A Columbia professor is castigating one of the academic left’s most cherished concepts: that of “white privilege,” according to The Atlantic.
In a period where professors and minority students wield this term–designed to create guilt for the so-called “privileged,” to shut down debate–Columbia Professor and African-American John McWhorter appeared at the Aspen Ideas Conference on Thursday to deny the common leftist trope that campuses are repositories of racism; indeed, according to him, “college campuses are perhaps the least racist spots on earth.”
Thus “the idea that any [minority] student is undergoing a constant litany of constant racist abuse is… not true.”
And for whites who accept their built-in immorality because of their race, they are putting themselves in a box they can never escape from:
“The idea is you are to learn that you’re a privileged white person; you are to learn it over and over; really what you’re supposed to learn is to feel guilty about it; and to express that on a regular basis, understanding that at no point in your lifetime will you ever be a morally legitimate person, because you have this privilege.”
Regarding his own race, McWhorter pulls no punches, stating that the concept of white privilege is designed to comfort them. It is a dangerous form of a “security blanket” that also shortchanges their education:
“To be a black student who learns that their purpose, that something special about them, is that they can make a loud noise and make white people guilty, I don’t think that’s an education.”
Although efforts have been made in the past to attach immoral labels to students with unpopular ideas, McWhorter regards white privilege as something new on the horizon that is chilling the free speech of students:
“I think that now, more specifically, the problem is, ‘you’re a bad person and you should not speak,’ that’s what is new.”
“White privilege” is ultimately a dead end for everyone, according to McWhorter. White students are trapped in a guilt they can never transcend, and minorities are forever oppressed. As a result, this behavior eschews flexibility in the way students and faculty can discuss these topics freely on college campuses.
To demand of colleges that they must provide so-called safe spaces to protect minority students from so-called racist ideas is more political theatre than productive debate:
“Today the idea is that you walk out of the room, you can’t hear it, because the space isn’t safe. That’s a theatrical gesture. It should be used for auditions.”
In a period where terms are used as political weapons that require no empiricism to back up what are in essence empty platitudes, McWhorter–with his demands that minority students embrace logic and debate–represents an old-fashioned, nearly extinct breed of intellectual who takes his mission to broaden the minds of his students seriously.