All posts filed under: Activism

Silicon Valley’s ‘Mission Protocol’ Revolution Is Beginning to Attain Critical Mass

In December 2004, during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, I spent a night in one of the many tents that had been pitched in Kiev’s central square. There were five of us inside, and it smelled like cigarettes, black tea, and sweat. Outside, it was snowing. It seemed that everyone—protesters and riot police—had a megaphone. The voices bounced off the square’s gray facades, blending with snippets of shouting, laughter, dogs barking, a couple in a nearby tent having sex. The 25-year-old travel agent who owned the tent I was staying in had taken the bus from the city of Vinnytsia, a few hours to the southwest, with some friends. The group included a medical student and a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy. “We wanted to see history happen,” the tent owner told me. The pregnant woman interjected: “But we didn’t come until we knew it was safe—until other people would be here.” In the former Soviet Union before social media, there was a calculus to demonstrating. If you wanted to demonstrate against the regime, and …

Are Activists Protecting Asians from Hate—or Protecting Their Narrative of White Supremacy from Criticism?

Asia Society, the global NGO dedicated to “forging closer ties between Asia and the West through arts, education, policy and business,” recently shared a video in which activist Manjusha P. Kulkarni spoke about anti-Asian attacks in the United States. Kulkarni, whose own group self-describes as a “national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” emphasised that anti-black bigotry was causing people to falsely attribute these anti-Asian attacks to African American perpetrators: And I will tell you that while we don’t collect ethnic specific data on perpetrators … we know that it is a very small minority that are African-American. And in fact, when we look at these broader types of discrimination, the ones that involve civil-rights violations, of course, we know that those are institutional actors, heads of businesses, et cetera, and that these are the folks who often, because of positions of power that they are in, are actually white. .@StopAAPIHate co-founder @KulkarniManju discusses the “white adjacency” of Asians and Asian Americans, anti-Blackness, and the misleading trope of the Black perpetrator. Watch the …

When Sons Become Daughters, Part VI: Asexuality, Intelligence, and the Trans Co-Option of Intersex Discourse

What follows is the sixth instalment of When Sons Become Daughters, a seven-part Quillette series that explores how parents react when a son announces he wants to be a girl—and explains why so many of these mothers and fathers believe they can’t discuss their fears and concerns with their own children, therapists, doctors, friends, and relatives. To find out more about how the author collected and reported information, please refer to his introductory essay in this series. Whether they exhibit autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, many trans-identified boys seem to be fixated on a hypothetical future self: Once brought to life, it is believed, this woman’s mere presence will resolve whatever existential crisis the young man is going through. In many cases, the boy will spend a lot of his time thinking about the differences between his status quo and his imagined (feminine) ideal. This “hyper-ruminative” behaviour is something many parents I interviewed discussed with me. From Milwaukee, Liz emails me a number of papers she’s found over the years …

No, Critical Race Theory Isn’t a New Civil Rights Movement. (Just the Opposite)

Critical Race Theory has become a prominent subject in American political discourse. Several state legislatures have advanced measures aimed at banning it from public schools, on the basis that its rigid moral categorization of people as either “privileged” or “oppressed” is offensive and even racist. Yet supporters argue that Critical Race Theory is vital to the project of eliminating racism, which they see as an omnipresent contaminant in every sphere of American life. Only by constantly and explicitly taking race into account in every aspect of policy-making, the theory goes, can we rid ourselves of its presence. One of the most ideologically ambitious defenses of Critical Race Theory presents the doctrine as the next logical stage in the process that began with the civil rights movement. This is the argument made by the American Bar Association, the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. The ABA instructs us that Critical Race Theory provides a “powerful approach for examining race in society,” as well as a “lens through which the civil rights lawyer can imagine …

In Defense of the Universal Values of Science

The progress of modern science has been a truly global phenomenon, a fact worth celebrating, just as the technological fruits of science have, to varying degrees, impacted the lives of everyone on the globe.  Scientific breakthroughs have paid no heed to geographic boundaries. Modern algebra owes its origins to 10th century Arabic mathematicians. Around the same time Chinese astronomers recorded an early supernova that formed the Crab Nebula, even when no record of this remarkable object was made in Europe. In spite of the attempts by British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington to quash the impact of an otherwise unheralded young Indian physicist, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the latter’s groundbreaking work on stellar evolution altered our picture of stars so significantly that he was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his work. Nevertheless, the postmodern notion that empirical scientific knowledge is somehow culturally derived, with little or no objective underpinning, has continued to persist in various social science and literary corners of academia far removed from the rush of scientific progress.    Until recently, it seemed inconceivable …

The Gathering Resistance to the Stigmatisation of Masculinity

On the face of it, Brilliant Bob is an unremarkable character for a children’s book—a playful boy who loves football and embarks upon fun adventures with his friends Dazzling Dave, Genuine George, and Superboy Sam. But Bob and his three friends were created with the clear purpose of celebrating masculinity. They are brave, competitive, curious, persistent, risk-ready, strong, and stoical—traits that enlightened sections of society now frown upon and which educators tend to present to children as negative. The perceived need for stories and role models that reaffirm traits and values like these is suggestive of how widespread and pernicious the attack on masculinity has become. A section of the books’ website entitled “Morals Conveyed” elaborates: The Brilliant Bob books will teach young boys to appreciate positive morals and traits that will add greatly to their life journeys. Male role models—such as fathers and grandfathers, older brothers, or teachers—are encouraged to read these books to the young boys in their lives, reinforcing the positive impact these traits have had on their masculinity. “I wrote the …

Lived Experiences Aren’t Special

Some time ago I found myself in the middle of a discussion about race relations and minority experiences. When it was my chance to speak, I mentioned some statistical data that appeared to challenge the common narrative that racism is widespread and systemic. My interlocutor’s reply was that he simply did not care about the data—his own experiences as a person of color were more important and trumped any appeal to statistics. Another party to the discussion agreed, saying that people matter more than numbers. The title of a recent article by Dawn Butler, a British MP, echoes this sentiment: “Unless you have lived experience of racism there’s no guarantee you’ll understand it.” A host of other politicians have leveraged appeals to lived experience in support of their policy goals. Elsewhere, a reporter for Time describes her lived experiences as a “source of expertise” as opposed to an “emotional bias.” Lived experiences have taken on a near-sacred status under which they cannot be questioned. Case in point: the Facebook group for the news website Vox …

The Petulant Campaign Against Eric Kaufmann

Sir Roger Scruton—the prodigious conservative philosopher—once noted of his time at Birkbeck that it was “traditionally a left-wing place, haunted by the fear that somewhere, somehow, a conservative might have infiltrated the corridors.” Though he added that “the students were terrific because they were all grown up.” One suspects that if Scruton were still alive, he’d reconsider his opinion of the students. On May 19th, a Twitter account called “Birkbeck Students Anti-Racist Network” posted a long thread denouncing one of the academics at that institution, the political scientist Eric Kaufmann. In typical self-righteous fashion, the thread begins, “Kaufmann is a politics professor & former head of that department at Birkbeck … We want to publicly denounce him as a white supremacist and racist apologist.” (Accusing Kaufmann of being a “white supremacist” is particularly risible, given that the man is not only Jewish, but part Chinese and part Latino.) The first tweet includes an image where Kaufmann appears next to a dog, with a whistle in his mouth. Emanating outward are his supposed “white supremacist dog …

How Liberal Elites Use Race to Keep Workers Divided—And Justify Class-Based Inequities

The Pulitzer Center allegedly “raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support of quality journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of education and public outreach.” Its most prolific donor is Emily Rauh Pulitzer and the Emily Rauh Pulitzer Foundation. Widow of newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer, Rauh Pulitzer is also a major donor to the arts. In 2019, the Pulitzer Center collaborated with the New York Times Magazine to launch The 1619 Project, directed by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. The Project was launched to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved peoples in the American colonies—for its collaborators, the real birthday of the United States of America. Included as part of the New York Times Magazine in August, 2019, The 1619 Project caused quite a media sensation: copies of the Sunday Times edition in which it was included quickly sold out. The Project rewrites the American revolution as a revolt of slaveholders against the British abolitionists and, in its first iteration, argues that the United States of America should be …

Gender Activists Co-Opted British Columbia’s Courts. Meet the Woman Who Stood Up to Them

We have become so habituated to acts of deplatforming that many of us can no longer keep up: Though each new incident still elicits a ritual sigh of regret, we increasingly shrug it off as just another sign of these crazy times. Yet many of these episodes signify important injustices that deserve our attention. The recent deplatforming of British Columbia lawyer Shahdin Farsai falls into that category. The back story begins on December 16th, 2020, when the B.C. Provincial Court issued an announcement advising lawyers and the public of a new practice directive stipulating that all parties appearing in court would henceforth be asked to specify what pronouns they want others to use when referring to them, as well as their preferred forms of address. (Examples provided are “Mr./Ms./Mx./Counsel Jones.”) The Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court issued a similar practice directive on the same day, though without a press release. “Using incorrect gendered language for a party or lawyer in court can cause uncomfortable tension and distract them from the proceedings that all …