Tag Archives: Yale Protests

Tyranny Comes on Little Cat Feet

  • with apologies to Carl Sandburg

It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated.  At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.

Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.

I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.

My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes.  Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.

It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around.  But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.

That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind.  While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.

When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.

I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma.  Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.

At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.

When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.

We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.

I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.

Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.

It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.

 

Crying Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Racism, sexism, and learning to tolerate stupidity.

After writing about the Yale protests yesterday I just wanted to make a few things clear.

  • Racism does exist on college campuses. In many ways, more openly and obviously than ever. I, for one, prefer it that way.
  • There is a HUGE difference between the systemic racism and racial hostility going on at University of Missouri A public university and Yale, an exclusive private one.
  • Just because some people may cry wolf, that doesn’t not mean that the wolves aren’t out there, hunting sheep.
  • As far as the PC flap goes I blame everyone, including myself for not speaking up when people say stupid shit and for sometimes just not knowing how to take a freaking joke.
  • I am African-American, I have friends and relations of every ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and whatever else there is I either don’t know about or don’t care to know about. That doesn’t insulate me from being an occasional prick to one or more of these groups. What it does do is give me examples of people as people first and as categories later, and what THAT does is allow me to feel like shit when I hurt a real persons feelings. Thussly I have to reexamine what I say and decide whether they are being too sensitive or I’m just being an asshole. AND all with the added bonus of having a conversation about WHY I hurt their feelings in the first place. Maybe if we associate with the rabble a little it might just help us understand why they think that way, or change our minds about why we shouldn’t try to make them.
  • I believe that people are too fucking sensitive, yep I said it.
  • I also believe that there are some assholes who will wear that excuse on their sleeve just in order to be assholes.
  • I believe in this article, and this one and this one and this one, but I don’t fully agree with any of them. It’s called thinking for oneself.

Cultural Sensitivity Without the Introspection, Welcome to Yale!

As a long time townie I’ve seen many changes at Yale that have contributed to the sense of entitlement that the students feel on campus and in New Haven. Yale has reached deep into communities and squeezed small businesses and lower income residents out, ignored the continual outsourcing of its staff while at the same time demanding favored status by claiming to be New Haven’s largest employer, and sequestered its students behind locked gates and high walls because of a few high profile incidents that on balance are NOTHING compared to what residents face daily.

Unfortunately, the students (who, any townie will tell you, are just generally a royal pain in the ass) are part of the problem. They are rude, obnoxious and arrogant; they regularly silently espouse an ownership of the city that the institution has perpetuated throughout the years. (not to mention actual OWNERSHIP of a large swath of downtown)

So it comes as no surprise that the latest round of protests are being met, even by people who would normally be on their side, with either a sigh or a mighty WT ever lovin’ F!

Yale town/gown relations have gone down the toilet since our lord and master decided to clean house on Broadway (New Haven’s Broadway that is) and eliminate all the deadbeats who brought locals in to mix with the Academics, and as a consequence brought some of them together maybe a little closer than the university would have liked. Yale has systematically, through its ownership or acquisition of over 400 properties invaded distressed neighborhoods, redeveloped, re-purposed and otherwise changed the face of New Haven.

Casualties have included a gathering place/coffeehouse that regularly hosted meetings between Yalies and Townies, Profs and Skaters, Punks and early Hip Hop kids, one of the best damn art-house theaters on the east coast, small family owned restaurants, clothing stores and basically any trace of local color. Pretty much all the things that made New Haven an interesting place to shop and visit.

So now we have a multiracial (good start!) group of students angry over patterns of discrimination and cultural insensitivity at the institution. An admirable protest subject(s) indeed, if it weren’t for the inherent irony in the whole damn thing. I’m not talking about the glaring irony of the students looking to express themselves, shouting down a professor who was there to answer them. Yes, becoming the thing you hate takes about 5 seconds as opposed to the lifetime it used to take, PROGRESS! I mean the GREATER irony, the great and powerful irony, the man behind the curtain wears no clothes irony of LOOK IN THE FUCKING MIRROR!

It’s not that I don’t feel for the students affected, and It’s not that I don’t agree with the principal of what they are upset about, but the fact is that they are already a privileged group, and they wave that privilege in every single resident’s face regularly is just too much to process. They are protected from much of the poverty and violence that wracked some parts of the city and they have pulled back further and further into their own “community” that they seem to have no concept of what that word means outside of YALE. In short, while looking inward at the Yale community, they need to be looking outward into the larger community they occupy. They regularly treat the city as a playground, whose crosswalks they ignore with impunity and whose residents they crowd off the sidewalk four abreast. Subtle as these things may be, and some of them are, they still indicate a pattern of well…abuse.

And then, of course is the little matter of that irony I mentioned.

I remember being a student when the PC movement started and I remember looking around at the “correct” sanitized result and can honestly say that I saw this coming. On both the Left and the Right there is a growing movement away from meaning and to increasingly meaningless language, we are so preoccupied with what we call ourselves and not who we really are. We are so enamored with labels and so ignorant of the lives of the people behind them.

Yale has many recent sins to atone for, as I listed above. Instead of simply protesting about insensitivity, the many students gathered need to open their eyes to the community surrounding them and reach out into it by becoming reengaged with it. Yale students are a big part of the reason New Haven has been dubbed one of the most unfriendly cities in the US. The superiority and snobbery has caused increasing amounts of town/gown tension in the past 20 years.

Cultural insensitivity is not just racial in nature, it is also based on class, education and privilege, ignorance of that is on display regularly in New Haven by the Yale community, Unfortunately, I’m sure many guilty parties took part in the “conversation” currently going on at Yale.

Folks, this ain’t #blacklivesmatter.

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