All posts filed under: Activism

Policing in the Anomie Era

We bounced along a pitted dirt road on an Indigenous reserve in Northern Ontario. As I leaned on my horn to convince a bored looking, semi-feral stray dog to move out of our path, I chatted with my passenger. She was a young Indigenous woman who worked at our police detachment as an administration assistant. It was midnight, and I was driving her home at the end of her shift because dangers—both canine and human—rendered it unsafe for our civilian staff members to walk home alone after dark. This woman, who I’ll call Grace, was 23 years old. She had recently returned to the reserve after spending a year in southern Ontario attending university. Raised in a home with two alcoholic parents, by the age of 14 she was pregnant. Another child with another father would follow before her 18th birthday. Neither of these men remained in her life. Despite these challenges, Grace was a voracious reader who loved school. With the help of a supportive teacher and various government programs, she was able to …

Neo-Totalitarianism and the Erasure of History

We are watching the era of the new iconoclasm take shape, no longer in the form of the destruction of religious icons, but in the demolition of historical memory via the toppling or desecration of statues and memorials across the West. While the removal of Confederate statues can be justified—though it should be accomplished by political consent rather than vandalism—it is clear that this new outburst of iconoclasm is in no way confined to the punishment of historical traitors. Most notably in this regard, a statue of Winston Churchill, perhaps the greatest anti-fascist of them all, was desecrated. Along with it, a statue of Ulysses S. Grant was toppled, despite his legacy as the man who crushed the Ku Klux Klan and fervently defended Reconstruction and human rights. What we are seeing, in other words, is not an attempt to force the past to answer to the present, but the emergence of something else. Over 2,000 years ago, Plato described it in part when he said, “Bad men, when their parents or country have any …

She Who Must Not Be Named

I’m writing a book about gender-identity ideology (if I scribble fast, it should be out in the middle of next year). And by chance, last week I was wrestling with the bit where I explain that across swathes of academia, and on the political Left, it’s become an article of faith that the word “woman” is fiendishly tricky to define. Indeed, I’d go further: In such circles the word is rapidly becoming taboo. And then J.K. Rowling shared an article on Twitter, entitled “Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate.” That clearly pushed the world’s most famous author past breaking point. “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for these people,” she tweeted. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud? Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020 Cue oceans of commentary, much of it indignantly …

The Purity Paradox: How Tolerance and Intolerance Increase at the Same Time

How can intolerance be increasing when Western democracies are demonstrably more tolerant of historically marginalised identities than at any point in their history? It is, according to Douglas Murray, “a curiosity of the age” that as racial and sexual tolerance “at the very least appears to be better than it ever was, it is presented as though it has never been worse.” This paradox occurs because, as we address and overcome problems of intolerance and discrimination, we also expand the concept of intolerance to stigmatise new attitudes and behaviours. This makes it appear as if we are either making no progress at all or, worse, that we are becoming more intolerant. The upshot is that social problems appear increasingly irresolvable. It is, of course, counter-intuitive to think of tolerance and intolerance increasing at the same time. Nevertheless, the idea is supported by a Harvard University study of human judgement, led by Professor Daniel Gilbert. In a series of experiments, Gilbert and his team of researchers showed that “people often respond to the decrease in the …

How Britain’s Feminist Grass Roots Turned the Tide Against Gender Extremists

In the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic and a series of massive protests over racist police brutality in the United States, one might find it hard to believe that an author’s common-sense views on human biology would make headlines. Yet everywhere you look, you’ll see coverage of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who’s now being denounced as “transphobic” for speaking plain truths about the differences between men and women. In fact, so much attention has been focused on Rowling that some have missed the more significant British news in this area: The country’s Conservative government is distancing itself from proposed legislative reforms that would have enshrined gender “self-identification” over biological sex. Though Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, likely won’t be releasing the government’s policy response till July, leaks confirm that “self-ID” (as it’s widely known) will not be introduced. Moreover, Truss says she wants to protect gender dysphoric children from making “irreversible decisions” in regard to their bodies, and would allow women to create and maintain safe single-sex spaces free of male-bodied individuals. …

White Saviors Need to Leave the Room

She called herself Kalamity, though that’s not her real name. She’s the white woman who called me a racist for noting that Indigenous children who live in communities where parents own their homes tend to have a higher standard of living and care than those who live in reserve communities where property is owned communally. This was the day after she schooled me, a Desi, together with a Kenyan woman—the only two non-white individuals in our class—on the proper use of people-of-colour nomenclature. “I’m not sure I like that phrase,” said the Kenyan woman. I agreed. Of all the ways to describe oneself, why would I self-define as not white. “Women of colour chose it,” Kalamity informed us. By this, I learned, she meant black intersectional feminists. This wasn’t the first or last time that Kalamity treated us like elementary-school children in catechism class. I didn’t like this feeling. Kalamity also called me out as racist for disagreeing with her pronouncement that those Charlie Hebdo cartoons from 2015 were racist. That Kalamity could not read …

Seattle’s Summer of Love

The bluest skies you’ve ever seen in Seattle And the hills the greenest green in Seattle Like a beautiful child growing up free and wild Full of hopes and full of fears Full of laughter full of tears Full of dreams to last the years in Seattle In Seattle So Perry Como sang in the late ’60s. Now it seems the days of beautiful children growing up free and wild are returning to Seattle. Like other American cities over the last three weeks, Seattle saw protests rapidly become violent clashes with police. This ugliness waxed and waned for a fortnight until police withdrew from their East Precinct Building, effectively ceding the surrounding area to the protestors. Barriers were erected around it by activists who initially christened the new territory the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), and later renamed it the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). As their quasi-manifesto of June 9th put it, they had “liberated Free Capitol Hill in the name of the people of Seattle.” Now a tense and potentially dangerous stand-off has …

From South American Anthropology to Gender-Crit Cancel Culture: My Strange Feminist Journey

I’m one of the many academics who’ve been “canceled” for having the wrong sort of opinion—or quasi-canceled, at least. As of this writing, I remain an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. Since July 2019, I had also served as the department’s undergraduate programs chair. It was supposed to be a three-year appointment. But in late March, I was dismissed from that position due to informal student complaints to the effect that I had made them feel “unsafe” by articulating feminist critiques of current theories of gender. Earlier this month, my colleague Carolyn Sale wrote up an account of my case for the Centre for Free Expression blog at Ryerson University. As tends to be the case with these controversies, this in turn caused students and colleagues to scour my social media accounts in search of yet more “gender-critical” commentary. When they found it, they demanded that I be fired from my tenured position and charged with hate speech. Articles of the type you are now reading typically channel great anger, resentment, …

Meet Critical Theorists’ Latest Target: Critical Theorists

Ole Wæver, a professor of International Relations at the University of Copenhagen, would seem like an unlikely subject of academic controversy. He’s written extensively on Conflict Studies, and served as a member of the Danish Government’s Commission on Security and Disarmament Affairs, as well as the Danish Institute of International Affairs. He also is widely recognized as the co-founder of a discipline known as Securitization Theory, along with British international-relations professor Barry Buzan. “Securitisation theory shows us that national security policy is not a natural given, but carefully designated by politicians and decision-makers,” reads one introductory online text. “According to securitisation theory, political issues are constituted as extreme security issues to be dealt with urgently when they have been labelled as ‘dangerous,’ ‘menacing,’ ‘threatening,’ ‘alarming’, and so on by a ‘securitising actor’ who has the social and institutional power to move the issue ‘beyond politics.’ So, security issues are not simply ‘out there,’ but rather must be articulated as problems by securitising actors. Calling immigration a ‘threat to national security,’ for instance, shifts immigration from …

America’s Black Communities Are Suffering. Violent Protests Will Make the Suffering Worse

Protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—an act that prosecutors describe as murder—have devolved into violence. Numerous small businesses have been destroyed, and at least one elderly shopper at a Target store was assaulted. A man has been shot dead. This pattern of events is familiar because it has repeated itself numerous times over American history following acts of police brutality, especially in cases where, as with Floyd, the victim was black. First, large numbers of people protest peacefully, drawing attention to their cause and attracting national sympathy. Then, a smaller group turns violent, causing destruction in the community and sometimes harming innocent people. That smaller group sometimes includes people who exploit the chaos for their own ends. During the Baltimore riots of 2015, for instance, the looting of pharmacies led to opioids and other drugs flooding the market, likely feeding drug dependency, enriching gangs, and fueling more crime. In the 1960s, thousands of Americans took part in non-violent protests in opposition to segregation. Their …