"It honestly seems like it was written by a teenage Tumblr user who, having come into contact with some new and exciting ideas about social justice, seeks to impose them widely and lecture perceived wrongdoers gleefully."
Writes Jill Filipovic, in "Hamline University’s Controversial Firing Is a Warning/Insistence that others follow one’s strict religion is authoritarian and illiberal no matter what the religion is" (Slate). She's talking about a statement written by Hamlin University President Dr. Fayneese S. Miller.
[Miller] writes that “when we harm, we should listen rather than debate the merits of or extent of that harm” and that “the classroom incident is only one of several instances in which their religious beliefs have been challenged.” (God forbid a college student have their beliefs challenged.) But this is where it goes really off the rails:
As a caring community, there are times when a healthy examination of expression is not only prudent, but necessary. This is particularly the case when we know that our expression has potential to cause harm. When that happens, we must care enough to find other ways to make our voices and viewpoints heard. Perspectives should be informed, mindful and critical, as befits an education steeped in the tenets of a liberal arts education. We believe in academic freedom, but it should not and cannot be used to excuse away behavior that harms others.
I realize I sound like a crotchety old conservative here, but college classrooms should not be “safe spaces.” They can’t be safe spaces. They should be respectful spaces, and professors and students alike should treat each other with consideration, but “cause no emotional harm” is not, in fact, a value to which academic institutions should aspire, or an ideal they can ever realistically reach—especially when “this is harmful” has become an easy cudgel to use in order to get one’s way.
Much more at the link. It's interesting to see a person who wants to maintain her status as a left-winger struggle with all of this:
This incident is making headlines because conservatives have latched onto it as another example of left-wing “cancel culture.” But how a conservative interpretation of Islam that gets a sensitive and thoughtful art history lecturer fired is “left-wing” is beyond me.
I've bold-faced what is the second-to-last sentence. The light bulb comes on!
But there's one more sentence. It's not a snapping off of the light — more of an adjustment of the dimmer switch:
It is true, though, that many people on the left have stayed quiet about this one, because, well, one doesn’t want to aid a perceived enemy, and perhaps because we want to be sensitive to Muslims who are undeniably often mistreated in the United States.
We'll see where Filopovic goes from here. I said I found it interesting when someone who wants to be left wing struggles with issues conservatives care about, but that's an understatement. It is the strongest interest that has powered my blogging over the years.
I'm sure I had some dispute with Filipovic long ago, but I can't remember what it was, and I think at the time she was a law student while I was a law professor. Anyway, she graduated from law school in 2008, and she's turning 40 this year (the same year my younger son turns 40), so there's no reason to shrink from challenging her, and apparently she's in favor of the intellectual challenge.
So I'll go ahead and wonder out loud whether Filipovic intended to be so transgressive as to compare a black woman — Hamlin University President Dr. Fayneese S. Miller — to naive teenager — "a teenage Tumblr user who [has just] come into contact with some new and exciting ideas about social justice."
I'm not saying that's racist or sexist, but I think a typical left-winger would say it is. I think it's anti-racist to apply the same vigorous criticism to a black woman that you'd apply to a white man.
But that's another one of these ideas that seem like something a "crotchety old conservative" would say.