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Researchers horrified, decry rise of ‘fascism’ as students send mocking responses to woke survey.

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Researchers horrified, decry rise of ‘fascism’ as students send mocking responses to woke survey.

Academic researchers condemned students’ irreverent and offensive responses to an LGBTQ survey, claiming the pushback indicates “fascist ideologues” are “living ‘inside the house’ of engineering and computer science.”

In an article for the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies, academics from Oregon State University wrote about their shock at receiving sarcasm and mockery in response to their research into undergraduate LGBTQ students studying in STEM fields.

The team claimed 50 of 349 responses to their questionnaire on the topic contained “slurs, hate speech, or direct targeting of the research team.” Labeling them “malicious respondents,” they adapted their project to examine how the joke responses “relate to engineering culture by framing them within larger social contexts — namely, the rise of online fascism.”

The result was the paper titled, “Attack Helicopters and White Supremacy: Interpreting Malicious Responses to an Online Questionnaire about Transgender Undergraduate Engineering and Computer Science Student Experiences.”

 

Pride Progress flag

(Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The paper broke the responses down into themes like demographics, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), gender, “anti-trans, anti-queer,” racism, antisemitism and “online hate subculture references.” Several answers contained profanity and other offensive and obscene language and many referenced memes.

According to the article, when the “malicious” subjects were asked to fill out demographic data, “12 respondents (24%) indicated their gender as being related to a helicopter or aircraft” ranging from an “Apache Attack Helicopter” to a “V22 osprey.” In the section declaring one’s disabilities, responses ranged from claiming to be “illiterate” to lamenting “My country is run by communists,” or even declaring that identifying as transgender is a disability in itself due to “the inability to come to terms with biological reality.”

One respondent claimed to identify as a gift card as their gender. Under racial and ethnic identities they said, “I’m an ethnic gift card,” and for disability the answer was “I don’t have enough gift cards.”

Other responses to questions about identity rejected the researchers’ project entirely, with answers such as “My skin color is not important,” “Come on man, these questions are stupid. Everyone is a grab bag of genetics from all over the world,” and “What else do you want to know? What I ate for breakfast. [T]his question is unnecessary.”

“Online memes associated with white nationalist and fascist movements were present throughout the data, alongside memes and content referencing gaming and ‘nerd’ culture,” the researchers further claimed.

 

The research team declared that the mockery they received “had a profound impact on morale and mental health,” particularly for one transgender researcher who was “already in therapy for anxiety and depression regarding online anti-trans rhetoric.” The paper claimed that “managing the study’s data collection caused significant personal distress, and time had to be taken off the project to heal from traumatic harm” of having to read students’ responses in the survey.

pro-transgender march

A protester voices support for the promotion of transgender ideology in schools during a pro-transgender march in October 2022. (Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

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The scholars concluded the “malicious responses” indicate that fascism has become a common ideology in engineering and computer science academia. They suggested the counter response should be “social justice STEM education” that includes “perspectives on online hate radicalization and center anti-colonial, intersectional solidarity organizing as its opposition.”

The researchers appeared surprised that their own findings had been “ultimately rejected” by many academic journals, leaving them with the impression that their research decrying so-called fascism in academia is viewed by some as “irrelevant to engineering education, if not alarmist.”

They claimed their research methods used “antifascist and trans/queer methodologies to transform the raw data” and “make effective interventions and transformations to our programs and institutions.” They described “Anti-fascism” in particular as a framework that connects “contemporary fascist movements to the foundation of the U.S. as a racial project,” noting elsewhere that “White supremacy” remains ubiquitous in the U.S.

Saying the solution for the rise of fascism is to change education itself, the team wrote, “The university at its most ideal can be envisioned as ‘a central site for revolutionary struggle, a site where we can work to educate for critical consciousness’ using ‘a pedagogy of liberation.'”

 

It was suggested the plight of transgender citizens be used as a teachable example of “experiences with power and oppression — and that categories such as race, gender, and sexuality have roots in European colonial logics shared by fascist movements.”

Engineering in particular, they argued, is a critical field to teach their far-left ideology because such graduates “frequently work in fields such as fossil fuels, defense, construction, and technology upon graduation, and could be taught about these field’s relationships with national and global racial capitalism and ongoing apartheid in Palestine, as an example.”

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