It is perhaps instructive that links to lists of microaggressions prohibited in the UC system (here and here for example) now generate 404 errors, since perhaps the senior executives of UC don’t want to be so directly tied to the idiocy they empower. (Many of the lists have been otherwise preserved, however.) Let’s turn to HMD for a moment:
Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: It takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students. One of Berkeley’s likely oppressors offers a suitably groveling banner: “I will think before I speak and act,” promises a white male student from the class of 2016. Ordinarily, such a vow of self-control might seem like a bourgeois virtue worthy of Ben Franklin. In the current academic context, however, it means: “I will mentally scan the University of California’s official list of microaggressions before I open my mouth.” The head of the bureaucracy that created the banner campaign weighs in with her own banner. “Respect the full humanity of others,” urges Na’ilah Suad Nasir, the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. This admonition would be appropriate when trying to mediate, say, between warring tribes given to slaughtering each other’s members. But the assumption that Berkeley’s pacific students are at risk of seriously violating one another’s humanity, beyond the ordinary slights of everyday social interaction, is absurd.
BTW, here are some other examples of UC microaggressions: America is a melting pot, Why are you so quiet?, I believe the most qualified person should get the job, etc. Our downsizing tip is simple: save tens of millions of dollars by firing anyone who is affiliated in any way with the microaggression nonsense. The point about microaggression is not the aggression, it’s the micro. These fools have no idea how tough life was for everyone not that long ago. To wit, Henry Adams: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” Or us, a dozen years ago:
Here is the signal fact of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties (if you survived childhood), and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc., not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so. More than 50% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last century plus. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, etc. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize.
A typical boy of 1854 knew what farming was like and may well have worked on a farm, knew horses, cows, chickens, hogs and other animals, and learned how to maintain and fix things, from houses to wagons to furniture. A typical young man of 1947 had been in the army, knew people who lived on farms (around 40% of Americans lived on farms when he was a lad), could tune and maintain his own car, and could change the fan belt on the refrigerator and refill it with freon. Both the boy and the young man had some feel for the technologies that were developing and changing around them, since the technologies were often sized on a human scale and involved mechanical processes that they had some acquaintance with. To an important extent, this is no longer true. You can’t fix an iPod the way you can fix a record player; indeed you can’t even open up an iPod to understand it, as you could unscrew the turntable cover to figure out how 33 1/3 rpm became 45 rpm. Nor can you fool around with a Toyota Prius the same way you could try to replace a 283 with a 327 in a ’57 Chevy.
Affluence and technology have created much that is good, but they’ve also contributed to macroidiocies like microaggression. The problem is made worse because it’s not only the students who don’t know what they don’t know, it’s the teachers and administrators who also live in a fantasy world of ignorance, unconnected with the macro difficulties of everyday life not so long ago. In the words of somebody or other: you’re fired.