I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

What a week–everything from spy toilets to “coming out” to your parents that you love Trump. Here are a few stories that caught our ILYBYGTH eye this week:

Conservative women “come out” as Trumpists, at NYT.

Trump women NYT

Young, female, and Trumpist.

Cakeshops and civil rights. CT talks to African American evangelicals about same-sex marriage and refusing service.

What killed Alexander the Great? At AO.

The death of college: At The Atlantic, Adam Harris reviews the bleak future of American higher ed.

Dora the Cop: Adjusting Miranda warnings for kids in Baltimore, at BSun.

Why does Kim Jong Un travel with a personal toilet? At LiveScience.

AD Sessions weighs in on microaggressions. HT: MM.

Teachers get mad about the new, shorter AP World History curriculum. At Politico.

NKOREA-POLITICS-KIM

Spy-proof port-a-john in the background…

Conservatives loving Hollywood: A gushy review of First Reformed at American Conservative.

Remember Dorothy Sayers? A new look at her legacy at CT.

Australian students dress in Klan robes and blackface for “politically incorrect”-themed party. At The Guardian.

The case against Harvard: Students accuse it of racist admissions policies, at BBC.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Be a Creationist on Campus…

Who’s the racist? In creation/evolution debates these days, you’re likely to hear creationists tar evolution as a racist idea. Recently, however, young-earth creationist impresario Ken Ham complains that creationist anti-racism has now been labeled a racial “microaggression.”

It has long been a favorite claim of creationist activists. At the end of the twentieth century, for example, veteran creationist campaigner Jerry Bergman argued that Darwin’s evolutionary ideas led in a direct line to the Nazi Holocaust. From the Institute for Creation Research, too, Henry Morris insisted that creationists were the true anti-racists, since they believed all humans came from the same original two ancestors.

Small wonder, then, that creationists today are flummoxed by their renewed role as racists. Ken Ham took umbrage at a new list of microaggressions published by the University of California. As have many campus commentators, the UC list warns that some statements intended to be innocent or race-neutral may actually carry undertones of white privilege. For instance, to say that race doesn’t matter, or that one does not believe in race, can be seen by some as a fair-minded anti-racist statement. For others, however, such “color-blind” statements de-legitimize the unique difficulties experienced by racial minorities.

Ken Ham does not seem interested in those sorts of distinctions. Rather, he tackles the UC accusation head-on, insisting that his creationist anti-racism is the only truly scientific position. As he puts it,

Really, “races” is just an “evolutionized” term we shouldn’t use anymore because the idea is simply not true. So for the University of California to say that we shouldn’t say there’s only one race flies in the face of what observational science has clearly shown to be true! And of course, the Bible makes it obvious there is only one race because all humans are descended from Adam! The University of California (and many other campuses) is trying to suppress certain ideas and promote only one worldview—even contrary to observational science. Our starting point really does matter!

To this reporter, Ham’s umbrage seems to miss the point. By the time California students had time to be offended by his creationist anti-racist microaggression, wouldn’t they already be even more put out by his macro-aggressive creationist evangelism?

Progressive Microaggressions

HT: DK

Are we progressive professors guilty of our own species of microaggression? Fredrik deBoer says yes.

DeBoer teaches at Purdue and blogs about culture and higher ed. In a recent post, deBoer worried that his progressive colleagues seem strangely willing to mock and belittle their conservative students. Not in the classroom. In spite of conservative laments about overt professorial hostility, deBoer claims that most left-leaning faculty “are so sensitive to the impression that they’re biased against their conservative students that they bend over backwards to accommodate them.”

But deBoer accuses his allies of a curious blind spot. They tend to mock conservative students on Facebook and other social-media outlets. DeBoer comes to the smart conclusion:

People are really, really invested in consistency and fairness. And if academics don’t make a huge improvement in projecting them, they will be the razor with which our throats are slit.

He’s referring to two particular recent episodes. At Duke, some conservative students protested against a leftist summer reading assignment. At North Carolina, a student accused the school of coddling terrorists.

As deBoer reports,

many academics I know have reflexively, unthinkingly laughed off these conservative complaints. They’ve bombarded social media with “lols” and “wtfs.” They’ve mocked these students as rubes. They’ve given every outward appearance of not even attempting to evaluate these students’ claims with the same care, sensitivity, and fairness that they evaluate the claims of progressive students invoking the language of trauma and triggers. In other words, they’ve rushed to confirm every complaint conservative critics of the academy have made, and the most damning one in particular: that we treat our progressive students with more kindness and approval than our conservative students, and that we use the formal procedures of the university to do it.

I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. DeBoer’s warnings, but I think he could take it one step farther. Not only do my fellow progressive academics tend to assume too much about their campuses and their social-media worlds, but they do so out of a woeful and widespread ignorance. Some of us assume that young people will somehow naturally sympathize with left-leaning ideas. We couldn’t be more wrong.

If the campaign against microaggressions has any moral heft, it is because it is at heart a campaign against ignorance. Yet as sociologists such as Elaine Howard Ecklund have argued, many scholars display shocking ignorance about their own students.

Even if we progressive professors are polite to our conservative students, are we guilty of microaggressions that only the students themselves notice? Do we betray our own ideals by failing to learn more about our students’ backgrounds? Are there things we don’t even notice about our classes that might make conservative students feel unwelcome?