MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

George Will: Yale offers tutorial in social descent

Posted by Martin C. Fox on September 5, 2017

It is hard to imagine American educational institutions becoming any more pathetic.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/30/george-will-yale-offers-tutorial-in-silliness-and-social-descent/

The carving, according to Yale Alumni Magazine, depicts “a hostile encounter: a Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American.” Actually, the Native American and the Puritan are looking not hostilely at each other but into the distance. Still, one can’t be too careful, so the musket has been covered with stone. This is unilateral disarmament: The Native American’s weapon, a bow, has not been covered up. Perhaps Yale thinks that armed white men are more “triggering” (this academic-speak means “upsetting to the emotionally brittle”) than armed people of color. National Review Online’s Kyle Smith drolly worries that Yale might be perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

Furedi is a professor emeritus in England and author of “What’s Happened to the University?: A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilization.” Writing in The American Interest, he cites a warning issued to Oxford University postgraduate students about the danger of “vicarious trauma,” which supposedly results from “hearing about and engaging with the traumatic experiences of others.” This, Furedi says, is symptomatic of the “medicalization” of almost everything in universities that strive to be “therapeutic.” Universities are “promoting theories and practices that encourage people to interpret their anxieties, distress and disappointment through the language of psychological deficits.” This generates self-fulfilling diagnoses of emotionally fragile students. They demand mental-health services on campuses that are replete with “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” to insulate students from discomforts, such as the depiction of a musket. What academics perceive as “an expanded set of problems tracks right along with the exponential growth of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.’”

In a peculiar letter in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, a Yale official says the university is removing the stone “that a construction project team had placed on the stonework.” By clearly suggesting, implausibly, that this “team” acted on its own, the letter contradicts the magazine’s report that the covering up was done because the Committee on Art in Public Spaces deemed the carving “not appropriate.” The letter, which says the uncovered carving will be moved to where it can be studied and “contextualized,” speaks volumes about Yale’s context.

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