Freddie on Chait
Former OTer, Freddie DeBoer responds to Le Affair Chait.
Since Freddie is Freddie, he can’t help make some swipes and attacks at Chait while essentially agreeing with his greater points. Sanchez points out that this seems to be the only way to agree with Chait’s essay unless you are Andrew Sullivan or Dan Savage or don’t identify with the left in anyway.
Freddie DeBoer does have some interesting analysis of how the P.C. culture he describes works in the academy with examples of students being mocked, harassed, and lectured for inadvertently using the word term or a gendered metaphor like “man up”. Freddie points out that most of the students who get lectured and mocked are not upper-middle class white kids from fancy private schools but first generation college students like a first generation, African-American college student from rural South Carolina who made a comment about thinking their were innate gender differences and a 33 year old Hispanic Iraq war veteran who used the phrase “Man up” when talking about how his fellow veterans needed to speak-out against military adventurism.
Now this is an interesting take on where the language of P.C. can be really toxic. I grew up in an upper-middle class suburb and went to a good upper-middle class public school that had a big focus on academics. I don’t remember ever being yelled at in college for using the wrong language but I do remember being perplexed about where a lot of fellow 18 and 19 year olds came from if they were already fully fluent in academic language and terms like intersectionality by the time of their first class as undergrads. This was not all of my fellow undergrads but a good sized plurality. Do they teach bell hooks in private high schools? I once went on a date with a woman who taught at the private, secularish* Jewish High School in San Francisco and she said she taught the mandatory social justice classes. This always struck me as odd that a very expensive private school would have classes in social justice and I wonder if it does more harm than good because it just creates a rhetorical weapon to attack people who went to normal high schools that don’t budget for social justice classes. So you have rich and privileged 18 year olds feels high and might about knowing some bell hooks.
Where do 18 year olds learn all the social justice language that Chait decries and DeBoer says causes a lot of grief for some of his students because they are not up on the lingo by Freshman move-in day or because of their backgrounds?
*Secularish means that it is not a full Orthodox Yeshiva (Yeshiva=traditional Jewish education) but just a private school that happened to be affiliated with Judaism somehow. Most of the students seem to be from the more liberal branches of Judaism. This was odd to me because growing up on the East Coast, all the private Jewish schools were full Orthodox Yeshivas. I was in brief communication with another Jewish women who teaches at the Jewish High School in Palo Alto and she also said that in her native Chicago, all the private Jewish high schools are full Yeshivas and the kids from more liberal Jewish backgrounds generally went to public school.