Some prominent figures on the left continue to downplay the problem, going so far as to say that the dismissal of some professors for supporting unorthodox theses is a sign of a healthy university. A problem that has been underestimated since the ’90s, and now freedom of expression is paying off
The 1994 movie “PCU” about a rebellious fraternity fighting against political integrity at their university was a landmark. Not because it was particularly good – it wasn’t at all. It was a milestone because it proved that political correctness officially became a joke.” Thus begins Greg Lukyanov’s article on the reaction, which he recounts Paul’s history. Core. In American universities.. “The term ‘PC’ satirical denotes a powerful and real force that entered the campus in the past decade. But by the mid-1990s, it had become the subject of satire. The production of an important film that satirized political correctness showed that its cultural moment was over.”
One of the most famous cases that marked the history of “The Personal Computer” concerned Stanford Law School, which imposed a coercive regulation on free speech which was later defeated in court. This episode marked the end “The First Great Era of Political Correction”. Some thought that this would be the final defeat of ideology, but they were wrong. Pee. Core. It gained strength in the following decades, setting admission standards at major universities and the limits of free speech within them, and transforming itself into what is commonly called “walking” or “abolition of culture”. “Politically correct he did not retreat – writes Lukyanov -. He went through a secret phase and was reborn. Indeed, today he is stronger than ever. Nevertheless, some prominent figures on the left continue to downplay the problem, going so far as to say that the dismissal of Some professors accused of supporting unorthodox theses is a sign of a healthy university.This tendency not to recognize a serious problem has empowered the cultural warriors on the right, who launched their attacks on free speech and pluralism in the American education system.We have entered the second great phase of political right If we want to find a way out, we need to understand how we got there and get a sense of the scale of the problem.”
The stage that follows the “first great age of political correctness” is called by Lukyanov The “ignored years”. During this period, professors and university officials ignored attacks on freedom of expression, arguing that it was a problem from the past and a fixation of a reactionary right. In fact, these are the years when restrictions on the right to speak are being imposed in an increasing number of universities, which has led to the emergence of many current problems. Meanwhile, the academic body has become more uniform: Conservative professors have always been fewer in American universities, but this imbalance has grown exponentially over the past 20 years. Education became more expensive and more bureaucratic. The number of administrators, mostly liberals, has multiplied over the years, increasing their influence. As the New Yorker wrote: “It appears that a liberal student body is being taught by very liberal academics—interacting with an incredibly liberal group of administrators.” Over the past two decades, the influence of the political right on American universities has grown exponentially. According to 2016 data, nearly forty percent of universities require their followers to report, often anonymously, anyone who makes inappropriate comments, including innocent jokes or popular references. At the same time, the practice of canceling invitations to unwelcome guests and speakers spread, often after student protests.
Another way to impose unique thinking on the university was Introduce ideological requirements as a criterion for recruitment and promotion for academics and officials, who are asked to reaffirm and provide examples of their belief in the values of diversity and equality. Between 2014 and 2015, media interest in restrictions on freedom of expression on American universities increased. This period marks the end of the “ignored years”, during which a decisive change takes place. In the past twenty years, attempts to impose individualistic thinking on campus have been propelled by administrative officials, and students have often been opposed. Now the censorship attempts from the student body begin. This generation was the offspring of hardcore students who pushed, or at least tolerated, the speech codes of the 80s and 90s, and grew up on social media, so they knew how bad and dangerous anonymous comments could be.
Lukianoff focuses on the Netflix series “The Chair,” which tells the story of an English literature professor who is expelled for giving a satirical Nazi salute during a class on modernism. “President” is a modernized version of “PCU”. Both are mocking the illiberal culture that has spread across campuses over the past five or six years, an attempt to finally counteract the oppressive atmosphere on many campuses. The story is also very realistic. Today in American universities one should not be accused of Nazism in order to lose a job. It takes much less. Some professors have been accused of suing James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr., or for expressing their views on the origins of Covid-19.
Some critics of “The Chair” have argued that the subject matter denounced by the series has been greatly exaggerated, given the “deletion” of a few professors from their university. “If every other social problem occurs with the same frequency and on the same scale, we consider it to have been effectively resolved,” wrote Adam Gorey, editor of Liberal Currents. Lukyanov argues that this topic reflects another thesis expressed by those who want to downplay the problem of individualistic thinking in American universities. They note that there are 6000 colleges in the country, of which only 100 have attempted to remove academics. The implication is that the problem is pervasive but is in fact very focused. Sixty-five of the country’s top 100 universities have had at least one such case since 2015. Meanwhile, the top ten schools had an average of ten cases each. The conclusion is that censorship is widespread in universities, which are among the most important in the world because they produce the American ruling class.. In these universities, only 2.5 percent of professors consider themselves “conservative” and only 0.4 percent consider themselves “very conservative”. Being in the minority, many censor themselves for fear of being punished for their ideas. In one survey, only 16.7 percent of academics said they agreed with the statement that “it’s safe to have unpopular views on campus.” In a 2021 study, about 70% of conservative academics in America found a climate hostile to them, and right-wing students denounced the same bias.
One surprising, and at the same time disheartening, aspect is that conservative academics emulate the same modus operandi as their liberal colleagues, transforming themselves into what they themselves have fought for so long. There was the case of a Virginia Republican who asked to investigate a professor for criticizing Donald Trump on Twitter; Many conservatives have tried to ban the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT). These measures are contradictory, even counterproductive: the banishment of professors who teach or adhere to a particular ideology will be used to punish dissidents. The problem is that dissidents today, in many American universities, are conservatives.
In the last paragraphs, Lukyanov expressed it Five Proposals to Save American Universities from the Second Great Age of Political Correction. Immediately cancel the codes that govern what can be said. Adopting a declaration defining freedom of expression as one of the university’s primary missions and ensuring the university’s commitment to upholding these principles. She vigorously defends the right to freedom of expression for students, academics and professors. Teaching freedom of expression, the philosophy of critical thinking, and academic freedom from day one. Collecting data and creating a positive atmosphere for discussion, discussion and objection.
“The most important lesson of the first great era of political correctness in the eighties and nineties – concludes Lukyanov – is that it would be a mistake to think that films like ‘PCU’ that highlighted the problem are enough to solve it. As a result, the phenomenon has grown and exacerbated. We cannot repeat this mistake. The perfect time to make a big shift in American higher education was thirty or forty years ago. The next good time is now.”
(Translated by Gregorio Sorge)
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