American universities are aflame with race fever. Official committees on “racism and cultural diversity,” departmental commissioners of moral sanitation, and freelance vigilantes are in a state of high alert for signs (real or alleged) of “racism.” Their Argus-eyes maintain unrelaxing surveillance of statistical charts documenting failure to meet racial quotas in hiring and enrollment, of verbal insults by “white” students against “people of color,” and of classroom remarks by professors imprudent enough either to risk generalization about a group or to declare that generalizations about groups tell us nothing about individuals.
Such diligence rarely goes unrewarded. Since many American campuses have “populations” larger than hundreds of American cities, it is hardly remarkable that incidents of behavior less than saintly, including racial harassment, should occur. What is remarkable is the way in which such incidents are now regularly exploited by political opportunists, people Joseph Epstein has labeled “the intellectual equivalent of ambulance-chasers.” A few instances should suffice to illustrate the general pattern.
About the Author