"[W]hen we say that gay marriage is legal, what we actually mean is that the government is required to offer and recognize these marriages. But Tomasky assumes that what the state must do, private citizens must do also. If a law binds the actions of the state, it is also binding on Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. There is no distinction, in Tomasky's mind, between government action and private action.
"It's that old principle of tolerance: 'Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.'...
See what I mean when I say that the left has no concept of freedom? It may have some concept of a range of disagreement that is socially acceptable and on which the state chooses to remain neutral--though with the revival of old-fashioned Political Correctness, that range is getting increasingly narrow, even for the true believers. But they have no concept of a right to do something or think something or say something simply because it is what you think and want, regardless of whether society as a whole approves of it. And without that, there is no concept of freedom."
"So you can see Chait's dismay at seeing good white 'liberals' have their Not Racist credentials challenged by those who are farther out on the left. Don't they know how the system is supposed to work? Appeals to race, class, and gender are supposed to be used to grant moral authority to (mostly) white, male, heterosexual, 'cis-gendered' folks like himself, no questions asked. He is not supposed to find himself on the receiving end and have his moral authority threatened by a bunch of uppity non-binary POCs....
"In short, the mainstream left wanted to have its racial politics and not get eaten by it, too. But once a system is in place and its basic principles are established, it tends to keep operating to the logical end point of those principles. And the logical end point is exactly what Chait is whining about: Binary Persons Without Color on the left now face being summarily labeled and dismissed as bigots--the very same treatment they have so eagerly applied to the right for so many years."
"The 'liberal arts' did not originally refer to a political leaning. The phrase referred to the kind of education in the humanities that was considered appropriate for a free man. But the mid-20th-century political liberals embraced a liberal education and regarded the liberal arts departments of the universities as their natural home. Young people were encouraged to get a liberal arts education to open their minds and broaden their horizons, requiring them to understand the great historical debates and confront unfamiliar ideas.
"It all seems so hopelessly antique. There is a debate currently going on about whether a liberal education is worthwhile, and whether anyone should bother to get one any more. But the wider context for this debate is that the liberals are the ones killing liberal education.
"They're killing it economically by means of the Paradox of Subsidies--the decades of subsidized student loans that have made a college education so outrageously expensive, and leaves young people with such enormous piles of debt, that most students can't afford to dabble in any field that doesn't promise an immediate economic payoff.
"But they've also killed it off by stamping out all of the challenging and unfamiliar ideas. This started in the 1990s when students protested for the elimination of courses in Western Civilization, on the grounds that being asked to think about great ideas produced by "dead white European males" is racist. Today, this closed-mindedness has become a full-blown system, with "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" designed to quarantine students from contact with uncomfortable ideas. As one student explained to a reporter, she needed to seek the isolation of a safe space because, "I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs." Way back when, liberals told us that this was the whole purpose of college. Then they built a system that was intended to prevent precisely such encounters. It's almost as if they never really meant it--as if they meant that you were only supposed to encounter ideas that challenge the beliefs of the right, not ideas that challenge the dearly held beliefs of the left."
"For decades, the left has ruled unopposed from their miniature quasi-totalitarian utopias on college campuses. Now they're attempting to assert their campus rules as the new regime for everyone. All of America has become a giant campus, with speech codes, sex regulations, mandatory gender-neutrality, mobs of hysterical enforcers demanding the shunning of heretics--and no sense of humor whatsoever."
"This is higher ed's time for choosing. If this is the new purpose of the universities--to nurture a crop of activists trained at whipping up angry mobs, and a generation of college graduates conditioned to submit to those mobs--then there is no longer any purpose served by these institutions. There is certainly no justification for the outrageous claim they are making on the economic resources of the average family, who sends their kids to schools whose tuition has been inflated by decades of government subsidies.
"The universities have done this to themselves. They created the whole phenomenon of modern identity politics and Politically Correct rules to limit speech. They have fostered a totalitarian microculture in which conformity to those rules is considered natural and expected. Now that system is starting to eat them alive, from elite universities like Yale to Mizzou and on down."
"Everyone who has ever spent time around a university or with academics knows that beneath all the high-flown ivory tower stuff, there is a constant scramble for money and authority. Every department's job is to expand itself, to hire more faculty and administrators, to expand its budget, to get bigger offices in a nicer building. Now the "social justice" faction among the faculty has found a way to club everyone else into submission and win departmental office politics once and for all. Accuse the university of systemic racism, force its nominal leaders into groveling apologies, and then dictate terms to the rest of the system. Emboldened and seeing that no one wants to stand up to them, they're even attempting to take over every other department of the university by foisting mandatory courses in "social justice" on the math department. So what looks from the outside like a student protest movement looks on the inside like an administrative coup by a small faction of the faculty, using naive and ill-informed students as their shock troops.
"[T]here is a reason the field of philosophy has fallen so far into disrepute that it has become the butt of presidential debates. It ends with the current campus insanity, but it begins with that scoundrel Immanuel Kant....
"At the heart of Kant's system, there is a radical skepticism: perception is inherently distorting, so there is no indisputable reality we have access to. There's only the truth as it appears to you, filtered through your own consciousness.... [T]here is no truth, only people's perception--well, I think you can begin to see how we get to Yale, Mizzou, and the current grievance culture....
"We had to add racial differences to the things that distort our perception, then we had to accommodate the feminists (and the LGBTQ) by adding gender, until we got to the modern (or postmodern) holy trinity of "race, class, and gender." But the key Kantian assumption remains: that there is no universal truth, just your "perspective," as a trans person of color or a left-handed lesbian tugboat worker, or whatever. And no one else is entitled to question your perspective. It's true because it's true for you. If you are aggrieved, the very fact of your grievance validates itself."If that's the case, what's the point of discussing any of it? It's not for others to question or for you to explain. You just scream out your rage and frustration, and they have to cave...."This is the universities expressing the final, consistent form of their own ruling philosophy."
"If I were to come up with one idea for how the left could cripple itself over the long term, it would be: teach your young adherents that ideological debate is an abnormal trauma and that it is a terrible imposition to ever expect them to engage in it. It is a great way of raising a generation of mental cripples. And that is exactly what they have set out to do...."The most powerful historical precedent for this is the totalitarian creed of the Soviet Union--a dogma imposed, not just by campus censors or a Twitter mob, but by gulags and secret police. Yet one of the lessons of the Soviet collapse is that the ideological uniformity of a dictatorship seems totally solid and impenetrable--right up to the moment it cracks apart. The imposition of dogma succeeds in getting everyone to mouth the right slogans, even as fewer and fewer of them understand or believe the ideology behind it."
"When you think about, its very dominance of cultural institutions means that the left is up against a couple of big unfavorable factors. First, there is the law of diminishing returns. The more gains they make, the harder it gets to go any farther. When you're going from a 50-50 split to an 80-20 majority, as many of these fields did up to the 1960s, that's a really big change. You're throwing the balance of the whole profession behind the left's agenda and creating a presumption that the next generation will follow in your footsteps. Likewise, when you go from an 80-20 majority to 95-5 dominance, as many of those fields have done from the 1960s to today, you are creating a rigid orthodoxy, in which dissenting views are marginalized and silenced...."So what happens if our culture reverts to the mean? Even a small change in that direction would be experienced as a massive cultural swing to the right."When a field swings back from 95-5 dominance to just an 80-20 majority, that would be experienced as a quadrupling of the number of right-leaning voices in the field. Moreover, any such shift is likely to have a snowballing effect. Those who are sympathetic to the right but were afraid to speak out would be more likely to declare themselves. Many people would be exposed to and convinced by pro-free-market arguments that they might not have heard under the old groupthink. People who might have given up on careers in academia or the mainstream media, on the assumption that their politics limit their career prospects, would be encouraged to persist and would find employers and mentors who share their views. Eventually, a critical mass of prominent right-leaning achievers in these fields would chip away at the automatic assumption that certain cultural markers--being young, being educated, being sophisticated, being artistic--are inherently associated with being on the left."The problem for the modern left is that it has bet everything on those associations."