Social Science and “Microaggressions”
Now, a scholarly article reviews the evidence and takes on the concept. The conclusions:
The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.Of course, it is possible to say dumb and thoughtless things that demean (say) blacks or women or gays. But it’s also possible to do the same for Christians, or men, or whites, or Trump voters. The politically correct crowd that wants to protect politically correct groups are usually the same people who demean (macro aggress) against those latter groups.
Further, the concept is used to silence perfectly legitimate statements that people have a right to make which some politically correct victim group is assumed to resent. At the University of California, an official list of microaggressions outlaws saying “There is only one race, the human race.” A sappy statement (although the sort one would expect from an old-fashioned liberal), but aggressive?
Likewise “America is a melting pot,” and “America is the land of opportunity.”
Aggrieved minorities, if they object to these statements, are free to argue with them. But if they demand they should be punished, they should be told to pound sand.
But on a university campus, with a swarm of bureaucrats committed to petting and pandering to the most aggrieved of politically favored groups, that’s not going to happen.