Follow Up On Cancel Culture

Follow Up On Cancel Culture


Leonard Zwelling

On October 25 I wrote about a professor at the University of Chicago who was cancelled by MIT from delivering a talk there. His name is Dorian Abbot and he has an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on October 30. He explains the position that got him into difficulty.

Essentially it can be summed up in a single phrase, the respect of the individual in all aspects of human endeavors, but especially in academia. Dr. Abbot lays out his creed about how he handles his students, his course work and his views on admissions to universities. In the end he just wants to reward quality. He readily admits that many students have an unfair advantage in competing for spots in American universities. He attributes this to the high degree of variation in the quality of K through 12 education, but sees no reason that this shortfall on the part of many pre-university schools should burden the university in its selection of future graduates. Nor does Dr. Abbot believe there is an ideal percentage of whites, Blacks, and Latinos (oops, Latinx) in an entering college class. He says:

“I care for all of my students. None of them are overrepresented or underrepresented to me: They represent themselves.”

How refreshing that someone is willing to go on record for treating people as themselves rather than being part of a group. I am part of a group and for all I know that kept me out of Yale and got me into Duke. I was a male, Jewish Baby Boomer pre-med hopeful from the south shore of Long Island in 1966. There were hundreds like me and clearly Yale didn’t think I rose to their standards. Was it me as an individual or me as part of a group? Who knows? It doesn’t matter given how well Duke worked out for me. Even at Duke in 1966 I was clearly part of a minority. I was Jewish, a rare trait on that southern campus in 1966. But I found my way as do most people.

Dr. Abbot’s position clearly offends a lot of liberals who are strong proponents of affirmative action and believe that the only true measure of a successful admissions policy in a university is the racial distribution of the entering class.

Dr. Abbot also opposes the woke concept of trigger warnings when course content might offend a student or group of students. “It is true that someone will occasionally say something that hurts your feelings. But hurt feelings are no reason to ban certain topics.”

As Dr. Abbot points out, “we cannot control things that are external to us, such as the comments of others, but we can control how we respond to them.” To this day, I am confronted with various microaggressions about my ethnic background. So what! Get over yourself. That there are anti-Semites in the world is not news. That I choose to ignore their ignorance isn’t news either.

It is worth reading Dr. Abbot’s own words in the Journal’s op-ed. He seems so rational. Why anyone would choose to cancel him is beyond me, but I am having a tougher and tougher time tolerating the liberal agenda, the liberal trend toward cancel culture, and the liberal drive toward socialism in America.

That’s not my America and it clearly is not Dr. Abbot’s either.

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