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Inside the US Government Agency where Identity Politics Was Born

The phrase “grievance studies” recently has entered public discourse thanks to a scandal by three liberal academics who set out to expose the vacuous nature of critical theory, post-colonial studies, queer theory and other sub-disciplines within the social sciences. Mathematician James Lindsay, writer Helen Pluckrose, and Portland State philosophy professor Peter Boghossian spent a year writing fake papers, which they then pitched to journals specializing in these fields. Seven passed peer review and were accepted for publication. As various commentators (including several here at Quillette) have noted, the hoax has shown what many have long suspected—that ivory-tower academics who study in fashionable fields inhabit ideological domains far removed from those of ordinary people.

But while observers have correctly focused on the lessons that may be inferred about high academic culture in the United States, it should be noted that the drifts of the liberal arts into postmodern gibberish has not been an isolated phenomenon. The trend also has its cheerleaders in government, even in Donald Trump’s very own Washington D.C. backyard.

Few Americans have heard of the Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations (NAC). But when it comes to policymaking, the NAC effectively acts as a support network for grievance studies. Along with bureaucrats in other agencies, and various non-governmental “stakeholder” groups on the left, the NAC has for decades controlled the policy by which demographic data—the seedbed of identity politics—is collected and interpreted.

One ongoing dispute helps explain what the NAC does and why that work is important. In Jan., the Census Bureau (whose director is a presidential appointee) rejected two important changes to the 2020 census that had been proposed by the NAC. The first would have created yet another identity group, this one for Americans whose ancestors originate in the land between Morocco and the Iran-Afghan border, which were to be designated as MENA (for Middle East, North Africa). The second would have elevated another pan-ethnic group, Hispanics, to the status of a category on par with biological races. The NAC has bitterly opposed the Trump Administration’s decision not to go along with these initiatives, but that dispute was largely ignored by the media in the shadow of the much more high-profile issue of whether the census should ask residents whether they are U.S. citizens.

The NAC was formally chartered in 2012 by Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce. But informally, it traces its lineage to the 1960s and 70s, when the census office first began to create National Advisory Committees on race and ethnicity. It was in those heady days of postmodernism’s birth—when Marxism in its academic form was embarking on what the German student activist Rudi Dutschke called “the long march through the institutions”—that the definitions of ethnic groups were etched into law. Each of the pan-ethnic groups that racial activists and government functionaries were adding to the census and other government surveys at the time (“Hispanics,” “Asians,” “Pacific Islanders,” etc.) were the subjects of a special census committee, starting in 1974. Four decades later, the Obama administration pulled all the difference committees into one giant NAC.

The NAC’s 31 members, who are appointed by the Director of the Census Bureau, generally have exhibited enthusiasm for creating new racial categories. Four of its seats are held by so-called partner organizations, all of which tilt to the identitarian left—Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Mexican–American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), and the National Urban League. Two of these organizations, NALEO and AAJC, are ethnic-affinity-interest organizations that purport to represent pan-ethnic umbrella groups created by the federal bureaucracy and formalized through the Census—“Hispanics” and “Asians.”

Ten more members of the NAC represent organizations devoted to other ethnic or sexual identity groups: the Alliance of Iranian Americans, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Asian American Decisions, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Native American Rights Fund, the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander National Network, Plataforma Afrodescendiente, the U.S. Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network, and the Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns. The other 17 members are mostly academics involved in the same “grievance studies” fields that Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian exposed.

By statistically slicing and dicing American society, the NAC and its precursors helped pave the way for the creation in America of what social scientist Alice Robbin has termed “an interest group society.” By the late 1980s, Robbin has noted, ethnic interest lobbying organizations such as MALDEF, La Raza and AAJC had become “influential beyond their numbers in the public policy process, as well as in influencing administrative policy regarding rules for statistical and administrative data collection and reporting.”

This is how Robbins describes the process: “Federal statistics have created a similarity of identity where none existed, as with ‘Latino’ identity based on shared language rather than culture, and as with an ‘Asian’ identity based on shared discrimination and ethnic stereotyping.” In time, she notes, these same organizing principles began to dictate appearances at congressional and Office of Management and Budget hearings.

As one might expect, this process has led to a situation in which the sanctioned ethnic representatives at the NAC, and elsewhere in Washington, have at times become divorced from the concerns of ordinary people. Video from a brainstorming session the Census Bureau held with stakeholders at its Suitland, Maryland, headquarters on May 29, 2015, for instance, suggests that the creation of racial categories, such as MENA, Hispanic and Asian results from top-down decisions imposed by stakeholders—as opposed to individual Americans, who tend to be wary about (or even hostile to) broad ethno-geographic labels.

One of the leading “stakeholders” participating that day was none other than anti-Israel radical and Muslim activist Linda Sarsour. Speaking to NAC officials, she made clear what the new category MENA was about—political power and dollars: “When we look at accessing federal, you know, any types of federal support, for example, we lose out dramatically because we don’t have a separated category….Because we are quote ‘white,’ we are not seen as a priority area for city or state or federal funding….At the end of the day it’s self-identification.”

Participants expressed the hope that even though there was little or no grassroots demand for the creation of a MENA category, people would accept it once they understood that this form of identification might lead to material benefits. Khaled Beydoun, a critical race theory professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, put it this way: “There might not be considerable buy-in immediately after the classification is framed and adopted. But there’s a cascading effect, right? These classifications are going to be adopted on college applications, on employment forms. You know, different mediums that are going to adopt and endorse this classification. And when that happens, and people tie in ticking that classification with a specific interest, then there’s going to be buy-in.”

Cristina Mora of the University of California, Berkeley, another critical race theory professor (who authored a comprehensive study of the early years of the creation of the Hispanic identity, Making Hispanic), reassured others that ethnic activists and their allies in the media would convince people to support the new category. “When the Hispanic category—Latino category—was being discussed in the 1970s, lots of people did not know what this was,” she said. “[There was] a huge effort throughout the ’70s to get people to actually recognize this. It involved the media. It involved activists. So, if we’re unsure about whether it exists or not, these things will take on a life of [their] own.”

(In her book, Mora lucidly describes what transpires over time in this manner: “A sort of collective amnesia sets in as organizations begin to refer to the new category’s long history and develop narratives about the rich cultural basis of the classification. By then, the category is completely institutionalized, and the new classification is, like other classifications, assumed to have existed.”)

Roberto Ramirez, chief of the Bureau’s Ethnicity and Ancestry Statistics Branch, who moderated the discussion, agreed with Mora. He had invited Mora, he said, because MENA would follow the same path as the Hispanic category: “As she mentioned, in the 70s, where you had Cubans and you had Venezuelans and you had Puerto Ricans, who said, ‘I’m not Hispanic. I don’t know what the heck that is. So why are you trying to put me under that umbrella?’ So…there’s a lot of parallels,” Ramirez said.

The academic multicultural dogma that influenced official group-making in the latter decades of the 20th century was opposed to the idea of immigrants being transformed by the melting pot. But this project would not be possible unless immigrant groups were officially reformed, for statistical and quota-counting purposes, in groups that had critical mass.

Perhaps no NAC member was more emblematic of this movement than Julian Samora, who rose up from poverty, fatherlessness, and intense discrimination in Colorado to become the first Mexican-American to earn a Ph.D. in sociology and anthropology at a major university. He got his first teaching position in 1957 at Michigan State, then went on to found Notre Dame’s first Department of Mexican–American Ethnic Studies.

While writing his Ph.D. thesis, Samora was chastised by one of his academic mentors, George I. Sanchez of the University of Texas at Austin, for promoting a pan-Latin identity with shared perspectives that didn’t actually exist. “For gosh sakes, don’t characterize the Spanish-American with what is obviously true of the human race, and then imply, by commission or omission, that his characteristics are peculiarly his and, OF COURSE, radically different from those of the ‘Anglos,’” Sanchez wrote to Samora in the early 1950s. Sanchez went on to point out the evident silliness of lumping “Germans, Italians, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, hill-billies, Bostonians, poor whites” and so on into the generic term “Anglos.”

He also urged Samora to consider that the poor all shared the same societal dysfunctions, no matter their race and ethnicity: “The characteristics that distinguish the Spanish-speaking group in any part of the United States are much less ethnic than they are socio-economic…. There is no real ethnic sameness among the various subdivisions of the same Spanish-speaking group.” For Sanchez, “It takes a veritable shotgun wedding to make Puerto Ricans, Spanish–Mexicans, and Filipinos appear to be culturally homogenous.”

Samora saw things differently, perhaps because of the genuinely terrible discrimination he had endured, and repudiated assimilation as an option. He went out of his way to separate Mexican Americans first, then Hispanics, from the mainstream, and claim they were a racial group apart. He also convinced wealthy donors and federal officials to see these individuals as members of a subjugated group that could succeed only by acting as a racial collective. In all of these projects, his perch in the Census Advisory Committee gave him considerable sway.

This type of thinking, nourished officially by the NAC and equivalent bodies in other Western nations, has spread far and wide, especially in Europe and above all in the United Kingdom. There, the excesses of identity politics have become so glaring that even thinkers on the left such as Kenan Malik and Trevor Philips, the first an Indian-born British writer, the second the son of immigrants from British Guiana, have begun to speak out. In a manifesto called Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, Philips wrote: “Even those of us on the progressive wing of politics must now surely accept that in the conditions of today’s society, our reflex defence of…separate communities is actually undermining one of the most cherished of left-wing values—social solidarity.” In Australia, likewise, there are now MPs from the (conservative) Liberal Party who are calling for gender quotas in the legislature. And last month, a shire council in New South Wales decided to move its Australia day event forward a day to note that January 26 marks “the day the cultural decimation and denigration of the First Australians began.”

Needless to say, reforming the NAC won’t solve all of the problems. But it might spark a process whereby Western governments begin to examine how their own policies have contributed to the fracturing of society into competing grievance-based constituencies.

The NAC charter and the Federal Advisory Committee Act give the U.S. Secretary of Commerce the authority to terminate the NAC. According to the FACA, “determinations of action to be taken and policy to be expressed with respect to matters upon which an advisory committee reports or makes recommendations shall be made solely by the President or an officer of the Federal Government.” Since the Secretary of Commerce established the NAC in 2012, under the FACA, the Secretary is authorized to terminate the NAC.

As noted, this is no silver bullet—just an important first step. And with Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian having powerfully shown us how rotten things have become, there might be no time like the present to take it.

 

Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow in The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

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60 Comments

  1. TarsTarkas says

    The existence of the NAC and its various predecessors, and especially the work they have done to slice and dice Americans into bite-sized voting and welfare blocs, was news to me, and I consider myself fairly widely read. Thank you for an informative article, and hope you don’t get flamed for pointing out the very socialistic and totalitarian attitudes of many of the participants in this branch of the Census Bureau. One of the many tentacles of the Administrative State that needs to be cut off or tamed.

    • David of Kirkland says

      The census is supposed to simply count people for the purpose of creating districts for representatives and hence the electoral college. Clearly, the US government is the most racists, most sexist, most ageist, most *-ist as they don’t count people, they count “kinds of people.”

    • Bridge says

      It seems to me that by creating all of these groups and then giving them a legitimate platform in the political sphere, America is/was headed on a path of trying to create systemic racism.

  2. I realize that here at Quillette “free thought” and “critical thinking” usually mean “confirming my angry white dad bias” but a quick check on the website of the NAC described in this article finds precisely TWO members of the committee who hail from “grievance studies” departments. For the arithmetically-challenged, that would be 15 fewer than the 17 claimed in the article.

    Most of the academics actually come from sociology, a discipline that was notably absent from the “grievance” hit list because no sociology journals accepted any of the hoaxed papers.

    For the hard-of-thinking-and-believing anything that does not confirm the angry white dad umwelt, here is the link:

    https://www.census.gov/about/cac/nac/member-bios.html

    And here’s another one:

    https://www2.census.gov/cac/nac/nac-full-membership.pdf

    I’m not suggesting that an article that claims 17 grievers where only 2 are in fact present is a tissue of prevarication and potted history of the type that traces all “evil” in the world back to the 60s.

    “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.”

    • I followed your link for the NAC biographies and whereas there is obviously a issue of exactly what should be categorised as ‘grievance studies’ The overwhelming majority without a doubt fall into this category. I count 15 which appear to me are clear cut and most of the remainder could be argued fall into this category. Perhaps you should list why the examples below just the first 5 from your link are not part of greivance industry:

      – Associate Professor Department of Latina/Latino Studies University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
      – Assistant Vice President Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Office for Institutional Equity Duke – University and Duke University Health System
      – Co-chair Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander National Network Chair Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition
      – Director of Government Affairs and Policy Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans

      I would agree that the influence of the NAC is unreasonably exagerated. It did not give birth to identity politics but rather was born from identity politics which it reinforces and encourages. I suspect this is the headline writer rather than the authour.

      • Exiled Progressive says

        @AJ: I wouldn’t necessarily classify a person or organization that advocates for a particular identity group as belonging under the grievance studies umbrella without further evidence. There needs to be evidence that the person or organization endorses the toxic oppression narratives that form the foundation of grievance studies discourse. That said, I would assume anyone from a university identity studies department falls under that umbrella until proven otherwise, based on past and current history.

        One thing I can say for sure is that whether they’re actually part of the grievance industry or not, these people and organizations have no business shaping our census policy.

    • ‘Angry white dad’? Is that code for ‘I hate Anglos’?

      • Poot: Works for me better than “whiny white boys” or more technical terms like “snowflakes of the faux center”.

        As always, YMMV.

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @mjw51

      I love the ‘potted history’ comment! ‘Race classification’ has vexed the Census Bureau and the rest of government in the US for over 150 years, not just the last 50 years:

      “….Between the Civil War and World War II, the United States underwent a profound process of racial reorganization. Officially recognized group categories expanded and contracted; socially recognized boundaries between groups blurred and shifted; citizens and public actors passionately debated who belonged in which group……While whites never lost their position at the top of the status hierarchy, who belonged in this privileged group was hotly contested. Whether or not a given group or individual was included in the category of “white” profoundly affected that group’s or person’s social standing. Blacks and Chinese were placed into an ugly contest for the bottom of the status hierarchy ….

      All branches of government and all levels of governance were involved to a greater or lesser degree in this process of racial reorganization. For reasons that we explain below, this article focuses on the crucial role of the Census Office (after 1902, the Census Bureau)…….

      In the United States, the social and political order was largely defined by race. In fact, the process of simultaneously creating and reflecting group classifications was so important that by 1904, statistician Walter Willcox could correctly observe that “there is no country in which statistical investigation of race questions is so highly developed . . . as in the United States.” Highly developed it may have been—but the American approach to racial classification was also peculiar, reflecting the particularities of various experiments in racial classification. In any single year and across decades, racial categorization was internally incoherent, inconsistent across groups, and unstable. Mixture between blacks and others was identified, elaborated, and then dropped. Asians were racially identified through nationality, in finer and finer grained detail. Latin Americans were variously classified as white, mulatto, or racially distinct. Whites were elaborately distinguished by country of birth, “mixed parentage” (referring to parents’ place of birth), or mother tongue. In the only instance of racializing religion, immigrants from South Asia were combined under the “Hindoo” category. Native Americans were alternately ignored and categorized down to tiny fractions of black and white “blood.”

      Then experimentation abruptly ceased. The 1930 census marked the last stage of the period of racial reorganization; after that year, the Census Bureau perceived only three races (white, Negro, Indian) and five Asian nationalities for many decades. It no longer explicitly identified racial mixture, mixed parentage, the Mexican race, Hindoos, fractions of Indian blood, or other innovative categories. After 1940, it no longer used the term “color” in conjunction with “race.” The United States entered World War II with the racial order established….”
      Link: https://scholar.harvard.edu/jlhochschild/publications/racial-reorganization-and-united-states-census-1850-1930-mulattoes-half-br

      • Yes. There is a delicious irony in this kind of “presentism” being promoted by ‘conservatives’, who might be expected to take a more judicious stance toward one of the older humanities such as history. It reminds me of that bitter old sod Philip Larkin:

        Sexual intercourse began
        (which was rather late for me) –
        Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
        And the Beatles’ first LP.

        “Potted” works in a number of ways.

        It isn’t just that the “history” suggested here is a truncated and low-quality rendering, but like a plant removed from any “context’ and left to grow all alone in a pot, there is the sad sense of a denial of the real in this article. I suppose it is ever thus where ideology is in the driver’s seat.

        And then of course there is the delusory quality that may very well have come from a little too much pot before sitting down at the laptop.

        • Peter from Oz says

          mjw51
          You left out ”in 1963” from the first line of your quotation from Larkin.
          His other famous line is always apposite:
          ”They f**k you up, your mum and dad.”

          • Yes. Thanks for pointing that out. My cut-and-paste skills have gone to hell since Mountain Equipment Coop started its “get whitey out of the wilderness” campaign.

        • It takes a true dolt to think they are scoring points on an author by accusing them of failing to do something they never claimed to be doing. To make it more concrete for someone who has trouble with abstraction: the author NEVER claimed to be providing the reader with a comprehensive “history” of race classification and the Census.

          • No, the author claimed that “It was in those heady days of postmodernism’s birth—when Marxism in its academic form was embarking on what the German student activist Rudi Dutschke called “the long march through the institutions”—that the definitions of ethnic groups were etched into law”, thus ignoring the previous century of governmnent regulations and classifications of- wait for it- ethnic groups.

            So whatever kind of dolt it takes, I’m always available to call out deliberate ideological bending of the truth or vacuous ignorance.

      • Donald Davidson says

        That is… SO many kinds of not how that joke works.

    • Donald Davidson says

      This article was bizarre both in the conclusions it draws and the evidence it cites, which doesn’t line up with the conclusions the author draws. It’s a shame Quillette is already becoming a garbage heap of intellectual dishonesty and agenda, I really enjoyed some of the early articles on here.

      I thought the point of Quillette was do discuss some of the areas academia and culture that reject evidence in favor of dogma, whether it be related to some of the more absurd gender classifications, the “Oppression Olympics” approach to social change, and of course, the nonchalance toward outright lies and illegal behavior at the highest levels of our government.

    • I refuse to let government bureaucracies label me, and I suggested to my children and grandchildren to ever check any boxes realted to race, religion or ethnicity. I also tell individuals who try to call me “latino” or “hispanic” to drop it, and I commend those who work actively to oppose racial, etnic, religious, or gender labeling. I’ve had enough of the racism against whites and the hatred displayed against men in leftist ranks. So even though i don’t exactly agree with today’s Republican party on many issues, I will support them. I have little choice.

      • More power to you, fernando. As I said above, the American obsession with race nauseates me.

  3. Piotr says

    How about having only legal distinction limited to:
    – Citizens, non citizens, felons with some citizen rights restricted.
    – Adults and minors.

    Why would Law ever need any other characteristics of a person? Having those divisions is great for drumming up discord, but it has no legitimate purpose.

    • E. Olson says

      Piortr – the problem with your suggestion is that it would kill the whole grievance studies industry. Who would hire grievance studies majors if all efforts to track or regulate or promote “diversity” were shut down in favor of simple categories of citizen/not and adult/not? Without keeping track of statistical disparities among different strata, how would we be able to chastise and condemn the white patriarchy, or make social justice “adjustments” to racist/sexist/phobic meritocracies?

      • Ray Andrews says

        But there can be some use to this sort of thing. For example, as a card carrying phobe, I note that in countries that permit these statistics to be kept, we do do see certain ethnic/religious groups display a profound inability to integrate. I long for the days when the country could quite matter of factly decide who it considered desirable and who not.

    • Then how would you give each group extra cash? Specials interest are clearly not the common good, and variation under the law clearly is not equal protection. Americans no longer even pretend these are goals or ideals.

  4. I was responding to the article, not some vague general sense that people who work in various neoliberal bureaucracies are sorta kinda like academics in a “grievance studies” department.

    The article says “The other 17 members are mostly academics involved in the same “grievance studies” fields that Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian exposed.”

    There are TWO (count ’em) members who are academics in “grievance studies” fields: an associate prof in Latinx Studies and a “Lecturer” in an Asian American Studies department.

    There is a difference between bureaucrats whose numbers have grown like cancer cells as the university system is turned into a for-profit arm of contemporary capitalism that uses these positions as marketing tools and “academics involved in “grievance studies” fields.

    I think the NAC and all of its predecessor agencies going back to the Nixon administration are simply reflections of the All-American obsession with race, as are “grievance studies”.

    There is nothing “leftist” about any of this- we are in the realm of The American Way, and watching how this view of race and relations between different groups in society is spreading around the world is nauseating.

    • @mjw51
      I think your taking a very narrow interpretation of the quote, which I suspect is more definition than substance, in your attempt to refute the majority of the thrust of the article.

      – your quote “The article says “The other 17 members are mostly academics involved in the same “grievance studies” fields that Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian exposed.” There are TWO (count ’em) members who are academics in “grievance studies” fields: an associate prof in Latinx Studies and a “Lecturer” in an Asian American Studies department.”

      Just because you work in ‘sociology’ doesn’t mean you are not apart of ‘grievance studies’. Atleast 10 of the 17 are ‘grievance studies’ academics, hence the ‘MOSTLY’ qualifier.

      Note, I would include the following:

      1) Dr. Inderdeep Chatrath
      Assistant Vice President
      Office for Institutional Equity
      Duke University and Duke Health
      Office Intro- The Office for Institutional Equity is a team of specialized professionals dedicated to serving the Duke University and Duke University Health System communities regarding occupational enrichment through diversity, inclusion, affirmative action, employment equity, harassment prevention, and other work-related initiatives focused on the quality of life and effort at Duke.

      2) Dr. Taeku Lee
      Professor of Political Science and Law
      210 Barrow Hall, #1950
      Department of Political Science
      University of California, Berkeley
      ( from his bio at UCBerkeley)- He specializes in racial and ethnic politics; public opinion and survey research; identity and inequality; deliberative and participatory democracy.

      3) Dr. Stuart Michaels
      Senior Researcher
      National Opinion Research Center
      University of Chicago
      (from his bio)- His research focuses on conceptual and methodological problems in the study of sexuality in surveys with a primary substantive focus on same-sex behavior and identity…..Upon his return to Chicago in 2001, he was assistant director of the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago until 2010, when he returned to NORC. He is currently working on the Men’s Assessment of Social Support and Risk Networks, a study of African-American high-risk men who have sex with men in Chicago and helping to develop projects on issues related to health and sexuality including the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.

      5) Dr. Ann Morning
      Department of Sociology
      New York University
      Bio- Race and ethnicity, especially racial classification; multiracial population; demography; sociology of knowledge and science; immigration; economic sociology; qualitative methods; comparative-historical analysis.

      6) Ms. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear
      Northern Cheyenne Nation, Montana
      Dual PhD Candidate
      School of Sociology, University of Arizona
      Bio- Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear (née Small-Rodriguez) is a dual PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Arizona and demography at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Her research interests are social demography, race and ethnicity, and social stratification. Desi’s ongoing research explores Indigenous data sovereignty, specifically the enumeration of Indigenous peoples in official statistics and tribal data systems. She further examines the intersections and implications of race, identity, and tribal citizenship.

      7) Dr. Maile Taualii
      Assistant Professor of Public Health
      John A. Burns School of Medicine, University
      of Hawaii, Manoa
      Bio- Her primary research focus for Dr. Taualii is the utility and validity of health information for racial minorities. Her current research is related to perceptions of bio-banking for research among Native Hawaiians. Dr. Taualii is an Assistant Professor and Chair of Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health at the University of Hawai‘i where she brings cultural, ethical, and community-oriented perspectives to the instruction of public health.

      8) Dr. Randall Akee
      Assistant Professor
      Department of Public Policy
      3250 Public Policy Building
      University of California, Los Angeles
      Previous research has focused on the determinants of migration and human trafficking, the effect of changes in household income on educational attainment, the effect of political institutions on economic development and the role of property institutions on investment decisions. Current research focuses on income inequality and immobility by race and ethnicity in the US. Dr. Akee has worked on several American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, and Pacific Island nations in addition to working in various Native Hawaiian communities.

      in Addition to:
      9) Dr. Julie Dowling
      Department of Latina/Latino Studies
      University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

      10) Dr. Lily Anne Welty Tamai
      Lecturer- University of California Los Angeles
      Department of Asian American Studies

      The rest of them work in the private sector of grievance studies- for think tanks and public policy agenda driven ‘centers’. They got there usually by getting PhD’s or MS’s in ‘grievance studies’ and are now in the private/government sponsored sector. Saying they are not apart of the ‘grievance studies industry’ is misleading. I mean come on all of the others below actively ‘research’ in this area:

      11) Ms. Meghan Maury
      Senior Policy Counsel
      National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

      The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people.
      We’re building a future where everyone is free to be themselves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we’ve made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That’s why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you.

      The Task Force’s Policy Institute conducts groundbreaking research and policy analysis on hot-button issues affecting the LGBTQ community.

      12) Dr. Yolande P. Marlow
      Executive Director, Supreme Court
      Committee on Minority Concerns (SCCMC)

      The Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns is tasked with overseeing the implementation of court-approved recommendations designed to “rid the court of all vestiges of bias and discrimination.”

      The Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns assures implementation of the court-approved recommendations, advises the court on:

      court goals and how the Judiciary can best assure fairness, impartiality and equal access
      objectives and implementation time tables
      provides guidance to villeinage advisory committees on minority concerns
      monitors execution of the statewide minority concerns program
      reviews and advises the court on major policies and procedures
      conducts studies recommended by the court and committee
      conducts other research as it deems appropriate

      13) Mr. Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr.
      Vice-Chair
      Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander National
      Network
      Mission statement- The goal of the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander National Network is to provide a unified and sustained voice that advocates for our communities at the national level. The NHPI National Network will accomplish its goals by offering members meaningful opportunities to contribute and participate in advocacy at the national level, research projects, and leadership development opportunities.

      • Alex: If a member of the committee is not an academic in a “grievance studies” department, then they are not an academic in a “grievance studies” department. This seems a rather basic point, but as I said above, Quillette is aimed at a market whose notions of “free thought” and “critical thinking” might as well have come out of a Cracker Jack box. Can you say “Procrustes”?

        Even the grifters who popularized the phrase “grievance studies” have been at pains to point out that not all study of sex and gender or race and racism fall into the category. And as I also mentioned above, they explicitly excluded sociology.

        Like many commenters on this site, Alex, you appear to have difficulty with distinctions: bureaucrats are not academics and a statistician working on gender is not a member of a Woke Studies in Gender Fluidity Department. But do carry on finding confirmation where you can.

        It’s what free discourse is for, after all.

        • @mjw51- I just reject the extremely narrow interpretation you are taking in defining ‘grievance studies academics’.

          Quote- “The other 17 members are mostly academics involved in the same “grievance studies” fields that Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian exposed.”

          The quote is they are in the ‘grievance studies FIELD’, not departments. As if there is no cross-over between fields. For example in your interpretation someone from the field of economics would have nothing to do with field of Math… someone from the field of Chemistry would have nothing to do with the field of Biology. That is total bunk. It isn’t about what department they are in. The word ‘department’ never appears in that quote. It is about what each of these academics are studying. Hence why I added in all their bio’s and fields of study, which were easily googled, and are all very much of interest to ‘grievance studies’.

          3) Dr. Stuart Michaels- …..Upon his return to Chicago in 2001, he was assistant director of the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago until 2010…

          So he was a grievance studies academic, but now he isn’t, because he joined a different dept of the same school, and is continuing his same lines of research? Your definition of ‘grievance studies’ is so narrow and inaccurate it ends up to be useless. Apparently we could solve this whole thing if we just renamed all the ‘grievance studies’ departments the ‘New sociology’ dept.

          To summarize, the majority are academics, and they are all currently working on ideas which clearly fits into ‘grievance studies fields’ interests, but your argument is most are immune from the charge because they are in the sociology/medical/law dept and not all sociologists/doctors/lawyers are working on ‘grievance studies’ issues? That is ridiculous.

          As to my “difficulty with distinctions”, I clearly and definitively separated the bureaucrats from the academics. I just don’t think the ‘field of grievance studies’ ends at the universities door; just as the ‘field of economics’ is very much apart of wall street and the federal reserve. (This is what is usually called ‘making an argument’, and then supporting it with evidence. It tends to work better with people actually tying to discuss the issue, not shut it down on false technicalities.)

          But that is neither here nor there, as the quote you deride is correct under any accurate/ useful definition. But as you say, Free discourse allows you to stick your head in the sand and scream ‘No’ all you want. You just can’t force me to accept your goal post move of ‘fields of study’ are only within the departments they are named for’ and never cross over.

  5. Damian O'Connor says

    This is very interesting in that it shows the origins of this way of thinking. When I did my Multicultural Education course back at the end of the 1980s, I wondered where the ‘academics’ who were teaching the course were getting their stuff from – and boy did they get defensive when I challenged some of their assertions. I know how this process works in the field of History, but I didn’t know how it worked in Grievance Studies – give those people a Blue Peter badge for naming and shaming!.

    Damian O’Connor
    Author of ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’

  6. Northfarmforty says

    It is shocking that these positions exist and that these people are getting paid. No wonder the national debt is in the trillions. Excuse me while I go grow something for my customers.

    • Hey Northfarm!

      How many F-22s could you buy with their salaries over a decade?

      If you think the national debt comes about due to these no-doubt inflated salaries, someone probably has a bridge to sell ya.

      • Ray Andrews says

        Perhaps a better question is simply whether or not a better use could be found for the money.

  7. In other words, Identity Politics is just another example of American Cultural Imperialism.

  8. The idea that “identity politics” was suddenly invented in the 1960s is an astounding feat of historical ignorance.

    America’s first constitutional crisis was over whether black people counted as full persons, or 3/5th.
    Later, we fought a massive civil war to decide the issue.

    The entire westward expansion was premised on the idea that native people had only the rights we chose to give them.

    But as ever, the viewpoint in this article is that whiteness is the default human identity.

    • Slaves had zero rights and were considered as property just as a cow or dog would be, yet somehow the south wanted them counted for purposes of representation, hence that compromise.
      Besides, we fought a civil war to rectify that. And we have changed our constitution to right this. But somehow others continue to pretend that past behaviors need current “fixes” (fixes meaning ignoring the common good and equal protection).

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @D of K

        Your words “rectify” and “right” both imply a one-time correction that solves a problem. But it’s naive to imagine that changing the constitution can automatically change peoples’ behavior. How did Prohibition work out?

        IF the newly-freed slaves had been accepted as fellow citizens with full rights by the defeated Southern traitors, then additional ‘fixes’ would not have been necessary. Instead, we got Jim Crow, which not only denied Blacks equal rights through devices like poll taxes and “separate but equal”, but also spawned a cottage industry of producing and selling hateful and vulgar goods and images that featured Pickaninnies, Golliwogs, Coons, Jezebels, Mammies and other anti-Black caricatures.

        See https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/antiblack/ for more examples.

        As others have suggested, right-wingers would prefer to talk about the slavery era than about the Jim Crow era, and your comment is a good example of that. Slavery ended 150 years ago, but Jim Crowism [including the production of hateful stereotypes and caricatures] continues to the present time. Just check out these links for details:

        https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/dontstop/

    • Jorge says

      “America’s first constitutional crisis was over whether black people counted as full persons, or 3/5th.”

      Can we please dispense with this canard. The clause does not refer to color or race, but to the condition of freedom. There were free blacks in every state that (of course) counted as full people, and according to the laws of several states—Virginia, for example—there were legally white slaves who counted as 3/5th.

    • Ray Andrews says

      In the States white was the default human identity. In Swaziland, Swazi is the default human identity.

  9. Farris says

    In the U.S. identity politics has become (ABW) anything but white.

    In Texas Robert Francis O’Rourke a.k.a. “Beto” is running as a Hispanic, California congressional candidate Kevin Leon suddenly became Kevin de Leon, Elizabeth Warren is takes a DNA test to prove her Indian ancestry, Rachel Dolezal is unmasked as pretending to be black.
    If “white privilege” is real why are so many whites attempting to prove their non whiteness?

    The term “white privilege” is mostly employed by upper class whites to denigrate poor and working class whites. These upper class whites are attempting to virtue signal that they have overcome or risen above their actual privilege by denigrating their lower class counterparts.
    This has ironically led to Ivy League students referring to working class kids as “privileged”, which I guess sounds better than the old euphemism “white trash”.

    • codadmin says

      It’s an interesting theory, but at some point you have to point the finger at minority hate and racism.

      As the Sarah Jeong race hate scandal exposed, white leftists are forced to denigrate themselves in leftist circles.

      White leftists serve the function of the Uncle Tom character. Their masters control what they are allowed to say.

  10. I’m all for going after the race hustlers and grifters out there that use their “identity” to enrich themselves or obtain political and cultural leverage. But, I’m not particularly on board with the complaints being made in this article.

    By classifying Americans according to racial and ethnic categories — indeed, any meaningful category (e.g., income level, religion, education level) — the Census Bureau and other government agencies are providing an essential service: They are collecting important and very usable data. Data that can be used to rebut all kinds of spurious arguments made by both the right and the left about things like crime and “white privilege.” In particular, I’m a big fan of the the type of racial identification used in FBI crime statistics. Big fan. And hate crime statistics are edifying, too, for the same reason.

    We don’t need less of this kind of information; we need more of it. In fact, I’d go even further with these classifications, and make them more ethnically specific.

    As for all those commenting in Quillette who want us to believe them when they write “I don’t see skin color when I look at another person,” I can only say that you’re either lying or not making full use of your observational and critical capabilities.

    • Peter from Oz says

      How sad. A so-called centrist wants to base our approach to humanity on characteristics and not character.

      • Ray Andrews says

        ‘base our approach’? I don’t think he said, that, nevertheless all data can be useful. Or it can be grossly misused, which is mostly the case now.

      • @ Peter from Oz

        There are, broadly, two ways to look at things when engaged in politics. You can do it normatively (“this is what OUGHT to be”) or descriptively (“this is what actually IS”). If the assumptions that you start out with, that you build your politics from, are all normative — e.g., “we’re all the same,” “everyone starts out in life with the same potential,” “war is always bad” — your politics are going to be built like a house on sand: There will be no structural integrity because your assumptions are based on moral codes or sentiment or feel-good platitudes, not on reality, not on what can be empirically or statistically or scientifically proven to be the case. For example, the contemporary progressive left builds its foundation on a scientifically unsupportable “blank slate” notion that we all have the same innate abilities and characteristics, and therefore any differences between individuals and groups can be explained by oppressive social forces. This is a moral notion that is not supported by the evidence.

        You can’t build a productive politics without knowing what actually IS. And you can’t get to that point until you have lots of information. The more information, the better. The higher its quality, the better. That’s why good science and good statistics and good data are all so important. Only when you understand what actually IS can you know what actually can be done or SHOULD be done.

        Not collecting data on the characteristics, behavior, and conditions of the many racial and ethnic groups in the US would make it nearly impossible to know the extent to which certain groups might be succeeding while others are not, or to help us begin to get at the reasons for this, and the possible solutions. Faith in “color blindness” doesn’t get us anywhere, even if such a thing as “color blindness” did exist. Data — including race-specific data — gives us a starting point, and if collected and analyzed properly, is more powerful and useful than a truckload of platitudes.

        • Peter from Oz says

          A new Rad

          I obviously struck a nerve, and I thank you for your considered reply.

          All politics exists because of the old problem that Hume identified: i.e.you can’t use an is statement to prove an ought statement.
          What is the state for? What is the role of government? These are all questions that can only really be approached normatively. We can find lots of lovely objective facts and try to use them to justify what we think ought to happen. The idea that all racial groups need to progress equally is normative. But having lots of information about black people doesn’t seem to have really helped so far. In fact there is reason to believe that the one thing that has held back black Americans since Civil Rights is the fact that they are being treated constantly as an amorphous group. Bin the stats on race and things will get better.

        • Frank says

          You are quite correct. In effect, you are describing the scientific method of inquiry which always deal with the facts whether we agree with them or not.

  11. codadmin says

    What identity politics? Are white peoples allowed a positive identity in leftist America?

    No, they are not.

    In other words, ‘identity politics’ is the race hate of the fascist left.

  12. augustine says

    Yet another example of an area of “public trust” where liberals have been feverishly active for decades in order to realize their vision of society, with great success. So often conservatives are only reacting to this kind of thing (passive) while liberals are taking the initiative (active). This distinction shows their respective natures one supposes.

    An enlightening article, thank you.

  13. Jezza says

    I love identity politics! I believe it to be the greatest contribution to the welfare of mankind since we discovered how to control fire. My only quibble is that it doesn’t go far enough. I don’t see why I should be excluded just because, in my case anyway, I am a person of pinkish colour whose antecedents include European, Hindu, Chinese and Negro with a touch of blue whale in the distant past. And furthermore, I don’t see why the fact that I am not a US citizen, don’t vote in your elections and find Mr Trump inspirational AND amusing should cause me to be excluded from your calculations. Obviously my category has not yet been elucidated so I proudly stand before you now and declare myself to be ordinary and unique. I am sure there are thousands who identify with that classification.

  14. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    “Not everything that can be counted, counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

    Sweep away the post-modern leviathan NAC and show other governments in time the results to see if it works as intende. An experiment to be sure but that is the stuff of learning.

  15. Chris says

    Here in the UK we are close to having Sikh stuck on the Ethnicity list for the next census. Apparently Sikhs were refusing to identify as indian because of political opposition to the state of India. The census writers evidently couldn’t come up with a non-political ethnic descriptor for that region, that people had heard of.
    Obviously this move creates more problems than it solves. The question of ethnicity is a proxy for culture and morality, things inaccessible to a brief 1 size fits all census.

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  17. hail to none says

    The article is spot on. The implicit goal of the Advisory Committee has been to come up with classifications and methods of measurement that maximize the counts (and thus power) of various ethnic interest groups, including creating new ones (mainly at the expense of the counts of whites). Both of the recommendations described in the article that were nixed by the Census Bureau Director are prime examples. Most Latin American countries have their own censuses which collect information on people of different origins, so to count all Hispanics as one race in the U.S. is conceptually muddled. To think that the Advisory Board consists of a group of disinterested researchers without strong, and usually explicit, agendas well to the left of center of American politics would be naive at best.

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  19. As identity politics heats up and enters its final stages, we can expect the Census to become fully politicized.

    The Nazis used a similar technique to gin up resentment of the dominant Jewish population in Germany. The statistics showed that Jews were much better off than those of the general population, and it couldn’t have possibly been because they earned it fairly. No, they were better off because they had corrupted the system to oppress the non-jewish and bestow unearned privilege on themselves. Hence, the ‘Jewish problem’ and the resulting ‘Final solution’ to that problem.

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  21. lloydr56 says

    Going back in American history, the whole genre of the Western can be read as an endless narrative of identity grievance: those pesky indigenous folk were constantly attacking and threatening innocent, hard-working white people. Why shouldn’t other peoples get their turn? Hollywood even made famous movies about the poor suffering white people who maintained slavery in the South. Moving ahead to the 1950s and 60s, Marcuse found it difficult to find a proletariat. The would-be proletariat of blue-collar workers and miners was generally too rich. There was a need to search high and low for victims of capitalism. People of colour seemed promising–especially in American ghettos. How about people of colour from all over the world? Even better–far more numerous, and many of them certainly suffer; maybe it can all be blamed on capitalism. But if the core insight is that those on top constantly exploit those not on top, is there any proposal for justice other than letting many groups, if not all groups, have a turn on top? But if they’re just taking turns inflicting injustice on one another, where’s the justice? By comparison, it’s kind of mildly amusing to pretend that various combinations of the suffering others can be forced into some new government-recognized unity that has little reality.

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