A couple of weeks ago we had to have a discussion circle about how students deal with mental health and what that might be like in graduate school. Sounds fairly innocuous and perhaps even useful, right? Wrong.
The moderator of my circle looks exactly like a model SJW. Not quite Trigglypuff, but pretty damn close. Sort of overweight woman, hairy arms (and face), a PhD candidate in some grievance studies field. Afflicted with all sorts of mental disorders and sure proud of it. That’s a bizarre thing, isn’t it? The people there went on and on about their various mental health issues as if they were badges to be put on girl scout sashes. One after the other, they one-upped each other. “You have depression and it sometimes affects your day? Well I have depression and I can’t even do my homework!” “Oh yeah, well I have to stay in bed for two weeks sometimes!” “Well I tried to kill myself once!” These are not trivial things and should be taken as seriously as physical injuries and treated as such. I used to have severe depression and anxiety issues, but I got through it because I realized it wasn’t a necessary condition of my existence.
Anyway, there were a few standard questions about what we do to take care of ourselves and I was feeling fine about everything. Then, on the fourth question, the moderator asked, “How do your intersecting identities affect your mental health?” A parade of rather predictable responses followed. “I’m black, so nobody expects me to succeed, which is why I fail so often.” “I’m a woman, so I often feel as if I am supposed to be in the kitchen instead of the study.” And so on. I was the last one.
I thought about it for a second and decided to take a stand (paraphrasing): “I don’t think about my intersecting identities. It simply isn’t useful. It’s more useful to think of myself as an individual and not subject myself to imaginary group pressures because that leads to pathology. I prefer to grant myself agency and allow that I have the power to determine my course regardless of these happenstance characteristics.”
The circle became visibly tense and the people next to me were physically repulsed. The moderator looked at me and sneered, “White male.” Seriously, she said that.
I was a bit taken aback. I smirked a bit (it is rather funny) and said something to the effect of, “There are words to describe people who make assumptions on the basis of skin color and gender, and they aren’t particularly nice. And I’m actually Mexican–” She interrupted me, saying, “Well, you have very light skin.” Can you imagine the nerve of this woman? Seriously, she said that.
Of course, I’m paraphrasing my own words here because I don’t remember exactly what I said. I responded, “That’s quite the observation. What you can’t tell by my skin color and gender [she assumed my gender! The nerve of some people] is that I am on the autism spectrum. What you can’t tell is that my parents divorced when I was very young, that my family lost everything in the Great Recession, that my grandparents grew up in boxcars, that my parents never finished college, that my parents were abused as children, that I have had many personal struggles. These aren’t the things you can get out of melanin and genitalia…” I went on for some time like that and we went back and forth a few more times, with other students jumping in to tell me how insensitive I was being.
The experience has stuck in my mind for quite some time. This thing really matters. When I was growing up, it was absolutely not okay to talk to people like that in any setting. Now, in a conversation about mental health, it’s suddenly okay to condemn white males simply for being white males? One of my friends, a traditional Muslim from Somalia, told me he self-censored throughout the discussion simply because he didn’t want to be condemned. Needless to say, I’m the black sheep of the group now. And that’s basically fine with me. But there is something horribly wrong if it has become okay to behave like this.
The Left is insane. The Right has its issues, but at least I’m certain they don’t want me dead. When the Revolution comes, I don’t doubt for a second that my head will be on a pike next to yours and my capitalist father’s. I’m scared to death of these people. I have God and monetary policy, but all I can really talk about is the latter. I’m no fan of Donald Trump’s, but I will be voting for him without a moment’s hesitation in 2020. In no time at all, I went from a cosmopolitan libertarian who was in the good graces of the Left to one of the deplorables because of an instance of wrongthink.
A whole generation is being raised on this racist, sexist hate. Universities are increasingly for indoctrination, not education. What sort of citizens are these people going to make? Even if it were to stop now, the damage already done to society is going to go on for decades.