25 May 2017

Peter Salovey’s False Narrative

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Heather MacDonald debunks Peter Salovey’s sanctimonious PC nonsense.

Yale University’s president recently provided a window into the modern university’s self-conception—an understanding embraced by both liberals and conservatives but flawed in essential ways. A primary purpose of a Yale education, President Peter Salovey told Yale’s freshman class last year, is to teach students to recognize “false narratives.” Such narratives, Salovey claimed, are ubiquitous in American culture: “My sense is that we are bombarded daily by false narratives of various kinds, and that they are doing a great deal of damage.” Advocates may “exaggerate or distort or neglect crucial facts,” Salovey said, “in ways that serve primarily to fuel your anger, fear, or disgust.” (Salovey repeated this trilogy of “anger, fear, and disgust” several times; it was impossible not to hear a reference to Donald Trump, though Salovey tried to stay nonpartisan.)

According to Salovey, the Yale faculty is a model for how to respond to false narratives: they are united by a “stubborn skepticism about narratives that oversimplify issues, inflame the emotions, or misdirect the mind,” he said.

Two things can be said about Salovey’s theme: first, it is hilariously wrong about the actual state of “stubborn skepticism” at Yale. Second, and more important, Salovey mistakes the true mission of a college education.

To assess whether Yale is, in fact, a bastion of myth-busting, it is necessary to return to one of the darkest moments in Yale’s history: the university’s response to a shocking mass outbreak of student narcissism in October 2015. The wife of a college master had sent an e-mail to students, suggesting that they were capable of deciding for themselves which Halloween costume to wear and didn’t need oversight from Yale’s diversity commissars. (Halloween costumes have been the target of the PC police nationally for allegedly “appropriating” minority cultures.)

The e-mail sparked a furor among minority students across Yale and beyond, who claimed that it threatened their very being. In one of many charged gatherings that followed, students surrounded the college master, berating him for the pain that his wife had caused them. One female student was captured on video violently gesturing at the master and shrieking, “Be quiet!” as he gently tries to answer her tirade. She then screams: “Why the fuck did you accept this position [of college master]? Who the fuck hired you?”

Of all the Black Lives Matter–inspired protests that were sweeping campuses at that moment, Yale’s shrieking-girl episode was the most grotesque. In reaction, Yale groveled. President Salovey sent around a campus-wide letter declaring that he had never been as “simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community—and all the promise it embodies—as in the past two weeks.” He proclaimed the need to work “toward a better, more diverse, and more inclusive Yale”—implying that Yale was not “inclusive” —and thanked students for offering him “the opportunity to listen to and learn from you.” That the shrieking girl had refused to listen to her college master—or to give him an opportunity to speak—was never mentioned; she suffered no known repercussions for her outrageous incivility. Salovey went on to pledge a reinforced “commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place,” implying that hatred and discrimination currently did have a place at Yale. Salovey announced that the entire administration, including faculty chairs and deans, would receive training on how to combat racism at Yale and reiterated a promise to dump another $50 million into Yale’s already all-consuming diversity efforts.

If ever there were a narrative worthy of being subjected to “stubborn skepticism,” in Salovey’s words, the claim that Yale was the home of “hatred and discrimination” is it. There is not a single faculty member or administrator at Yale (or any other American college) who does not want minority students to succeed. Yale has been obsessed with what the academy calls “diversity,” trying to admit and hire as many “underrepresented minorities” as it possibly can without totally eviscerating academic standards. There has never been a more tolerant social environment in human history than Yale (and every other American college)—at least if you don’t challenge the reigning political orthodoxies. Any Yale student who thinks himself victimized by the institution is in the throes of a terrible delusion, unable to understand his supreme good fortune in ending up at one of the most august and richly endowed universities in the world.

But the ubiquitous claim that American campuses are riven with racism is not, apparently, one of the “false narratives” that Salovey had in mind. Not only did the president endorse that claim, but the husband-and-wife team who had triggered the Halloween costume furor penned a sycophantic apology to minority students in their residential college: “We understand that [the original e-mail] was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry,” wrote Professors Nicholas and Erika Christakis. “We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.” Yale’s minority students may “feel” voiceless, but that feeling is just as delusional as the feeling that Yale is not “inclusive.”

So Salovey’s claim that Yale resolutely seeks out and unmasks “false narratives” is itself a false narrative.

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3 Feedbacks on "Peter Salovey’s False Narrative"

Seattle Sam

Speaking of false narratives, could Mr. Salovey provide ANY empirical evidence to support Yale’s claim that Diversity makes an institution stronger, better, more effective? Certainly a school like Yale that touts its adherence to “science” would have some in order to draw that conclusion with such certainty.

For leftist elites, Diversity is an article of faith, much like Jesus’ resurrection, but the Church at least presents evidence for its faith.



Seattle Sam

Another false narrative that Yale is (understandably) promoting is that a 4 year liberal arts degree is still something worth spending (borrowing) $200,000 to achieve.



Lee

It’s interesting — I find myself conflicted. For years, I’d hoped for the demise of the Ivy League schools. I thought they were classist, and I thought too much awe and respect was paid to them. Now that they sell ready to implode, I don’t it rather sad.



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