Me and the teachers

teachers

I feel sorry for my four work colleagues. All they really want to do is get along and have as pleasant a time as possible during the three months we are working together. The only fly in the ointment is me. I can’t stop talking about issues that I know will spark a heated discussion.

My colleagues are willing to have discussions about race, immigration and intelligence when we are out having a beer but that’s not enough for me. I want to have these discussions during breaks and over lunch. I am the bore who manages to shoehorn his manias into every discussion. For me these topics are like a loose tooth which I know I should leave alone but can’t; I want to poke and prod them.

The other teachers didn’t ask for any of this but have generally taken it all in good part, for which I am grateful. So let me describe how a typical argument might unfold. A couple of days ago it was a beautiful sunny day and three of us were walking to the station. J said that our university had a program whereby foreign students studying International Development Studies could come together to discuss the causes of world poverty. This was an opportunity for different people to explore different views. I wondered whether my own view, namely that a low-average national IQ often explains a country’s poverty, would have been welcomed. Stupidly I didn’t just think this but actually said it. D said that as long as I could back up my view with evidence it would be welcome at a university. She has just finished a Master’s degree and her daughter is now in her first year at college so she knows a little about contemporary campus life. I said that her view was how things should be but not how things actually are. Some views, no matter how well supported by evidence, are just not welcome. She wondered how I could possibly know this since I hadn’t been to university for several decades. I said I knew it from the internet, which even to my ears sounded a bit lame but hey, there was now no going back. I said that Charles Murray, despite having evidence to support his views, was not allowed to speak at Middlebury College. D had never heard of Charles Murray, nor his book The Bell Curve, but patiently explained to me that what I had just uttered was, in academic-speak, ‘anecdotal evidence’. I think by this she meant that my one isolated case didn’t constitute a rebuttal of her general point that free speech was alive and well on campus. I asked her why my fact was an ‘anecdote’ while other people’s facts were ‘evidence’. So I started to give another example of an academic not being allowed to speak on campus in the hope that enough anecdotes would finally constitute evidence but before I could get very far with this second anecdote D exploded: I DON’T NEED THIS AT THIS TIME OF THE MORNING! IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY. LOOK AT THE GRASS AND THE FLOWERS! CAN’T WE JUST ENJOY THEM?

Reader, you won’t be surprised to learn that silence ensued and I felt suitably contrite for having mounted my hobby horse so early on a sunny day. Even so, I doubt that my views would have been much more welcome on a rainy afternoon.

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4 thoughts on “Me and the teachers”

  1. I know it’s poor form to comment on an old post, but I’ve enjoyed working my way through your blog and this entry in particular struck a chord with me.

    “I feel sorry for my four work colleagues. All they really want to do is get along and have as pleasant a time as possible…”

    My colleagues like to talk politics, unfortunately.

    I simply smile and nod as they compete to outdo each other in their virtue-signalling. Perhaps one morning I’ll crack, turn up hungover and start ranting about my admiration for Enoch Powell.

    I work with some smart people, but I don’t get the sense that they’re thinking too deeply about the issues they discuss – the points they make are too trite, too right-on.

    Here’s what I’d tell them, if I didn’t care about remaining their friend:

    Left-liberalism is the default dogma of the age. In particular, left-liberal perspectives on migration and race are presented as normative – anyone who’s read a serious paper or watched TV news knows what they’re *expected* to believe.

    Liberalism, however, is based on optimistic misconceptions about human nature.

    This means that liberalism is
    a) wrong but
    b) an easy sell – optimism makes people feel good about themselves. Ever watched liberals make excuses for Islamic terrorism? See how smug and self-satisfied they look – that’s the power of optimism and self-delusion. “Muslims are people just like us. And people are basically good and rational and want to get along.”

    The evidence is against them, of course, but they stick to this nonsense. Because what’s the alternative? Admit that multiculturalism has proven to be a colossal failure? Admit that certain cultures are not compatible?

    The fact that these statements might be true is irrelevant – believing such things makes one a bad person.

    By challenging your colleagues’ right to ignore racial realities, you’re effectively denying them a reason to feel good about themselves.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Danny, thanks for the comment. I agreed with everything you said. By the way, is it bad form to comment on old posts? I’m just pleased that someone has bothered to go back beyond the last five minutes. Even I find myself treating other people’s old posts like stale bread, as though they go off with time, which is course stupid.

  2. I’m commenting on old posts, so I hope it’s not bad form! The big question for me is why have conservatives allowed liberals to take over the whole educational and academic environment? They could have fought to stand up for their beliefs, but instead they just decided not to bother. Very strange.

    1. Nope, not bad form at all. I think the size and strength of the counter-culture in the late 1960’s left many conservatives feeling very unsure of themselves. Even people who should have been on the conservative side seemed to be endorsing what the radicals were saying. (See Thomas Wolfe on the Leonard Bernstein’s party in his piece ‘Radical Chic’. It’s very long so don’t feel obliged to wade through the whole thing: http://nymag.com/news/features/46170/). This must have left conservatives wondering if they weren’t, after all, on the wrong track and slowly becoming obsolete. What was needed was a concerted pushback but since conservatives are not really herd animals then a concerted anything was unlikely. Now we are living with the consequences of their failure to put up some resistance. But of course this wasn’t just in academia. The same thing happened in Hollywood, the media in general and the justice system. Christ, it even happened in the Church. Goodness knows I’m no fan of religion but those at the top could have shown a bit more spine in sticking up for their principles rather than making pathetic attempts to ‘stay relevant’?

      Having said all that I do have some sympathy with those spineless conservatives who let ‘the kids’ take over. For all they knew they could have been living through one of those Galileo moments, a paradigm shift, when it becomes clear that what we had all once believed was in the process of being supplanted by a more modern way of seeing things. Almost nobody wants to be the dumbest kid in the class, the last one to grasp that, all appearances to the contrary, the Earth really does go round the sun. And since all intellectually honest people are unsure about nearly everything they believe in, I sort of get their meekness.

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