Aside from the fact that since Sue’s original paper (which was far more proposal than proof) there is basically nothing empirical on Microaggressions yea or nay in the years since, meaning that the concept is little more than an opinion and an assertion at this point, wholly unsupported and unsubstantiated, there is a much more fundamental problem with the concept.
© Simon Gibbs / CC 2.0
The problem is this: microaggressions as defined are little more than non-positive communication. They are little gestures that do, in fact, communicate in particular ways that are not wholly positive and many have taken this and run with it—well gosh, then, they ought to be stopped.
Nobody seems to have asked whether or not non-positive communication is in fact legitimate and ought to be permitted.
To my eye, what is at stake is the same concept that underlies “safe spaces” and so on—the entire march of the increasingly totalitarian left. If not through “microaggressions,” what avenue to indicate disapproval, qualification, pessimism, etc.? Microaggressions as a genre might easily be called, instead, tactful, non-explicit gestures for indicating these things. So do we return to explicit disapproval, qualification, pessimism, etc. expressed in so many terms? Would the critics of microaggressions support this?
Surely not. They would even more vociferously condemn such things spoken in explicit terms.
The secret sauce behind the microaggression debate is the notion that for certain subjects, no negative or even non-positive communication of any kind is ever to be countenanced. The point, in my reading, is that certain people must never feel sad, and other people must never say or do anything that might ever make someone feel sad, and the dividing lines between the two are set a priori—they are race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability/disability, etc.
This is, in short, bald totalitarianism flying under the banner of “justice.” The actual argument is that, “You, A, do not have the right, ever, to say or do anything that B disagrees with or is made uncomfortable by, by virtue of your innate identity and of theirs, and you will be sanctioned if you do. And, for the same reasons of innate identity, you shall receive no such protection, and in fact, quite the opposite. No, you have no right of appeal.”
There are times when I’m glad I left academics when I did, because on the whole, the industry (and make no mistake, that is what it is) has gone insane, and this insanity is infecting much of the rest of society like a disease.
— § —
I used to think that it was hyperbolic to say this, but with every passing day I think it less so. The students of the social science academy are less and less students and more and more the brownshirts—the red guards. We have made these mistakes before, in all our righteous moral indignation, in the name of “justice.”
What is on display is not so much their “heroism” as their self-serving naiveté. Embarrassing and regrettable.