You won’t get fired for pissing off a Republican

You won’t get fired for pissing off a Republican.”  Charles C.W. Cooke quotes an anonymous professor from Purdue worried about modern McCarthyism, which “has jumped from Salem’s lips to Purdue’s ears directly — and Ted Cruz has been nowhere to be seen.”

All is fair in love, war, and politics, and as illiterate as the comparisons to McCarthy may be, I suppose I would almost be disappointed if someone, somewhere, did not choose to advance them. But for the more serious-minded among us, it is truly peculiar to see the specter of McCarthy dragged into quotidian party politics when it is so desperately needed elsewhere. Certainly, Cruz’s style can rub the wrong way. Certainly, his debate-champion mien is occasionally inappropriately deployed. But the truth is that if Arthur Miller were writing The Crucible today he would likely be less interested in effusive senators from Texas and more interested in the more modern pathologies that the Cruzes of the world tend typically to disdain. Presumably, Miller would look at our universities and our media, at our malleable “speech codes,” our self-indulgent “safe spaces,” our preference for “narrative” over truth, and at our pathetic appeasement of what is little more than good old-fashioned illiberalism, and he would despair. Ted Cruz, frankly, wouldn’t enter into his thinking.

At its root, The Crucible is such a terrifying and illuminating piece of work not because it involves witches and because witches do not exist, but because it depicts the gradual victory of delirium over reason and of passion over truth. In the heat of a hysterical moment, a putatively civilized community elects to abandon the vital traditions that have been slowly built up over centuries and to hand over its institutions to the transient anxieties of an unruly and jealous mob. “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person be condemned,” warned Increase Mather, a critic of the trials. “Not on your life,” replied the crowd; for we have some evils to spike. Free expression? Damn you to hell. Presumption of innocence? Hie thee to a monastery. All that we have held dear? Abandon it now, for there are monsters at the gate, and they need to be destroyed post haste. There is a McCarthyite panic in America, alright, and it is scouring the land at a frightening pace. But the virus has jumped from Salem’s lips to Purdue’s ears directly — and Ted Cruz has been nowhere to be seen.

Here’s a longer quote from the professor:

Personally, liberal students scare the [heck] out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a Facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.

The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance . . .

UPDATE:  David French writes that the PC Police aren’t fragile, they’re vengeful and malicious.

We are at the cusp of a rare moment in modern American cultural debate — a moment when reasonable, thoughtful members of the Left and Right agree. Political correctness is spiraling out of control. Last week I shared an essay by a former radical describing her own migration out of the movement, but her essay is hardly the only evidence of the Left breaking with the worst of the P.C. police. The floodgates have opened. The SDS’s own Todd Gitlin has attacked “trigger warnings,” calling them “outgrowths of fragility.” Writing at The Nation, Michelle Goldberg condemns the furious on-campus response to Laura Kipnis, a liberal professor who dared challenge what she called “sexual paranoia” on campus. Here’s Goldberg:

Yet the reaction to Kipnis—the demands for official censure, the claims of emotional injury—demonstrated how correct she is about the broader climate. “The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing,” she wrote. “Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen.”

This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.”

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One Response to You won’t get fired for pissing off a Republican

  1. Paul Marks says:

    Senator Joe McCarthy was not interested in Hollywood and so on (that was the House committee) – he was interested in people connected with the government and, contrary to what is taught, he was closer to the truth than to error (see M. Stanton Evans – “Blacklisted By History”).

    As for Arthur Miller – a man with a Communist background writing a play that implies that Communists are like magic using witches, they do not really exist.

    I would be more impressed by the late Mr Miller’s work if Marxists had not murdered more than hundred million people (see “The Black Book of Communism” and many other works) over the last century.

    Sorry but Communists are not like magic using witches – they do exist. Indeed the education system and the media are dominated by the Marxist ideology of Class War, that employers or “the rich” have opposed long term economic interests to employees or “the poor”.

    Just because someone does not say how much he loves Castro and co, does not mean he (or she) had not internalised Marxist doctrine. Most of the education system and media people have done so.

    As for Barack Obama – it is not a matter of internalising general ideas. His mentors all his life (from Frank Marshall Davis onwards) have all been Marxists. Mr Obama is a Marxist – period.

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