Is this just cuckoo? Is this just the radical opposite of what trump is doing?

Like the old days...student activism has come back with a vengence. On the BBC:

Harvard abolishes 'master' in titles in slavery row

Harvard University in the US is going to remove the word "master" from academic titles, after protests from students who claimed the title had echoes of slavery.

House masters, in charge of residential halls at the university, will become known as "faculty deans".

Harvard Law School is also deciding whether to change its official seal, because of links to slavery.

US campuses have faced a series of protests over allegations of racism.

Harvard has not agreed that the use of "master" represented a link to slavery, but it has accepted campaigners' calls for a name change.

It will mean changing the job titles of 24 members of staff - but will not affect other uses of "master", such as a master's level degree.

Harvard academics say that the word "master" derives from the Latin term "magister" - a form of address for scholars or teachers. It is similar to terms such as "school master" or "head master".

[Full article]


This is an example of the recent discussion here. An example of postmodern militants on university campuses in Candad, US and UK indeed.

I vote: totally cuckoo.

Views: 373

Comment by Unseen on February 26, 2016 at 8:31pm

Coal is no longer black. It's very very dark gray.

On a world map, would they countenance a river named "Niger"?

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 27, 2016 at 5:45am


Don't think for a second that the shockwaves from political correctness (as started out on university campuses) hasn't had a massive effect on the Western world. There's no doubt it effects even the way you say or don't say some things and it definitely has a major effect on political discourse and political decisions everywhere. 

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 27, 2016 at 9:10am

edit major error:

Explaining why removing one term (niggardly) is praiseworthy while removing another hypothetical (master) is questionable, is not an easy thing to do. Intuitively I'd argue that if the term isn't isn't inherently offensive (master is not), if it describes the oppressor and not the oppressed, if it is not clearly disparaging of a group (a pejorative), if mental gymnastics have to be performed to explain why this word might offend some people who happened to think it up, and if next to no one in the English speaking world associates the term in ordinary English with slave-oppression (or that not a single person flinches or raises their eyebrows when the word master is used) then we have a very dubious case behind removing it.

It comes from hyper-active identity-politics post-modern student-coddling movement well linked to shutting people on campus up and bullying those with differing opinions.

Comment by Unseen on February 27, 2016 at 12:06pm

You can see the effect this sort of stuff has had on the upcoming election, where for Trump fighting "political correctness" has become a major issue.

His pledge to bring "Merry Christmas" back to the department stores, for example, turns up in most of his stump speeches. 

Many Americans are tired of people correcting them and guilt-tripping them for their beliefs and taking away the perquisites of being the majority.

Comment by Pope Beanie on February 27, 2016 at 7:11pm

@Davis Agreed... I wasn't saying that political correctness is always trivial, just saying that this example is relatively benign.

In fact it's way too easy to find more significant examples, so I'll play devil's advocate instead. White conservatives love to question the validity of political correctness of white people not using the word nigger, when blacks can. Are they misinformed, insensitive, or just pointing to political correctness as a liberal evil?

Comment by Pope Beanie on February 27, 2016 at 7:19pm

I wonder, since concept of "postmodernism" is so dear to your heart and posts, give us an informative link or two wrt what it is supposed to mean? I'm usually thinking "deconstruction just for the sake of deconstructionism, as in invalidating anything and everything just because one can".

Comment by Unseen on February 27, 2016 at 8:39pm

When a black person uses the word "nigger" it doesn't have a scurrilous history in the black community as a term of scorn. In the black community, it can be used as a synonym for "buddy" or "pal." It's not used abusively. White people can't use the term without the connotations of white on black abuse coming along with it.

Comment by Pope Beanie on February 27, 2016 at 9:17pm

Along the same lines as banning the confederate flag, right? Or at least that's the way a lot more people used to perceive it.

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 10:12am

Postmodernism means different things depending on the topic. One is the fine arts, the other is identity politics and the last is philosophy. This will be a long post.

When it comes to postmodern art, literature, architecture, dance, design etc. it means breaking the old rules, presenting the world in a non-absolute sense (a lack of certainty...or moral ambiguity), often adding the absurd/surreal, playing with the structure of the work, challenging the audience/readers etc. Recurring themes are capitalism, the plight of women/non-whites/homosexuals-trans, power structures, the new modern age, the tyrrany of big science, exotic culture, inequality etc.

Some of it turns out great (think the "Life of Pi" by Yan Martel. Or the Guggenheim building in New York and Bilbao. Then there are the musical works of Arvo Part. You're also probably familiar with somepost-modern Art. We can all enjoy much of it. Much of it (perhaps the majority of it) is total nonsense garbage...or a one-trick-pony again and again. For many painters have put up single coloured canvasses? Or taking a normal song and applying fuzz ontop of it...with a recording of driving down a road...with fuzz added. Often it is utterly incomprehensibe babble (even in the form of dance) like this. Try this poem by James Galvin:

We don’t belong to each other.                       We belong together.                                                                     Some poems  belong together to prove the intentionality of subatomic particles.                                       Some poems eat with scissors.                                                      Some poems are like kissing a  porcupine.                     God, by the way, is disappointed in some of your recent  choices.                Some poems swoop.                                                    When she said my eyes were  definitely blue, I said, How can you see that in the dark?                                      How can you not? she said, and that was like some poems.                                                                                   Some poems are  blinded three times.                                    Some poems go like death before dishonor.

It's certainly a little more comprehensible than a lot of post modern work but it's still mostly meaningless babble.


Slightly similar to this is post modern philosophy which claims that everything is a social construction, science is just one view (perhaps no better or worse than any other), there is no authority on any subject, non-western religion is untouchable, morality is always totally relative, power structures dominate modern narratives (the word narrative is used a lot). Many believe that extraordinary opportunity and protection should be given to women, homosexuals and non-white people because in the current narrative they are so oppressed and oppression of them dominate every thread of society they should be completely protected from offensive words and actions (hence on university the closing down of speeches by non-identity-theory speakers and the censoring of texts in class that might trigger a traumatic moment in the life of a woman or non-white person). Notably...they tend to be extremely critical of western narratives including mistreatment of woman and the need to enshrine more rights...and yet they come across a logical must respect other cultures as relative to others...and since all non-white people are oppressed...we cannot force our own standards on them. So you have radical feminists defending the portion of Muslims in countries in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who treat their women as domestic slaves and sex toys. They seem to be silent on the persecution of homosexuals in Iran (it probably happens because the west oppresses them). Every problem in the world can be reduced to western capitalism and the colonialism that "ended" 50 years ago or so. Some of their accomplishments are commendable (hilighting the problems that women/homosexuals/non-whites face) but a lot of it is babble, grand claims with no evidence, bullying those who disagree and writing texts no one really understands.


Post modern philosophy is the worst of the bunch. It is somewhat of an absolute opposite to philosophy. We cannot know anything for sure. Most take it past that and say empirical/rational/scientific thinking is an illusion and not a better form of understanding the world (can the world even be understood?). They often show a complete lack of understanding even basic scientific concepts. Ethics is totally relative (even though post-modernists endlessly criticize western culture for their immorality). Their texts try to break down centuries old traditions of philosophy and disect it and deconstruct it. Like often ends up as one large critique of  the narratives of rich white men going to war with the world. It is all 99% meaningless because...every work of theirs is one half "there is no certainty, no way to affirm one idea or another, morality is relative" and the other half "this is why the world has so many problems and this is a list of the horrific things rich-white-men do". That cannot claim one view is better than the other or even more useful than here is the view that just about all of us have and repeat all the time.

Hope this helps.

Comment by Davis Goodman on February 28, 2016 at 10:33am

(keep in mind that these critiques are on post-modern philosophy and identity theory...not necesarily the postmodernism of the fine arts:

A good link by Chomsky on Postmodernism.

A quote by Christopher Hitchens

“The Postmodernists' tyranny wears people down by boredom and semi-literate prose.”

Rhichard Dawkins on Postmodernism:


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