Dennett — Thank you for your heart felt response.
Gail Boenning

Hi Gail..please forgive the interruption, but I was gleaning through the thread between you and Dennett . I had never heard of this person by the name of Jonathan Haidt. I try to look at others point of view, because my job is to see the world through lenses different than my own. I read you and Dennett on Medium for several years now, and yes, like you, I believe we are probably more alike than not, and since politics have been such a divisive issue, one should take the time to see the world from another set of eyes.

I happened upon this gentleman’s blog and read through some of his pieces.

2) Where microaggressions really come from. (2015) This is my summary of an extraordinary essay by sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning. They show how a new “culture of victimhood” is emerging on America’s most progressive college campuses in which the main paths to gaining prestige are either to advertise one’s victimhood or to attack others in the name of defending victims. This culture weakens students and guarantees unending strife. This essay is essential reading for anyone who thinks that campus protesters’ demands for more sensitivity training, affirmative action, and ethnic studies centers are going to help future students feel less marginalized on campus. In fact, those measures are likely to backfire. College presidents and deans who accede to their demands are committing their institutions to a firmer embrace of victimhood culture, which means that in a few years they can expect: thinner skins, more anger, more feelings of marginalization, more accusations of racism/sexism, more restrictions on free speech, and more demands for… more victimhood culture. This could turn into a death spiral for any college that starts down this path. But once a university has lost its political diversity, there may be nobody left on campus who is willing to stand up and say “um, maybe this is a bad idea, here’s another way to look at things.” For more on microaggressions, see Lilienfeld’s 2017 analysis and critique of the concept, and my commentary on Lilienfeld, pointing out that microaggression training teaches the opposite of ancient wisdom.

I have done a bit of research upon which these two sociologists who base their claims upon issues like microagressions, which Jonathan Haidt finds to be somewhat problematic on college campuses, that it puts a gag on what some would define as “political diversity”, that is somehow backfires in its inception. Unfortunately, what these sociologists and Jonathan Haidt have done is to minimize the issue of safe spaces and triggers that happen on college campuses that do injure those who are marginalized and gives unequal power to those who continue to perpetrate it.

By Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning JULY 09, 2015

These days, if you have spent much time on a college campus, you have probably heard of microaggressions. The term dates to the 1970s, but only in recent years has it become prominent among campus activists and others on the political left. Microaggressions are remarks perceived as sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive to a marginalized social group. Those popularizing the concept say that even though the offenses are minor and sometimes unintentional, repeatedly experiencing them causes members of minority groups great harm, which must be redressed.

In reading their thesis on the matter of micro aggressions, I did notice several things. As sociologists, they did not look at how micro aggressions truly affect those it truly demeans, even if said comments were said carelessly.

Like you, one should make the effort to see the world through the eyes of others, for it does build traits like empathy and compassion, which is something we all can agree the world needs a bit more of. However, just in reading a bit of Jonathan Haidts material, he does not challenge his readers to investigate further into realms of reality, different than their own. In fact, Mr. Haidt’s views are somewhat inclusive to a particular group or tribe that may actually be causing micro-aggressions to flourish.

Micro aggressions are a true and verifiable action that is perpetrated by the dominant group, who, in this case in time, happen to be Anglo-Saxon ( white) people’s on campus. Its very sad that these particular sociologists have not done their proper research, thus only giving a partial view.

A microaggression is the casual degradation of any marginalized group. The term was coined by psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans.[1][2][3][4] Eventually, the term came to encompass the casual degradation of any socially marginalized group, such as the poor or the disabled.[5] Psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership”.[6]

He describes microaggressions as including statements that repeat or affirm stereotypes about the minority group or subtly demean them. They also position the dominant culture as normal and the minority one as aberrant or pathological, that express disapproval of or discomfort with the minority group, that assume all minority group members are the same, that minimize the existence of discrimination against the minority group, seek to deny the perpetrator’s own bias, or minimize real conflict between the minority group and the dominant culture.[10] In conducting two focus groups with Asian-Americans, Sue proposed eight distinct themes of racial microaggression:[11]

Alien in own land: When people assume Asian-Americans are foreigners or from a different country.[11]

E.g.: “So where are you really from?” or “Why don’t you have an accent?”

Ascription of intelligence: When Asian-Americans are stereotyped as being intelligent or assumed to be smart.[11]

E.g.: “You people always do well in school.” or “If I see a lot of Asian students in my class, I know it’s going to be a hard class.”

Denial of racial reality: This is when a person emphasizes that an Asian-American doesn’t experience any discrimination, implying there are no inequalities towards them.[11] It correlates to the idea of model minority.

Exoticization of Asian-American women: It stereotypes non-white Americans in the exotic category. They are being stereotyped by their physical appearance and gender based on media and literature.[11] One example is Asian-American women portrayed as the submissive or obedient type; they are also seen as Dragon Lady or Lotus Blossom. On the other hand, Asian-American men are portrayed as being emasculated or seen as nerdy, weak men.

If you notice, these types of comments eventually wear down a person’s psyche, because the dominant culture has consistently over time demeaned this person by imposing their own “ cultural” view upon another, without taking into consideration of how said comment may be hurtful.

For example, if one who has never been a stay at home mom made a rude comment like, “ oh, you’re a stay at home mom? It must be nice to sit around watching TV and eating bonbons all day, I wish I could do that!” to you, I suspect you would be a bit pissed. Obviously, being a stay at home mom is the HARDEST job on the planet, because I know, because I’ve done it. But the perception of others, who have never “experienced” it, comes through in their comments to you, after a while you can experience feelings of inadequacy, which in turn, can affect your mindset in being a stay at home mom.

Or maybe you have experienced someone questioning your intelligence factor because you were a woman. That micro aggression can be awful to hear, because I believe that gender has nothing to do with how smart you are, but the dominant group may have you believe otherwise…

I experience micro aggressions on a daily basis, unfortunately, and its by those who have never walked in my shoes. Comments like…

  • You speak English so well( I would hope so, English is my first language, even though I am not white)
  • Your people are so nice ( I’m of Filipino descent, but isn’t everyone nice?)
  • Don’t you people eat dog? ( yes, but in a country that sees “dog” as a meat source, and not a pet, but then again the French eats snails, but they are not looked down upon)

I apologize for the lengthy response, its just that I work with marginalized groups on college campuses, who struggle on a daily basis to stay in college, from different ethnicities to different gender and sexual preferences, and they just want access to higher education, just like anyone else, without being harassed and psychologically harmed while doing it…

I will leave this video with you, which was created by a good friend of mine, his name is Lee Mun Wah. He has taught in the professional and private sectors when it comes to diversity, which Dennett knows all about, and my hope is that you can see another point of view, so that we can all contribute to making the world a better place, without being political about it.

Gail, in reading your stories here on Medium, I have been able to see the world through your eyes, as a successful businesswoman, to a wonderful writer with Stuart, to reading about your adventures with your son and family. Thats the great thing about Medium, is seeing and reading others works, through their own cultural lenses. I thank you for your time.