Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Professor concerned by students who are unable to consider alternative views

This is a post by Dr. George Yancey, and he’s writing about the 5-minute video clip above.

Dr. Yancey writes:

Here is a great example of what I term education dogma. Note that the students are chanting about not being silenced while they are obviously silencing the speaker. My understanding of this situation is that the speaker published something that challenges some of the assertions about a campus rape culture. Such a challenge is an affront to the dogma of the students. Therefore, these students do not feel that the speaker has a right to speak on a different topic. The violation of beliefs they accept without question or doubt creates their incentive to shut down the proceedings.

[…]For the dogmatic, ideas that violate the notions defended by education dogma are deemed “dangerous” and too much for the tender ears of our students. So in additional to shouting down speakers there have been calls for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” so that individuals do not have to listen to dangerous ideas. The true danger of these ideas is their threat to certain dogmatic beliefs of our students. These students are unwilling to consider the possibly that they are wrong, or perhaps not as right as they might believe. .

[…]As I watch that video I did not see intellectual powerhouses but I symbolically saw individuals who were yelling nonsense with their hands over their ears so that they would not hear an idea that may confront their presuppositions about reality.

Here, Dr. Yancey compares the secular leftist students to religious fundamentalists: (links removed)

For all practical purposes the students saw the speaker as a heretic. The use of the term heretic can bring up images of torturing, imprisoning and killing of those who disagree. This is not occurring. However, it is reasonable to ask whether the seemingly restraint of the students from such drastic actions is due to their moral compass or to the fact that they do not have the social power to engage in such actions. Education dogma has led to attempting to kick offending businesses off campus, attempts to fire professors, and the official “shunning” of students who hold the “wrong ideas.” Those with education dogma do punish those who violate their beliefs to the highest extent possible given their current level of institutional powers.

So if the holding your hands over your ears and screaming doesn’t work, there is always calling the police, or using other means of coercion. Scary, especially when you consider the history of the secular left in communist countries where God is dead, and the state is all-powerful. How far would these leftist students go to silence people who disagreed with them?

More:

[…][H]igher education occurs in a specific social institution that promotes certain subcultural values and beliefs. Participants in these institutions are expected to accept these values and beliefs without question. These beliefs are not the result of gaining more facts but instead are the dogmatic adaptation of certain social values provided to them by this subculture.

The trouble here is that they don’t want more facts – that’s why they are holding their hands over their ears and screaming.

It makes me think of my own intellectual journey… the way I got started in apologetics in college was by reading transcripts of William Lane Craig debates that I found on the Leadership University web site. What was exciting was reading both sides and seeing what each person would say to respond. Would you go to a football game where only one side showed up? What if you already knew the score in advance, would you still go? What if one team didn’t play very hard, would that be worth watching? What makes intellectual inquiry fun and interesting is that two sides show up and play their best. Otherwise, it’s just brainwashing, not a search for truth. When I write a summary with a good atheist like Peter Millican, I actually feel like I have learned something – I have learned how far I can push each of my arguments, and what I need to study going forward. I care to learn more about what is discussed in a real debate.

This is the striking part of his essay:

Students are responsible for seeking out alternative perspectives and developing an attitude of inquiry allowing them to interrogate their own presuppositions. But their college and university teachers should be held to account since more than a few college professors have done a horrible job introducing critical thinking skills. These teachers come in with a certain set of assumptions and if students agree with those assumptions then they can leave college without any disturbance to their pre-college ideology. Then we have the gall to call that critical thinking. It is anything but critical thinking. It is confirmation thinking and we do our students a disservice with such an approach.

This is why I get so frustrated by non-STEM disciplines. I think those non-STEM areas are the places where what he described is most likely to happen. When you walk into a computer science classroom, you are there to learn something that you will be doing for money in a couple of years. You can go home and use what you just learned to write a sorting program, or improve the speed of your database queries, or write a mobile application and put it out for use. I just don’t get that feeling of usefulness from non-STEM disciplines, aside from maybe analytical philosophy, which is just computer science anyway (symbolic logic). The critical thinking in computer science comes from trying things yourself and seeing what works and doesn’t work in real life. Where is the testing against reality in non-STEM disciplines? There is none.

And then here is something hopeful for conservatives:

Ironically a conservative Christian Republican has a better opportunity to learn critical thinking in college than a progressive humanist Democrat because of the opportunity he/she gains to consider new ideas. When we allow students with certain perspectives to go through college without challenging them we not only promote dogma, we also do those students the disservice of never helping them to engage in the critical thinking necessary to intellectually grow. They are reduced to being a sounding board that regurgitated the latest expression of political correctness.

This is where all my hope lies. I really hope that the left educates itself into imbecility by refusing to consider different points of view, and that we conservatives are the ones who start to outperform them and take the high ground in the culture. To innovate, you have to do things better, and to do things better, you have to do things differently.

Read his whole essay.

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How schools of social work stifle conservative views in the name of diversity

Here’s a great story from The Weekly Standard. It’s hard for me to slice it up so I can make the point of the article, but I’ll try, and if you like it, you go read the whole thing.

The author Devorah Goldman says this:

“I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”

I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.

I asked if I had said or done anything inappropriate or disrespectful, and she was quick to assure me that it was not my behavior that was the problem. No: It was my opinions. Or, as she put it, “I have to give over this information as is.”

I spent the rest of that semester mostly quiet, frustrated, and missing my undergraduate days, when my professors encouraged intellectual diversity and give-and-take. I attempted to take my case to a higher-up at school, an extremely nice, fair professor who insisted that it was in my own best interest not to rock the boat. I was doing well in his class, and I believed him when he told me he wanted me to continue doing well. He explained to me that people who were viewed as too conservative had had problems graduating in the past, and he didn’t want that to happen to me. I thought he was joking .  .  . until I realized he wasn’t.

[…]Two hundred thirty-five master’s programs in the United States are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which requires schools to “advocate for human rights and social and economic justice” and to “engage in practices that advance social and economic justice” as part of their curricula. As Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), points out, the CSWE standards act as “an invitation for schools to discriminate against students with dissenting views.”

Lukianoff discovered the abusive culture fostered by CSWE after several students complained about their treatment in social work programs. Emily Brooker, a Christian student at Missouri State University’s School of Social Work in 2006, was asked by her professor to sign a letter to the Missouri legislature in favor of homosexual adoption. When she explained that doing so would violate her religious beliefs and requested a different assignment, she was subjected to a two-and-a-half-hour interrogation by an ethics committee and charged with a “Level Three Grievance” (the most severe kind). Brooker was not permitted to have an advocate or a tape recorder with her at the ethics meeting, during which she was told to sign a contract promising that she would “close the gap” between her religious beliefs and the values of the social work profession. At the risk of having her degree withheld, Brooker acquiesced.

Bill Felkner, a student at Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work, was instructed to lobby the Rhode Island legislature for several policies he did not support. In addition, RIC’s policy internship requirements for graduate students included forcing students to advance policies that would further “progressive social change.” When Felkner accepted an internship in the policy department of Republican Rhode Island governor Don Carcieri’s office, he received a letter from Lenore Olsen, chair of the Social Work Department, informing him that he had violated their requirements and could no longer pursue a master’s degree in social work policy.

[…]And so I sat, zombie-like, through the strange and sad reality that is groupthink for two long years. In a publicly funded school in America’s greatest city, I was censored, threatened, and despised by my teachers. I left school after graduation feeling that something had been stolen from me. I wanted to go back and argue with my teachers some more, ask them, for example, whether a description of Reagan’s economic policies as “nightmarish” in a textbook could be considered unbiased in any context. I wished I had stood up more often for my white male friends in class, asked people if they really believed that Band-Aids that were not exactly fair and not exactly dark in color were racist. Realizing that I had been awarded a diploma in part because I kept my opinions to myself was deeply unsatisfying.

Conservative students need to be aware that they are likely to face discrimination in social work programs on campus, and probably in many other programs as well. They will either have to silence themselves or change their views to be in compliance with secular leftist ideology. What’s even scarier, though, is when students who are raised in traditional evangelical homes go off to college and swallow secular leftist values uncritically. It always shocks me a little when I meet students who were raised in a married home with two evangelical parents and they tell me that they vote for Democrats. I just had a conversation this week with a young woman who claimed to be pro-life and pro-marriage who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. She is studying journalism, and I would bet that there are no conservative professors in her program. She told me that she voted for Obama because of environmentalism and Obamacare. She also expressed preference for big government over small government.

It’s definitely something to be aware of – the lack of critical thinking and respectful dialog in some of these programs. I’m going to be giving her a list of conservative news sites to read, like The Stream, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Signal, and so on. I wonder if she has ever read a conservative economist or journalist before… I’ll find out.

If you insist on going to programs that are more ideology than marketable skills, then expect to have to keep your mouth shut all the way through in order to graduate. And then after you graduate, whenever you get the chance, vote for smaller government, lower taxes, and more academic freedom laws that protect a diversity of views in the classroom. I also recommend donating to legal groups who defend basic liberties, such as Alliance Defending Freedom.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , ,

Why is it so hard to reason with college-educated millenials about spiritual things?

Why is it hard to reason with students?

Why is it hard to reason with students?

The first article today is from lesbian feminist Camille Paglia. She is a university professor, but liberal (in the classical sense) in her outlook.

An hour-long interview is posted at Reason, and there’s a transcript.

Camille says:

reason: Clarify what’s the difference between a legitimate gripe and whining?

Paglia: Well, in my point of view, no college administration should be taking any interest whatever in the social lives of the students. None! If a crime’s committed on campus, it should always be reported to the police. I absolutely do not agree with any committees investigating any charge of sexual assault. Either it’s a real crime, or it’s not a real crime. Get the hell out. So you get this expansion of the campus bureaucracy with this Stalinist oversight. But the students have been raised with helicopter parents. They want it. The students of today—they’re utterly uninformed, not necessarily at my school, the art school, I’m talking about the elite schools.

reason: So it’s those kids over at that other school.

Paglia: It’s the grade grubbers, the bright overachievers. I’m not at that kind of school [here at University of the Arts in Philadelphia] . I’m at a school of arts and communication where people already have a vocational trend. To be admitted here, you have to already have demonstrated a vocational aptitude. I’m talking about the Ivy League. Now, I’ve encountered these graduates of Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton, I’ve encountered them in the media, and people in their 30s now, some of them, their minds are like Jell-O. They know nothing! They’ve not been trained in history. They have absolutely no structure to their minds. Their emotions are unfixed. The banality of contemporary cultural criticism, of academe, the absolute collapse of any kind of intellectual discourse in the U.S. is the result of these colleges, which should have been the best, have produced the finest minds, instead having retracted into caretaking. The whole thing is about approved social positions in a kind of misty, love of humanity without any direct knowledge of history or economics or anthropology.

reason: Maybe the university is not the place where that sort of stuff is happening anymore. So, for instance, you have think tanks that do a lot of economic or policy work. You have popular historians who are not academic. Fiction and poetry, even as there’s been a rise in for decades now of creative writing programs and what not. Nobody looks to the university to be cutting edge on almost anything really, so maybe it’s just that you picked the wrong hors. Maybe you should have followed the campus radicals’ suggestion and not gone into academia?

Paglia: [As a] writer of cultural criticism, I find that I’m happiest when I’m writing for the British press, and I write quite a bit for The Sunday Times magazine in London. I find that the general sense of cultural awareness means that I can have an authentic discourse about ideas with international journalists from Brazil or Germany or Italy or Norway or Canada even—somewhat, but they have a P.C. problem themselves. I can feel the vacuum and the nothingness of American cultural criticism at the present time. It is impossible—any journalist today, an American journalist, you cannot have any kind of deep discussion of ideas.

The students at the Ivy league universities are so insulated from “vocation” (working for money) and so indoctrinated in political correctness, that they cannot have a civil conversation about ideas. All they can do is state their own views, and if you disagree with them, then they call you names then retreat to “safe spaces”, where all unpleasant communication is blocked . They can’t even explain why they hold their own views except they have been taught to believe that all smart people believe them. They are traumatized by dissent, and they are not able to critically assess arguments and evidence.

Here’s a second article by Eleanor Taylor writing in the ultra-leftist New York Times.

She writes:

KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma.

So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material.

I have had the opportunity to interact with people who went through the college system in non-STEM programs. The combination of binge-drinking, hooking-up, co-habitating, and indoctrination in secular leftist ideologies like feminism, postmodernism, moral relativism really seems to break down their ability to reason calmly with someone who disagrees with them. They become very brittle and defensive when their indoctrinated views are confronted with critical thinking. I think the indoctrinated views were accepted largely because of emotions, intuitions and peer-pressure, so any kind of questioning using reason, evidence, wisdom and experience are met with this fight-or-flight response. People who are wiser and more experienced aren’t allowed to speak in the “safe space”.

There are two ways I see this playing out. On the one hand, any attempt to lead the thinking of an indoctrinated person is going to be met with insults. For example, trying to teach basic economics is going to be called “manipulation”. Or, trying to tell them to that they have an obligation to behave a certain way towards others is going to be dismissed because others have to take “personal responsibility”. These are just smokescreens that cover the fact that indoctrinated millenials cannot be reasoned with, cannot be led, cannot be told to do the right thing. When challenged, they block all communication and retreat to a “safe space” where their similarly indoctrinated friends are there to reassure them. Unfortunately for them, reality has a way of breaking through the illusions in the long run.

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Muslim student wants to censor showing of “American Sniper” on campus

Muslim student Farah ElJayyousi

Muslim student Farah El-Jayyousi

This is from The College Fix.

It says:

[A] Muslim student activist who declared showing the film on campus would make her feel “unsafe” and demanded an “apology and explanation” as to how and why the movie was even selected for Mizzou audiences.

The uproar was taken quite seriously, and prompted the student government to conduct a meeting to determine whether the flick should be shown.

“This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind,” student Farah El-Jayyousi had stated.

She made the comments in a letter to the editor to the campus newspaper earlier this month, denouncing the decision to show the blockbuster – the highest grossing film of 2014. El-Jayyousi accused the movie of dehumanizing Muslims and glorifying the murder of Iraqis, and referred to Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL featured in the film, as “a killer with no regard for human life.”

What do you think she is studying to have such blindness to the violence and anti-woman discrimination in the Middle East? She is double-majoring in psychology and women’s and gender studies. Of course!

Let’s just see what sort of violence happens in the Middle East.

This is from the leftist BBC about the conflict in Syria:

Some 6,000 women have been raped since the start of the conflict in March 2011, the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) says.

A spokeswoman for the group said these women were then socially stigmatised, and often forced to flee their homes.

Women are being targeted by snipers and used as human shields, often with their children, the report also says.

Violence against Women, a Bleeding Wound in the Syrian Conflict is based on interviews with victims and medical staff in the first half of 2013.

The report describes how hundreds of Syrian women have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances and have undergone various forms of torture, in state detention facilities.

[…]The report also says the kidnapping of women has also become a strategy of exchanging prisoners and exacting revenge, and that the nature of the crimes – rape and gang-rape – leaves many women isolated.

That’s not a concern to our Muslim student. She is more concerned about soldiers who go to the Middle East to try to liberate women from the rule of regimes that genitally mutilate them, honor-murder them, keep them illiterate, stone them, rape them, imprison them and “marry” them when they are still children. And so on. That’s what she is learning to parrot at an American university. And of course she learns that sex-selection abortions are the height of women’s rights, too.

Imagine if a Christian student went to a Muslim university (is there one that accepts women in Afghanistan? Oh right, there isn’t) and wrote a similar article, but against the practice of genital mutilation in Mali, for example. What would happen to her, do you think? Exactly. But that’s not a concern to our intrepid Muslim student. It must take some powerful self-deluding to be this self-contradictory, but that’s why we have non-STEM departments in universities, isn’t it?

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Navy chaplain removed from unit for teaching Biblical views on sex and marriage

This is from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

A former Marine and current Navy chaplain has been removed from his unit after sharing the teachings of his faith tradition in private, pastoral settings.

Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder, a chaplain at the Base Chapel Naval Weapons Station at Joint Base in South Carolina, is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.

According to his legal team, a “handful” of individuals complained about his views on issues like atheism, homosexuality and sexual relationships outside of marriage.

According to Military Times, after the complaints, Modder’s commanding officer wrote in a “detachment for cause” letter that states Modder is “unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” of the United States Navy.

It’s such a diverse environment that if you disagree with the secular leftist view of sex and marriage, then you can’t say anything. And we are paying taxes to pay for these people to violate the basic human rights of Christian employees. It’s not just happening to Christian business owners who refuse to celebrate gay marriage, now. It’s just regular Christians workers, too.

More:

His commanding officer has requested that Modder be removed from the promotion list (despite his ranking as “Early Promote,” the highest rating), separated from his unit, and brought before a Board of Inquiry.

The same commanding officer previously wrote in Modder’s fitness report in October of 2014 that Modder was the “best of the best” and recommended him for promotion.

The board could force Modder, who previously served as a Marine in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, out of the Navy. His case is currently under review.

I thought this was useful to see what pressures authentic Christians face as they try to earn the money they ned to provide for their families in an increasingly secular environment:

Mike Berry, the senior counsel and director of military affairs at the Liberty Institute, is handing Modder’s case.

[…]“He’s in a catch-22 between his faith and his career,” said Berry.

Berry said that Modder offered everyone who sought his guidance a “disclaimer” that he was speaking to them as an ordained Christian minister, stressing that Modder offered “spiritual advice” and “Biblical truth” according to his faith tradition in “private” sessions, not merely “unsolicited opinions.”

But after the complaints of a “handful” of individuals, Modder’s future in the Navy is in jeopardy.

[…]Modder is also approaching his 20-year anniversary of military service. If his case is not resolved by Sept. 1, his pension and retirement benefits could also be in jeopardy.

Seems like he was very careful, but that did not protect him from the complaints of a handful of individuals who wanted to get rid of him for disagreeing with them. And of course Modder’s commanding officer has to deal harshly with him, or he will not be promoted. This is the new secular Inquisition.

Now, try to think with me about how many people are teaching their views on sex and marriage, and using taxpayer dollars to do it. Public school teachers, Planned Parenthood… Heck, in Ontario, Canada, the Liberty Party’s sex education curriculum was developed by a convicted child pornographer. And yet Christian chaplains are the ones who have to face discrimination for stating their views.

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