The wokest job ad ever (from U. Mass. Boston)

September 28, 2023 • 9:30 am

A younger colleague send me a link to this job ad, which you can read by clicking on the screenshot. It manages in one ad to not only violate all dicta of academic freedom and rules against compelled speech, but may even be illegal. It also introduces a new word: “Latiné”, which I guess is the privileged people’s way of replacing the ludicrous “Latinx”, which is not only unpronounceable but was rejected by most Hispanic people.  The form of acceptable words keeps changing, as, I believe, Orwell noted.

But the job ad is far worse than just introducing a new and ludicrous term. Click to read:

The job is for a tenure-track assistant professor in Clinical Psychology, and they’re clearly looking for a “Latiné” acolyte of Kendi.  It’s written so that they don’t require a “Latiné candidate”, but you’d bloody well better be one to get this job. Here are the requirements, which demand adherence to current Social Justice ideology.

Here’s a summary of what they want:

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Position in Clinical Psychology

The Psychology Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position to begin September 1, 2024. We seek a colleague whose work promotes social justice and anti-racism through connections with psychological processes and healing, and who will contribute meaningfully to our Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program’s scientist-practitioner-activist focus.

Priority will be given to candidates whose work focuses on applied psychology within Latiné communities. However, we also encourage applications from candidates who focus on applied psychology within other minoritized communities and who would complement our social justice mission. In lieu of, or addition to, a focus on Latiné communities, we would particularly welcome applications from individuals whose work reflects one or more of the following foci:

    • lifespan development within racial minority populations (particularly those focused on children or families)
    • intersectional focus within racial minority populations (e.g., sexual, disabled, Low-Income and Economically Marginalized (LIEM), or gender minorities)
    • Indigenous American, Asian American, or MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) individuals and communities
    • trans or gender minority populations, particularly from a developmental perspective
    • ableism or work with disability communities
    • ally/accomplice development, action, and psychology.

Examples of potential areas of scholarship include but are not limited to: mental health experiences or disparities related to race, culture, and/or identity in children; community-based problem prevention and/or evidence-based healing practice within marginalized racial and ethnic minority communities; developmental processes of racialization; racial and anti-racist socialization within families; experiences with, effects of, or coping with and resistance to racism and/or inter-sectional discrimination (e.g., ableism, cissexism); family resilience processes; culturally-responsive approaches to inter-generational family dynamics.

The rest of the ad specifies qualifications needed (Ph.D. in relevant field, etc.) and the teaching requirements.

It’s clear that the applicants must have a research program aimed not just at studying “Latiné” (or other “marginalized ethnic minority) communities, but bringing them to equity. That is, if you get the job, your research had better show that there are inequities based on existing racism. It would not be acceptable, for instance, to show that gaps in performance result from different cultures or preferences. And you must, of course “promote social justice and anti-racism,” which is the compelled speech part.

Your academic freedom is severely limited for this position, as your mission is not just producing scholarship, but engaging in social engineering.

The scholar who sent me this ad gave me these comments in his/her email:

Note that they don’t even bother sugar-coating their search for a fellow social justice/anti-racism colleague.

For a young scholar like me who is committed to viewpoint diversity and open inquiry and who is also searching for a tenure-track position, this basically reads that folks like me need not apply.

Indeed it does! All I can say is that I get about a half dozen similar ads or letters every day, and this one is not much of an outlier. I chose to put it up just so people can keep their fingers on the pulse of academia. As it’s clear from the above, the pulse is very weak.

More mishigas: Two anthropology societies cancel an accepted symposium on sex and gender because it would “harm” their members

September 27, 2023 • 12:30 pm

I’m probably late to the party, but the latest gossip about the Authoritarian Left involves the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) deciding to deplatform an entire symposium on sex and gender in anthropology—all because of the claim that it could cause mental “harm”to some people.

There are three letters involved, all of which you can see at a site set up by Elizabeth Weiss, a physical anthropologist at San Jose State (I’ve written about her before, as she’s been professionally demonized for wanting to scientifically study Native American remains).

You can see all the letters in the tweets below from Colin Wright, or at Weiss’s site.

Here’s the skinny in three parts

1.) Six women anthropologists proposed to hold a symposium at the AAA and CASCA’s joint meeting in Toronto called “Let’s Talk about sex, baby: Why biological sex remains a necessary analytic category in anthropology.” (The title comes from a popular song by Salt N Pepa.) You can see their proposal here. It’s a mixed bag, with some intriguing talks, like Weiss’s, and some others that are postmodern or confusing.  But that’s irrelevant to what happened. At any rate, you might intuit from the title why the seminar got ditched. Guess!

Kathleen Lowery at the University of Alberta organized the symposium. Here’s the summary:

Session Descripton: While it has become increasingly common in anthropology and public life to substitute ‘sex’ with ‘gender’, there are multiple domains of research in which biological sex remains irreplaceably relevant to anthropological analysis. Contesting the transition from sex to gender in anthropological scholarship deserves much more critical consideration than it has hitherto received in major disciplinary fora like AAA / CASCA. This diverse international panel brings together scholars from socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology who describe why in their work gender is not helpful and only sex will do. This is particularly the case when the work is concerned with equity and the deep analysis of power, and which has as an aim the achievement of genuine inclusivity. With research foci from hominin evolution to contemporary artificial intelligence, from the anthropology of education to the debates within contemporary feminism about surrogacy, panelists make the case that while not all anthropologists need to talk about sex, baby, some absolutely do.

Elizabeth told me that the contributions, which you can see at the link, were so diverse and wide-ranging that it was likely that the six panelists would have disagreed with each other.

As I said, the proposal was accepted by the AAA and CASCA for the meeting. But then they has second thoughts—and rejected it (see below).  I suspect that the main issue was Weiss’s talk, which maintained that “skeletons are binary”, which is true, but not something that cultural anthropologists, at least, would find comfortable. THERE IS NO BINARY IN WOKEWORLD!

Here’s Elizabeth’s own proposed presentation, which I think helped scupper the symposium (not her fault!):

No bones about it: skeletons are binary; people may not be. Sex identification – whether an individual was male or female – using the skeleton is one of the most fundamental components in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Anthropologists have improved their ability to determine sex since their initial studies on skeletal remains, which depended on subjective assessment of skeletal robusticity to say whether someone was male or female. An understanding of physical differences in the pelvis related to childbirth, hormonal impacts on bones, and extensive comparative studies have provided anthropologists with an array of traits, such as those in the Phenice Method, to determine sex using just bones. The use of DNA to identify sex in skeletons by their 23rd chromosomes enables anthropologists to say whether infants are male or female for use in both criminal abuse cases and archaeological cases, such as in recognizing infanticide practices. Anthropologists’ ability to determine whether a skeleton is male or female is not dependent on time or culture; the same traits can be used to make a sex estimate in a forensic case in Canada, or to estimate sex in a Paleoindian dated around 11,500 years ago in Brazil. As anthropologists study more remains from more cultures and time periods, sex identification has improved, because sex differences are biologically-determined. In forensics, however, anthropologists should be (and are) working on ways to ensure that skeletal finds are identified by both biological sex and their gender identity, which is essential due to the current rise in transitioning individuals and their overrepresentation as crime victims. —Elizabeth Weiss

Note that Weiss even mentions that there may be forensic ways to identify gender identity (e.g., she mentioned the presence of “signs of plastic surgery” to me). But I suspect the assertion of the binary nature of skeletons is what eventually raised hackles,

At any rate, the symposium was still accepted and scheduled for the meetings.

2.) But then, in November, the two societies decided to deep-six the panel, and here are the reasons they gave:

Dear panelists,

We write to inform you that at the request of numerous members the respective executive boards of AAA and CASCA reviewed the panel submission “Let’s Talk about Sex Baby: Why biological sex remains a necessary analytic category in anthropology” and reached a decision to remove the session from the AAA/CASCA 2023 conference program(me). This decision was based on extensive consultation and was reached in the spirit of respect for our values, the safety and dignity of our members, and the scientific integrity of the program (me). The reason the session deserved further scrutiny was that the ideas were advanced in such a way as to cause harm to members represented by the Trans and LGBTQI of the anthropological community as well as the community at large.

While there were those who disagree with this decision, we would hope they know their voice was heard and was very much a part of the conversation. It is our hope that we continue to work together so that we become stronger and more unified within each of our associations. Going forward, we will undertake a major review of the processes

There’s a lot to say about this, but you can see the problem: the assertion of “our values” (which of course are unstated and surely not shared by all), the ritual invocation that the panel would harm “the safety and dignity of our members” (you’d have to be a fool to buy that), and the ludicrous claim that the sessions would “harm” members of the trans and LGBTQ1 anthropology community and “the community at large” (my response is “no they wouldn’t”).

This is all nonsense, of course. If scientists can’t listen to presentations like the ones accepted without being “harmed”, they need therapy, not canceled talks.  And, of course, the societies are imposing ideological standards on the community that will chill dissent: exactly what you don’t want in science.  That’s clear from the last paragraph, which implies that all symposia will be vetted in the future for political correctness.

Here we see a good example of how science is being bowdlerized via some topics being declared taboo. It’s infuriating, and the two societies should be embarrassed.

3.) In a very good defense of their symposium, the panelists wrote back to the societies; you can see their letter here.

But of course despite their good objections, the AAA and CASCA aren’t going to move.  The symposium is considered “harmful”, and so it can’t go on.

How many of these things have to happen before scientists realize that the chilling of speech, the declaring of topics taboo to both research and discuss, and the ritual invocation of “harm” to minority groups by the to-and-fro discussion inherent in science—that all of this is going to kill off science as we know it? But they don’t care, for their main concern is not the discovery of scientific truth but adherence to the current liberal and orthodox ideology.

Colin’s tweets on the fracas:


PEN America highlights attacks from the Left on books

August 30, 2023 • 10:00 am

The recent “cancellation” of my children’s book about an Indian man and his cats—with the sole reason given that I couldn’t write about India because I was white—has made me extra sensitive to the absurdity of a lot of cancellations based on such claims of “cultural appropropriation.”  Now of course it’s possible to write an ignorant and demeaning book about another culture, and publishers don’t have to put out every book they get; but I plead not guilty to cultural appropriation, and, indeed, most of the examples given by Cathy Young below are cultural appropriation of the right type: the enrichment of cultures by incorporating material from other cultures.

The “sin” of cultural appropriation goes only one way, of course: you are not allowed to “write down.” That is, members of nonminority groups (read: white people, especially men) are not allowed to write about minority groups, even if those groups are not oppressed or the subject isn’t oppression.  But the reverse action—members of minority groups writing about dominant groups—seems perfectly fine. This I don’t understand. If members of one culture supposedly can’t understand members of another, or treat their issues with sensitivity, then the ban should go both ways.  Why is it okay if someone from India writes about an American man who owns sweet shops and takes in stray cats?

Thus the new post by the estimable Cathy Young (click the screenshot below to read, but subscribe if you read regularly)—about a new PEN America report on freedom to write and publish—struck home. The theme, according to Young (I haven’t read the PEN report) is the suppression of literature deemed harmful (often because of “cultural appropriation”), an action taken mostly by the Left. The Right gets rid of books they find offensive by simply banning them from libraries or removing them, but what the Left does, preventing publication of books in the first place, can be seen as more harmful. For in the latter case, the book simply isn’t available to anyone.

Many of these campaigns are fueled by social-media pile-ons, often by people who haven’t read the book they damn. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give quotes from Young about the tactics of the Left and some chilling examples of how they’ve worked.

First, what’s going on (Young’s text is indented).

WHETHER THERE EXISTS in American culture a left-wing illiberalism that threatens freedom of thought and expression under the cover of social justice has been a subject of heated debate in the past decade. At a time when right-wing authoritarian populism is on the rise, many people have viewed warnings about illiberal progressivism as a distraction. Liberal and centrist critiques of leftist intolerance, from the Harper’s magazine “Letter on Justice and Open Debate” in the summer of 2020 to prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum’s Atlantic essay on “the new Puritans” the following year, have been met with purported debunkings and derided as moral panic or whining from people who don’t like to be criticized.

Now, a major liberal institution that has championed freedom of expression for over a century—PEN America, formerly PEN American Center and part of PEN International, the writers’ association whose notable figures have included John Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, James Baldwin, Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood—has issued a lengthy report that strongly comes down on the side of taking illiberal progressivism seriously.

Booklash: Literary Freedom, Online Outrage, and the Language of Harm, written by the PEN America research team with a trenchant introduction by playwright Ayad Akhtar titled “In Defense of the Literary Imagination,” is a thorough examination of the chilly climate in publishing and the issues and controversies that have created it. Booklash is particularly valuable because PEN America really cannot be accused of having a right-leaning or even centrist bias: the organization enthusiastically champions racial and gender diversity and has strongly denounced censorship moves from the right, such as red-state policies facilitating school library book removals.

Indeed, the report acknowledges the context of rising right-wing authoritarianism but unabashedly, and correctly, stresses that this context makes it more important to acknowledge troubling illiberal trends on the left. . .

Booklash isn’t too long, and should be read, as should its appendix or companion piece, the famous and short “Freedom to Read” statement adopted in 1953 by the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers. (It’s been amended in the version Young gives, but I’ve linked to the original.) It’s a passionate endorsement of the duty of publishers to put out books espousing all viewpoints, even if many people find them offensive, and the duty of organizations to avoid censoring or banning as taboo those views they don’t like.

But back to Young.  Here are only a few of the examples she and the PEN report give of attempts to ban “offensive” views:

*Online hate campaigns directed at books deemed “problematic” for one reason or another have resulted in books being killed when already in the final stages of publication. A prominent recent example, from this past spring, comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. After she announced on June 6 that her next book, The Snow Forest, would come out early next year, it was strafed with one-star review bombs. Its attackers were outraged that a book set in Russia was coming out at a time when Russia is waging a brutal war of aggression in Ukraine. Never mind that it’s not a present-day story: The novel is a partly fact-based tale of a Soviet-era family fleeing into the woods to escape religious persecution. By June 12, Gilbert had had enough: She released a video saying that she was indefinitely “removing the book from its publication schedule.”

*. . . OTHER BOOKS, AS BOOKLASH DETAILS, were not literally canceled but endured some degree of suppression. Initial positive reviews in key industry outlets such as Kirkus Reviews have been downgraded; books have been rewritten under pressure; book tours have been canceled, as in the case of Jeanine Cummins’s bestselling 2020 novel American Dirt, a sympathetic treatment of Mexican migrants that was savaged as exploitative “trauma porn.” Aside from the impact on the targeted authors (Cummins seems to have completely withdrawn from public life), there is also the larger chilling effect on publishing. In the case of American Dirt, the report said, “Despite the book’s commercial success, the episode left many within the literary world with the impression that books perceived to trespass across racial or cultural lines could be risky and undesirable.” Indeed, the report cites conversations with authors and editors who would speak only on conditions of anonymity to describe this overall climate of intimidation as well specific incidents in which books were canceled or revised.

*In 2018, the Nation issued an abject apology for publishing a white poet writing in the voice of a black homeless woman. The poem was allowed to stay up, but underneath a contrite statement that read, remarked Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, “like a letter from re-education camp.”

*In June 2020, the young adult novel Ember Days by Alexandra Duncan was at the center of a bizarre drama with two layers of cancellation. First, the novel was withdrawn at Duncan’s request because of complaints about chapters written from the perspective of a woman with Gullah Geechee heritage (African Americans from the Lowcountry regions of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida). Then, Publishers’ Weekly removed its story about the book’s withdrawal because of complaints that the story had led to “online abuse” toward Duncan’s chief critic, novelist Bethany Morrow, and replaced it with an apology and a pledge to ensure that “our articles will not cause harm in the future.” Obviously, the PEN America report couldn’t cover every such episode without massive sprawl, but these examples seem remarkable enough to merit a mention.

*Novelist, journalist, and Bulwark contributor Richard North Patterson recently wrote about the dispiriting experience of having his novel Trial “rejected by roughly 20 imprints of major New York publishers” despite having 16 New York Times bestsellers to his name. According to Patterson, many of the rejections came with glowing compliments but bluntly stated that the problem was race: the novel deals with racial injustice, and Patterson is white. (Trial was eventually published by a small press.)

There are many more examples, but you get the gist, and I bet you’ve heard of some of these before, like the American Dirt fracas described by Young in greater detail.

Now Young notes that the PEN America report, while conveying a strong message, is somewhat diluted by its occasional tendency to “balance their defense of intellectual freedom with their commitment to the values of social justice, bending over backwards to accommodate the latter.” While it’s okay to give a nod towards social justice, the “Freedom to read” mantra should extend to defending publication of all viewpoints, including those inimical to current versions of social justice.

Here’s Young’s indictment of the greater harm done by the Left than by the Right in censoring books. First, a quote from Jonah Winter, a children’s-book author who has been censored:

As [Winter] put it in a Dallas Morning News column:

Book-banning, the “cancel culture” of the right, doesn’t hurt a book or an author.

What hurts a book or an author is the far more effective cancel culture of the left, by which I mean the small but vocal subsection of illiberal ideologues who’ve commandeered both liberalism in general and the publishing world specifically, often using their power to attack well-meaning authors in the form of social media pile-ons and the resulting cancellations, both of which I’ve experienced.

And I’ll add this since it hits home: one of Winter’s books that was banned was a respectful biography of the great baseball player and humanitarian Roberto Clemente, outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates (I saw him play at Forbes Field), who died at 38 in the crash of a plane bringing relief to earthquake-devastated Managua, Nicaragua. Winter says this:

I’ve had two book contracts canceled because of my identity in relation to the subject matter. I am a white man. The irony of the big to-do being made over the banning of my Clemente book by conservative activists is that, were I to try and publish that exact same book today, I would not be able to get it published because of progressive activists.

And from Young:

There is another factor as well. When attacks on literary works come from the right, they are typically counteracted not only by progressive activists but by institutions that act as guardians of culture: public schools and teachers’ unions, libraries, universities, publishers, the mainstream media. When the attacks are from the left, the same institutions typically offer no objections, or even collude.

So what’s the solution? First, we have to recognize that if you’re on the Left like me, you have to indict your own side for this kind of ludicrous and harmful censorship. The cure begins with recognition, and that’s what PEN America has done.  Young also notes that Booklash has recommendations like preventing book-review websites like Goodreads from going after books that haven’t been read, or damning them on flimsy grounds. And publishers should issue “formal statements of principles.” (This is desperately needed.)

Young closes by arguing correctly that being on the Left does not conflict with arguing for free expression in books, nor does condemnation of censorship trivialize the arguments of social-justice advocates. It’s merely a way to enact the First Amendment through publication, for books are one of the most effective ways to make and to vet arguments:

Such a shift [in the present Leftist illiberalism about publishing] must also include much greater willingness on the part of authors and publishers to stand up to pressures, particularly when it’s a matter of just a few voices denouncing alleged bigotry and “harm” in works the vast majority of people from the supposedly injured group do not see as offensive. But this would also require challenging a key tenet of social justice progressivism: the belief that even to dispute a claim of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. is in itself “problematic,” and in most cases actively harmful. Such claims must be examined skeptically, especially when suppression of speech or other expression is at stake.

Pushing back against left-wing illiberalism in publishing need not entail a general dismissiveness toward the existence of racial or gender-based injustice and prejudice in American culture, particularly given the recent rise of overt white supremacism, misogyny, and homophobia on the far right and their seepage into more mainstream right-wing discourse. What it does mean, though, is understanding that “canceling” books and authors for transgressing progressive moral codes does nothing to counteract injustice and prejudice. Instead, it inhibits and silences important conversations and trivializes the very evils it supposedly protests.

h/t: Steve

World’s most intersectional academic job advertised at Williams College

August 20, 2023 • 9:30 am

Here’s what appears to be a genuine job ad at Williams College, which has for a long while been swirling around the event horizon bordering an academic black hole (no knowledge can be emitted). The ad is genuine because it’s on the site of The Chronicles of Higher Education. 

Click on the screenshot below to see the full ad, including what you have to submit when you apply.. The job begins on July 1 of next year, and it’s the most intersectional ad I’ve ever seen.

I’ll leave for readers to react and comment on their own, as it’s almost a parody of the times. The bolded first paragraph is from the original.

Rank open professor in Queer of Color Critique, additional interest in Disability Studies/Crip Theory, and/or Feminist Technoscience Studies, and/or Migration

The Program in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies seeks a professor of Queer of Color Critique, field open, ideally with interdisciplinary scholarship. We also especially welcome those with additional interests in Disability Studies/Crip Theory, Feminist Technoscience Studies, and/or Migration Studies. Preference will be given to candidates at the level of associate or full professor, but candidates with PhDs in hand by August 2024 will be given full consideration.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) is an interdisciplinary program designed to encourage students to focus critically on gender and sexuality. Many of our courses investigate how assumptions about gender and/or sexuality operate in society, shaping feminine, masculine, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer identities, and how they influence social and political structures. Integral to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is the idea of intersectionality – that (amongst other axes of identification) race, ethnicity, class, ability, nationality, and religion are important factors in any critical understanding of gender and sexuality.

WGSS has existed in some form at Williams for over 30 years. Women’s Studies was formalized into a program in 1983, and name changes over the years have reflected increasing attention in the interdisciplinary field to issues of gender and sexuality studies. We have offered a major since 2002, and have graduated over 300 majors and concentrators since the program was established.


The candidate should be able to teach introductory courses, including WGSS 101 and a Foundations in Sexuality Studies seminar in addition to electives. The teaching load is two courses per semester (2-2) plus a January winter term course every other year. We are especially interested in candidates from historically underrepresented groups whose scholarship and teaching contribute to the breadth and excellence of our academic community. In addition, Williams offers faculty participation in the college’s professional development program First3 and in the NCFDD Faculty Success Program, and support through the newly established Rice Center for Teaching. Information about the department and current curriculum can be found at:

That’s what it says, though I didn’t know that “Crip Theory” was a thing, nor do I know what “Feminist Technostudies” or “Migration Studies” entail. It just goes to show how far behind the times I am.

Here’s what’s at the bottom of the ad:

We acknowledge that Williams College stands on the ancestral homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans. We pay honor and respect to their ancestors past and present.

Whenever I see something like this—and it’s de rigueur at Williams College—my impulse is to shout (or write in capslock): IF YOU REALLY HONOR AND RESPECT THE NATIVE AMERICANS WHOSE LAND YOU’VE STOLEN, EITHER GIVE IT BACK OR PAY FOR IT!  If all that’s forthcoming are land acknowledgments and not a penny of compensation or a square inch of returned land, then what we have here is hypocritical flaunting of virtue.

Oh, and what are “present ancestors”?

The Lancet attacks anti-wokeism, and a reader replies

August 19, 2023 • 11:20 am

If there’s one medical-journal doyen who stands out as a parrot of the ideology of the Authoritarian Left (also called “wokeism”), it’s Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet.  Time after time he’s jumped the medical shark and simply published pure ideology in what was once Britain’s premier medical journal (see my posts here and here, for instance), with the second one the subject of a new response by a reader that I’ll put below.

And don’t forget that Horton is responsible for perhaps the most cringeworthy cover of any medical journal in the last three decades:

Here’s that second editorial again, which I criticized at great length in May. Click to read:

Below is Horton’s money quote which is disputed further down.  Horton uses the example of Antonio Gramsci to assert that revolutionary change didn’t come about in Europe because the “dominant group uses culture to exert its controlling influence.”

Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) was arrested by Mussolini’s police in 1926. Imprisoned, he used his time to fill the pages of 33 notebooks. Gramsci sought to make sense of his experience in the vanguard of Italian politics. One question in particular occupied his thoughts. Why did every effort to bring about revolutionary change in Europe fail? His great insight, one largely forgotten today, was to recognise the way in which the dominant group uses culture to exert its controlling influence. If the ruling power can persuade people to share its social, cultural, and moral values, the motivation for radical political change will wither. The culture wars suggest that it is not the economy, stupid. If populist governments can win over the public to their beliefs, progressives have little chance of electoral success. It was this cultural hegemony, according to Gramsci, that explained the resistance to progressive political change in the aftermath of World War 1. And it is the modern struggle for cultural hegemony that explains today’s bitter disputes over race, sex, and gender. For those who wish to advance a more hopeful, compassionate, and liberal vision of the future, we must recognise that the culture wars are not peripheral matters. They are the ground populists have chosen to fight to protect their power and interests. Gramsci, using the military metaphors of his time, called this struggle a “war of position”. It is a war we must not be afraid to engage in.

Here Horton apparently sees the “populists” (read: Tories and Trumpites) as holding back the “progressives”, causing revolutionary change to inevitably fail. He includes the U.S. in his list of places holding down progressivism, apparently forgetting not just the American Revolution, but also revolutions in Europe, like the rise of democracy in eastern Europe in the late 1980s. As I wrote at the time:

So here we have the editor of The Lancet advocating “radical political change” and demonizing “populists” (he’s not specific about who they are, but apparently sees the ruling powers in Britain as members). At the same time, he proclaims his virtue, for he takes pains to assure readers that he is on the side that wants a “more hopeful, compassionate, and liberal vision of the future,” while his populist enemies apparently want the opposite.

Lordy be, the journal just published a response from a reader and colleague, and it’s rational! 

Click to read:

A few excerpts:

 The culture war is not a Manichean object; it needs a highly differentiated analysis. People with left-wing beliefs can be critical of both right-wing and left-wing identitarians. Susan Neiman defends this position (from the left) vigorously, and her recent book should be obliged reading for all. Furthermore, [Horton’s] fragmented and ill-structured piece contained a multitude of mixed-up topics, such as immigration, Sinophobia, and the identitarian movement.

. . . .I am aware that right-wing radicals try to capture the anti-woke movement. These people are alien to enlightened, rational individuals—as is the woke, regressive, capitalist, authoritarian left wing—and must be vigorously opposed. My advice is to focus on publishing first-class medical research, which would do much more to serve the common good. A 2023 article echoes this sentiment, reporting that the general public is losing trust in science when too much politicising and ideologising is published in scientific and biomedical science journals.

Leading medical and scientific journals should focus on what they do best—publishing first-rate, high-quality research. They should deal with political issues only when such issues directly affect medicine and science. They should not express unrelated political opinions and beliefs.

Were I editor of The Lancet, or other science magazines or journals captured by “progressives” (I’m talking to you Scientific American), I’d see my brief as publishing science or medicine, not emitting gusts of hot air about my personal politics. What puzzles me most is that Horton has been editor of The Lancet for a long time, and nobody can apparently stop this Hindenburg from leaking toxic gas. Since when did medical journals turn into venues for reforming society along the lines of the editors’ own ideologies?

Horton is an embarrassment to both his journal and to medicine.

Man loses job after using the word “ladies”, deemed by DEI experts to be a microaggression

April 7, 2023 • 10:45 am

This article from the Boston Globe reports how the top candidate for the job of superintendent of Easthampton Public Schools (he’d been offered the job) had his offer withdrawn when it was discovered—horrors!—that he’d used the word “ladies” in an email to two women.  In the article, various DEI experts weigh in, all explaining why the term “ladies” (as often used in the salutation “ladies and gentlemen”) is offensive and even racist. First, though, see how the public defended him, which shows that they’re more sensible than DEI experts:

After the leading candidate for superintendent of Easthampton Public Schools claimed he lost his job offer for using the word “ladies” in an e-mail, he said he was “shocked” because he “grew up in a time when ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ was a sign of respect.”

He wasn’t the only one; more than 150 people showed up to protest the school committee’s decision to revoke Vito Perrone’s offer, and the Globe’s initial story racked up more than 750 comments, with plenty of readers supporting the salutation.

Vito Perrone, leading candidate for superintendent of the Easthampton Public Schools, said his job offer was abruptly rescinded after he wrote an e-mail to the School Committee chairwoman and another female colleague, addressing them as “ladies.”

Click the article to read; if it’s paywalled, a judicious inquiry might yield you a pdf:

Now all the experts trot onstage, and without exception they say that the word “ladies” shouldn’t be used:

While not everyone will be offended, several diversity and inclusion experts told the Globe, the word has a long and complicated history, and can hold negative connotations when used in inappropriate settings, such as in contract negotiations in Perrone’s case. Instead, it’s best to ask people how they want to be addressed to avoid alienating or upsetting anyone, they said.

Here we go:

Elisa van Dam, vice president of allyship and inclusion at the Institute for Inclusive Leadership at Simmons University, said the word “ladies” can be infantilizing in a professional setting. Perrone had used the term to address two women in leadership positions, School Committee Chair Cynthia Kwiecinski and the committee’s executive assistant, Suzanne Colby.

The idea of lady does not correlate or does not lead you to a woman who is in charge and in power and has her work really under control,” Dam said. “It’s none of the things that you want to be thought of as a woman in business or in any kind of hiring situation.”

She said a candidate addressing women as “ladies” at any stage of the hiring process can raise questions about the candidate’s judgment.

“It’s tone deaf. It seems that he hasn’t been paying attention to the way language use has been evolving and how we are talking about diversity and equity and inclusion and belonging,” Dam said. “He’s operating on a very old paradigm.”

Infantilizing! Tone deaf! Diversity and equity and inclusing and belonging, oh my! (The phrase “tone deaf”, like “stakeholder” is nearly always a red flag, and “tone deaf” is not an argument but a slur.) And so, because a “man of age” is operating on an old paradigm (one that Christopher Hitchens often used), he can’t get the job.

Here comes another DEI expert:

It might be common, and feel natural, to address a group of women as ladies, but Karl Reid, chief inclusion officer at Northeastern University, said it is still important to ask people how to refer to them, as a sign of respect.

“No one group is a monolith, everyone is individual,” Reid said. “And understanding what is acceptable to that individual, then we are a step towards welcoming a more inclusive environment.”

If you’re writing someone an email whom you haven’t written before, do you call them up and ask how they want to be addressed? Or do you just use “hello” as a salutation?

. . . . And another Pecksniff who finds the word racist and patronizing:

While some people may appreciate being addressed as “ladies,” it can be an informal and inappropriate word to use when negotiating contract stipulations and in the workplace, said Jen Manion, a professor of history and sexuality, women’s and gender studies at Amherst College. And if someone referred to them in such a way at work, Manion said they would “flip.”

“Nobody ever calls me a lady at work,” Manion said. “It’s one thing to say while speaking to friends.” The word has “historic baggage,” Manion said, as it was often associated with women-only spaces, such as passenger cars and public bathrooms, that were created for “keeping women separate and keeping women of color out of those spaces.” The term represented a group of women who fit a certain race or class, Manion said, and it also evokes a time when women weren’t allowed to work, and were expected to be soft spoken and demure.

But this is no longer true, and who on Earth even KNOWS about that outmoded usage? (Only the Pecksniffs who do the historical digging. Which reminds me of a story about Dr. Johnson and his dictionary. . . . ) Now “ladies” is simply a polite way to address women.

Manion goes on at length:

Because of that context, Manion said “ladies” can come off as patronizing and demeaning.

“It is a phrase people throw around widely without thinking,” Manion said. “How would [Perrone] have phrased the e-mail if it was two men?”

He would have said “gentlemen,” as I often do when writing to a group of men!  But Manion can’t shut up about how demeaning “ladies” is. She (if that’s her pronoun) even calls the use of the word “an accident”:

Manion said better ways to address a group of people could include “y’all,” “everyone,” “folks,” “friends,” and “people.”

Reid said it’s important for those involved in situations like these to learn from what happened and how the meaning behind certain words could be seen as offensive.

“When these accidents occur, there is an expectation that we should have meaningful discourse about what is acceptable … to create a more inclusive institution,” Reid said. “It’s an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation.”

Y’all??? That’s far more racist than “ladies”, and is used not only by black people, but by the southern descendants of enslavers.

So because of this one word, used with every intent to be polite, the Easthampton Public Schools lost its best candidate. That’s simply asinine and ridiculous. Look at the tradeoff: they gave away their best candidate so that the word “ladies” could be publicly and eternally demonized. These DEI “experts” should be treated with the ridicule and contempt they deserve.

h/t: Anna

Robyn Blumner on humanism vs. identitarianism

May 28, 2022 • 9:45 am

In her terrific new article in Free Inquiry—”a bimonthly journal of secular humanist opinion and commentary published by the Council for Secular Humanism, a program of the Center for Inquiry”Robyn Blumner gives voice to things that have been bubbling up inside many of us but haven’t been expressed, either because we haven’t thought deeply about them or because what she has to say is unwelcome to many. (Blumner is president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, CFI, and executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.)

And her message is this: identitarianism, which she defines from the Urban Dictionary as “A person or ideology that espouses that group identity is the most important thing about a person, and that justice and power must be viewed primarily on the basis of group identity rather than individual merit”—is, as her title shows, incompatible with humanism, a movement which she characterizes in a quote from Paul Kurtz, one of her predecessors:

“The Affirmations of Humanism”: We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity and strive to work together for the common good of humanity. (Paul Kurtz, Free Inquiry, Spring 1987)

Click to read her piece. When I’m writing about a piece such as hers, I first print it out (I can’t read seriously on a screen) and then underline the parts I find most important or quotable. In this case, however, I wound up underlining the whole thing, as there’s not a word wasted. Rather than just give up and say “go read it” (you should and perhaps I should have just written that), I’ll give a couple of quote and perhaps my own take, but read it yourself for free:

Here’s her main message:

The division has to do with a fundamental precept of humanism, that enriching human individuality and celebrating the individual is the basis upon which humanism is built. Humanism valorizes the individual—and with good reason; we are each the hero of our own story. Not only is one’s individual sovereignty more essential to the humanist project than one’s group affiliation, but fighting for individual freedom—which includes freedom of conscience, speech, and inquiry—is part of the writ-large agenda of humanism. It unleashes creativity and grants us the breathing space to be agents in our own lives.

Or at least that idea used to be at the core of humanism.

Today, there is a subpart of humanists, identitarians, who are suspicious of individuals and their freedoms. They do not want a free society if it means some people will use their freedom to express ideas with which they disagree. They see everything through a narrow affiliative lens of race, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic category and seek to shield groups that they see as marginalized by ostensible psychic harms inflicted by the speech of others.

This has given rise to a corrosive cultural environment awash in controversial speakers being shouted down on college campuses; even liberal professors and newspaper editors losing their jobs for tiny, one-off slights; the cancellation of great historical figures for being men of their time; and a range of outlandish claims of microaggressions, cultural appropriation, and other crimes against current orthodoxy.

It has pitted humanists who stand for foundational civil liberties principles such as free speech and equal protection under the law against others on the political Left who think individual freedoms should give way when they fail to serve the interests of select identity groups. The most important feature of the symbol of justice is not her sword or scales; it is her blindfold. Identitarians would pull it off so she could benefit certain groups over others.

To show the misguided priorities of the identitarian project, Blumner slips in a description of an egregious act by the American Humanist Association, a group that, despite its avowed mission, has become too woke to bear.

Good people with humanist hearts have been pilloried if they don’t subscribe to every jot and tittle of the identitarian gospel. A prime example is the decision last year by the American Humanist Association (AHA) to retract its 1996 award to Richard Dawkins as Humanist of the Year. The man who has done more than anyone alive to advance evolutionary biology and the public’s understanding of that science, who has brought the light of atheism to millions of people, and whose vociferous opposition to Donald Trump and Brexit certainly must have burnished his liberal cred became radioactive because of one tweet on transgender issues that the AHA didn’t like.

Blumner will certainly be demonized herself for the piece, as she criticize divisiveness, which is engineered deliberately by many so-called humanists who prefer exhibiting their virtue to improving society, and (like me) favors equality of opportunity over “equity” (equal outcomes):

This is what identitarians have wrought. Rather than lifting up individuals and imbuing them with autonomy and all the extraordinary uniqueness that flows from it, identitarians would divide us all into racial,  ethnic,  and  gender-based groups and make that group affiliation our defining characteristic. This has the distorting effect of obliterating personal agency, rewarding group victimhood, and incentivizing competition to be seen as the most oppressed.

In addition to being inherently divisive, this is self-reinforcing defeatism. It results in extreme examples, such as a draft plan in California to deemphasize calculus as a response to persistent racial gaps in math achievement,  Suddenly a subject as racially neutral as math has become a flashpoint for identitarians set on ensuring equality of outcomes for certain groups rather than the far-more just standard of equality of opportunity. In this freighted environment, reducing the need for rigor and eliminating challenging standards becomes a feasible solution. The notion of individual merit or recognition that some students are better at math than others becomes racially tinged and suspect.

Not only does the truth suffer under this assault on common sense, but we start to live in a Harrison Bergeron world where one’s natural skills are necessarily sacrificed on the altar of equality or, in today’s parlance, equity.

Of course, the identitarians’ focus is not just on racial issues. Gender divisions also play out on center stage. I was at a secular conference recently when a humanist leader expressed the view that if you don’t have a uterus, you have no business speaking about abortion.

Really?. . . .

Well, that’s going to get people’s dander up, but it’s good that someone with both power and credibility has said it. It is the drive for equity, not simple equality of opportunity, that is bringing the Left to its knees.

Blumner goes on to affirm that you don’t have to be a cop to have a opinion on cops, a poor person to have an opinion on poverty, and so on.  We’ve tacitly but mistakenly agreed on the Left that you can address problems relevant to an issue only if you have the correct racial, gender, or class credentials to expound on that issue.  And that’s what drives us apart: the notion that society is collection of moieties, each of which can only suggest solutions to its own problems. The basis of humanistic concern, the individual, is effaced, and here she quotes Kurtz again:

If the Affirmation quoted at the beginning of this article that rejects “divisive parochial loyalties” based on facile group affiliations isn’t a rejection of identitarianism, I don’t know what is. In his 1968 essay “Humanism and the Freedom of the Individual,” Kurtz stated bluntly:

Any humanism that does not cherish the individual, I am prepared to argue, is neither humanistic nor humanitarian. . .  Any humanism worthy of the name should be concerned with the preservation of the individual personality with all of its unique idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. We need a society in which the full and free development of every individual is the ruling principle. The existence of individual freedom thus is an essential condition for the social good and a necessary end of humanitarianism.

The individual is the most important unit in humanism. When our individuality is stripped away so we can be fitted into prescribed identity groups instead, something essential to the humanist project is lost. Those pushing for this conception of society are misconstruing humanism, diminishing human potential and self-actualization, and driving a wedge between good people everywhere.

Robyn is not saying that humanists shouldn’t concentrate on alleviating the problems specific to groups like women (viz. abortion rights) or minorities. Neglecting that there are group afflictions is in fact contrary to humanism. What she is emphasizing is that those problems should be tackled together, that no single problem should get overweening attention over others, and, most important, that nobody has a priority of opinion over others based on their gender, race, class, and so on.  If you adhere to the free-speech assumption that a clash of ideas is essential to moral and social improvement, then eliminating all groups but one or two from discussing an issue is a recipe for disaster.

At any rate, this piece is your reading for the day.


Dawkins and Blumner; Imagine No Religion Conference, Vancouver, CA, June 2015:

The ACLU reverses course once again in the interest of wokeness

January 30, 2022 • 11:30 am

Last September, a surprising article in the New York Times reported on how the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) seemed to be losing its mission of defending civil liberties, moving more and more towards “progressive” politics. Part of this transformation involved suddenly prioritizing what speech to defend based on its perceived “harm.” More harmful speech (e.g., speech offending minorities or other oppressed groups) was to be given lower legal priority.

This was a complete reversal of the history of the ACLU, an organization that was one of my favorites. (They gave me pro bono legal help when I took the government to court over being illegally called up for alternative service as a conscientious objector.)  Now, it seems, they think that some people deserve more civil rights than others. This was all documented in one of my posts and in an article on Tablet that quoted secret ACLU documents. After Charlottesville, for example, Tablet reports that the ACLU made a momentous decision:

. . . the national ACLU circulated an internal document with new “case selection guidelines,” stipulating, “Speech that denigrates such [marginalized] groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality.” Before agreeing to take a free speech case, the document continued, the ACLU would now consider “the potential effect on marginalized communities,” whether the speech advances the goals of speakers whose “views are contrary to our values,” and the “structural and power inequalities in the community in which the speech will occur.” A manifestation of the ACLU’s new approach can be seen in the decision by one chapter to intervene in a high-profile case at Smith College, where the group amplified bogus claims of racism leveled by a student against some of the school’s custodial and cafeteria staff.

There are many other signs of the ACLU’s change of mission, and you can see my posts on them here. And today there’s yet another, which Zaid Jilani describes in a post on his “inquiremore” site. Click on the screenshot to read.

In brief, Jilani recounts the ACLU’s history of demanding transparency from government, and how it’s now backed off on its history of fostering transparency. The reason is because of the kerfuffle embodied in state bills that ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT). Parents who don’t want their children exposed to some of the more divisive or questionable aspects of CRT are now asking that curricular materials (syllabi, reading lists, assignments, etc) be made public, i.e., put online.

For the record, I don’t favor those bills. But I don’t see any reason that material involved in public-school classes shouldn’t be made public. (I’m not asking for all teachers to be filmed or recorded, but for the paper record of classroom assignments to be made public.)

The ACLU doesn’t like this, and I’m guessing because they actually want CRT to be taught to children. Do not underestimate their wokeness! If you think I’m exaggerating about the “new ACLU”, have a listen to legendary civil-liberties activist Ira Glasser, once head of the ACLU for 23 years, speaking on Bill Maher’s show. He’s appalled at what’s happened to his baby. Glasser, despite his vocation, is not a man of hot temper, and when he talks this way, you know that he’s really angry:

Back to “transparency”. Here’s the ACLU’s new stand (the ACLU is nearly as hamhanded at tweeting as was Donald Trump):

In that tweet they deliberately conflate CRT with “teaching about race and gender”. People like me—and, in fact, most Americans—favor the latter but not the former. Critical Race Theory, in both its academic construal and in how it’s taught in many schools, is not just “learning and talking about race and gender.” The tweet above is dissimulation.

The ACLU has a history, as I said. of demanding transparency. From Jilani’s post:

This marks a reversal for the ACLU, which has always argued for government transparency in all arenas, including in schools.

As Tablet’s Noam Blum noted, the ACLU of Nevada argued vigorously for transparency when that state’s schools were setting their sex education curriculum and policies.

“The days of back door decision making are over. Compliance with the open meetings law is meant to secure the opportunity of parents, students, and community members to have a meaningful impact on the development of policy. We are all well served when decisions on the appointment of sex education advisory committee members is subject to public scrutiny, rather than the result of the presentation of a narrow range of interests,” Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada, said at the time. The organization used the state’s public records law to request materials related to sex education in each of the state’s 17 counties.

A few years later, the ACLU of Kentucky used records requests to uncover curriculum in all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts, seeking to find evidence of religious instruction by reviewing both policies and curricula:

The ACLU-KY sent requests to all of Kentucky’s 173 school districts seeking policies and curriculum for “Bible Literacy” courses.  While most districts are not offering these courses, the ACLU-KY found many of the courses that are being offered do not fall within constitutional strictures, which require any use of religious text in the classroom to be secular, objective, nondevotional, and must not promote any specific religious view.

The investigation uncovered public school teachers using the Bible to impart religious life lessons (Barren, McCracken, and Letcher Counties), use of online Sunday School lessons and worksheets for course source material and assignments (Letcher and Wayne Counties), and rote memorization of Biblical text (McCracken County) — practices which fall far short of academic and objective study of the Bible and its historical context or literary value.

If you don’t want curricula exposed that deal with race and gender, why do so many people want curricula exposed that deal with creationism being taught in public schools? It was my reading of Eric Hedin’s online syllabi at Ball State University, for example, that led me to discover that he was teaching Intelligent Design creationism in a public college—a violation of the law. The result was that he was forced to stop teaching religion in the guise of science. And, of course, parents foot the bill for their kids’ education, and surely have some rights in at least hearing what their kids are supposed to learn and do.

The ACLU also demanded transparency from schools when they were violating Title IX by segregating sexes:

The ACLU of Alabama was so bothered by government-sanctioned sex segregation in the school system that in 2008 it formally protested and sought documents from Mobile County schools outlining any policies related to the matter:

After hearing from outraged parents of students who, without notice, were involuntarily segregated by sex at Hankins Middle School in Mobile, Alabama, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama sent a letter to the Mobile County School System warning that mandatory sex segregation in public schools is illegal and discriminatory. The civil liberties organization also asked, under the Alabama Open Records Act, that the school district make public any and all documents relating to sex segregation policies in Mobile County schools from the past two years.

One of the things parents are worried about is racial segregation in schools, which is part of the CRT program (in this cases, segregation of graduations, dorms, and events are considered salubrious for minorities). Yet the ACLU demands transparency for sex segregation but opposes it for segregation by race or ethnicity. Why the difference? You know the answer. Jilani dosn’t speculate much about this, though the reasons are clear to all people not blinded by ideology. He finishes his piece this way:

In arguing against transparency in the public school system, the ACLU is departing from its traditional mission. As has been written about elsewhere, the ACLU is increasingly becoming more of an activist progressive organization. Among activist progressives, sensitivities about race and gender have often brought them to take positions that are in tension with classical liberal values like freedom of speech, transparency, and equal treatment under the law. Those same sensitivities appear to be trouncing the ACLU’s longstanding principles in this case.

You can argue that the times are a-changing and it’s more pressing for the ACLU to defend minorities than to defend the civil rights of everyone. You can argue that the First Amendment is outmoded, and equally outmoded is an organization that embodies Mill’s dictum that even the most offensive or contrarian speech should be heard. (Indeed, Hitchens thought such speech should be prioritized.) Yes, you can argue those things.

But if there’s nobody around to defend the civil rights of everyone, then society will become a homogenous stew of “rightspeak”, and only the rights of those who have The Proper Ideology will be protected. That’s exactly what America’s founders wanted to prevent by enacting the First Amendment, and how the courts have construed that Amendment in the last two centuries. As the ACLU becomes a political organization, all we have left is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which still protects civil liberties in a nonpartisan way. But they are limited to rights in education.

As Glasser notes above, if the ACLU goes down the drain, there will be no organization to replace it.  A slight emendation of Antony’s famous quote from Julius Caesar is appropriate:

This was the noblest organization of them all. All the rest of the organizations acted out of political self interest. Only the ACLU acted from honesty and for the general good. Its existence was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in it that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a great organization.”

The Elect at Princeton University decide that ballet is racist, sexist, white supremacist, and thoroughly problematic

January 27, 2022 • 11:30 am

People might beef because the article below not only appeared in The American Conservative, but was written by arch-conservative Rod Dreher. For those who ignore reports from such sources, you might skip this and see the post from the Guardian above, but I pity such folks for refusing to engage with Right-wing sources, for those sources are almost the sole documentors of the woke shenanigans that may bring Republicans back to power.

To satisfy those who can’t stand to read Rod Dreher, I’ve quoted only his sources, with the rest of the post being the words of the censorious and ultra-Woke Elect Princeton University. It turns out that Princeton is going after ballet, having decided that that genre of dance is racist, white supremacist, and “ableist”. It also needs land acknowledgments before every performance!

Before I start, let me say that I’m not much of a ballet fan, but I do see the beauty in some virtuoso performances. And although it’s traditionally white, like much dance, that barrier is being broken down by people like Misty Copeland and the advent of black ballet companies. What concerns me more, knowing that ballet will inevitably become more diverse, is the credible claim that ballerinas are pressured to maintain a slender image, which may cause them to develop eating disorders. I’m not sure how common this is, but it’s a concern. But it’s impossible to do “traditional” ballet if you can’t jump around onstage, which requires at least an absence of obesity.

Click on the screenshot to read:

Here’s Dreher’s introduction. I’ve omitted his fulminations, which you can read at the site:

A source at Princeton University passed to me two documents sent out by the president of Princeton University Ballet (the student-run recreational ballet club), regarding the club’s diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives. I quote them both below, in full. The first was written by the club leaders, who in it affirm that “we are all entering this space with a mindset that what we see as perfect is a white standard” and “we aim to decolonize our practice of ballet, even as ballet remains an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist art form.” (Gosh, better not tell these woke dingbats about Alicia Alonso, the Cuban prima ballerina, founder of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and ardent Castroite.)

The second document is about “Action Plan Guidelines”. I am told that it was not written by the students, but by Princeton alumni who led the “EDI Circuit.” The document was given to all the clubs that participated. The source says, “I don’t think it was mandatory for all the performing arts groups. Still, it was organized by the University’s offices, namely the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Lewis Center for the Arts.”

I’ll quote only bits from the first document, and assume that it’s genuine.  I was going to bold parts to emphasize them, but really, the whole screed needs bolding. This is only part of that first document:

Ballet is rooted in white supremacy and perfectionism. We are all entering this space with a mindset that what we see as perfect is a white standard. Unlearning that will be difficult but rewarding. Before we begin detailing our action plan, we want to acknowledge that our leadership and those who composed this plan are all white.

Firstly we would like to add land acknowledgement to our shows, in addition to historical context in our programs. We rarely shed light on the problematic history of our art form, and want to bring it to the forefront of our performances.

We aim to decolonize our practice of ballet, even as ballet remains an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist art form. We realize our distinct freedoms as a college run dance group, which is that we do not report back to any sort of board or funding programs that would restrict our choices. In selecting new members and cultivating our style, we want to centralize artistry instead of technique, in the hopes of maintaining our core purpose as a ballet company but doing away with some of the stringent and exclusive standards that pervade the art form. As this is particularly important during auditions, we will be prefacing audition discussions with a frank recognition and repudiation of our own biases. . .

. . . We hope to take steps to ensure that PUB membership, not just leadership, requires a commitment to EDI work. As such, we have decided that participation in service and outreach to local communities will become a requirement of every company member. We partner with an organization that members can sign up to volunteer with, but there are numerous other opportunities for dance service on campus. Even though we cannot change some of the biases and prejudices that exist in ballet off campus, we can dedicate ourselves to combating that exclusivity in our local communities and for the next generation.

. . . We would also like to open a conversation about body image and take steps to heal and deconstruct the harmful and racialized ideas about body image that many of PUB’s members enter the company with just by virtue of being a ballet dancer. Historically, PUB has been neutral on this issue, and while body neutrality is something some may strive for individually, it is not realistic or helpful for a group of ballet dancers who have internalized damaging ideas about how they should eat and what they should look like. We are hoping to bring someone in from outside the company to train the officers or the company as a whole on how to talk about body image and how to create an environment where we feel comfortable talking about our struggles with body image while also helping to deconstruct our assumptions about it.

The last paragraph does have a point, but the aesthetics of an athletic, healthy body is essential for ballet, as it is for sports. But the pressure to develop a thin and graceful body type does not seem to be “racialized” to me. All ballerinas, black or white (and there are now many of the former, including entire companies) will have to deal with the need to be athletic in a way that makes the performance aesthetically appealing.

Maus banned in a Tennessee school distrinct because of eight swear words and a naked rodent

January 27, 2022 • 9:30 am

Today we’ll have two posts on how the “Elect”—et’s use that instead of “woke”, so as to conform to John McWhorter’s supposedly non-pejorative word—are changing or banning art to both confirm virtue and prevent others from enjoying good painting, dance, and writing. One source will be the liberal media; the other the conservative media. This first post deals mainly with literature, but I’ve put some “racialization of art” stuff at the very bottom.

Let’s start with the liberal media, which of course reports Elect shenanigans less often than does the liberal “MSM”. In this case, however, the Guardian is the source. This concerns Art Spiegelman’s “graphic novel” Maus, which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature (the “Special Awards and Letters” category) in 1986.

Before I first read Maus, I was disdainful of “graphic novels,” thinking they were just comic books for adults, made for people who wanted to look at pictures rather than read.

Was I wrong! I first saw Maus at the 57th Street Bookstore soon after I arrived in Chicago, and, knowing the plaudits it got, I pulled it off the shelf.  I started reading, and then couldn’t stop. The artwork, I found, added immensely to the power of the book, especially the depiction of all characters as animals, though one wouldn’t expect that power in a book about the Holocaust. I bought it, which I rarely do with books due to my groaning shelves, and it’s now one of several graphic novels I own. (The other two are volumes of wonderful series The Rabbi’s Cat, given to me by a friend.) It’s not just that the books have moggies in them; the attraction is, as in Animal Farm, that messages can be driven home more deeply using animals as metaphors than by straight depiction of human actions.

At any rate, everyone should read Maus (and I also recommend The Rabbi’s Cat).  But, according to the Guardian the good (?) people on a Tennessee school board have taken it upon themselves to deprive students of this access—for no good reason.

Click on the screenshot below to read the piece. You know it’s gotta be egregious censorship if the woke Guardian reports it!

Why did the school board, which after deciding to redact the book, find it more practical to ban it outright? Because there was a single depiction of nudity OF A MOUSE and a few swear words that kids hear (and use) every day. An excerpt from the article (my emphasis):

Tennessee school board has banned a Pulitzer prize-winning novel from its classrooms over eight curse words and an illustration of a naked cartoon mouse.

The graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by New Yorker Art Spiegelman, uses hand-drawn illustrations of mice and cats to depict how the author’s parents survived Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

The graphic memoir elevated a pulp mass medium to high art when it nabbed a slew of literary awards in 1992 but appears not to have impressed educators in Mcminn county.

Ten board members unanimously agreed in favour of removing the novel from the eighth-grade curriculum, citing its use of the phrase “God Damn” and drawings of “naked pictures” of women, according to minutes taken from a board of education meeting earlier this month.

Here’s the only passage about nudity (OF A MOUSE) in the school board minutes (have a look at the link above):

Mike Cochran- I will start. I went to school here thirteen years. I learned math, English, Reading and History. I never had a book with a naked picture in it, never had one with foul language. In third grade I had one of my classmates come up to me and say hey what’s this word? I sounded it out and it was “damn,” and I was real proud of myself because I sounded it out. She ran straight to the teacher and told her I was cussing. Besides that one book which I think she brought from home, now I’ve seen a cuss word in a textbook at school. So, this idea that we have to have this kind of material in the class in order to teach history, I don’t buy it.

. . .We are talking about teaching ethics to our kids, and it starts out with the dad and the son talking about when the dad lost his virginity. It wasn’t explicit but it was in there. You see the naked pictures, you see the razor, the blade where the mom is cutting herself. You see her laying in a pool of her own blood. You have all this stuff in here, again, reading this to myself it was a decent book until the end. I thought the end was stupid to be honest with you. A lot of the cussing had to do with the son cussing out the father, so I don’t really know how that teaches our kids any kind of ethical stuff. It’s just the opposite, instead of treating his father with some kind of respect, he treated his father like he was the victim.

We don’t need this stuff to teach kids history. We can teach them history and we can teach them graphic history. We can tell them exactly what happened, but we don’t need all the nakedness and all the other stuff.

At least Mickey Mouse had the decency to cover his shame with pants!

At first they thought about just redacting the panels with nudity and cussing, but that would lead to copyright violations:

“There is some rough, objectionable language in this book,” director of school, Lee Parkison, is recorded as saying in the session’s opening remarks.

Parkison continued to say he had “consulted with our attorney” and as a result “we decided the best way to fix or handle the language in this book was to redact it … to get rid of the eight curse words and the picture of the woman that was objected to.”

Board member Tony Allman supported the move to remove the “vulgar and inappropriate” content, arguing: “We don’t need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff.”

. . . After much discussion over the redaction of words the members found objectionable, the board eventually decided that alongside copyright concerns, it would be better to ban the graphic novel altogether.

Eventually they voted to entirely remove the book from the eight-grade curriculum. Those kids are about fourteen years old, and you tell me that none of them has seen a drawing or photo of a naked woman before, or heard (much less used) the words “God damn”.

But apparently the use of animals was said to”brutalize the Holocaust”, as if it wasn’t sufficiently brutal. Indeed, to bring home the nature of the Holocaust, pictures (either photos or artwork) are essential; words alone are insufficient:

Board member Tony Allman supported the move to remove the “vulgar and inappropriate” content, arguing: “We don’t need to enable or somewhat promote this stuff.”

“I am not denying it was horrible, brutal, and cruel,” Allman said in reference to the genocide and murder of six million European Jews during the second world war.

“It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff? It is not wise or healthy,” he added.

Allman also took aim at Spiegelman himself, alleging: “I may be wrong, but this guy that created the artwork used to do the graphics for Playboy.”

“You can look at his history, and we’re letting him do graphics in books for students in elementary school. If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening.”

Mike Cochran, another school board member, described parts of the book as “completely unnecessary”.

“We are talking about teaching ethics to our kids, and it starts out with the dad and the son talking about when the dad lost his virginity. It wasn’t explicit but it was in there,” Cochran said.

“We don’t need this stuff to teach kids history. We can teach them history and we can teach them graphic history. We can tell them exactly what happened, but we don’t need all the nakedness and all the other stuff.”

Here we have a bunch of Pecksniffian parents making the decision that fourteen-year-olds shouldn’t have access to a famous, powerful, and moving graphic novel.

Spiegelman’s reaction:

Spiegelman said he was “baffled” by the outcome in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. “It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’” the 73-year-old author said, adding he thought the school board was “Orwellian” for approving the ban.

Spiegelman’s Jewish parents were both sent to Nazi concentration camps and his mother took her own life when he was just 20.

“I’ve met so many young people who … have learned things from my book,” Spiegelman said. “I also understand that Tennessee is obviously demented. There’s something going on very, very haywire there.”

Well of course not all of Tennessee is demented, but there are some school board members who are acting, well, I won’t give my reaction.  Let’s just say it’s similar to Neil Gaiman’s:


I don’t know where else to put this item, but it appears that Wokeness Electness has invaded the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I don’t know how far the rot has spread, but readers might check for themselves.  We know, at least, that David and Canova, were racists.  They could at least have depicted Socrates as a person of color!

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

h/t: Jean