It is awfully tempting to laugh at the case of Yale dean June Chu, for writing Yelp reviews of restaurants and food stores that referred to customers as “low class folks” and included statements like, “If you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!” Watching the sensitivity monitors go after one of their own is a guilty pleasure.
But the exaggerated response to Chu’s nasty remarks on Yelp about white people should sadden liberals and conservatives alike. The message sent out to students and faculty by Stephen Davis, the head of Pierson College, announcing Chu’s removal, is a jumble of sensitivity bureaucratese that embodies everything conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, and any self-respecting American adult hates about tolerance ideology.
The sentences do what they are supposed to do, that is, to numb the independent will of a free citizen. Examples:
- “make sure that your academic needs are addressed”
- “partner with me in envisioning a way forward”
- “deeply harmful to our community fabric”
- “a path toward healing and reconciliation”
- “what holds us together is our collective effort to ensure that every single person in our midst is valued beyond measure”
- “to honor and embrace those who are different from us”
The solemnity is hard to stomach. The elevation of stupid remarks on a Web site into a grave hate crime shows the impulse of a totalitarian. Do not take the words of sorrow and empathy at face value. They carry a not-so-subliminal message to everyone at Yale: watch your mouth, even on private time. You may have a sterling record of diversity worship on the job, but if you let slip a frustration that assumes the form of a group denunciation, you’re done.
Maybe this threat to private conduct is just a function of the Digital Age, which encourages individuals to share every thought and experience and which watches over them unless they block their “Privacy” settings. Add to the technology the progressivist impulse to re-educate people who don’t follow the party lines on race, sex, gender, nation, and religion, and you get the language of Davis’s email.
At what point are a critical mass of people going to rise up and say, “That’s none of your business!”