The Volokh Conspiracy

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Yascha Mounk and Eboo Patel on Pluralism


An interesting Persuasion interview (text and audio). I expect I disagree with Patel on much, but I found his comments to be thoughtful and well expressed. One excerpt from the beginning:

What's happened is an interesting critique morphed into a paradigm which then shifted into a regime. Anti-racism is an interesting critique. Here's what you're not talking about: you're not talking about structural racism; you're not talking about oppressed peoples; you're not talking about oppressors, etc. So I think that's an interesting critique.

But when it becomes a paradigm, it seeks to explain all of the facts of the world. And now you're in trouble, because there's lots of things that anti-racism doesn't explain. It doesn't explain why 57% of the people in higher education are women and only 43% are men, right? That is not usefully explained by any kind of classic left-wing perspectives of patriarchy, structural racism, etc. It doesn't explain the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, rural Ohio, etc.

Once you lock yourself into an explanatory framework or a paradigm, well, now you're in the situation of kind of twisting the facts of the world to fit your worldview, which, by the way, I think is the cardinal sin of an intellectual.

But actually what's happened is in some places it became even worse than a paradigm; it became a regime. Now, all of a sudden, it has coercive force and the ability to punish: We are going to require you to write a DEI statement that agrees with our perspective for you to be considered a faculty member at this university. We are going to advertise our bias response team and we are going to encourage you to report what we think of as bias in order for us to kind of launch an investigation.

I personally think that oppressor-oppressed frameworks, while I disagree with them, are an interesting thing to bring to the table. It's a useful perspective. It should not be a paradigm and it should absolutely not be a regime—that's what's happened over the last 10 years.

And one more:

I want to tell you all the ways that I'm inspired by Islam. It is not Islamophobia that makes me a Muslim. It's Islam that makes me a Muslim. I don't want to tell a victim story. That's demeaning. I want to tell an inspiring story.

The whole thing is much worth reading, I think.