Three authors “problematize” rigor, objectivity, replicability, and yes, all the aspects of “colonizing and white Eurocentric science”

February 6, 2023 • 12:20 pm

If you want to see every aspect of Critical Social Justice (CSJ) instantiated in one paper, combined with about the worst possible writing—obscurantist, laden with jargon, and nearly Butlerian in opacity—I commend to you the paper below from The Journal Of Social Issues (click on screenshot to read or get the pdf here).  But I warn you: unless you’ve already drunk the Kool-Aid®, you’re going to need a very strong stomach.  The title is what caught my eye, plus it was called to my attention by several readers. It’s an example of trying to undo modern science in favor of the tenets of the academically fashionable CSJ ideology (see here for the best explication of those tenets).

You can get a flavor of the paper from the abstract.


The purported goal of social science research is to develop approaches and applications to the psychological study of social issues that allow us to know, accurately and inclusively, the lived experiences of all human beings. However, our current theoretical and methodological tools, while perceived as “objective,” were founded on ahistorical and context-eliminating perspectives that privilege research designs and analytic strategies that reflect biased racial reasoning with roots in European colonial knowledge formations. By analyzing how the language of “rigor” is deployed within specific instances of social science research, we assert that it is conceptualized and operationalized to maintain a Eurocentric worldview and conception of the “human.” In exploring the ways that the language of “rigor” furthers a European conception of knowledge production as normative, this manuscript provides a critical analysis that seeks to redress ongoing epistemic colonial violence by decolonizing a key term in psychological scholarship.

And although the authors claim they’re not trying to get rid of rigor in psychological scholarship, in fact that’s exactly what they are trying to do: removing the distinction between subjective and objective views, prizing “lived experience” above all research, deposing so-called “Western Eurocentric science”, which they consider white supremacist (note the paper’s title), and in general taming all those nasty aspects of modern scientific analysis which enables it to find out stuff. The paper, then, is nothing more than a clarion call to dismantle modern science and replace it with postmodern views involving power struggles and identity.  As the authors say in their very first sentence, quoting Lorde, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”  So much for rigor, objectivity, replicability, generalizability—indeed, the whole megillah.

Of course it’s necessary for the authors to begin by explaining their “identities” in great deal, for one’s cultural and racial bona fides matter hugely in such analyses, for you have the wrong identity, your ideas are bunk. I won’t go into the very long descriptions, but they are there for all three authors. Here’s just part of the “lived experience” of author #1:

I (first author) was raised as a Muslim immigrant-origin girl in a small Iowa town and constantly aware that my family was “different.” Having been an educator in PK-12 contexts, my goal in studying developmental psychology was to make the process easier for other youth who, like myself, were intersectionally minoritized and privileged because of religious, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and/or other identities or experiences. I was unprepared for the microaggressions embedded in developmental scholarship rooted in non-inclusive modes of knowledge production that resisted the nuances of the diverse individuals and groups I sought to better understand. . . . I seek to place myself in relationships and contexts to learn and engage in a co-conspiring, co-liberatory inquiry stance.

That’s a new one on me: “intersectionally minoritized and privileged” (isn’t that oxymoronic?). And notice the privileged in-group language that helps place an author firmly within the bailiwick of Critical Social Justice.  The other two authors do likewise.

But notice how dreadful the writing is throughout, as well as the profuse use of ideological jargon.  Just looking at the pages can tire you, showing you that you’re going to have to wrestle with a lot of big and complicated words. Just for fun, I calculated the Gunning Fog index (GFI) on some of the text. What is that? Wikipedia tells us this:

In linguistics, the Gunning fog index is a readability test for English writing. The index estimates the years of formal education a person needs to understand the text on the first reading. For instance, a fog index of 12 requires the reading level of a United States high school senior (around 18 years old). The test was developed in 1952 by Robert Gunning, an American businessman who had been involved in newspaper and textbook publishing.

The fog index is commonly used to confirm that text can be read easily by the intended audience. Texts for a wide audience generally need a fog index less than 12. Texts requiring near-universal understanding generally need an index less than 8.

You can calculate it just by pasting text into this website. But let’s go on; I’ll give the figures shortly.

Now to be as fair as I can, here’s how the authors claim that they’re not really trying to upend rigor, objectivity, and other aspects of science:

Our goal, however, is not to assert that the concept of rigor in theoretical or methodological contexts should be abandoned or that standards of excellence in psychology as a science be lowered or jettisoned. Instead, our intent is to interrogate the consequences of “rigor” with respect to how it is conceptualized and operationalized in psychology research, and thereby imagine how we might more effectively achieve the spirit and substance of rigor in our work in a manner that unmoors it from Western epistemological norms. Accordingly, we address three broad problematics: (1) how dominant conceptions of rigor within psychological sciences presume universality; (2) how scholars perpetuate epistemic violence through colonial claims to, or denials of, rigor in the name of “good” or “normative” psychological science; and (3) how a decolonial approach to “rigor” enhances epistemic justice and the quality of science.

[The GFI for the paragraph above was 19.05. But that’s peanuts compared to the GFI for the Abstract above: a whopping 26.93. Twenty-seven years for formal schooling just to understand the text! That’s all the way though college and then ten years of postgraduate study!]

Yes, that’s right: scholars are, through their colonialism, “perpetuating epistemic violence”.  How tiresome to hear the word “violence” used to refer to scholarship, over and over again. There’s even a section of the paper having that title!:

And pardon me if I don’t take the authors’ word that they’re not trying to lower standards of excellence when they say stuff like this:

The criterion of subjectivity dictates that the researcher makes him/her/themself and their self-understanding visible in the research. Decolonizing Western scientific norms requires reconceptualizing who we consider knowledgeable and how they relate to a range of lived experiences, cultural and spiritual practices, and other phenomena.

. . . We do not challenge the notion that there should be standards of excellence in social science research. Instead, we resist notions of rigor that require fidelity to uncritical truths that pass for just-natural facts in “normative” psychological scholarship. We argue that research is rigorous (i.e., high quality) when it reflects the following interlocking credibility criteria. Researchers should engage in self-reflexivity to understand our own subjectivities, historical embeddedness, and positionalities that frame our epistemological approach while also inclusively encouraging people to draw from their own and others’ lived experiences to inform scholarship. [GFI 16.9]

In other words, research is rigorous insofar as it comports with the authors’ ideology.

I won’t go on, for the paper is long, tedious, and laden with buzzwords embedded in bad prose. (Wokesters seem to have problems writing clearly, but maybe, as with Judith Butler and the postmodernists, it’s a deliberate tactic.)

I was going to make this a two-item post, for there was a talk at U. Mass. Boston by one of the authors of this paper and a colleague, and the second and third tweets below will show you some of the slides from that talk, as well as a snarky take from Substack Site “The Flickering Beacon”, an antiwoke venue written by people at U. Mass. Boston. It has two articles on the talk (here and here).

Here are the posts, which you can click on:

They also show slides from the talk and yes, the talk had a land acknowledgment. Here’s one slide:

Enough. If there were a God, I would thank him every day that I didn’t go into the social sciences. Science is already beleaguered by those who want it redone along Critical Social Justice lines, but the social sciences have been completely taken over.

NPR touts CRT, and CRT embraces MLK

September 14, 2022 • 9:45 am

If you follow National Public Radio (NPR), partly funded by American taxpayers, you’ll know that it’s gone pretty woke. The latest example was called to my attention by a reader who noted a 7-minute interview between NPR host A. Martinez and Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the big doyens and architects of Critical Race Theory (CRT). Krenshaw was in fact the person who introduced the concept of “intersectionality” into CRT.

There were three things about the interview—you can either read it or listen below—that bothered the reader. First, CRT was presented as a done deal without any issues or criticism, due largely to softball questions by the interviewer. Second, the interview sounded scripted, as if the whole “discussion” had been written down and was being read. (This is a no-no in journalism, but I’m not as bothered by it as by the other two issues.) Finally, Crenshaw tries to fold Martin Luther King into CRT, presenting his views as an early version of CRT when they were nothing of the sort.

But let’s back up. Here’s what the reader sent me:

Thought you might be interested in this. I had on Morning Edition this morning and my jaw just about dropped as I washed my face and heard this. It’s like they did an infomercial for Critical Race Theory. CRT is presented as if it’s a physics formula, an absolute given that it’s 100% correct and nothing controversial, but it’s been hijacked by crazy right-wingers.

It’s mostly an interview with Kimberle Crenshaw, but this “interview” sounds as if it’s literally pre-arranged to make sure she gets to say exactly what she wants. And I do mean “literally.” Do you know how the NPR presenters will often a back-and-forth conversation with one of their correspondents, rather than having the correspondent just report their story? When they do that, it’s very irritating because it’s clear they’re following a script but pretending to have a spontaneous conversation. And that is exactly what this sounded like. I seriously think they had a pre-arranged script with Crenshaw.

I already stopped supporting NPR, so I can’t do it again unfortunately.

The reader added this caveat:

If I’m wrong and this interview was not scripted, that’s almost as bad—because the reporter did nothing but back up Crenshaw and ask leading questions to let her continue giving an infomercial for CRT, rather than asking her any of the many valid questions about the real problems with CRT. He didn’t even try the “some people say this, what do you say to them?” approach. And since Crenshaw is one of the creators of modern CRT, that is bizarre journalism.

Click to read or listen, and note that the title is a simple declarative statement of truth, which is not true when applied to Martin Luther King.

Listen for yourself.  The distortion that upset me most was the attempt of Crenshaw, as I said, to pretend that Martin Luther King, Jr. was actually a critical race theorist. Here’s the telling exchange:

MARTINEZ: You wrote an article – an op-ed actually – in the LA Times in January, and the headline is “Martin Luther King Was A Critical Race Theorist Before There Was A Name For It.” [JAC: it’s here but it’s paywalled, and I haven’t read it.] In what way, Professor?

CRENSHAW: Well, in several ways. No. 1, he was a critic of the contradiction between what America says it is, what its deepest aspirations are and what its material reality is. You know, a lot of people like to quote his March on Washington speech, particularly the part where he talks about how our aspiration is to be judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin. That was his sort of aspirational moment. The rest of the speech was a trenchant critique of the idea that America had given African Americans a rubber check. Basically, the promises of the 13th and the 14th Amendment came back marked insufficient funds. So his entire point of that speech was to make good on the Democratic promises.

Well, I urge you to read the entire “I have a dream” speech (transcript here), paying attention to the “rest of the speech” touted by Crenshaw as expressing CRT.  As you might know, there’s been considerable agitation concerning King’s famous statement in this speech that I’ve put in bold below: his aspiration to have all people judged not by their skin color but by the content of their character. That implies that we should stop dividing, judging, and treating people differently based on race; rather, we should judge people by who they are as individuals. He’s calling for universal brotherhood.

That, of course, explicitly contravenes CRT, which makes race and racism the central organizing principle of American society, and insists that people’s views be judged taking race into account as well as  being treated differently based on their race.  King’s views have discomfited advocates of CRT, and now, as Crenshaw is doing here, they are starting to paint King (and his famous aspiration) as really being an early advocate of CRT. That’s about as wrong as you can get.

First, although the components of CRT, an academic theory, vary among analysts, we need to know its main contentions. I could have used the book Cynical Theories by Pluckrose and Lindsay, which did a very good job laying out the tenets of the theory. Although both authors are opposed to CRT, I thought their presentation of it was quite good, and presented my summary of its tenets here. (Note that the idea of race as a social construct, but one that gives members of a group a unique voice, were not embraced by King.) However, I’ll use the Wikipedia “common themes” of CRT as I suspect they’ve been vetted by advocates of the theory, so we can take them as more or less a definitive summary. Here’s the list (quotes are taken from the article).

  1. Critique of liberalism. “First and foremost to CRT legal scholars in 1993 was their ‘discontent’ with the way in which liberalism addressed race issues in the U.S. They critiqued ‘liberal jurisprudence’, including affirmative action, color-blindness, role modeling, and the merit principle. Specifically, they claimed that the liberal concept of value-neutral law contributed to maintenance of the U.S.’s racially unjust social order.”
  2. Storytelling/counterstorytelling and “naming one’s own reality”. “The use of narrative (storytelling) to illuminate and explore lived experiences of racial oppression.”
  3. Standpoint epistemology. “The view that a members of racial minority groups have a unique authority and ability to speak about racism. This is seen as undermining dominant narratives relating to racial inequality, such as legal neutrality and personal responsibility or bootstrapping, through valuable first-hand accounts of the experience of racism.”
  4. Intersectional theory. “The examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their intersections play out in various settings, such as how the needs of a Latina are different from those of a Black male, and whose needs are promoted.”
  5. The discussion of essentialism vs. anti-essentialism. “Scholars who write about these issues are concerned with the appropriate unit for analysis: Is the black community one, or many, communities? Do middle- and working-class African-Americans have different interests and needs? Do all oppressed peoples have something in common? This is a look at the ways that oppressed groups may share in their oppression but also have different needs and values that need to be analyzed differently. It is a question of how groups can be essentialized or are unable to be essentialized.”
  6. Structural determinism and race, class, sex, and their intersections.  “Exploration of how ‘the structure of legal thought or culture influences its content’ in a way that determines social outcomes.”
  7. The debate over cultural nationalism/separatism. “The exploration of more radical views that argue for separation and reparations as a form of foreign aid (including black nationalism).”
  8. Legal institutions, critical pedagogy, and minorities in the bar. “. . . differential access to the goods, services, and opportunities of society by race. Institutionalized racism is normative, sometimes legalized and often manifests as inherited disadvantage. It is structural, having been absorbed into our institutions of custom, practice, and law, so there need not be an identifiable offender. Indeed, institutionalized racism is often evident as inaction in the face of need, manifesting itself both in material conditions and in access to power.”
  9. Black/white binary. “The black-white binary is a paradigm identified by legal scholars through which racial issues and histories are typically articulated within a racial binary between Black and white Americans. The binary largely governs how race has been portrayed and addressed throughout U.S. history.”

Now read King’s speech from the 1963 March On Washington, delivered August 28 at the Lincoln Memorial. I’ve put below not only the words following his famous quote, but do read what goes before as well. It’s these statements that Crenshaw say make Martin Luther King an early advocate of CRT. Emphasis is mine:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,  From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Those are of course stirring words, but, either before or after the quote in bold, I find very little that corresponds to CRT. Crenshaw tries mightily to drag King into the CRT corral, but what his entire speech consists of is a passionate advocacy of equality—combined with the palpable fact that the founding fathers and people like Abraham Lincoln declared all “men” equal, but that this promise had not been met. There is nothing about intersectionality, standpoint theory, “lived experience,” a critique of liberalism, and so on. What we see is the delineation of a persistent, vicious, and hurtful racism that violates America’s own principles, and a call for brotherhood: for equality, not for separation. And, of course, his famous line underscores that.

If you want to say that those sentiments make King a CRT advocate, then you’re really throwing overboard the tenets of CRT and just asserting that it’s about racism per se and a striving for brotherhood and equality. But that’s not what CRT is about. Other King writings I’ve read and speeches I’ve heard (see a famous example here) don’t materially differ in what they call for, nor bring King closer in philosophy to modern CRT. The only similarity between King and, say, Ibram Kendi, is their emphasis on racism and how to rectify it. But how they portray racism, and the methods they espouse for eliminating it, are completely different. I won’t dwell on this: if you know your Kendi or DiAngelo, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Antiracists, disturbed by King’s words and especially the bold line above—which in fact accurately expresses his views—have either ignored the disparity with CRT, or, lately, tried to pretend that King and Kendi are two peas in a pod. But over the years I’ve also seen mentions of King diminish, though I expected the opposite during the “racial reckoning.” That’s because his views don’t really jibe with modern ones based on CRT. My correspondent also noticed this:

Yes, the whole thing of claiming MLK was espousing CRT started this past year, and there were at least a couple of very good articles explaining how completely wrong, and knowingly wrong, that is. I didn’t bookmark them or anything but I’m sure you can find by googling if you want to. Before, CRT was trying to play down or erase MLK, and this is their attempt to instead claim he’s one of them. But I was just reading that the California ethnic studies curriculum—I believe it was California—literally doesn’t include him, since until recently, it was easier to ignore him since MLK completely conflicts with CRT. Note no pushback from the interviewer even though this was a well known issue only a little earlier this year.

I found just one of those articles, by Coleman Hughes, and a discussion article here. I also looked at the latest draft of the California ethnic studies curriculum and found a handful of mentions of King as well as of CRT. (Update: there’s more on his relative neglect here, and here.) But King is perhaps the most eloquent and effective African-American of our time with respect to civil rights—a man whose powers helped bring the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts into being. He deserves a much bigger portion of the curriculum. Oh, and he wasn’t an early exponent of CRT.

As for NPR, well, let’s just say that once again their programming is ideologically slanted, and this time in a misleading way.


I’ll finish with a quote from the Coleman Hughes piece (it was written when he was an undergraduate):

With regard to the role that racial identity should play in politics, King was unequivocal: First and foremost we are human beings, not members of races. The verbal tic of modern racial-justice activists—“As a black man . . .”—would sound foreign on his lips. Even when fighting explicitly racist policies, he deployed universal principles rather than a tribal grievance narrative.

“The problem is not a purely racial one, with Negroes set against whites,” King writes of the civil-rights movement in his 1958 essay “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression.” He adds that “nonviolent resistance is not aimed against oppressors but against oppression. Under its banner consciences, not racial groups, are enlisted.”

. . . If we use the adjective “radical” to describe King, then we should follow it with the right nouns. King was a radical Christian, as demonstrated by his commitment to loving his enemies no matter how much they hated him. He was a radical truth-teller, whether that meant telling white moderates that blacks wouldn’t wait any longer to be granted full rights, or telling blacks not to make oppression an excuse for failure. Most important, he was a radical advocate, not on behalf of any subdivision of our species, but on behalf of humanity as a whole.

A new and tendentious “scientific” field: Critical Ecology

May 6, 2022 • 12:30 pm

A reader sent me this announcement of a talk given at Cornell University by a scientist from the California Academy of Science. I reproduce the announcement in full, complete with italicization and bolding, though I’ve removed Zoom links and email addresses. (I can’t find the talk online, though she does have a short talk on “Ecology as a Locus for Social Change.)  I won’t belabor it at length, as I find its content simply flabbergasting, but I want to point out five things:

  1. It is “critical ecology” in that it infuses real science (ecology) with “critical theory”, itself containing a big dollop of postmodernism.
  2. It is written in the obscurantist style of postmodernism fused with modern wokeist strains (e.g., use of preferred pronouns)
  3. It is tendentious: there is no way that this style of science can be objective. Its aim, as suggested below, is simply to confirm preconceptions of the writer and to push her ideology into ecology. Note especially this sentence: “Pierre aims to offer systemically oppressed populations a praxis for redress beyond environmental justice.” This is social engineering, not science.
  4. This is also an example of the invasion of wokeism into science, as instantiated by Steve Pinker’s recent statement on climate change in the journal Science. But at least the Science stuff, however wrongheaded, was explicitly about policy. Here we have what purports to be a form of science that involves hypothesis testing, but the answers must only come out in a preferred direction.
  5. Note the criticism of “objectivity,” as in this sentence: “critical ecology also provides a space to address the tension present in defining what is ‘objective’, a practice that has neglected the phenomena experienced by racialized communities.”  Note that “objective” is in scare quotes, and is opposed to the lived experience of those in racialized communities.  It is this redefinition of “objectivity” as “the master’s (e.g. white supremacist’s) tools” that poses the biggest danger of science. Science then merely becomes a matter of one’s preferred opinion or “lived experience”: things not checkable by scientific methods.

The entire announcement is indented.

Critical ecology provides a framework for integrating social critiques of imperialism, enslavement, and modern racial capitalism into the quantitative analysis of human oppression as a process organizing the biophysical drivers of global environmental change.


The Research Fellows group at Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability will host Dr. Suzanne Pierre of the Critical Ecology Lab for a visiting lecture at 4:00 pm on May 5th in Weill Hall 226. We hope you will attend; feel free to forward this invitation to colleagues.

Guest Lecture by Dr. Suzanne Pierre, California Academy of Sciences

Location: Weill Hall 226

Date: May 5

Time: 4:00-5:00 pm

[JAC: Zoom and email address redacted]

Critical Ecology: Testing Hypotheses in Service of Liberation 

Dr. Suzanne Pierre (she; Cornell Ecology and Evolutionary Biology ’18), will introduce critical ecology as an emerging approach to global environmental change research. Pierre’s work in critical ecology provides a framework for integrating social critiques of imperialism, enslavement, and modern racial capitalism into the quantitative analysis of human oppression as a process organizing the biophysical drivers of global environmental change. Pierre’s goal is to couple theory from decolonial studies, Black feminist studies, and other schools of liberatory thought to inform testable ecological hypotheses. Her work aims to document patterns in relationships between societal oppression/extraction and resultant ecosystem perturbations, currently focusing on her expertise in soil microbial ecology and forest biogeochemistry. 

 As Audre Lorde said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. In keeping with this wisdom, critical ecology also provides a space to address the tension present in defining what is “objective”, a practice that has neglected the phenomena experienced by racialized communities. Through the practice of theory and basic research, Pierre aims to offer systemically oppressed populations a praxis for redress beyond environmental justice. Pierre will also introduce her nonprofit research organization, the Critical Ecology Lab, as a locus for reflexive critique, methods development, and liberation work by interdisciplinary scientists and students.   

 Dr. Suzanne Pierre is the founder and lead investigator of the Critical Ecology Lab, where transdisciplinary scholars seek to reframe the objectives and methods of academic research in support of equity and decolonial futures. The Critical Ecology Lab is a space to investigate and explain how the natural world, from soils to atmosphere, has been shaped by racial and cultural supremacy, natural resource exploitation, and social exclusion. Before building the CEL community, Dr. Pierre completed her doctoral research in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology here at Cornell University. Her experience within traditional academic structures encouraged her to act for greater inclusiveness in academic research spaces, so she co-founded and organized the first Diversity Preview Weekend. The impact of Dr. Pierre’s research and organizing is felt across Cornell today, and we are honored to host her as she continues to lead through intellectual contributions and direct action. 

I’ll leave it to readers to tender comments.

Time Magazine tries bullying its readers into Wokeness

February 10, 2022 • 12:00 pm

I guess if Newsweek is the right-wing weekly of choice, then Time Magazine is its woke equivalent. The article below (free; click on screenshot) is about what one might expect from the Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley Law School—in this case Savala Nolan.  But it’s about the most offensive and authoritarian piece of Woke claptrap I’ve ever read.

It’s not enough that Nolans’ piece hectors all white people to “do the work”—and that means doing the “work” she recommends, which means filling yourself with guilt—but she also instructs us that we must get our friends, family, and loved ones involved as well. And if they don’t become our “allies” in the journey to full guilt (and thus expiation), then we should punish them!. Those are the “tough conversations” we’re supposed to have. “If you don’t start reading Kendi and DiAngelo right now, and discuss them with me, then you’re a bad person and not serious about racism.”

I am not making this up. Click to read:

Dr. Nolan is very disappointed in us.

The problem:

I know a lot of white people. A lifetime of private schools, three years at an elite law school, a job in academia, a house in the suburbs, my own family—I’m surrounded. The vast majority of them are progressive and, as of the last couple years, eager to be allies. They were sickened by George Floyd’s murder. They posted photographs of Breonna Taylor’s gentle, sweet face. They set up recurring donations. They bought books, and they bought them from Black-owned bookstores, and then they read them with pens in their hands. Books like Me and White SupremacySo You Want to Talk About RaceWhite Fragility, and The New Jim Crow. They were hellbent on personal transformation, on becoming not merely not racist but anti-racist, not only benign but of benefit. And God bless them for it. I applaud them (silently), and I don’t take their willingness for granted. But, very often, these white people and their efforts disappoint me. They frustrate me. They make me sad.

They disappoint and frustrate and sadden me because their work—as earnest and crucial as it is—frequently fails to demand the participation of the white people with whom they have the tightest, most honest, most intimate relationships. Their husbands, their parents, their wives, their children, their best friends. The people with whom they have the most currency, the most likelihood of creating a long-term trajectory of change. The people who are most exposed and connected to their (racialized) desires and fears, their conscious and unconscious beliefs, their choices and preferences—the heartwood of the very racial hierarchy they say they want to address. Time and again, I’ve observed white people approach “the work” with heartfelt intensity—but no clear, persistent will to spread it to the most significant white people in their lives.

The books she lists, which constitute part of “The Work,” give you an idea of what she is hectoring us about: embracing full-on Critical Race theory.

But The Work is not enough, for it’s only begun when we limit it to ourselves. We need to rope all our white friends into sharing The Work and hence The Guilt—which is the penultimate goal of The Work (The ultimate goal, of course, is power and then reparations.)

I’m not opposed to learning about racism and anti-racism (who would be in these fraught days?), and I devoted a lot of last year to reading about racism before the 1950s—a time when it was much more pernicious than now. I wanted to try to feel how authors like James Baldwin and Richard Wright reacted when they encountered full-on Jim Crow. And I continue to read, but I’m not going to be forced to read books that have the goal of infecting me, a second generation Jew descended from the Ashkenazis of Eastern Europe, with the original sin of guilt. That doesn’t mean I reject anti-racism—only the antiracism of the performative sort that isn’t out for equality, but for self-proclaimed virtue.

So I’m one of the bad ones for Nolan:

Because here’s the truth: whiteness is not a solitary state. Whiteness is a system. Whiteness is a social phenomenon—as in communal, collective, community-based, and often family-based. Whiteness is rooted in relationships. Its rules and benefits are built and transmitted, in ways subtle and overt, between white people. Its habits and behaviors are only so powerful because they’re enacted by many white individuals, together, at the same time and across time. If you want to untangle the net, you have to work in tandem with other white people. A white person who “does the work” in isolation is like a pianist playing in a sealed room. They hear the music, and that’s great. They may be personally transformed—but they shouldn’t expect the world to start dancing.

And so we have is our second task:

. . .They also risk seeing a side of loved ones that they don’t want to see—the side that maybe doesn’t care about their own relationship to white supremacy enough to interrogate it, or is so undereducated that they don’t believe they have a relationship to white supremacy worth investigating. No one wants to peer too deeply into a loved one’s shortcomings. That’s human, and it’s understandable. I myself pick and choose which aspects of white supremacy I am willing to surface when it comes to my white friends and family. But I have to believe that there are white people who resist doing the work when it’s proffered to them by near-strangers, but who, on hearing from a sister or son or spouse that their failure to engage would impact a cherished relationship, just might show up. So why can’t more well-meaning white people insist and demand that their family members join them, or face some consequence? No risk, no reward.

I know that what I’m suggesting—asking for—is going to be unattractive for many white folks. In the microeconomic sense, at least, giving up comfort and privilege chafes against most people’s self-interest. There is little incentive for any white person to insist that another white person address how white supremacy shows up in their lives. There is little reason to risk the harmony in your dearest relationships in the name of something that, you believe, barely even impacts you.

In other words, we must collar all our friends and haul them into The Conversation. (This will do wonders for one’s social life.) And what if they don’t want to have The Conversation? Then we must make them Pay the Price, which means Make them Feel the Guilt:

What should this cost look like? Cutting ties or the silent treatment isn’t realistic, nor is it proportionate, nor, for the most part [JAC: “for the most part!’], desirable. But how about something? How about, for instance, honest, repeated conversations? How about good old-fashioned I-statements, now and again? Such as, “When you mostly ignore opportunities to do anti-racist work, I feel worried that we have a different world view or a different set of values.” Or perhaps, “I know we’ve talked about this before, and you’ll make your own choices about how you spend your time. But when you stay out of this fight, so to speak, I feel surprised and confused. I know you care about justice.” There’s no need for a scorched-earth approach to racial politics, especially between people who love each other. We can be more subtle, more nuanced, and more gracious with each other—even as we hold the line, even as we persist. And by “we,” I mean all of us—but I mostly mean you. White people. Because this is your work. These are your relationships. This thing—whiteness—is yours, not mine. You make it, not me. If you mean well, don’t let someone else’s white apathy make you apathetic.

. . . If we want this cooperative, connective transformation—and I believe we do—it’s time to increase the heat. That increase needs to come from white folks, and it needs to be directed at the white people they love more than anything. It needs to be real, and sustained, and, not to get too misty about it, rooted in love. Love for the relationship (no scorched earth necessary) and love for something bigger. Bigger than power, bigger than privilege, bigger than whiteness. Otherwise, I fear an unabating status quo. I fear a waste of effort and good-will. Many white people are working, but so long as they work without implicating their closest bonds, I fear we’ll lose much of the harvest. We can’t afford that anymore.

Somehow I think that Dr. Nolan has missed the class on “how to win friends and influence people.” Her whole argument is hostile, consisting of “you must agree with me or you’re a bad person” combined with, “and if you do agree with me, then get everybody you know to as well, and punish them if they don’t.”

Now there is something useful in the article, but it boils down to this: “If you see friends being racist, call them out on it.”  Nolan would disagree, for that’s not really what she means. She wants us to get everybody to help us Dismantle the Entire System and sign onto every aspect of Critical Race Theory. And we must be ridden with guilt, for only then can we, and the world, be saved.

I don’t know how to cure the problem of inequality, but I do know that you can’t bully people into it. Can you imagine someone following her script in the Sixties? Well, that’s not the way the Civil Rights bills were passed. It wasn’t guilt—at least not in my view—but the dawning realization that it’s immoral to treat other humans in ways that we wouldn’t want to be treated. It was the sit-ins, the dogs and truncheons and the fire hoses of the other side; the vileness of segregationists like Bull Connor and George Wallace, the killing of Emmett Till, combined with the persuasive powers of Civil Rights leaders. You would never see Dr. King writing an essay like this one. (Well, King’s been press-ganged into posthumous advocacy of CRT, and since he’s dead he’s unable to object.)

This article won’t work for the same reason that Bias Training doesn’t work: it makes people resentful by telling them they’re bad, and it increases the problem by making society more divisive. Of course we have inequality, and of course our Republic can’t hold its head high until we fix it. But trying to remedy it this way is like trying to cure a headache by knocking someone unconscious with a sledgehammer.

If you want to see John McWhorter’s simple tripartite solution to inequality, go here. Maybe it won’t work, but it’s sounds a damn sight more effective than the bullying prescribed by Nolan.

h/t: Mark

What is CRT? How to find out

June 8, 2021 • 12:45 pm

A lot of people ask me, “Jerry, what is Critical Race theory?” (Well, at least more than three people that I’ve seen in person.) My answer is aways to refer them to the Wikipedia article on CRT, though it’s too short to cover the major tenets of the theory, and leaves out some important stuff. Shortness is also a problem with the article on CRT at the New Discourses site of James Lindsay, who of course is an opponent of the “theory”—if it can be called a theory. (Some assertions of CRT are untestable and tautological, so I’m not sure what I’d call it.)

So if you want a short course on CRT, read the Wikipedia article but also the article below by Christopher Rufo, another opponent. To balance that, I’d recommend that you read—and you should do this for your own education—How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. If you have the constitution, I’d also recommend White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Kendi’s book isn’t so much a coherent argument for CRT as it is his autobiography heavily larded with conclusions and assertions that partly reflect CRT.

I’m not going to summarize Rufo’s article except to show how it differs from other articles and to give a few of my reactions. Click on the screenshot to read:

It’s clear that CRT, while it might not be a theory in the empirical/scientific sense, is an ideology, a belief system that is not self-evidently true and that can be contested. Further, some of these contestable assertions cannot be refuted—not because there are data that can’t be brought to bear, but because the adherents of CRT, many of them mired in confirmation bias, will reject any disconfirming evidence. So, despite ample evidence that “implicit bias” tests are worthless, and that diversity training accomplishes little, these procedures continue to spread despite the evidence.

There’s also the CRT claim that racism has not lessened over the history of the U.S., a claim that I think is flatly wrong. Of course slavery is gone, and, more recently, the civil rights laws and the movement itself seems to me to have led to a reduction in racism, not, as Rufo says for CRT:

Critical race theorists believe that American institutions, such as the Constitution and legal system, preach freedom and equality, but are mere “camouflages” for naked racial domination. They believe that racism is a constant, universal condition: it simply becomes more subtle, sophisticated, and insidious over the course of history.

This, of course, is not only refutable but has been refuted. Black people can no longer be barred from public transportation or accommodation, are not required to cower before white people. They also have any number of legally enforceable rights they didn’t have 75 years ago. The same “can’t be refuted” quality holds for the claim that “all whites are racist, even if they don’t know it.” How can you rebut an assertion like that?

In general, Rufo’s article sets out the tenets of CRT as I’ve understood them, and emphasizes some that are neglected in other articles, tenets like “opposition to meritocracy”, “restriction of free speech”, and “neo-segregation” (e.g., “affinity housing” in college).  But some of these tenets are ones that puzzle me, like “abolition of whiteness”, meaning not just deep-sixing white social constructs, but actually “abolishing the white race”. If you think this kind of racism is nonexistent, Rufo provides quotes supporting each tenet, and at least one favors this kind of eliminativism.  The problem is that three or four selected quotes do not establish that a tenet of CRT is widespread. That also holds for “abolition of property.” But the use of quotes is a useful addition to Rufo’s piece.

Less useful is his section on semantics, which simply lists terms and mantras associated with CRT. There’s also a section of school fights about CRT, involving both schools mandating its teaching, often in offensive ways, and governments’ attempts (like Trump’s) to ban teaching CRT. I don’t favor government bans, as I’ve said before. What’s taught in schools should be determined by school boards.

So, read Kendi, Wikipedia, and Rufo to get a start in CRT. As this “theory” becomes more widely adopted, and becomes embedded in mainstream media, it behooves us to understand it so we can detect and understand how it appears.

Possible debate between Robin DiAngelo and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

March 20, 2021 • 10:30 am

The people who run the “Letters’ section of Conversation, where Adam Gopnik and I are debating “ways of knowing”, are trying to set up debates between proponents and opponents of Critical Race Theory (CRT). The problem is that the proponents are happy to give public lectures, but not so happy to debate. As far as I’m aware—and I may be wrong—neither Ibram X. Kendi nor Robin DiAngelo, who have written the two most influential popular books on CRT, have been willing to debate their views.

Conversation is trying to set up such a debate, preferring to do it as a video rather than an exchange of letters, and has reached out to both DiAngelo and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They have just started a Crowdfunding site where you can pledge money to underwrite the debate, and all the funds are earmarked for charities, not for the speakers.

Moreover, if the debate doesn’t take place, you can get your donation back, or have it go straight to the charity:

If the conversation happens proceeds go to Starehe: a charity providing Kenya’s brightest underprivileged children with a quality education. You can pledge safe in the knowledge that you will not be charged unless the conversation happens.

Click on the screenshot below to go to the site (and to pledge if you wish):

The topic will clearly involve identity politics and/or CRT; here are the campaign’s biographies:

Robin DiAngelo’s 2018 book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list where it remained for 85 weeks.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a best-selling author and human rights activist. As a proponent of individualism, she has expressed concerns about identity politics and its capacity to erode our sense of common humanity.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has already accepted, but DiAngelo has not—at least not yet.

I suppose the philosophy is that the more money that’s pledged, the more willing people would be to participate in such a debate, because, after all, the money is to go to educate poor kids in Kenya. There are 90 days left in the pledge drive, which started less than two days ago, and if the debate doesn’t take place, well, you have nothing to lose by underwriting it.

The likely correlation between pledges and the probability of a debate comes from realizing that it’s hard to resist doing a bit of talking to garner a big donation for the education of poor African kids. Both DiAngelo and Hirsi Ali would surely have an interest in that education.  It’s also “bad optics” if you refuse to debate when there’s a sizable donation to a worthy charity at stake.

But some cynics don’t think it will take place:

I don’t know if they reached out to Kendi yet; I suggested that they try to set up a debate between him and McWhorter.  I know that McWhorter has agreed to such a debate a while back, but Kendi refused, despite having said that he’s willing to debate his ideas with anybody who’s a genuine university professor (weird, eh?), and certainly McWhorter fills the bill.

It would be fun to see a back and forth between these folks (and between Kendi and McWhorter), so if you want to underwrite the debate, click on the screenshot above—or here. There’s a FAQ section with questions about funding and the like.

Feel free to weigh in below as to whether DiAngelo will accept. I’m not holding my breath.

Like Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan is pro-Biden but worried

January 23, 2021 • 11:00 am

If you didn’t like Bari Weiss’s reservations about potential problems with the Biden administration, which include its truckling to the Woke, you’re really not going to like Andrew Sullivan’s latest piece at The Weekly Dish (click on screenshot below). For Sullivan has a take almost identical to Weiss’s, and yet I sympathize with some of his worries.

Click on screenshot to read it (you’ll probably need a subscription, but I’ll give a few quotes). One note: You are free to say what you want in the comments, including that you’re not worried about this stuff, but please don’t tell me that I’m not allowed to have concerns—that now I should be celebrating rather than nitpicking. I am in fact doing both!

Like Weiss, Sullivan begins (and ends) by expressing some fealty towards Biden and hopes that his administration will succeed. He notes that Biden’s Inaugural speech was uninspiring and in fact anodyne, and Sullivan’s right. But, as I’ve noted before, in those words we saw the real Joe: a decent and straightforward man with a vision, however unrealistic it is. He is not an orator. Sullivan:

But [Biden’s Inaugural speech] matched the occasion: it was conventional, banal even, and anodyne. And how much we’ve missed banality! Biden boldly asked us to be against “anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness,” and to reaffirm the “history, faith and reason” that provides unity. Sure. Okay. At that level of pabulum, who indeed could differ? And a nation united in pabulum is better than one divided into two tribal camps waging an “uncivil war” against each other about everything.

And if Biden sticks to this kind of common ground, it will serve him well. He is lucky, in many ways, to succeed Trump. Any normal inauguration would feel transcendent after the sack of the capitol.

After praising Joe for his pandemic response, economic stimulus package, energy plan, and so on, Sullivan gets down to business. Here are his areas of concern (Sullivan’s quotes are indented, mine flush left).

1.) Immigration.  The Democrats really need to put together a sensible immigration policy that doesn’t say “open borders” to Americans. If they don’t do this, they’re shooting themselves in the foot, and risk big losses in the midterm elections.

But Biden has also shown this week that his other ambitions are much more radical. On immigration, Biden is way to Obama’s left, proposing a mass amnesty of millions of illegal immigrants, a complete moratorium on deportations, and immediate revocation of the bogus emergency order that allowed Trump to bypass Congress and spend money building his wall. Fine, I guess. But without very significant addition of border controls as a deterrent, this sends a signal to tens of millions in Central to South America to get here as soon as possible. Biden could find, very quickly, that the “unity” he preaches will not survive such an effectively open-borders policy, or another huge crisis at the border. He is doubling down on the very policies that made a Trump presidency possible. In every major democracy, mass immigration has empowered the far right. Instead of easing white panic about changing demographics, Biden just intensified it.

2.) Equity versus equality. It behooves all of us to understand the difference. I hope that Biden does! At present he seems to be bowing before Critical Theory in his executive orders:

Biden has also signaled (and by executive order, has already launched) a very sharp departure from liberalism in his approach to civil rights. The vast majority of Americans support laws that protect minorities from discrimination, so that every American can have equality of opportunity, without their own talents being held back by prejudice. But Biden’s speech and executive orders come from a very different place. They explicitly replace the idea of equality in favor of what anti-liberal critical theorists call “equity.” They junk equality of opportunity in favor of equality of outcomes. Most people won’t notice that this new concept has been introduced — equity, equality, it all sounds the same — but they’ll soon find out the difference.

In critical theory, as James Lindsay explains, “‘equality’ means that citizen A and citizen B are treated equally, while ‘equity’ means adjusting shares in order to make citizen A and B equal.” Here’s how Biden defines “equity”: “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

In less tortured English, equity means giving the the named identity groups a specific advantage in treatment by the federal government over other groups — in order to make up for historic injustice and “systemic” oppression. Without “equity”, the argument runs, there can be no real “equality of opportunity.” Equity therefore comes first. Until equity is reached, equality is postponed — perhaps for ever.

I’m not sure that Biden’s definition adheres to the equity limned by Lindsay. All we can do is wait and see what Biden proposes. His executive order does seem to conflate “equity” and “equality of opportunity,” so someone should at least tell Joe the difference.

I think that for the near future the Democratic policy should be a combination of both equity and equality: some affirmative action but with the real work—and the hard work—being done on the level Sullivan notes in the paragraph just below. For the truth is that until equality is reached, equity won’t follow except though some kind of affirmative action. Like Sullivan, my goal is equality: equality of opportunity for all, which means removing the barriers to achievement that have impeded oppressed groups for decades. That takes a huge influx of effort and money into poor communities, and I’d hope we have the will and the funds to do that. But I’d throw some equity in there, too, for a government that at least doesn’t in part include representatives from all groups loses its credibility. Sullivan sees Biden adhering to the Ibram X. Kendi view of racial equity. I’m not yet sure of that, but Biden does seem to be going in that direction.

Sullivan saying, correct, what we really need to do:

Helping level up regions and populations that have experienced greater neglect or discrimination in the past is a good thing. But you could achieve this if you simply focused on relieving poverty in the relevant communities. You could invest in schools, reform policing, target environmental clean-ups, grow the economy, increase federal attention to the neglected, and thereby help the needy in precisely these groups. But that would not reflect critical theory’s insistence that race and identity trump class, and that America itself is inherently, from top to b

3.) Gay and gender issues. Like me (I think), Sullivan is in favor of equality based on sex and gender (including transgender people), but has some worries that the Biden administration will neglect those issues in which sex and gender issues mandate some inequality:

Biden’s executive order on “LGBTQ+” is also taken directly from critical gender and queer theory. Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down.

Most of the time, you can ignore this insanity and celebrate greater visibility and protection for trans people. But in a few areas, biology matters. Some traumatized women who have been abused by men do not want to be around biological males in prison or shelters, even if they identify as women. I think these women should be accommodated. There are also places where we segregate by sex — like showers, locker rooms — for reasons of privacy. I think that allowing naked biological men and boys to be in the same showers as naked biological women and girls is asking for trouble — especially among teens. But for Biden, this is non-negotiable, and all objections are a function of bigotry.

And in sports, the difference between the physiology of men and women makes a big difference. That’s the entire point of having separate male and female sports, in the first place. Sure, you can suppress or enhance hormones. But you will never overcome the inherited, permanent effects of estrogen and testosterone in childhood and adolescence. Male and female bodies are radically different, because without that difference, our entire species would not exist. Replacing sex with gender threatens women’s sports for that simple reason.

Now people have said these are “quibbles” I’m less worried about locker rooms than about sports, prisons, rape counseling and women’s problems. Granted, these are not as pressing as are issues of inequality, climate change, and economics.) But they’re not quibbles, for a). they bear on issues of fundamental fairness, and those issues won’t go away; and b). the way Biden’s administration works this out will have consequences for the acceptance of the Democratic Party as a whole—for our continuing control of the House and Senate (the Supreme Court is already lost for several decades). And remember, Biden casts himself not as a messenger of Wokeness, but as a healer. If he’s to heal, he has to realize that most Americans want a sensible immigration policy, want equality but only a temporary remediation of inequity via affirmative action, and don’t want untreated biological men serving time in women’s prisons or participating in women’s sports. So far Biden’s policies seem to me way too conciliatory towards Critical Theory. That is to be expected if he’s clueless about Critical Theory and also keen to not be called a racist by more leftist Democrats.

Sullivan ends this way:

I wonder if Joe Biden even knows what critical theory is. But he doesn’t have to. It is the successor ideology to liberalism among elites, a now-mandatory ideology if you want to keep your job. But Biden’s emphatic backing of this illiberal, discriminatory project on his first day is relevant. He has decided to encourage “unity” by immediately pursuing policies that inflame Republicans and conservatives and normies more than any others.

And those policies are obviously unconstitutional. . .

. . . I want Biden to succeed. I want Republicans to moderate. I want to lower the temperature. I want to emphasize those policies that really do bring us closer together, even though many may still freely dissent. Biden says he wants to as well. But none of that can or will happen if the president fuels the culture war this aggressively, this crudely, and this soon. You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis.

I’ve quoted too freely here, and you should pay the $50 per year to read Sullivan (and perhaps Bari Weiss), because they’re good writers, because they may have views that don’t exactly jibe with yours, and because you need to read something besides the New York Times and Washington Post, which have already caved to Critical Theory. Actually, I pay $4 per month to read the NYT, so I’m paying more to read Sullivan (and Weiss, if I subscribe) than to read whole newspapers. I’ll live.

Yes, we can and should celebrate the unexpected victory of the Democrats as well as their takeover of Congress. But remember too that Biden promised to heal, and you won’t heal America by imposing Critical Theory on it.


Critical Theory and its Jewish dilemma

December 17, 2020 • 1:00 pm

I haven’t been a big booster of of James Lindsay since he announced he was voting for Trump, but since he’s done good work before (his book with Helen Pluckrose on the intellectual origins of critical theory is a must-read), and because I don’t erase people just because they vote for morons, I want to highlight his latest essay on his New Discourses website (click on screenshot to read). It is in fact a good analysis of the dilemma Wokesters face when confronted with “the Jewish question”, though, unfortunately, the essay is more than twice as long as it needs to be.

What is the problem? It’s how to regard the Jews if you’re Woke. Are they white? Where do they fit in the hierarchy of oppression that’s a leading tenet of Critical Theory? After all, Jews have been historically oppressed, and even today are demonized not just in the Middle East, but are the most frequent victims of ethnic or religious group “hate crimes” (on a per capita basis) in America. They get attacked regularly in France. And many Jews aren’t even “white”, whether you go by genetics, pigmentation, or historical victimization.

So we have a group of high achievers, who were historically oppressed and are still marginalized by many, but who are also seen by the woke and many on the Left as oppressors, and de facto as white people who must check their privilege since they’ve benefitted from their “white privilege”. (Some chowderheads have tried to classify Ashkenazi Jews as “white” and Sephardic Jews as “people of color”, but that’s a ridiculous exercise that will go nowhere).

The dilemma of how to regard Jews been resolved by ignoring their historical oppression and the attacks on them that still occur in the West, and considering them identical to whites regarded as universal oppressors. In fact, it’s even worse because Jews are associated with Israel, which itself is seen as “colonialist”, so all Jews carry the taint of that as well. The upshot is that Jews appear to have risen to the top of the oppression scale (i.e., the least oppressed), despite the undeniable fact of their oppression for two millennia.  The problem that Lindsay outlines that it’s hard to justify this placement using Critical Race Theory itself.

A few quotes from Lindsay:

Under Critical Race Theory, many Jews are Theorized as having been granted and to some degree embraced—as a matter of effectively indisputable fact if not explicitly in both cases—the status of “whiteness” in contemporary American (and sometimes European) society. This would imply that under Critical Race Theory, Jews have an intolerable privilege they need to check. So demands the new “successor” ideology Weiss warns about in her Tablet piece.

Placing aside the obvious complication that not all Jews are white by any reasonable definition (which therefore may not have anything to do with Critical Race Theory’s definitions), there’s a huge problem with this formulation that every Jewish reader of this essay will immediately realize. Jews have quite the incredible history of incredible oppression, including imperial destruction, diaspora, enslavement, and a literal genocide in the Holocaust. This set of horrors tended to follow a familiar pattern as well, which we now name “anti-Semitism.” That pattern is that Jews are made out to be a group that stands by its own claim as separate from broader society in some significant way and yet finds a way to gain significant privilege, eventually to the point of usurping control of the institutions that shape society. We would be remiss to avoid pointing out that assigning “whiteness” to Jews repeats the opening act of this tragic play.


The uniquely Jewish combination of a long history of terrible oppression of a people that isn’t just (at least partly) fair-skinned but also highly successful in what the Theorists would deem a “white” milieu is, in fact, completely intolerable to Critical Race Theory. The Theory distrusts Jewish success as such and, as with everything it analyzes, believes it must have something to do with having been granted access to the privileges of whiteness—illegitimately, by betrayal, and at the expense of blacks. It would then, in due course, demand that (“white”) Jews accept and atone of their whiteness by the familiar process: recognize it in themselves, acknowledge their de facto complicity in “white supremacy,” critique their own unwitting participation therein, and then submit to and promote the Critical Race Theory worldview in both ideology and deed, which takes the form of their brand of “anti-racist” social activism—for life. This, however, requires asking Jews to deny both their history and what makes them Jews in the first place.

The crux of the problem:

Adherents to Critical Race Theory, for all their claims upon sophistication in analyzing group standing in society and its subtle meanings in terms of power, do not possess the conceptual resources needed to deal with historically oppressed white people—unless they’re fat, disabled, maybe gay (that’s complicated now), or trans, none of which would have anything to do with them being Jewish in any case. Critical Race Theory therefore places Jewish people into a very dangerous spot within their Theory: they are a group that has tremendous privilege they don’t deserve who also have an apparently ironclad excuse not to “do the work” of dismantling their own whiteness.

Below: its effect on college students. Many Jewish students have experienced pretty severe opprobrium, always accused of being boosters of Israel, even when they aren’t or don’t think about it. The inevitable association with “colonialist” Israel (anti-Zionism) is one way that Woke anti-Semites use to alleviate their cognitive dissonance. Here’s a quote from a Tablet essay by Bari Weiss:

“It’s hard to overstate how suffocating this worldview is to specifically Jewish college students,” Blake Flayton, a progressive Jewish student at GW, wrote me recently. “We don’t fit into ‘oppressor’ or ‘oppressed’ categories. We are both privileged and marginalized, protected by those in power and yet targeted by the same racist lunatics as those who target people of color. The hatred we experience on campus has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s because Jews defy anti-racist ideology simply by existing. So it’s not so much that Zionism is racism. It’s that Jewishness is.”

Let me pull that out for you. This isn’t about Zionism or landlords or capitalism or AIPAC. We live in a world in which everyone is being told to side either with the “racists” or the “anti-racists.” Jews who refuse to erase what makes us different will increasingly be defined as racists, often with the help of other Jews desperate to be accepted by the cool kids.

One more note on the ludicrous lengths that the Woke go to ignore the historical oppression of the Jews. This comes, unsurprisingly, from the anti-Semitic Linda Sarsour, and the quote is from an academic paper, “Critical Whiteness Studies and the ‘Jewish Problem’ by Balázs Berkovits:

Linda Sarsour, the “new face of intersectional feminism,” who had also been invited to the “Jews of color” gathering before she participated in the panel on antisemitism at the New School for Social Research, was very clear on the subject. Speaking in a video published by the Jewish Voice for Peace, she said: “I want to make the distinction that while anti-Semitism is something that impacts Jewish Americans, it’s different than anti-black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic. […] Of course, you may experience vandalism or an attack on a synagogue, or maybe on an individual level… but it’s not systemic, and we need to make that distinction.” Here, Sarsour implies that first, it is not a collective or structural phenomenon, but the sum of scattered individual acts, and second, and more importantly, that antisemitic attacks carried out by other minorities (which is most often the case) cannot be significant, for those are not the actions of the dominant (white) groups, who determine the permanence of structural racism. The theoretical underpinning of this view, besides “intersectionality,” comes from a theory of structural racism. (pp. 88–89)

Critical Theory has other problems, too, for Muslims are seen on the one hand as people of color, but on the other can be seen as oppressors—especially in Muslim countries that oppress gays, women, apostates, atheists, and, of course, the rare Jews who still live in such countries.