I was probably the last person on the planet to learn about 9/11. I was in the midst of writing my dissertation at the University of Georgia and did not log in to my email until mid-afternoon. We all remember the horror we felt when we heard that our nation was attacked.
That evening NPR, however, was full of cluck-clucking about attacks on Muslims. Virtually all of those claims turned out to be bogus. First responders were dying as they searched for survivors, and the people at NPR were more concerned about a Muslim being called a bad name. Further horror came as one of my colleagues told me how he had conducted discussion in his freshman composition class the following day: he used the New York Times to explain the “history” behind the attack, and how American policies brought it on.
Fourteen years later, we have an entire college course devoted to the study of 9/11. The online literature class at the University of North Carolina teaches that American imperialism was to blame for 9/11; the reading assignments are sympathetic to the terrorists. This fact is all the more distressing considering that today’s college students were only 4 or 5 years old at the time.
We are not to even speak of terrorism. In the last seven years the word “terrorism” has been declared verboten by our government. And so it is in schools.
Except that attention is diverted from real horrors and mass murder to “microaggressions.” Gestures, looks, and thoughts are now monitored and declared forbidden on our college campuses. A slip of the tongue can get you into deep trouble. Thought police masquerading under such titles as “diversity coordinators” collude on methods for controlling faculty and students. Where will it end? I speculate and make a “modest proposal” at theFederalist. (Inspiration in part from a short story I used to teach, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.“)
The good doctor Ben Carson has a remedy for microaggressions. It’s from his 2014 book, One Nation.
Carson recounts an experience he had while working as an intern at Johns Hopkins around 1977 and being confused for an orderly by the nurse. He would be told by the nurse that the patient was not ready for the operating room. The good doctor realized that the sight of a black physician was decidedly rare in 1977. This is how he puts it:
After many years of hard work to achieve the title of doctor, many might say that I would have been justified in reacting angrily to the suggestion that I was an orderly, especially given the racial overtones of the misunderstanding. However, I tried to look at things from the nurse’s perspective. The only black males she had seen come onto that ward wearing surgical scrubs were orderlies who were coming to pick up or deliver a patient. Why would she think differently in my case? A highly sensitive individual would have created a scene and everyone would have felt uncomfortable. I would simply say in those situations, ‘I’m sorry that Mr. Patient isn’t ready yet, but I’m Dr. Carson and I’m here for another reason.’
He continues, “The offending nurse would often be so embarrassed that I actually felt sorry for her or him and I would say, ‘It’s quite all right and you don’t need to feel bad.’ I would be very nice to that person, and I would have a friend for life. . . . that was a whole lot better than having someone who would always feel ashamed, embarrassed, or hostile when they saw me.”
So isn’t that so much nicer than sitting around and mooning over such mistakes as if they were the slings and arrows felling the potential top-notch surgeon?
This is a good tip to give to the perpetually affronted wandering our campuses, as well as to those perpetually frightened that any comment or gesture could be taken the wrong way.
The doctor has other tips, beginning with the recognition of the Alinsky strategy of goading opponents:
- Try to identify one instance of artificial outrage. Explain to one other person why this is a contrived issue and outline the way it agitates people and cultivates political support for the agitators.
- Readily apologize to a person who is offended by something you said. Explain what you had hoped to convey.
- Attempt to politely disagree with someone who makes a political statement with which you disagree. (Be sure that you choose an appropriate setting.) Engage in a civil discussion of the matter.
- Read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to get an idea of how the political correctness police work.
Good tips to give to students.