Johnson: The dangers of an unquestioning campus

Each day the list of what we may question grows smaller. As society progresses, it too acquires many weak points it wishes to hide. A pathological liar will continue to lie after being caught just as our society continues to shrink the list of what we may question when it is scrutinized. Censorship used to come primarily from the government or the church, but now we see our fellow man choosing to censor his neighbors through ostracization and condemnation.

Society advances like a rubber band stretched between two fingers. It can do three things: stretch, tighten or snap. Society has been stretched by progressivism for multiple generations while censorship acts as the glue that keeps it from snapping. This process claims that its end goal is a utopia, but in reality, each dollop of censorship on our fraying society only leads to authoritarian oppression.

You don’t and shouldn’t take my word for it — you can easily see it for yourself. What do you feel comfortable questioning? What makes you feel uncomfortable? Can you question God? Which God? Do you feel comfortable criticizing Jesus? How about the Prophet Mohammad? Do you feel comfortable criticizing society? Whose society? American society? How about European society? Do you feel comfortable questioning Japanese society, or maybe South African society? Do you feel comfortable criticizing culture? Can you criticize your own culture? Do you feel comfortable criticizing other people’s culture?

With all of these questions in mind, when you honestly asked yourself what you felt comfortable criticizing, did anything stand out? If none of these things made you uncomfortable then you should stop reading and continue questioning everything you see. If any of these did make you uncomfortable I hope you begin to wonder why that is.

Society advances like a rubber band stretched between two fingers. It can do three things: stretch, tighten or snap.

If your reservations come from a lack of information, that is completely understandable. It is imperative to gather information on a subject, whether it be academia, culture or religion, before one should feel comfortable expressing their opinion. The problem is that in today’s world many people choose to spout off preconceived notions which project prejudice. This prejudice can be seen in a positive or negative manner, depending on the audience. With that being said, if you felt uncomfortable sharing your opinions, not due to a lack of knowledge but from the fear of public backlash, you are not alone.

“The current movement is largely about emotional well-being,” said Greg Lukianoff and Johnathan Haidt for the Atlantic in 2015, “[I]t presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche.”

The culture of feelings before logic has left us without the ability to critique many important aspects of life. On college campuses, the hivemind allows only certain topics to be critiqued, while others must remain out of focus due to their sensitive nature. The tactics which are used to fight open discussion are simple but incredibly effective. The use of negative characterizations through buzzwords have reduced conversations on campus and around the world to a trickle of what they could be.

“[T]his movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally,” Lukianoff and Haid said. “It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.

The proof for this is simple: what questions incur a negative label when asked?  When one asks if Christians are doing enough to stop the Westboro Baptist Church’s bigotry, there are no remarks of Christianophobia which follow. But when one questions the Islamic communities role in reducing radicalization, one is returned with a slurry of character remarks regarding Islamophobia. When one discusses binary gender or sexuality, one is labeled homophobic or transphobic. When one openly discusses policy reform for the refugee crisis or immigration which does not entail an open border policy, one is labeled as xenophobic. Each time one of these labels are applied the conversation is immediately destroyed and the person who was negatively labeled must now defend themselves or admit defeat. This process occurs constantly throughout campus and its only true result is further division.

No one wants to listen to a racist, but when everyone who questions the current progressive norms becomes racist then no one listens at all. Questioning and critiquing become taboo. Open conversation must be self-censored out of fear of ostracization. Meanwhile, at a policy level, millions of people continue to push feel good progressive legislation without consequences in mind. Our nation is reaching a tipping point.

People claim the current president was elected on a platform of Islamophobia, xenophobia and hate, and they may be right. However, the only way to prove their point is through conversation, not public group shaming. If this mentality continues, we will only see more division and much more prejudice from both sides. If we continue on this path we cannot continue as a nation. While it pains me to think of our nation failing, many people may be hoping for just that. To those people, I say this: it will be much worse than what you have now, but you will find out in time.

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Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson