Just to give kudos to a reader for some cogent remarks, here is a comment from “Rupert Pupkin” on my post “Agustin Fuentes once again flaunts his virtue via misleading statements.” The indented bit is from Fuentes’s Daily Princetonian article:
The Social Justice theocrats are almost impossible to debate, as they are fundamentalists who honestly believe they are the repository of all holy truth, but this particular debate strategy of theirs (argument ad victimum?) seems to me particularly underhanded and manipulative:
“assertions made by the scholar we recognize as a genius and the originator of much in our understanding of the processes of evolution, and if not countered and corrected, can be a gut punch to some readers, a signal that they do not belong, are not equal or valued.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if we are to take this advice, every time we read, write or think we need to hold in the center of our thoughts some hypothetical victim, essentially imagine the most emotionally fragile person on earth, and then center our entire discourse around them. As in, don’t say X is better than Y or Tribe X did something before Tribe Y, because someone somewhere may feel less-than and not equal or valued.
This strikes me as a sort of therapeutic totalitarianism that would make any project larger than a self-esteem healing circle essentially impossible.
What I like about it, and hadn’t thought of, is that if anybody beefs about or claims they are “harmed” by a piece of writing, art, theater, or the like, then that’s sufficient reason to criticize it and call for the work to be demonized or removed. And there appears to be no minimum number of the offended before you are justified in calling out what offends.
I seriously doubt that many people were harmed by whatever sexism and racism was evinced by Darwin in his 1871 book Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man. Nobody reads it now, for one thing: it’s a book of interest mainly to evolutionary biologists, and not many of them. Further, by now people should understand that views on sex and race differences are very different today from what they were 150 years ago, and while sometimes there are reasons to emphasize that (e.g., adding context to Confederate statues), it’s ludicrous to pretend that mores haven’t moved on in the last century or two. Yet some people make a living revisiting the past and sniffing out any sign of morality different from what we hold today.
If I, as a cultural Jew, object to the anti-Semitism in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye or in some of Thomas Wolfe’s novels, should I write an editorial beefing about their views? I don’t think so. What’s the point. except to express offense?