Universities have been ceding ground to anti-Western activists for decades now (remember Jesse Jackson leading chants of “Hey ho, hey ho, Western civ has got to go” at Stanford back in the ‘80s?). So it should come as no surprise that Yale recently announced it would grant yet another concession to multiculturalist students who demand that diversity of skin color replace the oppressiveness and irrelevance of Dead White Males: this spring will see the end of one of the school’s previously most popular classes, a survey course called “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present."
According to the Yale Daily News blog, in its final iteration the course will shift from transmitting to students a greater appreciation of their cultural heritage, to a more “woke” focus on subverting the canon of Western art itself. The course’s instructor, art history department chair Tim Barringer, has stated that the class will still cover Western art chronologically from 1300 to the present, but he intends to emphasize that other regions, genres and traditions are as “equally deserving of study” as Western art, because according it any special reverence is “problematic.”
As we are all reminded daily now in every cultural arena from academia to Hollywood, anything Western is “problematic” (to put it politely) because multiculturalist doctrine deems that all cultures must be revered equally – except for Western culture which, because of its association with the toxic privilege of “whiteness,” must be denigrated, deconstructed, and dismantled to heal the nonwhite victims of its oppression and exploitation. Thus, we must be careful not to elevate the great works of the greatest artists in world history over other, “equally deserving” genres and traditions.
In a syllabus note to potential students, Barringer wrote that the emphasis would be on the relationship between European art and other world traditions. That is a fair topic for study, considering that Western artists have occasionally been influenced by other traditions: Picasso and African masks, for example (although such influence now would be devalued as “cultural appropriation,” another racist concept concocted by the postmodern and/or Marxist left). But the class also, according to Barringer, will consider art in relation to – wait for it – “questions of gender, class and ‘race’” and will discuss its relationship to Western capitalism. In other words, immersing ourselves in the transcendence and beauty that literally define great art and touch our common humanity must take a back seat to imposing our earthbound interpretations of how art divides us. Climate change also will be a “key theme.” Of course it will, because all intellectual streams now must feed into the river of today’s acceptable groupthink.