All posts tagged: racism

Intersectionalism Is Nonsense. But the Backlash Against It Is Very Real

The campaign to silence those who question progressive ideas about race and privilege requires frequent rebranding. Labels such as “far-right” and “alt-right,” which once might have served to strip a person of his or her livelihood and personal reputation, have become such common terms of abuse that they’ve effectively become meaningless. The words “white nationalist” once were used to describe someone who actually supported the creation of a white ethnostate. But now, activists are claiming that the mere act of making an “okay” hand gesture could mark you as a “white power” extremist—or at least someone who is “alt-right-adjacent.” The goal of this perversion of language is to drive up the number of people who may be classified out of hand as extremists, and thereby disqualify even the mildest forms of dissent as de facto hate speech. As a visible minority, I’ve experienced my share of prejudice and ignorance. I don’t deny that racism exists and that it is repugnant. But the solution is not to divide society into ideological factions, with one side being …

How the IDW Can Avoid the Tribalist Pull

In the year since the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” made its first public appearance in a New York Times feature by Bari Weiss, the informal network of “renegade” scholars and journalists on the outs with the cultural establishment has continued to draw attention and controversy. One bone of contention is whether the IDW is a right-wing cabal as its detractors often assert, or a politically diverse group of mostly centrists and disaffected liberals as its defenders insist. Last month, a blogpost by cybersecurity expert Daniel Miessler making the case for the latter (and a related tweet from IDW stalwart Sam Harris) elicited a response from Quillette contributor Uri Harris arguing that in fact, the IDW skews too far to the right and does not engage sufficiently with progressive, left-wing views. This led to some Twitter fireworks, two follow-up essays by Harris responding to critics and clarifying his position, and more Twitter debate. I consider myself a sympathetic and sometimes critical observer of the IDW, and arguably something of a fellow traveler. (I’m not overly fond …

Cowardice at Columbia

On Thursday, April 11, shortly after 11pm, a black Columbia student named Alexander McNab walked through the gates of Barnard college—the undergraduate all-women’s school at Columbia University—after ignoring a security guard’s request to show his student ID. In search of a midnight snack, McNab got all the way to the library canteen before a public safety officer confronted him and asked for his ID a second time, a request McNab once again refused. Several more officers had arrived on the scene and were continuing to request ID when McNab began yelling. What happened next, depicted in the video below, has become the subject of a national scandal: two officers pushed McNab’s upper body onto the countertop, at which point McNab finally handed over his ID. Public safety proceeded to verify that he was indeed an active Columbia student, at which point they left him alone. Administrators reacted to the incident by placing the six public safety officers involved on paid leave until outside investigators reach a conclusion about their conduct. In the meantime, administrators have …

Anxiety About Immigration is a Global Issue

Much has been written about anti-immigrant sentiments in the West in recent years. Brexit, Trump’s election, and the moderate success of political movements hostile to immigration in countries like Italy, Germany and Sweden have provoked much admonishment of Western societies by various intellectuals and commentators, usually of leftist leanings. What has not received much attention are contemporary attitudes to immigration in countries outside the Western hemisphere. What do Nigerians, Indians, Turks and Mexicans think about migrants coming to their countries? This we don’t hear much about. Two recent surveys on the issue provide interesting results. Pew Research queried respondents in 27 nations across six continents, asking whether they felt their countries should let in more immigrants, fewer, or about the same as they do at present. In European nations like Greece and Italy that have had huge influxes of migrants in recent years, the numbers wanting fewer or no more immigrants were high—82 and 71 percent respectively. But in several other Western countries, including some perceived as being hostile to immigration, people are more sympathetic …

The Free Speech Crisis on Campus Is Worse than People Think

Last month Samuel Abrams, a politics professor at Sarah Lawrence College, published an op-ed in the New York Times titled, “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators.” Abrams, who describes himself as conservative leaning, pointed to the titles of some recent events put on by his campus’s Office of Student Affairs: “Stay Healthy, Stay Woke,” “Understanding White Privilege,” and “Microaggressions.” He described these events as politically lopsided and noted that this kind of highly politicized socialization of college students is occurring throughout the country. A lot of campus critics have pointed to the left-wing political skew of faculty, he said, and have worried about indoctrination in the classroom. But indoctrination is much more likely at campus events outside the classroom, and the political skew of administrators in charge of student life is even greater than that of faculty. (He surveyed a representative sample of 900 “student-facing administrators” and found a ratio of 12 liberals for every conservative, compared to 6 to 1 for academic faculty.) Remember, Abrams is a tenured professor commenting about a widely …

White Privilege Is Real, but Well-Meaning White Liberals Are Helping to Perpetuate It

After hosting African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on his television show, Jon Stewart asked Coates whether America’s changing demographics could finally upend the anti-black society portrayed in Coates’s autobiographical Between the World and Me. Coates was doubtful, but Stewart, speaking for many white liberals, replied, “I hope you’re wrong.” Stewart’s presumption is that America’s ethnic transformation will relegate whites, and their prejudice, to the sidelines, ending racial inequality. Regardless of whether Coates is correct to portray American society as tilted against African-Americans, his skeptical response was closer to reality than Stewart’s. The stereotypes, worldviews and institutional practices that advantage native-born whites over other groups—in America and Europe—arise as the result of a complex interaction between individuals and collective representations. Stereotypes about African-Americans are passed on from parents and peers, encoded in cultural products, and internalized by blacks themselves, who may come to cherish them and condemn other African-Americans for failing to “act black,” i.e. comply with those stereotypes. To imagine this thinking is limited to white people is naïve and belied by the research literature. In …