April 11, 2008

Blogging while white

One of the funniest guys on the Milwaukee internets is John McAdams, who is apparently a professor of political science at Marquette University. McAdams tells the tale of a philosophy student being "forced" to apologize by his instructor for comments made during a class discussion on law enforcement and ethnicity.

Personally, I don't think university instructors should "force" students to apologize for comments made during class discussions, if that is really what happened.

I remember a discussion in one of my own political science classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee a few years ago during which a student insisted that gay people were really heterosexual, and that homosexuality was a deliberate and conscious choice on their part. I remarked that if that were true, then I would have chosen it back when I was about 15, because I would have gotten laid a hell of a lot more (since anything is more than none).

When the laughter had died down (which was what I was after, obviously, humor being often the best means to the end of making a point), the instructor chastised me mildly for implying that gay people were more promiscuous than any other group, and that I was reinforcing an invidious stereotype. Of course I was aware of that already, and that was indeed part of the joke. And I'm sure those laughing the heartiest were the gay students in the class.

Anyway, the hapless McAdams can barely get through three paragraphs without contradicting himself. First the "forced" apology becomes a "suggested" one. Then McAdams gives away the game by revealing a little agenda of his own, in that his central defense of the student in question turns on the McAdams-endorsed truism that the "truculent attitudes of many minorities are part of the problem."

Quips McAdams parenthetically:
Two of the blacks in class complained about how they had been stopped because of their race (although they had not been asked to get out of their cars, had not been ticketed and their cars had not been searched).
Well, hey, ain't nothing wrong with getting pinched for driving while black, so long as the cops don't shoot 'em, eh Perfesser?

Why anybody takes this character seriously is a complete mystery to me. One who does, predictably, is local vocal yokel and obnoxious crusader for (almost) all things "politically incorrect," Charlie Sykes, who this morning labels McAdams's poorly disguised tribute to our munificent Caucasian overlords as today's "hot read."

It's a hot read alright — for the yuks.


Anonymous said...

McAdams is all over the implicit power structures and implicatures associated with a prof suggesting that a student apologize.

But cops stopping ethnic minority drivers over "traffic violations"? Why, only one of those ("many") truculent minorities could read racism or abuse of power into that!

Whereby we learn that a recognition of situational power and context isn't actually beyond the ken of the howler monkeys. It's just more conveniently ignored when it doesn't shore up the Articles of Faith.

illusory tenant said...

An excellent point of irony. Well spotted.

Display Name said...

Or as Woody put it, it would double your chances of finding a date.

I wonder which "other accounts" McAdams gathered. Would it be safe to assume he didn't talk to the blacks and Hispanics, because he didn't mention any cross-examination of their point of view?

Anonymous said...

IF this is discrimination then we need to immortalize McAdams for standing up. Let's hold a parade and place him among Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Moses.

Do Marquette Students really not have anything better to do?