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TinotopiaLog → Micro-Aggression ( 5 Mar 2004)
Friday 05 March 2004


Apropos of what I wrote the other day about some people being all-too-ready to feel that you’re doing them some psychic harm Andrew Sullivan writes:

“MICRO-AGGRESSION”: It’s a new term to me, but my conversations with college students this past couple of days have convinced me it’s real. What’s a micro-aggression? It’s when you offend somebody for the usual p.c. reasons. You need not mean to offend someone; you may even be trying to flatter them; but if they feel they’re offended or hurt in any way, it’s a “micro-aggression.” An accumulation of “micro-aggressions” can lead to actual aggression. I accidentally committed a “micro-aggression” two days ago when I used the term “Islamo-fascist” to refer to terrorists or unelected despots who use Islam as a cloak for their violence or tyranny. One poor young student was reduced to tears because I used this term. She said she felt attacked because she is a Muslim. I pointed out that the entire point of the term is to distinguish these theocratic thugs from genuine, mainstream Muslims. And she acknowledged that. Nevertheless, I had committed a micro-aggression. If I were on a campus today, I might be subject to discipline.

There are other interesting references to ‘micro-aggression’ here and here and here .

The third link, in particular, underlines, without apparent irony, Sullivan’s further point:

What you have here, perhaps, is a post-modern, post-Christian attempt to resurrect different levels of sin. I committed what Catholics call a “venial sin,” a small-bore, not-too-important, micro-sin. But unlike Catholic teaching, which insists that for something to be a sin, it must be consciously intended, with “micro-aggressions,” your motives are irrelevant. In pomo heaven, the individual, after all, has no real autonomy, no independent soul, no personal conscience. He’s just reflecting the interplay of power-structures. So in the pursuit of progress, we have resurrected the imperatives of Catholic moral teaching and removed moral responsibility at the same time.

Posted by tino at 14:44 5.03.04
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