Thursday, April 29, 2021

'Let’s Be Reasonable'

Professor discusses his book on a 'conservative case for liberal education.'

Scott Jaschik interviewed Jonathan Marks, author of Let's Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education, at Inside Higher Ed. [link fixed -ed.]

"Q: Your first chapter deals with the holiday place mat for social justice at Harvard University in 2015. What was striking to you about that story?

"A: That story had a little bit of everything. An initiative of the freshman dean’s office and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the place mats offered advice on how best to explain certain matters --- the abandonment of the title 'master' for resident heads, for example -- to one’s unwoke relatives.

"It was striking that this minor incident received coverage from major outlets, including Fox, CNN and The Washington Post. It was striking that the perpetrators were not campus crazies but rather administrators who initially seemed surprised at all the attention. 'Of course we’re distributing social justice talking points,' they seemed to tell us. 'Why all the fuss?' Still occasionally the province of marchers with signs, the struggle against injustice is more routinely handled by able administrators. It’s institutionalized, and campus leaders seem not to know or care how baking left-inflected politics into the bureaucracy may damage their reputations and undermine their academic missions. It is striking, maybe most of all, that students, often cast as snowflake villains in these tales, were the ones who explained that 'prescribing party-line talking points' on controversial matters 'stands in stark contrast to the college’s mission of fostering intellectual, social and personal growth.' They were asking to be treated as reasonable people."

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