This claim of “Froborr’s” is really appallingly hostile to a great many of the foundations of a liberal open thoughtful society or culture or world.
First, the move to make a truth claim about reality part of one’s identity (“a huge part of who I am”) is death to thinking. It’s the same move the shouters about “hurting religious sentiments” make: it turns one’s ideas into one’s Self in a move to make it taboo to question them. Making it taboo to question ideas is death to thinking.
Second, the move to equate public discussion with forcible conversion is, obviously, death to public discussion. If all argument that [X is better or more true or more evidence-based than Y] amounts to forcible conversion and thus is “evil in one of its purest forms” – well I don’t even need to say more: the upshot is obvious.
The whole thing is an alarming ploy to make all existing world-views indistinguishable from people’s identities and therefore sacrosanct and not to be challenged. That’s simply a recipe for mental stagnation.
Russell Blackford made a related point the other day, in connection with Elaine Ecklund.
An important component of the role of universities is the creation of a space where what seem like commonsense ideas – handed down through socialisation and tradition – can be held up to the light and challenged. One thing that we want from academics, especially in fields such as philosophy, is the capacity and courage to attack popular ideas, including popular ideas of morality. This kind of intellectual critique, which may involve the development of unpopular critiques of how ordinary people think, is one way that we make progress as a society.
Accommodationist thinkers in the style of Ecklund or, say, Chris Mooney, want to reverse this. The idea is to market a product, such as science, by showing how it is safe for people to consume without it challenging their existing worldviews (which may be based on religion or traditional morality). People with various existing worldviews are taken as demographics, and the idea is to market science to them.
But science and scholarship are dangerous – not necessarily in the sense of creating physical risks, but in the sense that they can lead to ideas that undermine received wisdom. Universities are places where dangerous ideas, in this sense, are created, refined, and tested in debate. To suggest otherwise, and adopt the marketing strategy favoured by accommodationists, is profoundly ignorant and anti-intellectual.
I think that’s absolutely spot-on, and crucial.
It’s really not a good idea to try to persuade everyone that only safe ideas are permissible, much less that potentially unnerving ones are pure evil. It’s a blow for ignorance and anti-intellectualism and against learning, change, growth, surprise, development – and freedom.