Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Academic Intolerance at Duke

This isn’t new, but we could not pass up a good article on a Duke professor who dissented from the Divinity School’s “diversity” programs. For this he was called a racist and told he would have taken away many of the perqs of his position.
Duke University Divinity School professor Paul Griffiths is the latest faculty member to fall victim to the taboo against speaking out against “progressive” beliefs. His thoughtcrime: daring to say that a “racial equity” seminar would be a waste of time.

Back on February 6, Anathea Portier-Young, another professor in the Divinity School, sent around to the entire faculty an email. It encouraged one and all to attend a program she favored. “On behalf of the Faculty Diversity and Inclusion Standing Committee,” she wrote, “I strongly urge you to participate in the Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training planned for March 4 and 5.” Attending it, she continued, would prove to be “transformative, powerful, and life-changing.”

The Racial Equity Institute is one of those organizations that capitalizes on the “progressive” notion that the U.S. remains a very racist nation and cannot progress unless we “develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity.” Its guiding idea is that “Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force…and dismantling it requires an equally fierce, consistent, committed effort.”

Americans should be free to advance those ideas. But they should be equally free to challenge and reject them. Professor Griffiths has learned that professors on our college campuses exercise the latter freedom at their peril.

Shortly after receiving that email from Portier-Young, he wrote and fired off an email of his own. “I exhort you not to attend this training,” he wrote. “There’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty,” but the substance of the program would reflect “illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies.” And drawing a link to the Soviet Union, Griffiths observed that “(re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history.”

You can read both of the dueling emails here.

One professor says, “This will be good and you ought to attend,” while another says, “This will be a waste of time and you shouldn’t.” What’s the problem?

The problem, of course, is that leftist pieties about race (and other things) now hold privileged status, much as Marxist theory used to in the communist bloc. To paraphrase Orwell, “All speech is free, but some speech is more free than others.”

Professor Portier-Young was so incensed that she filed “harassment” charges against Griffiths with the Duke Office for Institutional Equity. Has our academic world fallen to the point where a professor who finds her ideas challenged would rather file a complaint than make a counter-argument? Sadly, yes.

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