Berkeley Holds Seminars To Discourage Use Of Terms Like “Melting Pot” As Racial “Microaggressions”

200px-University_of_California_Seal.svgI have written columns and blogs through the years about the disturbing trend on U.S. campuses toward free regulation and controls. In the name of diversities and tolerance, college administrators and professors are enforcing greater and greater controls on speech –declaring certain views or terms to be forms of racism or more commonly “microaggressions.” The latter term is gaining support to expand the range of controls over speech and conduct to include things that are indirect or minor forms of perceived intolerance. The crackdown seems most prevalent in California where lists of “micro aggressions” seems to be mounting as a macroaggression on free speech. The new list of verboten terms out of University of California (Berkeley), headed by Janet Napolitano, captures the insatiable appetite for speech regulation. The school has asked faculty to stop using terms like “melting pot” or statements like “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” They are now all microaggressions. Not only are school buying into the concept of microaggressions and speech regulation, but they are shaping a generation of students who seem to look for any possible interpretation of terms to take offensive at.

Ironically, while using the term “melting pot” is now viewed as an unacceptable microaggression, actual aggression in the form of assault by a faculty member on people for using free speech is not considered an offense worthy of termination — indeed it was an act deemed understandable if not heroic by some students and faculty in the case of California Professor Miller-Young.

Napolitano asked UC deans and department chairs to attend seminars “to foster informed conversation about the best way to build and nurture a productive academic climate.” The seminars includes handouts with these terms as part of the program called “Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send.” The manuals were reportedly adapted from a book by Columbia University Psychology Professor Derald Wing Sue. For civil libertarians, the handouts should be entitled “Recognizing Speech Codes and The Speech They Curtail.”

Some points have been previously discussed on this blog. For example, now discouraged is the statement “There is only one race, the human race.” We saw recently how the President of Smith College was forced into a mea culpa for saying “all lives matter.” Such collective valuations of live and humanity is now considered offensive because it denies “the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history.” A microaggression.

Likewise, “America is the land of opportunity” somehow suggests that “People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder” while asking an Asian, Latino, or Native American “why are you so quiet?” is trying to force him to “assimilate to dominant culture.” Finding such microaggressions has become a virtual cottage industry (if I can say that without degrading any cultures that do not use — or use — cottages). Even some of the most important social and political debates are now considered racist if one side is spoken directly. For example, the Supreme Court and the nation has continued to debate affirmative action and whether it is a form of racism. However, saying “Affirmative action is racist,” is now deemed a microaggression by default. Thus, you can have the debate — just do not state your position on the ultimate question. Academics supporting such views seem wholly unconcerned that the barring of the expression depends on your first accepting the opposing premise on the issue of affirmative action. Consider the defense of OiYan Poon, an assistant professor of higher education at Loyola University in Chicago: “The statement that ‘affirmative action is racist’ completely ignores the history and purpose of affirmative action, which is to address inequalities resulting from the many ways our government and society have prevented people of color from accessing economic, educational and political opportunities and rights.” That is of course the opposing position in favor of affirmative action. It is worth noting that the Supreme Court has declared affirmative action to be unconstitutional for universities admissions. Recent opinions explore the limited range in which race may be considered for purposes of diversity, not affirmative action. However, the main problem is that the barring of this expression as a microaggression assumes that affirmative action is not racist — the very point under debate. In this sense, one side controls the debate by declaring the opposing view as simply racist to express.

The expanding efforts to curtail speech on college campuses shows how the taste for speech controls can become insatiable for many. Ironically, liberal faculty once rallied whole campuses to fight for free speech. Now, many are leading the fight against the speech of opposing groups as essential to a “tolerant” society. It is a dangerous trend that we are seeing throughout the West. However, the campaign of faculty to deny speech on campuses presents an existential threat to the entire academic mission. We are education a new generation that free speech is a danger to rather than the definition of a free society.

Source: Daily Beast

144 thoughts on “Berkeley Holds Seminars To Discourage Use Of Terms Like “Melting Pot” As Racial “Microaggressions””

  1. I guess Michael Jackson got it wrong.. It DOES matter if you’re black or white.

    Maybe we need multiple names for our species since ‘Human’ will no longer do? For the record, I am NOT offended if you disregard the fact that I am Caucasian (specifically, an Irish-Scottish-English American, but I forgive you for not being able to say all of that… ever…) In fact, I am going out on a limb here because I am not sure if I am allowed to be offended or have an opinion.. but for the record, I AM offended… I prefer to be referred to as “that Human woman” or “Human American” or “Earth Human” from now on. By insisting on calling me White, you emphasize a part of me that I find materially unimportant. I know some of you will disagree, but your refusal to acquiesce to this request will be interpreted by me as species-ism and a microaggression. Even if your intentions are loving and peaceful, it does not absolve you of your responsibility to change in order to meet my needs because INTENTIONS NO LONGER MATTER.. It is not my responsibility to interpret your words or think critically about the context of any given situation in which you might refer to me as a white person. On the contrary, I will take the words that come out of your mouth at face value and judge your character, morality, humanity, and inclusiveness based solely on your ability/willingness to follow my demands.

    Much more in line with Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ is the new x-ray commercial… Isn’t this new ‘Love Has No Labels’ commercial all about the fact that love is blind? That love has no color, no creed, no orientation? Ahhhh, but who are we kidding? Michael might have added “no age difference” to that list also.

    So many conflicting messages and demands! Some many contradictory ‘rules.’ To label or not to label… separate but equal or human and equal? I need a list of what makes us the same and what makes us different to be sure I get it right… No, I, for one, will continue to send out love and light to my fellow HUMAN RACE, while being grateful for my First Amendment rights that allow me to post this (as long as they last anyway).. and remain cognizant of the irony that my dissenting opinion that equality is best achieved by celebrating our similarities and common humanity instead of insisting on focusing on our differences will be considered by some to be close-minded and hateful… even though the opinion is completely founded upon principles of unity, love, and peace. I will also remember that as soon as one fails to adopt liberal theories, you are labeled an ignorant racist bigot – an accusation that is sure to stop any meaningful discourse in its tracks as it is virtually uncontestable – akin to arguing science with someone relying on faith.

    Oh well, cheers to being Human! I still believe we can get this right. Much love to you all

  2. This essay, “College is a Con: The Savage Truth About Your Bachelor’s Degree,” originally appeared in Alternet, and is a scathing indictment of the average US college student’s return on investment in a 4-year college education:

    “Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation. It benefits immensely from right-wing McCarthy wannabes, who in an effort to restrict academic freedom and silence political dissent, depict universities as left-wing indoctrination centers.

    “But the reality is that while college administrators might affix ‘down with the man’ stickers on their office doors, many prop up a system that is severely unfair to American students and professors, a shocking number of whom struggle to make ends meet. Even the most elementary level of political science instructs that politics is about power. Power, in America, is about money: who has it? Who does not have it? Who is accumulating it? Who is losing it? Where is it going?

    “Four hundred faculty members at New York University, one of the nation’s most expensive schools, recently released a report on how their own place of employment, legally a nonprofit institution, has become a predatory business, hardly any different in ethical practice or economic procedure than a sleazy storefront payday loan operator. Its title succinctly summarizes the new intellectual discipline deans and regents have learned to master: ‘The Art of The Gouge.’

    “The result of their investigation reads as if Charles Dickens and Franz Kafka collaborated on notes for a novel. Administrators not only continue to raise tuition at staggering rates, but they burden their students with inexplicable fees, high cost burdens and expensive requirements like mandatory study abroad programs. When students question the basis of their charges, much of them hidden during the enrollment and registration phases, they find themselves lost in a tornadic swirl of forms, automated answering services and other bureaucratic debris.

    “Often the additional fees add up to thousands of dollars, and that comes on top of the already hefty tuition, currently $46,000 per academic year, which is more than double its rate of 2001. Tuition at NYU is higher than most colleges, but a bachelor’s degree, nearly anywhere else, still comes with a punitive price tag. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2014–2015 school year was $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.”

  3. The term “microaggression” provides a great example of what is becoming increasingly common in American academia: taking an old concept, giving it a new name, and trying to pass it off as a new idea. It is one more attempt by arrogant pseudo-scholars to con the American public into thinking that their tuition money is really producing a worthwhile product.

    1. Vince Jankoski – I have decided that the term ‘microaggression’ is a ‘microaggression.’

  4. There’s 7 billion people plus in the world and really its not because any of us are particularly picky! In fact there’s something inside of you which can, at least at times, find people different from you highly attractive — exotic. There’s a reason, biologically we actually desire genetic diversity in our offspring. Take 50 men and 50 women and before long they’re going to be pairing up. That’s life and in America we are slowly building a unique American ethnicity all its own being added to by immigrants. Nothing that hasn’t happened before, human beings have been migrating in droves over the centuries and assimilating with the locals (sadly at times with a great deal of violence).

  5. TJustice
    1, June 25, 2015 at 10:52 am
    1, June 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

    As is the case with so many commenters here, you seem to think you should be taken seriously if you merely assert something out of the deep wellsprings of your heart-felt feelings, without offering a shred of evidence to support what you assert.

    You and they are seriously mistaken, except perhaps in the case of fellow tribalists who share your/their emotional orientation, who may be more than happy to give you and others a pass insofar as not supporting your bald assertions with any evidence is concerned.

    Do you actually think (or should I say feel?) that anyone is going to peruse every column JT has written on this blog to find out who “Richard Sherman” is and what JT may have had to say about him, so that s/he can have at least the foggiest notion regarding what you’re talking about?

    Are you even concerned about being taken seriously?

  6. TJustice I have to admit what passes for a university education today puzzles me no end. Beyond that fact the I suspect subsidy in loans have acted to drive up the costs, the approach is off putting. I’d never have been able to attend college at all had the costs been what they are today, what with working full time and going to school at night as many of us did in the city. Next, we seem to have gone from professors, whether left or right, who encouraged divergent opinions and debate, and didn’t mark down for opposition if you presented your points well. Today I get the idea Professors are telling people what to think, rather than teaching anything in an open forum. Am I wrong?

  7. Ken Rogers

    I admire JT calling for candidates from a wider variety of schools on the bench for the Supreme Court. But to claim the credibility is not based on school (at least some) on this site is to not read many posts…

  8. Ken Rogers

    There is plenty of evidence. When JT called Richard Sherman a thug, he noted that he went to Stanford (he shouldn’t be acting like that!!!) Moreover, he did not note that Marshawn Lynch attended UC-Berkely when he was in the news (not talking to the media) because he didn’t graduate. Otherwise, it would have came in. I’m not saying it necessarily takes away from getting a “first-class” education. But what is a “first class” education? Access to hack professors that know much, but don’t wish to share? My point was more along the lines of Theodore White, that most of these institutions and its aims are almost completely fraudulent.

  9. Paul: Who do we blame? No name no blame. Last 20 years? That would be 1995. Who then started the Balkanization?
    This apCray out in Berkeley is awful. I guess I will go out there and wear a Confederate Flag pin on my dog collar. And bark at these goofy professors.

  10. If we reject the idea of being a “melting pot”, then the alternative is to be Balkanized.

    1. Karen – this is a claim that has been made about the United States for the last 20 years, that it is becoming Balkanized. And we all know who we can blame for that, don’t we.

  11. bigfatmike … if you do visit to try our cantaloupes, be sure to go to the Howell area, a short trip north from Detroit, where they are the very best. And they’re sold at multiple farmer’s roadside stands. The “window” of opportunity is about two weeks in early August. Good luck. I usually buy a bushel and pig out.

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