What the World Needs Now: Criticism
05 August 2009
If you live in America or similar parts of the world, like me, you've grown up in a consumer based society. Consumerism creates vast sums of wealth and along with it, power. Consumerism and the freedom in which to enact it, is what has brought about our political and economic success. However, as we continue to encourage consumerism we also seem to discourage rhetoric as it is feared the critical thinking that goes along with it might discourage our need to take in crap that we don't require.
This suppression of rhetoric begins in our public school system where we learn to obey and believe what we are told and never really taught to be critical. I often reflect on how the tests I took in the upper levels of grade school all the way through high school never asked me to explain but rather to recite the information I had been told was the truth.
Here in college, this view I have that we are rhetoric deficient is continually reinforced. How many times do I have to listen to stupid, baseless arguments and how many stupid, baseless arguments have I given myself? Well, a lot. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own stupid, baseless opinion, but I firmly believe that when one makes a statement based on those opinions they should be subject to open criticism, especially in a college setting. Personally, of all the stupid shit I've said in presentations, I have yet to be openly criticized for errors. Yesterday, I was in my inter cultural communications class and this chick gave a presentation on Booker T. Washington's 1895 Atlanta Compromise speech. Her interpretation of this speech was that Booker T. Washington was saying how grateful blacks were for the opportunities they had. If you take the time to read this speech you'll find she was so far off and so self deluded her presentation was actually on how ignorant and unable she was to read something critically as well as her inability to think rhetorically. I only caught the last 30 seconds of her speech, as I was late to class, but when she was done I had to inform her that Booker T's uncle Tom sounding appeal was engineered for a white audience. Other than that, in a room of 30+ college students, no one said a thing. A stupid opinion isn't the problem we're experiencing here, it's that no one is challenging these ideas and as such we are a muck in our own ignorance and although others might be aware, they do nothing to free their peers from it.
Dumb idea pacifism is a dumb idea. Reason being; dumb ideas turn into dumb actions. Here's a few that I have the distinct pleasure of enjoying on my campus: Political correctness and Diversity.
As defined by a recent forward I received, Political Correctness is as follows: "Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end." Well if you've experienced political correctness, that's just too true. The logic that rewording a shitty situation doesn't make it any less shitty. In fact, if a subject is in a shitty situation you usually want to emphasize that the situation the subject is experiencing is in fact, shitty. If I wanted to tell someone they're being an asshole then I'm not going to say some bull-shit like: "I think you're highly offensive and ignorant of the people you're offending." Rather, I'd make it a point to emphasize their assholiness by calling them an asshole.
The push for diversity on college campuses is why I have to take a fucking lame ass Inter cultural communications class in the first place. The class could be summarized in a paragraph but they decided to stretch it out into an entire semester. A few semesters ago diversity was just put into the context of certain classes and you gave a little one page report on it and that was it. How hard is it to understand that people are made of several cultural layers that effect who they are as a person and that we should be mindful of those layers as well as how we react to those layers and why? Hell, that only took a sentence.