“It wasn’t the college’s place to tell us what these things meant”
The fact that this guide was created by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is rather telling, isn’t it?
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports:
Release of language guide roils Amherst College campus
In 2001, the late author and Amherst College alum David Foster Wallace wrote about the political battles that take place in an unlikely place: dictionaries.
“Did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of U.S. lexicography reveals ideological strife and controversy and intrigue and nastiness and fervor on a nearly hanging-chad scale?” he wrote in his Harper’s Magazine essay “Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage.”
Last week, Foster Wallace’s alma mater stepped right into that controversy when the Office of Diversity and Inclusion released, and soon after retracted, a “Common Language Guide” featuring definitions of “key diversity and inclusion terms” that disturbed some on campus.
The document, which can still be found online (a college employee confirmed that it is the same version), emerged from a need to “come to a common and shared understanding of language in order to foster opportunities for community building and effective communication within and across difference,” according to its creators. But others took issue with the glossary of terms spanning a wide range of topics, including race, gender, sexual identity, class, global power and inequality.
Capitalism, for instance, is defined in the guide as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for proﬁt, rather than by the state. This system leads to exploitative labor practices, which aﬀect marginalized groups disproportionately.” Another term is “white savior complex,” defined as “an attitude or posture of condescending benevolence based on the idea that white people inherently should, are in a position to and are qualiﬁed to ‘save’ people of color.” And fragile masculinity is “a state of requiring affirmation of one’s masculinity and manhood in order to feel power and dominance … For example, men being hesitant to cry is an example of fragile masculinity.”…
At the center of the controversy were the Amherst College Republicans, who were quoted in much of the press coverage of the episode. “It wasn’t the college’s place to tell us what these things meant,” Brantley Mayers, a member of the Amherst College Republicans, told the Boston Herald. “They were establishing the parameters of speech.”
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