Casting his net more widely to include all talk of “privilege,” from male to cisgender, essayist Joseph Bottum has observed that the concept is functionally equivalent to original sin. “I have to every day wake up and acknowledge that I am so deeply embedded with racist thoughts and notions and actions in my body that I have to choose every day to do anti-racist work and think in an anti-racist way,”
Leftism has become a religion, and what we are seeing now is a revival.
The revivalists testify from behind megaphones instead of pulpits and in “safe spaces” instead of country churches, but they stand squarely within the American tradition of converts who spread their gospel by bearing their witness. The way they keep bursting into tears is a clue.
.. The enthusiasm for personal denunciation that sets the present eruption apart from the usual PC background noise is a trademark of American revivals, too. When colonial congregations invited George Whitefield to preach for them, they quickly learned to ask in advance that he not sow dissension by denouncing local worthies by name. No
.. One reason Finney was the most popular revivalist of the Second Great Awakening was that his audiences derived a certain frisson from knowing he would call out by name any deacon he’d heard was an adulterer and any shopkeeper he’d heard saying “dammit” in the street.
.. He was more proud of it than of his more famous innovation, the “anxious bench.” But it’s not as if other preachers didn’t know that they could call down the 19th-century equivalent of a Twitterstorm on any parishioner they wanted. They just didn’t think it would be tactful. Tact, that pillar of decency, is not a principle so much as a truce. To break it, a person needs only to believe that he and his ideas are more important than other people.
After Trump, a Call for Political Correctness From the Right
Downplaying the racist views of Trump supporters is an evasion of the facts.
.. At 2 AM on Wednesday morning, once it became clear Donald Trump would be America’s next president, the conservative, anti-Trump, commentator Erick Erickson posted “An Open Letter to the Democrats.” He asked them not to rebuke Trump’s supporters. “Instead of condemning them and labeling them all bigots and racists and deplorables,” he wrote, “I hope you will try to relate to them, connect to them, and recognize their legitimate concerns.” Since Trump’s victory, other commentators have said similar things.
Sorry, but I disagree. Reconciliation is important. But not at the expense of truth.
.. almost half of Trump supporters said African Americans were more “violent” than whites. Forty percent said they were more “lazy.” In February, a Public Policy Polling survey found that 70 percent of Trump supporters in South Carolina opposed removing the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds. Trump supporters in South Carolina were also far more likely than the supporters of other GOP candidates to wish the South had won the Civil War and to consider whites a superior race.
.. the University of Michigan found that “hostile sexism”—reflected in support for statements like “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist” and “Many women are actually seeking special favors…under the guise of asking for equality”—predicts support for Trump extremely well.
.. For years, for instance, conservatives have insisted that economic distress does not cause jihadist terror. The real source, they insist, is Islamic culture. For decades, they’ve argued that economic distress does not cause unwed pregnancy and drug addiction among African Americans. The real explanation lies with inner city black culture.
.. among voters who earn less than $50,000, Clinton won handily. Trump won among those who make more than $250,000.
.. What differentiates Trump’s supporters is their resentment toward immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and feminists—anyone who challenges the hierarchies that reigned back when America was great.
.. But I thought conservatives like Erickson favored blunt truths over dishonest kumbaya.
Letterman Has No Love for ‘Damaged’ Trump
And then, I can remember him doing an impression, behind a podium, of a reporter for The New York Times who has a congenital disorder. And then I thought, if this was somebody else — if this was a member of your family or a next-door neighbor, a guy at work — you would immediately distance yourself from that person. And that’s what I thought would happen. Because if you can do that in a national forum, that says to me that you are a damaged human being. If you can do that, and not apologize, you’re a person to be shunned.
Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and Free Speech, Too
The implication was that students who support trigger warnings and safe spaces are narrow-minded, oversensitive and opposed to dialogue. The letter betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what the terms “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” mean, and came across as an embarrassing attempt to deflect attention from serious issues on campus.
.. A safe space is an area on campus where students — especially but not limited to those who have endured trauma or feel marginalized — can feel comfortable talking about their experiences. This might be the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs or it could be Hillel House, but in essence, it’s a place for support and community.
.. Nobody sought to “retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” as Dean Ellison put it in the letter, nor did these measures hinder discussion or disagreement, both of which were abundant.
.. The administration wants to appear as an intellectual force beating back destabilizing waves of political correctness that have rocked college campuses.
.. Instead, many protesters want the university to evaluate how it invests its money, improve access for students with mental illnesses and disabilities, support low-income and first-generation students, and pay its employees fair wages. They have been pushing for more transparency in the school’s private police force, which has resisted making most of its policies public in the face of complaints.
.. While the university accuses students of silencing opposing voices, it continues to insulate itself against difficult questions.
.. In this context, it’s hard to see the dean’s letter as anything other than a public relations maneuver.
.. Campus advocacy groups will not be deterred by a letter, as their goals have nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with holding universities accountable to the communities they are supposed to foster.