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Friday Ephemera

Think Good Thoughts

Peter Hasson discovers that questioning the premise of microaggressions is itself now deemed a microaggression and therefore impermissible

The phrase “politically correct” is now a microaggression according to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The university’s “Just Words” campaign is the work of UWM’s “Inclusive Excellence Centre” and aims to “raise awareness of microaggressions and their impact” — microaggressions like “politically correct” or “PC.”

According to its mission statement, the Inclusive Excellence Centre “invests time, energy and resources to create a socially just campus in order to include different perspectives, engage in authentic and challenging dialogue, and build connections with vibrant and global communities.” And therefore, obviously, students are warned to avoid such emotionally crushing terms as “crazy,” “trash” and “thug.” The latter being particularly heinous because it “assumes that violence is the sole motivating factor in an action. Ignores issues of poverty, education and other institutional barriers. Used as synonym for Nigga/er.”

Regarding the offensive term “politically correct,” the centre’s website says

I’d like to add Politically Correct (PC) to [sic] program… and seek a way to succinctly outline/define PC for its basis, purpose [sic] especially how its [sic] used now to let people hide their bias but also minimize the pushback they received after contributing aggressive [sic].

As I said, excellence. 

But setting aside the intriguing prose, it’s all feelings, sensitivity and fluffy goodness. Good people with high minds and good hearts, doing good, good things. 

Interestingly enough, while the university’s Inclusive Excellence Centre has labelled several common-use adjectives harmful, the man running the campaign, Warren Scherer, the director of the university’s Inclusive Excellence Centre, has taken to Twitter to express his displeasure with Republican presidential candidates in a non-inclusive manner. Scherer tweeted “fuck every fibre of your being” to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and also accused him of “pandering to Republican Jews.” Scherer, who identifies himself as an UWM employee on his twitter profile, also accused presidential candidate Rand Paul of courting “rich Jews.”

I know. You’re shocked

Mr Scherer also shares his wisdom via YouTube

Update, via the comments: 

Despite the airy guff about “different perspectives” and engaging in “authentic and challenging dialogue,” it turns out that Mr Scherer isn’t exactly fond of his own pronouncements being questioned, even for basic clarity. As Ashley Rae Goldenberg of MRCTV discovered

Instead of responding to the questions, Scherer demanded to know MRCTV’s editorial process. Despite the setback, MRCTV still wanted to provide “per” (Scherer’s preferred pronoun according to per staff listings) the opportunity to clarify some of the vague language, grammatical errors, and incomplete sentences used on the “Just Words?” website and accompanying flier. In response, instead of answering the question, Scherer replied that per thought the story was already written and “you want me to defend myself” - adding that he would hold MRCTV “personally responsible” if “the young men and young women who work in my office, receive threats of murder, assault, rape, etc. or any other harassing communication as a result of your publication.”

Although Scherer wrote on the “Just Words?” campaign website that per “would truly appreciate your insight, your critical engagement, your challenge,” per did not respond to general inquiries about the program. Rather, Scherer, who earns $50,500 a year in taxpayer dollars (as of 2014) for per positions as director of the Inclusive Excellence Centre, did not uphold the Inclusive Excellence Centre’s mission to create a “welcome and inviting community” where “folks feel included, engaged, and connected.”

Ah yes. An intellectual for our times.