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Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Liberal Bigotry and Censorship

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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2 articles from Salon (reassuring in that they haven't fallen prey to the groupthink):

The unfree speech movement

"The place that gave birth to the Free Speech Movement (and my alma mater) is not capable of talking freely about race.

Last week, the U.C. Berkeley College Republicans – not a group I ever thought I would find myself defending — staged what they called an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” to protest a bill, S.B. 185, that would allow public California universities to consider race, ethnicity and gender in admissions... In the bake sale, cupcakes were offered at different prices to different racial and ethnic groups. For whites, the price was $2; for Asians, $1.50; for Latinos, $1; for Native Americans, 75 cents. Women got an additional 25 cents off...

Many U.C. students, the U.C. student government and the U.C. administration reacted to the bake sale as if the Ku Klux Klan had erected a gigantic burning cross in Sproul Plaza. Enraged counter-protesters decried the bake sale as “racist.” The student organizers of the parody were threatened...

Most egregiously, U.C. Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau and two top administrators felt impelled to send out an open letter to the campus community, condemning the bake sale as “contrary to the Principles of Community we espouse as a campus.” The terrible offense the creators of the bake sale were guilty of? Hurting people’s feelings...

The mere fact that it offended some students was considered sufficient grounds to condemn it; whether it was actually offensive, or racist, or beyond the pale in any way, was deemed irrelevant by U.C. Berkeley’s top brass...

If he actually followed this absurd position to its logical conclusion, Chancellor Birgeneau would have to spend all his time firing off open letters. He would have to rebuke pro-Israeli groups for hurting Palestinians’ feelings, and vice-versa. He would have to criticize opponents and supporters of abortion rights for making their adversaries feel bad. In fact, if he really wanted to defend the feelings of the campus community, he should send an open letter to California voters, telling them that by passing Proposition 209 they did something very hurtful....

His hypocritical letter is really only concerned with protecting the feelings of one group: underrepresented minority students. Its implicit message: It is not permissible to talk about race except in approved ways. Any deviation from the script will be censured

Is this any way to run a university? And is it any way to advance racial dialogue?...

College is supposed to be a preparation for life, and life is full of arguments and confrontations, some of which can hurt one’s feelings. Condescension and paternalism are not solid foundations for racial progress... when racial “diversity” becomes a sacred cow, one that trumps everything else, true diversity – diversity of opinion – is threatened"


Is my Facebook page a liberal echo chamber?

"Who are these people? Am I truly that out of touch with the place I grew up? Have I actually constructed an enclave of liberal, secular, urban-dwelling, like-minded 30-somethings so sealed off from the rest of the world that a tiny breach in the form of a Facebook post could so thoroughly floor me?...

“How do you stand it?” I asked him. “How do you not walk around in a constant state of indignation?” “Oh, I get indignant,” he replied. “I get plenty indignant. But I don’t let it escalate to outrage. If you get outraged, you never learn anything”...

But the truth was, I was walking around in a white-hot rage much of the time... I can’t help wondering how much [anger] really accomplishes, if in some ways it might even impede us in our attempts to be more thoughtful, “enlightened” human beings...

As an angsty teenager and college student, I used to mock people who lived in gated communities, who were so afraid of the unfamiliar world they had to erect a physical boundary to keep it at bay. But now I wonder, aren’t the boundaries we draw with Facebook just as secure as a man-made moat or an underpaid security guard manning a booth?...

The common thread in all of these instances was a feeling of shock, a profound bewilderment at one’s private space having been invaded by the political-cultural-socio-religious “other”...

[She] recalls another instance involving a relative whose right-wing perspective she’s actually come to value through Facebook. She tells me, “He’s as passionate about the right wing as I am about the left. And many of his posts are genuinely funny — not just taking potshots at the other side, but laughing at himself, too. His posts give me real insight into what the right is thinking, which I kind of appreciate and have come to value.” My friend emphasized, though, how unusual this sort of insight has become. The far more common experience seems to be that when we hear actual discord, our immediate reaction is not to argue or persuade but to silence, unfriend, block, annihilate — which is of course exactly the sort of stonewalling, obstructionism happening in Washington"
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