Fear of Heresy Accusations, Then and Now

I’m currently reading The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe.  There’s an interesting section on the 7th-century monk Bede, a thoughtful scholar who wrote the first history of England.  A couple of centuries later, he would be known as the Venerable Bede, a Doctor of the Church…but back when he was just another monk:

He once heard that he had been accused of heresy by someone who was having dinner with a bishop.  He was aghast, he told his friend Plegwin, he went white.

Sure glad people don’t have to worry about things like that these days…but actually, this passage reminded me of something I read in the WSJ a few days ago.  It’s an excerpt from an article by Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor who–because of something she wrote in February–has been attacked by feminist students who tried to use Federal Title IX mechanisms to shut her down.  She was cleared of the charges against her, but says:

After the essay appeared, I was deluged with emails from professors applauding what I’d written because they were too frightened to say such things publicly themselves. My inbox became a clearinghouse for reports about student accusations and sensitivities, and the collective terror of sparking them, especially when it comes to the dreaded subject of trigger warnings, since pretty much anything might be a “trigger” to someone, given the new climate of emotional peril on campuses. . . .

A tenured professor on my campus wrote about lying awake at night worrying that some stray remark of hers might lead to student complaints, social-media campaigns, eventual job loss, and her being unable to support her child. I’d thought she was exaggerating, but that was before I learned about the Title IX complaints against me.

13 thoughts on “Fear of Heresy Accusations, Then and Now”

  1. The early nazi demonstrations, such as the 1934 book burning, and many of the moscow riots in the late ‘teens were largely university students, encouraged by a minority of faculty. It was artists and philosophers and intellectuals, not peasants in either case.

  2. I cannot find my copy of “Diary of a Man in Despair” at the moment, but IIRC the author (who lived through the whole Nazi nightmare until they got him) said that the people he knew that became the most enthusiastic Nazis schoolteachers and minor government officials (post-office workers, etc)…he also said women tended to be on average more pro-Nazi than men. .I don’t think he mentioned university professors as a major pro-Nazi category, but my recollection could be mistaken. Certainly, there were high-profile cases of pro-Nazi university intellectuals such as Heidegger, and Peter Drucker personally observed cases of famous professors caving in immediately, but I’m not sure that intellectuals were as strong a force behind Naziism as they were behind Communism. I’d be interested in any data/analysis you can point me to, AVI.

  3. Apparently, United Airlines has fired the flight attendant who would not give the Muslim woman an unopened coke on a flight. There are more than one heresy.

    This looks to me like more battlespace preparation for another attack. The original error was to place Muslims in a protected class of airline passengers in 1998.

  4. So the same program intellectuals who have turned our campuses into swamps of political correctness are complaining about sinking into the quicksand?

    Where’s that teeny tiny violin…

  5. Consider a world in which a college administrator apologizes for saying “all lives matter.” That is what we’ve come to.

    But I figure there’s enough of that old “Born Fighting” in our instincts, enough of us who don’t play well with others, that that can’t last long. It isn’t in our genes, it isn’t in our language. Of course, that may be understood and the reason for the planeloads of immigrants dropped across the country or the multiple language choices. But it’s too big a country and too inbred, I think, to really become, well, cowed.

  6. What we’re witnessing is an example of extremists trying to ‘out-extremist’ each other, as a sign of their devotion to the cause.
    There’s also the aspect of, with the description of the ‘feelings’ discussions, of these of the groups appearing less as intellectual classes and more like a prayer meeting.

  7. I was mostly provoked by professors, somewhat like in the “Paper Chase”. I always learned the most in such classes.

  8. Reading the comments on neoneocon:

    “it seems like conservative blog comment sections have been taken over by rampant female bashing of the worst kind. ”

    I was struck by this. Is this true or an example of female sensitivity run amok?

    I do see some men support rhetoric that is bit excessive but I don’t see this in most sites.

  9. It is also my perception.

    (Attributing a commenter’s point to “female sensitivity run amok” is a crack I would not have expected to see on a conservative blog five years ago – one might have seen instead “Is this true or is this person crazy?” or some similar formulation – but it is the sort of thing that is commonplace now. Fish don’t see water.)

  10. Reading the comments on neoneocon:
    “it seems like conservative blog comment sections have been taken over by rampant female bashing of the worst kind. ”

    I saw that and it seemed really odd to me too. I think it was a false flag operation.

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