Monday, February 26, 2018

'Decolonizing' Everything

I tell you, I'm dealing with more and more of this kind of radical ideology even at my school, at the community college level.

It's unreal, frankly.

At the American Conservative, "The Censorious Left’s Latest Mania: ‘Decolonizing’ Everything":

At Northern Michigan University, students can discover how to “decolonize” their diet. That means learning “about where the common foods and ingredients come from, what a ‘decolonizing diet’ is, and how they can incorporate the diet into their daily lives.”

Meanwhile, the editors of the American Historical Review have announced plans to decolonize the journal and confront its “past lack of openness to scholars and scholarship due to race, color, creed, gender, sexuality, nationality and a host of other assigned characteristics.”

In the UK, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies has announced plans to “decolonize” its degree courses following high-profile student campaigns such as “Why is My Curriculum White?” that are critical of “the domination of white ‘Eurocentric’ writers and thinkers.” Last year, students at Reed College protested the Eurocentrism of their Introduction to Humanities course. At Yale University students petitioned for the removal of a course in Major English Poets that featured, surprisingly enough, mostly white men. Thanks to their efforts, that course has now been downgraded to optional.

The fight to decolonize Harvard led to the removal of the Royal family seal, for fear that it might “evoke associations with slavery.” At the University of Oxford a plaque honoring Cecil Rhodes, the British imperialist who established the Rhodes Scholarships, has been taken down. At Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, professors can take a course in decolonizing education in order to “understand indigenous perspectives in the history of colonization to contemporary realities in Canada.” All around the world, universities are decolonizing courses, buildings, libraries, and reading lists.

The drive to decolonize is not confined to academia. In the UK we have discussions about decolonizing health care, translation, and feminist art. There are campaigns to decolonize architecture in the United Arab Emirates, the media in New Zealand, design in Mexico, bookshelves in South Africa, and seemingly the whole of Alaska. Throughout the U.S. we’ve seen the removal of Confederate monuments. Clearly, we have many unresolved issues with the past. But too often the rush to decolonize evades a discussion of history and instead paints everything that happened before today as irredeemably racist and wicked—in need of obliteration rather than discussion.

Last year, the journal Third World Quarterly published an article in which Bruce Gilley set out “The Case for Colonialism.” Those who read the piece criticized it for shoddy scholarship and historical inaccuracies. But most of us will never know how it measured up, as the publication was soon withdrawn following threats to the journal’s editor. In the UK, Oxford University’s Professor Nigel Biggar wrote a newspaper article arguing that people should not “feel guilty about our colonial history,” and as a consequence received a critical letter from over 200 colleagues and scholars condemning him as “an apologist for colonialism.” Biggar said: “There is a view that people with views like mine are not to be reasoned with, but only to be silenced.”

Preventing all discussion of colonialism erases, rather than confronts, the past. Indeed, the logic of the decolonize movement is that colonialism is not a legacy of history but a malignant impact upon the present. This sleight of hand allows campaigners to equate past invasion, murder, oppression, and exploitation with being made to sit through a lecture on Kant or Shakespeare in an expensive and elite institution...
Sill more.