Playing in the Dark: Racial Repression and the New Campus Crusade for Diversity
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This essay explores the new conservative assault on the university and the relative silence on the part of progressives in response to this challenge. In part, this retreat is a consequence of the vulnerabilities and anxieties of workers in the academy that result from the ongoing corporatization of the university as well as the pervasive culture of fear that permeates the US in the wake of 9/11, which tends to punish critique as anti-American. As important as such factors are, the current analysis focuses more inwardly on processes of internalization and normalization of the tenets of professionalism and (neo)liberalism in the post-civil rights American academy. Upon careful reexamination of the 'culture wars' of the 80s and 90s, it locates part of an explanation for such confounding quiet in the ideals that marked the university's 'multicultural turn.' The often limp endorsement and bland acceptance of principles such as 'nondiscrimination,' 'diversity,' and 'openness' in the abstract enabled the Right's ruthless appropriation of the vision and language of civil rights, turning fact and history on their heads.
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