College commencement exercises are beginning, meaning that the silly season of childish campus antics of demonstrations, ridiculous demands to college administrations, and relentless public harassment will taper off over the summer. The 2015-2016 academic year topped the charts and serves as a preview of the caliber of new workforce recruits we will be dealing with in our workplaces. From Amherst College, to the University of Missouri to Yale, civil discourse and rational debate and disagreement have been forced to the sidelines in unprecedented occurrences.
I ran across an interesting article – here – concerning moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, a secular liberal professor. This article summarizes a panel discussion Haidt participated in at NYU Law School in March 2016. Haidt’s antagonist in the debate was a young law student, who consistently used terms such as “privileged people; “systemic oppression”; and “marginalized communities”. Her points leaned more toward the lines of “the oppressed are those who are like me, and the privileged are those who are not like me”. Haidt, who very likely was instrumental during his earlier teaching career at sowing the seeds of what is being reaped now, has the best line of “I’m a liberal professor and my liberal students scare me.” Clearly, the professor is shocked by what we conservatives would have very likely thought would be a logical result of the chaos he encouraged. It is clearly worth the 20 minute watch.
On a tangential note, a separate article gives us another dimension of Professor Haidt’s viewpoint – here. Read the article, then watch the TED Talk video. Haidt, through his research, defines five categories that serve as our moral foundation, programmed into us at birth. Of course, we Catholics would call this the Natural Law originating from God, but being an academic secular liberal he cannot go there. He uses these five foundations to distinguish why liberals and conservatives have such fundamental disagreements. While I disagree with his conclusions that this moral code came through evolution, and that religion hijacked parts of it for gain, nevertheless I find his research enlightening, since he is at least honest in wishing to finding out why liberals and conservatives talk past one another. We can all learn something from his findings, especially if we know some of the root causes for others to think the way they do. It certainly helps explain some of the reasons why we are experiencing continuing degradation in civil discourse.
Finally, a last comment on Haidt’s TED Talk. Haidt repeatedly refers to “truth”, yet sidesteps the logical next definition of “objective truth”, instead holding up Eastern religions as the way to look at life with a balance of opposing values – in other words, relativism. He was also fairly smug in being able to show a clear separation in the moral foundation between conservatives and liberals as a key reason for the differing worldviews. Perhaps with his recent experiences with the young liberal monsters he helped create, may we suggest that he do further research to find out why ‘liberals can’t understand other liberals’.
To close on a positive note – the example of the Ohio State administration’s reaction to a recent demonstration, sit-in and list of demands. Kudos to them for treating these spoiled kiddies as they need to be treated.