Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doing good ...

... vs. telling the truth: The great Greek race odyssey.

Consider the language of racial hatred to which Lefkowitz was herself exposed, when her opponents suggested that since she is a Jew, she said what she said because she was a Jew; and thus that this was merely the manifestation of some ancient hatred of the Jews for black people. This is what it is to stereotype; and it harms not only by virtue of the particular stereotypes on offer, but also by virtue of the thought they import – that stereotypes do indeed explain. This does untold harm in race and gender relations; care with how we speak, “political correctness”, is part of how we can avoid that harm. But that care needs to be even-handed, to be taken without regard to the injustices of history by both sides to a debate. It was a failure to do so that caused such trouble and distress at Wellesley in the 1990s. It is to the College’s discredit that it let it happen.

The fact is that, usually, in campus disputes, the side that is more threatening tends to be treated with greater deference, because campus authorities tend to be, shall we say, timorous.

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