John McWhorter vs. Ibram X. Kendi on whether American schools are structurally racist

January 31, 2021 • 10:00 am

Truly, I don’t understand why author John McWhorter, professor of linguistics at Columbia University, hasn’t yet been the subject of a social-justice campaign to demonize and erase him. While he’s black, he’s also strongly opposed to what he sees as the “religion” of anti-racism promulgated by people like Ibram X. Kendi, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Robin DiAngelo, and McWhorter speaks plainly and passionately. The first piece below is an example of his strong and uncompromising views and language.

I suppose McWhorter is still afloat because his arguments against the more extreme forms of anti-racism, as evinced in the following two pieces, are both clear and hard to refute. He’s fiercely smart and writes really well, and if you come up against him with ammunition consisting solely of offense and outrage, you’re not going to fare well. This week, McWhorter published two pieces worth reading, one on his Substack site and the other at The Atlantic, where he’s a contributing writer.  Ibram X. Kendi struck back at the second piece on Twitter, accusing McWhorter of distortion and confusion. I’ll maintain that Kendi didn’t read McWhorter very carefully.

Both pieces characterize recent anti-racist protests and strikes on campus as examples of “performances”—presumably rituals of the religion that McWhorter says anti-racism has become.

First, here’s a free article at McWhorter’s new Substack site, It Bears Mentioning. Click on the screenshot to read:

This piece recounts the suspension of a law professor, Jason Kilborn, at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Kilborn’s crime was citing the n- and b-words on an exam this way: “n*****” and “b****”. We all know what those redacted symbols stand for, and Kilborn was not using them to incite students, but as examples in an exam question about an employment discrimination case.

Kilborn has used this kind of expurgation on exams for a long time, but, the Zeitgeist being what it is, this year’s outcome was predictable: a group of students got highly offended and protested strongly. Kilborn was suspended from his class as well as from some of his university duties. He’s also now banned from campus because he supposedly poses a physical threat to the students:

One black student claimed that they experienced heart palpitations upon reading the words. During an hours-long Zoom talk with a black student representing the protesters, Kilborn made a flippant remark to the effect that the law school dean may suppose that he is some kind of “homicidal maniac” – upon which the student reported to the dean that Kilborn indeed may be one. Kilborn is no longer teaching the class, is relieved of his administrative duties, and because of the possible physical threat he poses to black students because of the Hyde-like tendency he referred to, he is barred from campus.

McWhorter goes on to say what few would dare to say, even though the point is worth arguing:

But let’s pull the camera back, take a deep breath, and look at something like this pillorying of Kilborn with clear eyes. If a black student is traumatized to such a degree by seeing “n*****” on a piece of paper, then that student needs psychological counseling. We all understand the history and power of the N-word, but we all also understand the simple issue of degree. That student who got heart palpitations needs help, and what the suits at the University of Illinois in Chicago should have done as gently direct this student to the proper services, which the school surely provides, for people who have fallen away from the ability to cope with normal life. . .

. . . To be a modern enlightened American is to have internalized a kind of cognitive shunt or patch upon our processing of cases like this. We are to pretend that until slurs of this kind no longer exist, we must accept it as ordinary and perhaps even healthy for smart young people to fall to pieces at the mere of sight of one even in writing and carefully expurgated. . .

. . .  in all of this, we are taught not to make sense. We are taught to suspend our rational faculties in favor of larger, abstract, and often incoherent imperatives valued as demonstration of our moral fitness. In other words, we are taught to think about race issues religiously.

And has the following interpretation not crossed people’s minds—not just with protests against black racism, but protests against nearly all form of presumed “bigotry” on campus? It’s the overreaction of the offended that is so striking:

Yes, I am taking the students too seriously. As in, I am only pretending to take them seriously at all. As all of us can detect on some level, black students who purport upset of this degree, at passing things that their very equivalents just some years ago never even noticed, are faking it.

They are acting. It is a performance. The issue here is not “black fragility,” which is why there is a question mark after the title of this post. Such students are not fragile; they are histrionic. They are pretending to be hurt.

McWhorter, though, tries to empathize, and in fact he seems angrier at white people who bow to these protests than to the African-Americans who make them:

The formal expression is one of anger and injury, but behind this is a balm, the sense that you are worthy on some level of a cookie or a pat on the head just for getting through your days and weeks. It gives a person a sense of significance. It gives you a sense of significance as a member of a group on a fraught but epic trajectory towards justice. You, in times when civil rights can seem so much less dramatic a thing than it was 50 years ago and before, have a sense of being part of that “Struggle,” as it used to be put. That doesn’t make a person a monster.

It goes on, with McWhorter ending by saying that people who sympathize with people so easily offended should not only refer those people to counseling (that’s incendiary enough!), but, by refusing to call the students out, are themselves being racists:

Protests of this kind test us on how committed we really are to assessing black people according to the content of their character. Normal people don’t fall to pieces when seeing “n*****” on a piece of paper, regardless of their race. The neoracists who have barred Jason Kilborn from campus in pretending this isn’t true are operating upon an assumption that black people are morons. This is a rather fascinating rendition of “antiracism,” and to treat it as “allyship” is nothing less than a cultural sickness.

I doubt that you could get away with writing words like that in a magazine like The Atlantic; they’ll have to be on your own website. But surely hyperfragility—which is not new; remember Haidt and Lukianoff’s 2018 book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure? (See my post on it here.) That book advances the thesis that modern parents and educational institutions have instilled three guiding principles in the young: “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people.”  It’s a book well worth reading, and explains a lot of the outrage and claimed hyperfragility (indeed, it’s not just claimed, it’s often internalized) among the young.

But I digress. This week’s fracas is between McWhorter’s piece in The Atlantic (below), and Ibram X. Kendi’s response on twitter. Click the screenshot to read:

I can be briefer here, as McWhorter summarizes anti-racism protests that I’ve described many times on this site: protests at Princeton (here and here), Bryn Mawr, New York City’s private Dalton School, and Northwestern University. (There are others that McWhorter doesn’t mention, including Smith College, Harvard, Middlebury College, and, of course, the poster boy for knee-jerk offense, The Evergreen State College.

What the anti-racism protests have in common at these schools is that the students have indicted the institutions for pervasive, ubiquitous and clear “structural racism”, despite the fact that none of the schools are really that way at all. (Neither is the University of Chicago, which hasn’t yet been shaken by nationally-publicized accusations.) Yes, of course some people are racists at these institutions, but one would be hard pressed to find “structural racism”: that is, policies and practices embedded in the institution that predictably lead to discriminatory outcomes. In fact, all of these schools, my own included, are deeply engaged in trying to admit students and faculty of color and to create programs that give support to minority students.

McWhorter is evenhanded on the issue, but will not admit that such schools have a deep problem with racism (and, as far as I can see, he’s right):

As extreme as these documents and actions seem, they would qualify as legitimate if these campuses actually were bastions of social injustice. This is doubtful.

My colleague Conor Friedersdorf has documented that even some of the faculty who signed the Princeton petition were not necessarily united in adherence to its specific demands, or in agreement as to the depths of the university’s depravity. Many wanted, simply, to deliver a nebulous acknowledgment that some anti-racist efforts would be beneficial. Although racism surely exists at Princeton, as it does throughout American society, Princeton is not the utter sinkhole of bigotry and insensitivity that the letter implies. American universities have long been more committed to anti-racism than almost any other institutions. Princeton is where, for example, Woodrow Wilson’s name was recently removed from the name of the School of Public and International Affairs in acknowledgment of his implacably racist beliefs—albeit in response to student pressure.

The issue, as so often, is degree. Most liberals will acknowledge that it is useful and even urgent for institutions such as Princeton to be vigilant against subtle biases in attitudes and procedures. The question is whether, despite this modus operandi having been well established in such places for a few decades now, they remain so infested with entrenched racism that transformational manifestos such as the Princeton letter constitute progress as opposed to manipulation.

Dalton and Princeton in particular have, even before the recent protests began, been examining themselves for racist practices or policies, and have made substantial changes in the last decade. Indeed, all  of those schools have.

You can read McWhorter’s Atlantic piece yourself, but his message, at it was in the Substack piece, is that administrators and rational people must stand up to irrational protests and demands, for there is never any end to them. Demands that are reasonable, of course, should be accommodated, but every list of “demands” that I’ve seen is at least 60% “unreasonable.” The point is that if you cave into unreasonable demands, as Bryn Mawr, Evergreen State, and the Dalton School has (or is set to), the protestors learn that making demands is not just a way to assert power, but to institute both the programmatic and ideological changes they want. As McWhorter concludes,

The writers of manifestos might classify resistance as racist, denialist backlash. But the civil, firm dismissal of irrational demands is, rather, a kind of civic valor. School officials must attend to the fine line between enlightenment and cowardice—for the benefit of not only themselves, but the Black people they see themselves as protecting.

That was too much for Ibram Kendi, who, in a series of nine tweets in this thread, highlights and attack’s McWhorter’s piece. Here you go.

In fact it is Kendi who misrepresents McWhorter. As you see above, McWhorter notes that all these campuses probably have some residual racism; but they’re not festering hotbeds of structural racism where crosses get burned on a regular basis.

Kendi argues, for example, that McWhorter praises a professor who said that student and faculty demands will lead to a “civil war on campus.” Here’s what McWhorter said about that professor.

Thus the model must be classics professor Joshua Katz at Princeton, who last summer took issue with the Princeton letter in a Quillette article, pointing out that the demands would lead to “civil war on campus,” and calling out a Black student association that serially harassed several Black students who disagreed with its philosophy. (Inadvisedly, he referred to the association as a “terrorist” group.) Predictable calls on social media for his dismissal were not successful because his tenure would have made it difficult, but in September, the American Council of Learned Societies withdrew his recent appointment as one of the federation’s two delegates to the Union Académique Internationale, on the basis of the social-media response to his article.

This is not McWhorter agreeing that there will be a civil war at Princeton, but quoting Katz, and even disagreeing with him about calling the black student association terrorists. McWhorter does agree that continual bowing before extreme anti-racist demands will eventually destroy the reputation of colleges (see his piece), but that’s all, and that’s his point. Evergreen State has already gone down the tubes, and I suspect that Smith and Bryn Mawr are circling the drain.

Kendi adds that “white supremacist violence is being fomented” by pieces like McWhorter’s. That’s the same kind of hyperbolic overreaction that we see in the students themselves. Remember that McWhorter is a black man and certainly not a white supremacist. But even so, I defy you to read his piece and point out places where he’s fomenting “white supremacist violence.”

Kendi argues that all the institutions have “widespread and pervasive inequities and injustices,” and that McWhorter overlooks these. Well, as far as the “inequities” are concerned, yes, there are inequalities of outcome (that’s my definition of “inequities”), but those are surely the results of historical injustice that have set back African-American, not of present “structural racism” at these schools. And what are the injustices? I can’t think of any, though I’ve tried. Remember, they have to be “pervasive.”

In a later tweet, Kendi unfairly lumps McWhorter with Trump and “white supremactists” when asserting that bowing to anti-racist demands will destroy or damage universities. But it will surely damage them, just as it’s fatally damaged Evergreen State. Perhaps places like Harvard and Princeton won’t go down completely, for their names are so revered, and the education there is still top notch, but eventually this kind of catering to student demands—and here I mean the unreasonable ones—changes the mission of American universities from allowing students to learn and debate freely into engineering social justice along the lines of critical theory (Critical Race Theory, in fact). Even as I write, curricula are being molded to the tenets of Critical Theory, and that will eventually create a culture of ideological conformity and an output of students not trained to either argue or think for themselves. The universities may endure, but they won’t be the places of learning that have attracted students from throughout the world.

The problem with Kendi is that he thinks one has to accept the whole hog of Critical Race Theory, and if you don’t you’re a racist. And if colleges don’t, they are racist. In response, McWhorter probably thinks that Kendi himself is a racist by adhering to the soft bigotry of low expections and the assumption that minorities are hyperfragile in a way that must to be catered to. Kendi simply can’t grasp McWhorter’s contention that these issues are “matters of degree,” which is true. To Kendi and his minions, you’re either a Kendian antiracist or a racist; there is no in between.

And so the debate continues, and it’s fascinating. The important thing is that it remains a debate (and one in which I’m participating). Many students and faculty, however, would construe McWhorter’s words as “hate speech” and demand that they be censored. And that would end the debate. And that’s what they want when they hedge about “free speech”. The last thing the “free speech, but. . .” crowd wantw to hear is McWhorter’s claim:

The neoracists who have barred Jason Kilborn from campus in pretending this isn’t true are operating upon an assumption that black people are morons. This is a rather fascinating rendition of “antiracism,” and to treat it as “allyship” is nothing less than a cultural sickness.

If anything would be construed by the Offended as “hate speech”, that is it. But it isn’t: it’s a strong claim that McWhorter buttresses with evidence.

And so the debate goes on.

41 thoughts on “John McWhorter vs. Ibram X. Kendi on whether American schools are structurally racist

  1. What Kendi said was that “White supremacist violence is tacitly being fomented.” I question whether something can be tacitly fomented. At any rate, I think Kendi understands McWhorter perfectly, but he has no interest in engaging in a debate with him. (In fact, McWhorter has previously challenged Kendi to a debate, a challenge that Kendi has ignored.) Part of the problem is that the proponents of Critical Race Theory are not honest disputants, interested in arriving at truth. They are interested in driving their opposition from the field, and monopolizing discourse. I am sure the tar and feather crowd will be after McWhorter presently. I have not read, or listened to, enough of McWhorter, but he is one of the handful of people I look at regularly on Twitter. I look forward to his new book.

    1. Kendi has also superciliously dismissed Coleman Hughes’s invitation to a debate as well as Hughes’s request for a public conversation on Letter.wiki.

        1. Yes, your point indeed still stands. I wish that Kendi would have the courage to engage in passionate conversations with Loury, McWhorter, and Hughes–separately, not all three at once. That would be a pile-on unless Kendi brought allies, such as Coates and DiAngelo, with him. Hmm, that would be something to see, three against three. I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

  2. I wonder about the origins of the woke – is it a U.S. phenomenon, and how is it related to the emphasis public schools place on the service of emotions – and the weakness of quantitative and analytical reasoning.

    1. The ideological underpaint is late 1990s postmodernism, affecting “studies” subjects (e.g. gender studies, media studies etc.) Then, add a grounding of critical race theory (crt) that emerged at the time, which converted the “anti-racism” movement away from “colorblind” and “melting pot” ideas towards (crt) multiculturalism; segregationist, other ways of knowing, etcetera.

      Add social media and hugely influential “social justice blogging” that was a big part of this subculture. Social media then blew up, and the pioneers were hired as “experts” by the old media landscape to rejuvenate itself, giving this clickbaity style a huge influence, making it mainstream.

      People understood that individuals of the past are seen as bigoted, and those who resistet their era are now praised. I believe that this has a strong effect on young Americans as a relatively easy and cheap way to document to the future that they were praiseworthy as MLK or Rosa Parks, with as much effort as afew tweets. This cheapness then created further psychological effects of cheap signalling and overcoming the cheapness — by more radicalism, histrionics, burning bridges etc.

      That’s how I piece it together. Others, like aforementioned Pluckrose & Lindsay are too overwrought in my view. I believe the main proponents of wokeness have themselves no idea what they exactly believe, and why, but go along out of peer pressure and the religious desire to be part of a morally superior tribe.

      1. Yes, I have listened to Lindsay, Boghossian, and others describing tye phenomenon looking at advanced levels.

        I am pointing at effectively United States public K-12 education as it primes the graduates to be victims of analytically weak, emotionally strong ideologies. The terms “Critical – Theory” serve as an easy example of sounding analytical while the innards are a confused mush.

        1. The real Critical Theory is fine. It was the central project of the Frankfurt School, an attempt to show power dynamics to allow a greater maturity (or liberation) from such dynamics — an Enlightenment project. Pluckrose and Lindsay seem to propagate right wing conspiracy theories about the Frankfurt School.

          1. “Pluckrose and Lindsay seem to propagate right wing conspiracy theories about the Frankfurt School.”

            Can you elaborate further on this?

            1. Take a look here: Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory

              I think Pluckrose is a bit more nuanced, but Lindsay went all in later. Now, there is true core, like in all good conspiracy theories. But it’s akin to hearing of “social Darwinism”, then reading aghast that the guy, Charles Darwin, is an important figure in biology.

              1. Sorry, but I didn’t see any reference to Lindsay in that article. Could you elaborate specifically on Lindsay supporting “conspiracy theories” about the Frankfurt School? And, especially, Pluckrose? Saying that “Pluckrose is a bit more nuanced” is like saying, “well, he propagates conspiracy theories, but he doesn’t sound as bad doing it.” I’m just looking for evidence of your claim that they propagate “right wing conspiracy theories.”

              2. So the mention of cultural Marxism itself is a conspiracy theory? Is this a term that simply cannot be used and must be avoided at all costs? It’s not as if it doesn’t describe something real.

                Can you point me to a specific conspiracy theory? And, again, anything by Pluckrose, whom you also accused?

              3. Let’s first agree that Lindsay and Pluckrose put critical theory into the centre of wokeness, and that would be Frankfurt School. They call wokeness “Critical Social Justice”, while others trace a similar line, but more explitly call it “postmodern neo marxism” or “cultural marxism”. I acknowledge that Pluckrose and Lindsay admit “it’s complicated”. And yet, they traffick in that conspiracy theory. Lindsay does this more explicitly in his talks or on New Discourses, as you saw in the link, Pluckrose (afaik) doesn’t, but still agrees to this framework which they both put into a book.

                Why is that a problem? Marx and the Frankfurt School are simply influential academics in sociology and economics. A lot of what they wrote about capital, class or mass culture is fairly mainstream. Frankfurt School style critique of consumerism made it into Fight Club, for example. That’s the trivial part. In sociology and similar fields, you’d probably find traces of Frankfurt School. And so what? By the early 1970s both big names, Horkheimer and Adorno died and the best known (still living) Frankfurt School proponent has been Jürgen Habermas, critic of postmodernism and politically associated with social democracy. That’s not extreme left.

                The Big Scare and utility to the right is not some dry, barely penetrable analysis of Adorno, the tomes of Marx only economists read, or a philosopher like Habermas. Rather, the dynamite is in the association, purely, to Communism and in particular as instantiated by the Soviets (though Marx died some thirty years before the revolution).

                Since the McCarthy Era, Marx comes to mean, “unamerican” or traitorous, and that is where 99% of the purpose of the name drop lies. It’s called “Cultural Marxism” in particular to tap into Right Wing fears of moles and termites eating away the foundation on which the Bald Eagle rests. The Right has a simular thing going with Darwin, but it’s less political (leading kids away from Jesus into the arms of atheism and satanism).

                Further, the woke are at least disinterested in class or income equality, or outright hostile to it. Robin DiAngelo says anything else aside of “race” is pure distraction. This goes so much against the grain of Marxism that you should be even more suspicious why he is even mentioned. The purpose is Fox News propaganda.

              4. addendum: “ As for the world’s second major propaganda system, association of socialism with the Soviet Union and its clients serves as a powerful ideological weapon to enforce conformity and obedience to the State capitalist institutions, to ensure that the necessity to rent oneself to the owners and managers of these institutions will be regarded as virtually a natural law, the only alternative to the ‘socialist’ dungeon.” https://chomsky.info/1986____/

              5. My reading of Pluckrose/Lindsay’s book puts far more emphasis on the work of others… Foucault, Lyotard, and such. French mostly. Not so much on Frankfort School and Marxism.

      2. I do not think you can overstate the impact of social media on all of this. The same is equally true of all the extremist on the far right. It is probably even more important to the far right because these groups did not form on college campus like the left. How far would these movements have gone without social media – that would be an interesting study. Social media brings out other facts such as the lack of individual thinking and the herd mentality.

      3. Pretty good summary from my point of view. I’m perhaps less willing to call Pluckrose/Lindsay “too overwrought”. Even though most proponents of wokeness have poorly formed understandings of their own positions, their attitudes are being incorporated into institutional policy with real consequences for the lives of people affected.

          1. Well, true. Supporting tRump does measure overwroughtness. But as you point out, Pluckrose doesn’t board the Sedition Express just because wokeness is a problem.

              1. Hey, if nerdy hobbies precluded employment in white collar fields, the potential employees for those fields would be reduced dramatically! I’m not saying I love Lindsay, but his sword-wielding is A-OK with me.

          2. I agree that Lindsay has gone ’round the bend a bit. I share his concerns about “woke” culture (or whatever we’re going to call it), but voting for Trump and now giving at least some credence to “Stop the Steal!” mythology indicates he’s losing his grip.

    2. I think economics is part of the answer to every social issue. During the past 40 years the US has embraced a form of hyper-capitalism under which education, health care, and construction have become wildly expensive. As a consequence the universities have bloated administrative staffs that are encouraged to treat students like customers. Angry customers get attention, and the administrators fall over backwards trying to please them.

      Furthermore, administrators are eager to embrace wokism because it allows them to maintain their privilege; they get on the good side of the students/customers and funnel the latter’s rage toward others instead of themselves. Other factors—such as the rise of social media and the past few decades of postmodern critical theory–of course play large roles in the rise of the woke, but economics plays a major one.

  3. Based on the Kendi quotes you give here, he conveniently ignores whether Kilborn’s treatment at U. of Illinois was reasonable even though that was McWhorter’s main point. I suspect this is a common tactic of CRT supporters. They are so religious about their subject that any defense of it is justified. At the same time, the more intellectual among them, like Kendi, understand that such actions are damaging and indefensible so they deliberately ignore them for the presumed greater good of fighting structural racism.

    1. Exactly. Classic misdirection. The real question for Kendi is whether he believes professor Kilborn should have been suspended from teaching, if his questions about employment law were racist and if so how would Kendi pose the question, and whether the student’s reaction was hyperbolic. In a podcast between McWhorter and Loury, they acknowledge that Kendi won’t debate either of them out of fear of nothing to gain by exposing himself to superior arguments, loss of lucrative consultant fees, or just wasting his time. I’ll buy McWhorter’s forthcoming book to support him in his brave and noble civics mission of opposing Kendi’s warped and spreading anti-racism initiative.

  4. Robin DiAngelo’s ideological and business model grandmother, Judith H. Katz, kicked this all off 42 years ago with “White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training (1978)”; see https://kjcg.com/judith-h-katz. Next, the Schools of Ed and the Educational Consulting hustlers merged this trend with the “self-esteem movement”, to generate the entire culture of learned or feigned fragility, with its safe spaces, trigger warnings, perpetual offense-hunting, and the charade of swooning at the sight of cancelled words (even in expurgated form) on paper. In short, the educrats who have a firm grip on the American education system have spent the last generation creating what Lukianoff and Haidt summarize in “The Coddling of the American Mind”. The resulting mindset resembles the coddled egg it is named after: “a soft texture, with the yolk still at least partially runny”.

  5. Let’s be blunt. “Antiracism” is an extortion racket, which follows the pattern of old-time fundy preachers, or the protagonist in “The Music Man”. First you persuade the innocent marks that they’ve got a problem (“Sin, sin, sin!”, or “We’ve got trouble, right here in River City. That starts with T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for ‘pool'”), and then you sell them the cure. Kendi and friends preach “You’re all ray-ray-raaaaacist”, and then “You owe me, Whitey”, and finally “So gimme the money”. You’ll note that all the “demands” of these “antiracist” manifestos always include firing some people from their jobs and replacing them with “special committees” on “systemic racism” — which means giving more money to the “antiracist experts”. It’s a con-game, pure and simple.

  6. I’ve said before that I have immense respect for John McWhorter. Long may he stand up to over wrought victimhood.

  7. Kendi has made a pretty good living, although his only skills seem to be accusing people of racism, and denouncing capitalism. I suppose we must be grateful that he is no longer promoting the idea that White folks are evil space aliens.
    I propose that in an actual racist society, he would find it much harder to live well off of such a dodge.

  8. I’m not surprised Kendi is now targeting McWhorter, because if anyone put a needle in the balloon of hysteria Kendi peddles, it’s McWhorter, who writes with a clarity and undeniable logic that are devastating to bad thinking. I especially liked these paragraphs:

    “If Princeton is really a place where the demands in the letter would be appropriate, then the idea of the school being formally investigated for racist practices shouldn’t seem so absurd. A Princeton truly all about racism, bigotry, discrimination, obstacles, and inattendance to same—as the faculty letter richly implied and even stated—would be gracefully submissible to charges of civil-rights violation.

    “The only way to make sense of this contradiction is to allow that Princeton’s problems must be much subtler, and also have much less actual effect, than what civil-rights law is designed to address. And if the letter refers to matters so elusive and indirect, one must question the uncompromising, alarmist extremity of the letter.”

  9. I agree with John, any student that has heart palpitations over something they read needs psychological counselling.

    1. Especially in freaking law school. I remember reading a couple of years ago about some law schools allowing students to opt out of attending classes where rape and sexual assault law was discussed. How can this be allowed? Feeling emotionally safe and happy at all times is more important than understanding the law as a future lawyer?!?

      It’s insanity. Maybe the likes of Kendi, DiAngelo, etc. just don’t want any competition.

      1. I graduated law school here in NYC 18 years ago (Christ I’m getting OLD!) and there were a lot of topics – racial, sexual and about violence we routinely encountered, read about and discussed – although not all of the curriculum was that cool – sadly.

        The thought that we wouldn’t, or COULDN’T encounter these topics would have been utterly bizarre: “WTF are you doing here, then?” would have been everybody’s response. I don’t get it. I’m not sure I even believe it that law students today would object.
        D.A., J.D.
        https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2020/06/10/photos-of-readers-93/

    2. I must say that I’ve experienced very similar symptoms when, in a public forum and was compelled to speak up with questions – I understood it to be an affect of thrill seeking.

      I also found that it might have been excess sodium, bad sleep, excess coffee, and not enough water *with* salty foods.

      So I would NOT suggest psychological, but medical doctor. But they aren’t going to help unless the patient does work to help themselves.

      But of course that itself is white supremacy to some so pffff.

  10. The reason McWhorter hasn’t been cancelled is the following.

    1. Any cancellation campaign would be grounded in the accusation that the cancellee is a racist, as evidenced by his writings.
    2. They can’t accuse a black person of being racist, because that would undermine their whole framework.
    3. They can’t argue that McWhorter is not black, because he self identifies as black and because he visibly has a significant portion of recent African ancestry.

  11. There are many reasons to criticize Kendi.

    But for me, the primary cause for my doubts about him is that the major claims he makes are merely assertions. There is no way to demonstrate, definitively, Kendi’s insistence that certain tenets and his manifestly lunatic prescriptions (an unaccountable federal agency/entity that scores literally everything on supposedly racist outcomes … Coleman Hughes was absolutely right to call the idea “nakedly authoritarian”).

    Kendi has done some thinking. He’s come up with some ideas worth discussing. But it seems to me that after that, his main mission is to assert the Truth of his propositions, nastily criticize anyone who might disagree and refuse to actually debate or consider his ideas in the public square. He wants us all to accept his ideas as Truth and be done with it.

    No thanks, Mr. Rogers.

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