Educating the Demos

The following was written as a comment on the NY Times website in reaction to an essay by columnist David Brooks:

In an otherwise politically neutral salutation to John McCain, columnist David Brooks couldn’t seem to resist getting a wrong-headed and divisive dig in against educated progressives. “Donald Trump and the campus multiculturalists want to organize people by ethnic tribe,” he wrote. He is grossly mistaken. Mr. Trump wants to organize people by an ethnic hierarchy in which white people of western European descent are considered somehow better, safer, or more deserving than brown people of Mexican or Middle Eastern descent; public statements during the campaign and policy initiatives attempted since (but so far blocked) support my claim. Faculty, staff and students on college campuses exist to welcome and educate students of all ethnic backgrounds; they do so to be inclusive, not exclusive; they do so to be equitable; and they do so to implement the very paideia – the education of the polis – that Brooks calls for. I will proudly wear the label “campus multiculturalist” as I welcome the traditions of Greek democracy (of which paideia is a part) alongside and equal to the traditions brought to my campus by Native students and faculty, Asian students and faculty, African students and faculty, and students descended from the European colonists of three hundred years ago. Brooks cannot equate the perspective of an individual who supports (or at least does not decry) white supremacists with the collective perspectives of thousands of thoughtful academics, whose mission is to educate the demos equitably.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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