recent, Recommended, Regressive Left

Prescriptive Racialism and Racial Exclusion

The crowd outside the auditorium was growing larger and louder. Controversy had arisen over the “Panel on Religious Extremism in the Middle East” that I had organized at my University. A petition to cancel the event in the wake of the horrific New Zealand massacre had been circulated among the student body during the previous week, forcing my co-organizers and me to defend ourselves against accusations of Islamophobia. Months of work had gone into the event, and I had even managed to secure funding for the speakers, on the condition that the event went ahead. At that moment, it looked like I was going to fail. The Students for Democratic Society were protesting and they spooked the president of College Republicans who was now considering cancelling it.

Finally, one of our panellists—an Imam—managed to persuade the College Republican president to go ahead. Despite the constant heckling during the speakers’ remarks and the Q&A session that followed, the event did finally proceed more or less as planned. The panel and I addressed the New Zealand atrocity and explicitly condemned White Nationalism, but the protestors remained unmoved, and even interrupted the moment of silence for the massacre’s victims. Throughout the event, they held a banner that read, “You Do Not Represent Us.”

After the event I overheard a student protestor berate one of the panellists and complain, inter alia, that the event had not been organized by an Arab. I interjected to inform her that I was the organizer of the event and that I am indeed an Arab. “You don’t count,” she immediately retorted. “We know your politics.” I subsequently discovered that she is president of the Arab student association. I was already aware of this practice of “Uncle Tom-ing” members of minorities who challenge certain orthodoxies, but this was the first time I had experienced it firsthand. Such attitudes were evident in many of the protestors’ objections to the event. Faisal Saeed Al Mutar—an Iraqi born secular rights advocate and the only Arab on the panel—bore the brunt of these attacks. He was denounced as a puppet and a traitor for discussing the role of religion in motivating groups like ISIS in his native country.

Particularly distasteful was the insinuation that race is not simply a descriptive category, but that it is thought to require certain duties of, and impose certain prerogatives upon, the individual. To retain one’s status as an “authentic” Arab (or member of any other “marginalized” demographic), one has to believe certain things. Because I had organized this discussion, I was rendered persona non grata among those who insist we turn a blind eye towards atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Investigating this matter at all apparently constituted a betrayal of my tribe, the punishment for which is excommunication. I’ve come to call this attitude “prescriptive racialism”—the notion that racial identity should determine how people act and what they believe. To be accepted as an Arab, I must adopt the same politics as all other Arabs.

This belief dominates the paranoid psychology of white supremacists, who are similarly pre-occupied with the idea of race treachery. Today, it has become central to the worldview of many on the social justice Left. And, as I discovered, prescriptive racialism is enforced by racial exclusion. This practice is a troubling development, and another sign of civic disintegration along ethnic lines. Racial exclusion ostracizes (or “others” in social justice jargon) the heretics within a community who challenge its dogmas: “Fall in line or you are out!” This is hardly an empty threat. In our polarized and balkanized society, people are already clustering into increasingly narrow groups organized around sexual, racial, and other immutable identities, so exclusion can be politically hazardous. Racial exclusion awards permission for the harassment and degradation of its victims, and strips dissenters of a voice: “You are no longer one of us, so you do not get to criticize what we do.” This is the language of primitive chieftains from the iron age, unfit for a modern republic in which reason should be free to criticize any injustice it encounters.

In a free society, we must commit to persuasion if we want to change minds. But how is that possible if the ideas of those who do not belong to a minority group are ignored and critics within that minority group are shamed and summarily expelled? Progressive culture screams platitudes of coexistence, tolerance, and multiculturalism even as it undermines the values that make those things possible. If toleration and coexistence are mocked by critics as vacuous cliches, it is because their defenders no longer take them seriously or bother to defend them.

In a 2015 article for the Guardian, Al Jazeera journalist Mehdi Hasan lamented the “lazy calls for an Islamic reformation from non-Muslims and ex-Muslims.” But if ex-Muslims have their criticisms denigrated in this way, not because of what they say but because of who they are, what hope is there for ending the lethal punishments for apostasy across the Muslim-majority world? If being outside of a group precludes someone from criticizing its members or its doctrines, then what are we to do when those members commit injustices against outsiders?

The dangerous and sectarian practice of prescriptive racialism is an outgrowth of an insistence that we think of people not as individuals but as representatives of groups—we speak of “the Arab experience” as if it were a uniform phenomenon. In a world in which groups are considered more important than people, it was inevitable that we would forfeit the ability to think in terms of unique human beings, each of whom may fall into several categories, but who are ultimately self-made characters. We should remember that the important features of an individual are what they choose to be and not the identities they happen to have inherited.

Defeating this rising tide of tribalism requires us to be adamant about the importance of the validity of ideas and criticisms and not their source. When the protestors raised the banner which read “You Do Not Represent Us” what they really meant is “We Do Not Consider You One of Us, So What You Say Is Worthless.” The Islamic philosopher Al Ghazali did the same when he railed against the Greek pagan influence during the Islamic Golden Age, and in doing so he extinguished the brilliant flame of scientific thought of his era. The Middle East has been dark ever since. When someone like Faisal Saeed Al Mutar attempts to reignite it by translating Western works into Arabic, he is met with antagonism and exclusion—not from an intellect like Al Ghazali, but from sanctimonious second-generation Arab students living in upstate New York. These are unworthy opponents of such a magnificent project.

 

Mohamed Ali is a student at The University of Rochester studying Physics and Philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter @TrueWordsAli

143 Comments

  1. TarsTarkas says

    So these aholes think they know how every member of every ethnic or cultural group is supposed to think and act. And they have the effrontery to criticize members of those groups to disagree? Fk them. F**k them all. They deserve all the pain and shame and suffering that can be dished out at them. Let them experience what it is to be socially isolated and humiliated. Maybe then they’ll be less quick to denounce speechcrime.

    • Cheryl Cramer Briard says

      It seems the author has been excommunicated for the sin of casting his pearls before swine. Nothing new. They did the same thing to Spinoza.

  2. Farris says

    The Left is frequently a teacher and preacher of the Blank Slate Theory. However that theory seems to go out the window when a person steps away from his or her predetermined tribal norms. If persons are Blank Slates, how can Arabs, Jews, Asians, Whites or Blacks not have different notions or ideals or not have their notions and ideals set by their environment?
    I especially like the White supremacist treachery analogy. In addition to Uncle Tom, I expect in the future terms like Jew lover, Oreo, Privilege denier, ect… will become more prevalent.

    • Ryan says

      It doesn’t conflict with blank slate. It is a moral prescription not a scientific one. The reason the author didn’t count was not that he isn’t Arab, but that he doesn’t represent the Arabs as a group.

      • David of Kirkland says

        And who represents Arabs as a group? Is there a rep for us whiteys too and who is it?

        • I represent myself. Even the silver spoon white guy (Who wanted to ban selling Maga hats to teens after the Covington debacle) elected to represent my district—does not represent me. I fear adulting as in self governing is a lost idea.

      • Antonius says

        Why did he have to represent Arabs as a group to count? Can’t he just count?

        • Infogleaner says

          I think his ideas should count, more than his “identity”.

  3. Farris says

    The history of the democrats is one of viewing people as chattel. First the democrats were the party of slavery which then morphed into the party of the KKK and segregation. Now the party advocates killing the inconvenient. Additionally the party views people according to their tribe. To democrats there are no individuals, only whites, blacks, Hispanics, Christians, Muslims, Jews, gays, lesbians, ect…

    • E. Olson says

      Farris – a small correction to your statement: To Democrats there are no individuals, only oppressors (whites, males, Christians, Jews, rich, Republicans) and victims (blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, gays, lesbians, females, poor, Democrats, etc.).

      • Farris says

        True E. Olson. Democrats and leftist only see groups. Democrats and leftist fear and despise individuals and prefer group think. Individuals and individuality are dangerous. Individuals may think outside the group or dissent from the tribe and not remain in lockstep. Thus individuals are a threat, inauthentic and the worst crime of all non-representative. Individuals are traitors to the cause ie. Hillary on women who didn’t vote for her or individually minded black or Hispanic republicans, Arabs who make overtures to Jews. The Left can only view others through the prism of race or tribe or as you note oppressors and oppressed. The Left speaks only in terms of group rights and not individual rights.
        This group think language can even be seen in Climate Science. What is often cited as the greatest proof of AGW; consensus. What are skeptics of AGW labeled; deniers (read heretics).
        One of the biggest distinctions between the Left and the Right is the Left puts faith in the apparatchiks and group rights the Right prefers the individual and individual rights.

        • D. Morel says

          Farris & E. Olson: you are committing exactly the same group-think “sin” that you are fighting: you are dividing the world into 2 groups: the “Left” and the “Right.” Not all individuals who lean Left are collectivists and not all Rightists are individualists – fascism and nationalism are also group-think phenomena. Collectivism is an extreme form of political expression, and is found on both the Left (communism) and the Right (fascism). Libertarianism supports inidividualism, and there are both left- and right-leaning Libertarians.

          • E. Olson says

            D. Morel – fascism is also Leftist, so collectivism is Leftist. I would be very curious to see some examples of Left Leaning Libertarians.

          • Farris says

            @D.Morel

            Thank you for your response.

            “Farris & E. Olson: you are committing exactly the same group-think “sin” that you are fighting: you are dividing the world into 2 groups: …”

            Not exactly if the Democrat party declares itself Pro Choice and the Republican Party declares itself Pro Life, commenting upon and criticizing those declarations is not dividing the world into parts but rather recognizing those divisions already exist. Admittedly there may be Pro Life democrats and Pro choice republicans but that is not the respective positions of those parties. It is consistently democrats and the Left that express tribalist attitudes, “white privilege, merit is racism and stay woke” to name a few. Naturally no one group is immune to group think but if a point of view is continually shaped through the prisms of race and oppression, it is much more difficult to tolerate group members who express a contrary outlook. For this reason those who appear as part of a protected class but jump from the bandwagon are declared inauthentic or worse.

          • Jay says

            Thank you. Why are people like that even commenting here?

          • doug deeper says

            D,Moral, I believe your comment is inaccurate, but the larger point is one of tyranny. What makes today’s situation different is that the left has virtually total control of academia (where the event in the article took place), the media, and the tech giants who control the narrative of Western culture. The right’s influence in these institutions is negligible.

          • Polly styrene says

            Thank you, from this slightly right of centre libertarian individualist.

        • Left and Right as told in popular culture is a lie. There is Collectivism at one end, and Anarchy at the other. The Western system is based on the Individual, and prescribes just enough cooperation and oversight to enhance freedom. (Do you want to sit on your roof all day with a rifle to defend your property?)

          Collectivism has two extreme Identity flavors: International (Groups) and Ultranational (Race). Either can and will subjugate other groups based on the balance of power.

      • @E. Olson, I laughed out loud when you listed Jews as both oppressors and victims according to the “Left.” It’s so true. I’d add Hispanics also in that dual category, also depending on how the Left wants to use them. So an Hispanic police officer or George Zimmerman are “white” if they are supposed to be Oppressors. These same people would be Victims if they were in the “Brown” role of victimhood, e.g. migrants or illegal immigrants.

        Everyone else loses their identity when they don’t fall into lockstep of the collective. Women’s vaginas fall off if they aren’t woke-feminists; African Americans become “uncle Tom’s” and Muslims become ‘porch monkeys” — in other words, the Left is viciously and repulsively racist and sexist when individuals dare to fall out of line and stray from the collective dogma/quasi-religion.

        So the bottom line is they don’t care about racism or sexism or misogyny or any other ism. What they care about is their own power according to the woke hierarchy; they cudgel people to fit into the hierarchy or be cast out and treated as Other and even non-human (said explicitly as well).

        • jakesbrain says

          Minorities, especially Asians, are Schrodinger’s Honky — moment to moment, their amount of privilege is determined by what point an SJW wants to argue right now.

      • D. Morel says

        E. Olson – (I am responding to your later reply, but there was no “reply” button for that one. … )

        Historically, fascism has been associated with far-right ideology. The term “left fascism” is a relatively late (1960s) application of the ideology of fascism to left-wing politics. If you want to use the term “left fascism,” that’s fine, but you still have to distinguish it from right-fascism. They are both collectivist and totalitarian. Communism (or left-fascism) is enforced egalitarianism – all groups must be considered and treated as “equal,” and the dominant group must sacrifice (e.g. affirmative action) some of its advantages to allow oppressed groups to be raised up to an equal level. In right-fascism, one group (usually racial or religious) is considered superior and worthy of protection, while “inferior” groups are to be “eliminated.” The two are very different, though they end up looking the same, due to the heavy-handed “enforcement.”

        As for libertarians, they are the champions of individual liberty. But individual liberty can be realized both economically and socially. Right-leaning libertarians emphasize economic liberty – i.e. some form of free-market capitalism – but tend to be socially conservative. Left-leaning libertarians, by contrast, tend to focus on social liberties – decriminalizing or legalizing things like prostitution, same-sex marriage, drugs, abortion, and so on – but are not entirely against some form of mild redistribution.

        • Peter from Oz says

          ”Historically, fascism has been associated with far-right ideology.”
          And historically those making such an association have been wrong.
          The problem is that the two set themselves up as opposites, when in fact they had far more in common with each other. Hence it wasn’t unusual for people to move from one ideology to the other. They were the coke and pepsi of the political world, the refuge for those who thought that the world had to be odered by government.
          The added complication was that the democracies had to ally with the Soviets in the Second World War, and many western ”intellectuals” had been attracted by communism/socialism. Accordingly, it suited the chattering classes that Nazism and Fascism be labelled as extreme right wing movements.
          But the fact is that the left right split is really one of individualist versus collectivist.

          • Peter, Bingo. The whole thing was created so Oxford could save face.

            I use a continuum from “total government control to no government control”. Now, where do Communism and Fascism fit? It’s on the same side of the continuum —with socialism, too.

        • E. Olson says

          D. Morel – Peter of Oz gives a good answer on why you (and many others) are wrong to equate fascism with the right. The only rational way to divide the Left from the Right is the degree of government control over economic and personal freedoms. On the far Left you have Communists who believe in total state control, and the lesser Left Socialists/Democrats who believe in mostly state control. On the lesser Right you have Conservatives/Republicans who mostly believe in state control of basic necessities to maintain public order and personal liberty such as courts, prisons, military, border control, and the far Right Libertarians who believe in no government control.

          Thus there can be no Left-leaning Libertarians because redistribution and regulation that they promote takes away economic and personal freedom from individuals, as does allowing the legal killing of innocent life with abortion. Conversely, a true Libertarian will believe in legalization of drugs, prostitution, and same-sex marriage, but won’t be looking at them as a source of tax revenues from legal drug sales or prostitution, or use the courts to persecute religious groups/individuals who don’t support same-sex marriage, which Leftists invariably do.

      • Barney Doran says

        EO – With regard to your comment concerning Left leaning libertarians, there is something called ‘libertarian socialism.” Because it would give me a headache to try to paraphrase it or make any sense of it, I will simply give you the Wikipedia link so you can give yourself a headache if you want: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism

    • Jay says

      I believe categorizing people into groups and making generalizations about them to show they are irredeemably evil they are is the exact opposite of what we’re doing here.

      • K. Dershem says

        @Jay. Seriously? Commenters make sweeping generalizations about “Leftists” all the time, refusing to acknowledge the diversity of opinion among people who are left of center. “Leftists” are routinely referred to as fascists, dupes, racists, idiots, etc. I have very rarely seen a far-right commenter on Quillette employ the principle of charity, steel-manning progressives views instead of straw-manning them.

        • Peter from Oz says

          KD
          When I use the term leftist I am referring to someone who stands for the extreme element of left wing thought. I assume Jay is using it the same way. It is like the use of the word islamist to describe more fundamentalist muslims.
          The fact is that we need simple generic terms to describe people’s political views. I suppose we could say ”self-described progressives” or ”fundamentalist left-wingers” every time we refer to those more extreme lefties, but it’s just easier to to refer to ”leftists” on the understanding that it is understood that we are not tarring all people who are left of centre as hardline nutcases.

        • @K. Dershem, I agree that it is facile to talk about “Leftists” as one group, although the insults you refer to are spewed by a minority of commentators here, not a majority.

          That said, it’s used as a short hand to mean something quite specific, at least by most people: I’d say “leftist” refers not to Dems or liberal or left of center but to the woke collectivist version of self-proclaimed progressivism. Some people call them alt-left but I think they’re far more mainstream than alt-right ever was (with the ear of many universities, Silicon valley, Hollywood, most major media), and it’s getting far and far more mainstream Dem, very rapidly—for instance, Joe Biden, with a throb in his voice, proclaiming “we’ need to change “White man’s culture” (like, oh, smelling random women’s hair?). Obama of 2008 was anti-identity politics and said all manner of things that would be regarded now as an anathema to progressivist politics and no Democrat would be caught dead saying now.

          So yes, agreed that “leftist” is a weak umbrella term, but do you have another one?

          • Zeph says

            @d
            It would be good if you were right that “[leftist] it’s used as a short hand to mean something quite specific, at least by most people: I’d say “leftist” refers not to Dems or liberal or left of center but to the woke collectivist version of self-proclaimed progressivism”

            Alas, I think if you reread the comment threads empiracally, you may find that that it’s used much more broadly by a large portion of those commentors right of center. But K. Dershem’s point was not only about stereotyping of “leftists” but of “liberals” and “Democrats”, which is almost as rampant here as the stereotyping of whites, males, etc by the PC fringe of the liberals. In the first few comments of this sub thread we find:

            “To democrats there are no individuals, only whites, blacks, Hispanics, Christians, Muslims, Jews, gays, lesbians, ect…”

            “To Democrats there are no individuals, only oppressors (whites, males, Christians, Jews, rich, Republicans) and victims (blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, gays, lesbians, females, poor, Democrats, etc.).”

            “Democrats and leftist only see groups. Democrats and leftist fear and despise individuals and prefer group think.”

            I suspect you may not notice how ubiquitous this is. I notice because I have been a lifelong “liberal” and have voted for Democrats for 50 years (sometimes not whole-heartedly). The large majority of my close friends are liberals and vote Democratic (or Green). I suspect some here would more quickly recognize stereotyping of conservatives, being human.

            And yet, these characterizations of liberals do not fit the large majority of those liberals & Democrats I know. The folks I know are largely very caring, thoughtful people who are not deeply into identity politics. (There are also SJWs in our extended circles, but we find them problematic people, not examplars to emulate). They are not evil people who despise individualism and see only groups, they don’t hate all white people, they don’t want to throw open the borders, etc. Of course, to some degree that’s because we all filter our friends, but even among generally liberal groups I spend time with, I find the ourright SJWs to be a noisy minority, not representative of the community.

            So the characterizations I see in the comments here are constantly striking me as overly broad brushes at the best, self-soothing caricatures at the worst. I sigh and move on – I’m here to find the gem comments that are unusually prevalent in this ore (compared to most sites), so I try to mostly ignore the “mine tailings”.

            I’m here, tho, because I do find Identity Politics and Political Correctness extremely troubling.

            Even if the SJWs are a minority in many or most liberal communities, in some areas they have become dominant – parts of academia, some corporations, etc. And yes, some of the Democratic party.

            And despite what I have said about my liberal friends being very decent people, I do find that most of them frequently stereotype conservatives, and prefer to live in their liberal bubble. (Just as I see conservatives do; this is a sickness of our society, not of just one party). I see politically correct framings of reality creeping in, and it concerns me.

            I see political correctness as an memetic virus (in the Richard Dawkins sense of “meme” as a self-replicating unit of cultural transmission, not more recent the captioned picture usage). It preys on good intentions and kind feelings, but then distorts perceptions and seduces the well meaning. As folks go deeper into that framing of the universe, it covertly offers “moral high ground” payoffs, which are like candy or cocaine to the ego (for all sides, but here I’m talking about liberals).

            I see that “moral high ground” dynamics as the single largest core problem; it justifies selective empathy and selective numbness that allow nominally progressive people to act in ways that are inconsistent with their professed values.

            And it’s becoming a real problem with infiltrating the cultural elites. I don’t see any good outcome from that; instead I have a baad feeling about this.

            One difference between me and the typical commenter here is that I am seeing it from the inside, with understanding of how it works. I don’t impute projected bad motives on the liberals who are slowly succumbing to it – I can see that PC’s initial appeal is to their good motives, actually.

            But at heart PC is very corrosive, it’s based on shaming and blaming, on asserting that moral high ground that corrupts and transforms. It’s deadly for classical liberalism, and for what I consider the necessary “metaculture” contanier within which any hope for a multicultural society must exist.

            I really do see it as a cultural pathogen, adapted or evolved to get past the defenses of liberalism and take root before spreading itself.

            So my goal is to help with the immune response to this pathogen of the body politic. It’s most prevalent among liberals because this mind virus is customized to appeal to them – but I see some very related victimhood dynamics on the conservative side as well, so believe that the right is immune to this cultural dynamic at your own peril (our own peril).

            In that regard, we can be allies. You might call me a philosophical liberal with a STEM background and a desire of politics that have a good impedence match with reality. As such, I can respect philosophical conservatives, as to my best understanding both (traditional) liberals and conservatives have blind spots and are better at seeing each other’s blind spots than their own. But I’m less impressed with what I call “tribal conservatives” and “tribal liberals”, who are less interested in converging on an every better approximation of the truth, than in “winning for our side at all costs”.

            “A Harvard-Harris Poll survey showed that 55% of those polled said Google was wrong to fire [James] Damore, including 61% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 50% of Democrats.”- wikipedia

            That’s only 11% difference between Republicans and Democrats. Half the Democrats were against it.

            Those of us on the side of reason and sanity are not all sitting on the Republican benches. We need a broad movement including classic liberals as well as moderates, conservatives, and libertarians to oppose the many excesses of Political Correctness.

            I have the experience that when I speak my perspective (strategically) in some liberal venues, a number of people tell me how it helped them put their finger on something which was bothering them too. There’s a lot of discontent with the PC strategy building from within liberals, but it’s often unfocused and diffuse. One of the strengths of PC as pathogen is that it makes opposition difficult.

            But when opposition to the PC infection is mixed with heavy doses of opposition to everything left of center, unsurprisingly liberals feel pushed to join ranks; maybe the PC crowd isn’t that bad, compared to the attackers anyway.

            It’s encouraging to find other liberals and moderates who can see the problems with PC. But it would be good to join with reasonable conservatives who can distinquish between the PC infection and liberalism in general – and who are willing to help take down PC without expecting everyone to become an arch-conservative as a precondition.

            Anyway, as part of this, I would like to encourage the folks here to be more nuanced than lumping all “left of center” folks as one hive-mind, and to avoid conflating the struggle against the PC infection with the permanent struggle between left/right.

            That means being willing to work with sane liberals to resist the PC mindset, without expecting that means they will have to agree with every tenet of conservative philosophy. I see Poliical Correctness as making civil and meaningful debate impossible and that’s a bad thing – but my goal is to restore that healthy debate, not to cede it entirely to conservatives.

            So, how about we come up with a name for those infected with “PC” specifically, and aim our joint criticism at that. (You probably wondered when I’d get around to your final question, no?).

            I mean something neutral on the left/right spectrum. Like I refer to most on the anti-AGC sides as “contrarian” versus “mainstream” scientific view, as the most neutral terms I’ve found.

            Maybe “cultural absolutists”? “social justice wing”?

            In the meanwhile, how about just using “SJW” when you mean the crazies on the left, rather than all liberals, or all Democrats? (The problem with “progressive” is that nobody knows which political subgroup it really means today, so it’s mostly just confusing).

        • D.B. Cooper says

          @K. Dershem

          Commenters make sweeping generalizations about “Leftists” all the time, refusing to acknowledge the diversity of opinion among people who are left of center.

          While I wouldn’t describe myself as far-right – nor have I been invited to their annual Xmas party – I am right of center on many (but not all) political/social/fiscal issues. For what it’s worth, I have a strong libertarian streak with many social views.

          My tenuous far-right affiliations notwithstanding, while in the strict sense I would agree with your assessment as quoted above, I’m not sure the claim is as strong as you believe it to be.

          Consider for example that uncharitable (and mostly inaccurate) ad hominem attacks can be found in any sufficiently social environment, ranging from the elementary playground, to the oval office, to the most prestigious halls of academia (despite the intelligentsia’s pretenses to the contrary). Commenters make sweeping generalizations is about as close to a tautology as a claim can be without actually being one. Surely, this has been established since, I don’t know, AOL dialup.

          In short, any expectation(s) that diverges from this actuality (especially with respect to a comment section) should be either summarily dismissed in the same vein as one would dismiss the novel insight that C precedes D in the English alphabet; or on rare occasions as the first indication that a mental health assessment is possibly in order. In the principle of charity, I’m going to presume, sola fide, that you are a fairly squared away Leftist; and therefore, I’ll be exercising the former option.

          A second point you may want to consider is that while “sweeping generalizations” are boorish and, quite frankly, a sign of lazy thinking; so to is the antithesis of this position. Namely, the tacit suggestion that generalizations themselves are of little to no value. If it is the case that Right wing commenters are guilty of making sweeping generalizations (and I’m not argue they aren’t), it is likely the case that Left wing commenters are guilty of treating generalizations (read stereotypes) like a communicable disease. I would argue that many of society’s well-established (by which I mean, long standing) stereotypes have a surprisingly high predictive value. I’m pretty sure, science would argue the same.

          At any rate, here’s to hoping for more reasonable discourse. I’m also hoping for world peace.

        • People who want my HUGE government to Micromanage me more, take away more of my choices, and take more of my money will never receive my understanding. Form your own collective and micromanage each other.

    • Brent says

      Please I’m no democrat but lets been fair the Democratic party started to die in the early 60’s and has been replaced by a bunch of left wing nutters who funny enough resemble the Nazis they profess to hate more than anything else. This will die off as long as we give them enough rope to start hanging their own.

  4. Sydney says

    “‘…lazy calls for Islamic reformation…'”

    Yeah, really. Who sees a need for any sort of reformation? Islam is clearly doing a fantastic job of keeping up with the modern world and being a good-faith partner with nations and faiths of the world…

    We need more people like Aussie Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, this author, and others like them.

    • George G says

      @ Sydney

      I agree with what you say but I think the problem is that Islam is successful, in its own terms and on it’s current path. (98% of Muslims not being Wahhabi nutters)

      https://www.thoughtco.com/worlds-muslim-population-2004480

      and their numbers are growing. There would only be an incentive to reform if it was failing. I think your right that Islam in its current form is not compatible with the modern western world. but rather than reform the answer will be for the west to accommodate and become more Islamic. There is a very illustrative example in the UK happening in Birmingham Parkfields Primary School right now, in the red corners LGBT’s, in the blue corner Islam. Islam won. This is the path the modern western world is on.

      https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/the-parkfield-protests-have-exposed-the-divisions-in-uk-society/

  5. S. Cheung says

    We need more people like this author, his panelists, or folks like Majiid Fawaz.

    Things have gone from civil rights in the 1960s to ‘i will judge you by the color of your skin AND by the content of your character insofar as it matches mine’.

    • Hail the Contrarian says

      I’ve noticed, and I would like Quillette to address this issue if they haven’t already, that many of the worst provocateurs are first and second generation American. There appears to be a cultural gap where the young Arab lady mentioned in this article ( second generation ) is drunk on the freedom of the West while grasping an almost certain false narrative about life in Arab countries.

      I’m Scottish, Brigadoon is a fantasy, just as tales of the good old days on the Emerald Isle of Ireland are a myth. Its safe to say in both countries life in reality, for many, was ten people in a city centre slum fighting the hidden dangers of polio, measles and the like. I remember watching the destruction of the TB sanatorium opposite my grandmothers house. People died there, you know, even young people who choked to death on their blood. And this wasn’t a million years ago – it was in our lifetimes, certainly the lifetime of our parents.

      Is this young Arab lady a Brigadoonist? Keep your eye open for this phenomenon, there are plenty of high-profile examples in the USA, the UK, Australia and other Western countries. Almost all have been handed the greatest gift in life, living in rule of law countries where free speech is valued. And these provocateurs don’t know what to do with that gift.

      “You don’t count,” she immediately retorted. “We know your politics.” That’s the language of the lost. Brigadoon never existed, just as a united Arab vision, a united Arab culture, never existed either.

      • Jeremy H says

        @Hail the Contrarian

        “…drunk on the freedom of the West while grasping an almost certain false narrative about life in Arab countries.”

        This seems to be a perverse kind of compensation for the fact that everything good in their lives outside of their religious beliefs comes from a culture that is largely condemned by said religious beliefs.

        For example, in order for a Muslim women simply to be treated as a human being she must live in a culture that values practically everything that is condemned by her own value system. Most seem to be able to bridge this psychological tension without much (at least outward) issue, but for some it creates an intractable internal divide that can only be overcome by the complete and hostile rejection of one side of the conflict. And ironically it’s the very fact that the Western side of her inheritance permits such rejection which makes this choice easy: one can hate the West and still gain all the benefits therein whereas even a minor criticism of Islamic values could result in full scale rejection from her spiritual community (not to mention a possible slot on the SPLC hate watch list).

      • Kencathedrus says

        @Hail: Yes, I’ve noticed this too. As an immigrant fresh to the US, I’m absolutely loving it here, I’m living in the rural South, and it has the best of America. Yes, there are problems, no place is perfect, but there’s an authenticity that is sorely lacking in the more supposedly liberal parts of the West. The most liberal people I know wouldn’t lift a finger to help even their own family, yet complete strangers here have been exceptionally kind to me.

        I don’t understand those immigrants who hate the US. Nothing made them come here and they’re free to leave anytime. However, I understand there is a lot of money to be made in critiquing America these days. Unfortunately, academic and political pandering to this mentality is akin to a desperate man throwing away his last bit of food to a pack of starving wolves. At the heart of it is cowardice and self-hatred.

      • Hail the Contrarian, Excellent comment. someone I know in the refugee resettlement business told me that a lot of them are schools in this in the DP camps. then they come here and there’s gold in the same thing in our public education and college. They have totally missed the “rights comes with responsibilities” teaching. And they did not get it at home while their parents new country was paying for everything.

        • Shamrock says

          The best cure for the Brigadoon brigade would be to go the country and live a while where they think the Shangri-La is.

          I remember watching a program some few years ago. The program was about a group of blacks born and raised in the US, who in the 60’s decided to return to Mother Africa. In the program they interviewed a man who lived all his life as a fisherman on the coast of a West African country (I forget which one). Anyway he said one day these black Americans showed up and after proclaiming how glad they were to leave racist and terrible America, threw their passports in the sea.

          He said a few weeks later he saw the same people scrambling around the shoreline trying to find their passports because they wanted to go back to America. The idea of Mother Africa wasn’t the same as the reality.

      • Well put. We see this in Canada quite frequently.
        Young people with all the benefits society can provide complaining about westerners wrecking the good old days of utopian forest dwelling. Irritating.

  6. Chad Chen says

    The thesis of this article makes no practical sense. In civil society, most leaders represent groups. If only one Jew were allowed on the US Supreme Court at a time, no Jewish organization would remain silent if a Holocaust denier was appointed to the Jewish seat. Just as black civil rights organizations cannot be silent if the only black justice on the Court is a man whoae opinions on every major contested political issue are opposed by at least 90% of North American blacks.

    • Jeremy H says

      “…no Jewish organization would remain silent if a Holocaust denier was appointed to the Jewish seat.”

      You’re comparing Islamic reformers to Holocaust deniers? Perhaps this is where “practical sense” is actually lacking here.

      • Chad Chen says

        Read what Ron Unz has been writing on the Holocaust. You might change your mind

    • Kessler says

      It is scary, that we would divide our society into racial groups. Nations divided along the ethnic/racial lines tend to decscend into violence and civil war.

    • anon says

      @Chad Chen

      “Just as black civil rights organizations cannot be silent if the only black justice on the Court is a man whoae opinions on every major contested political issue are opposed by at least 90% of North American blacks.”

      So you approve of mob mentality? Clarence Thomas was not selected to represent blacks on the SCOTUS. Many people of all races and ethnicities are low information voters, some more than others, and you’re a prime example of that.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Chad Chen

      Luckily we don’t have racial/religious quotas for the supreme court, and judges are not required to adopt the values held by a majority of people that happen to share their skin tone. At least in an official/legal sense people are still treated as individuals rather than members of identity groups in the US.

    • @chad chen, What are you saying? I don’t even understand the comparison. How on earth is a Holocaust denier comparable with a liberal or reformist Muslim? A Holocaust denier denies fact and history. It’s not an opinion that is factually justifiable any more than a flat earther’s opinion is justifiable, or a denier that slavery existed, or what have you. Whereas a reformist Muslim has a point of view about his/her cultural and religious belief system.

      As far as a black person, what are you arguing here? Not sure there is any such thing as a person who could oppose 90% of what their race supposedly believes but if there were, are you trying to say that a conservative black person cannot be on the Supreme court? A black person is not a puppet or ant in the body politic of his/her race and the majority opinions therein.

      So I hate to say it, but your own thesis makes no sense at all. I fear you are misunderstanding the author’s point, either deliberately or naively.

    • In our civil society some leaders represent geographical areas and others, like Supreme Court Justices have offices that require them to execute duties irrespective of their group affiliation to the parties.

      None of our offices, despite the best rhetorical efforts of the progressive political project, represent a class of people. We don’t have the “Black” Supreme Court Justice.

  7. Stephanie says

    Mr. Ali was courageous for undertaking this endeavour, and I congratulate him for being able to see it through and weather the storm of criticism. This work is vitally important, for Muslims more than anyone else. It’s pathetic that Mr. Ali’s detractors can’t see that, so steeped they are in their insecurity.

    Like gender, the redefinition of race as a social construct instead of a biological category is for political purposes. Any discrepancies between races is based on social conditioning, allowing for “racialized bodies” to shift blame for their individual circumstances on a vague but omnipresent “system.” If you disagree with the orthodoxy inherent to your race, and especially if you reject the notion that your race defines who you are, you can be kicked out of your race.

  8. E. Olson says

    Good article and I join several others in applauding the efforts of the author. One sentence particularly struck a chord with me: “To retain one’s status as an “authentic” Arab (or member of any other “marginalized” demographic), one has to believe certain things.”

    The one thing “authentic” members must believe is that they are helpless victims of an unfair system of oppression and discrimination. Any members of the group who talk about self-inflicted wounds, self-defeating cultures, or any other form of self-directed personal responsibility for the sad plight of the group must be suppressed and condemned in favor of victimhood. And while victimhood campaigns may in the short-term yield some “reparations” for the “victims” and fame and fortune for the “victim” leadership, I can’t think of a single historical example where a reliance on victim psychology has improved the status or self-directed success of the victim groups. On the other hand, it is easy to find examples where “victim” groups have instead sought to demonstrate to the dominant group/culture that they are anything but victims, and instead builders of value through the harnessing of personal abilities and effort designed to achieve greatness and respect. In other words, victimhood is for true losers.

  9. Kessler says

    The greatest irony here, is that the ideology of intersectionality is product of upper class white people. So, the same non-white activists, who decry people as race traitors, for supposedly acting against interests of their race, define the interests of said race, based on upper class white ideology. They have adopted upper class white views on race, discrimination and politics to gain access to resources and privilege of the upper class. Thus all this focus on what upper class people care about and less focus on what is out of sight from prestigious university campuses and rich city neighborhoods.

  10. Joana George says

    ” When the protestors raised the banner which read “You Do Not Represent Us” what they really meant is “We Do Not Consider You One of Us, So What You Say Is Worthless.” ”

    It’s a really bad habit to assume that people mean something significantly stupider than what they’re actually saying.

  11. the gardner says

    The first thing that comes to mind when I read about such group think is German brown shirts. Is there nowhere in the education of these kids where the power of Nazi Germany to parasitize the minds of youth to such horrific ends is presented? Sigh.

    • George G says

      @The Gardener

      similar to the brown shirts yes, also similar Mao’s Red Guard, if it makes you feel any better the academics leading students down this path are in for a rude awakening if the student actually gain any form of power to build their intersectional utopia

  12. Samuel Marie says

    Thank you very much for your courageous fight against obscurantism from both radical Islam and the left ! We need more people like you, especially in Europe !

  13. Joe says

    Thank you for your courage, Mohamed. I graduated from your university around twenty years ago, and I’m ashamed to see what identity politics has done do destroy the simple and valuable spirit of academic inquiry at the U of R. What the protesters from Students for Democratic Society probably never will understand right now, is that eighteen or so years ago, after 9/11 happened, the term “Islamaphobia” never even existed. In fact, students who wanted answers to the question of Islamic religious extremism had very few people to turn to for answers, and dissenting voices coming from within the Muslim world in the popular press were virtually non-existent. We had a “teach-in” panel after 9/11 that showcased a few professor’s ideas about what had happened, and they offered some ideas about how they were interpreting world events. A lot of it at the time was the typical Noam Chomsky saw (“of course its our fault”). There was a Marxist, an Islamic literature scholar, a philosophy professor, an anthropologist, and some others there. Of those professors, I think only Dr. Thomas Gibson is still at the University. Ironically, I could imagine the protestors at your event in 2019 criticizing Dr. Gibson in 2001 for not being “allowed” to speak about Muslims because he is a white american male with no “agency” or “authority”. Never mind his absolute brilliance, dedicated, credentialed thirty plus years in the field, etc. I swallowed a lot of the leftist stuff hook line and sinker when I was a young and hungry intellectual like you and probably a lot of other Rochester students are. What students are doing nowadays with online hate-mobs, brownshirting around like mean-spirited little facists, and shouting down public debate is completely different from what I experienced when I was in your shoes. Don’t give in, keep an open mind.

  14. Daniel V says

    When you’re looking at the behaviour of young university students I think it’s important to consider cliques and counter culture. Because how I remember them behaving is exactly the same as the complaints here.

    Youth subculture when I was young always seemed to contain the same paradox. They talked alot about individualism and not being judgemental but if you didn’t follow the trends of the group they would stop bothering with you. Listening to the wrong music or wearing the wrong clothes might make you not goth/punk/raver enough to fit the label.

    At the same time these groups would say they don’t belong to a group at all. They weren’t goths/punks/ravers at all, instead they were unique individuals, who just happened to dress the same and try to act the same as people with that label.

    Politics were a big part of it too with the majority of people being left wing and you would definetly get a cold shoulder if you showed right wing sentiments. After all the right represents the establishment and the culture trying to be countered.

    So I think the real narrative here is a group of children trying to be cool causes a ruckus to show everyone how cool and woke they were. The author is obviously not cool enough to wear the super cool label of Arab because they don’t follow the super cool politics of the day.

    All of which is something that has been going on a very long time. Our real error is on thinking children become adults once they pass 18 and head to university. They don’t. They’re still mired in teenage drama.

  15. Ray Andrews says

    “people are already clustering into increasingly narrow groups organized around sexual, racial, and other immutable identities”

    They used to be immutable, but as the author himself points out, things are becoming ever more mutable. Just as gender is now selectable, so ones race is now more political than biological, thus, as the author says, to be an Arab requires the correct politics. Asians and Jews are now white. Here in Canada it will soon be the case that to be an Indian is a matter of acceptance by the tribe, not anything to do with race. If an otherwise white person is accepted, then they will become eligible for full victimhood with all the perks. Contrary wise, should some full blooded Indian displease her tribe’s power brokers, she might be cast out and end up as a mere, regular citizen — so it will be important not to step out of line.

    • E. Olson says

      How do they treat self-selected dolphins in Canada?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        We don’t have official victim status yet but we will. After the gender trannies, who’s next? The obese? The ugly? Albinos? Morons? But sooner or latter my day will dawn and trans-species will be de rigueur. There is always the next battle for the Warriors to fight, no?

        • E. Olson says

          The first step on the road to trans-species equality is to ban human only swimming pools and bathtubs.

  16. Pingback: Samizdata quote of the day « Samizdata

  17. codadmin says

    This is intersectionality 101.

    No matter how high you think your position is on ‘victim hierarchy’, you will be regulated the moment you utter even one wrong syllable.

    To the fascist left, your sexual, racial, and religious ‘victimhood’ is conditional. In other words, they couldn’t care less. It’s just a tactic they use.

  18. I immigrated here from Honduras. I went to college in Arkansas and now live in Dallas. I have to say, the only racism I have ever encountered is from liberals. They assume I empathize and will defend the caravan people. They assume I was hounded by “white supremacist hillbillies” in Arkansas. They assume that as a woman I #believe all women. As soon as they realize I don’t conform to their group/mob mentality, that while Trump can be crass I support him, and that race is NOT the principal part of my identity, but rather, intellect, they completely turn on me and call me to my face a coconut. I even have a white liberal tell me the reason I have never encountered racism is because I don’t look “indigenous” and because I’m attractive. They really cannot comprehend that many minorities do not play identity politics. Moreover, they dismiss my perspective by saying I am dating a white male, therefore, must have “internalized” the white patriarchy. It really is unbelievable.

    • E. Olson says

      FG – no wonder you are a Trump supporter – your boyfriend must have forced you to vote for him. Hillary wrote a book about this called “What Happened”.

    • Chad Chen says

      I immigrated here from the Caribbean.

      During two years at the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota and five years at the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin I was hounded by racist hillbillies, racist cops, and some racist university faculty, despite being an easygoing introvert, despite having 99th percentile scores on the GRE, and despite having an unassailable academic record. Race became an important part of my identity because the white people I encountered treated me as a member of a(n) (inferior) group, not as an individual.

      For all those who complsin about identity politics, look in the mirror.

      • Well, Chad Chen, you should definitely go back to tghe Caribbean.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @Chad Chen

        I’m sorry to hear that. What were some examples of your hounding by these racist graduate school hillbillies?

        • I thought Austin was full of intelligent elites. Looked that way last time I was there.

      • Shamrock says

        Racist hillbillies at graduate school? I thought hillbillies were dumb rednecks. How did they get into graduate school?

        Do you still live in the US? I can’t imagine you would stay in a country where whites are the majority and they all treated you badly on account of your race, unless…

  19. When I was young, certain classmates tried to provoke me by pulling at the corners of their eyes and shouting, “Chinky Chinaman!” It worked. After a frank exchange of opinions and fists, we reached a mutually respectful understanding, which I have always found to be superior to a homogeneous unanimity.

    Since then, I have tried to let my actions speak for who I am. My epicanthic fold and natural tan suggest where my grandparents fucked, which is interesting up to a point, but not particularly revelatory of what I am, or what I think.

    At least, that is what I assumed until quite recently, when I got on Twitter and learned that I am nothing more than my inherited class statuses based on sex, language, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and yes that pesky epicanthic fold. These things decide who I am, and what I should be, among the morally woke.

    I am a Chinky Chinaman. That’s all.

    • In graduate school? Must have been a Critical Race Theory program.

  20. Comments sections often descend into noise (he says, leaving a comment!), but here some (not all) of the comments point to one of the problems this otherwise interesting web site needs to overcome. It’s the apparent shortage of political diversity in the readership. So here we have a well-written article laying out the problems of sjw censorship on campus that unfortunately invites a pile-on of people who seize on the opportunity to vent their rage and concoct theories about all things left of centre, apparently the source of evil for all time!

    In other words, on a web site seemingly devoted to reducing the useless noise we see everywhere else online and returning to actual debate and discussion we once again are generating noise.

    How this problem is overcome I’m not sure. This site does a pretty good job of curating its articles, and I suppose there will always be trolls. And I guess having more articles defending the left would only invite more trolldom. I suspect it’s something that will just have to evolve over time, so that eventually the rage & noise merchants will fade away for lack of interest. Here’s hoping that happens and that Quillette becomes a model for the rest.

    • K. Dershem says

      @M., I’ve noticed that more centrists and classical liberals have been posting recently. Hopefully this trend continues — attempting to engage in dialogue with far-right ideologues is a hopeless endeavor. (The same is obviously true of far-left ideologues, but they’re vanishingly rare on this site.)

      • Jay Salhi says

        There are conservatives commenting here (e.g. E. Olson). Far right commentators are quite rare.

        • K. Dershem says

          From my perspective, Olson and others like him is a far-right ideologue, not a principled conservative. Since your politics are close to his, you obviously see it differently.

          • Ted Talks says

            Rule of thumb: if it isnt anti-democracy, it isnt far right. I dont mean “keep the electoral college” anti-democracy, I mean “democracy as a move from absolutism was a mistake. Bring back the monarchy.” That is far right.

            Anything less is center right at best.

        • What is far right? I still don’t understand. I don’t know who the white supremacists are, either. Do they have a website? A convention somewhere? Who is their leader? Last I saw, David Duke endorsed Ilan Omar.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Sorry, M, but I think you are wrong on this point. I think you would expect that it wouldn’t matter whether you were left of centre or right, you are going to disagree with the methods used by the new progressives to stifle free speech.
      The fact is that free speech should be a bi-partisan issue. I think most lpeople who reguard themselves as left of centre would agree with that. So what diversity of thought do we need on the issue?
      WHat we are really complaining about here is an attitude held by many ofn the fandamentalist left (and even some on the fundamentalist right) that some arguments are too dangerous to be heard. I don’t think that the great majority of us away from the two poles think that attitude is at all sensible or correct. But we are unfortunately able to stop the small vociferous lot of fundies from shouting others down. At the moment the fundies in most cases are the self righteous SJWs from the left. I would ask the moderate left to speak out loudly against such people and point out how they do a diservice to the left-wing cause. This seems to be happening a lot these days, especially here on Quillette, even in the comments section.

    • Stephanie says

      M, there are conservatives, centrist, and left-leaning regular commentators. The articles themselves tend to be left-leaning, with frequent slaps at Trump compared to exceedingly rare positive comments about him. If you like the editorial bias of the articles but not of the commentators, may I suggest that is a reflection of your own bias? It is certainly not a “problem” it would be appropriate for Quillette to try to solve.

      I’m sure Quillette would love to get some leftist readers, to attempt to bring them towards more reasonable liberal positions. In my experience speaking to leftist people on Facebook, Quillette is perceived as a dangerous, alt-right, pseudo-intellectual venture that they will not even bother to entertain. The only viewpoint that is really lacking from Quillette is thus the segment that would benefit the most from it but are the most viscerally hostile towards it.

      Quillette should not try betray its purpose to try to appeal to the authoritarian left. Not only will it not work, but it will alienate current readership that is here precisely because SJW thinking permeates virtually every other publication.

    • Try the IDW forum. But don’t expect me to agree with more government micromanaging by so called bureaucratic experts. I want less government not more.

      • Shamrock says

        In other words, this site should be like the MSM, Vox and the like where the vast majority of comments are left of centre to far left so that everyone has the correct opinion and conservative ‘noise’ is not tolerated.

  21. Walula says

    I appreciate Mohamed Ali having a platform to discuss his experiences with this forum. It would be lovely if his voice could be heard beyond the “intellectual dark web” as Quillette has been called. But it is exactly voices like his (people who belong to a group classified as minority or victim) that are shunned from leftist or mainstream media because they don’t “go along” with prescribed attitudes such folks are supposed to have. Prescriptive racialism is an apt term and one I will now use to describe my own experiences with having to counter those who believe my skin tone equals my political affiliations (or lack or them).

    Prescriptive racialism as Ali describes it is an old cudgel that one too many blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, etc. in the US have experienced for decades. This weapon, used to demonize and silence those who think for themselves beyond what elite victim profiteers want them to, has been so effective that even this article neglected to get into how prolific this practice has been since at least the 1920’s. It should be noted that this Uncle Tomming of minorities has now been eagerly extended to gays, women, immigrants, etc. And if you’re say, a racial minority, gay and female or some such intersectional combo, and your values go against the believed group think, be assured you will come up against the term traitor many times. You will be excluded from the apparent tolerant. It is an unfortunate price to pay for thinking, but the pain of such isolation can be sublimated into something better and even more peaceful.

    The point of shutting down those especially who are whistle blowers of their own “kind,” is to uphold the narrative that the downtrodden need help from above. When women say “I don’t think the direction of #Metoo is helping women advocate for protecting themselves” or “feminism feels more like grievance than empowerment” those women are immediately trashed as women haters. When Blacks call out race baiting or victim profiting through the arts of “sad black stories” they are called fascists and self-hating. When gays “come out” conservative, they’re no longer datable or even gay anymore. For some minorities who adhere to group think, the idea of not being a victim, not needing government or philanthropic help, not having to cry at every hyper vigilant accusation of discrimination, is too much to bear. They want to be aggrieved and they want their fellow minorities to be just as perpetually upset. After all misery loves company.

    Let’s hope Ali and the many of us who at moments feel silenced continue to speak with truth (and grace) and not succumb to lie that we must be helped, must be victims, and must be ashamed to even think of voting, living, and believing differently than those who tell us who we are and how we should be.

  22. Reyn says

    The sheer majority of the left doesn’t agree with these protesters and the argument of “they won’t speak of their disagreement” is nonsensical since genuine fear of the radicalised left is often used to justify the silence of liberals and conservatives (and I believe them), even then all the people I follow or watch videos of that could be considered on the Left have distanced themselves of SJW activism and identity politics.
    So why is it then than NOBODY in this comments section (and Quillette’s Twitter) makes the distinction between the radicalised SJW left and the whole rest of it? I mean the article clearly does (it uses the term “Social justice left” which I understand), pretty much all Quillette articles do… yet all the comments call it just the Left. Something makes me uneasy about it, the left has no problem making a distinction between alt-right and Right why is it so hard for everyone else to make this distinction for the left?

    • Sydney says

      @Reyn

      Please. Honestly.

      Currently, the left (and it is indeed now an amorphous, extreme-left blob) views anyone to the right of Gandhi a raving, KKK-tatted, white supremacist. I’m ex-left myself (my left-wing credentials were excellent) and I think those of us who have moved away from the left are singularly well-placed to see clearly. Distinctions among the left are entirely unimportant.

      You are shockingly out of touch. My kids are being taught daily in mainstream Canadian public schools by regular, ordinary teachers that they must: apologize regularly for 200-year-old colonial-era crimes they didn’t commit; learn that ‘there are infinite genders’; apologize for being ‘white’ and male; that ‘dead white male’ Classical music should be finished; that all history must be rewritten; that they need to choose which victim identities they belong to…and on and on. This isn’t hyperbole. I can back it all up with actual examples.

      These are mainstream schools. ‘The left has distanced itself from SJW activism and identity politics’? Hahaha! In a pig’s eye! (Whoops, lefty, was that Islamophobic? My apologies!)

      Here’s a real-life Canadian schools superintendent making public apologies for her ‘white privilege’ (not a joke):

      https://bit.ly/2Vewd8f

      [If the bitly doesn’t function, please google: BC schools superintendent white privilege images]

      Ordinary teachers have been indoctrinated by mainstream university education programs that were infiltrated by marxist critical theory. Curriculum (made by public education policy advisors) has been poisoned by the same well. The entire mainstream education system is far-far-left, but you’re asking us to get out pencils and draw lines between some lunatics ‘here’ and some other lunatics ‘there’?

      I’m not a massive fan of Shapiro’s ‘Daily Wire’ site or of some of his views (eg, I’m 100% pro-choice), but this piece today articulated the mess of the U.S. Democrats and the U.K.Labour Party nicely:

      https://www.dailywire.com/news/45427/dahl-democratic-party-being-corbynized-ziva-dahl

      The Western left is currently a self-hating, anti-Semitic, marxist, maoist, totalitarian, gender-schizophrenic, Islamofascist train wreck. ALL of it.

      It’s meaningless to nitpick at people on the centre or right about ‘distinctions.’ Advice from the centre: Leave the left. Abandon ship, matey.

      • K. Dershem says

        the left has no problem making a distinction between alt-right and Right why is it so hard for everyone else to make this distinction for the left? Exactly. Syndey, thanks for providing such a vivid example: The Western left is currently a self-hating, anti-Semitic, marxist, maoist, totalitarian, gender-schizophrenic, Islamofascist train wreck. ALL of it. This is so absurdly over-the-top I would think it was a parody if I hadn’t read your other posts.

      • Kencarhedrus says

        @Sydney: I work in Higher Education and I’ve seen this too. White privilege is an accusation made by those who benefit the most from it towards those who benefit the least. It’s stomach churning. It’s a term invented by messianistic academics with very little life experience beyond what they read in the media.

      • Gee I hope you’re feeling better, now that you’ve got that off your chest! Seriously, this kind of over-reaction is just more of the same and gets us nowhere. What’s called for here is precisely what I think you wouldn’t mind defending: the good old fashioned manly virtues of restraint, stoicism and good judgment in the face of the weak, and especially the weakly argued. The kind of ranting you display here is far too familiar from many venues on the right, and is often indistinguishable from playing the victim card (see mra’s) and so reproduces just the kind of behavior you would despise, if not a slippery slope to far worse.

        No, screaming orange-haired sjw’s are not coterminous with “the left”. What we would both consider fairly toxic notions of a new guilt-ridden Stalinist puritanism are far more variable and defuse in the culture. Perfectly decent people pick some of it up from time to time in all innocence and should not be grouped and condemned along with its most unreachable proponents. In their case in particular, dialogue not ranting is just a little more useful.

        Finally, we all have our own experience. My wife is a high school teacher who had never heard of the “sjw” controversy until I told her about it, being too practical and focused on her actual work to pay attention to this kind of toxicity. For her “social justice” just meant that she went the extra mile to help her indigenous and immigrant students and was an unalloyed positive notion involving no bashing or guilt of the majority culture. But because she might have picked up this or that phrase that to you might indicate pc culture etc. she’s to be attacked? Here is a perfect example of why the internet culture of rant and counter-rant, of noise noise noise, to paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, poisons everything.

        • Peter from Oz says

          M
          Methinks you doth protest too much.
          Sydney may have gone a wee bit OTT, but there is a kurnell of tuth in her comment. The fact is that the mainstream left has done little to control its more extremist wing.
          Everday we hear of another occasion when some extremist left-wing group has forced some less radical left-wing person in authority to give in to silly demands. And the mainstream left doesn’t seem to join in the fight to stop the nonsense. It would rather see the right discomforted rather than stop the anti-free speech tactics of the extreme left.

        • Stephanie says

          The not so subtle accusation that Sydney was acting hysterically is consistent with the point made by Mr. Ali of how you can be othered from your group for not accepting their prescribed orthodoxy. Of course the white knights purporting to defend women/minorities against isms and phobias are often the most eager to engage in exactly such behaviour the moment they encounter someone whom they disagree with. Sydney did not comment in traditional masculine stoic manner, but she’s also not a man, and none of that diminishes her point.

          The Economist reported a study recently that demonstrated that in the last several years the right has coalesced around mid-right ideas, while the left has become multi-modal, skewing towards the left more every year.

          The mechanism behind this is on display on social media and in politics every day. The left’s social currency is wokeness, and the best way to display your piety to SJW ideology is to call out people who fall short of your standard. This produces a leftward drift.

          The left is not homogeneously SJW leftists, but they are moving more in that direction every year, and moderates are doing a poor job of standing their ground, let alone exerting a pull towards the centre. If you want people to start treating the mid-left as a potent force, you’ll have to first make it a potent force.

          • K. Dershem says

            I don’t see how Sydney’s gender is at all relevant. The claim Sydney made — “the Western left is currently a self-hating, anti-Semitic, marxist, maoist, totalitarian, gender-schizophrenic, Islamofascist train wreck. ALL of it” — is completely deranged and detached from reality. There are numerous moderate Democrats in Congress. AOC receives a disproportionate amount of media attention but is not at all representative; she’s on the far left wing.

            Could you provide a link the Economist article? Republicans may have moderated in the past several years, but in the previous decade they moved radically to the right.

          • To Peter, Stephanie.

            Oops, egg on my face for assuming Sydney was female. But of course that doesn’t alter the point I was trying to make which was again about turning down the noise. It was not about shutting anyone down with the accusation of hysteria. It was only to point out that overheated language exacerbates the problem, which precisely begins with the overheating, the weaponizing of language. It’s just my opinion that the proper counterweight to the kind of abuse the ideological left is prone to is the good old fashioned cooling of a more traditional conservatism. I’m not a conservative myself, but I subscribe to the idea that in the broadest terms, transcending positions on this or that issue of the day, most of us begin with a psychological predisposition to one side or the other. As a person predisposed to the liberal side, I depend on the conservative side to keep the balance. We should be correcting one another’s errors, not magnifying them. God forbid that either side gets everything they want!

            But when the conservative side, which to my mind is defined by a Burkean, non-ideological, organic view of society, becomes as ideological as the far left we are truly in trouble and heading down a path of reciprocal, escalating radicalization.

            For me this is the bigger picture (whatever someone at the Economist is saying) that is truly worth raising the alarm about. Such phenomena as the illiberal behavior of some college students and the general drift of pc culture are only parts of a much larger and more dangerous picture. If we can’t step back and see that picture we’re very liable to be caught up in some part of it, adding our own heat and noise and only making it worse.

        • Sydney says

          @M

          Hahaha! Is that your real tone, or a parody? Monty Python had a lot of success skewering the ‘upper-class English twit’ character.

          “…we all have our own experience…”:

          How very intersectional of you! Canada’s PM Trudeau claimed the same thing about the reporter he groped; and also about the attorney general of Canada who/whom [take your pick] he and his staff pressured to subvert the law. No objective truth or actual fact anywhere anymore, is there?

          “…wife is…teacher…never heard of the “sjw” controversy…”

          Your wife is either in a bubble within a bubble; or living in 1800; or has dementia. There is no pride in a teacher (!) in 2019 being so removed from current culture. To the contrary, it’s scary and embarrassing. She needs to retire. (Take a look at some provincial curricula and ‘Social Justice’ pops right up.)

          “…“social justice” just meant that she went the extra mile to help her indigenous and immigrant students…”

          How very privileged, ‘othering,’ and parochial of her, generously delivering her ‘extra mile’ ‘help’ to those exotic, uncivilized, and underprivileged creatures! A real Mother Teresa! You can’t possibly be living in 2019; this is something from 1970. It’s clear you (and your wife, by your own account) lack even the foggiest notion of the cultural make-up, attitudes, politics, beliefs, populations, and curricula of 2019 schools.

          YES, schools are as dangerously far-left as I recounted in my original comment, which was a reply to someone as out of touch as you are. These are facts. Live in a state of denial at your peril.

          My point was that public schools are by definition mainstream institutions and exist at the core of society. When they’re as out of whack as they are now, then we’re in trouble and ought to take heed. Fortunately, people like Jordan Peterson and others understand precisely what’s happening on the ground, and are experiencing massive success, so I take some comfort there.

          You need to spend less time trying to impress your reflection in the mirror, and more time catching up to the 21st century.

          I’ll go back to laughing when possible, ‘ranting,’ and being ‘hysterical,’ thanks! WOOO-WEEEE-EEEE!!

          • Hi Sydney. Well as I’ve said my wife is to too pragmatic for this sort of sport, but speaking of Monty Python I’ve been following the Pythonesque absurdist comedy of the culture wars since at least the 1990’s. It only gets more surreal by the day. Just because I counsel restraint doesn’t mean I’m not familiar with the usual rantings, left and right, which I’ve listened to and read ad nauseum. What you’re saying is utterly not new, could be cut and pasted for all I know. Choosing sides in this sad, self-defeating parody of war doesn’t mean that one is “in touch”. More likely it means that one is out of touch with the larger picture and sometimes even with what it means to be fully human and not just an ideological cipher “on the other side”.

            So yippee, whoop it up. But be aware that just because one refuses to play the game doesn’t mean that one doesn’t know the rules.

            Despite all the above, I wish you the best. M.

    • MOHAMED ALI says

      Hi Reyn, I am the author of the article and can attest to the fact that not all self described leftists are like this. I singled out white nationalism and intersectional left as the segments of our culture that do care about race. Many supporters of mine and this event are politically on the left, though i myself am not (I am also not a right winger). I hope you enjoyed the article

      • @Mohamed Ali, Thank you for your very fine essay. Would love to hear more of your voice.

      • Jay Salhi says

        Can’t speak for Reyn, but I did enjoy the article. Thanks, Mohamed. I’m also a big fan of Faisal and the work he does.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @MOHAMED ALI

        However, it appears that the intersectional left is a much, much larger and more influential group than white nationalists are. The university system, the vast majority of news media outlets, the giant tech/social media companies, and almost the entire entertainment industry are run and staffed primarily by intersectional leftists.

      • @M,

        “…..I was trying to make which was again about turning down the noise.”

        Why? What is it with people trying to control others responses all the time. Agree, disagree, state why and move on or argue more. Who cares?

        For some of us, we try to avoid the left’s “violence” and revenge. These are people into doxxing, getting folks fired for not having proper opinions, etc. I know several people who’ve lost their career is over not being politically correct, enough.

        My 18 year old had to point this out to her 65 yr old flaming progressive aunt Who was outrage that her new neighbor had posted something political on Facebook she didn’t like and she was going to set her straight. so my kid asks, did the person tag you? No. Was it a response to you? No. Then why not just ignore it? Sigh.

        I didn’t talk back to anybody about politics for years because I was on my business mission. I don’t understand people who cannot compartmentalize. I love a political debate in the right venue. And this is one of those venues and you want to censor it and be the schoolmarm. That attitude is everywhere now. If you guys formed a Puritanesque collective and sin sniffed each other all the time while seeking to regulate each other to death, I would have no problem with it. Go for it. But you have to go in and master every single venue. It’s totalitarian. It’s old.

        • Hi Lydia. With respect I’m not sure that you very carefully read through my post. It was not about shutting down speech in any sense but about the larger point of where all this is headed. Certainly I understand that there’s sometimes a need to express one’s frustration even anger at some of the abuses going on. My point is that the battle lines have already been drawn, the arguments made to the point of cliché. We have a choice of either to continue ratcheting up the rhetoric to who knows what end, or to realize that maybe it’s time for more sober discussions about the infection of pc/purity/shame culture that goes beyond the fiction of reducing the entire body politic to a us v them.

          Anyway, the fault may be mine for not being clear enough. But the idea I’m here to defend pc culture would be a shock to anyone who knows me!

          Finally there is the issue of the tenor of this web site. If it devolves to be merely another right-of-center bitching party about the left it will have missed its opportunity to be more interesting. The right wing is just as broken, as one would expect since properly speaking there is only one body politic; when one side goes sideways, it’s more than likely that the other side has gone off the rails as well. After the bitching parties are over, we need larger perspectives that take all sides into account.

          All the best. M.

          • Lydia says

            M, The libertarians, classical liberals, Republicans and conservatives tried that for years. Bullies (totalitarians) view it as weakness. We just thought it was civil. Didn’t work. For eight years we could not publicly disagree on policy without being called racists. We could not express concerns about illegal immigration without being called xenophobes and haters of minorities. I even tried to defend myself by sharing that I wrote in Herman Cain’s name because I am so done with career politician establishment Elites and I related to him more as an outsider business person.

            even before then if one tried to have a civil discussion about the dangers of the doctrine of multiculturalism in the 90’s, one was labeled a provincial rube. Now we have to be concerned about FGM!

            The problems are the definitions and who are the arbiters of those definitions. You seem to be someone who thinks you are an arbiter of what is “interesting”. And a site and its commenters must keep this in mind so it will be interesting for you.

            I got a real chuckle out of your lament over center right bitching. Are we reading the same articles? The articles are mainly from leftists sharing experiences. I just gloss over every mention of right-wing, alt right or white supremacy. Yawn. There’s a major guilt on the left that if they dare question any lefty position they have to automatically correlate it to how bad the right-wing is, too! I don’t even know who the right wing are! If I have a slight clue who these horrible right wing people are, I would try to organize them so we could get a wall.

            it can’t be the tiki torch guys in Charlottesville because they are totalitarians who want a socialistic society. Should I view antifa as your left-center wing?

            we used to debate politics all the time at the dinner table growing up. my parents had a rule. We had to discuss issues not people. We had to use facts and reasoning not insults or emotionslism.

            Frankly I thought that was how the world was supposed to work and people would respond well to that. Wrong. now it’s all emotional, thought policing, oppression Olympics, micromanaging and sin sniffing others.

            I am done with the public shame censoring, school marm shushing and such. Let’s just rip the issues apart and ignore the other stuff. I honestly do not know what you guys are constantly complaining about. A bit of pushback? Finally? You guys own the universities and the public school system. You won. We aren’t welcome.

    • K. Dershem says

      the left has no problem making a distinction between alt-right and Right why is it so hard for everyone else to make this distinction for the left? Exactly. Syndey, thanks for providing such a vivid example: The Western left is currently a self-hating, anti-Semitic, marxist, maoist, totalitarian, gender-schizophrenic, Islamofascist train wreck. ALL of it. This is so absurdly over-the-top I would think it was a parody if I hadn’t read your other posts.

      • Jay Salhi says

        You yourself fail this test claiming that conservative commentators here are “far right”.

        A distinction does need to be made between the radical left and the mainstream left. Sadly, those lines are becoming increasingly blurred as the radical left’s ideas become more and more mainstream. This is true on numerous topics such a race, gender and economics, just to name a few. You see this at play in the ongoing civil war in the Democratic party. Sadly, most of the leading presidential candidates are tilting in the direction of the radical left. Even a moderate like Biden feels compelled to apologize for imaginary crimes during the Thomas hearings or supporting anti-crime legislation the black community expressly requested. You won’t see Biden apologizing for his attacks on due process of law in support of kangaroo courts on college campuses when he was Vice President. Ironically, he may soon be judged by the presumption of guilt standard he helped promote.

    • D. Morel says

      Hear hear, Reyn! That’s exactly what I was trying to do in my comments above.

    • “the left has no problem making a distinction between alt-right and Right why is it so hard for everyone else to make this distinction for the left?”

      Reyn, do you seriously believe this? I would venture that the majority of those on the so-called left believe that anyone who pulled a lever for Trump is a racist through and through, no exceptions. I believe, in fact, that there have been polls that back that up.

      As for those on the so-called right finding it so difficult to make the distinction for the left, I would say that Sydney gives us a clue when she says she was once on the left. Many of us were, and have heard ourselves described as nazis simply for shifting slightly right, or not shifting at all. When your closest friends look at you as if you’ve grown horns for complaining about the virtual invasion from the south, something that wouldn’t have been controversial even 10 years ago, you know something is not right on the left.

      • E. Olson says

        BC – good comment as usual. Until 2010-11 the official Democrat position on marriage was that it was strictly between a man and woman (Bill Clinton signed the defense of marriage act in 1996), but now they are taking bakers to court who won’t design gay couples a wedding cake, and trying to force transgenders into the ladies locker room. B. Clinton also campaigned on making abortion legal, safe, and RARE, but now the Democrats are passing infantcide laws. It also isn’t difficult to find videos where Obama, both Clintons, Schumer, Pelosi, and H. Reid were talking about the need for border security and keeping illegals out, and they all voted for serious wall funding as recently as 2006, but now they want to abolish ICE and have open borders. Al Gore made a film in 2006 that said we needed to change light bulbs and drive a bit less to stop global warming, but now the Democrats are pushing the Green New Deal that will require a shift from capitalism to a centrally planned economy (i.e. Communism). And of course Trump was a favorite of all key Democrats until 2009-11 when he suddenly became the biggest threat to Democracy because he switched parties and started asking for Obama’s birth certificate (and the birther movement was started by the Hillary campaign in 2008).

        And yet it is the Right that has become extreme?

  23. Jay Salhi says

    Very few of the comments address the article, which is an interesting article. For starters, who were the panelists? Other than Faisal, they are not named in the article. Is the guy on the far left of the photo Graeme Wood (from the Atlantic)?

  24. augustine says

    “We should remember that the important features of an individual are what they choose to be and not the identities they happen to have inherited.”

    This statement seems to suggest that the only important features of the individual are those that he chooses for himself. This is a product of modern liberal thinking, where fixed attributes are seen as limiting and of no consequence (even as their existence cannot be denied). It is a bizarre viewpoint that I hope the author does not subscribe to. Can we agree that inherited traits can be also be important and appreciated without their being championed as political or cultural identifiers?

    • S. Cheung says

      Augustine,
      the author did not use “only”.

      And those fixed attributes absolutely are limiting. They identify you to a tribe, to which you are ascribed certain characteristics that may or may not be relevant or applicable to you as an individual. That’s why you should be judged on your own merits, and not by the fact that you may be of a certain color, adhere to a certain religion, or have a certain combo of sex chromosomes. The whole point of equality of opportunity is that you can celebrate whatever inherited traits you may or may not have, but you are not defined by them, and need not, and should not, be limited by them.

      If that’s modern liberalism, sign me up.

      • augustine says

        S. Cheung,

        “Only” was not used but his sentence suggests this is quite possibly what was meant.

        If you strongly associate some tribal identity with your own identity, that could certainly be limiting. It can contribute to external conflicts as well. Socially, the tribe can be an oppressive force that is difficult to escape. But to say that the solution to these old problems is to negate any identity outside of what one creates for himself is something liberals are unable to support. The basis of judgmental prejudice and strife you allude to is much deeper than the day-to-day differences everyone notices.

        Fixed attributes are not irrelevant. They are among the most important things that bring people together. The downside is “othering” as you note, yet this is an inescapable dynamic. The differential between people– groups or individuals– is what makes interaction possible, whether the differences are self-chosen or inherited. Why there is a modern movement to elevate the former and suborn the latter is truly baffling.

        And what exactly is a “chosen” trait in the first place? Some are obvious but others are not. A person’s temperament can be due in part to genetics but conditioning is also very important. Are you limiting your argument to only physical features that are readily observable? Only heritable traits?

  25. Julia says

    “When the protestors raised the banner which read “You Do Not Represent Us” what they really meant is “We Do Not Consider You One of Us, So What You Say Is Worthless.””

    No, it’s the other way around. They don’t represent anyone except their own little bubble. So, why not to tell them “and who the hell are YOU?”?

    • Peter from Oz says

      Exactly right, Julia.
      Why is it that people in the situation this author found himself in don’t ever fight back against these SJWs?
      They say they are representative of some identity group, but why should we let them get away with that. We should point out that they are often lying and are not acting in good faith.

  26. “The panel & I addressed the New Zealand atrocity and explicitly condemned White Nationalism”

    What do America’s founding fathers, the original white nationalists, have to do with the New Zealand atrocity?

    Sounds like guilt by association to me.

    Arabs have been responsible for many atrocities, past & present, but no Arab, I hope, with a sense of shared Arab identity, would be made responsible for them. Or perhaps they would, according to the logic being applied here to shared white identity, i.e. to white nationalism.

    If academics were to lift their taboo on applying Darwinian logic to their understanding of human nature & society, this guilt by association would not surprise them. Our brains are tribally wired.

    America’s founding fathers understood this, but believed that with a SINGLE race of closely related peoples, as Europeans are, they could forge a new tribe or nation, which they did very successfully. But they knew that they could not include other races, i.e. Native & African Americans, in this new nation, because it would not work; a fundamental sense of shared identity was (& still is) lacking.

    And so it has proved. But the STATE, being the power-political construct it is, doesn’t want multiple nations on its soil, so it insists on everyone belonging to the same multi-racial nation, which, of course, is not a nation at all. It is a mercenary “patron state” deceitfully posing as a nation, in order to legitimise itself, its ruling elites & the immense power they wield & abuse.

    Social & political science academics are not being honest with us – or themselves – about the true nature of the state, not least, because it pays their salaries & pensions. I am developing a radically different understanding of society & the state which I use an analogy with the film The Matrix to illustrate: https://twitter.com/rogerahicks/status/1035814311325782016

    • Jay Salhi says

      After reading your nut job post, I had a quick look at your Twitter feed and see you are a fan of the lunatic, Jew hater Gilad Atzmon. Take your racism and Jew hatred elsewhere.

    • the gardner says

      @rogerahicks—- I agree with your comment that humans are tribally wired. It is a biological drive to protect and assure the continuation of one’s own DNA by caring more about those in your “tribe” vs. the “other”. But the American experiment challenged that. We have accepted the “other” ie, populations other than northern Europeans, under the assumption that assimilation under the great American dream would occur. And for a time it worked, not always so smoothly, but eventually. My Latvian grandfather spoke Russian and German when he came to America in the late 1800’s but quickly learned English and never spoke German or Russian even at home. He said America took him in and he was grateful. Same for my Italian in laws. Where has that drive to integrate gone? We see immigrants demanding Spanish language in schools. One elementary school in my community has an all Spanish curriculum, even native English speaking kids can take school all in Spanish. We are to assimilate to them now? Is being troubled by this now racist? It would seem so. I have become the bad guy in my own country. Surreal.

      • Aerth says

        Left does not want any assimilation. Sure, they are loudly speaking that they want, but that is just sweet lie to lure the masses. Divided society is way easier to control and that is all Left wants. Control and power.

  27. Joseph Ducreux says

    That’s an interesting take on this. If you do not subscribe to the orthodoxy, then you are not an authentic “____________” (fill in the blank). Doesn’t this play right into the White Supremacists’ hands? They use this enforced orthodoxy to judge that everyone who looks like you believes like “them”?

  28. “The Students for ‘Democratic Society’ were protesting …..”

    Irony, it aint a river in Egypt….

  29. Jim Matlock says

    On a separate note I would ask Mr. Ali how the evening itself went down with the audience as a whole? We’re there some good questions asked? Some good give and take with the audience? Even among the protestors there might have been a few who listened. It takes a while for even facts and solid argument to work their way past pre-existing biases.

  30. I am new to Quillette; a friend just told me of its existence. The article by M. Ali was impressive and the comments that followed interesting.

    I think it would help if came to a clear understanding of what distinguishes an outlook as left-wing from one that is right-wing.

    Our leftist impulses (that we all share to some degree) strive to see people as equal and push us to socially level those too far above or too far below some perceived average.

    It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about income or social power – the social equalization of our society is the underlying impetus of leftism. This is seen as “doing good.”

    Our rightist impulses (that we all also share to some degree) strive to distinguish better from worse. When feeling in this way we look to climb the social ladder or associate with “accomplished” people, and to become accomplished ourselves. This is also understood as good

    In its mild manifestation the left and right can be represented by liberal or conservative politicians; where people and social problems are addressed as the struggles of “individuals.”

    At its authoritarian extremes, both left and right stop treating people as individuals and begin seeing them as groups. The leftists rush to empower “women” or “minorities” to make them equal to all other “groups.” While the rightists strive to promote the inherent superiority of the group they favor: “Americans” or “Whites” or “Blacks.”

    These dual elements exist in all of us. When our kids run in a schoolyard race we admire the efforts of all of them and something inside tells us to recognize each of them equally with

    “A Participation Trophy.”

    While another part of our psyche objects, and demands that it is most just that only one child be awarded

    “The Winner’s Trophy.”

    Left and right, liberalism and conservatism, are more than mere political outlooks, they are dual moral outlooks with which we navigate every social encounter in our lives.

    And each of us is capable shifting back and forth as the situation demands.

    • the gardner says

      I have a more simplistic, cleaner view: the interest of the collective vs the interest of the individual. Lefties care about the collective at the expense of the individual. If an individual needs to be deprived of some right for the “good of the collective”, so be it. The problem is, who decides what the good of the collective is? Ah, yes, the betters among the collective who set themselves apart as the smart ones. And that arrangement inevitably leads to corruption and abuse. Righties care more about protecting the rights of individuals as described in common law and our Constitution. They resist the push from the left to chisel away a few rights here and there. Although over time the left has been sadly way too effective at doing this. Regarding economics— equality of opportunity, but no guarantee of equality of outcome. Lefties—-chisel away at the haves to make things “fair”, as defined by the “smart people” who run things. But what has ever been fair about stealing what others have earned?

  31. dirk says

    In the NLs, quite often ” assimilated muslims” (bounties (?), speak and think like secular, humanistic Dutch) are invited as the mouth, or as muslim representatives in talkshows. These are often then, lateron, on muslim blogs, seen as ” not speaking like one of us, not at all representative, not of the uma” . Somebody speaking about “moderate” muslims often is seen as islamofobe.This is the unholy reality. Multiculturalism has firmly rooted, even if we want to negate and deny it as still lingering onward. I wonder how things will end. Anyhow, to speak as an individual these days? I don’t see it!

  32. I think (the gardner) is overlooking how much of a fuss the “lefties” put up to protect “individuals” and about “government” not interfering in the affairs of the bedroom, of not conscripting individuals for war, of expanding the concept of marriage to include more than the traditional arrangements, of allowing “individuals” to decide if they want to smoke weed or have assistance committing suicide.

    The current extreme leftist enthusiasms that make it to the evening news every night leads us to believe that all liberals come in only the extremist variety.

    It would be like condemning all rightists for the support given by the more extreme among them for the endless overseas wars, none of which have been declared by congress as the constitution demands.

    And let’s not forget that the great expansions in government over the past generation have been mostly rightist initiatives: The Dept of Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, The Transportation Safety Administration…

    Rightsts sometimes forget that just because these people wear uniforms and badges and carry guns doesn’t keep them from being part of ever-expanding “Government.”

    The soldier, the policeman, and the CIA agent are all government-workers too!

    When was the last time you heard the “small-government” crowd discussing cutting the budgets for these groups?

    The great division of moral righteousness comes as the lefties focus on provision and the righties focus on protection.

    Both moral outlooks debate each other and work together to help along the folks they imagine they are serving.

    As we get richer our leaders want to give us more guns as well as more butter.

    • the gardner says

      @Fritz—- I beg to differ. Lefties want to allow risky personal behaviors, but when the medical costs of those behaviors come due, it is all who must chip in. Obamacare requires coverage for drug rehab, and it is the left that demands funds for the abortion industry. Personal responsibility for your lifestyle choices? Not in the lefty world. Free BC pills! Women aren’t even expected to pay for those.
      Second, it is silly to accuse the right of being the instigators of wars when WW I, WW II, Vietnam and Korea were started by Democrat presidents.
      Third, the largest expansions of government programs— Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare were started by lefties. How much of the Fed budget do these programs eat up today? You bring up TSA? Hilarious.
      The role of govt is to protect us. So spending on security is fine. There is nothing in the constitution about the govt insuring our health or underwriting student loans, another trillion dollar liability on Americans, thanks to lefty Obama.
      Once a goody is presented to Americans, it becomes an entitlement and is impossible to take away, even by the right. That’s why there should be enormous restraint in considering one. Yet the left (AOC being the latest champion) keeps spouting “free this”, “free that”. Adults in the room know there is no “free” anything.

      • (the gardener) By the way … what do you garden? I breed roses myself. It keeps me off the streets.

        My point is that everyone possesses two internal moral codes that crudely get translated into liberal or conservative …but that each of us relies on moving in and out of these moral-modes as benefits us.

        As Jefferson said: We are all Democrats and we are all Federalists.

        Morality is a survival mechanism and our two internal moral codes are only roughly and imprecisely represented by the political parties who spring up here and there promising to champion them.

        Their political platforms are reliably as solid as jello.

        Keep in Mind that in the late 1800s it was the Democratic party who were the “states-rights” conservatives and it was the Republicans who were the liberals. (Ulysses S. Grant actually discusses the possibility of Black Reparations in his autobiography)

        These left/right labels were blurred in the late 19th century — and then fully flip/flopped by the middle of the 20th century.

        In recent times. the biggest single government medical handout was made by Republican George W. Bush’s 2004 medicare drug reform subsidy that was pitched as only costing the taxpayers the measly sum of about half a trillion dollars!

        Wars have been started and supported by both political parties … as have been social programs …It was Republican Richard Nixon who began the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

        To imagine that liberals are all “this” and conservatives all “that” fails to recognize the reality that we (all of us) are both liberal and conservative whenever these moral behaviors benefit us.

        Political arguments are nothing more than a debate over which moral pattern (left-or-right) is best to use to solve the problem at hand.

        Our Dual moral outlooks are two-distinct tools at our disposal.

        Both Nixon and Thomas Jefferson presented themselves as small-government men who cherished liberty.

        But it was Richard Nixon with his WAGE AND PRICE CONTROL ACT of 1970 who orchestrated the most aggressive and intrusive government power grab in our lifetime. His edict from on-high made it against the law for any landlord to raise the rents of his own houses or for any business to raise the price of any product without government permission.

        The only other comparable government power-grab in American history was Jefferson’s Embargo – where the office of the president made it against the law to trade goods to anyone without its permission.

        But let’s be realists — legislation to bomb, kill, embargo, subsidize drugs, outlaw drugs, clean rivers, send students to college, jail people, pay farmers not to grow food, etc… are all done under the pretense of DOING GOOD and DOING RIGHT for America.

        Politics is our moral battleground. But our political wars are never battles of good against evil…

        Politics is the struggle of good against good.

        Each side believing they are on the side of right.

        Besides, “gardener” my friend, spring is in the air and its time for us gardeners to set aside our moral musings, pause our hand wringing, stop our nervous nail biting, and peacefully return to the good black earth where this year’s crops of string beans and cauliflower are only days away from germinating.

        I am reminded of the story about the Roman Emperor Diocletian … who, after having given up the purple and returning to his simple life on his farm was approached by a delegation of serious looking Roman Officials. These frowning big-wigs from the Capital begged the former emperor to return to power, resume control of the armies, come again as Head Of State, and prevent the collapse of the empire which was surely imminent…

        They begged that it was only the strength and wisdom of a Diocletian that could save the known world from ruin….

        The Great Diocletian was wise ... and unmoved.

        Tossing back his cloak, and with the wave of his mighty hand, the former Emperor sent the delegation back to Rome – dejected – with an odd remark ringing in their ears, a remark that only gardeners can understand:

        Diocletian said to them:

        “If you could see how beautiful my cabbages look this year, you would not dare to ask me to abandon them.”

        The moral to the story is that there is a time to argue politics and a time to tend to our gardens. Too much of one, and not enough of the other, sets our lives out-of-balance.

        • the gardner says

          @Fritz, thank you, but I can walk and chew gum at the same time. The name is “gardner” not “gardener”. There is a reason for that.
          Two internal moral codes? Given me an example of Pelosi’s right moral code.
          We have many legislators who are pulling the country left. I can’t think of an instance when the left has made a serious concession to the right to do the people’s will. Not even the invasion at our southern border budges them. No, Trump’s tax returns are more important. At least Trump has been successful at appointing 92 judges to superior courts, something he can accomplish with 53 R senators.

          • Sorry about the gardener thing. Segue: Brett Gardner is my wife’s favorite N. Y. Yankee!

            There are many examples, but you are focused on the idea that conservatism or liberalism is only a political expression. It is a personal one as well.

            In Pelosi’s current position she strives to demonstrate that she is to THE LEFT of the republicans who strive to demonstrate that they are TO THE RIGHT of her and her fellow Dems.

            But she is conservative in her dress and appearance, conservative in her use of language, she is not going too far out to crucify Joe Biden for his female hair sniffing habits, She has backed away from the more extreme elements of her party’s health care plans.

            But we must keep in mind that Liberal and Conservative are generally used in a “relative” and not an “absolute” sense.

            She is a “liberal” relative to others who are more “conservative” relative to her.

            Let’s recall that socialism embraces the concept that everyone must chip in to pay for everybody else’s expenses.

            You state that the country is being pulled left and you are correct. But that is largely because there is NO TRADITIONAL (absolute) CONSERVATIVE element in existence.

            Free-public schooling for all (at any level, not just college) is essentially socialistic, but what republican would come out against public schools?

            Food stamps, child-tax-credits, and the graduated income tax (demanded by Marx in his Communist Manifesto) centralization of credit and the money supply by the FED (also demanded by Marx) are all fundamentally socialistic. Let me know the names of republicans on the record for opposing these measures.

            (Actually, Rand Paul and his Dad Ron did come out in favor of abolishing the FED but the other republicans laughed them off the stage)

            The more interesting point is WHY SHOULD THE COUNTRY BE MOVING LEFT?

            And the answer is simple, we (and all other nations) move leftward in times of plenty and ease and rightward in times of danger and want.

            Most cultures around the world are moving leftward. The Middle-Eastern Muslims are about the only severe conservative holdouts. Which is not really surprising as it is these people who feel most attacked by outsiders. They are still poor and threatened.

            As we get richer you will see things like government funded national day-care centers, a universal basic income, and the expansion of the idea of marriage to all sorts of weird and wild levels — all will become commonplace.

            Initially the “conservatives” in every land will oppose these things, (as they should) but as long as their nation is rich and safe, they will eventually acquiesce.

            We are liberal where we can be, and conservative when we must be.

            It’s a pretty good system actually!

        • dirk says

          @Gardener (so,not gardner) Fritz::String beans and cauliflower germinating at the same time? Here, we have to wait until half May for those string beans, and sow the cauliflower under glass in March, to be transplanted in May. So, quite uneven cultures.

  33. Serenity says

    Thank you for your article, Mohamed Ali, and for your courage.

    Just one note about the following: “Progressive culture screams platitudes of coexistence, tolerance, and multiculturalism even as it undermines the values that make those things possible. If toleration and coexistence are mocked by critics as vacuous cliches, it is because their defenders no longer take them seriously or bother to defend them.”

    It is not about ‘defenders’ lacking perseverance, it is about malevolent and wicked manipulators – pro-active minority driving progressive movement. As all extremists, progressive SJW do not care about their proclaimed ends like “coexistence, tolerance, and multiculturalism”. They just use these ideas to gang up their followers against the outsiders. SJW also need these sacred values as a cover-up for harassment, back-stabbing and all sorts of psychopathic behaviour aiming to silence the dissent. The only true goal of any extremist movement is to intimidate and control. To this end they would manipulate any narrative and bend any truth.

  34. Once upon a time there was a blogosphere. Now there’s an intellectual dark web. I’ll try to keep up.

    Here’s my old take on the matter. Excerpt:

    Dick Feynman once said, that simply because you’ve lived under the effects of gravity for your entire life is not a sufficient condition to make you understand gravitational physics. And with that warning in mind I have always looked at race as an intellectual problem. My own history of being black is only tangential to what my research and discovery help me to know. And so I have always wrestled with the intersections of that knowledge and my own identity. But having ignored race and de-emphasized it for so long in other pursuits it only recently occurs to me that it really doesn’t matter what experience I claim. There’s always a black ball rolling somewhere, and it’s not always useful to find it, hop on top of it and gain balance. It doesn’t matter how black one claims to be or how intense one feels ones soulful roots, it’s only ethnicity. Ethnicity is rarely more than tribal, and such claims are not useful in working out the problems of this republic. Nor is seeing things as if most claims were tribal, because they are not. What I observe is a constant dissonance among people who never want to be racist or support racist agendas, and yet the subtext is that there remains a persistent bad faith. That is the tragedy of American race relations – a perpetual pollution – an obsession always seeking that one drop of causality, always passionately disturbed at a lack of unity, against a perceived unity of the Other-Americans.

    https://cobb.typepad.com/cobb/2010/09/the-intellectual-one-drop-rule.html

  35. Pingback: Prescriptive Racialism and Racial Exclusion - Quillette - The AHA Foundation

  36. dirk says

    Closing on the race issue: In Paris, there is an exhibition now in the Musee d’Orsay, “Le modele noir, de Gericault a Matisse”, with exposition of the negro (and the negresse!) in famous paintings through the ages. The organisers did a lot of efforts to expose the artists of those times as rather noble and post revolutionary. To no avail, it was quite clear in the different exposures, artists and the people at large were all, of course, children of their time, so racists (look only at that famous Olympia of Manet). Nowadays, racists are seen unanimously as almost criminals, dangerous individuals. But, the races themselves are still there (even if Lewontin says not so). With what kind of feelings, I ask myself, will the art-loving visitors (whites and blacks) leave the museum?

    • dirk says

      Oh yes, that Kitab al-Ilm, very wise book indeed, math does n’t help us much in the real life questions. Sounds much like Tolstoys wisdom, pure science is not the road to the moral solutions, and quite useless in ethics. Thanks for the link.

Comments are closed.