The Week in Woke
Short reports on how the revolution is proceeding
There is a serious racial divide in the US on the idea of reparations.
More than 3/4 of blacks think reparations should be paid (to them), but fewer than 1 in 5 whites agree. Given the present demographics on race, i.e., that blacks are about 13% of the American population while whites are (with some variation depending on how you count) above 60%, you’d think that might settle the question politically, but some significant proportion of whites in the cultural elite are supporters of the idea, so that complicates things a bit.
My main thought in considering reparations is whether the results among blacks (and whites) might shift if respondents were reminded that many billions, and likely trillions of public dollars have already been redistributed to blacks since the 1960s in de facto reparations. I am perfectly confident that the vast majority of Americans of all races do not have any idea of the very large numbers involved in that matter. You’d think we’d do a better job of mentioning this now and again in the constant babble about race and racism in this country.
Another point from these data: Blacks are much more likely than non-blacks to believe it’s racism built into US law, rather than individual acts of racism, that is keeping them down. The survey of course does not ask them to point to evidence of this legal racism. Anyone paying attention to this question, though, knows that there isn’t much if any such evidence. What’s happening in this kind of survey phenomenon is the consequence of endlessly telling blacks that, even though empirically observable racism is as low as it’s ever been in this country’s history, there must yet be some ghostly thing called “structural racism” oppressing them, without ever endeavoring to prove the existence of the ghostly thing. Too many of them subjected to this educational malpractice have taken that on board as a convenient but wholly insufficient answer to the fact of racial disparities. It’s perhaps an understandable error to make, especially among those in the black population without the requisite education to comprehend the complex business of causation of social facts, but it is nonetheless an error.
One final observation: Large percentages of blacks have, in the highly partisan language of the survey, “a clear vision” as to what needs to be done to fix racial problems in the US. What is that “clear vision”? Just the “complete overhaul” of just about every major American institution. In other words, a revolution. The widespread existence of de facto revolutionary ideas among black Americans is another thing that ought to be given more attention in public discourse.
The new trend in the pricey and exclusive college alum magazine: Stories from painfully Woke graduates who make it clear that attending the pricey and exclusive school involved was mostly just more of the same merciless oppression they’ve experienced their entire lives but whose stories are included as testimonies to the successes of the schools anyway because “Look how critically Woke our graduates are! They even denounce us! What a splendid job we must be doing!”
Here’s a Bucknell graduate with little good to say about the school that admitted and graduated her in a profile in Bucknell Magazine, and who is in her professional accomplishments frankly something less than a scintillating advertisement for the value of an education here (tuition-paying parents might perhaps be forgiven for wondering if an expensive four year degree is really a requirement for becoming an aspiring rapper), but who is fawningly featured there nonetheless because it’s the good Woke thing to do, given her position on the identity hierarchy.
“I’m very Black, very queer, very loud, very woman,” the former student notes. “Bucknell felt like it wasn’t quite ready for all of that.” What an intolerable situation that must have been to not be sufficiently congratulated on being so in-your-facedly all of those things she was/is. I respectfully extend my sympathies for her ordeal.
Fortunately, though, it wasn’t all suffering for her, as she “found academic rigor in the English Department.”
Alas, no details are given on this rigor. As someone who has been personally insulted by a significant number of the rigorous scholars in our English department for advancing intellectual cases they didn’t like or even give any evidence of having correctly understood, I would have been quite interested in more exploration of this angle of the story.
Apparently, Hindu caste-based discrimination among the Indian student population must be a massive problem on the Ivy League campus of Brown University. One can only hope other campuses will follow suit and outlaw this widespread but (you guessed it!) almost entirely invisible form of oppression in American society.
No news on when the Woke commissars at Brown will recognize the crippling discrimination still ongoing on that campus and elsewhere around the country against the differently elevated, or in the bigoted language used to harm and denigrate them, “short people.”
Just looking through the Arts & Letters Daily from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and I stumbled upon two nifty examples of what exciting stuff you can learn these days in a humanities discipline in a contemporary university.
You might study pornography along with scholars who have made that their life’s research. Porn, it turns out, is “honest,” and therefore apparently of significant value in thinking about all kinds of things. We should all be studying it as a way to enrich our lives, our author assures us.
You can also be apprised of (and perhaps adopt as your own worldview) alethic nihilism in the philosophy department. That’s the view that nothing is true (yes, and including the claim that nothing is true). Here’s a summary version of how people in philosophy departments who take this curious perspective seriously describe it. Good luck trying to get something coherent from it.
In the neighborhood where I grew up, we had a catch-all term for what people like these professors are up to. It’s an impolite word, though, (really, a collection of them), so I probably shouldn’t repeat it here.
A note appeared recently in campus email from our “Director of Equity and Inclusive Excellence.” Yes, thank you, we have one of those, as does just about everybody nowadays. We may need a few dozen more of them before we can finally achieve total equity and inclusive excellence utopia at Bucknell. Our present Director of EIE is a young and exceedingly Woke white woman who, as seems a general practice in this crowd, ostentatiously puts “Ph. D.” after her name in emails just to let you know that she’s a credentialed expert who should be taken very, very seriously—her Ph. D. btw is in “diversity and inclusion theories.” (Question: Is there anything you can’t get a doctorate in these days?)
The email encouraged members of the campus population to attend the “final Gender Equity Network engagement event of the semester.” The Gender Equity Network is “Bucknell’s affinity group for women and trans staff and faculty….to learn more about institutional policies and procedures that disproportionately or differentially impact people with marginalized genders, including parental leave, reproductive and gender affirming healthcare, pay scales and disparities, promotion processes, and discrimination and harassment procedures.”
In case you’ve been living in a cave, women are a “marginalized gender” in higher education. This is despite the fact that they are the numerical majorities on many campuses if one counts not just the faculty but also the administration and the students.
But we are not yet at perfect 50/50 male/female quantitative equity in the professoriate, and, whatever you might think about how essentially wide open such a career path is to anyone interested in pursuing it in 2022 America, we enlightened just know in our bones that the choices men and women make “freely” about careers are in fact utterly determined by almost entirely invisible structural barriers to women. Too many women who were not Women’s Studies majors are in false consciousness, so their own thinking (or, rather, what they mistakenly take to be their own thinking) about what they want to do for their life’s work has been thoroughly corrupted by The Patriarchy.
Thank goodness we have the Gender Equity Network to set them straight on these matters!
We happened a few weeks ago to be near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which was already beautifully decked out for the Christmas season (see above).
It was the same day Morocco had beaten Belgium in a World Cup soccer match.
There was a huge, very loud crowd of supporters of Morocco’s team gathered on the Champs-Elysées, blocking traffic, honking horns, shooting fireworks and rockets off (one whistled by us at head level and exploded just yards away).
France has a large Moroccan immigrant population. Some apparently love Morocco very, very much, but not quite enough to have stayed in the country they so adore.
Is it too much to ask immigrant populations to consider switching their soccer allegiances to their country of arrival, or is that an intolerable example of cultural imperialism?
I wonder how much this phenomenon is determined by the squishiness of the local “dominant” culture about such things. One is inclined to disbelieve that the French people at present could find much energy to be irked by such a celebration in the streets of Paris even if the Moroccan team had beaten the French side, instead of Belgium, in a World Cup match. (Here in the equally culturally jellyfish-esque US, we’ve seen nearly just that: The US national team, in a competition against the Mexican team, was jeered throughout the match by a largely Mexican-American crowd in Los Angeles—this is described vividly near the beginning of Samuel Huntington’s excellent book Who Are We?)
As an American with Mexican in-laws, I can say with some confidence that street-level celebration of an American soccer win in the World Cup by Americans in Mexico would never be tolerated by the Mexican people, unless perhaps those festivities took place—and with proper deference—alongside celebrations of a Mexican win the same day. Certainly, you would not see lots of cars with güero passengers shooting rockets at passersby and American flags adorning them blocking traffic on major thoroughfares in Mexico City without immediate police involvement. (Of course we Americans as a whole tend to be so unexcited by soccer in any event that the first problem in organizing a celebration would be finding Americans there who even knew the game had taken place).
When I am in Mexico, I become a full-throated Mexican national fútbol team fan, even (especially) if they are playing the US team, because I know what is good for me.
And I’m not even mad about this. On the contrary. God bless the Mexican people for not putting up with the kind of anti-assimilationist stuff I saw at the Arc de Triomphe. A little sporting nationalism, please, and in favor of the country you’re actually in rather than the one you have left.
One more campus email note: A faculty member writes to encourage students to study abroad at a Bucknell program in Cape Town, South Africa, calling it “one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
I won’t take issue with the aesthetic claim, since I’ve never been. I content myself in noting that he is talking about the city with the 8th highest crime rate of all the world’s cities.
As both a parent of a student only a year and a half removed from college and a faculty member who worries about his students a bit too, I honestly don’t know how colleges justify to parents the sending of their children to abroad programs in countries that are this demonstrably unsafe. Do they at least alert parents to this fact, in addition to talking about how “beautiful” the place is? One doubts it.
I certainly don’t pretend to speak for all parents on such matters, but I would insist that my child look in her study abroad experience for a “beautiful city” with a little less robbery, assault, and murder. There are after all many such options.
More on reparations: An essentially all black California reparations committee (in a state in which the black population is only about 6-7% of the entire population) decides that millions in reparations will be paid from the public till to black citizens of the state.
You can be confident that it is in the view of California authorities perfectly white supremacist even to fleetingly think that perhaps representatives of the racial groups who make up the other 93-94% of the California population ought to have been represented on this committee.
An object lesson in how Woke academia operates to purge the impure from their ranks: Lee Jussim, a psychologist whom I respect greatly as a formidable and rigorous critic of the Woke demolition of his discipline, is currently being subjected to a vicious online struggle session/denunciation rally.
Because he used a metaphor in a bit of writing argumentatively challenging an approved member of an aggrieved victim population that this pure victim was able (not logically, but then what is logic but another form of white privilege?) to strategically distort into a horrific racist act and that other members of the Woke cult could subsequently leap on in sneering righteous fury without having spent even five seconds gathering any substantive knowledge of what had actually been written by the target of the struggle session.
The Woke cultists sit around eagerly looking for opportunities like this. As soon as one of them has mendaciously fabricated the charge, dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of others in the enraged and self-righteous mob pile on: “I demand thus and such immediate action against this obvious moral monster, etc., etc.!!!”
This is what much of academia in the humanities and social sciences looks like now: mental and emotional children in adult bodies looking for non-existent witches to hunt. If you have a child in college, know that you are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition so that your child can sit before people like this and listen to them as they articulate the daft ideas behind this kind of benighted, anti-intellectual behavior.
There are now many thousands of young faculty members around the country like the originator of the struggle session against my colleague, petty and resentment-filled souls who are in academia not so much to pursue truth but rather to attempt to mold human beings into something of which they in their haughty moral superiority might approve. Whole offices of people who dedicate much of their time to inventing new forms of racist outrage on which such “justice” can be exercised are being created in every institution of higher education in the country.
And it is only going to get worse.
CNN’s Jake Tapper recently did an impassioned bit decrying the fact that Trump (yes, the Woke are still desperately hooked on that drug) had dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, both of whom have publicly indicated their admiration of Hitler and his regime.
Tapper, who was invited to Bucknell just a few weeks ago to talk about the tremendous risks currently facing “American democracy,” asked in plaintive terms why there is so little condemnation by those in power of these people who scandalously apologize for a murderous totalitarian regime.
It’s a good question, Jake. I wonder though what you think of the fact that, at the campus where you just spoke and at many others throughout the country, there are people who apologize on a more or less daily basis for another set of murderous totalitarian regimes in their classrooms and who are not condemned for this offense by anyone in power in those institutions. It’s of course not the bad kind of totalitarians such as Hitler these radical professors admire—it’s only the well-intentioned and progressively-approved ones like Lenin, Stalin, Mao and their Marxian communist cohort.
I offer two small bits of evidence of this phenomenon. One is pasted below in the form of an excerpt from a book’s introductory essay that I wrote a few years ago. It documents a few examples from Bucknell of the thing about which you never hear people like Jake Tapper evince morally-outraged concern.
The other is a letter I wrote the campus newspaper after several departments here invited a former student now a documentary filmmaker to come and screen his loving paean to the American Communist Party. I attended the screening (see below for a poster—I had a détourned version on my office door for a while, with photos of prisoners in the gulag taped in next to the arrow pointing to “progress”) and asked a number of inconvenient questions after several of my colleagues had expressed their glowing praise of the global communist project.
“Yet, as the editors of this volume learned only too plainly when we organized a symposium at Bucknell University marking the centenary of the October Revolution in November 2017 and invited the three prestigious scholars whose essays are contained in this book, faith in the myth of the Bolsheviks dies very hard indeed, at least in some parts of the intellectual classes. When we solicited material support from university departments for the events, the Department of History caustically attacked what they viewed as our intrusion into a topic they claimed as exclusively their own, though not a single member of their department publishes on the Russian Revolution and as a department they had planned no special events marking the anniversary. Not content with acrimonious and mendacious personal accusations about our intentions, they mocked our request for support by pledging an amount that symbolically made clear their position on Lenin’s dreadful legacy: they offered the sum of $19.17.
A few days after our symposium concluded, another small group of colleagues gave more evidence of the staying power of Bolshevik myth in the form of a letter to the faculty discussion board. These scholars, none of whom had troubled themselves to attend the symposium events, denounced our speakers, without the benefit of even the slightest reference to their work, as mere ideologues lacking the relevant scholarly credentials to adequately discuss the topic of the symposium. Like our colleagues in History, they rhetorically tried to position themselves as experts on the topic, though not one of them had ever published anything remotely to do with the Russian Revolution. They then suggested a list of, in their view, superior alternative events marking the anniversary on other campuses. In these alternative commemorations of the October Revolution, the emphasis was entirely on the longings and dreams inspired in the minds of revolutionary intellectuals and activists around the globe by Lenin’s new regime. Seemingly of no importance in our colleagues’ vision of the proper way to mark the centenary was the investigation of the political methods by which tens of millions of human beings were put by Lenin’s policies and his secret police into a condition in which they would never dream of anything again.
Still another response on the faculty discussion board dissenting from our symposium’s perspective brought the point home with perhaps the starkest clarity. This missive cheered Bolshevism as a force opposing authoritarian one party dictatorship (which, it was predictably claimed, was only instituted after Stalin’s rise to power) while simultaneously pointing to Lenin’s April Theses as proof of the Bolshevik commitment to democratic revolution. This claim could only astound anyone who had actually read the April Theses, as the Bolshevik leader therein witheringly dismissed the idea of a parliamentary republic of various party representations and advocated instead for the establishment of an all-powerful worker’s state led by his tiny vanguard party. Our colleague’s missive concluded with an affirmative citation of the American revolutionary Eugene Debs, who in a propaganda piece entitled “The Day of the People” declared himself “Bolshevik and proud of it.” Here, we were told, was evidence of the glorious inspiration the Bolshevik Revolution had provided globally. Left unsaid was how we should evaluate that inspiration in light of what we now know, a hundred years later. For Debs made this statement in early 1919, and during the previous summer and fall, the Bolsheviks had summarily executed at least 15,000 of their political foes, more than twice as many as the Tsarist regime had sentenced to death in the final century of its existence.”
[excerpted from The Totalitarian Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution]
I’ve been at this project now for around nine months. Hardly seems possible, but I just checked the calendar and I believe that is the right math.
So, this is a note to you: Thank you.
I’m tremendously flattered by your interest in what I have to say about life, art, politics, death and I’m grateful that you read my ramblings. Every writer desires to be read (Lovecraft’s letter accompanying his submission to an editor notwithstanding) and thus owes a debt that cannot really be repaid to readers, however much the writer sometimes pretends not to recognize this (it’s part of the persona, you see…).
So that’s something I want to be sure to say and say again: THANK YOU.
Now, the other reason for this little note.
I finally got around to doing the technical stuff necessary to provide a paid subscription option.
What does a paid option mean?
It means it’s an option. At present, everything on this account remains open to all subscribers, paid or free. Even if I move at some currently unforeseen point to separating material here into paid and unpaid categories, I still plan to always make the great bulk of it available when it’s produced without cost to everyone interested in seeing it. I’m tremendously appreciative that you read this site and want to do everything I can to ensure you continue to be interested in doing so.
I am hopeful though, and I make so bold as to ask, that if you have a few extra dollars rattling around, you’ll consider kicking some of them my way to help make it more feasible for me to spend more time on this project.
Inevitably, and despite my deepest feelings about writing, I think at least a bit about possible material returns when I am allocating time to writing projects. I have two kids who eat and are in constant need of new clothes and a house in which things are constantly breaking down. Add to that the fact that, to my great regret, I do not have infinite time to dedicate to writing, and it emerges necessarily that sometimes the possibility of writing things for pay trumps writing things here. This is so even though I much prefer writing here precisely because it allows me more freedom to engage with the topics I find most interesting.
If I can generate some paid subscriptions, then, I can spend more time doing this writing, the writing I most care about, and the writing that I hope you find valuable. If I generate enough, I may even finally find enough time and energy to get around to dipping my toes into Podcast World, which is professionally speaking probably the last thing I should do, given my tendency to say things that get me into trouble, but YOLO, as I’ve heard they say.
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Cheers, and thanks again! And very special thanks to those who have already switched to a paid subscription!
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You really traded velvet gloves for boxing gloves on this one! As always, thank you.