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By John Stonestreet
On many college campuses, a movement is afoot to shut down statements or topics that might offend some people, or that will “trigger” unpleasant feelings or emotions. They’re called “microagressions.” And what qualifies as a “microagression” that may “trigger” someone these days can get downright ridiculous.
For example, earlier this year at Brandeis University, an Asian American student group put up a display with comments such as, “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?” and even “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race.” Well, even this was too much for some other Asian students, who said the display itself was offensive—and had it taken down. Meanwhile, the University of California system has deemed many statements, including “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” to be offensive.
Now you can’t make this stuff up, but it’s no laughing matter.
In The Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt note that “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 … this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.”
Lukianoff and Haidt correctly observe that such foolishness is anathema to the very idea of higher education—that the campus should be a place where tough questions can be asked without fear or favor, and where students are taught not what to think but how to think…
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