Jack Burton: You know what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like this?
Jack Burton: Jack Burton. ME!
We refer to it as “the common assumption”. Strictly speaking, it is this: the assumption that within the hallowed halls of Academia the default political position is – because it ought to be – far left. Over a decade ago, Mark Bauerlein referred to it as follows: “The assumption is that all the strangers in the room at professional gatherings are liberals.”
The result is that we conservatives quite often find ourselves bombarded with inflammatory, polemical rhetoric with which we are expected to agree…And for those of us who prefer the privacy of the vast right-wing conspiracy to being openly quarantined with the lepers, well, we might not agree but we normally damned well don’t openly dissent. [Replace “normally” with “never” for those untenured and even those who’re (gulp) graduate students…]
I mean, how awkward is it, conversationally, to be forced to interrupt one of your colleagues mid-self-righteous-leftwing-diatribe with an uncomfortable, “Well, not only is that false, Pedro, but I find your effrontery downright disgusting…”? No, we stand and take it. Perhaps we nod, faces mute, serious. And then we turn around, wipe our forehead (“Whew! That was close…I almost told Pedro he was a (blanking) moron!”), and carry on. In good Stoic fashion.
Whatever happened to civil, well-mannered prefaces like, “Well, I don’t know what you think about ______, but…” or even “This might seem controversial, but…”? Such prefaces might make it appear as though a genuine discussion or conversation is in the offing…Alas, dialogue is seldom the goal. More like professional posturing. After all, it’s a priori that any invective aimed at those not all in favor of homosexual “rights,” those not convinced of the obviousness of the “institutional” oppression of minorities, those not skeptical of the inherent sexism of the academy (and the world at large), and those refusing to fly the flag of [insert popular left-wing whining du jour here], is well-deserved, morally certain, and conversationally appropriate. Such is the common assumption.
A couple of real world experiences, from this (still young) semester alone:
- While serving on the curriculum committee for my college, one department in the social sciences had proposed a “social justice major,” complete with a program justification that, first of all, never actually explained (either broadly or narrowly) what “social justice” is supposed to be. [Jack Burton, admittedly, remains clueless.] What it did include, however, were several notable “facts”: the “fact” that gender is a social construct, the “fact” that gendered (and racial) minorities on campus are oppressed/marginalized in various ways, the “fact” that all disciplines are complicit in said oppression/marginalization, and the “fact” that the job of the university is to push forward liberationist agendas. These, mind you, were “the facts” buttressing the proposal. [I’ll not bother the readership with the proposed courses, which included a litany of the proverbial Marxist/Critical Theory nonsense.] The chair of the committee read the proposal aloud – like a fiery sermon by an oratorical master, the words had my 25 colleagues vigorously nodding their collective head in lock-step – and then immediately called for discussion. [As if any were necessary…] One professor called for “solidarity” with the proposal. Another voiced concern that this sort of major was “only just now” being considered. A third responded that the current administration was full of right-wing-sympathetic “white males” who “probably watch Fox News every night” [giggling ensued]. Enter Jack: When I questioned the so-called “fact” that the job of the university was to inspire activism of any sort at all, I was met with looks of absolute incredulity…I immediately changed tactics, noting how it was typically not a matter for the social SCIENCES to be concerned with justice of any sort, that perhaps such a major would best be housed elsewhere (if housed at all)…Blank stares. In hindsight I’m just thankful that I was spared a rendition of the Two-Minutes Hate. In any case, the measure passed. Spectacularly.
- A group of students knocked on my office door one day. “Hi Dr. _____, we have a petition to change the language of the student handbook. The basic idea is that we think it ought to include gender-respectful language for those who do not identify as either male or female…” I politely demurred with the (truthful) proviso: “I do not sign petitions. On principle. But thank you for asking.” Over the course of the next three days, I had visits from at least four colleagues throughout the college, aghast that I had refused to sign the petition, and requesting “an explanation” for why I would refuse to champion “the cause of The Good (sic)”. I deflected the attention good-naturedly. Though I am most happy to report that the petition has not (yet) received the required number of signatures in order to guarantee a hand-wringing bureaucratfest amongst Deans, Deanlings, and Deanlets, collectively falling over themselves to appease calls for “diversity” in whatever fashion is required, lest the Leftosphere break out the PR machine.
Notice: I am not complaining. I am not raging against “the leftist establishment” [though “established” it most certainly is]. Nor am I taking cover under the ever-expanding umbrella of victimhood. I’m simply stating a fact. Over the years I’ve gotten used to it.
Oh it’s definitely annoying. And I’m certainly mindful of the likelihood that such exuberant expressions of Leftard-jackassery are not limited to the hallways and faculty offices…far too many stories, from substantial numbers of right-thinking students, provide overwhelming evidential support that conservative faculty members are probably the least affected by such heavy-handed displays…ah, those students, the poor bastards.