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."Inclusive". "Social justice". "Levelling hierarchies". Disregard your "American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status". Lamenting that the English language is gender-specific and lacks a generic singular pronoun.* I wonder what is so inclusive about requiring members of one group to check their identities at the lecture hall door whilst members of more politically favored and socially stylish groups do not. I wonder what exactly is implied by "social justice"...and who exactly judges what is just. Further, I wonder what racial, sexual, and class hierarchies are present in the liberalist prof's mind--and are assumed to exist in the student's minds--that must be levelled.
The syllabus of the course at Butler, a small Midwestern liberal arts institution in Indianapolis, spells out that students should use "inclusive language" because it's "a fundamental issue of social justice. 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.
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.
In an interview with The College Fix, Jay Howard, dean of Butler's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, denied this practice essentially presumes every student who walks through the door is a racist or misogynist. He said students must be told not to assume such prejudices because such assumptions are ingrained into the culture and remain there until questioned. With that,
a liberal arts education questions these assumptions, and such questions can make for uncomfortable situations, he said. "Sometimes in order to broaden the conversation and broaden the understandings you've got to risk making people uncomfortable. 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."
Howard said the college he oversees does not want students to continue to harbor such assumptions without question, "but neither do we want to exclude the dominant group in society in our attempts to make sure that we're leveling hierarchies." He added that American culture makes speaking inclusively difficult, and the English language is partly to blame. "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." [bolded emphasis mine]
Last, isn't all this just plain old intolerant? In the sense that heterodox views are not tolerated in a supposedly liberal institution of higher learning, staffed with minds apparently so open they are effectively closed? Wouldn't Herbert Marcuse be proud...are we approaching his idealized society that is "ruled despotically by an enlightened group [who] have realized in themselves the unity of Logos and Eros, and thrown off the vexatious authority of logic, mathematics, and the empirical sciences"? Why then would Christian, white, MC, hetero males submit themselves to such an environment that is thoroughgoingly left-illiberal, promulgates a political philosophy dedicated to outgrouping and suppressing your group and identity, and seeks to install a political system in which your personal interests are subordinated to others' interests for no reason other than the color of your skin, s.x, and cultural and civilizational heritage?
And this is all before we get into questions of economy, as in why one, anyone, should even bother with worthless non-technical college degrees from purportedly lib-arts colleges anyways? And specific to white, MC, Christian males, why should they pay to go where they are hated and despised and, were it not for their money, would not be tolerated? Why should they not just avoid the 'noid entirely, and associate with institutions that not only advance their economic interests but value and / or nurture their cultural, racial/ethnic, religious, and civilizational heritage?
This is the classist world that Smith/Marx/Gramsci/Marcuse built. This is the legacy of the Enlightenment, as transmitted by a Frankfurt School that fled Germany to Columbia University in the run-up to Hitler. No sense in voluntarily submitting yourself to this world...better to use the Invisible Hand to your advantage and go elsewhere.
* Hmm. I seem to recall that French and German were chock full of gender-specific nouns and pronouns...it's not just English, fella.