History teaches us that when political ideologies mutate into forms of state religion, those who stand in opposition or refuse to 'get with the program' are targeted. Nazism, with its elevation of the Aryan race at the expense of all others, is one prime example. Those who didn't conform were swept away. Another, more recent manifestation, is China. Even while expressing a willingness to have a constructive dialogue with the Vatican, it insists that Chinese Catholics “hold up high the flag of patriotism” and adapt Catholicism to Chinese society.
Ideology must have its way.
And now it would seem that, with a president-elect endorsed by white supremacists and a myriad of other misfits, that much beset-upon minority, white people, will have the opportunity to stamp out wrong-thinking when they are under critical scrutiny. That is, if events unfolding in Wisconsin are any indication of things to come.
Damon Sajnani, a professor in the African Cultural Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is offering a course in the new semester entitled “The Problem of Whiteness.”
“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!” the description reads.A criticism of the white race? That has proven too much for David Murphy, a Wisconsin state assemblyman,
“Critical Whiteness Studies aims to understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy.”
The course explores “how race is experienced by white people.” But it also looks at how white people “consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism.”
who expressed outrage last week that taxpayers “are expected to pay for this garbage.”Using the time-honoured cudgel of funding, the assemblyman is expressing his aversion to what used to be one of the main missions of universities, the exploration, discussion and exchange of ideas:
“UW-Madison must discontinue this class. If UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the University can expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison.”Within his fiscal gun sights is not just the 'offending' professor, but also the university's administration for allowing this 'outrage' to occur:
In a statement emailed to The Washington Post, Murphy (R) said the decision to approve the class makes him question the judgment of university leaders.All of the above, by the way, was delivered without a hint of irony, suggesting that the good assemblyman's own intellectual reach is lamentably limited.
“I support academic freedom and free speech,” he said. “Free speech also means the public has the right to be critical of their public university. The university’s handling of controversies like this appears to the public as a lack of balance in intellectual openness and diversity of political thought on campus.”
For the time being, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has not expressed interest in tying funding to ideological purity, but does offer the following as a possible basis for backtracking, should Murphy's call for academic jihad find favour with the public:
“I could certainly as a citizen or as a father who pays part of my kids’ tuition roll my eyes and raise concerns about some of the classes,” Walker told the newspaper. “But our focus in the budget should be on overall performance and not individual classes.”No one can heave a sigh of relief at this anemic response, especially given the governor's own rather sordid record.
One of those noteworthy aspects of the rabid right is that, even when they achieve victory, as they have in electing an egregiously unqualified and unfit president, happiness and satisfaction elude them. I suspect it always will until they have wiped out the last dissenting thought, the last contrary opinion, the last remnant of resistance which, of course, is impossible.
Yet I have no doubt that they will do their damnedest to try.