Friday, October 12, 2012
Prejudice and Pride
It seems that Emory University is finally coming clean about decades of antisemitism in its
now-gone dental school. You can read about it here:
Emory's president, James Wagner, is apologising for the slimeball former dean and the equally slimy faculty collaborators who were responsible for victimizing the few Jewish students they admitted. They're also sponsoring a video about it. The former students feel vindicated, now that it's clear they didn't fail. Their school did, in most of the ways it's possible for an academic institution to fail. So now it's OK and we're all friends again, right?
Not hardly. I've got three words for Emory University: Talk is cheap. If you want to make amends, DO something. Not reparations. The affected students don't need them and likely wouldn't accept them if offered. Not affirmative action, either. That would be as laughable as it is unnecessary. What, then?
Put your school's money where your mouth is, Dr. Wagner. Take some proportionate share of the Emory endowment---$100,000 per affected student seems about right---and donate it to some appropriate charity. How about the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which supports the elderly and frequently poor Gentiles who helped Jews survive the Holocaust, as well as carrying out educational programs? Or Alyn Hospital, which is Israel's only children's rehabilitation hospital? Perhaps the former students themselves, or their survivors, could select the recipients.
Talking about feelings doesn't cut it.
Georgia Tech's Pride Alliance has just finished celebrating Coming Out Week, for the benefit of the Tech LGBT community. You can read about it here: http://pridealliance.gtorg.gatech.edu/Events/gtcow.php
This is the place I should explain that I have nothing against "LGBT's." The first gay man I knew (at least, the first one I knew was gay) was in college. He wasn't openly gay, naturally.
In the early 60's that was dangerous. But he was sort of effeminate, and guys would ask me why I was talking to "that fag." Because he was a nice guy, and funny, and interesting, mostly. Kind of artsy, as stereotypical as that sounds. We weren't close friends because our interests differed; mine were women and motorcycles, his...weren't. But we enjoyed talking from time to time and that was enough.
My neighborhood includes lesbian and gay people, too. One former neighbor and friend, a gay man, was also a colleague at Tech with whom I collaborated. He and his partner moved on, but there are several others. They're all good folks and I wish them well.
As to gay marriage, I'm mostly indifferent in the sense that if people want to marry, that's fine with me. I'm not going to be an advocate but if it came to a vote I'd mark "yes." In fact, I'll go further: Once we rule out exploiting children (which should be a death penalty offense) people should be free to do whatever pleases them. I not only don't care who one marries, I don't care how many of what one marries. If somebody wants to solemnize their deeply emotional, spiritual and physical relationship with a goat (billy or nanny) and an '86 Monte Carlo with a ragged vinyl top, that's fine with me. I just don't want to hear about it.
Which brings me to the point. I can understand and sympathize with people for not tolerating bigotry. I'll stand up for them in that effort. What I don't understand is people identifying themselves by their sex lives. If we have LGBT pride, why not BDSM? Given the success of the "Shades of Grey" books there must be a lot of them out there. Why not swingers? People in various forms of group marriage? Guys who like to be on top? C'mon, folks. Some things should be private, if not for your sake then for the rest of ours. If you want to be proud, do something. Achieve something, not for the sake of some hypothetical community of like-sexed people but for yourself. Let Tech, and everyone else, be proud of you.