I read an opinion piece recently by a scholar whose name I’ve already forgotten. He teaches at one of those underfunded public universities where with just teensy weensy public attention he can become a star. He’s staked his ten minutes of fame on the premise that area studies (African-American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies; LGBTQ Studies, Disability Studies and the like) are simply “grievance studies” designed to falsify the truth in the service of teaching students unscientific and hence faulty logic. This is the same guy who a couple of years co-wrote a series of ersatz academic articles laden with specialized jargon as a publicity stunt.
Yes, I’ve already forgotten his name.
A lack of curiosity and empathy with the histories and struggles of historically marginalized peoples doesn’t make you a great philosopher. It only means you’ve decided who’s paying for your lunch.
I could look up his name but I don’t want to.
HIs lunch? Courtesy of conservative blogs and news outlets.
Did anyone ever tell you you didn’t belong in the room?
It’s happened to me over and over because of my disability.
It’s happened at the university where I currently teach.
Do I have a grievance?
I’ve moral outrage and a commitment to understanding how prejudice works, how its transmitted from generation to generation, and how bigotry can be so easily acculturated as to be considered nearly compulsory.
That makes me American.
BTW the scholar mentioned above is an ardent follower of Richard Dawkins who, in his perfervid desire to put Charles Darwin on everyone’s wall, has done more for social Darwinism with its disdain for the disabled than almost anyone, save Peter Singer.
If you don’t like hearing the problems of your neighbors who are you?
ABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.
(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger