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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Blindness in Academia

For John, BLUFWe are becoming more divided, not less.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

In the well-educated Northern imagination, the rural South is a vast, forbidding wasteland of poverty, prejudice, and despair.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, by PhD Candidate Adam Kirk Edgerton, 25 May 2018.

Here is the beginning:

When I arrived at the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate in 2004, I had a meeting with a professor who soon asked where in the state I had grown up.  I remember the moment distinctly because she was surprised that someone like me — gay, dressed entirely in pastels and white linen — came from such a place.  My county had a particularly terrible reputation thanks to a billboard on U.S. 70 welcoming drivers to the home of the Ku Klux Klan.  The billboard was unavoidable for families driving east to the beach, and it remained in place into the late 1970s.

Considering this reputation, my professor’s first question was, "How did you escape?"

The word "escape" has stuck with me.  She meant no harm, of course (and was one of my favorite professors), but it was my first of now countless experiences with the stereotypes applied to my place of birth.  At Chapel Hill, and to an even greater extent later at Harvard, I heard that I must be one of the "good ones" who had escaped a place known for racism, ignorance, homophobia, bigotry, sexism, and any other social ill that comes to mind.

That kind of crass regionalism creates well-earned suspicion of ivory-tower elites.  The stereotyping works in both directions.  Each sustains the other, leading to electoral results that help neither the professors up north nor the pig farmers where I grew up.  Regionalism creates openings for populists to exploit and worsen these divides.  These attitudes pit rural against urban, college-educated against non-college-educated.  If those of us in academe are truly so smart, we ought to be the ones taking the first step toward bridging this divide.

The author must feel strongly to write and have published this short piece.

Of course, this means that we have to provide some space for the Academics, as they should provide some space for us Deplorables.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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