Radical activists at Reed College in Portland Oregon have a big problem with a required Humanities 110 freshman course called “Greece and the Ancient Mediterranean” because there aren't enough non-white philosophers represented.
The College Fix reports that the course focuses on the influential thinkers underpinning Western Civilization and features all the usual suspects: Plato, Aristotle, Ovid, et al. All those dead white males don't represent enough diversity of skin color for a group of racist anti-intellectual students called Reedies Against Racism, who allege that the course is systemically racist and want it “reformed to represent the voices of people of color.”
Why are they "racist anti-intellectuals"? Because they care only about skin color, not the history of ideas. And they certainly don't care about the history of ideas that have shaped Western civilization, which they deem oppressive, racist, colonialist, and so on. They don't care about learning, because they don't want their minds opened up or their race-based assumptions and victim narrative challenged. All they care about is dismantling the imaginary white power system that they believe has stolen all its ideas and prosperity from "people of color."
These Racists Against Reality -- sorry, I mean Reedies Against Racism -- have been protesting since last fall, often crashing and taking over lecture halls with protest signs and taped mouths to signify that they've somehow been silenced by Plato.
In one incident last November, English Literature professor Lucia Martinez emailed Reedies Against Racism to say that she would be pained by any protests during her lecture. The Reedies replied with predictable intolerance, “Saying that any form of protest would trigger your trauma ignores the traumas of students protesting whose mental health is deteriorating right at this moment… You are also someone who has been anti-black.” Protesters proceeded to sit in the audience during Martinez’s lecture wearing all black.
When a student asked on Facebook for evidence that Martinez was “anti-black,” RAR supporters and organizers responded by rejecting the question. “It’s not really students of color’s responsibility to explain their trauma to you… You should consider trusting the word of students of color.” Another added, “For everyone who wants dialogue – some dialogues are not for you to have or be a part of.”
And there you have it -- if you aren't a "student of color," you don't deserve the consideration of dialogue. Your concerns, your sensitivities, don't count.
Now the predictably timid school administration and faculty are considering revising the course to accommodate these racist bullies.
“The current humanities course focuses on the Classical world in its ancient Mediterranean context; this has not always been the case and the faculty differ on how important they think this focus is to the course,” Reed spokesman Kevin Myers wrote in an email to the College Fix.
“Among other questions, the review will consider the focus for the next iteration of the course. Regardless of its content, the main emphasis of the humanities course is for students to develop the skills that will help them succeed in their classes at Reed and their lives after graduation,” Myers stated.
Not all Reed students see the course as white supremacism in action. One student said it “goes a long way towards giving students the context to think through the great problems of government and society themselves."
A former student of the class said, “There is value in learning the different methods people used to tackle the same problems we deal with today."
But Reed College student Addison Bates, one of those leading the charge against the course, has said that she and other black students feel that the course exemplifies Reed’s failure to commit seriously to diversity. Why should Reed mandate that all students take a classics course featuring only white authors?
Maybe because those authors were the most historically influential to the development of the Western world we live in? Just a thought.
Reedies Against Racism has a list of 25 demands, naturally, because a list of demands is all the rage on college campuses; no band of anti-intellectual racists should be without one. It includes a demand for a staff-maintained Black Student Union, and more black counselors at the Reed health center, as well as a demand that the Humanities 110 requirement must be “reformed to represent the voices of people of color.”
That latter demand states that the notion of "foundational texts" is subjective [it's not] and that the course gives power "to already privileged ideas."
Perhaps these ideas have become privileged because over time they have proven to be better than other ideas? Again, just a thought.
Privilege, of course, refers to anything these racist anti-intellectuals haven't earned themselves, so the Reedies want "alternative readings that critique texts on the current syllabus," readings from outside the “Caucasoid” region, as Addison Bates put it. In other words, she and the other Reedies don't want to study the ideas that have shaped civilization; they only want to read critiques of that civilization from non-white authors.
Daniel Kauffman, a junior studying political sciences, told The College Fix, “The way they are going about this is very juvenile and they have alienated a lot of faculty by refusing to take criticism from moderate faculty. What that's led to is a lot of rationalization for not doing work – class-work – and hard work.”
Daniel, Daniel -- don't you see that the Reedies Against Racism consider hard classwork to be part of the systemic racism that's keeping them down?