Soft Student Brains (3)
October 30, 2007
Via the comments to this, The Thin Man directs readers’ attention to an extraordinary story regarding the University of Delaware and its efforts to correct improper thought:
Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”
The University’s “Life Diversity Facilitation Training” document also includes the following definitions:
REVERSE RACISM: A term created and used by white people to deny their white privilege. Those in denial use the term reverse racism to refer to hostile behaviour by people of colour toward whites, and to affirmative action policies, which allegedly give “preferential treatment” to people of colour over whites. In the U.S., there is no such thing as ‘reverse racism.’ [Page 3]
A NON-RACIST: A non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of colour (called “blaming the victim”). Responsibility for perpetuating and legitimizing a racist system rests both on those who actively maintain it, and on those who refuse to challenge it. Silence is consent. [Page 3]
The training document is “presented” by Dr Shakti Butler, who is described here as “a creative and visionary bridge builder” and an “inspirational facilitator”, whose “consulting, writing, and lecturing style supports her use of mind, body, and Spirit or Consciousness as an approach to challenge deeply embedded beliefs and generate new questions.” Presumably, Professor Stanley Fish has no objection to “bridges” being built in this way, or to the term ‘racist’ being applied to “all white people... living in the United States.” And presumably he still believes that students “don’t have to worry” about the spread of campus speech codes and other neurotic sensitivities. Again, I beg to differ. One of the surest ways to erode a person’s probity is to make them repeat in public, among their peers, things they know to be untrue. The more ridiculous the lies, and the greater the mismatch with reality, the greater the effect. That is what is happening here.
Update, via the comments:
Like many other “activists”, Butler obviously isn’t opposed to racism per se. She isn’t arguing for a reciprocal moral principle – i.e. that people shouldn’t be prejudged on the basis of their skin colour or country of origin. She’s simply encouraging paranoia, victimhood and disaffection among students, while apparently indulging her own bizarre racial revenge fantasies. Fantasies which others may begin to share after prolonged and coercive exposure to this lurid nonsense. Having redefined racism as “prejudice + power”, is Dr Butler concerned by her own abuse of influence, or the power wielded by academic institutions like Delaware, or Duke, or by other likeminded educators, administrators and activists? Is she troubled by her own unsupported, overtly racist, efforts to indoctrinate? It seems not. Perpetuating this anxious, non-reciprocal outlook may be politically useful to some leftist ideologues and opportunist pressure groups, or those with serious mental health problems; but it isn’t clear how believing “all white people” are racist helps anyone see further than the colour of a person’s skin.
Delaware’s Vice President for Student Life, Michael Gilbert, responds to FIRE’s criticisms - evasively and inaccurately. In turn, FIRE responds to Gilbert, rather well, I think. Significantly, Gilbert makes no mention whatsoever of Dr Shakti Butler’s overtly racist and paranoid training document, despite its key role in Delaware’s “diversity facilitation.”
Feel free to make a donation. I’m going to need trained lions.