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Opinion
Noah Smith

Is Calling the U.S. a 'Melting Pot' Offensive?

The University of California goes too far in denying what's true.
Can these student bear the truth about the U.S. -- if it's positive?

Can these student bear the truth about the U.S. -- if it's positive?

Photographer: Al Seib

“Microaggression” is a trendy, modern word for insensitivity. It means saying things that inadvertently make some people feel excluded or the targets of subtle bias. It is good to be sensitive, and it is good to make people feel included. Everyone, in an ideal society, should be conscientious of other people’s feelings and empathetic to other people’s experiences. For professors, who are in positions of authority over young people, this kind of consideration is especially important. 

But the University of California’s new faculty training guide goes way too far in its attempt to train professors to be sensitive. Most of the statements it encourages professors to avoid are definitely insensitive, and should be avoided. But a couple of them are actually true. And not just true, but important and valuable things that young Americans should know. When we start proscribing saying things that are true and important in the classroom, we have left the realm of sensitivity and consideration.