Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

on obfuscating nonsense

May 15, 2017

One of the worst things being perpetrated in this country today is the hysteria around alleged sexual danger posed to women on college campuses, under the moniker “rape culture” and directed against Western civilization and heterosexual white males.

Part of what makes it so disheartening is the way it distracts, as social justice efforts so often do, from genuine victims, such as the girl and family highlighted in this case out of Chicago.

on reaping the whirlwind

May 9, 2017

I have read with some interest the travails of Dr. Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote a philosophical argument that the distinction being made between transgender identity and transracial identity (i.e., the former is widely accepted, the latter rejected) is untenable. Apparently the social media mob so familiar on Twitter and Facebook has been ferocious. All the familiar claims of violence and fear and hatred are being made against Dr. Tuvel because of her ideas.

One of her former professors, Kelly Oliver, has written an apologia for her and her essay, remarking on the hijacking of feminism. Although I am sympathetic to Dr. Tuvel’s plight, the apparent surprise at what has happened seems a bit out of place. Professor Oliver suggests calling this era of outrage-as-argument “the Trump era” since President Trump got elected, she writes, “by voicing outrage.” This seems to me to be one or two steps behind the process.

Professor Oliver observes some troubling dynamics, including the public/private split of opinion expressed. She tells of scholars who defended Dr. Tuvel in private, but were silent or sometimes even critical in public. This prompts her to write, “The question is, why did so many scholars, especially feminists, express one sentiment behind closed doors and another out in the open? Why were so many others afraid to say anything in public?”

She also makes this observation: “Part of the problem with the response to Tuvel’s article is that some seem to feel that they are the only ones who have the legitimate right to talk about certain topics. At best, this is identity politics run amok; at worst it is a turf war.”

Dr. Tuvel’s experience is quite familiar to many people in the United States who have not accepted critical orthodoxy on gender, race, economics, politics, and a host of other topics. It has been the case for several years now that dissent from critical orthodoxy on these topics is guaranteed to elicit the sort of condemnation Dr. Tuvel has experienced. An aspect of the situation is precisely what Professor Oliver has observed, that only some critically approved people can offer any view on the topic, and only the approved point of view.

This is the dynamic the Donald Trump tapped into during his campaign. What Professor Oliver sees as characteristic of society beginning sometime in 2016 has actually being going on for a couple of decades. Much of the support for Donald Trump was a reaction to this. That Professor Oliver, who holds an endowed chair in philosophy at a prestigious university, would be confronted with this dynamic close up, since it is happening to a friend and colleague, demonstrates how far along the problem is.

Professor Oliver laments, “The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook. Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public. Some who in private were sympathetic to Tuvel, felt compelled to join in the attacking mob. The thought police were in full force. . . . Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article. . . . Just this morning, I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it.”

She also asks, “If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning?” The answer, of course, is “yes,” but this is the inevitable fruit of the course critical academia has been traveling for several decades. It’s a shame that people with the position and influence of Professor Oliver are only now seeing it, and hoping to do something about it.

on leftwing hatred

December 4, 2016

It was observed frequently during the campaign that the progressive strategy of dismissing every dissent from its ideology, even mild representations like the Tea Party and Mitt Romney, as virulently evil racists had made it inevitable that the next iteration of dissent would be something rather less genteel. Thus Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States.

This is a long piece, perhaps longer than it needs to be, but it covers a significant issue quite well, that being the role of hard-line social justice ideology in the election of Donald Trump. It could provide a Quote of the Day for at least a week. Here’s a sample:

The monster of Trumpism is in large measure a monster created by the social justice ideology and identity politics of the progressive left. The more that a demonizing and merciless ideological narrative is used as a weapon against particular demographics, the more that they will resist it. The social justice narrative calls for white people, and men in particular, to assume a crippling guilt, to be the scapegoats for America. Trump’s movement is exactly the sort of resistance that such a narrative will provoke.

White people and men refused the narrative. For all of the progressive left’s insistence upon the evilness of America on account of straight white Christian men, Trump’s movement is founded in large measure upon the counter-claim that, for all of its undeniable faults, the nation of America was once great, and it was predominantly white Christian men who made it great.

Trump is a shameless and guilt-free candidate. This is exactly the sort of candidate who will thrive in the current context. As Michael Story has observed, the progressive left so radically overused the necessary antibiotics of shame and guilt that they produced a shame and guilt resistant candidate and movement. When people appreciate that guilt and shame have been weaponized to force them into cultural dhimmitude, they will start to celebrate shamelessness and guilt-freeness.

on white privilege

December 3, 2016

It has seemed to me for awhile that a weakness of much current discourse that focuses on systemic analysis is the lack of attention to real lived lives of actual human beings. My concern is explained pretty well here:

Just as in the fight against heart disease or drunk driving, awareness only has value if it actually leads to a change in behavior, and there’s no sign that these quasi-religious renunciations of privilege have accomplished such change.

This, in turn, presents a larger problem. The discourse of this school of politics is resolutely immaterial in its language, with endless discussion of acknowledging and feeling and admitting and occupying, almost none of which amounts to what anyone might consider doing.
h/t Alastair Roberts

on what might have been

June 7, 2016

I’m reminded of another aspect of the Tea Party that reflects an opportunity lost by some on the Left. There is a good case to be made that the basic instincts behind the Tea Party attenders were of the sort that would have been of assistance to genuine social justice (by which I mean to exclude those using victim status to settle grievances and acquire p0wer). Don’t expect much cooperation from the ascendant groups today.

What’s the standard?

March 10, 2016

David Brooks is a powerful white male, the epitome of someone with privilege. He described Senator Ted Cruz, a powerful Hispanic male, as “oleaginous” in a column, an offensive term to use of someone of Hispanic descent. Does that qualify as a microaggression? Does it say anything about David Brooks, the New York Times, journalism as a system? Or does no one care because Ted Cruz is a conservative Senator running for President?

h/t Ann Althouse