I’m afraid Britain’s students have surpassed those of the U.S. in demanding Special Snowflake status, as well as in showing complete obtuseness when it comes to politics. This has just played out in a breathless display of hypocrisy.
Hand-wringing delegates at the NUS blocked a vote to show solidarity with Iraqi Kurds and condemn Islamic State militants because they say it’s “Islamophobic”.
The bill called for the Union – which claims to represent UK students – to support unity between Muslims, condemn the bloody terror of ISIS (also known as the Islamic State), and support a boycott on people who fund the militants.
But the motion offended Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia, who said: “We recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia.
“This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”
That’s arrant cowardice. But now, according to UK Media Watch, they have, as Willard Foxton of the Torygraph predicted, gone ahead and condemned Israel, at least by supporting the BDS campaign whose ultimate aim is to eliminate the state of Israel:
The NUS executive council passed a motion put forward by the School of Oriental and African Studies students union just yesterday to boycott Israel, and voted to align themselves with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign – a movement whose leaders explicitly call for the end of the Jewish state.
As the site notes, the NUS apparently has no problem condemning Islamophobia by refusing to condemn ISIS, but can easily condemn Israel through the BDS movement, which, with their mindset (and, given the BDS’s desire to eliminate Israel) could be considered the anti-Jewish equivalent to Islamophobia, also known as anti-“Semitism.”
Back in the U.S.S.A., the chilling effect of entitled and hyper-offended students on teaching is expressed in a disturbing (and pseudonymous) piece on Vox by a college teacher, “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.” An excerpt:
I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to “offensive” texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn’t the only one who made adjustments, either.
I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that’s considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.
By the way, do read Kipnis’s Chronicle of Higher Education piece, too, “My title IX Inquisition.” You won’t believe what this feminist professor at Northwestern University experienced: two formal complaints for merely writing about censorship. After her earlier essay about overly intrusive campus regulations, she heard from a lot of other faculty:
Most academics I know — this includes feminists, progressives, minorities, and those who identify as gay or queer — now live in fear of some classroom incident spiraling into professional disaster. After the essay appeared, I was deluged with emails from professors applauding what I’d written because they were too frightened to say such things publicly themselves. My inbox became a clearinghouse for reports about student accusations and sensitivities, and the collective terror of sparking them, especially when it comes to the dreaded subject of trigger warnings, since pretty much anything might be a “trigger” to someone, given the new climate of emotional peril on campuses.
I learned that professors around the country now routinely avoid discussing subjects in classes that might raise hackles. A well-known sociologist wrote that he no longer lectures on abortion. Someone who’d written a book about incest in her own family described being confronted in class by a student furious with her for discussing the book. A tenured professor on my campus wrote about lying awake at night worrying that some stray remark of hers might lead to student complaints, social-media campaigns, eventual job loss, and her being unable to support her child. I’d thought she was exaggerating, but that was before I learned about the Title IX complaints against me.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and the only thing that will make it better is lawsuits.
h/t: Malgorzata, Jesse