah (if you hate it so much, why the hell did you move there in the first place?), having a crazy, cultish wife, dealing with music industry leftism, etc. - in a way that 99.994% have not experienced. Yet he would insist that only his POV was the correct one. The environment and experiences the rest of us grew up were invalid, because they did not conform to his.

Must have been lonely on that soapbox.

rcommal said...

I disavow the notion that whether whatever is being disavowed is true or not must inherently have anything to do with the act of disavowal. Do not assume one cannot disregard such truth or falsity when defining "disavow," or even when disavowing (though, in the latter case: alas!).

LOL. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

And they are different; I'm with Althouse and Matthew (?) in the interchangeability not setting well with me.

That said, I can certainly appreciate the irritation prompted by what appears to be easily taken as singling out of white, male, and let us not forget American, heterosexuals. I do believe it's good to learn to view things from other perspectives, but the approach and wording of an invitation to do this is important. I'd like to see the full syllabus and know more about that interview as well.

McTriumph said...

Fr Martin Fox
Something like Rachel Maddow, without the polish.

Maddow has polish?

I have five sisters. I could have impressed the professor with some tales. FYI, a boy's first experience with the first period is usually standing in the check-out holding sanitary napkins.

damikesc said...

I turned in the first of three papers (no final, woot!) on the feminist perspective on political events (I chose the recent election of a female gov) and got a D on it.

Now, I was not perfect, but I was a solid B student and working my way through school. Quite aside from the ignomy of failing, there was a matter of 100% reimbursement for B or better.

I went to the teacher's office hours and asked if she would re-examine the paper as there were no real markings to let me understand the grade. She declined.

I very politely said that I would be happy to meet with her, the Dean of Arts and Sciences and my brother the lawyer, or we could settle on a B as that was the objective quality of the work.

I didn't have a brother or a lawyer but I got the B and we were both happy. And I learned a few good things in the course. And never took another one.


I was a mediocre student --- but was frequently ambivalent about grades in courses I hate and I tended to arrive in those classes drunk or high. Not a source of pride, but it's what I did.

So I took a women's studies course as a "cultural requirement" for my degree where the professor said, verbatim, "men marry women with daughters solely to have sex with the daughters".

Naturally...I laughed. Loudly. Then realized that she was serious. Which made it funnier.

She frowned upon my laughter. I didn't stop laughing for a while, mind you. I felt no need to be nice or polite to a "teacher" who basically condemn all men as pedophiles/rapists-in-waiting. Hearing that she was single was the least surprising thing I learned in my entire collegiate experience.

I made it my mission to write papers to specifically gore her oxen (I was in college during the Clinton impeachment and did a long paper about the behavior of feminist groups in regards to Clarence Thomas as opposed to Bill Clinton --- fun stuff) and got on a first name basis with the Dean of her school due to the need to overturn grades that were laughable (I actually did good work there out of spite).

I learned exactly squat there --- well, outside of respect for being a professor is something none of them actually warrant without substantial evidence that it was legitimately warranted. And when you don't give them the respect they feel they deserve, they REALLY don't know how to handle it.

Fr Martin Fox said...

McT:

In comparison to how I remember that T.A., yes Ms. Maddow has "polish."

Shouting Thomas said...

For God's sake, Althouse...

The teacher failed because she's peddling the same old bullshit.

That bullshit is now the orthodoxy.

Take off the blinders.

McTriumph said...

Father Fox

I know the type. Noting our estimated age difference, I went to college with a lot of women like the TA.

Shouting Thomas said...

This bullshit, Althouse, is akin to your "openly gay" meme, which seems to be based on the assumption that declaring oneself "openly gay" is an act of defiance and courage.

Except that declaring oneself "openly gay" makes one the star in your environment. Declaring oneself "openly gay," if you are white and male, elevates you from the shitheap of the quota system to a quota system beneficiary.

This is especially true in the academic environment where you live and work.

Synova said...

If she had said to look at whatever you're not, no matter what you are, then that would be fair.

Of course a white male student who thought being American was important would expect to be at a disadvantage in that class.

His outlook is the wrong outlook. Obviously. Otherwise it would have been about identifying your own situation, whatever it is, and putting that aside... if you were a white male or white female or black female or 1st generation Hispanic or an alien from Mars.

McTriumph said...

Synova

Good point, but if I wanted to pretend to be someone else I'd take Theater 201.

Methadras said...

So in the hallowed halls of academe, students are asked to disavow any references to gender, race, social status, class, creed, bigotry, or prejudice, but yet on MSNBC they have zero issue with calling senators questioning Amb. Rice on her Bengahzi debacle as being all old white males ganging up on a single, sole black female. Brilliant.

gregq said...

MnMark said...

"...write and speak in a way that does not assume any particular nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic class to be the norm..."

This is America. So being American IS, and should be, the norm.

The middle class is the norm in America, as it is in any worthwhile country. You're 0 for 2.

How does one "write white"? The mere claim that there's a "white" way to write is prima facie racist, since she's assuming that your skin color defines the way you write. 0 for 3.

Do men and women write differently? Sounds like a sexist claim to me. But even if it's true, so what? Unless she's claiming that the "female way of writing" is inherently superior to the "male way of writing" (sexist), on what grounds does a female poli sci professor get to tell male students that they can't write in their natural style? 0 for 4

And, clue for the clueless: heterosexuality IS the norm. 97%+

So what we have here is delusional BS combined with racism and sexism. It might be remotely acceptable in a creative writing class. It has no business any place else.

For people who claim to be "reality based", it is amazingly funny how much trouble lefties have dealing w/ actual reality.

Rusty said...

Fr Martin Fox said...
Kimsch:

My memory of that class is so dim, but of course the other guys and I just sat there while the discussion went on. My hunch is that the discussion took a turn toward something less embarrassing, as it usually does when the leader asks a question no one wants to deal with.

As I say, I would give one of my teeth (back teeth that is), if I could tell you the story of my devastatingly funny answer to the prof's question about "your first period." Alas, I'm just not a smart-alec at the right times.


Alas, Father, I am. Hence the bridgework.

Synova said...

The thing is that your experience is what it is. And in a sense it's legitimate simply because it's your experience. So, for example, Crack's experience is legitimate by definition. Only my experience is also legitimate by definition, because it's real and I experienced it. And so is the sub-urban middle class white male experience legitimate. It is also not the *same* experience if said white male grew up in Albuquerque or in Maine or in Seattle.

As for History being written by the winners... I think it's probably often written by the lucky, as in someone found your manuscript and it wasn't burned in a fire and it wasn't eaten by bugs. Which studio had their film archives burn? Film History has a huge hole in it almost like it was never there.

So what does exist has to be understood to be limited to the viewpoint of those who made the records, or in this case films, that persist.

So sure, any political science or History class ought to pay attention to assumptions and bias and what is missing as well as encouraging students to imagine what it's like to be the "other", racially or politically or whatever.

BUT! This instructor's racism and sexism show through because there is a clear assumption that this all only happens in one direction and only one viewpoint needs to check itself.

Also... isn't "disavow" used to demand that someone publicly disagree with someone else's statements or actions. For example, calls for Romney to disavow this person or that person or whatever because if he didn't he was going to get accused of agreeing and supporting that opinion? Isn't that the word everyone used?

In that case it doesn't mean "that never happened" it only means "don't associate me with that nutcase." So it's disassociation.

Sure it usually means "that's not what I meant to say" but it's also used by journalists and everyone and their brother to mean "I'm not with stupid."

Sloppy usage, sure, just pretty common sloppiness.

Saint Croix said...

"Vow" is a very strong word.

Maybe we should require two people, before they divorce, to disavow each other.

We could have Bibles that start smoking and blowing up 30 seconds after you disavow.

McTriumph said...

Bibles that start smoking and blowing up 30 seconds after you disavow.


Like at my exorcism. It was cool.

Joe Schmoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Schmoe said...

The goal of an aggrieved minority (their opinion--not mine) is not equality, but inversion of the power structure as they perceive it.

They wanna put me-all in chains!

Quaestor said...

Jay Howard said “There’s nothing about a college education that guarantees you won’t be made uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, if you’re never made uncomfortable in your college education, you’re not really getting a college education.”

Good advice to those who make a habit of being volubly offended by the perceived racism and/or misogyny of others. Does the forum believe Dean Howard has ever given it, or even thought to?

Smilin' Jack said...

The syllabus of the class, called Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, goes on to ask students “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.”

In an American classroom that is the norm. Sounds like the professor is not a member of the reality-based community.

David said...

Triumph of the outliers.

Robert Bucknor said...

Whites have viewed the world subjectively for so long that such a good, educational idea will never work for them and they will remain traped in their ongoing narcissism and solipsism.

DEEBEE said...

“American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status”

For some it would be an impossible class, UMMM like females, non-whites, gay or the 1%

Kerry said...

"...to be the norm". To be the norm for whom? The "norm" is we are all created in the image and likeness of God. All that other crap is crap.

Borf said...

It's also easy to point at the probable and amusing irony: you read the headline and syllabus from the perspective of a white, middle/upper class, heterosexual, American female college professor. Maybe you'd benefit from experimenting with reading all that from different perspectives.

Thank you, Forthenri, for expressing my sentiment so eloquently.

Georgfelis said...

When taking a class like this, there are two approaches that can be taken:
Easy - Smile, nod, parrot. Check with previous tests and essays to determine just the right flavor of parrot the teacher prefers, and if they want it baked, broiled or fried. Sell the book (if you can get a dime out of it) the minute class is over and promptly forget the whole thing.

Hard - Engage the prof. on their ideas, contribute to the class discussion with honest opinions and facts. Write well thought-out papers with good cites.

Now for a dose of reality. The vast majority of students who take the Hard approach fail, the money they spent for the class is wasted, and that D or F on the grades can spell very bad news for employment prospects. You can fight the teacher through the system, which is filled with administrators just like them, who have to live with the Lib for the next 20 years until they retire, while you will be out of their hair in a year or two. Good luck.

The Easy approach works. The narcissistic personality types that teach this kind of drek love to hear their own words repeated lovingly and with feeling. Most students want to get through college without a fight and are more than happy to leave the narcissist professor alone in their little fuzzy world. Four years later, they will find themselves working for somebody just as bad or worse, preparing nice tidy little dishes of parrot all over again.

Synova said...

"Whites have viewed the world subjectively for so long that such a good, educational idea will never work for them and they will remain traped in their ongoing narcissism and solipsism."

Whereas non-whites never view the world subjectively.

Because they aren't real people, or something, but are a concept or ideal without normal human short comings.