Middle adulthood essay

middle adulthood essay

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The call for safe spaces and trigger warnings, the desire to eliminate micro-aggressions, the demand for the removal of offensive symbols and the suppression of offensive language: however foolish some of these might be as policy prescriptions (especially the first two however absurd as they. But so much of political correctness is not about justice or creating a safe environment; it is about power. And so much of what is taking place at colleges today reflects the way that relations of power have been reconfigured in contemporary higher education. Campus activists are taking advantage of the fact (and I suspect that a lot of them understand this intuitively, if not explicitly) that students have a lot more power than they used. The change is the result not only of the rise of the customer-service mentality in academia, but also of the proletarianization of the faculty. Students have risen; instructors have fallen. Where once administrations worked in alliance with the faculty, were indeed largely composed of faculty, now they work against the faculty in alliance with students, a separate managerial stratum more interested in the satisfaction of its customers than the well-being of its employees. In the inevitable power struggle between students and teachers, the former have gained the whip hand.

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You were also always under surveillance by a cadre of what Jane austen called, in a very different context, voluntary spies, and what my students called the poultry pc police. Regimes of virtue produce informants (which really does wonders for social cohesion). They also produce authorities, often self-appointed authorities, like the writing director at Scripps who decreed that you arent supposed to use the word crazy. Whenever I hear that you arent supposed to say something, i want to know, where did this supposed descend from? Who decided, and who gave them the right to decide? And whenever I hear that a given group of students demands this or says that, i want to ask, whom exactly are we talking about: all of them, or just a few of them? Did the group choose its leaders, or did the leaders choose themselves? Let me be clear. I recognize that both the culture of political correctness paper and the recent forms of campus agitation are responding to enormous, intractable national problems. There is systemic racism and individual bigotry in the United States, and colleges are not immune from either. There is systemic sexism and sexual assault in society at large, and campuses are no exception.

Guns in playgrounds, guns in bars. So it is with political correctness. There is always something new, as my students understood, that you arent supposed to say. And worst of all, you often dont find out real about it until after you have said. The term political correctness, which originated in the 1970s as a form of self-mockery among progressive college students, was a deliberately ironic invocation of Stalinism. By now weve lost the irony but kept the Stalinism—and it was a feature of Stalinism that you could be convicted for an act that was not a crime at the time you committed. So you were always already guilty, or could be made to be guilty, and therefore were always controllable.

middle adulthood essay

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We dont just know the good with perfect wisdom, we embody it with perfect innocence. But regimes of virtue tend to eat their children. They tend to turn upon themselves, since everybody wants to be the holiest. Think of the French revolution. The ante is forever business being upped. The pc commissariat reminds me of the nra. Everyone is terrified of challenging the nra (everyone in a position to stop it, at least so it gets whatever it demands. But then, because it can, it thinks up new demands.

Boys Dont Cry as a transphobic cis white bitch (as recently happened at reed College and so forth. But the most effective form of censorship, of course, is self-censorship—which, in the intimate environment of a residential college, young adults are very quick to learn. One of the students at Whitman mentioned that hes careful, when questioning consensus beliefs, to phrase his opinion in terms of Explain to me why Im wrong. Other students— at Bard College, at the Claremont Colleges—have explained that any challenge to the hegemony of identity politics will get you branded as a racist (as in, dont talk to that guy, hes a racist). Campus protesters, their frequent rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, are not the ones being silenced: they are, after all, not being silent. They are in the middle of the quad, speaking their minds. The ones being silenced are the ones like my students at Scripps, like the students at Whitman, like many students, no doubt, at many places, who are keeping their mouths shut. The religion of humanity, as david Bromwich recently wrote, may turn out to be as dangerous as all the other religions. The assumption on selective campuses is not only that we are in full possession of the truth, but that we are in full possession of virtue.

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middle adulthood essay

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In fact, you are wrong: about some things and probably about a lot of life things. There is zero percent chance that any one of us is 100 percent correct. That, in turn, is why freedom of expression includes the right to hear as well as speak, and why disinviting campus speakers abridges the speech rights of students as well as of the speakers themselves. Elite private colleges are ideologically homogenous because they are socially homogeneous, or close. Their student populations largely come from the liberal upper and upper- middle classes, multiracial but predominantly white, with an admixture of students from poor communities of color—two demographics with broadly similar political beliefs, as evidenced by the fact that they together constitute a large proportion. As for faculty and managerial staff, they are even more homogenous than their students, both in their social origins and in their present milieu, which tends to be composed exclusively of other liberal professionals—if not, indeed, of other liberal academics.

Unlike the campus protesters of the 1960s, todays student activists are not expressing countercultural views. They are expressing the exact views of the culture in which they find themselves (a reason that administrators prove so ready to accede to their demands). If you want to find the counterculture on todays elite college campuses, you need to look for the conservative students. Which brings us to another thing that comes with dogma: heresy. Heresy means those beliefs that undermine the orthodox consensus, so it must be eradicated: by education, by reeducation—if necessary, by censorship. It makes a perfect, dreary sense that there are speech codes, or the desire for speech codes, at selective private colleges. The irony is that conservatives dont actually care if progressives disapprove of them, with the result that political correctness generally amounts to internecine warfare on the left: radical feminists excoriating other radical feminists for saying vagina instead of front hole, students denouncing the director.

It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude. Dogma, and the enforcement of dogma, makes for ideological consensus. Students seldom disagree with one another anymore in class, ive been told about school after school. The reason, at least at Whitman, said one of the students I talked to there, is mainly that they really dont have any disagreements. Another added that when they take up an issue in class, it isnt, lets talk about issue x, but rather, lets talk about why such-and-such position is the correct one to have on issue. When my student wrote about her churchgoing friend, she said that she couldnt understand why anyone would feel uncomfortable being out as a religious person at a place as diverse as Scripps.


But of course, scripps and its ilk are only diverse in terms of identity. In terms of ideology, they are all but homogeneous. You dont have different voices on campus, as these institutions like to boast; you have different bodies, speaking with the same voice. That, by the way, is why liberal students (and liberals in general) are so bad at defending their own positions. They never have to, so they never learn. That is also why it tends to be so easy for conservatives to goad them into incoherent anger. Nothing makes you more enraged than an argument you cannot answer. But the reason to listen to people who disagree with you is not so you can learn to refute them. The reason is that you may be wrong.

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First, that they possess a dogma, unwritten but understood by all: a set of correct opinions and beliefs, or at best, a narrow range within which disagreement is permitted. There is a right way to think and a right way to talk, and also a right set of things to think and talk about. Secularism is taken for granted. Environmentalism essays is a sacred cause. Issues of identity—principally the holy trinity of race, gender, and sexuality—occupy the center of concern. The presiding presence is Michel foucault, with his theories of power, discourse, and the social construction of the self, who plays the same role on the left as Marx once did. The fundamental questions that a college education ought to raise—questions of individual and collective virtue, of what it means to be a good person and a good community—are understood to have been settled. The assumption, on elite college campuses, is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth. This is a religious attitude.

middle adulthood essay

The religion in question is not dissertation Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion. I should mention that when I was speaking about these issues last fall with a group of students at Whitman College, a selective school in Washington State, that idea, that elite private colleges are religious institutions, is the one that resonated with them most. I should also mention that I received an email recently from a student who had transferred from Oral Roberts, the evangelical Christian university in Tulsa, to columbia, my alma mater. The latter, he found to his surprise, is also a religious school, only there, he said, the faith is the religion of success. The religion of success is not the same as political correctness, but as I will presently explain, the two go hand in hand. What does it mean to say that these institutions are religious schools?

peers, and how despite its notoriety as a platform for cyberbullying, they were grateful for yikyak, the social media app, because it allowed them. Above all, i heard my students tell me that while they generally identified with the sentiments and norms that travel under the name of political correctness, they thought that it had simply gone too far—way too far. Everybody felt oppressed, as they put it, by the pc police—everybody, that is, except for those whom everybody else regarded as members of the pc police. I heard all this, and a good bit more, while teaching one class, for 12 students, during one semester, at one college. And I have no reason to believe that circumstances are substantially different at other elite private institutions, and plenty of reasons not to believe it: from conversations with individuals at many schools, from my broader experience in higher education, from what ive read not only. The situation is undoubtedly better at some places than others, undoubtedly worse at the liberal arts colleges as a whole than at the universities as a whole, but broadly similar across the board. So this is how ive come to understand the situation. Selective private colleges have become religious schools.

I had another student, a self-described strong feminist, who told me that she tends to keep quiet about everything, because she never knows when she might say something that youre not supposed. I had a third student, a junior, who wrote about a friend thesis whom she had known since the beginning of college and who, shed just discovered, went to church every sunday. My student hadnt even been aware that her friend was religious. When she asked her why she had concealed this essential fact about herself, her friend replied, because i dont feel comfortable being out as a religious person here. I also heard that the director of the writing center, a specialist in disability studies, was informing people that they couldnt use expressions like thats a crazy idea because they stigmatize the mentally ill. I heard a young woman tell me that she had been criticized by a fellow student for wearing moccasins—an act, she was informed, of cultural appropriation. I heard an adjunct instructor describe how a routine pedagogical conflict over something he had said in class had turned, when the student in question claimed to have felt triggered, into, in his words, a bureaucratic dumpster fire.

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Essays, spring 2017, power, class, and the new campus religion iStock, by william Deresiewicz, march 6, 2017. Let us eschew the familiar examples: the disinvited speakers, the title ix tribunals, the safe zones stocked with Play-doh, the crusades against banh. The flesh-eating bacterium of political correctness, which feeds preferentially on brain tissue, and which has become endemic on elite college campuses, reveals its true virulence not in the sorts of high-profile outbreaks that reach the national consciousness, but in the myriad of ordinary cases—the everyday. A clarification, before i continue (since deliberate misconstrual is itself a tactic of the phenomenon in question). By political correctness, i do book not mean the term as it has come to be employed on the right—that is, the expectation of adherence to the norms of basic decency, like refraining from derogatory epithets. I mean its older, intramural denotation: the persistent attempt to suppress the expression of unwelcome beliefs and ideas. I recently spent a semester at Scripps, a selective womens college in southern California. I had one student, from a chinese-American family, who informed me that the first thing she learned when she got to college was to keep quiet about her Christian faith and her non-feminist views about marriage.


Middle adulthood essay
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I couldnt turn the pages fast enough.—Justin Cronin, The new York times book review. Sometimes in life we feel pretty stressful. Am I the only avid reader that feels the bittersweet dread when the announcement of a favourite book is to be re-created on screen?

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  5. Let me be clear. I recognize that both the culture of political correctness and the recent forms of campus agitation are responding to enormous, intractable national problems. The saddest phrase i ve read in a long time is this one: psychological autopsy. That s what the doctors call it when a kid kills himself and they go back over the plowed ground of his short life, and discover all the hidden markers that led to the rope, the blade, the ere s a plague on all our. All through 2012 and into 2013 i kept a list of the books I hoped to write about for Bubbas book club. (The key word was hoped.) Unlike most book reviewers, i have the luxury of choosing to read only books that i expect to enjoy — whether on the strength of a good review, a friends recommendation, or a taste for the authors.

  6. December 4, 2012, 3:04 pm thank you for your reply, larry! I have read your essay on Baby reading and it was very insightful. Thank you for sharing it! Turnitin creates tools for K-12 and higher education that improve writing and prevent plagiarism. Turnitins formative feedback and originality checking services promote critical thinking, ensure academic integrity, and help students become better writers. Power, class, and the new campus religion.

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