“Are you born here or…?”
How does one address the issues of on-campus or in-country discrimination without being accused of racism, colonialism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, queerophobia, elitism, classism, white privilege, colour blindness, microaggressions, labelling, ethnocentrism, eurocentrism, post- colonialism, ageism, speciesism – just to mention a few?I support Lukianoff and Heidt, who claim that the tendency to make universities safe zones with a form of vindictive protectiveness can ultimately have damaging results for the students themselves; i.c. their mental hygiene.
I’ll focus on three things: the on-campus political correctness, the upcoming Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and the new South Park season.
Starting studying, especially when moving to a foreign country to study and live is a big thing. Many of us see the Campus as a second home and have certain expectations. The most basic expectations are to feel recognized and equal to our fellow students. However, the right of free expression can often be hurtful and its consequences not desired. In such cases, what should be the role of the University? We are observing something that can be called a second wave of the political correctness movement that emerged in the 80s and was focused, among others, on eradicating hate speech and one-dimensional history research. Today, the PC movement focuses on the offence phenomena.
I’ll focus on three things: the on-campus political correctness, the upcoming Sinterklaas and the new South Park season
I can agree with L&H, who use tenets of cognitive behaviouristic psychology and argue that shielding oneself from radically opposing and overall different opinions poorly equips a young person for challenges that lay outside the Campus. Focusing on the avoidance of the offensive speech is not empowering, but victimising. This is because the person does not get an opportunity to learn strategies and possibly overcome the crippling issue but uses energy for avoiding it. But then again, what should universities do? I don’t have a ready solution but I believe that the empowering of each individual comes through forming reasoning skills and finally, ability to face an argumentation radically differing from our own.
Ok, but what should we do with the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaas? It is due in three weeks and recently, an elementary school board in The Hague has banned the use of ‘black Pete’ at the upcoming celebrations. There were serious protests going on and even the U.N. issued a statement calling this tradition racist. In this case, the right thing has been done. By replacing the ‘Black Pete’ with the ‘Stroopwafel Pete’, racist comments won’t disappear, but the material culture, the one that survives the generations – will finally change.
Finally, the new South Park season focusing on the PC issues is amazingly hitting the nail on its head. Expressions like: “Wait, from Romania? Please don’t steal my wallet!” And: “Dutch people and hair gel go together like drones and civilian deaths” would get you at least two weeks detention if the school rules from that cartoon would ever apply at our campus. But, honestly, is this scenario that unlikely to happen?