Tunnel of Oppression

The University of Kansas has declared this week to be “Hate Out Week,” which apparently means that the University will spend five days focusing even more energy on issues of diversity and political correctness. The highlight of this is almost always the “Tunnel of Oppression,” a gimmick in which students are exposed to scenes, depictions, skits, and information regarding oppression. A liberal friend of mine was talking about it, and we decided to check the thing out.

First I’d like to specify some ideological and political issues I have with this exercise. The concepts of oppression and violence are now so currently watered down and politicized that anything anyone does can be seen as oppressive or even violent, based upon how someone else chooses to view the act. Everything from the fact that I’m white to the fact that my parents never divorced can be seen as evidence of my priviledge and my participation in oppression. The only purpose of this line of thinking is to de-legitimate any opinions other than the approved doctrine of diversity and political correctness, which or course presents Leftist politics as the only enlightened choice.

Also, at the beginning of the exercise, the young man leading us on the tour specifically stated that the experience was not meant to make anyone feel guilty. Well, that’s not a fully true statement. It was designed to make specific groups of people feel guilty. It was designed to make some people feel oppressed. It was designed to make everyone aware of how oppressive and unfair our culture is, with the assumption that a way must be found to fix this inequity.

So, on to some specifics.

I was surprised to see that some stereotypes of white people and the wealthy were addressed, if only cursorily. Depictions of rednecks and white trash were portrayed as harmful along with other depictions of racism and sexism, and some references to dismissing wealthy people as snobs were made. Many of the depictions of racism were rather poigniant, although some of the incidents mentioned were more dated (I would have references incidents that were as recent as possible). Some displays addressed domestic violence, and some even dealt with body issues and self-image, which is something I don’t mind seeing, especially since these displays were not solely focused on women. I was quite pleased to notice that the display on genocide mentioned the Holodomor, something the Left likes to forget about.

The biggest issue I had was when we came to the media displays, which were supposed to demonstrate intolerance in the media or something. The first display dealt with racism. It featured a brief video addressing racism toward hispanics. The video, produced by Media Matters — a group formed for the express purpose of making Bill O’Reiley look as bad as possible by taking his quotes out of context — show clips from the O’Reiley Factor and Glenn Beck in which O’Reiley and Beck talked about problems stemming from illegal immigration. By conflating legal immigration and illegal immigration, the video effectively portrayed concern over following immigration law into hatred of anyone from another country, a popular canard employed by the Left. This one display not only managed to demonize selected political commentators, but also made it clear that choosing the wrong side of a legitimate political issue — illegal immigration — was tantamount to racism.

A minor complaint I had was reliance upon the Southern Poverty Law Center for information in a display on hate groups. Sure, there are hate groups, and they have member that are often ignorant and stupid, but the SPLC has been known for emphasizing white supremacist groups while being less willing to notice racist minority groups, like the Black Panthers and hispanic seperatist groups. I’m not saying that this information shouldn’t have been used, but some additional sources would have been nice. The displays featuring hate groups also represented the Westboro Baptist Church (home of famed hatemonger Fred Phelps) several times, a bit out of propertion to the group’s membership and influence.

The last display we came to, the “Window of Oppression,” had a few things I took issue with as well. One segment depicted a transgender person having a problem deciding which restroom to use, as there are very few gender neutral restrooms on campus. I can see how this might be of some concern, although I am more likley to suggest that a transgender person who is not currently presenting as explicitly female should use the restroom appropriate to that person’s physical sex. (I am not up on the current ettiquite regarding this issue, so if there are better ways of dealing with this problem I’m open to hearing them.) What I took issue with was the label for this scene, which stated simply: “Transgender Violence.” I’m sorry, but to anyone other than a Leftist eager to portray any thought, opinion, or action he or she doesn’t like as violent, a lack of a gender neutral restroom is not a violent act. I’m sure several more explicit examples of real violence toward trasgendered persons could have been found, and would not have trivialized the issue, either.

After the tour, the group went into an office and spoke with an organizer from the event. He requested that everyone in the group talk about what impacted them the most. This actually disturbed me, as I could not see the value in forcing someone top speak on what could potentially have been a traumatic experience (I suppose) in front of complete strangers. The desire to feast upon the anguish of others as proof of oppression seemed to be more important than actually taking an understanding of what they were presenting as a valuable experience.

All in all, I suppose that the displays weren’t too bad. I think the method of touring the displays via a “Tunnel of Oppression” was a little more melodramatic than it needed to be. There were pretty blatant political overtones,however, with the implication that anything other than politically correct views were hateful and oppressive. I think that featuring displays in a classroom discussion setting could have made the same points and allowed for a more meaningful dialogue beyond showing the attendees what is bad and what is good.

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