The Church of Anti-Racism

February 9, 2021 • 9:30 am

Father McWhorter has yet another sermon for us today. He appears to be publishing his new book, to be called The Elect: Neoracists Posing as Antiracists and their Threat to a Progressive America, in installments on his website. The first installment is here, but you have to subscribe to read it. However, what appears below, which you can read gratis, is a real excerpt from his book.

Actually, I do the man a disservice by calling him “Father McWhorter,” for religion is precisely the topic of his book. He sees “anti-racism”, as promulgated by the likes of Ibram Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, and Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, as not a philosophy or a social movement, but as a religion. Like religion, its tenets and adherents resist disconfirmation; and its advocates see themselves as “The Elect”, acting as Inquisitors, determining what language should be used and what thoughts constitute blasphemy, consigning blasphemers (like himself!) to perdition, and showing themselves immune to reason. In fact, at the beginning of his Persuasion piece below (click on screenshot, reading is free), McWhorter lists ten internal conflicts between various tenets of modern anti-racism. In each case the Elect make two claims that are contradictory.

Further, he sees modern anti-racism as itself racist in that it infantilizes black people. As he says,

I write this viscerally driven by the fact that all of this supposed wisdom is founded in an ideology under which white people calling themselves our saviors make black people look like the dumbest, weakest, most self-indulgent human beings in the history of our species, and teach black people to revel in that status and cherish it as making us special. Talking of Antiracist Baby, I am especially dismayed at the idea of this indoctrination infecting my daughters’ sense of self. I can’t always be with them, and this anti-humanist ideology may seep into their school curriculum. I shudder at the thought: teachers with eyes shining at the prospect of showing their antiracism by teaching my daughters that they are poster children rather than individuals.

Ta-Nehisi Coates in Between the World and Me wanted to teach his son that America is set against him; I want to teach my kids the reality of their lives in the 21st rather than early-to-mid-20th century. Lord forbid my daughters internalize a pathetic—yes, absolutely pathetic in all of the resonances of that word—sense that what makes them interesting is what other people think of them, or don’t.

Though he’s passionate in his words, McWhorter is pretty calm about his intellectual opponents. He knows what he’s in for and accepts that The Elect not only won’t hear him, but will try to erase his lived experience, as they might say.

I’ll give just two excerpts. The first is how he sees the new anti-racism fitting into the history of black liberation:

One can divide antiracism into three waves. First Wave Antiracism battled slavery and segregation. Second Wave Antiracism, in the 1970s and 1980s, battled racist attitudes and taught America that being racist was a flaw. Third Wave Antiracism, becoming mainstream in the 2010s, teaches that racism is baked into the structure of society, so whites’ “complicity” in living within it constitutes racism itself, while for black people, grappling with the racism surrounding them is the totality of experience and must condition exquisite sensitivity toward them, including a suspension of standards of achievement and conduct.

Third Wave Antiracist tenets, stated clearly and placed in simple oppositions, translate into nothing whatsoever. . . .

He then lists ten pair of contradictory tenets of the movement.  They add up to this:

The revelation of racism is, itself and alone, the point, the intention, of this curriculum. As such, the fact that if you think a little, the tenets cancel one another out, is considered trivial. That they serve their true purpose of revealing people as bigots is paramount—sacrosanct, as it were. Third Wave Antiracism’s needlepoint homily par excellence is the following:

Battling power relations and their discriminatory effects must be the central focus of all human endeavor, be it intellectual, moral, civic or artistic. Those who resist this focus, or even evidence insufficient adherence to it, must be sharply condemned, deprived of influence, and ostracized.

Later on, he specifies what his book is not:

  1. It is not an argument against protest. I am not arguing against the basic premises of Black Lives Matter, although I have had my differences with some of its offshoot developments. I am not arguing that the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s would have been better off sticking to quiet negotiations. I am not arguing against the left. I am arguing against a particular strain of the left that has come to exert a grievous influence over American institutions, to the point that we are beginning to accept as normal the kinds of language, policies and actions that Orwell wrote of as fiction.
  2. I am not writing this thinking of right-wing America as my audience. I will make no appearances on any Fox News program to promote it. People of that world are welcome to listen in. But I write this to two segments of the American populace. Both are what I consider to be my people, which is what worries me so much about what is going on. One segment is the New York Times-reading, National Public Radio-listening people of any color who have innocently fallen under the impression that pious, unempirical virtue-signaling about race is a form of moral enlightenment and political activism, and ever teeter upon becoming card-carrying Third Wave Antiracists themselves. The other is those black people who have innocently fallen under the misimpression that for us only, cries of weakness constitute a kind of strength, and that for us only, what makes us interesting, what makes us matter, is a curated persona as eternally victimized souls, ever carrying and defined by the memories and injuries of our people across four centuries behind us, ever “unrecognized,” ever “misunderstood,” ever unpaid.
  3. This is not merely a complaint. My goal is not to venture the misty statement that a diversity of opinions is crucial to a healthy society. Citing John Stuart Mill at Third Wave Antiracists serves no purpose because they are operating under the influence of a religion. Our current conversations waste massive amounts of energy in missing the futility of “dialogue” with them. Of a hundred fundamentalist Christians, how many do you suppose could be convinced via argument to become atheists? There is no reason that the number of people who can be talked out of the Third Wave Antiracism religion is any higher. As such, our concern must be how to continue with genuine progress in spite of this ideology. How do we work around it? How do we insulate people with good ideas from the influence of the Third Wave Antiracists’ liturgical concerns? How do we hold them off from influencing the education of our young people any more than they already have?

My interest is not “How do we get through to these people?” We cannot, at least not enough of them to matter. The question is “How can we can live graciously among them?” We seek change in the world, but for the duration will have to do so while encountering bearers of a gospel, itching to smoke out heretics, and ready on a moment’s notice to tar us as moral perverts.

I don’t have much to add here, since by and large I’m on McWhorter’s side. He’s much safer than I in espousing his views, however, for he’s black and I am not. Pigmentation and ethnicity shouldn’t matter, but it does. However, I’m not going to be one of the silent ones who swallow the pabulum of the Elect and regurgitate noises of virtue.

McWhorter does recognize that he’ll be denounced as a “self-hating black,” but he’s already defused that criticism:

I will be dismissed instead as self-hating by a certain crowd. But frankly, they won’t really mean it, and anyone who gets through my new book on this subject, which I am now publishing in serial, will see that whatever traits I harbor, hating myself or being ashamed of being black is not one of them. And we shall move on.

Yes, we shall move on, but we shall also be in the minority, drowned out by the megaphones of the Righteous Liberal Media. It’s not pleasant being surrounded by a society that, constituted largely of Leftists fearing to be called racists, panders to the Elect. This is especially true on college campuses like mine, where the like-minded have learned to keep their mouths shut.

Just for fun, here’s another video, created by comedian Ryan Long, that characterizes wokeness as a religion, though it correctly sees wokeness as going well beyond McWhorter’s bailiwick. The Elect police things other than race!

And it’s pretty funny. The headlines Long shows are real, too.

h/t: Luana

60 thoughts on “The Church of Anti-Racism

  1. “We expect you to repent in the form of a written apology, then we cast you out anyway”.

    There are horrible similarities between this and the way that christians destroyed civilisation in the 4th and 5th centuries.

  2. On a slightly related point, I was wondering this morning if we will ever reach the point where calling someone a racist without justification will be considered a slur, and as reprehensible as using any other slur. Will we eventually refer to it as the “r-word”? It certainly, from Woke style logic, could be considered a form of violence to use it against someone in a public forum, since such epithets can lead to loss of livelihood and ostracism, with all the potential consequences those entail.

    1. Answer: When racism is no longer a thing. AKA probably never. Ok, well a really long time then.

      Coming at this another way, what you are describing will never happen because when racism fades, the stigmas associated with it fade in unison. Perhaps cannibalism was once a thing and one could be accused of it using the c-word (or something analogous in the appropriate language). In our society, cannibalism is not a particularly big problem. One can be accused of it, of course, but there’s no talk about the c-word because that would require cannibalism be a widespread issue.

      1. “You may say I’m a dreamer…”

        I don’t actually have anything against the word itself, but since it carries such social consequences to be tarred with the epithet, I wish there was more of a “call-out” culture against people using it reflexively, especially when unjustified and/or with deliberate malice.

          1. Then they use the true sophistry of this near-religion, calculated to avoid ad hominems :

            One response is racist, the other is not.

            Or the (very limited) variations thereof. They will have shown (at least to The Elect) someone to have made racist decisions and aggressions – but without needing to name-call.

    2. McWhorter really seems to have an issue with Ibram Kendi, perhaps because Kendi called him a racist. Maybe he’s jealous because Kendi’s books have been getting much more attention than his. I’ve read them both and I must say I prefer the content and writing style of Kendi over McWhorter. It may have something to do with Kendi being an historian and McWhorter’s background being linguistics. Or perhaps the fact that Kendi writes in less of a condescending manner than McWhorter does.

      It could also have to do with the fact that McWhorter is a black conservative, so his writings generally get white people off the hook. Generally, I would say most black people prefer Kendi over McWhorter especially when it pertains to the history of racism in this country.

      As a black atheist and liberal myself, I prefer Kendi over McWhorter, although as I stated, I’ve read them both. Just like other people, black people are not a monolith in thought and politics. So you will find some black conservatives, however, not many.

      I do take issue with McWhorter’s comparison of antiracism as a religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the same trick religious people have used against atheists for years implying that atheism is just another religion, which of course is absurd.

      1. Or maybe Kendi is an extremist and McWhorter really does oppose the kind of wokeness Kendi and Robin DiAngelo promulgate! It is not fair of you to find some psychological reason for McWhorter’s views rather than taking his argument and examples seriously.

        You have to impute it, for example, to McWhorter’s jealousy? Really? That’s pretty low. I have no evidence that McWhorter is jealous. I could say, in response, that Kendi is just going with the Zeitgiest and trying to gain fame and money, like writing the book “Antiracist Baby.” I could say he changed his name just to give himself more credibility. But I prefer to think that both men are sincere in their ideas, and this is a battle of ideas.

        The examples of antiracist insanity, many promulgated by white folks, are innumerable; the NYT’s firing of McNeil for using the n-word didactically is one. That’s simply nuts, and is the kind of religious “blasphemy” attitude that McWhorter mentions. This website has covered many, many more. How many examples do you need?

        Yes, atheists have been unfairly tarred with being quasi-religious, but we don’t show the kind of behavior that the Elect do, like blasphemy, persecution, inquisition, and refusal to forgive people who have apologized.

        By the way, McWhorter doesn’t consider HIMSELF a conservative; he calls himself a “cranky liberal Democrat”. Why on earth do you say he’s a conservative?

        Oh, and should all white people be “ON the hook”? What hook is that, exactly?

        1. “Maybe he’s jealous because Kendi’s books have been getting much more attention than his.”

          To evaluate the problem, we must assume one person would wish they had “more attention” than another person.

          The important question about that is :

          So what?

        2. Extremism is in the eye of the beholder. Barry Goldwater thought extremism was no vice in the pursuit of liberty. So much for extremism and your pejorative use of the word. As for McWhorter’s views, I’ve read them for years, he doesn’t say anything new.

          McWhorter advocates hard work, self-respect, two parent families, picking yourself up by your own bootstraps and equal opportunity, all laudable goals as long as the rules apply to everyone equally and we’re all starting at the same starting point. But the fact is, we’re not. No point could be made clearer than the current Coronavirus, whose disparities and impact on the black community has been devastating and disproportionate not to mention the disparities on how the vaccines have been distributed. I’m sure McWhorter would say that black folks just chose to move to the wrong neighborhoods and chose the wrong occupations.

          Racist ideas that built this country are real and have lasted to this day. Perhaps you and McWhorter should read Kendi’s earlier book, “Stamped From the Beginning”, which takes its title from a speech made by then Senator Jefferson Davis on the virtues of white supremacy.

          As to your comment on McWhorter calling himself a “cranky liberal Democrat”, I say only this; I don’t judge a person on what he/she says as much on what they do. If McWhorter must tell people he’s a Democrat, he most certainly is not. Just as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are most certainly not democracies. Don’t be fooled by the title.

          I’ll end with this, since it’s your blog and will get the last word anyway. What I meant by saying that McWhorter gets white people off the hook, that is, some and by no means all, is that his view are non-threating, non-confrontational, and non-accusatory. McWhorter’s views match what white people want to hear. If black people just work hard, stop killing each other, stop have un-wed births, get educated everything will be fine. He’s the darling of some liberal and certainly conservative media.

          But as long a white people in this country never confront the legacy of systemic racism resulting in 300 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow, nothing will change. In 2021 we’re still fighting about confederate statues. How many statues are there of Hitler and Goebbels prominently displayed in Berlin? None.

          1. This is the last word from me and from you on this.

            1. McWhorter has a unique modern take on wokeness and anti-racism. The anti-racism he addresses is a new phenomenon. What he says about it is therefore a new take on a new movement. You’re dead wrong about the lack of novelty in his views.

            2. McWhorter does not say we’re starting at the same point: he admits that African-Americans have been held back by a legacy of racism and that important changes in opportunity need to take place to create a level playing field. (Schools, housing, etc.) You clearly have not read what he says.

            3. It’s wrong to impute the disparities in coronavirus infection rates to pure racism acting in this decade, and your comment on McWhorter’s imagined response is uncharitable.

            4. Yes, there are racist ideas still afoot today, but the idea that we’re all permeated by implicit and structural racism (his view) is ridiculous. I have read Kendi and so has McWhorter. I haven’t read that book in particular but presume McWhorter has. I have read enough of Kendi to know that McWhorter’s characterization is not off the mark.

            5. McWhorter called himself a “cranky liberal Democrat” in response to someone asking what he’d say about himself. I’d call myself a cranky democrat too. It’s risible that you say that self-definition cannot be true. Am I not a Democrat? Give me a break.

            6. Perhaps, you know, there is some merit in what McWhorter has to say. We all admit that racism hasn’t been eliminated and that important structural changes need to take place in society to give minorities equal opportunities. I have gotten that message from groups like Black Lives Matter, not McWhorter. But have you considered that maybe you don’t like part of McWhorter’s message because it’s not what black people want to hear? Family structure is an important issue in the black community, and that’s not just due to racism, since it’s gotten much worse in the last 30 years. But of course one can’t mention that because it’s taboo–it gives African-Americans partial responsibility to better their own situation, too. And that’s what YOU don’t want to hear. I won’t mention crime rates, since you know about that.

            7. I have always said that Confederate statues should be taken down or, in some circumstances, qualified with plaques or counterstatues. You clearly have no idea what I think.

          2. “…If McWhorter must tell people he’s a Democrat…”

            Wait… I’m a Democrat. Does that mean I’m certainly not a Democrat? Your reasoning provides a good example of exactly what McWhorter is discussing these days.

          3. Our perceptions of Covid have been highly manipulated by the media, which highlights facts that go with the anti-racism narrative while omitting others. Preexisting conditions, including obesity, very negatively affect the outcome. When you control for these conditions, the disparities among races basically disappear. Of course there are discrepancies between populations in preexisting conditions and no doubt some of these discrepancies are due to past racism—-but they’re also due to cultural differences and education levels (same covid discrepancies are found between lower and upper classes). The media fails to mention that in many places (such as MA), it is whites who die most frequently (no doubt due to average age differences between groups), although infection rates are indeed higher among hispanics and blacks. Now the reason they are higher in these groups is due to behaviors – as a latina I can assure you that my family (and friends) mock the social-distancing protocols and of course we spent the holidays together. Our cultural gregariousness is wonderful, but detrimental in times of pandemics!). Here is the data from MA – data where they reported ethnicity among infected and dead (towards bottom of page, pie charts):

          4. “I’m sure McWhorter would say that black folks just chose to move to the wrong neighborhoods and chose the wrong occupations.”

            One could listen to McWhorter briefly discuss this with Glenn Loury on one of the recorded discussions they have sometimes, on “Blogging Heads TV” – it is on YouTube, but might be elsewhere.


            I am pretty sure Loury has more knowledge on this, and I don’t think it is an open and shut case, as the assertion “chose …wrong” suggests. Actually, I think McWhorter was pretty quiet at that point in the conversation in fact. By the way, the verb “choose” begs the question how one can choose freely in the first place. But that’s another issue.

            “McWhorter’s views match what white people want to hear […]”

            I am confused – is this superficial fact supposed to be surprising? Or does it mean the word “some” is omitted, as in “*some* white people”? An equivalent statement could be constructed for any other author, but I refrain.

            ‘… everything will be fine. “

            Where and when did McWhorter say that? I certainly don’t remember that notion.

            Technical question: when a comment is edited, as this was, and the subscribers get the notification in email, what about the edits? How do subscribers get informed of the edits? My edits changed the tone of a part of a sentence, but the meaning also changed – in short, the expression was significantly different.

      2. I agree with Damon in preferring Kendi over McWhorter, although I haven’t read much that Kendi wrote, just listened to some interviews with him. Kendi simply does not fit McWhorter’s picture of the woke religion. In particular, he does not promote infantilization of black people. It’s a straw man. There are a lot of straw man fallacies going on in the battle over antiracism (coming from both extremes), as well as a lot of weak man fallacies. Do read the linked article by Scott Alexander, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare.

  3. I am struck by the parallel between the woke idea that if a person feels harm as a result of words spoken, that is enough to cancel, or fire the speaker, and the “stand your ground” laws that say that if a person feels threatened as a result of an encounter, it is permissible to kill. Are these just two examples merely symptoms of something going on in our society? It would be interesting to hear a psychologist’s opinion.

    1. I’m not a psychologist but I think you are onto something here. They are both examples where how someone feels about something matters more than an objective assessment of the situation. A cop can shoot a suspect if they feel threatened by them regardless of whether they have a weapon. It only matters if the cop thinks they have a weapon. A lady who doesn’t welcome a gentleman’s advances can legitimately accuse him of inappropriate behavior regardless of what he actually said.

      Modern society is filled with this attitude. IMHO, it’s a response to recognition of the limitations of rule-based assessment. When we judge a situation based on objective rules, there are likely to be cases where they seem inadequate or unfair, or otherwise don’t provide the desired outcome. We could add more rules to cover those cases but that makes things more complicated and may not be practical. Instead, some have seen fit to rewrite the rules such that they legislate a desired outcome. In general, this just doesn’t work.

    2. Don’t you think there is a difference between fearing for one’s life and being subjected to a microaggression?

      For what if’s worth, I think you get “stand your ground” for a similar reason as “zero tolerance” policies in schools: lack of confidence that responsible authorities can come up with fair and reasonable judgments. Extreme policies are thus intended to limit their decision making.

    3. A difference though is that in stand your ground, there is I think an understanding that the shooter had acted in a moment of immediate fear, where it is acknowledged that they had to act in haste because if they waited for more information it could be too late for them. That seems different from writing up a formal complaint after hearing a teacher read the n-word from a book (and doing so after warning the class).

      1. The huge problem is that “Stand your ground”, which should only apply inside one’s home, now seems to apply anywhere withing one’s neighborhood or even withing one’s town. Complete nonsense.

        1. re: Stand Your Ground
          They SHOULD just apply to the home (if we have to have them at all, and we don’t because in common law there is a “duty to retreat” if at all possible), but, for instance in Florida (which is the primary example of Stand Your Ground laws) they’re written for anywhere, not just your home. Supermarket parking lot, say: “Stand your parking space”.
          My humble opinion is they’re violent and insane laws – which is why they’re so popular with the electorate.

          D.A., J.D.

      2. That doesn’t quite get to what “stand your ground” (SYG) laws are about.
        They are intended as a counter to “duty to retreat” (DTR) laws.

        DTR laws say, “a person who is unlawfully attacked (or who is defending someone who is unlawfully attacked) may not use deadly force if it is possible to instead avoid the danger with complete safety by retreating.”

        SYG laws explicitly remove a person’s duty to retreat. They don’t just allow a person to use deadly force if they think they are in sufficient danger, which DTR laws already allow. What they allow is for a person to use deadly force even when “it is possible to instead avoid the danger safely by retreating.”

        SYG laws are detrimental to a decent society.

          1. Oh, I think you are right that they aren’t the same. I think it’s likely that some of the underlying impulses are the same. The difference is one of scale, or intensity, which I think is plenty significant enough to say they are not equivalent.

        1. I would like to counter the argument that “SYG laws are detrimental to a decent society” that the problem is not created by people legitimately defending themselves, but by the root issues causing innocent people going about their business to reasonably fear for their lives.

          I appreciate your bringing up the fact that SYG laws were conceived to counter flaws and ambiguities in DTR laws, even if you did not phrase it that way.

          It is much the same with concealed carry laws. If you have access to a firearm, you are either open or concealed carrying. I got my concealed permit specifically so I could not be prosecuted for illegally concealing if I had a gun that was just not visible, in the normal situations where someone like me would normally carry a gun. I had my permit for years, and never once felt a need to carry concealed in a public space, at least until the recent unpleasantness.

          1. the root issues causing innocent people going about their business to reasonably fear for their lives.

            And yet that’s not how it’s used.

            Trayvon Martin was running away. How exactly did Zimmerman reasonably fear for his life?

            Joe Horn was in his home and saw two people burglarizing his neighbor’s home. He called the cops, then walked out of his house, over to the neighbors, and shot them both with his shotgun. He was not even indicted. How exactly did Horn, sitting in his house, reasonably fear for his life?

            Byron Thomas was trying to buy weed from a bunch of teenagers in an SUV. But the deal didn’t happen for some reason, the teens started driving away, so Thomas unloaded on the car, citing his “reasonable” fear that as it was driving away one of the teens could hypothetically have jumped out of the car and attacked him. He killed a 15 year old. He was cleared by the grand jury.

            Bo Morrison was a 19 year old kid at a party. The police raided it after a noise complaint, and the underage drinkers all ran. Morrison hid on a nearby front stoop. The homeowner opened the door and shot him, killing him, then cited his right to ‘stand your ground’ – even Morrison was basically huddled in a small ball, and the homeowner had to open his locked door and point down at a guy huddled in his doorway to do the shooting. Is it “reasonable fear of your life” whenever a teenager sits down on your front stoop now?

            Greyston Garcia discovered Pedro Roteta stealing the radio out of his truck. Roteta ran, throwing the radio at Garcia to stop him from chasing. It didn’t work; Garcia chased him down the street for over a block, caught him, and knifed him to death. Garcia was acquitted under stand your ground (even though he was literally not standing his ground). How is this at all justified? Garcia didn’t prevent a potential attack – he made one. He chased someone running away from him down, and killed them. For a radio.

            And IMO the Martin, Horn, and Garcia cases aren’t bad apples – they are the way many supporters of the law want it to work. They want to be able to not just shoot people coming into their homes (already covered under the castle doctrine, no ‘stand your ground’ law needed), they want to be able to vigilante-like chase down robbers who are nowhere near them, who may in fact be unaware or running away from them, and kill them.

            This is the Orwellian nature of the law, and the reason most liberals oppose it – because it allows a stand-your-grounder who is in relative safety to go out of their way to put themselves in danger, then murder someone and get away with it citing the dangerous situation they themselves created. One should not be able to use self-created danger as a justification for violence. And yet, that’s exactly what stand your ground does.

            1. None of those cases are particularly good examples of SYG laws being used for their intended purpose.

              Zimmerman is a poor example, as SYG was not claimed as a defense. When he shot Martin, he was on his back with Martin on top of him, at least according to John Good, who witnessed the end of the confrontation. At that point, retreating was probably not an option. SYG would only apply if Zimmerman was attacked while while engaging in lawful activity. He had no particular authority to confront people he saw as suspicious, so SYG might not have been an appropriate defense.

              Joe Horn in Pasadena did not use SYG as part of his defense. He should not have gone outside, but when he shot the burglars, they were on his property after having robbed his neighbor.

              Byron Thomas used a stolen gun in the shooting of Jamonta Miles, for which he was prosecuted. The teens in the car had come to Raceland to feud with a rival gang, and had threatened several people there. Thomas did not use SYG as a defense, because he was not indited for the shooting itself. I could find no mention of SYG being mentioned as a factor by the grand jury, either.

              Bo Morrison was not hiding on anyone’s front stoop, which would more or less be a public space. He was drunk, and hiding from police inside the homeowner’s enclosed back porch. Morrison exchanged words with the homeowner, then approached him in the dark. The homeowner fired a single shot. The DA mentioned that Castle Doctrine was considered in their decision not to prosecute. At the time and place of this shooting, no SYG law was in place.

              The ruling in the Greyston Garcia case was based largely on testimony that the victim, Pedro Roteta, had swung the bag of stolen radios he was carrying at Garcia. It appears that the judge considered the case from the perspective that although Garcia chased and confronted the thief, the SYG situation began when Roteta swung the bag at Garcia. Prosecutors were planning to appeal the judge’s ruling, but Garcia was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout shortly after the Roteta case was adjudicated.

              One of the issues we face out here is poachers. The normal practice is to confront them, and tell them to leave, noting any license plates or other identification to pass on to law enforcement. Poachers are almost always armed. Without SYG, they could pretty much poach with impunity. I could never confront them, as they would know that they could use threats or force against me, and I would be afraid to defend myself because it could be always be argued that I could have gone back to the ranch house and hidden in the basement.
              I am not going to get into such a situation willingly. Most folks are just unsure of where they are, and have no idea that they are on private and posted land. Many of them are just hiking or camping, which is no big deal. But I don’t know until I go out there and talk to them. It is something done with a certain amount of caution, but one of the things that must be done if you are a landowner out here. It would be stupid to call the county every time I saw a four wheeler in our valley, or saw footprints on the river bank. Nobody would ever come soon enough to do anything useful, and most of the time it is just someone who thinks they are still on National Forest land.

              Of course, that perspective might not be appropriate in an urban area with higher population density and more law enforcement presence.

  4. I am looking forward to this in book form. I do find his take on our current cultural calamity quite interesting. I’m also looking forward to another of his books, to be released on May 4;

    Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter.

  5. I read his latest email update, I’m pretty sure that’s it – I hate to use a cliché, but the writing is like a flashlight, but also refreshing. Looking forward to the book.

  6. McWhorter’s piece is great, and his list of ten contradictory er.. Commandments is spot on:

    Black students must be admitted to schools via adjusted grade and test score standards to ensure a representative number of them and foster a diversity of views in classrooms. But it is racist to assume a black student was admitted to a school via racial preferences, and racist to expect them to represent the “diverse” view in classroom discussions.

    1. I do not think this is quite fair It would be wrong to ask a student “what do you think as a black person?” but reasonable to hope they would spontaneously give a black viewpoint.

      1. I don’t think we can reasonably expect anyone to speak as a representative of some group or other, especially when they have no control over their membership in the group. The person we are asking might have little familiarity with the larger population we are asking them to represent.
        I used to often be the only Caucasian in class. When similar issues came up, my response would be along the lines of “How would I know? I have been here since I was four, and have not really been around them much, except my own family.”

  7. My interest is not “How do we get through to these people?” We cannot, at least not enough of them to matter. The question is “How can we can live graciously among them?”

    This is what makes McWhorter good to read. I’m not sure there is an answer to his question, though.

  8. One area of discussion right now is “vaccine hesitancy”, where minority groups express skepticism about getting one of the Covid vaccines since they have been conditioned to just not trust our institutions. I think I get it – there can be a state of mind sort of like PTSD,where one just experiences strong feelings of doubt about any state or government institution (read: white institution). But recently there was a round-table discussion about this on NPR, and I swear the people in the discussion would do nothing to try to talk people out of this ill-reasoned and frankly dangerous opinion. It was their truth, and so it was to be honored.

    1. I’ve noticed that phenomenon, too. Instead of just accepting this as a “to be expected”, the conversation really should be around “how do we overcome this?” And sometimes it does. But often not.

    2. “It was their truth, and so it was to be honored.”

      This is the common thread. It can be used to end any rational discussion and propagate any idea regardless of merit. All that is required is the claim to believe something strongly based on experience. One probably can’t even have their experience challenged, let alone the ideas that it brought about. I suppose we could each challenge bad ideas defended this way by claiming our own experience tells us differently but that would be playing their fool’s game.

      1. “Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”

      2. Bill Maher put up a Ted Cruz quote the other day about how there were 39% of all people who voted a certain way, so therefore that way “is a reality” now.

    3. What makes this ‘vaccine hesitancy’, even among reasonable people, worse is the discovery that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine -the only one available here as yet- is probably ineffective for the new 501Y.V2 strain, which quickly has become dominant here in SA and probably soon everywhere. Should one take a shot that probably is basically ineffective? I don’t think so.
      Of course that has only obliquely to do with the ‘vaccine hesitancy’ you refer to. But sadly, it will strengthen the anti-vaxxers.

      1. “new 501Y.V2 strain”

        Also known as the five – oh – one – capital why – capital vee two strain. Which is of particular concern to residents of the Earth.

      2. Depends what you mean by ‘ineffective’. There is some evidence that it doesn’t fully protect against catching the ‘SA’ variant of the bug. But there is also strong evidence that it greatly mitigates its effects, and reduces the likelihood of hospitalisation and death.

        As to the dominance of the SA strain, I believe the current UK view is that in this country it is unlikely to out-compete the ‘Kent’ strain, against which the Oxford vaccine is highly effective.

        1. I said ‘probably ineffective’, not ‘ineffective’. There is a lot we do not yet know, and the available studies are small, ridiculously so, if you want to derive some certainty.
          My point is that if there is so much controversy (not pop controversy, but scientific controversy) about the efficacy of a vaccine to the dominant strain, it is not unreasonable to be hesitant to take the shot.
          Note, I’m hesitant for the Astra-Zeneca, but I might still take the shots. However, I’d like another, better vaccine in addition.
          ‘Better’ in the sense of more effective against the dominant strain.

          1. Isn’t that obviously irrational though? It’s like saying that since Alice says eat your veggies because they’re really good for you, and Bob says eat your veggies because they’re probably good for you, therefore the most sensible thing to do in the face of Alice and Bob’s disagreement is not eat them.

  9. McWorther is a sharp, brilliant intellect, and a great observer. He, moreover, realises that the one person easiest to fool is oneself (thanks Feynman) . This is the gist -I guess- what McWorther is doing: describing people fooling themselves. And trying to find a way for others to navigate these seas of foolishness.

  10. “…make black people look like the dumbest, weakest, most self-indulgent human beings in the history of our species, and teach black people to revel in that status and cherish it as making us special.”

    I really think that if anything will defeat critical race theory, or at least temper its influence, it will be this argument, made by black people that will grow tired of the bigotry of low expectations.

    1. Exactly, I have some outstanding black colleagues that suffer from the suspicion that they reached their position not on merit, but because of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment, basically affirmative action). They have to prove themselves time and again. That is not an acceptable way to force someone to live, IMMO.
      Note, it is a suspicion I’m not completely immune to, since the phenomenon does exist. I think there really is some toxicity in AA and BEE.

      1. In light of this, I find it interesting how “Imposter Syndrome” takes on a new meaning – namely, as a white phenomenon.

        Trying new spellings of white :


        … looks like shite … you know, those might do fine!

  11. John McWhorter’s points are excellent. I would expand his analysis to include the insight of Lukianoff and Haidt’s “Coddling” book, i.e., the relationship of this kind of “anti-racist” discourse to the therapeutic mindset.
    It reminds me of the way some individuals refer incessantly to “my therapist”,
    except it is now whole brigades, or rather whole institutions, and they are referring to their Diversity Consultant. Or to D, E, and I as not merely holy in the religious sense, but also fashionably salubrious, like certain diets.

    Come to think of it, D, E, and I have already entered the food system, as illustrated by this little news item from last year. “On October 6, 2016, Ben & Jerry’s penned a letter to its consumers about the significance of Black Lives Matter. In the letter, the ice cream makers asked that people not to be complicit with systemic and institutionalized racism. On Jun 2, 2020, the company posted a press release on its website asking its consumers to help in the dismantling of white supremacy.” Should be presume that the term
    white supremacy here refers to vanilla ice cream?

    1. “Or to D, E, and I as not merely holy in the religious sense, but also fashionably salubrious, like certain diets.”–well written, bravo!

  12. Hear, hear! They are a humorless bunch, as with other religious fanatics. This humorlessness is concomitant of immaturity and reminds me of Ethel Barrymore’s famous quotation: “You grow up the day you have your first real laugh–at yourself.”

  13. I often say: remove the greatest difference among humans—race/color—and left are less obvious differences over which to clash, such as sub-racial identity (i.e. ethnicity), nationality, religion and so forth down that scale we tumble. (Add, say, a contemporary deadly disease to the ugly equation for a really hateful fire.)

    Therefore, what humankind may need to suffer in order to survive the long term—indeed from ourselves!—is an even greater nemesis (perhaps a multi-tentacled ET?) than our own politics of difference, against which we could all unite, attack and defeat—all during which we’d be forced to work closely side-by-side together and witness just how humanly similar we are to each other.

    Before people of colour became the primary source of immigration to North America — notwithstanding aboriginal peoples, who were treated by far the worst — thick-accented Eastern Europeans, although considered to be ‘white’, were the primary targets of mean-spirited Anglo bigotry.

    I’m not a sociologist, but I hypothesize that if the U.S. and Canada, for example, were to revert back to a primarily white populace, the Eastern European newcomers with a stereotypically thick Slavic accent (and foremost if also brown-eyed) would eventually again become the main target of the dominant Euro-Canadian ethnicity.

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