Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part IV: Conservatism is a mental illness

Prof. John Stackhouse sitting atop his endowed perch as Regent College’s Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology, wrote:

You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.

I have been reflecting on why Prof. Stackhouse became so defensive and irate with me for having spoken “blunt” opinions on his blog about affirmative action.  I said that affirmative action waters down the academy by giving less qualified candidates jobs, discriminates against white men and Asians, and shifts jobs from white males to white females.  When I mentioned my own experience of seeing myself and other adjuncts passed systematically in favor of female candidates, he said that in order to create social change some people have to suffer and even he himself has suffered.  Then I became cheeky and said, oh do tell about your suffering–it must be really hard for a full-time professor with a real job with benefits–that really sounds like suffering compared to Adjunct Hell.  That’s when he said that I was full of bitterness and rage.  But why would he do this, I ask myself, to a minority half Asian that I am.  Is it because he is a racist?

I found this blog post by church planter and pastor Wayne Park in which he reviews Soong-Chan Rah’s recent book The Next Evangelicalism.  According to Park, Rah’s book says that by numbers, brown Evangelicals are starting to dominate the scene:  Evangelical Asians, Hispanic and blacks, such as Haitians, are beginning to out number whites, while the whites continue to dominate the structures.  There Park refers to Rah’s contention that bi-cultural Christians are key to multi-ethinic ministry, citing Rah:

The cautious, sensitive biculturalism… is the perfect postmodern prescription for the heroic triumphalism of modernity. Furthermore the call to listen and to gauge others before speaking and acting provides a model for multiethnic ministry… cannot occur without the unique skills offered by bicultural Americans.

The author Rah himself visited the Park’s blog and mentions that when he has broken out of that quiet mold, he is interpreted as angry:

I do think our bi-cultural identity, our willingness to more reflective and to be third culture (as Dave Gibbons puts it) is a definitive plus. I think it will serve us well to accept the ways we live out our identity. What’s interesting to me, however, is that when Asian-Americans break out of that mode/mold, we are labeled as angry and confrontational. As one of my Korean-American colleagues put it, my passion is often mistaken for anger by the majority culture.

Because Park had participated in the dialogue with Stackhouse that led to my banishment, I commented on Park’s blog, hoping that Rah was still tuning in:

Wayne Park, Soong-Chan Rah:
I wonder how you interpret Prof. Stackhouse’s reaction to my admittedly cheeky comments on his blog, saying that it was a clear sign of my rage and bitterness? But you know I gave up being involved in theological education in North America 12 years ago, and am now a DIY investor. If there is no place for me in the evangelical theological education today except in Africa, where I have multiple contacts and many invitations that I could take up, it is because I am perceived as uppity and angry, because I am not willing to keep my mouth shut about the injustices that I see.

Isn’t this what you both are talking about: “What’s interesting to me, however, is that when Asian-Americans break out of that mode/mold, we are labeled as angry and confrontational.” When I complained against affirmative action that it has merely passed privilege in the academy from white males to white females (and I referred to ATS statistics to back up what I was saying) and that Asians have become the new Jews–i.e., subject to quotas, Stackhouse freaked out and blocked me from his blog, telling me in an e-mail that I needed counseling. Thanks for this post, Wayne. Because I’m only half Korean, I’ve always lived and worked among the dominant White culture (BTW, I’m 47, my grandparents came to Hawaii as children among the emigration of Koreans from 1902-1905). I am NEVER aware when I am being treated as just a normal everyday guy or when I am being perceived and treated as an Asian. I’ve always assumed that I’m just like everyone else; so when I’m mistreated (as Stackhouse clearly became ad hominem instead of sticking with the issues), I should just see myself as part of the mistreated white guy category. But maybe my perspective is completely wrong. Of course, I’m also conservative, so it could just be the liberal hegemony in education reacting to my conservatism: my conservatism leads me to promote meritocracy as opposed to affirmative action–as the best way to assure fairness. Asians are harmed by affirmative action and would be greatly benefited by a system of meritocracy, especially in admissions to universities.

I haven’t heard back from Park or Rah.  But I think that Stackhouse’s reaction to me is not racism but my final suggestion.  He saw me espousing pretty solid, mainline conservative views about affirmative action.  So he reacted as any good liberal and concluded that I was a lunatic.  He wrote to me in an e-mail:  “Honestly, I believe you need to get professional counseling to deal with this rage.”  Liberals in academia consider conservatism to be a mental illness.  So for example after googling “Conservatism is a mental illness” I found some surreal articles in which apparently serious academics had done studies which determined that conservatives are deranged.  In one such article, the writer concludes:

Whether it be an unfortunate evolutionary holdover or a mental disease transmitted by our parents—the science is apparently still up in the air—academic researchers have surely amassed enough evidence of psychopathology that conservatism can listed in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Reasonable people, such as the distinguished academic researchers cited here, will no doubt agree that until effective treatments can be developed, we should reconsider whether sufferers of conservatism, like other mental defectives, should be allowed freely to exercise the franchise.

Ok.  So I think that article was satirical but it actually cites a number of academic studies which conclude that conservatism is a pathology.  I don’t think these two articles are satire:

Conservatism As A Mental Disorder – And A Threat, by WaltKelly

Is Conservatism a Mental Illness? states:

Resentment has always appeared to be at the core of modern conservatism. Now it has grown into a visceral aggressive motivation. Greed and [sic] has always been a part of it too, but the current conservatism is rife with selfishness and total disregard for others.

That pretty much describes to a tee Prof. Stackhouse’s view me.  Thus, his insular, provincial world view will not allow him to see me as anything more than a resentful, angry, greedy conservative bent on destroying everything wonderful that he has ever devoted his life to, the liberal diversity project in a Christian setting.  It is sad really.  Because of it, he is blinded to being able to see that the issues that I raise are serious: (1) dropping academic standards; (2) the exploitation of white adjuncts in higher education; (3) discrimination of overachieving minorities (viz. Asians and Jews) and the favoring of targeted minorities and women; (4) young men and boys dropping out, resulting from the favoring of girls and women and feminized schools; (5) The quest for diversity in the West is leading to a robbery of resources from the global church (reproduce below)[update: I see that Prof. Stackhouse has now graciously acknowledge this point].  He’s sees me as motivated by rage, while I am merely holding to the principled and mainstream conservative values of meritocracy and free market.

________________________________________________________________

comment 15669 @ stackblog.wordpress.com, by Peter W. Dunn

Prof. Stackhouse’s post also brings up another sensitive point for me. While it is true that a diverse faculty of highly qualified professors may be able to enrich students, one has to be very careful about how to go about creating such a faculty. I see two concerns:

(1) First, effective professors must understand the context that they are working in. This is why I believe, e.g., that an African can be much more effective in Africa than a Westerner, and I have personally worked towards developing francophone African faculty for francophone Africa. If you allow this my first premise, then the important thing for North American faculty is to have professors who can function effectively in the North America context–I would argue that that would mean, in most cases, people who know the culture here intimately and who speak English (and potentially French and Spanish) as their first language of education.

(2) Secondly, faculties esp. in North America which are in quest of deepening the diversity of their faculty may overlook the first need, at least from a global standpoint. We have experienced cases where African professors are recruited to enrich North American faculties (that is if you don’t have a jaded view that they are just trying to put a black face on their faculty page!); this results in a widening of gap between the few who are available to serve in places like Africa and the superabundance of resources here, where many white males with PhDs languish in underemployment.

The North American quest for diversity is therefore damaging to the global church. But it is not just the church that suffers from this brain drain. It is also true of other disciplines besides theology. So Prof. Stackhouse, you can kick yourself in the pants for not having more diversity, but at least you haven’t, hopefully, gone to the point of pillaging resources from the global church.

 

 

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One thought on “Hath not a half Korean eyes? Part IV: Conservatism is a mental illness

  1. Wow. Those links about conservatism being a mental illness were kind of creepy. Especially the second. The responses to the couple of conservatives who commented were quite telling. They basically said, “yeah, you would say that, crazy”. It’s actually a Marxist concept – false conciousness, and it’s an awfully convenient way to dismiss and dehumanize those you disagree with, while claiming to be helping them.

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