A week ago, Quillette published this piece by Gregory Hansen. Usually I would have read it and moved on, but in the current environment it is worth revisiting. A chilling antidote to those moments when we think political correctness couldn't get any worse.
How All My Politically Correct Bones Were Broken
In my first 10 years of college teaching, from the mid-60s to mid-70s, I modeled myself on my best teachers—men and women who questioned my ideas vigorously. They let me know that I mattered to them, they praised when praise was due, and they pushed me hard. Often I balked, and they continued to push. Indeed, the teachers who sternly, even at times angrily, called me out on my intellectual arrogance and sloppiness became mentors and, in several cases, lifelong friends.
After that it is all downhill. Relentlessly depressing but the whole piece is well worth reading.
But inexorably, questions of identity inserted themselves into teacher-student relationships. It became increasingly dangerous for me to question, to challenge, to push—let alone to betray frustration or even anger when a student was conning me or not working to capacity. Year by year, as I met each new cohort of students, I had to calculate how much my own disfavored identity (white, male, heterosexual, middle-class) made it risky for me to push—depending on whether or not a student’s identity was (given the political climate of the moment) favored.
Down, down, down it goes. This for example -
In time, affirmative action amounted to a policy of “whites not encouraged to apply,” as a colleague found when sitting on a search committee for a tenured English position. We’d been flooded with applicants. Secure jobs in the field were now rare. The committee interviewed only a handful of candidates, one of whom offered clues in his application that he was African American. He got an interview, but the committee was perplexed. He did not look African American. After some carefully worded queries the candidate confessed: “I’ve applied scores of times for a tenured job in English, but never got a single interview. I just wanted to see what would happen.” “You do know,” he added with a wry smile as he was leaving the room, “that we all originated in Africa.”