Campus Free Speech

"Some [Academics] Fear for Their Career Because They Don't Believe Progressive Orthodoxies"

From Prof. John McWhorter (Columbia) in The Atlantic.


Read the whole article, but here's an excerpt:

The charges levied against many of these professors are rooted in a fanatical worldview, one devoted to spraying for any utterances possibly interpretable as "supremacist," although the accusers sincerely think they have access to higher wisdom. A white professor read a passage from an interview with a well-known Black public intellectual who mentions the rap group NWA, and because few of the students knew of the group's work at this late date, the professor parenthetically noted what the initials stand for. None of the Black students batted an eye, according to my correspondent, but a few white students demanded a humiliating public apology.

This episode represents a pattern in the letters [that I have gotten], wherein it is white students who are "woker" than their Black classmates, neatly demonstrating the degree to which this new religion is more about virtue signaling than social justice. From the same well is this same professor finding that the gay men in his class had no problem with his assigning a book with a gay slur in its title, a layered, ironic title for a book taking issue with traditional concepts of masculinity—but that a group of straight white women did, and reported him to his superiors….

Very few of the people who wrote to me are of conservative political orientation. Rather, a main thread in the missives is people left-of-center wondering why, suddenly, to be anything but radical is to be treated as a retrograde heretic. Thus the issue is not the age-old one of left against right, but what one letter writer calls the "circular firing squad" of the left: It is now no longer "Why aren't you on the left?" but "How dare you not be as left as we are."

NEXT: District of Columbia Working Group Finds Prominent Abolitionist, James Birney, Has a "Legacy" That Does Not Merit Recognition.

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  1. to be anything but radical is to be treated as a retrograde heretic

    Which is exactly how every revolutionary movement ends up. There are depressingly numerous examples from history.

    “‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. ” — George Santayana.

    1. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to go to Alaska Military School.” – Bill and Ted

      1. Again: Oates Military Academy. Not “Alaska Military School.” Though it was located in Alaska.

  2. For those who haven’t met him, John McWhorter is Black.

    And the only thing I would add here is that anyone to the right of Vladimir Lenin has already been driven out of the academy, and Whites have to show great offense at percieved racial things lest they be accused of being racist.

    Academia Delenda Est — it can’t be saved.

    1. Pretty sure John McWhorter is Black to people who have met him too.

    2. And the only thing I would add here is that anyone to the right of Vladimir Lenin has already been driven out of the academy

      Last time I checked McWhorter holds a tenured professorship.

      I mean, I agree with McWhorter, but there are still plenty of non-lefty academics.

      1. And so does Eugene Volokh and a host of other front-page posters here. I’m starting to wonder if Dr Ed is pulling a Poe’s Law on us.

  3. This just in: there are angry-and-silly young people on campuses. Some of them write angry-and-silly letters and petitions!

    1. More gaslighting and reality bending by Baghdad Sacrastro.

      This angry silliness is also emanating from our Culture War Betters ™.

      1. Wonder when we will here from our resident Better, aka Johny One Note.

    2. “This just in: there are angry-and-silly young people on campuses. Some of them write angry-and-silly letters and petitions!”

      And many of the angry and silly people are administrators, who read letters and petitions! Nothing to see here folks, move along.

    3. It’s not that this stuff isn’t happening. The DC WG thing Blackman posted has some heft to it.

      This does not.

    4. and there are plenty of professors ready to tell those kids: “get off my lawn!”

      Apparently there are tensions between individuals from different generations. Who would have ever imagined such a thing. Surely this is the first time this has ever occurred. Dare I say, it appears to be unprecedented.

  4. “New religion?”

    1. More pious and militant than the old religions.

  5. Leftist totalitarianism continues its march. Non-totalitarian moderates and center-left people of goodwill are finding out what the rest of us already knew.

    When your entire culture is about attacking people, there’s no limiting principle and no one is safe.

    1. Progress is making some bigots quite cranky. What did you expect?

  6. And what’s this crap about capitalizing “Black” now? And, also, while capitalizing black, not doing the same for white.

    1. “Black” has become a title of social and legal privilege. That’s why.

    2. Same reason a samurai could kill you for looking at him funny.

      This is gonna back fire- fossils like sacastro will likely be dead but it’s gon’ be fun playing by the new rules. Yessir fun indeed.

      1. LOL how old do you think I am?

        1. He’s suggesting it may not be a natural death. It can be really dangerous to be on the left these days. Watch your back.

      2. “it’s gon’ be fun playing by the new rules. Yessir fun indeed”

        How this is going to work is that better people will shape American progress, and obsolete conservatives get to cry about it and comply with the preferences of their betters.

        Enjoy the time you have remaining before replacement, Matt. May the Volokh Conspiracy provide some solace as the liberal-libertarian mainstream crushes your political aspirations.

          1. This blog has become a strong point of evidence for strong law faculties disinclined to hire movement conservatives.

            The Volokh Conspiracy’s claimed “civility standards” have been vividly demonstrated to be a lie. I would have expected law professors to have been more careful about advancing assertions so easily disproved, especially when trying to cover their tracks related to viewpoint-based censorship.

            1. It’s uncivil to show videos of our Culture War Betters ™ bettering the bigoted clingers?

              1. Prof. Volokh apparently doesn’t think so.

                You can post racist videos, or call for liberals to be gassed, shot, or sent to Zyklon showers . . . but do not make fun of conservatives or use the term “c@p s@ccor” unless you want to hear from the Volokh Conspiracy Board of Censors.

                Carry on, clingers. It’s probably time for another episode of “Nipping At The Ankles Of Strong Schools.”

                1. Whats racistsabout showing videos of progress of the Culture War?

                  1. Prof. Volokh probably wishes you would just shut up, Sam, but he is in too far to do anything about it other than continue to take the hits.

                    Me? I welcome every one of your comments, and believe the Volokh Conspiracy provides an important public service by presenting unvarnished conservative thought and positions for the American mainstream to consider.

    3. Clingers never object to Trump’s random capitalization and general illiteracy, but “Black” is incendiary.

      The reason for that is also a large part of why right-wingers are no longer competitive in the culture war, particularly among educated, accomplished citizens in successful, modern, communities.

      1. Here is one of the Reverend’s accomplished, modern citizen winning the culture War.

        1. Good thing no one in that video said ‘cop succor’ or ‘slack-jaw,’ or Prof. Volokh might have censored that one.

          So far, though, this video seems to satisfy the Volokh Conspiracy’s censorship avoidance standards.

        2. Some of us culture warriors wouldn’t have let one of those accomplished, modern citizens get that close behind us.

          1. The warriors are the winners, Dr. Ed 2.

            You’re just another culture war casualty, with the rest of the clingers.

            1. A casualty just like that guy who got bricked in that video!

  7. It just isn’t “academic” but anyone associated with higher education.

    I have two colleagues that teach night classes at local colleges. They do it part as community service and part because they like the experience. I’m sure the money doesn’t help, but they make enough to not need the few thousand for the class.

    One colleague declined to teach classes this academic year. I know it is partially because his workload is so high, but he just couldn’t be bothered. The whole “silence is violence” thing was tiring. Despite the fact he teaches one night a week he was bombarded by faculty emails pretty much telling him to go to this organizing meeting or sign a statement on something else. First he just ignored them, then his phone started ringing. He explained his very part time status thinking that would make them go away, but he just got an earful about how he was jus supposed to do this because of “blah blah blah.” It was enough that when his contract came in June he called the Dean to say he would sit out for the year.

    The second colleague had about the same deal, but “cancelled” himself out of fear he might misspeak or end up on social media. He taught history and wasn’t willing to step into the minefield that is his subject area. He said the last thing he needs is to end up a national press story and having strangers calling his employer saying he ought to be fired. Even though a small risk, he found it an unacceptable one.

    I’ve heard similar stories from people who work as professional staff at a local college. Their jobs have nothing to do with anything academic, mostly administrative support, but they are badgered and hectored by students and political faculty. Most are looking for other employment at the moment.

    1. Sounds like it was time for those folks to go. Thanks for your service, etc.

    2. Jimmy — more true than you can imagine.

      I know some folk who *do* need the money who’ve gone to driving trucks rather than teach. Sad….

  8. Would it have killed the professor to say, “. . . the rap group NWA, short for La La La La La With Attitude.”

    1. I’d say “Google it” — and then what?

      1. Remember that students all have smart phones now, and someone would have blurted out the answer.

  9. Stalin was really woke.

  10. Conservatives lost the culture war — and in particular old-timey intolerance is no longer welcome in the American mainstream, privilege for religion’s supernatural elements is waning, and other unearned privileges are disfavored — but they figure they should possess influence at our strongest, reason- and science-based schools?

    If conservatives identify some viable elements of their platform and ditch the obsolete parts, I expect mainstream academia and America to consider reasonable proposals. If they continue to stick with the gay-bashing, the racism, the ‘superstition is entitled to the same respect as science’ nonsense, and the like, however, I do not expect conservatism to fare well outside some separatist, downscale institutions. Younger and better-educated Americans, and those residing in modern and accomplished communities, in particular, have lost their taste for stale conservative positions.

    1. There you go again.

      Hit it Judy!

      And for those who don’t like Youtube, here are the lyrics:

      Johnny could only sing one note
      And the note he sang was this
      Poor Johnny one note sang out with gusto
      And just overlorded the place
      Poor Johnny one note, yelled willy nilly
      Until he was blue in the face
      For holding one note was his ace
      Couldn’t hear the brass
      Couldn’t hear the drum
      He was in a class, by himself, by gum
      Poor Johnny one note got in Aida
      Indeed a great chance to be brave
      He took his one note, howled like the north wind
      Brought forth wind that made critics rave
      While Verdi turned ’round in his grave
      Couldn’t hear the flute
      Or the big trombone
      Every one was mute, Johnny stood alone
      Cats and dogs stopped yapping
      Lions in the zoo all were jealous of Johnny’s big trill
      Thunder claps stopped clapping
      Traffic ceased its roar and they tell us Niagara stood still
      He stopped the train whistles, boat whistles
      Steam whistles, cop whistles
      All whistles bowed to his skill
      Sing Johnny one note, sing out with gusto
      And just overlord all the crowd
      So sing Johnny one note, out loud
      Sing Johnny one note
      Sing Johnny one note out loud

      1. Are you enthralled each time the Volokh Conspiracy repetitively, predictably whines about how our strongest schools don’t hire enough clingers, aren’t nice enough to the clingers, don’t treat the clingers’ arguments with respect, etc. etc. etc.

        If they would quit whining, I would not state that their whining does not deserve respect.

        Other than that, great comment, clinger!

        Here’s another song. The singer is a black guy, and the lyrics are unpleasant for stale thinkers, so some of you guys will want to pass.

    2. We haven’t lost it yet, Kirkland.

      1. Self-awareness has never been a strong point among conservatives. It’s over. You lost. As our electorate continues to improve, and the backwaters empty, and superstition declines, and America becomes less white and less bigoted, it’s just going to get worse for clingers.

        This is the American way.

        1. The only thing worse than a one-sided culture war is a 2-sided culture war.

          1. I’m enjoying the culture war. It seems to make you dispirited.

  11. So the poor academics have to fight for their freedom, and they don’t know what to do? Maybe they don’t deserve this freedom.

    1. You fight for your freedom from the enemies of freedom. Like the Nazis or the Communists.
      If the students and administrators at American universities are the enemies of freedom, then we have a problem.

      1. Why don’t you guys create better, conservative schools? Other than the shackles of bigotry, backwardness, and superstition, I mean.

        1. No Kirkland, we let it all crash & burn first….

          1. That’s the level of delusion of adequacy that has convinced the Conspirators that they’re anything more than the disaffected fringe of American legal academia.

            America will continue to improve, Dr. Ed 2, against your preferences and your efforts. It has been this way for more than a half-century of American progress. It will continue, and likely intensify.

            In a free country, you can cry about it as much as you wish.

            1. Kirkland, are you familiar with the saga of the PennCentral Railroad?
              How’d that “progress” wind up?

              1. The doomed merger of stale competitors followed by the federal government success of Conrail?

                1. Kirk;and can’t be that stupid.

  12. this ‘new religion’

    you mean like trumpism?

    1. No, not like Trumpism, because there are too many sane people on the left / Democratic party to let this take over.

  13. Seems throughout history, there have been episodes whereby some group or movement demands fealty to their cause; otherwise, you become a target of their wrath, including the wrath of government power. But if you renounce the “enemy” (in this case systemic white racism) and join us, you’ll not be targeted.

    Some examples: early 20th century racism in the deep South, Joe McCarthy and the red scare, the brown shirts of old National Socialist German Workers Party, or the Communist party purges of the USSR. It’s not good or moral, because people initiate harm on others simply for what they think, but it’s politically powerful.

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