In today’s campus battles, the forces of political correctness enjoy an immense advantage, and to compound this edge, conservatives scarcely notices they’re losing. This is the power to silence critics, indeed remove entire topics from discussion by adroit name calling.
Woe to the professors who casually acknowledges that black students rank toward the bottom in their classroom performance. He or she is a racist, and that’s that. Woe to those who point out that Muslim nations tail the West in their human rights policy. That’s Islamophobia. Not even the President of Harvard can publicly acknowledge the indisputable reality that the world’s most talented mathematicians are overwhelmingly male. That’s sexism. Those who cite the old saw about sticks and stones never visited a contemporary college campus. Names may not break bones, but they certainly can shut you up, make you a pariah, and instantly end debate.
Indeed, name-calling (or shaming to use today’s term) is the Left’s most powerful cost-effective weapon. It makes no difference, for example, if one’s argument about male/female mathematical ability is empirically demonstrated down to the third decimal place, the fear of being accused of sexist stereotyping kills discussion. Why organize a protest when just shouting “homophobic” or “bigot” invariably silences those opposed to a Queer Studies Department? And, after a point, like a Pavlovian dog, conservatives keep quiet—don’t even think about angering the snowflakes.
Resisting these allegations, no matter how preposterous, is exceedingly difficult. There is no arsenal of snappy rejoinders. It matters not, for example, if you spent years as a pro-bono lawyer fighting for black civil rights in the deep south, risking death threats. Once labeled a “racist” that stellar history vanishes. Not even blacks are safe from this mudslinging—distinguished African American scholars like Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams have zero protection against being castigated as Uncle Toms or sell-outs.
Equally useless, at least for today’s academics, is developing a tough skin, a commonplace response to ethnic slurs. To use some personal examples, when I was in eight-grade, I just ignored classmates calling me “a kike” and “dirty Jew” and eventually, the taunting stopped. But, it’s hard to see academics developing such skin.
So, what can be done? Let me suggest a time-honored strategy to combat these typically hurtful, stinging accusations: respond in kind. Out-shame the shamers and let the Social Justice Warriors and their administrative enablers know who is really in charge—the faculty. Yes, it is hard to imagine academics being nasty. But with a little practice, I suspect, we will soon give as good as we get, and our accusers will anticipate the awaiting discomfort and avoid once defenseless targets. The model is defeating the bully—hit back and if possible, twice as hard.
At a minimum, a professor under attack can respond with biting sarcasm to humiliate the attacker. Happily, most academics who have mastered this art can respond to bogus charges of “racism” with, “That’s the best you can do? I’m embarrassed that you conflate such banalities with serious thinking. How about something a little more erudite, perhaps suggesting that I belong in the Ninth Circle of Hell, not very apt but at least something that would reflect a degree of education. Come on now, let’s try for something just a little more thoughtful than ‘racist.’”
Now, given that our side currently has nothing in its abuse name arsenal, I can only invite others to contribute. But be warned, prudence dictates that counter slurs avoid anything that hints of racial/biological differences even if the rejoinder is devastating, so I’ll skip the examples.
How about calling radical egalitarianism “Mindless, hare-brained Utopians,” “victims of manic gap-closing disorder” or “biology deniers”? Further add quick rejoinders like, “What’s next—height and weight are socially constructed?”
Particularly aggressive social justice warriors will be called the Rainbow Gestapo (or the Multicultural Mafia) while those availing themselves of university channels to report micro-aggressions, cultural appropriations, inappropriate gender use, and all the other sins of our PC-dominated era, should be labeled as little Stasi agents-in-training. That most Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) are clueless what “Stasi” means, this puzzlement will happily remind them of their ignorance — no small accomplishment when confronting undergrads convinced that they know how to run a university.
When they demand mandatory sensitivity training, respond with, “Uncle Joe would be proud of you for breaking a few eggs to make an omelet.” If quizzed about who was “Uncle Joe,” tell them, “Look it up.” Then pepper your shaming with correctly pronounced foreign words and expressions in such a way that it is assumed that students understand them. Remember, its all about tongue-lashing the mentally unwashed who have long intimidated us with crude slurs.
As for the usual attacks on Western Civilization, “white science” and the like, forget about careful, fact-based rejoinders. They can’t understand the argument, anyway. Just say, “I couldn’t agree with you more. I think we should remove our indoor plumbing along with our water purification system, ban antibiotics, end refrigerating food, and promote a lifestyle more in-tune what millions of Third Worlders experience daily. Yes, this may bring disease and starvation, a life-expectancy of 55 or less, but I agree with your basic principle—it would be a vast improvement of the current oppressive if not environment-destroying conditions. Can I have a show of hands in favor?”
Those who insist that higher education can only be improved if administrators acceded to long lists of ill-conceived students demands should be (and accurately) deemed quacks, airheads and infantile egalitarians (a reference to the old Soviet “infantile leftists). Explain to protestors that they are just useful idiots (look it up) or cannon fodder (look that up, too) when demanding that the university hire yet more well-paid, academically irrelevant parasitic bureaucrats. If they babble about Bernie Sanders-like “socialism,” ask them to explain the difference between Marxism and Socialism quickly. Would National Socialism suffice?
The real beauty of shaming-the-shamers is that academics typically excel at sarcasm, snide put-downs, and caustic references but, unfortunately, this nastiness almost exclusively targets colleagues and administrators (recall the old joke about a friend in the academy as someone who stabs you in the front). Unfortunately, when a Social Justice Warrior shows up with a list of idiotic non-negotiable demands, even nasty quick-tongued comedogens go limp and refuse to defend traditional academic values. It is as if campus airheads can inject a paralyzing serum into anyone who might disagree. Time to unleash the faculty’s natural talent for putting fools in their place.