The cultural climate in the US has become so foul, so crazy, so brutal, as to be almost unendurable. For example, we are currently in the midst of a fanatical hysteria about sexual misconduct. As David North of the World Socialist Web Site describes it:
America is passing through yet another “Scarlet Letter” moment, with the letter “A” (for adulteress) being replaced by the letter “P” (for predator). Nothing that is happening today would have surprised Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Each day, the “Me Too” movement, described by its cheerleaders as a “national reckoning” or “national conversation,” takes a new victim. Transgressions that may have occurred as far back as a half-century ago are being recalled and deemed worthy of brutal punishment. Shameful rituals of allegations and pathetic apologies are being enacted. Long careers are ruined in a matter of minutes. The accused in many cases are men in their mid to late seventies, some of whom have records of decades of distinguished contributions to the arts. They are not even informed of allegations against them until after their dismissal.
North points out that even “asking to substantiate the veracity of an accuser’s claims is proof of ‘rape apology’ or outright guilt.”
The fanaticism of “Me Too” didn’t just fall out of a clear sky, however. Radical intolerance, aggressive punishment, and mob violence have been building for many decades, especially on campuses, where it has often been nurtured by the ideology of political correctness. On one campus after another, even tenured professors have been have been driven off campus by threats. Untenured instructors and staff don’t have a chance, and many must live in dread of bringing down destruction upon themselves by some trivial comment.
A recent article by Trevon Austin details one of the latest cases:
Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher was forced to resign after a year of death threats made his position at the university “unsustainable,” according to a statement that he released this week. Ciccariello-Maher, a professor of politics and global studies, was harassed after several tweets he made were criticized on various right-wing outlets. Throughout the ordeal, Drexel University has criticized the professor and refused to support him.
Not only did the University give him no support, but
Drexel University placed Cicariello-Maher on administrative leave in October, forcing him to teach his classes online or via Skype. . . . The university said that it was suspending Ciccariello-Maher not because of his views, but for safety, given the threats he was receiving.
This is no isolated phenomenon.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) said more than 100 incidents of targeted harassment against professors have been reported on college campuses in the past year.
Other faculty faced with violent harassment in the past year include Professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State College, who became a target after criticizing a college-sponsored event calling for all white students to leave campus for a day in recognition of their “white privilege.” He was mobbed and then later hunted across campus by militant groups, some of who were armed with baseball bats. Campus police told him they could not guarantee his safety. Like Ciccariello-Maher, he was forced to teach his classes off campus. Later he resigned.
This is serious harassment, it has become common, and it often seems to be tolerated by supine administrators. It is far more serious than the forms of harassment obsessed about by the “Me Too” movement.
- David North, America’s latest “Scarlet Letter” moment, 9 Dec 2017, http://www.wsws.org.
- Trevon Austin, Drexel University professor resigns amid death threats from right-wing forces, 30 Dec 2017, http://www.wsws.org.