Friday, December 12, 2014

Life In the Pissant Swamp: The Incident of the Politically Correct Feeling...

There are a zillion stories in the Pissant Swamp.
This is just one of them.

I don't remember quite when it was. A year ago? Two years ago. However long ago it was doesn't matter. What does matter and what is very revealing about life in the Pissant Swamp these days is that it did happen.

I was teaching a comparative history class at MicroMegaStateUniversity. I happened to mention something I heard from a friend of mine who gave a lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He said that what happened after the lecture revealed quite clearly to him that compared to the tensions and battles between modernists and traditionalists, the "secular humanists" and "the penguins", the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians was small potatoes.

A few weeks or so after I mentioned this in class as an example of tensions between "moderns" and "traditionalists" in ostensibly secular modern societies, I got an email from a lawyer-bureaucrat at MicroMegaStateUniversity. He said a student had expressed a concern about something I said with his office, I don't remember what the office was called but it had some typically pleasant sounding bureaucratic name. What I do remember is that his office dealt with student complaints about alleged prejudicial statements made at MMSU. The lawyer didn't tell me what the complaint was or who made the complaint. He did say he wanted to meet me.
After email tag and problems associated with bad weather in the Northeast, the lawyer and I met in my office in the Campus Library. The lawyer brought the head of Hillel with him, the same Hillel that is engaged in discrimination against certain Jews who hold views at odds with their when it comes to Israel these days. They told me that a student made a complaint about my use of the term "penguins" as a description of traditional or Orthodox Jews. That I was repeating what someone else told me about his experience at Hebrew and that it is a fact that at Hebrew and in Israel seculars often call traditional black and white clad Jews "penguins" was judged immaterial. I was informed that an official complaint had not been made and that I needed to be careful in the future about what I said in class. Political correctness.

Beyond the issue of political correctness, and let me remind you at this point that political correctness can come from the "left" and the "right", I couldn't help but wonder if this is what the ever shrinking liberal arts university had come to. Has the American college and university become hostage to the tyranny of student feelings? Do student feelings trump empirical reality? The story I told, after all, was a real story and traditionalist Jews are called "penguins" in Israel. My answer to this question. It has and it is. And this is just another nail in the liberal arts coffin and another nail in the coffin of critical thinking. Welcome to the modern Pissant Swamp. It's been good to know you liberal arts education.

Any resemblance between this blog post and reality is purely coincidental.

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