All posts tagged: social justice

Down the Rabbit Hole of Political Intolerance in Silicon Valley

Editor’s note: Blake J. Harris is the bestselling author of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation, which is currently being adapted for television by Legendary Entertainment, producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and Scott Rudin. His second book, The History of The Future—which was published on February 19—chronicles the dramatic, larger-than-life true story behind the founding of Oculus, and its quest for virtual reality, and the company’s $3 billion acquisition by Facebook. What follows is an interview with Harris conducted by Quillette’s Clay Routledge.  Clay Routledge: I just finished your latest book, The History of the Future. And I have to tell you, I tore through it. Such a fascinating story in so many ways. What made you interested in telling the story of Oculus VR and its founder, Palmer Luckey? Blake J. Harris: So back in 2014, my first book was published. This was a big, life-changing experience for me. Prior to that—for the previous eight years—I had been a commodities broker, buying and selling things like sugar, coffee …

Forget About Decolonizing the Curriculum. We Need to Restore the West’s Telos Before it’s Too Late

The campaign by left-wing student protestors and some faculty to force Western universities to “decolonize the curriculum” has been surprisingly successful. A movement that started at the University of Cape Town in 2015, with the demand that the city’s university remove its statue of Cecil Rhodes—“Rhodes Must Fall”—quickly made its way to the U.K., with student activists calling for his statue at Oriel College, Oxford to be taken down. At its heart, the movement seeks to challenge what it characterizes as the dominance of the Western canon in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the under-representation of women and minorities in academia. It also, like many movements inspired by critical theory, maintains that a person’s beliefs and worldview are largely determined by their skin color, sexual orientation and gender. In a society “still shaped by a long colonial history in which straight white upper-class men are at the top of the social order,” argues Priyamvada Gopal, a Cambridge University lecturer, “most disciplines give disproportionate prominence to the experiences, concerns and achievements of this …

The Internet Locusts Descend on Ristretto Roasters

Camila worked for Ristretto Roasters, my husband Din’s coffee roasting company in Portland, Oregon, for five years. She received regular promotions and by 2016 was earning a mid-five figure salary. In October of last year, Camila resigned. The end. Or, the end until last month, when she sent an email to more than two dozen former and current Ristretto Roasters employees, alerting them to the YouTube series, #MeNeither Show, that fellow journalist Leah McSweeney and I launched in December 2018. In three half-hour episodes, we had discussed, among other topics, celebrities who have exploited the #MeToo movement, and the difference between sexual predators and those swept-up in the excesses of the current moment. The show’s “about” page reads, “#MeNeither is an almost-weekly conversation about the cultural issues of the day, and an attempt to create a space where people can find ways to think out loud through uncomfortable topics.” In her email to Ristretto employees, Camila described our show as “vile, dangerous, and extremely misguided” and announced her intention to “take this information to [local newspapers] Willamette Week and The [Portland] …

Borking Neomi Rao

At the height of the #MeToo ferment over Judge Brett Kavanaugh, hundreds of Harvard and Yale law students shut down their classes to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The students demanded that Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accusers be believed unconditionally, simply on the basis of having made an uncorroborated accusation.  Many of these elite law students will end up as judges. Yet the media cheered them on, even though their rejection of the presumption of innocence, if carried to the bench, would demolish a cornerstone of Anglo-American jurisprudence.    However, if you argue that female college students have agency to prevent many cases of what feminists label as campus rape then you have unfitted yourself for a judicial career, according to a large segment of the media and the political class. Last week, Democratic Senator and presidential contender Kamala Harris contemptuously grilled a judicial nominee for having written that female students can control whether or not they get drunk, the usual prelude to the hook-up sex that the campus rape industry routinely classifies as …

What Is This Thing You Call ‘Social Justice’?

Star Trek: Discovery begins its second season this week, with its producers no doubt hoping for a smoother start after a first season marred by considerable behind-the-scenes difficulties and uneven reception from hardcore fans. After major delays and a series of sudden creative staff changes, many plotlines were introduced and quickly abandoned, fans were frustrated with the show’s inability to adhere to the Star Trek canon—the whole first season was chaos. But hey, at least the succession of showrunners were able to signal their progressive bona fides to the woke social media legions. Indeed, they started well in advance. Before Discovery had even premiered, former showrunner Aaron Harberts was on a press tour boasting of the fact that Discovery was going to take on the Trump presidency through its storytelling: “The allegory is that we really started working on the show in earnest around the time the election was happening,” said showrunner Aaron Harberts. “The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big …

In Praise of Boredom, Again

In their book The Coddling of the American Mind Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff wonder where it all went wrong. How did we get to a situation where so many of our kids see themselves as fragile victims, but at the same time throw their weight around, telling the rest of us what we are allowed to think and say and do? Haidt and Lukianoff have set up a website devoted to exploring the issue and finding solutions. I have a suggestion. It hit me like a hammer blow when I read Joseph Brodsky’s essay “In Praise of Boredom.” This was delivered as a commencement address at Dartmouth College in July 1989. Here is the opening sentence: “A substantial part of what lies ahead of you is going to be claimed by boredom.” That’s right. Joseph Brodsky, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987, assumed that these Ivy League graduates, in common with the rest of humanity since the dawn of time would face hours of the psychological Sahara of boredom that “starts right in your bedroom …

The New War on Comedy

Comedy has had a well-understood purpose: to entertain, to push boundaries and to keep us honest. Historically, the court jester was the one person allowed to publicly mock the all-powerful king perched upon the golden throne. It is for this reason that when a storyteller wants to illustrate a ruler’s descent into madness, we see him begin to turn his ire towards the lowly jester: It is worrying then that the ever more powerful social media guns of the Social Justice Left are being aimed squarely at comedians. In December, American comedian Nimesh Patel was pulled off stage by students for doing woke (and funny) jokes about race. A few days later, I made headlines when I refused to sign a “behavioral agreement” to perform at a student comedy gig which insisted that I not joke about religion, atheism and 10 other “isms,” as well as demanding that my jokes be “respectful and kind.” Given the public ridicule of the students and widespread support for the comedians in these cases, you’d be forgiven for thinking …

Inside a Google Summit on Diversity and Inclusion

How could any reasonable person oppose diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Answer: Because “diversity and inclusion” in the work context is actually a euphemism for something else. During an October 30 summit held by Google, attendees listened to a panel discussion titled, “Beyond Hype, How Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Maximizes Your Bottom Line.” The panelists’ comments amounted to a very irregular definition of “diversity and inclusion:” A desire for equal outcomes among all identity groups, and disadvantaging individuals in overrepresented demographic categories. Adam Berlew, head of Americas Marketing for Google Cloud, moderated the panel, which featured guests Joanna Dees, VP of educational programs at Women in Cable Telecommunications; Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of the USA Today Network; Tom Kazmierczak Jr., head of diversity and inclusion at T. Rowe Price Associates; and Lori Rosenkopf, vice dean and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, undergraduate division. All participants advocated for changing workplace policies to increase the representation of women, people of color, and LGBT communities in the corporate world. There’s nothing wrong with increased representation of these groups. …

Progressive Creationism: A Review of ‘A Dangerous Idea’

In a recent article for Quillette, Colin Wright argued that left-wing scientific denialism poses a greater threat to academic freedom than right-wing scientific denialism. In the past, evolutionary biologists could dispute the claims of creationists and advocates of Intelligent Design without jeopardizing their careers. But the same cannot be said of scientists who publicly dissent from progressive dogma when it comes to, say, the biology of group differences. The reason, according to Wright, is because the Christian Evangelicals who denied the basic principles of evolutionary biology held no power in academia, while their secular equivalents are often professors, department chairs, deans, administrators, college presidents, journal editors, and so on. Indeed, the new denialist orthodoxy when it comes to biological sex—that it is “assigned” at birth, rather than observed and recorded—is now the official view of the scientific establishment, having been embraced by Scientific American and Nature. As Jordan Peterson wrote in The National Post two years ago: “Look out evolutionary biologists. The PC police are coming for you.” I imagine few of Quillette’s readers will …

What Happened When We Tried to Debate Immigration

Immigration and diversity politics dominate our political and public debates. Disagreements about these issues lie behind the rise of populist politics on the left and the right, as well as the growing polarization of our societies more widely. Unless we find a way of side-stepping the extremes and debating these issues in an evidence-led, analytical way then the moderate, pluralistic middle will buckle and give way. This is why, as two university professors who work on these issues, we decided to help organize and join a public debate about immigration and ethnic change. The debate, held in London on December 6, was a great success, featuring a nuanced and evidence-based discussion attended by 400 people. It was initially titled, “Is Rising Ethnic Diversity a Threat to the West?” This was certainly a provocative title, designed to draw in a large audience who might hold strong views on the topic but who would nonetheless be exposed to a moderated and evidence-led debate. Though we would later change the title, we couldn’t escape its powerful logic: On …