Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Real Thought Police In Higher Ed


zeroanthropology  |  The “views” of the university are a mercantile fiction, a falsehood designed to mislead the public and to caress donors and politicians, the kinds of individuals who are apparently empty and infantile enough to believe that the winning arguments are those that are advanced in the absence of criticism. What if we taught our students that the best way to learn is to ignore whatever they do not like to hear? That is indeed what is being pushed, ironically under the signs of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” the usual neoliberal claptrap.  Thus we witness the university turned into a mere echo chamber for the comfortable, a safe space for moneyed elites to flatter themselves, creating a virtual world of unrivalled ideological purity, contrived harmony, and eternal hegemony.

Finally, messages from university administrators along the lines of “this does not represent the views of the university,” might serve an additional function, but I am just speculating. This might be a polite way of telling rabid members of the public to lay off. We heard you, yes it’s all quite disconcerting, and here is our little statement, now move along. Had universities with their bloated administrations and overt political leanings not wished to enhance their public profiles and represent themselves as quasi-media outlets, they would spare themselves such unnecessary exercises. In the end, pronouncements about “the views of the university” end up multiplying the damage to the university, both as a self-inflicted wounds within the university, and as a sign of intellectual cowardice in the face of bullies. A university administration that engages in such conduct has failed its first and most basic function: to administer university resources in order to facilitate teaching and learning.