Free Speech

From a Law Professor, About Anti-Racism Meetings

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Prof. Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock) let me know about this, and I thought it was much worth passing along:

I am a law professor, a member of my school's Diversity and Excellence Committee, and the Chairman of the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission. My school recently had an outside speaker present (virtually) the thesis of How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. It was an interesting discourse, because academics don't honestly discuss race enough; academics talk race, for sure, but they don't typically discuss race.

When we were able to get passed the obligatory, preliminary canned responses that take place in similar settings throughout the country, I found some of the dialogue valuable. We scratched the surface of a real substantive debate. It was an important beginning. More real discussion is needed.

Two components, however, offer teachable moments on where we can improve the operation of such events. Neither is entirely novel, but having experienced one for the first time, I realized more can be said on the topic, whether or not I ultimately succeed in expanding the conversation.

The first notable aspect of the discussion is that when we broke into Zoom subgroups, the invitee went from group to group instructing each member to recount his or her affirmative efforts at being Anti-Racist. Due to a purely technical problem, my presence in the subgroup wasn't initially recognized (no irony intended)—even though I was there. When my image appeared to others, a colleague offered that I was in the meeting and volunteered on my behalf that I, as mentioned, chair the Arkansas Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission.

So, I wasn't forced to decide what I would proffer as my Anti-Racist credentials—nor whether I would even do so. To be clear, there was no threat of formal punishment for non-compliance, but neither was the alternative of opting out even suggested. And in an environment where we typically bend over backwards to ensure that event participants are made comfortable, that absence seemed palpable.

Sadly, academics across the country engaging in such activities often don't recognize the meaningful similarity between socially coerced statements of Anti-Racist activities and the anti-communist oaths of the McCarthy era—evincing the failure, regularly repeated, to appreciate tragic histories so often justified by good intentions. Indeed, the McCarthyites were actually right that Communism is evil—its adherents having directly killed tens of millions of people—notwithstanding that such proclamations might not be de rigueur today.

The McCarthyites were wrong, however, in forcing the public adoption of that view through sworn allegiance, as is well recognized today. Being allowed to be wrong, particularly in the political context, ironically leads to improved democracy and enlightenment. Learning good citizenship is not like memorizing multiplication tables. It must actually be done to be mastered.

Such community shaming exercises surely weren't restricted to conservatives during the Red scare, but conservatives have been branded—perhaps not exclusively but certainly disproportionately—with that ignominy, nonetheless. While McCarthyites well deserve to share that label, in reality those actions were emblematic of the archetypal totalitarianism of both the far left and the far right during the last century that resulted in the most homicides in human history.

Indeed, Soviets and Nazis readily adopted mandatory oath taking and social shaming as methods of forced conformity in addition to imprisonment, torture, and murder. My father lived under the former during World War II; many other relatives died under the latter.

During that instance in which I was caught in Zoom's version of Gene Roddenberry's transporter buffer, I was afforded a fleeting moment to reflect on my options regarding what I perceived as a social conformity exercise: I feared that not responding would garner the now seemingly acceptable label of White Fragility, much like those who refused to chant the mantra of having never been a member of the communist party were effectively tattooed with a scarlet "R."

Having researched for decades issues of sex-based disparities, I had long heard the cringeworthy claims of female fragility. Those are largely eschewed now, thank goodness. But the ease with which that very same collective pseudo-psychological emotional characterization is welcomed discourse regarding, in this case, a racial group underscores that under new leftist doctrine, majority-cohort membership alone justifies those in that class being saddled with the condemnation of inherent bias and collective wrongdoing.

Thus, this new claim of fragility is an epithet fundamentally designed to force a public accounting of one's moral worth on a provided scale. Rather than the naked assertion that failing to swear allegiance itself demonstrates antagonism to the chosen philosophy, this technique is slightly more sophisticated.

In a world of "my truths," emotional support peacocks, safe spaces, and other liberal delicateness, all of a sudden being uncomfortable with detailing one's adoption of a pro-active Anti-Racist agenda—or, heavens forbid, having no such agenda at all—necessarily means that the non-speaker is a member of a cabal protecting systemic racism, so the claim goes, whether or not he or she even knows it, no less.

It needs saying, however, that not pursuing an Anti-Racist agenda does not necessarily make for a racist nor even a beneficiary of racism. Having grown up in a mixed race, working class neighborhood, I know plenty who have profited from no kind of privilege—ever-present attempts to cast them otherwise due to their cohort membership notwithstanding.

I once purely by chance sat next to two clergy in a restaurant. (This is not the beginning of a joke.) One said to the other that a third person wasn't entitled to offer religious criticism because he wasn't a member of their faith. That might work in a religious discourse (or it might not, in fact), but it fails in academic and political circles. That mindset produces race talk without race discussion. Bill Maher recently made a claim about race on his show, as he often does, and a guest disqualified Maher because he is White. Maher moved on. That's just one example, but the phenomenon is ubiquitous today. That's not race discourse.

Of course, this mechanism for creating bogeymen itself also isn't new. Marxists equated capitalists with both power and wrongdoing. Nazis the same for Jews. The transformation here is minor: majority equals power and therefore subjects all within the group to opprobrium, regardless of individual behavior. Marxism sought the dictatorship of the proletariat; new-age leftists seek dictatorship of the self-identified oppressed. I persist in the seemingly unfashionable view that dictatorships of any kind are bad.

I shudder to imagine what I would have experienced if I were exposed to the sister activity, which I understand to have taken place during various university enlightenment assemblies and corporate wokeness sessions, of proclaiming one's inherent racism. Well, to be fair, I've taken Harvard's Implicit Bias Test several times, and I consistently test as slightly biased in favor of Blacks. I'm not sure, however, that this is the type of inherent bias that the left seeks for me to publicly own. It doesn't fit the narrative presented in race talks. It would make, though, for interesting race discussion.

The second concern I faced was what, if in deciding to comply with the Anti-Racist auditing, I would choose to present. My colleague's proffer on my behalf was the most obvious and the safest—but not my most significant Anti-Racist academic endeavor. That has been my effort to reduce racial disparities by recognizing the harm caused by mismatch resulting from highly race conscious admissions programs in higher education.

This unpopular and inconvenient truth is not generally welcomed discourse in our overwhelmingly leftist academia across the country. Yet, the data are compelling. Minorities starting law school with the "benefit" of large admissions preferences are far less likely as entering whites to become or remain attorneys.

Interestingly, the presenter broached this topic in forthrightly acknowledging that the law school entrance exam, the LSAT, is not inherently biased. As such, the lower scores on average exhibited by minorities thereon reflect a real deficit no doubt the function of a variety of societal forces. And my research, along with those of various others, demonstrate how not recognizing those shortfalls harms the very individuals that race-based admissions programs are purportedly designed to help. This was the good start of a productive conversation. (Similarly, a colleague described how a former dean who has long since left my institution belatedly conceded that my research, which he actively thwarted, raised a real issue. He never told me. I'd love to have that discussion too.)

We now easily acknowledge that Galileo was correct in rejecting heliocentrism, but it wasn't easy to recognize his right to do so contemporaneously with both the Church's expression that his view was heresy and the lack of understanding that he was, in fact, correct. Academics need to be heretical. We need to be able to freely say: "I disagree" or "I won't engage in that activity."

Indeed, that's the lesson of Galileo: defend your beliefs unless they're proven wrong, because sometimes your orphan ideas might turn out to be correct. We would do even better to celebrate those whose ideas were shunned even when they turned out, in the end, to be wrong. I hope that as we move forward in discussing important topics facing society such as Anti-Racism that we—particularly those formally in the business of education—don't allow ourselves to be anti-academic.

NEXT: New Article: What Happens if the Biden Administration Prosecutes and Convicts Donald Trump of Violating 18 U.S.C. § 2383?

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  1. The other two things that need to be remembered about the McCarthy era was that (a) there really were lots of Soviet spies in DC, and that Joe McCarthy was a hopeless alcoholic in an era when absolutely would be defined as an alcoholic by todays standards.

    McCarthy was DRUNK during those rants — alcohol would kill him a year or two later.

    And we knew who was a Soviet agent not only from the Verona Papers but from the Soviets own records which we were able to read when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This isn’t a “maybe” — we’ve got the Soviets own records….

    1. > there really were lots of Soviet spies in DC

      Sure. And the methods of McCarthy were pretty terrible at finding them, in addition to all the collateral damage they did.

  2. Also, if you deal with differences between boys and girls, look at the US Dept of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress scores. Girls do worse in STEM, Boys do worse in language arts.

    Have fun: https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

  3. “Sadly, academics across the country engaging in such activities often don’t recognize the meaningful similarity between socially coerced statements of Anti-Racist activities and the anti-communist oaths of the McCarthy era”

    And this is where he waves the ‘Don’t Take Me Seriously’ Flag. Why would one need to go this silly hyperbole? He’s a law professor, he could have made the same and *much* more reasonable point to liberals by using an example like the pressure to stand for the National Anthem or Weisman. But no, he goes for McCarthy right away. I guess Witch Hunts would have been too much!

    1. Holy Shit, and then triples down with Galileo. The obtuseness is just incredible, even after all this time…

      1. Queenie, aren’t you a diverse person? Weren’t you admitted to schools and hired as part of a diversity effort?

        1. You’d think a coke high on a bird would wear off by now.

          1. Whereas not a single person here expects any actual rebuttal from you; just insults. You probably shoot perceived messengers on sight, and never even bother to ask what if there was a message.

            1. You never cease to display your partisan selectivity dressed, shabbily, as adhering to principle. It’s not Behar’s deranged shitposting that bothers you, it’s anyone from the ‘other side’ calling it out.

              1. QA,
                I know that I also fail at this, but I would not bother with arguing with Behar. It is a complete waste of time. Plus his claims are so outrageous that it is difficult to imagine that anyone actually believes them

      2. For someone complaining about obtuseness, maybe you need to find a mirror.

        1. I think you need a dictionary…

      3. Just to be clear, Galileo was sentenced to imprisonment (commuted to house arrest under which he lived the rest of his life). Thousands were imprisoned durying McCathyite investigations and many more thousands not only lost a particular job they became unemployable in their fields and related fields. This Professor is equating his feeling like he would have been uncomfortable if put on the spot at a diversity event to say his real thoughts on diversity.

        There is always going to be some social pressure to go along with conventional norms. That’s an inescapable part of life. Equating that with Galileo or McCarthy or Witch Hunts is hyperbole, it’s especially unnecessary and un-useful when readily resonant more apt analogies should be at the fellow’s fingertips.

        1. So just lie back and enjoy it right?

          You just established you’re not only a conformist but sadly you cannot even stand up to defend the very thing you want everyone to do. Because you know it’s bullshit.

          1. Poor lil’ puss puss. You clearly don’t even get the concept of thinking an analogy is inapt hyperbole. What’s all those fancy words?

            “So just lie back and enjoy it right?”

            No, not like your mom every night.

            1. Way to go buckleup’s dad!

              1. He wishes.

        2. Thousands imprisoned? Talk about hyperbole.

          1. Hundreds at least.

            1. Several anyway. Give or take.

        3. “Equating that with Galileo or McCarthy or Witch Hunts is hyperbole, it’s especially unnecessary and un-useful ”
          You have to have been there to say it so definitively.

          1. Been where? 1633 Italy? I think it is safe to say that the Galileo, McCarthy, and Witch Hunt examples are overwrought hyperbole where the author attended an event at which the author was asked his thoughts about anti-racism in these circumstances: I wasn’t forced to decide what I would proffer as my Anti-Racist credentials—nor whether I would even do so. To be clear, there was no threat of formal punishment for non-compliance.”

            In each of the three examples proffered, two by the author and one by QA which you’ve adopted as an also potentially apt anology, there were explicit threats of punishment unless the person unwillingly subjected to hostile interrogation satisfied the inquisitors. In two of the examples, sentences of death were not off the table. In all of them, imprisonment and destruction of one’s career were clearly on the table as likely punishments. Here, there was no threat of any punishment, the author was concerned about some social pressure and possible negative consequences for his career due to “not fitting in”, rather than anything explicitly based on his comments.

            That any of you are disputing QA’s point on this just shows how reflexively you disagree with anything QA says. The analogies aren’t apt and QA gave other examples of inappropriate social pressure that were much more apt. In other words, she didn’t even say it was just fine that the author felt some pressure to conform. She just said holding non-mainstream opinions and being afraid people will think less of you if you say them is not the same as compelled interrogation with the overt threat of punishment should you answer “incorrectly.”

            But who thought Don Nico or Behar or Rossami or buckle were arguing in good faith? Not I. (Dr. Ed is a different case altogether.)

        4. “many more thousands not only lost a particular job they became unemployable in their fields and related fields”

          Do you honestly think that isn’t happening now?

          REALLY????

          1. Yes, but, unlike the communists, these are really bad people, so it’s OK!
            (Right, Queen Amalthea?)

            1. And said “really bad people” are percolating like the housewives of the 1950s & 1960s whose knowledge of food preservation and preparation were made obsolete by advances in grocery stores, particularly the introduction of frozen foods.

              1. The home canned pie filling, marmalade, and Swedish meatballs in my pantry make me question your judgment of what has become “obsolete”.

          2. Is this like Hawley loses a book deal and then right away gets another? Lol.

        5. Thousands imprisoned during McCathyite investigations? I call BS, but you can give a cite if you want.

          What Sen McCarthy did was accuse people of improper or impure sympathies, and California media companies promptly cancelled and doxxed . . . umh, I mean blacklisted those people. So they “not only lost a particular job they became unemployable in their fields and related fields.” (your quote)

          1. Two hours before he wrote this:

            Queen Amalthea
            April.30.2021 at 7:26 pm

            Hundreds at least.

        6. And socialists murdered 100 million last century, not including wars.

          1. Non sequitur.

    2. Fucking imbecile.

    3. Quietly standing for the National Anthem versus having to sign a detailed loyalty oath — can’t you see the difference?

      Hint: You could actually sing the original words of the drinking song…

      1. I stand without singing because nobody wants to hear me sing.

  4. “Interestingly, the presenter broached this topic in forthrightly acknowledging that the law school entrance exam, the LSAT, is not inherently biased. As such, the lower scores on average exhibited by minorities thereon reflect a real deficit no doubt the function of a variety of societal forces.”

    Don’t people get fired for saying that sort of thing?

    1. And yet he wasn’t. And won’t be. What possibly, possibly could explain it?

      People really need to get out of their conspiracy theory cocoons.

      1. Why don’t you tell me what conspiracy you think I believe in, and I’ll tell you whether or not you’re full of it.

        1. That academics need be in ready fear they will get fired for saying “that the law school entrance exam, the LSAT, is not inherently biased. As such, the lower scores on average exhibited by minorities thereon reflect a real deficit no doubt the function of a variety of societal forces.”

          1. They cancelled a feminist law prof for saying her minorities are getting low grades, a fact, on exams that are blinded from names.

            Diversity and affirmative action are hurting minorities by misleading them. The education is one that fits, not too hard, not too easy for the individual not for the group. Group decisions are Commie decisions.

          2. If you’ve got a gig as a diversity presenter – or if you’ve otherwise established your credibility as an SJW – and you blame any academic disparities as a result of “societal forces,” especially systemic racism, then, no, you’re probably only at low risk for getting fired, especially if it’s only a one-time incident.

            But if you’re going to deny that a test is racist, then try not to be a conservative, moderate, or older white liberal when saying it.

            1. Cal discovers that context might make an offensive comment into one not so! Progress!

    2. And the GRE’s in Physics show a systematically lower distribution of scores for blacks by nearly 200 points, for hispanics by almost 150 points and by non-Hispanic whites by almost 50 points. The best distribution function is that for Asians

      1. Certainly true as far as it goes, but I don’t see any need to believe theories such as “blacks have lower IQ.” I can much more easily believe that blacks have social disadvantages growing up, partly from other blacks who discourage work and studying as “acting white” and partly from parents who don’t see it as their responsibility to help kids do their homework.

        The best remedy I suggest is to find a way to deny subsidies or tax exemption to the people, like Al Sharpton, who give their followers those sorts of bad advice.

        1. Plus, while various and sundry standardized tests are the best metric we have of predicting future success, they’re still really really bad at it.

          1. Still, and student who scores 100 points below the overall mean in unlikely to get past a PhD qualifying exam, UNLESS they get into Harvard which has eliminated that exam for physics.

            Our goal should be to get promising students up to speed in one get so that they can compete in an intellectually rigorous field

        2. I really want to believe what you say, but how do we explain the clear and persistent superiority of Asians in this matter? Is it “Asian Privilege?” And how do we explain the overall poor performance of essentially all of Africa? Yes, like black Americans they have poor schools, but why is that true? Why does much of Africa rely on Americans and Europeans to travel thousands of miles on charity missions to do their surgery, drill their wells, teach them basic skills?
          I really don’t like any of the answers that occur to me.

          1. Don’t recent immigrants from Africa do quite well overall?

            1. I have never seen any real data about that.
              The data that I have seen was part of a professional society program to build bridge programs between HBCUs and leading research universities.
              Those bridge programs usually inserted an extra year or two summers to prepare students before hitting highly competitive programs

          2. My guess about Asians, and it is only a guess, is that they are socialized not to fear testing and trained from high school years to work fast and accurately

          3. In the case of Africa, you must remember that both prenatal malnutrition and parasitic diseases are endemic there, and both are well known to reduce IQ, and essentially irreversibly. Doesn’t matter how good your genes are if somebody comes by and hits you in the head with a hammer, basically.

            As for Asians in America, the Asian “Tiger Mom” didn’t become a cliche for no reason. It’s mostly cultural, maybe with a genetic contribution due to immigrants who can’t just walk here being smarter on average to begin with due to the heavy selection pressure.

        3. Hard to accept that the “social disadvantage” plays so strongly on a physics GRE after 3 years in college, students most go to markedly inferior colleges AND have very poor advising that they are ready for graduate school.

  5. It is not hard. Diversity is Chinese Commie agenda. Zero tolerance for diversity. Of course, very dark skinned Africans outperformed whites in the 2010 Census. So all this racism crap is fake. Employers and admissions officials are chasing those people, waving cash, because they are top performers. They come from intact patriarchal families, are mostly Christian, and love America.

    All entities with diversity programs have to be defunded and shut down.

    1. “Diversity is Chinese Commie agenda. ”

      Yeah, the CCP is known for their multicultural PC diversity agenda, just ask the ethnic minorities in those lavish camps they got preferences for!

      Parrots say the wackiest things.

      1. No, the CCP promotes multiculturalism HERE so as to weaken us.

        Psychops….

    2. Also, those Africans are thin, good looking and masculine. None is a race whore. Most are Republicans because they are not tax sucking parasites. They are tax payers.

      1. “Also, those Africans are thin, good looking and masculine. ”

        Keep it in your pants, Behar!

        1. What about their other features, like love of America?

    3. ” Diversity is Chinese Commie agenda.”
      It is difficult to believe that any sane person could think that, but charity forbids my saying so.

  6. It is to attack and destroy the USA, you diverse, affirmative action baby. The Chinese put diversity up against a wall and shoot it, to stay strong.

    The tech billionaires want access to the Chinese market, and have no trouble betraying our country to enrich themselves. They use their media and the Democrat Party to promote this treason agenda.

  7. There is no discussion or discourse and it was well elucidated here. Would be nice if we had an actual discourse about Covid. Too many voices have been silenced. Doctors losing their licenses for daring to speak out and appeal to reason and not hysteria. And heaven forbid you question authority or vaccines. They’ll lynch you. I see more cult behavior than science.

    1. One thing COVID has made clear is how many people, when confronted with such a clear free-rider problem, prefer to make things up rather than deal with this challenge to their ideological precepts.

      Calling for tolerance of heterodox opinions doesn’t work great when you’ve already decided the heterodox opinion is correct for ideological reasons.

  8. A professor went to his college Office of Diversity and Inclusion. When asked how they could help him, he said he was there to report a missing parrot.

    They said, “Well why come to us? Should you report that to animal control or something?”

    The professor said, “Well, yeah, I’m on my way there now. But first I wanted to stop by and let you guys know that I don’t agree with a thing that bird says!”

    1. I’ll steal that – just as I suspect you may have stolen that from some jokester in the former Soviet Union.

      1. Yeah, life there was hilarious. But now it’s getting pretty funny here too…

  9. I suggest that a better parallel to CRT “shaming groups” than McCarthyism would be the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Which shows where it will lead if not stopped.

    1. Will it take 2 or 3 Democrat megadeaths to prevent that? I hope not.

  10. Does anyone directly disagree with the conclusion; that is, “defend your beliefs unless they’re proven wrong, because sometimes your orphan ideas might turn out to be correct”?

    Is freedom of expression — even heretical expression — something that should be supported?

    1. 1) ‘unless they’re proven wrong’ allows for a lot of cognitive bias to show up – no one wants to be proven wrong.

      2) If your beliefs involve someone else’s beliefs being invalid, you need to step off. It’s the reverse paradox of intolerance. There are probably other bedrock principles like that.

      Everyone is bad at 1), the left is awful at 2) but the right has been bad at 2 for a while.

  11. Soviets and Nazis readily adopted mandatory oath taking and social shaming as methods of forced conformity in addition to imprisonment, torture, and murder.

    I can just hear “woke” SJWs respond: But it’s OK — we want to force people to conform to good things!

  12. I am annoyed by this kind of virtue signaling, as well. But over-the-top whinges like this – I got tired of reading halfway through, and realized that I was only halfway through – make me want to dissociate myself from the whingers. If I have to choose between the smug anti-racist consultant putting me rather uncomfortably on the spot for a brief moment on a Zoom, and the whiney, no less smug law professor who quietly endured the embarrassment only to pen a thousand words comparing the moment to taking oaths affirming ideological purity (or the law professor who promotes his whining), I’ll choose the anti-racist.

    I want to be on the side of reason. I don’t want to be on the side of whiney man-babies.

  13. Speaking of “emotional support peacocks” and emotional fragility among ostensible adults . . . check this guy.

    1. It’s the woke virtue-signalers vs. the superstitious, half-educated bigots.

      Where is the hope for America?

    2. Oy vey. Sometimes one should just let go. Suing a former lover because she disclosed private details is one way to draw more attention to the disclosed details. Sometimes it is best to do nothing and let the scandal fade away.

  14. Galileo rejected HELIO-centrism? Talk about burying the lede…

  15. The last paragraph of this article manifestly cannot apply to CRT also known as “anti-racism,” since that belief starts with the premise that everything bad that happens to a black is the result of malicious racism. That supposed fact is a malicious, racist lie by everyone who has ever spoken it. Anyone who sends me to an “anti-racism” class will face formal charges of hostile environment racial harassment, regardless of the setting.

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