Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to Build a Snowflake

(If you're new here, this column consists of weekly letters written to my grandchildren, who exist, to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead, and my great-grandchildren, who aren't here yet.)

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grand-Stickies,

"The great majority of college students want to learn. They're perfectly reasonable, and they're uncomfortable with a lot of what's going on." Mr. Haidt, a psychologist and a professor of ethical leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, tells me during a recent visit to his office. "But on each campus there are true believers who have reoriented their lives around the fight against evil."

The quote above is from a Wall Street Journal article and is the result of an interview. Bari Weiss, of Pittsburgh (with an h) did the interview and wrote the article. I mention Pittsburgh (with an h), and my hometown, simply because I thought certain unnamed readers of mine might find this fact interesting.

Dr. Haidt is the guy who wrote the book The Righteous Mind, the one I keep finding reasons to mention as it's life/world changing shtuff. The sort of shtuff that would help Western civilization in general, and the USA in particular, slow its decline until I become king (or failing that, I'm deleted and don't have to worry about it anymore).

But this column isn't about the decline and (potential) fall of Western civilization in general/the USA in particular so...

[BIG BUT. Before I forget, for those of you who are interested in why we've become so polarized in this country and what we can do about it but don't want to read/spend your hard earned money on/spend your hard earned time on Haidt's entire book, consider the 99 cents option. And no, you don't need to buy a Kindle, you can download a free app to read it.]

What this column is about is the fact that professor Haidt is ideally situated to explain the Snowflakes and Snowflakism. He's a psychologist working at the bleeding edge of his field, social/moral psychology, and a college professor who deals with Snowflakes for a living.

Grandstickies, you will be considering college in a few years. Your kids, my great-grandstickies, should the forces of darkness prevail, may grow up in a world frozen in place by Snowflakes. Thus, Snowflakism, this ideological fascism -- political correctness taken to its logical extreme -- is of maximum interest to me. I also find it fascinating in a, WOW! now that's a trainwreck! sort of way.


Mr. Haidt is the founder of something called the Heterodox Academy, an organization of scholars of various and sundry political and philosophical viewpoints, that promotes exposing college students to various and sundry political and philosophical viewpoints.

Why? Haidt's research indicates that in 1995 professors identifying themselves as politically/philosophically left-leaning outnumbered those on the right, two to one. Now the ratio is 5 to 1. In some fields, the ratio is 15 to 1.

This wouldn't much matter if these folks were the open-minded seekers of truth that I imagine most of them think they are. Also, I'm sure many of them actually are. However, many have become fervent disciples of a civic religion that seek converts in the student body.

Haidt, a former self-identified liberal, who now calls himself a centrist, explains this new religion  thusly. The left used to believe that social justice meant a level playing field, for everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I, a former liberal, but now a wild-eyed libertarian, can confirm this. In fact, I'm still very much a proponent of the level playing field school of social justice.

Nowadays, social justice often means equal outcomes. Why? Because, as Dr. Haidt puts it, the strict orthodox position now is that everyone is racist [or sexist, or Islamophobic, or _______ ] due to unconscious bias, and everything is racist [or sexist, or...] because of systemic racism [or sexism, or...]. As Ms. Weis puts it, "That makes justice impossible to achieve..." which means, as Haidt points out, "...you're setting yourself up for eternal conflict and injustice."

Social justice fundamentalists are, well, fundamentalists. Like any sort of fundamentalists, while their behavior may appear to non-believers to be odd at one end of the scale, insane at the other, to them it's just a logical extension of their fundamental premise. That is to say, social justice (a God even more powerful than Mother Earth) is impossible to achieve because there's no such thing as a level playing field. That's because everyone, including them, is biased by nature.

Therefore, not only is everyone a victim of some sort (except for white heterosexual males of course), every-one must be ever-vigilant, self-criticizing, self-flagellating acolytes stained by the mortal sin of being born a human being.

What happens when overprotected kids raised by over-protective (helicopter) parents show up on campus where they're taught that (Ms. Weis again) "...white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but 'the community,' victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with 'safe spaces' and 'trigger warnings?'

VoilĂ  -- snowflakes.

Dr. Haidt maintains, as do I, that the purpose of higher education is to expose students to all sorts of viewpoints and give them the tools to rationally decide on what they believe to be true. He believes that any given college or university should be required to state, up front, whether they're officially an old school school (devoted to the search for truth, whatever that turns out to be), or if their raison d'ĂȘtre is the pursuit of social justice. Considering the cost of higher education this would seem to be both financially and philosophically important.

I knew when I started writing this that I would end with an example of how Snowflakism justifies the use of violence, and other forms of repression, such as pooping on the free speech rights of heretics. See, if God (no matter how bizarre your conception) has revealed the truth to your particular cult, you must protect yourself from contamination and do all in your power to convert the infidels to save them from the clutches of Satan. Google: ISIS and/or Spanish Inquisition.

Anyway, just in time, a report from the You Just Can't Make This Shtuff Up department hit my desk. In Portland, Oregon an anonymous email was received by the organizers of the annual 82nd Avenue of Roses Parade from a member in good standing of The International Union of Perpetually Protesting Protesters and Professional Victims of This, That, and The Rotational Other Thing.

It seems that that the Multnomah County Republican Party (obviously a bunch of Nazis in chamber of commerce clothing) had secured the 67th spot in the parade and were planning on marching because they were under the delusion that even fascist pigs are free to express themselves in the land of the free.

The email stated that the Repubs had better be excluded from the parade or else. "You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely." And my favorite part, "This is non-negotiable." Just how does one go about negotiating with an anonymous terrorist?

The parade was canceled. Poppa loves you.

 Have an OK day.

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