Thursday, February 03, 2005

The New Political Correctness

The conservative publication New Criterion on Hamilton University's president Joan Hinde Stewart's comments that "open-ended and free inquiry is essential to educational growth" (responding to criticism about Churchill speaking on campus):

...surely a college president should understand that 'open-ended and free inquiry' is one thing, political agitation and proselytizing is another. Our society provides many outlets for the expression of political opinions. Thank God for that. It has also taken care to provide for educational institutions whose purpose is learning, scholarship, and pedagogy. Pace President Stewart, academic freedom is not the same thing as free speech. It is a more limited freedom, designed to nurture intellectual integrity and to protect those engaged in intellectual inquiry from the intrusion of partisan passions. The very limitation of academic freedom is part of its strength. By excluding the political, it makes room for the pursuit of truth.

The writer-activist-teacher Derrick Jensen on the (il)logic of this dysfunctional discourse:

I don't think there really is anything even remotely resembling academic freedom or freedom of discourse within the culture. I keep thinking about RD Laing's 3 rules of a dysfunctional family, which are also the 3 rules of a dysfunctional culture. Rule A is Don't. Rule A.1 is Rule A does not exist. Rule A.2 is Never discuss the existence or nonexistence of Rules A, A.1, or A.2. The way this plays out within an abusive family structure is that the members can talk about anything they want except for the violence they must pretend isn't happening. The way this plays out on the larger social scale is that we can talk about whatever we want--we can have whatever 'academic' or 'journalistic' 'freedom' we want--so long as we don't talk about the fact that this culture is based on systematic violence, and has been from the beginning. Anyone who's been paying any attention at all for the last 200 years knows that the United States is based on systematic violence. We live on land stolen from Indians. The economy runs on oil stolen from people the world over. The entire economy is based on conquest and theft. It's no wonder most of the people in the world hate the U.S. But of course we can't talk about that. Anyone who does talk about that and is noticed must be silenced as quickly as possible.
I've never written this before in public, but my first thought on September 11 when I heard someone was attacking the World Trade Center is, 'Ah, so now it begins. Someone is finally fighting back. Given the terror that the United States routinely inflicts on people (including nonhumans, of course) the world over (and of course now a couple of years later the United States calls these programs of systematic terror 'Shock and Awe'), I'm surprised it didn't happen long ago. The poor have been very patient and longsuffering, more patient and longsuffering than anyone could ever expect.' That is what I thought.

One of the fundamental premises of this culture it is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always transparent, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

As we see.

Those in power may kill with impunity, but when those lower on the hierarchy fight back, they are committing blasphemy and must be eliminated. Even to acknowledge that this is what is happening is itself a form of blasphemy, and those who speak the unspeakable--that those who are being terrorized by those in power have the right to fight back--must be silenced.

Both Comments Original Sourced from Alternative Press Review

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