OPEN LETTER TO STUDENTS OF OBERLIN COLLEGE
May 31, 2016
WHO WANT TO END MIDTERMS AND GRADES LOWER THAN “C”
To: The politically active “Social Justice Warriors” and their 1,300 supporters at Oberlin College who want an end to written tests and forbid grades less than C for this semester; and SJWs elsewhere.
From: Steven Yates, Ph.D., Writer; Independent Scholar, Philosophy; Small Business Owner.
Dear Students of Oberlin College who want to end midterm tests and forbid grades of less than C for this semester:
First things first: I am not sure any of you will read this, as it depends on your finding your way to this site; and if by some chance you do, I doubt any of you will read it all the way through. Your loss, not mine. I am not your professor, although in other circumstances I could have been (see fifth to last paragraph). So I won’t be grading your inattention. But you might benefit in some small way by reading this, because you need a wake-up call — and that’s putting it mildly!
Yesterday I read of your frustrated petition to your College from struggling academically due to your political activity on and off campus, i.e., activity on behalf of “diversity, inclusion, equity,” etc., and your calls to abolish written tests and put an end to your professors’ giving you grades of less than C.
You poor darlings! My heart is bleeding for you, all over the floor!
Why did you decide to go to college? Why, in particular, did you opt to attend an elite and rather expensive private liberal arts school like Oberlin? Did you think you’d have a free ride? Did you think you could choose to spend your time engaging in political activity instead of studying, and your choice would have no consequences? Speaking more generally, did you honestly expect to never run across any words or ideas you might find “offensive” (i.e., disagree with, or which violate your sense of what is culturally appropriate in this politically correct age)?
What planet are you on, anyway? I’ll tell you: it’s called Earth. And on Earth, there are no free lunches. Not really. Not in the long run. On Earth, cupcakes, your choices have consequences. If you choose to drink yourself into oblivion on Friday night, you’re going to wake up with a massive hangover Saturday morning. Just to cite an example some of you can probably relate to. It’s called cause and effect, and it applies to everything you do. If you choose to party instead of do the assigned reading for your remedial reading class, you’re going to be unprepared. If you skip the class out of avoidance, you’re going to be even more unprepared. Keep up with the avoidance, and you’ll fail the class. You should. That’s life, where choices have consequences.
Black students, listen up! No, I will not use the politically correct term African-American, and for the obvious reasons: with few exceptions not one of you is from Africa, has ever been to Africa, or has anything to do with Africa. I’d wager, many of you could not walk up to a map of the world and find Africa. So why should I call you African-Americans (other than that you demand that I do so and will scream at me and call me bad names if I refuse)?
I read the list of “nonnegotiable” demands you made to the administration last year. You will tell me I cannot “know” your experiences because I am a white male, and that this whole letter is a litany of “micro-aggressions.” You know something? I don’t care about your opinions. Here is what I know:
Your country and its educational system, which used to be my country and educational system as well, has bent over backwards for you — for 50 years! You’ve had preferential admissions programs, minority-only scholarships some of you are probably attending college on right now, affirmative action, etc., in various forms for five decades now. Today you demand “safe spaces” and you get “safe spaces” — never mind that you are reinstituting a form of segregation. You want trigger warnings; you get trigger warnings. You want your own Afrikan [sic.] Heritage House, you get that as well. You would doubtless get more black faculty were there more blacks applying for faculty jobs (there aren’t, and your administrators have probably drawn the line at pulling them off street corners).
All this was, and is, being instituted by white people in most cases. The civil rights movement back in the 1960s (have you studied it?) would not have succeeded without the cooperation of benevolent, well-intentioned white people. Yet today you demonize white people.
Instead, you might try showing a little gratitude!
You cannot help Tamir Rice, or his family. You know something? I agree with you about that. His shooting was malicious and needless. It shouldn’t have happened, not even in this post-9/11 world. But it isn’t your fight, and frankly, until you get some real education, you will only make matters worse.
Women students, listen up! Sweethearts, much the same applies to you. There was a time (again, have you studied it?) when feminism meant something other than male-bashing. You, too, have been given a great deal. Affirmative action in the workplace has helped you more than it has your black classmates. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Stop seeing “gender-bias” everywhere you see that men are in the majority. Being in the majority is not always peaches and cream. The vast majority of those killed in wars are men.
“Transgender” students? My most honest, heartfelt advice: get help!
Now I know you are living in confusing, stressful times — times that are what they are because of how badly the country’s elites (both major parties, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, etc.) have screwed up everything they’ve touched, and because over 90% of what you’ve ever been told is lies and BS. You want to “unlearn most of what you’ve been taught”? Maybe you should listen to Joy Karega instead of jumping on some bandwagon of weaponized words like “anti-Semite” and “conspiracy theorist.” You’d be wise to forget what you’re “supposed” to believe, i.e., what you get from “official” government narratives and corporate media celebrities, do some snooping around on your own, and figure out who, what groups, and which organizations actually bear primary responsibility for the present predicament.
Many of you support Bernie Sanders for president. Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton is joined to Goldman Sachs at one hip and the foreign war machine at the other. And it’s a given, you don’t like Trump. But my cats understand more economics than Bernie Sanders.
Do you really think a $15/hr. minimum wage will help low-income workers? Think again, sugarplums. Many jobs aren’t worth that. Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr. will force small businesses to lay off employees they can’t afford to keep. You will also accelerate the replacement of human beings with technology. McDonalds is already testing automated kiosks, and others will follow. Yeah, I suppose the guy at the top could take a cut in his profits. But what do you think he’s in business for? If you’re in business and you don’t turn a profit, you’re out of business and your workers are out of work.
It might be helpful to know: when you have a job, you’re not paid what you’re worth (whatever that is), you’re paid what the job is worth. Don’t like that? Start your own business, honeys. People used to do it every day.
It’s capitalism, you say, and down with capitalism!! Bernie’s a socialist, or says he is. Again, have you actually studied the subject? Could you produce a clear and accurate account of what socialism is, in a concise, well-organized paragraph of grammatically correct sentences? If not, you need to learn about socialism and its actual track record, so that when you have a conversation with adults you’ll have a clue what you’re talking about. Or, if you want first-hand insights how well socialism works, move to Venezuela!
Now if you were talking about, say, the Federal Reserve, or neocons in connection with what’s wrong with U.S. foreign policy, I’d be impressed. But I never see those things come up. What I see from here, in whatever form it takes, is the same old griping about too many mean ol’ white guys on your campus and in your textbooks. Imbalances, boys and girls? Feeling “marginalized”? You might help rectify perceived imbalances, or end your sense of marginalization, by getting an education and making an intelligent contribution to the world of ideas, or starting a business, whichever you choose. You want to be the Firebrand Generation? Quit whining and go do something useful for your fellow citizens. I’ve noticed that a lot of blacks in business, or programming computers, or what-have-you, don’t seem to have as many complaints about “micro-aggressions” or demands for “safe spaces.”
Have you noticed that?
I didn’t think so.
Who am I to be saying all this “desensitized” mean ol’ white male stuff? A guy who once interviewed for a faculty position at Oberlin, eons ago, back in slightly saner times (just as well I didn’t get the job!). I’m a guy who figured out that much of academia is now a racket, and fled the premises. It’s the same racket presently taking you to the cleaners, forcing you into five and maybe six figures of student loan debt, granting you worthless degrees in return. Yes, if your major is anything ending with the word studies, you’re degree will be worthless, whether from the standpoint of actual scholarship (admittedly verging on extinction) or just finding work after you graduate. Incidentally, do you think even a degree in a real subject will be worth anything to an employer who knows your professors were forbidden to give you anything less than a C? One of the things that needs to change is your institution treating you like customers and trying to satisfy your every whim on that basis. You are not customers. You are college students.
And you do want to be something other than social parasites, because frankly, your country is broke and can’t continue supporting you. Its official national debt is over $19 trillion, $8 trillion of that added since President Community Organizer stepped into the White House. The Federal Reserve you’ve barely looked at can’t keep creating money out of thin air indefinitely to keep the Obama-era disaster of an economy afloat much longer. So if you don’t wake up, you’ll find out the hard way that the real decision-makers, those with real power, don’t care about you. If you’re playing Social Justice Warrior games when the next major downturn hits, you may see your meal ticket disappear so fast your head will spin.
Nearly all of you will ignore this, I know. You’ll call me names, like racist, or cissexist (whatever that means). What I’d do if I was you, sweet peas, is reexamine why you went to college. Is there even a slight chance you might choose to set aside your uninformed political activism long enough to get an education, including learning how to take care of yourselves financially — before it’s too late? You may have heard it before, but: grow up! Stop lodging harassment complaints against professors who correct you in class. That’s part of their job. Don’t be so hypersensitive! And quit using silly, made-up words like “cissexist” and “Afro-Latinx” (I was going to call them neologisms, but they don’t rise to that level, and I am sure that word isn’t in your vocabularies anyway).
Lastly, stop expecting things to be done for you just because you demand it. I have news for you, ladies and gentlepersons. Your employer, assuming you find one, won’t care that you feel “micro-aggressed” against. He or she won’t give you a “safe space.” What he or she will tell you if you try making “nonnegotiable” demands is to not slam the door on your way out. That’s because he or she will just want a job done. And he or she will be in the right, because that’s how the real world works. As you will find out soon enough.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them, but do keep the namecalling and obscenities to yourselves. I’m not as pliable as one of your administrators.
All the best,
© 2016 Steven Yates - All Rights Reserved
Steven Yates has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of Four Cardinal Errors: Reason for the Decline of the American Republic (2011) and Philosophy Is Not Dead: A Vision of the Discipline’s Future (ebook, 2014). He blogs occasionally at WorldPress.com. He lives in Santiago, Chile with his wife and two spoiled cats, and is working on his own online education project, the New Lyceum Academy for Philosophical Studies (website forthcoming).