I once asked my late father if he had any experiences with anti-Semitism. There weren't many. Although that was probably in part because of his scoring methodology. The Irish kids who beat up the Jewish kids in his
So I suppose that's progress.
He did tell me that the first time someone said to him "Don't Jew me" was during his freshman year at the
Today we call such stupidity "insensitivity." Whether that counts as progress is an open question.
I visited my father's alma mater for the first time last week. The
The university has been in the news recently for such shenanigans and worse. For instance, student
The humor-deficient editors of the
The administration's efforts to find the perpetrators appear lackadaisical compared to
That's because the
To that end, the school rolled out its Inclusive Language Campaign. It contains a list of taboo phrases that no one should use lest they give offense. The campaign is intended to be "educational, not regulatory," though some students report that they've been asked to sign a pledge vowing to avoid using such phrases as "ghetto," "that's so gay," "that's retarded" and "tranny."
Students are also told they shouldn't say things like "I want to die" -- say, after doing badly on a test -- because such language can "diminish the experience of those who have attempted or committed suicide." I would have thought those who have committed suicide would be immune to such concerns.
Also on the list is any effort to turn Jew into a verb. So, roughly 75 years after my dad was told by an idiot "Don't Jew me," the battle continues.
I have no problem with teaching students to have good manners. I'm less convinced that the PC priesthood is winning the war on intolerance. It's absolutely true that majorities owe minorities respect. What's lost is any appreciation of the fact that minorities owe majorities respect too. That's what Mahmood was getting at.
Instead, we are teaching young people that being offended is an ideological priority. Indeed, the coin of the campus realm today is victimhood, grievance and offense. An entirely well-intentioned -- and syntactically accurate -- use of the wrong word is an invitation to being called a racist, homophobe, sexist, etc. (while actual disagreement is tantamount to heresy). The burden of proof then falls on the accused, a burden that often can't be met absent re-education. And for the offended "victim," a stupid comment or even a harmless newspaper column becomes a source of trauma. Yes, words can hurt. But teaching these delicate flowers to make too big a deal out of them will likely do more lasting damage.