Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Microaggressions and Measuring Rods

I don't care who writes a nation's laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks. -- Paul Samuelson
In a comment on a recent post about the factitious "political correctness" controversy, Barkley brought to the Sandwichman's attention a recent uproar about "an absurd restriction on speech" issued by U.C. Berkeley President Janet Napolitano, in which "Examples of forbidden speech include 'America is a melting pot.'"

Barkley was correct that there was an enormous kerfuffle about the outrageous infringement on freedom of speech. But what this totalitarian muzzling of free thought by the Insane Speech Police amounted to was an innocuous -- if rather over-earnestly patronizing -- handout "Tool" titled "Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send." Yes, one of the example statements was indeed "America is a melting pot."

Here is the [yawn] tyrannical wording of the free speech banishing edict:
Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. The first step in addressing microaggressions is to recognize when a microaggression has occurred and what message it may be sending. The context of the relationship and situation is critical. Below are common themes to which microaggressions attach. [emphasis in original]
For those of you who are slow on the uptake, "recognize" is the secret Insane Speech Police code word for "Verboten!" Also, note the ominous reference to a "first step" -- leaving the horrific second and third steps to the imagination. Concentration camp, anyone? Summary execution?

"America is a melting pot" was presented as one of five examples of "Color Blindness: Statements that indicate that a White person does not want to or need to acknowledge race."

Does this kind of bureaucratic manners micromanagement serve any useful purpose? No, it's busybody administrative bullshit. Ever worked in an office? But is it the Left-Wing Gestapo bursting down the hallowed doors of academic freedom? Oh, please.

Frankly, I find the hysterical* -- and orchestrated -- distortions of this tripe by the self-appointed Guardians of Liberty far more intimidating to speech than the anodyne tripe itself. If you're a leftie or a Democrat, don't you ever dare to say anything half-baked that the Mighty Wurlitzer Propaganda Mill assholes Guardians of Liberty can quote out of context and blow-up out of proportion.

Do you want to see actual censorship and infringement of academic freedom in action? I would suggest, then, having a good long look at the career of Mildred Lewis Rutherford and the successful campaign to rewrite the history of the Civil War, as taught in the South. "Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves."

Miss Mildred L. Rutherford
At their 1919 reunion the United Confederate Veterans "resolved to inaugurate a movement to disseminate the truths of Confederate history." To carry out this aim, they comissioned Miss Rutherford, Historian for the United Daughters of the Confederacy to prepare "A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges and Libraries" to be used by textbook committees of boards of education, private schools and libraries to ensure "absolute fairness" "truth in history" and "full justice to the South."

These crackers were not just whistling Dixie. If you know anything about the textbook industry, whatever Texas wants, y'all get. "The Lost Cause triumphed in the curriculum," quipped historian James McPherson, "if not on the battlefield." Here are some excerpts from the pamphlet's front matter:
" 'A Measuring Rod For Text-Books,' prepared by Miss Mildred L. Rutherford, by which every text-book on history and literature in Southern schools should be tested by those desiring the truth, was submitted to the Committee. This outline was read and carefully considered. 
"The Committee charged, as it is, with the dissemination of the truths of Confederate history, earnestly and fully and officially, approve all that is herein so truthfully written as to that eventful period. 
"The Committee respectfully urges all authorities charged with the selection of text-books for colleges, schools and all scholastic institutions to measure all books offered for adoption by this "Measuring Rod" and adopt none which do not accord full justice to the South. And all library authorities in the Southern States are requested to mark all books in their collections which do not come up to the same measure, on the title page thereof, "Unjust to the South." 
"This Committee further asks all scholastic and library authorities, in all parts of the country, in justice and fairness to their fellow citizens of the South, to yield to the above request. 
"C. IRVINE WALKER, Chairman."
I. The Constitution of the United States, 1787, Was a Compact between Sovereign States and Was not Perpetual nor National 6 
II. Secession Was not Rebellion 7 
III. The North Was Responsible for the War between the States 8 
IV. The War between the States Was not Fought to Hold the Slaves 9 
V. The Slaves Were Not Ill-Treated in the South and the North Was largely Responsible for their Presence in the South 10 
VI. Coercion Was not Constitutional 11 
VII. The Federal Government Was Responsible for the Andersonville Horrors 12 
VIII. The Republican Party that Elected Abraham Lincoln Was not Friendly to the South 13 
IX. The South Desired Peace and Made every Effort to Obtain it 14, 15, 16 
X. The Policy of the Northern Army Was to Destroy Property—the Southern Army to Protect it 18-21 
XI. The South Has never Had its Rightful Place in Literature 22-23
Do not reject a text-book because it does not contain all that the South claims—a text-book cannot be a complete encyclopedia. 
Do not reject a text book because it omits to mention your father, your grandfather, your personal friend, socially or politically— it would take volumes to contain all of the South 's great men and their deeds. 
Do not reject a text-book because it may disagree with your estimate of the South 's great men, and the leaders of the South 's Army and Navy—the world can never agree with any one person's estimate in all things. 
But—reject a book that speaks of the Constitution other than a Compact between Sovereign States. 
Reject a text-book that does not give the principles for which the South fought in 1861, and does not clearly outline the interferences with the rights guaranteed to the South by the Constitution, and which caused secession. 
Reject a book that calls the Confederate soldier a traitor or rebel, and the war a rebellion. 
Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves. 
Reject a book that speaks of the slaveholder of the South as cruel and unjust to his slaves. 
Reject a text-book that glorifies Abraham Lincoln and villifies Jefferson Davis, unless a truthful cause can be found for such glorification and villification before 1865. 
Reject a text-book that omits to tell of the South 's heroes and their deeds when the North's heroes and their deeds are made prominent. 
Refuse to adopt any text-book, or endorse any set of books, upon the promise of changes being made to omit the objectionable features. 
A list of books, condemned or commended by the Veterans, Sons of Veterans, and U. D. C, is being prepared by Miss Rutherford as a guide for Text-Book Committees and Librarians. This list of course contains only the names of those books which have been submitted for examination. Others will be added and published monthly in "The Confederate Veteran" Nashville, Tennessee. 

* Trigger Warning: Yes, I know the etymology of the word "hysterical."

3 comments: said...

So, Mildred Rutherford was imposing her own form of "political correctness."

Sandwichman said...

Yep. Milly, the organized neo-Confederate movement (UCV, UDC, SCV...), the heirs and assigns of the plantation aristocracy who returned to power as the segregationist Southern Democrat plutocrats, the Statewide textbook selection committees appointed by the plutocrats... the whole kit and kaboodle. And they called their regime "historically correct" too! "True and Correct History of the Confederacy."

See James M. McPherson, “Long-Legged Yankee Lies: The Lost Cause Textbook Crusade"

By the way, genuine thanks for bringing up the topic, Barkley. I don't mean to sledgehammer you with all this information. I just thought your comment offered a good teachable moment for setting the record straight. said...

Fair enough, Sandwichman. I think I got it anyway.

In any case, I keep my "protection from Sandwichman criticism" pads around just in case, with you sometimes actually nailing me on something where I deserve to be nailed... :-).