"In America today, millions have made this compact already with identity politics. They need absolution, and identity politics, unlike Progressivism and Marxism, promises to give it...They will do anything, that is, except return to the transcendent God, who alone can lift their burden," writes Joshua Mitchell in Real Clear Public Affairs.
dozen or so years ago, I took temporary leave from Georgetown University and moved to Iraq for two years to preside over The American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. Some of the young men and women enrolled in our fledgling university carried the double burden of having survived both the American invasion and the Kurdish Civil War that had occurred twenty years earlier. To give a sense of the difficulties the university had to contend with, we found it necessary to develop a scholarship category – “Anfal students” – for those whose parents had been gassed to death by Saddam Hussein’s cousin, nicknamed “Chemical Ali,” during the Kurdish genocide in Halabja and elsewhere. More than 175,000 Kurds died in that offensive, whose name, “Anfal,” means “the spoils of war.” Those who died in Halabja convulsed, fell to the ground, and choked in their own green vomit before succumbing. In America, we talk of “hardship” students. Few have experienced trauma of the kind our students in Iraq endured.
Teachers at the American University of Iraq were of two sorts. There were those who sympathetically said to their students: “We dimly understand what you have been through, but the only way we can help you is by upholding high standards, so that you can develop the competence you will need to live well.”
Teachers at the American University of Iraq were of two sorts. There were those who sympathetically said to their students: “We dimly understand what you have been through, but the only way we can help you is by upholding high standards, so that you can develop the competence you will need to live well.” And there were others whose guilt about the American invasion and its consequences was all-consuming. For these teachers, the development of student competence was of secondary importance. What mattered was that they be merciful and empathetic toward their students, who were, after all, innocent victims. These teachers did not require that their students hand in their work on time, or at all. They ignored cheating. An inordinate amount of their time was spent making tearful pleas, in the hope that administrators would be lenient when student grades fell below the level required to retain scholarships.