Sunday, March 24, 2002
Help! I'm being oppressed!The New York Times reports on the supposedly new phenomenon that college students nowadays aren't interested in political debate anymore, or are at least unwilling to engage in it. The article talks about an overemphasis on "tolerance" being part of the problem -- the Oprahfication of the world, where feelings are all that count. If you argue with someone, you might make them feel bad.
But I don't think this reluctance to debate has anything to do with the college generation. Look at Eric Alterman's whining about Andrew Sullivan in the latest Nation. Sullivan's criticism of the left is described by Alterman as "the will to censorship." That's right -- criticism of speakers is now considered "censorship." At least if those being criticized are on the left.
I think there's a good reason for it. The left has gotten so used to declaring everyone who disagrees to be racist, sexist, heterosexist, classist, speciesist, or all of the above, that they're afraid of actual debates. The only way to avoid being labelled a bigot is just not to say anything at all.
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