Extremist political cycles seem to have a natural lifespan, but it requires real political will to overcome them.
November’s off year elections revealed that the rollback of wokeness, if not imminent, may be nearer than many had hoped. Voters rejected decisively two of wokeness’s core policy components: Defunding the police lost badly in heavily Democratic cities from Seattle to Minneapolis to Buffalo, while Republican Glenn Youngkin’s vow to curb critical race theory in Virginia schools was central to his surprise win in the blue state.
Extremist political cycles seem to have a natural lifespan. Five years passed between the storming of the Bastille and Thermidor—the arrest of Robespierre by his fellow revolutionaries, fearful that the guillotine would touch them next; another five and a national equilibrium of sorts was restored to France. A similar ten years ensued between years between Mao’s launching of the Cultural Revolution and the arrest and imprisonment of its major backers by their rivals within China’s ruling hierarchy. Neither country had meaningful elections, but they did have public opinions, which eventually shifted enough to embolden those in position to challenge the radical wave to step up and assume the risks. If one dates the onset of wokeness from 2014, which saw the sudden explosion of phrases about race, equity, and white supremacy in the prestige media, we are seven years in.
The United States has free elections, a First Amendment, and political norms which remain more or less intact, and wokeness is an ideological movement which has managed to humiliate its victims and get them fired from their jobs, not to kill them. But it is not a stretch to see in it parallels to the totalitarian movements of the past century: the preening self-righteousness of its enforcers; their seeking of forced confessions, depicted as apologies from their victims; the attempted politicization of every aspect of social life, including language; the insistence that the traditional mores of their own country are utterly debased. Never in American history has so much energy been devoted to getting people fired for expressing an opinion.
Wokeness may well advance to the point where many of its goals become as institutionalized and naturally accepted as the abolition of slavery. (Some of the woke elect left style themselves as abolitionists). More likely it will be rolled back, its practitioners and cultural preferences first widely mocked and then ignored, its victims rehabilitated and in some cases honored. November 2 marked the first hint of a real electoral pushback against wokeness; hopefully it will prove as pivotal as the battle of Midway.
The origins and nature of the woke revolution have been described extensively if not yet definitively. Yes, it has elements of a new religion; yes, it was made possible by social media, with the potential to organize quickly a Twitter mob; yes, the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath pulled the rug out from a generation of debt-ridden recent college graduates while giving business elites incentive to welcome diversions from a more class based leftism.
Within less than a decade a fringe and not especially popular way of thinking and speaking, spawned in the humanities departments of prestigious universities, had become the dominant discourse in all non-explicitly conservative media and, seemingly, the regnant ideology of the nation’s largest political party. This takeover occurred with stunning speed, while the initial popular resistance to it—chiefly the 2016 election of Donald Trump—served more as an accelerant than a brake. At this writing, wokeness seems entrenched in the media, liberal foundations, and universities, but also in institutions thought of as mainstream and non-political. A top navy admiral touts the work of Ibram Kendi; the American Medical Association officially calls for doctors to work absurd woke phraseology into regular communications with their patients.
The core idea of wokeness is that America and the West are essentially defined by interlocking systems of oppression, the main pillar of which is white supremacy, while secondary but important ones are the privileging of heterosexuality and of men over women. To be woke is to believe that all social life is permeated by these dominations, and that overturning them is a moral imperative. Radical leftists have held views proximate to this for over a century, but their nominal embrace by much of the establishment is a new thing.
For the woke, America’s history of slavery and segregation are at its core, more important than virtually everything else. Wokeness portrays itself as a struggle against whiteness, or white supremacy, rather than against white people themselves, a rhetorical evasion which allows white people to become the main practitioners of woke politics.
With black activism, wokeness has a somewhat contradictory relationship.
On one side it is given to displays of performative submissiveness. While fires from the George Floyd riots were still smoldering, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer led Democratic members of the House and Senate to the halls outside the congressional visitor’s gallery, where they donned kente cloth and knelt before the cameras; similar, if less striking, quasi-religious enactments continued throughout the summer. A few weeks later the New York Times announced it would henceforth capitalize black when it referred to race (white would remain lowercase) as its standard style, inevitably evoking the Bible’s capitalization of pronouns referring to the deity. Virtually every national news organization followed suit.
On the other side of wokeness is a kind of paternalism, which sees black Americans as people without much agency or control over their lives, defined by the past injuries of slavery and segregation and still burdened by chains of structural racism which are seldom specified but so pervasive that standards of achievement and conduct appropriate for other Americans must be suspended for them.
But despite its apparent dominance in corporate media and major institutions, wokeness increasingly resembles what ’60s era Maoists called a “paper tiger”; when confronted directly, as wokeness has seldom been in the past seven years, its popularity and power prove less than meets the eye.
The battle over “critical race theory” in the Virginia gubernatorial election was an early illustration. It’s difficult to discern how much critical race theory is being taught in Virginia schools: there are official Virginia state documents which call explicitly for “critical race theory” to be used in the training of teachers and the make-up of the curriculum; in some districts, CRT inspired consultants were hired to do mandatory teacher training. Materials deployed by these new “diversity” consultants are full of a bizarre racial essentialism, portraying white people as cruelly individualistic, people of color as warm communalists. Some Virginia parents in comfortable suburban districts were troubled enough by it to turn traditionally sleepy school board meetings into hotbeds of protest.
Curiously, the response by the Terry McAuliffe campaign—to charges by his opponent that Democrats were ignoring parents and teaching CRT in schools—was to claim that there was “no critical race theory” taught in Virginia schools, that the whole issue was a racist “dog whistle” cooked up by conservative activist Christopher Rufo and others. This denial was echoed repeatedly by nearly every mainstream media outlet covering the election.
This itself was an interesting tell. Liberals generally have no reluctance to defend their beliefs or policies, whether they be the right to have an abortion, higher taxes on corporations and the rich, or worker and environmental protection laws. But on CRT they mounted no defense, just denial and obfuscation. They would explain, as to a fifth grader, that critical race theory was a high brow discipline sometimes studied in law schools, and is absolutely not something taught to Virginia elementary and high school students. As if they assumed that people wouldn’t notice that programs and curricula explicitly grounded in CRT pedagogy, endorsed officially by the nation’s largest teacher’s union, was seeping into the schools.
Why did the sophisticated, consultant heavy, and poll savvy McAuliffe campaign lie? The most plausible answer is that it understood that the substance of a critical race theory pedagogy couldn’t be defended before voters in a campaign, knew it was extremely unpopular among people of all races, and knew also that it couldn’t be disavowed, because powerful constituencies within the Democratic party, especially the National Education Association, were too heavily invested in it. When push came to shove in a tight election, the establishment left wouldn’t stand up and fight for woke pedagogy.
Woke attitudes about law enforcement fared no better. The aptly named war on cops has been building for years, generating a narrative that most American police departments have been systematically oppressing black people. Its first major significant victory came in New York, with a series of court rulings against the NYPD’s policies of proactive policing, sometimes called “stop and frisk,” in 2013. Stop and frisk had proven enormously successful in getting illegal guns and the criminals wielding them off the street, but the tactic almost invariably targeted young black men.
This made sense to those who believed police should focus their efforts on those neighborhoods plagued by a disproportionate share of illegal gun crime. But by the end of the Bloomberg mayoralty, ending proactive policing had become a liberal cause célèbre. The next year, when a black man from Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, was killed while resisting arrest, the anti-police narrative exploded nationally, with major voices in the mainstream media giving oxygen to the idea that the nation’s police were waging a “genocidal” war against black people, that calling 911 was an effort to get black people murdered.
It was a lie of course—the number of unarmed black Americans killed by the police is small, not disproportional to the number of white people killed by the police and infinitesimal in comparison to number of black people killed by black criminals. But the sheer enormity of the lie—repeated incessantly—made it a widely accepted fact, if not a true one. If the police were indeed racist murderers as frequently portrayed, defunding police departments made a great deal of sense.
By the summer of 2020, the topic of racist policing dominated the national conversation; and left-wing candidates calling for abolition of police departments began winning democratic primaries. A month after George Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis’s City Council voted by a 9-3 margin to dismantle the police department altogether, replacing it with a social worker agency.
But it did not take long for anti-cop wave to peak. In Minneapolis, as murders surged 50 percent and the number of downtown shootings doubled, city residents mobilized against the City Council’s anti-cop campaign. In Dallas, the City Council moved to hire more cops. In New York, progressives were stunned when a former black cop running on a law-and-order platform trounced progressives in the Democratic mayoral primary, while running up impressive margins in black and Latino working class districts. On election day last November, a defund-the-police socialist who had won the Democratic primary in Buffalo lost the general election even though she was the only person on the ballot. In Minneapolis, voters rejected an abolish the police department ballot measure decisively. In very liberal Seattle, an actual Republican won the city attorney race.
A restoration of the kind of policing that cut crime rates so successfully in the 1990s won’t come quickly—much legal damage had been done to inhibit effective policing, while in many cities left-wing district attorneys, elected late in the last decade in low turnout elections and committed to not putting criminals in jail, remain in office. But a 30 percent rise in murders in 2020—the largest since records have been kept, and a surge in violent crime in nearly every major city has made defunding the police a non-starter.
These political battles over education and policing plainly originate from America’s long standing racial divisions of black and white. But they are now contested on a very different demographic playing field. After 40 years of historically high levels of immigration, the United States has a far different racial makeup than it did when Martin Luther King was assassinated. An influx of immigrants from Mexico, Latin America, Asia and the Mideast has reduced the white share of the population from over 85 percent to under 65 percent; among school children, “Anglo” white kids make up less than half.
There may be no more broadly accepted assumption about demographics in American politics than that the reduction of the white share of the population favors the left. This was true in the 1960s, when one progressive intellectual famously labeled the white race the cancer of human history. It was central to Jesse Jackson’s two presidential bids during the ’80s, where he touted a “Rainbow Coalition” of black, Latino, and progressive white voters. It was a theme of Mike Davis’s much-admired-on-the-left 1986 (and recently reissued) book Prisoners of the American Dream which forecast a “black and Latino working class, 50 million strong” spearheading the triumph over American imperialism. It is true of contemporary left-wing authors enthusing triumphantly over demographic transformation, like Steve Phillips (Brown is the New White), and of liberals like Ruy Teixeira (The Optimistic Leftist). The woke neologism BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) arose to underscore the implicit solidarity of all non-whites, the soon to be demographic majority, against a declining group of conservative white Americans.
This analysis is intuitively persuasive. It was also prominent in paleoconservative circles in the early 1990s; Peter Brimelow at National Review published essays showing the GOP shrinking to national irrelevance by the early middle of this century. To some extent it has been vindicated: California, which launched the political careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, has become a reliably one-party state and other states are moving in the same direction. On many issues, the new immigration probably has shifted the United States towards the left; certainly any kind of “old fashioned” rooted-in-land-and-tradition conservatism, including anything associated with Dixie, now has a smaller demographic base to appeal to.
But this is not the case for the particular issues that emanate from wokeness. To state the obvious, most Asian, Latino, and other non-white immigrants and their children are not that invested in black-white history and the proper negotiation of the historic wrongs white Americans have done to black Americans. The vast majority of them have lived all their American lives in a post-civil rights revolution country, where racial discrimination is carefully monitored and illegal. Their ancestors didn’t own slaves, nor fight a war to end slavery. They can’t easily be made to feel guilty about the American past, and despite great efforts by university social science departments, it is not so easy to get them to feel aggrieved by it either.
An unforeseen aspect of the wokeness phenomenon is how many new immigrants, or children of new immigrants, are playing critical roles in pushing back against it. Optimistic “immigrants are socially conservative” arguments have bandied around pro-immigration Republicans for decades (I was never one of them), but no one predicted the polemical vitality and occasional brilliance that would emerge from newer Americans as wokeness pushed into the center of the national agenda. Any list of names will leave out dozens, but those paying attention know that writers and activists as distinct in style and ideology as Andy Ngo, Wesley Yang, Zaid Jilani, Harmeet Dhillon, Sohrab Ahmari, and Melissa Chen—to pick a half dozen at random—are not only important in the pushback against wokeness, but that their arrival at the battlefield was an absolutely necessary reinforcement. Of course one could point to comparable numbers of woke leftists of recent immigrant background, but compared to their conservative counterparts they don’t seem important or agenda setting to a movement emotionally centered on black and white Americans.
Indeed, if one wanted to design a movement explicitly to alienate Asian Americans, it would be hard to improve on the woke’s agenda on law enforcement and schools. Some consequences of the war on cops and so-called “over-incarceration” were predictable: Police would retreat from proactive policing, and crime would rise. But no one foresaw that this would produce a surge in crime against Asians. The mainstream media took great pains to obfuscate the most salient aspects of this trend. Stories about it invariably mentioned former President Trump’s depiction of Covid-19 as the “China virus” so as to imply without saying that the hate crime perpetrators were white Trump supporters. Always highlighted was the horrific case of the white man who murdered several Asian massage parlor workers and others of different races on a killing spree apparently prompted by feelings of sexual guilt. But the reality is that what is experienced by many as an open season on vulnerable Asian Americans in our cities is driven by the same group that commits most American street crime.
One must assume Asian Americans know this. Last summer’s New York Times Magazine story about the murder of a Thai grandfather in San Francisco quoted his son-in-law, who had begun attending anti-Asian-hate rallies in the Bay Area and asking how many people there had been pushed or spat on, and by whom. Yes, many, was the response, always by a black person. This Times piece acknowledged, with seeming reluctance, that hate crimes against Asians were “more likely” to be committed by non-white people. A former Oakland police captain relates that suspects in anti-Asian hate crimes are almost exclusively black. In New York City, black people are six times more likely to commits hate crimes than white people, and comprise half the suspects in anti-Asian attacks. In the all too common videos of such attacks that show up on social media, the perpetrators are almost always black.
The tensions between the groups have roots which have not been systematically explored, but were evident as early as the racially incendiary 1990 boycott of Korean grocery stores in Brooklyn and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Of course, all ethnic and racial groups suffer from rising crime, and those in black neighborhoods are numerically most victimized by it. But in the past year of racial reckoning, the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes does, to say the least, complicate the woke narrative of an ascendant Rainbow coalition struggling to overcome white supremacy.
Everyone opposes hate crimes, and it requires some deductive reasoning to connect liberal campaigns against proactive policing, bail reform to keep suspects out of incarceration, progressive district attorneys determined to reduce the number of black Americans jailed for “minor” offenses, and the broader war on cops, to the surge in criminal attacks on vulnerable citizens.
The education issue is far more direct. For years, progressive educators have railed against standardized tests as barriers to racial equity. They have won some stunning recent victories: The University of California has ceased using the SAT as means for sorting applicants, and hundreds of other colleges have followed suit.
The SAT has not been discredited as a metric for determining the likelihood of a student succeeding academically; for that it has no equal. Its problem is a political one: Standardized test results reveal with considerable precision how much of a leg up is given to black students in college admissions competition over white and especially Asian students. The frequent result is a mismatch between student and institution where black students have less developed academic skills than their classmates, with many pooling in the bottom of the class. Some of the most notorious instances of woke cancel culture deployed against truthful speech have occurred when professors who had noticed and lamented these facts were hunted down by leftist students and subsequently dismissed from their jobs.
But in terms of potential to spark a widespread disaffection, the five decades long dispute over affirmative action in college admissions will pale next to the battles over the use of standardized tests for granting admission to academically selective high schools and curricula. In the past year of racial reckoning, the use of student standardized test scores for admission has been dropped or rolled back in Lowell High School in San Francisco, the Boston Latin School, and Thomas Jefferson High school in northern Virginia. Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio sought unsuccessfully to have the tests banned entirely for its top schools, the storied Stuyvesant and Bronx High School of Science, and is still maneuvering to reduce the percentage of students admitted to those schools by exam only. His rationale is that they aren’t sufficiently diverse—at this point more Asians pass the exams than other groups and black students do so at comparatively low rates.
Not surprisingly, Asian parents from New York to California have begun to mobilize politically and legally to combat what is quite plainly an effort to tilt a level playing field against their children. (In San Francisco their pressure has at least temporarily kept in place the exam as criterion for admission to Lowell.) In picking a fight against the exam high schools, Democratic politicians following the woke playbook have chosen to attack an institution vitally important to one of the country’s most dynamic and academically successful immigrant groups. For the first time since the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, grassroots organizations of Asian parents are at odds with Democratic politicians.
Wai Wah Chin, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, observes (in an interview on Glenn Loury’s podcast) that De Blasio and other Democrats pitch their campaign against the high performance schools in the language of representation, claiming that the student bodies of Bronx Science and Stuyvesant are not “representative” of New York. (Former New York schools chancellor Richard Carranza had gone further, warning Asian parents to back down with the menacing formulation that “no ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”) In response, Chin makes the necessary point: The kids who pass the rigorous math and verbal exams are not “representing” anyone but themselves. They have studied as individuals and take the exam as individuals, representing not a community but their own efforts. She adds that the student’s family or community might feel pride in their accomplishment; one could add that all Americans might feel proud of these incredibly successful schools. Graduates of Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech have won an extraordinary 14 Nobel Prizes in the sciences, more than many countries. Wai Wah Chin’s assertion stands directly against the racial essentialism that lies at the core of wokeness.
The issue is broader than the select exam schools which admit the cream of the student crop. There is a nationwide movement to eliminate tracking of students by ability. California, following San Francisco’s lead, is eliminating the teaching of algebra to eighth graders, which means far fewer public school students will have the opportunity to take calculus in high school. This will narrow the pipeline of students who might go on to pursue STEM majors in college and in their careers. The rationale for such changes is always the woke watchword “equity,” followed by lamentations that white and Asian students are overrepresented in advanced math courses. But of course parents of bright students want their kids to be challenged in school, and inevitably America as a whole will suffer if they are not. As one California math teacher put it, “I feel so bad for these students. We are cutting the legs of the students to make them equal to those who are not doing well in math.”
But if recent social history shows anything, it is that parents will fight harder over the education of their children than almost any issue. All over the country, parent groups are mobilizing—Asian parent groups often in the lead. As school questions emerge as hot button political issues, it will become apparent that the woke project of dumbing down schools to promote equity will fare no better than defunding the police.
The most widely noted defection from the anti-whiteness coalition comes from Latinos, emerging as the second largest demographic group in the country. Long viewed as the bedrock of any leftist Rainbow Coalition, there were certainly enough visible left-wing Latinos in academia to give this a certain plausibility. But it’s not turning out that way. Latinos remain a largely Democratic constituency, voting roughly 60 percent for Biden over Donald Trump. But this is a 16 percent drop from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 levels, a remarkable shift.
Polling shows Hispanics lukewarm towards the Black Lives Matter movement, favoring it at lower rates than whites did (the question was posed at a time when support for BLM was assumed to be the only possible opinion for decent people). Latinos oppose reparations and defunding the police, core components of the woke agenda, by more than 2-1 margins. As Ruy Teixeira, a long time proponent of the view that Hispanic immigration was a key to solid Democratic majorities, recently put it, “clearly this constituency does not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and its supposed intrinsic racism and white supremacy.” Others noted that Hispanics are now jailed at lower rates than white Americans, and are increasingly employed in law enforcement.
Few discern specific issues for the shift, though it is unlikely that woke efforts to neuter the Spanish language with terms like “Latinx” have attracted more Latinos and Latinas to the Democrats. Might the trend continue towards transforming Hispanics into a group politically analogous to Reagan Democrats—that is, a formerly Democratic working- and middle-class constituency that now votes GOP? It seems improbable, but no one predicted that a candidate could be as tough on border enforcement as Donald Trump and experience a dramatic gain in Latino votes.
The fundamental political error of wokeness lies in its judgement about how popular a movement based on anti-whiteness is likely to be in a nation increasingly less European in ancestry. Immigrants have come to America for many reasons, but a hatred of “white supremacy” is probably nowhere near the top for the vast majority. One could easily surmise that many of them are motivated by appreciation of the very qualities wokeness either deplores or works to undermine: law and order, careers open to talents, advanced levels of science and technology—and the legal and cultural structures that make those things possible.
A passage from David Reiff’s book on Los Angeles from more than three decades ago comes to mind: In the coda of one chapter, Rieff describes a billboard for a Mexican beer, then visible in nearly every Mexican town, which touts the product as “a high class blonde,” double meaning very much intended. It played on aspiration, the kind that prompted men from Mexican small towns to decamp for Mexico City, or ultimately to Los Angeles, “the greatest blonde of all.”
One of the more provocative interpretations of the origins of the relatively new movement to bring critical race theory into the teaching of elementary and high school students was suggested, almost as an aside, by Wesley Yang. Sometime in the late 2000s or early 2010s, the left looked at Latino immigration and realized that a considerable degree of assimilation was actually happening: that the Latino working class was not drinking in the vaguely Marxist ideologies incubating in university ethnic studies departments, and that there was actually a possibility—perceived by the left as a danger—that just as (according to ethnic studies phraseology popular on the left) Irish and Italian immigrants had been “allowed to become white,” the same thing was happening to non-European immigrants as well. Critical race theory thus developed as a kind of reaction, to indoctrinate school-aged children of the new immigration into a kind of racial essentialism, to deflect them from an assimilationist path.
Yang’s suggestion would correlate with Eric Kaufmann’s argument in Whiteshift, a detailed and comprehensive study of demographic transformations and evolving racial attitudes likely to occur in the West. Intermarriage rates between white Americans and new immigrants or their children are fairly high, and over time the boundaries of whiteness will expand—American and other Western majorities won’t be exclusively white any longer, but they will have some connection to white ancestry; they will acknowledge and feel cultural ties to the traditional heroes of their nations. This may be an overly optimistic view, but recent American elections do nothing to contradict it.
What does that mean for the trajectory of wokeness? If one is inclined towards optimism, one can see signs that the movement has already peaked. Clearly the national conversation is not where it was in the summer of 2020. Andrew Sullivan wrote recently how he was cheered by the HBO mini-series The White Lotus, in which the obvious villains were two highly privileged very woke college students. A similar point could be made about The Chair, a miniseries about an Asian-American woman (starring and co-produced by Sandra Oh) assuming the English department chairmanship of a Williams or Amherst type college; there too the villains are Red Guard type students who concoct spurious accusations of “Nazism” against an undisciplined professor, who is portrayed sympathetically. Would either have been aired last year? The New York Times, having last year pushed out Bari Weiss and James Bennet to appease woke staffers, suddenly found the will to give a small slot in its opinion page roster to John McWhorter, author of a brilliant book hostile to wokeness.
It can be notoriously difficult to read accurately the tenor of one’s own times. Historians can point to many private letters of learned people written well before the darkest nights of communism and Nazism, assuring one another that the worst was certainly over and things would soon improve. Still, it strikes me that America’s liberal elite is beginning to find wokeness a bit embarrassing. What does the president of Yale really think about his diversity deans publicly threatening a law student for sending an email that used the phrase “trap house”?
The actual number of the woke remains small—perhaps 6 percent of the population, according to Pew surveys of American political attitudes. It is educated, it is mostly white, it is heavily concentrated in the media and universities. But it isn’t powerful enough to control the country if majorities are mobilized to resist it.
Overcoming wokeness will require real political will and courage, as well as legislation. At some point there will need to be a successful legal challenge to the idea that disparate income and disproportionate racial outcomes by themselves constitute sufficient evidence of racial discrimination, but that too is in the realm of the possible. As voters from New York City to Buffalo to Seattle showed without ambiguity, when wokeness is on the ballot and opposed vigorously, it loses. In activism and voting patterns, America’s most rapidly growing demographic groups are largely showing themselves indifferent or actively hostile to woke policies. If the tide is indeed turning, in a few years wokeness will be more mocked than celebrated. If not, America’s long reign as a relatively successful country will end.
The nation’s colleges and universities market themselves to prospective attendees and their families as places where academics and inquiry combine to produce well-rounded students capable of advanced thinking and prepared for the world of tomorrow. The reality, a recently published database of campus incidents shows, is quite different.
The College Fix, a website sponsored by the Student Free Press Association that provides student journalists with the opportunity to expose the insanities and inanities that occurred regularly in contemporary higher education recently compiled a database of incidents showing the so-called “cancel culture” to be alive, well, and growing throughout American institutions of higher learning.
The organization’s work, it says, is the first real attempt to quantify the problem. According to The Fix, the intolerant, politically correct crowd who are both socially prominent and academic decision-makers on so many campuses can claim, at minimum, to have taken “650 scalps” over the past ten years.
Among the outrages large and small identified in the database are:
–A move by the University of Pennsylvania to rename its Alice Paul Center – named for a suffragette who was instrumental in securing the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote – as the “Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies” to signal a “commitment” to LGBTQ “intellectual and political movements.”
–A public apology delivered in 2021 by the president of Muhlenberg College – a private college well known for its theater arts department – for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” put on in 2010 followed by the deletion of all the photos of the performance from the school’s website.
–The expulsion from the University of Louisville (KY) School of Medicine of fourth-year student Austin Clark, allegedly over his expression of pro-life beliefs school officials labeled unprofessional.
–The dismissal of Hannah Berliner Fischthal, an adjunct instructor at St. John’s University in Queens, NY after she read a passage containing the N-word from Twain’s anti-slavery novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson” in her “Literature of Satire” class – but not before first explaining the context of the word and saying she hoped it would not offend anyone.
“What we have witnessed over the last decade is nothing short of a new Red Guard enforcing its cultural revolution on American college campuses,” said Jennifer Kabbany, editor of The College Fix. “This database stands athwart the campaign to condemn, erase and rewrite our shared history.”
The number of incidents cited in the database amount to roughly one per week for every week for ten years. The College Fix said updates would be made regularly as part of an ongoing effort “to document every example of targeting and suppression in an age of censorship, memory-holing, and soft totalitarianism.” What has been uncovered so far, the group said, is likely just the tip of a very large iceberg “but there are likely more examples out there, and much more to come.”
American elites are tight-lipped on an upsurge in anti-Semitism
As protests and riots consumed the country last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the nation’s top corporate leaders weighed in almost in unison to condemn Floyd’s murder and voice solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ninety percent of Fortune 100 companies issued such statements, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis. Amazon decried “the inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country”; Apple called for recognition of “the fear, hurt, and outrage” in the black community; and Google parent company Alphabet vowed to do “the harder work” of rectifying structural inequities.
The nation’s top universities followed suit. Every one, from top-ranked Princeton to 20th-ranked UCLA, recommitted itself to addressing what they all described in one formulation or another as the structural and enduring racism in American society. They were similarly responsive in March to an epidemic of violence targeting Asian Americans—every school responded publicly to the attacks.
But in corporate America and academia alike, the solidarity did not extend to the American Jewish community when it experienced a more recent surge of anti-Semitic attacks and violence in the wake of renewed Middle East violence. The sudden silence of corporate America is a striking contrast to the flood of corporate speech on hot-button political issues over the last year.
Among the Fortune 100, it is easier to count the companies that spoke up than those that stayed silent: Just two, Amerisource Bergen and Pfizer, issued statements about the rash of anti-Semitic violence that extended from New York City to Los Angeles in the wake of last month’s conflagration between Israel and Hamas. Google acknowledged an “alarming increase in anti-Semitic attacks” after sheepishly reassigning a top member of its diversity team, Kamau Bobb, whose anti-Semitic writings the Free Beacon exposed.
Just 6 of the top 20 institutions of higher education issued statements about the attacks. Of those that did, some, like Columbia, offered a variation of the “All Lives Matter” trope, condemning “harassment … of people who are Jewish or Palestinian or anyone else.” Others, like Yale University, saw faculty members voice support for “the Palestinian struggle as an indigenous liberation movement confronting a settler colonial state” while making no mention of anti-Semitism.
The anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism of the intersectional left have been largely ignored by a cultural and business elite eager to embrace the social justice movement—or inoculate itself from the movement’s attacks.
But for Jews, the institutionalizing of this new anti-Semitism at schools and businesses across the country—complete with a bureaucracy of diversity officers like Google’s house anti-Semite to enforce it—is a threat that cannot be ignored.
This week, heretofore nearly anonymous hammer thrower Gwen Berry made international headlines when, during the podium ceremony for winning bronze in an Olympic trial, she turned away from the United States flag as the national anthem played. The anthem wasn’t played for her, or for the other competitors in the hammer throw; every day during the trials, a pre-scheduled anthem went out over the sound system.
Berry turned 90 degrees from the flag, stood with her hand on her hip, and glared directly into the camera. It was a deliberate provocation and a deliberate attempt to raise her own profile. “I feel like it was a setup,” she later complained, “and they did it on purpose.”
Actually, Berry just saw an opportunity to maximize her profile, and she seized it with alacrity. In the United States, there’s far more money to be made and fame to be achieved by spurning the American flag and the national anthem than by embracing it: Colin Kaepernick makes millions because he failed as a quarterback but succeeded as a self-aggrandizing symbol of supposed racial bravery. Meanwhile, the thousands of athletes with track records superior to either Kaepernick’s or Berry’s who stand for the national anthem remain anonymous.
That’s because America currently rewards an entitled sense of grievance. Most Americans know little about foreign countries; they somehow believe that the United States is inferior, or that the prosperity, health and free lifestyle to which they have become accustomed is the global and historic norm.
It most assuredly is not.
While Berry was protesting the national anthem, the Chinese government was busy arresting the editor of the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily. That arrest came on the heels of the arrest of one of Apple Daily’s columnists for “conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security.” While Berry was protesting the national anthem, the Taliban was busy spreading like a metastasizing cancer over Afghanistan, preparing its new subjects for the tender mercies of brutal Islamist rule. While Berry was protesting the national anthem during an event at which she threw heavy objects for sport, billions of people were living in absolute privation the world over.
None of this means that the shortcomings of America should be ignored. But to protest the flag or the national anthem as particular symbols of grievance is to demonstrate full-scale your own ignorance and ingratitude. “I’m here to represent those who died due to systemic racism,” Berry said. But she herself is an excellent indicator of just how much promise America holds for its citizens. She grew up in the home of her grandmother, with 13 people in the house; she had a baby out of wedlock at 15 and then earned a college scholarship. She got two jobs and helped support her extended family. Now, she’s going to the Olympics. And presumably, there, she will turn her back on the flag and the national anthem if she makes it to the podium.
In doing so, she’ll become a hero to millions. She’ll get richer; she’ll get more famous. Perhaps, like pseudo-Marxist Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter, she’ll buy herself a few houses; maybe, like Kaepernick, she’ll make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Like self-declared Marxist Cullors, who currently owns three separate houses worth over $1.5 million each, Berry is in it for the attention and the profit. Yesterday, nobody had heard of her. Today, everybody has. It’s that simple.
One thing is certain, however: Those who spend their days championing their own ingratitude at a society that gives them extraordinary opportunities — opportunities unavailable to nearly all humans for nearly all of human history, and unavailable to most people on the planet right now — aren’t likely to live happier lives. And they’re unlikely to make their nations better, either.
Congressional GOP urges Pentagon to ditch radical politics in training materials
Troubled by an influx of critical race theory into the military, a coalition of veterans and congressional Republicans are demanding the Pentagon stop placating left-wing activists and focus on national defense.
A July 2020 film by the United States Air Force Academy football team endorsing Black Lives Matter and “antiracism” education prompted retired Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop to speak out against the school’s administrators. Military academies, the 34-year Air Force veteran said, should remain politically neutral, particularly at a time when Black Lives Matter protests have led to riots and violence throughout major cities across the country.
“Rather than e pluribus unum, rather than teamwork, rather than cohesion, we’re being taught an ideology which seeks to divide us based on the color of our skin,” Bishop told the Washington Free Beacon. “I’ve flown into combat zones. It didn’t matter if my copilot was black or not. How are we better for teaching all the elements of critical race theory?”
Bishop’s complaints were ignored by academy leadership. They heard similar stories from veterans at other schools and bases. Cadets spoke about running into books by Malcolm X and other radicals in a new “Diversity and Inclusion Reading Room” at the school, which did not return a request for comment. That experience led Bishop and Scott to start an advocacy group called Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services. In under a year, STARRS boasts a membership into the hundreds, including dozens of officers and retired military officials.
“There’s a culture of fear within the military now,” Bishop said. “On the one hand, it’s okay to cheer on Black Lives Matter [on a military base], but if you speak out against this Marxist ideology you’ll be relieved of your duties. Ask yourself, ‘Is this what China and Russia are concerned about?'”
Many Republicans in Congress share similar objections to the injection of radical ideologies into the armed forces. On Wednesday, 30 of them called on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to “take action to fight back against the creeping left-wing extremism in the U.S. military.” Republicans in the House and Senate expressed alarm at the firing of U.S. Space Force Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeier, who criticized the “neo-Marxist” agenda infiltrating the military. House Republicans are demanding the military change course from its focus on diversity. With a growing threat from China, they argue, the military must remain focused on winning wars rather than appeasing fringe left-wing activists.
“The military’s long history of standing above politics has made it one of the most respected institutions in America and enabled our armed forces to both defend the Homeland and serve as one of the bulwarks of our constitutional order,” wrote Rep. Matt Rosendale (R., Mont.). “That legacy is now in jeopardy.”
The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment.
Announcements from senior Biden administration officials about new programs to crack down on right-wing extremism within its ranks have sparked outrage from Republicans. During his confirmation hearings in January, Austin told the Senate that the Pentagon’s job is to “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”
Rep. Randy Weber (R., Texas), who signed the letter to Austin, said the imposition of critical race theory from top military brass is more damaging than the social media posts of individual soldiers. He called on other members of the military and the public to speak out and pressure the Pentagon.
“Patriotic Americans cannot stand idly by watching the politicization of our armed forces. George Washington—first a general, then a president—relinquished his commission before entering office,” Weber wrote. “A truly visionary leader, he recognized the perils of a politically-biased military. Our men and women in uniform are not lab rats in a social science experiment.”
The “woke” fancy themselves crusaders engaged in a battle against injustice, racism, inequality and other societal ills they believe have held certain people back since before this country was founded. They may look askance these days at the author of the Declaration of Independence but are passionately committed to his thesis that all men and women are not only created equal but, by virtue of their humanity, possess certain rights which the state cannot legitimately take from them.
Don’t be fooled. It’s all part of an immense power grab by those seeking to remake the nation according to the ideas of certain 19th-century European white males who believed the highest, best use of power was to assure that goods and services—as well as the capital needed to produce them—are not allocated through the free market but “From each according to their ability, to each according to his needs.”
The decision to wrap those ideas up in a contemporary campaign against racism—one that depends on people not seeing their peers as equals regardless of color and on affirmative denunciations of anything remotely “racist”—is a neat trick designed to keep the well-intentioned from becoming suspicious. The United States is probably the single place where, considering our size, population and multi-ethnic character, race matters least. America is a place where anyone can succeed and where success is still considered something to be emulated rather than envied, progressive rhetoric aside. If racism still formed a kind of communal chain holding certain people down, it would have been foolhardy for the GOP leadership to choose Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to deliver Wednesday’s televised response to President Joe Biden‘s address to a joint session of Congress.
Sen. Scott’s success in business and politics, to which he himself alludes repeatedly, is a matter of character. Not just his own but his mother’s, her parents’ and that of several mentors he encountered along the path of life. His experience is quintessentially American—in the best of all possible ways.
So why did the woke remain silent when, moments after the speech ended, Scott began to trend on Twitter as “Uncle Tim”—an ugly phrase, meant to convey the stereotypical image of a black man happily subservient to white people?
It’s a slur all right, grounded in race. It suggests Sen. Scott is somehow a pawn of white men and women rather than a person of strength and independent mind who can judge for himself the best way to go through life.
Why have so few denounced the racist pillorying of a black, Republican United States senator? Why hasn’t the White House press corps asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki if President Joe Biden condemns those referring to Sen. Scott as “Uncle Tim?” Why haven’t Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi been asked whether they consider it an appropriate way to characterize one of their congressional colleagues? It’s not as though questions like these would break new ground. The Washington press corps hounded Donald Trump with them throughout his four years in office. Why is it silent now?
The same is true of the talking heads, whose nightly virtue signals to America about what is and is not racist dictate how the public should feel about every event, politician or piece of legislation. They too have had little to say about the “Uncle Tim” smear—just as they and their predecessors remained silent when similar slurs were hurled at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and other prominent black conservatives. Some of my fellow political reporters and columnists still deny that a notorious incident from the days before camera phones when someone tossed Oreos—black on the outside, white on the inside—at former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele even happened.
If the woke were as anti-racist as they claim, they’d be rushing to Sen. Scott’s defense. “A disagreement with him over ideas is not an excuse to pejoratively invoke the color of his skin,” they might say if they were honest. They haven’t, which is legitimate grounds to wonder about their integrity—on race and everything else. Are their sentiments genuine or are we just being played?
If approved, rule would funnel federal money to antiracist groups
The Biden administration this week proposed a rule that would encourage public schools to adopt radical, racially driven curricula in American history and civics classes.
The Department of Education on Monday proposed a rule that would prioritize federal funding for education groups that help schools develop and implement antiracist teaching standards. If the rule takes effect, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education would increase grants to woke groups across the country.
School districts in recent months have increased their efforts to weave critical race theory—the idea that America’s political and economic systems are inherently racist—into K-12 curriculum standards. The Education Department’s proposal signals the Biden administration’s support for this trend.
The rule would allocate federal funding for education contractors who work to “improve” K-12 curriculum by promoting “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices.” The rule would also require the Education Department to encourage social studies curricula that teach students about “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.”
The Education Department claims that the coronavirus pandemic and “ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism” make changes to the education system necessary. The proposal cites the New York Times‘s 1619 Project and antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi’s criticisms of American education.
“Schools across the country are working to incorporate antiracist practices into teaching and learning,” the proposal reads. “It is critical that the teaching of American history and civics creates learning experiences that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.”
The proposal will undergo a month-long notice-and-comment period, during which interested parties can submit questions on the rule to the department. The department must respond to each individual comment prior to releasing a final draft of the rule, which can take months or even years depending on the number of comments received.
Christopher Rufo, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow who has documented the antiracist push in schools and federal institutions, told the Washington Free Beacon that this decision shows the Biden administration’s true colors.
“President Biden is structuring the Department of Education’s programs to incentivize critical race theory in America’s public schools,” Rufo said. “Biden campaigned as a moderate, but this decision would bring a radical and unpopular ideology into the classroom. The federal government should reject the principles of race essentialism, collective guilt, and neo-segregation, not encourage them in the public education system.”
The Biden administration’s move follows national trends to weave anti-American ideology into public schools. The Illinois State Board of Education in February approved a set of learning standards that asks teachers to “mitigate” behaviors that stem from “Eurocentrism” and “unearned privilege.”
California has considered adopting standards that teach kids to “resist” Christianity and other elements of the “Eurocentric neocolonial condition.” And the North Carolina State Board of Education in February adopted a new set of K-12 history curriculum that teaches high schoolers to “compare how some groups in American society have benefited from economic policies while other groups have been systematically denied the same benefits.”
Americans are now trained to see racism everywhere, even where it doesn't exist.
One high school in Oregon postponed a vote last week on whether to change its mascot from the Trojan to the Evergreens over concerns the imagery of lush timber was racist.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School, named after the prominent black activist and journalist who documented lynching in the post-Civil War era, was considering a mascot change to adopt a symbol more representative of its connection to the community. Board members complained, however, that evergreen trees would conjure up imagery invoking the brutal execution of African-Americans.
“I think everyone comes with blind spots and I think that might’ve been a really big blind spot,” said Director Michelle DePass at the school board meeting.
The episode is emblematic of how the country has come to see race, viewing minorities deemed oppressed by the woke left as fragile special-interest groups that Americans must hold a religious commitment to buttress in the moral righteousness of “antiracism.” Everywhere, Americans are explicitly reminded of the racial inequities among minority groups as evidence of their inherent racism and the nation’s irredeemably racist past — and present.
Starting at an early age, Americans are barraged with statistics and anecdotes, about everything from income to health status, that are always broken down by race to highlight disparities that victimize minorities and define their destiny as one determined by racist circumstance over personal responsibility. This ideology of abject victimhood taught in classrooms, newsrooms, and boardrooms after being bred for an entire generation on left-wing university campuses has now produced a nation dangerously constrained by a toxic obsession with race.
Under this doctrine, anything and everything must be vetted by 21st-century standards of cultural acceptance to root out the poisonous racism. This obsession, however, is the root of American demise. A nation primed to think only about race will only think about race.
Americans are now trained to see racism in everything, even where it doesn’t exist. Trees are racist. Hiking is racist. Your cereal box is racist. Your depictions of Santa Claus and Jesus are racist. Claiming otherwise to any of it is also racist.
Minorities are trained to see themselves as hopelessly oppressed and facing endless aggressions at every turn. Every slightest impolite infraction can earn the morally indignant condemnation as racist, wrecking the perpetrator as a villain responsible for deep personal trauma. The so-called trauma, however, is merely a preconception inculcated by years of woke indoctrination.
None of this is to say racism doesn’t exist. Americans can and should recognize there are racial tensions that need to be addressed. The radical obsession with defining every aspect of the modern culture through the exhaustive lens of “antiracism,” however, has only led tensions to new heights while deceiving millions of well-meaning Americans who are terrified of the racist label and roping them into the effort. And “antiracism,” weaponized by the political left to pursue political ends through intimidation of their opponents, has stifled debate, driven division, and merely created a different kind of racism.
The debate over voter ID requirements included in the recent Republican-passed Georgia voting bill provides a perfect illustration of today’s racism infecting woke corporatists and the Democratic Party, which claim — in the name of antiracism of course — that mandated identification requirements for ballot access are too difficult for minorities to comply with.
And then there’s affirmative action and the push for reparations, endorsed by the Democratic Party, which claims minorities aren’t capable of achieving of the American dream without white saviors and billions in special assistance.
Race relations under the mandated lens of antiracism aren’t getting any better. On that, nearly all Americans agree. According to Gallup, in 2008, the year Americans elected their first black president, 70 percent of white adults and 61 percent of black adults said race relations were either “very” or “somewhat good.” Only 46 percent of white adults and 36 percent of black adults said the same in 2020.
If last year’s radical acceleration of antiracism in the culture war has taught us nothing else, it’s that the colorblind approach was likely the right one. The opposite has shown to be an aggressive form of racism featuring the bigotry of low expectations cloaked in the moral righteousness of social justice.
Biden should spend less time with historians and more with moderates
A liberal president enters the White House in a time of national crisis. He campaigned as a moderate but soon reveals his intent to govern from the left of the center-left. His bold agenda has plenty of fans among journalists and academics who celebrate the expansion of the welfare state. They write stories and deliver soundbites likening the new chief executive to FDR. The end of Reaganism, they say, is at hand.
I’m referring, of course, to President Barack Obama. Shortly after his election in 2008, Time magazine portrayed him as Dr. New Deal, complete with fedora and cigarette holder. “It would seem that Obama has been studying the 1932 Great Depression campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt,” wrote E.J. Dionne in his syndicated column. “Conservatism is Dead,” announced the New Republic. “It has been that kind of presidency,” gushed Jon Meacham in 2009. “Barack Obama, moving as he wishes to move, and the world bending itself to him.”
Take a moment to recover from that last bit of purple prose. Then recall that two years after Obama’s victory, Republicans won the House. In 2014, Republicans kept the House and won the Senate. And two years after that, Republicans won complete control of the federal government. Conservatism didn’t die—the New Republic did. (It’s been reborn as a monthly.)
Now the same wonks and historians who compared Obama to the architect of managerial liberalism downplay his tenure in office as overly cautious, modest, and risk-averse. They’ve settled on a new, new FDR: Joe Biden. And Biden is ready to play the part. Even if it means risking Democratic control of Congress.
Biden met recently at the White House with a group of historians who, according to Axios, share his view that “It is time to go even bigger and faster than anyone expected. If that means chucking the filibuster and bipartisanship, so be it.” Biden’s “closest analogues,” Michael Beschloss told the news outlet, are FDR and LBJ. E.J. Dionne says Biden represents “a new disposition through which pragmatic forms of government activism add up to a quiet political revolution.” And Biden “loves the growing narrative that he’s bolder and bigger-thinking than President Obama,” writes Mike Allen. No doubt he does.
You would think that, in the midst of all the pandering and praise, the scholars who talked to Biden might have provided him some actual historical perspective. Every president Biden is said to recall, including Reagan, had to endure numerous setbacks, crises, unforced errors, and unanticipated consequences of their own policies. By 1938, the New Deal was exhausted, the economy hadn’t recovered from the Depression, and FDR won his final two terms largely on the basis of his international stature. LBJ’s landslide in 1964 was followed by a shellacking in 1966 and the collapse of the Democratic coalition in 1968. The GOP lost 26 seats in the House in 1982, forfeited control of the Senate in 1986, and when he left office Reagan handed his vice president a giant deficit, the Savings and Loan debacle, and a zealous special prosecutor.
The historians urging Biden to go big on policy aren’t analysts. They are partisan cheerleaders. If they stepped back, they would see that Biden is weaker than the presidents he admires and that vulnerable Democrats are warning the majority against overreach.
The Biden team gave Axios four reasons the president is ready to ditch the filibuster and push through a $3 trillion infrastructure and green energy bill, changes to election law in the “For the People Act,” and possibly an immigration amnesty. Biden has (1) “full party control of Congress, and a short window to go big,” (2) “party activists” are “egging him on,” (3) “he has strong gathering economic winds at his back,” and (4) “he’s popular in polls.”
But the same evidence could also be read as an argument for caution and restraint. Biden has less support in Congress than any of the presidents he emulates. (Reagan never controlled the House, but often had a majority of conservative Democrats plus Republicans.) At the moment, Biden’s party has 219 seats in the House and 50 in the Senate—meaning he can lose just two votes in the lower chamber and none in the upper one. It’s one thing to enact significant legislation on a partisan majority. It’s something else to enact such legislation on a partisan majority of one during a time when a positive COVID test upsets the whip count.
Nor is following “party activists” a certain route to political success. Economic winds change direction. And while Biden is popular, his disapproval rating in the January Gallup poll was second only to Donald Trump’s. Negative partisanship drives Biden to steamroll the Republicans. It also exposes him to political rebuke.
Some Democrats are beginning to express qualms with various aspects of Biden’s approach. Maine Democrat Jared Golden was the only member of his party to vote against Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Henry Cuellar of Texas was among the first congressmen to draw attention to the crisis on the southern border. Filemon Vela, also of Texas, announced his retirement the other day, a few months after his vote share dropped to 55 percent from 60 percent in 2018. Several House Democrats have said they disagree with Nancy Pelosi’s outrageous plot to expel Iowa Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks and replace her with Rita Hart, who lost by six votes last year. And West Virginia senator Joe Manchin has yet to cosponsor the election bill at the center of the Democrats’ campaign to end the filibuster.
In these early days, Biden’s presidency has been less a transformation than a continuation of the partisan stalemate that has existed since the end of the Cold War. Parties win elections, misread electoral victories as ideological endorsements, overreach, and pay for it at the polls. The Democrats for whom the bill will come due first are well aware of this dynamic. They may not be as good on television as Jon Meacham or Michael Beschloss, but they have plenty of insight into the aspirations and concerns of swing voters. Biden may want to have them over to the East Room. Before they are out of work.
Fairfax County Schools recently ditched merit-based admissions process
A group of parents at the nation’s top high school is suing the county school board for adopting new admissions practices that would slash the number of incoming Asian-American students.
The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a complaint Wednesday on behalf of the Coalition for TJ, a parent organization at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. In recent months, the Fairfax County School Board changed how students are admitted to the Alexandria, Va., magnet school in an attempt to boost enrollment of black and Hispanic students.
The coalition claims that the Fairfax County School Board’s newly adopted admissions processes are unconstitutional and would reduce the number of Asian-American students in the incoming freshman class by 42 percent.
In October, the Fairfax County School Board eliminated the merit-based entrance exam for the elite STEM-focused school. In December, the board limited the number of students each of the county’s middle schools can send to the high school. The lawsuit claims that this new process targets Asian Americans because the three Fairfax middle schools known for funneling students to Thomas Jefferson have predominantly Asian-American populations.
Thomas Jefferson is one of several U.S. high schools that have recently moved away from merit-based admissions in favor of practices that achieve desired racial quotas. Last month, the San Francisco Board of Education abandoned the admissions test for the city’s prestigious public high school in favor of a lottery system, claiming the former system “perpetuate[d] the culture of white supremacy.”
Harry Jackson, the parent of a black student at Thomas Jefferson High School, said that the new admissions process hurts gifted students in addition to Asian Americans.
“This is an attack on Asian Americans and on gifted education,” Jackson said at an online press conference on Wednesday. “It represents anti-intellectualism. Under the guise of trying to diversify Thomas Jefferson, they’re not doing anything to uplift the black and Hispanic community. It’s a targeted hit on the Asian community.”
Julia McCaskill, the parent of three students in Fairfax schools, said the district is blaming its failure to boost black and Hispanic enrollment rates on Asian Americans.
“Diversity is the goal for all of us and Thomas Jefferson does not belong to a certain race or group of people,” McCaskill said. “The lack of diversity of black and Latino students is a failure of the [school board], and instead of fixing those issues, they are focusing the hate on Asian Americans.”
Thomas Jefferson is a majority-minority high school. Roughly 70 percent of enrolled students are Asian. Another 20 percent are white and the remaining 10 percent comprises black, Hispanic, and other minority students.
Fairfax County Public Schools communications director Lucy Caldwell told the Washington Free Beacon that the district maintains that its new admissions process “continues to be race neutral and merit-based.” The district values diversity and says it contributes to the “richness” of education at Thomas Jefferson.
Notes on the ascendant Left’s new terminology.
ith the rise of the Left inevitable over the next two years, the public should become acquainted with the Left’s strange language of Wokespeak. Failure to do so could result in job termination and career cancellation. It is certainly a fluid tongue. Words often change their meanings as the political context demands. And what was yesterday’s orthodoxy is today’s heterodoxy and tomorrow’s heresy. So here is some of the vocabulary of the woke lexicon.
“Anti-racism.” Espousing this generic compounded -ism is far preferable to accusing particular people of being “racists” — and then being expected to produce evidence of their concrete actions and words to prove such indictments.
Instead, one can pose as fighting for “anti-racism” and thereby imply that all those whom one opposes, disagrees with, or finds distasteful, de facto, must be for “racism.”
“Anti-racism” is a useful salvo for students, teachers, administrators, public employees, political appointees, and media personnel to use peremptorily: declare from the start that you are working for “anti-racism” and then anyone who disagrees with you therefore must be racist, or, antithetically, “pro-racism.”
Oddly, such Wokespeak “anti-” adjectives denote opposition to something that no one claims to be for. For each proclaimed “anti-racist,” “anti-imperialist,” or “anti-colonialist,” there is almost no one who wishes to be a “racist” or desires to be a “colonialist” or an “imperialist.” These villains mostly come to life only through the use of their “anti-” adjectives.
“Disparate Impact.” This word is becoming anachronistic — call it Wokespoke, if you will. In ancient labor-law usage, it often accompanied the now equally calcified term “disproportional representation.” But in 21st-century American Wokespeak, it is no longer necessarily unfair, illegal, or unethical that some racial, gender, or ethnic groups are “over”-represented in certain coveted admissions and hiring.
Thus there can be no insidious, silent, or even inadvertent, but otherwise innate, bias that results in now-welcomed disproportional representation.
“Disparate” thus will likely be replaced by a more proper neologism such as “parity” or “affirmative” impact to denote that “overrepresentation” of one group over another is hardly “disparate,” but just and necessary to restore “parity” for past crimes of racism and sexism.
So disparate impact in general no longer has any systematic utility in matters of racial grievance and will soon be dropped. It was once a means to get to where we are and beyond. For example, at about 12 percent of the population, African Americans are disproportionally represented as players in both Major League Baseball (8 percent), and the National Basketball Association (75–80 percent), as are “whites” likewise in both sports, who constitute 65–70 percent of the general population, but make up only 45 percent of the MLB and 15–20 percent of the NBA. No constant term can be allowed to represent facts such as these.
“Cultural appropriation.” This adjective-noun phrase must include contextualization to be an effective tool in the anti-racism effort.
It does not mean, as the ignorant may infer from its dictionary entries, merely “the adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity by members of another culture or identity.”
Asian Americans do not appropriate “white” or “European” culture by ballet dancing or playing the violin; “whites” or “Europeans” surely do appropriate Asian culture by using non-Asian actors in Japanese kabuki dance-drama.
For non–African Americans, dreadlocks or playing jazz are cultural appropriations; dying darker hair blond is not. A black opera soprano is hardly a cultural appropriationist. Wearing a poncho, if one is a non–Mexican-American citizen, is cultural theft; a Mexican-American citizen wearing a tuxedo is not.
Only a trained cultural appropriationist can determine such felonies through a variety of benchmarks. Usually the crime is defined as appropriation by a victimizing majority from a victimized minority. Acceptable appropriation is a victimized minority appropriating from a victimizing majority. A secondary exegesis would add that only the theft of the valuable culture of the minority is a felony, while the occasional use of the dross of the majority is not.
“Diversity.” This term does not include false-consciousness efforts to vary representation by class backgrounds, ideologies, age, or politics. In current Wokespeak, it instead refers mostly to race and sex (see “Race, class, and gender”), or in practical terms, a generic 30 percent of the population self-identified as non-white — or even 70 percent if inclusive of non-male non-whites.
“Diversity” has relegated “affirmative action” — the older white/black binary that called for reparatory “action” to redress centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and institutionalized prejudice against African Americans — to the Wokespoke dustbin.
“Diversity” avoids the complications arising out of past actionable grievances, or worries about the overrepresentation or underrepresentation of particular tribes, or the class or wealth of the victimized non-white.
The recalibrated racially and ethnically victimized have grown from 12 percent to 30 percent of the population and need not worry whether they might lose advantageous classifications, should their income and net worth approximate or exceed that of the majority oppressive class.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion.” This triad is almost always used in corporate, professional, and academic administrative titles, such as in a dean, director, or provost of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
Known more commonly by their familiar, abbreviated sobriquets of “diversity czars,” such coveted billets are usually immune from budget cuts and economic belt-tightening. Often such newly created czar positions are subsidized in times of protest and financial duress by increasing the reliance on exploited part-time or low-paid workers, by either cutting or freezing their hours, benefits, or salaries.
No “equity czar,” for example, can afford publicly to be concerned about university exploitation of all part-time faculty. (See also under “Equity.”)
“Diversity” and “inclusion” are not synonymous or redundant nouns. Thus they should be used always in tandem: One can advocate for “inclusion” without oneself actually being “diverse,” or one can be “diverse” but not “include” others who are “diverse.” However, serving both diversity and inclusion ideally implies that those hired as non-white males are entrusted to hire additional non-white males.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
“Equity.” Equity has now replaced the Civil Rights–era goal of “equality” — a word relegated to vestigial Wokespoke. After 60 years, equality apparently was exposed as a retrograde bourgeois synonym for the loaded “equality of opportunity” rather than a necessary, mandated “equality of result.”
Since seeking equality does not guarantee that everyone will end up the same, “equality” became increasingly unhelpful. Equity, in contrast, means that we do not just treat people at this late date “equally” — since most have been prior victims of various -isms and -ologies that require reparatory considerations.
“Equity” instead means treating people quite differently, even prejudicially so, to even the playing field for our past sins of economic, social, political, and cultural inequity.
“Hate speech.” Most of the incendiary “free speech” protected under the First Amendment is in actuality “hate speech,” and therefore deserves no such protection. If America were a properly woke society, then there would be no need for the First Amendment.
Like much of the vocabulary of Wokespeak, the notion of “hate speech” is not symmetrical. It cannot be diluted, subverted, and contextualized by false equivalencies. So the oppressed, occasionally in times of understandable duress, can use generic gender and race labels to strike back at the oppressor (see “Leveling the playing field”).
Crude stereotypes can be occasionally useful reminders for the victimized of how to balance the predictable hurtful vocabulary of the victimizer. In times of emotional trauma, the use by the oppressed of emphatics and colloquials such as “cracker,” “honky,” “gringo,” “whitey,” or “white trash” can serve as useful reminders of how “words matter.” In general, the rare and regrettable use of purported “hate speech” by one oppressed group against another is not necessarily hate speech, but usually a barometer of how a majority lexicon has marginalized the Other.
“Implicit bias.” “Implicit” is another handy intensifying adjective (see “Systemic racism”). Implicit bias, however, differs somewhat from “systemic racism.” It is analogous to a generic all-purpose antibiotic, useful against not just one pathogen but all pathogens, such as sexism, homophobia, nativism, transphobia, etc., that make up “bias,” a word that is now rarely used without an intensifying adjective.
Also, “implicit,” while implying “systemic,” additionally suggests chronological permanence, as in “innate bias.”
Thus “implicit bias” denotes a hard-to-detect prejudice against the non-heterosexual, the non-white, and the non-male that is sometimes as nontransparent as is it innate to the DNA of the heterosexual white male. Diversity trainers and workshops are needed to identify and inoculate against the virus of implicit bias.
“Intersectionality.” Race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics supposedly “intersect” with one another as shared victimizations. Thus, the community of the oppressed is commonly crisscrossed, and therefore amplified by such osmosis of shared grievances. The postmodern “intersectionality” has replaced the apparently now-banal term “rainbow coalition.”
In theory, the more shared victimizations, the higher the ranking one enjoys within the intersectional community.
However, when intersectionality results in stubborn tribal rivalries and struggles over identity-politics spoils, either one of two things follows: On the good side, those with the most oppressions (e.g., gay women of color) are the most rewarded accordingly. But on the bad side, the intersectional graph is blurred into rank Balkanization or worse.
A bellum omnium tribūum contra omnes tribūs follows, as the number of victims outnumbers the victimizers. Unfortunately, reparatory claims then must be fought over intrasectionally, i.e., each offended tribe unites monolithically in opposition to the others: e pluribus tribibus una becomes plures tribūs ex una.
“Leveling the playing field.” Sports terms can become useful Wokespeak. So to un-level the playing field is to “level” it. Leveling does not mean insisting on equality of opportunity (i.e., ensuring a soccer or rugby field does not slope in one direction), given inherent inequity. After all, when one team has not had access to proper training facilities, it deserves to play on an advantageously sloped field.
So to “level” means most certainly to slope the field for the benefit of one team, which in other matters allegedly suffers from past disadvantage brought on by bias that can only be corrected by and compensated through downhill advantage — or bias.
“LGBTQ.” This is currently the most widely used woke sobriquet for the homosexual and transgendered communities (see “Intersectionality”), although almost no one can agree on what the letter Q actually stands for.
Most clumsy politicians invoke the combined abbreviations — but often mangle and mix up the letters — without knowing really who does and does not qualify within the larger rubric. The term assumes there are few if any different agendas among homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered — at least that might outweigh their common nonbinary affinities.
“Marginalized.” The marginalized are those dehumanized by the white majority culture on the basis of race, sex, and sexual orientation. On rare occasions, the category can be difficult to articulate, given the intrusion of irrelevant class considerations that supposedly remedy “marginalization.” Income and wealth, however, are transitory criteria; sex and race are not. Jay-Z, Barack Obama, and LeBron James are permanently marginalized in a way that an unemployed Pennsylvania clinger is not.
“Micro-aggression.” “Micro” is another qualifying adjective of our subtler age in which active race- and gender-based prejudices are almost impossible for the novice to spot.
Instead, adept micro-aggression experts and skilled diversity trainers can detect double entendres, gestures, inexplicable silences, facial expressions, fashions, and habits — the “code” that gives one away as an offensive sexist or racist. Such skills, much like cryptography, as mastering a cult’s hand gestures can be taught through workshops to the general population to enable them to break these silent systems of insidious aggressions.
“Proportional representation.” This, and its negative twin, disproportional representation, is another ossified term (see “Disparate impact”) that has largely served its 1990s purpose and is now relegated to Wokespoke.
Originally, it meant that various minority groups deserved to be represented in hiring and admissions, and in popular culture, in numbers commensurate to their percentages in the general population.
But in 21st-century Wokespeak, the goal of ensuring “proportional representation” can now be racist, sexist, and worse — given that females enroll in, and graduate from, colleges in far greater numbers than their proportions of the general population, or that African Americans, from lucrative professional sports to coveted federal jobs such as the U.S. Postal Service, are represented in number greater than their percentages in the general population.
To reflect new demographics, proportionality is becoming questionable; disproportionality is now almost good.
“Race, class, and gender.” Another Wokespoke, Neanderthal tripartite term that is dropping out of Wokespeak.
“Class” no longer matters much in America. Billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros are not enemies of the people; white impoverished deplorables in West Virginia certainly are. Oprah is a victim. So are Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama. Class is an anachronism.
To ensure distance from the irredeemables and clingers, Wokespeak will soon likely reduce the catechism to just “race and gender.”
“Safe space.” Safe spaces on college campuses (see “Theme house”) are not just segregated by race, gender, and sexual orientation; they are better described as official no-go zones for identifiable white heterosexual males. It would be debatable whether particular non-white or non-heterosexual or non-male groups can intrude into the segregated spaces of other particular groups. In general, these segregated enclaves offer sanctuary against “implicit bias” and “systemic racism.” Labeling them as “segregated spaces” is proof of implicit bias and systemic racism.
“Systemic racism.” “Systemic” belongs to this newer family of intensifying adjectival epithets (e.g., “micro,” “implicit,” etc.) that are necessary to posit a pathology that otherwise is hard to see, hear, or experience.
When one cannot point to actual evidence of “racism,” one can simply say that it is nowhere precisely because it is everywhere — sort of like the air we breathe that we count on, but often can’t see or feel.
“Theme house.” Theme houses are university dorms or sponsored off-campus student housing segregated by race. “Theme” is a useful euphemism for segregation, given that in theory there can be dorms for those of all races who share musical, artistic, or scholarly interests — or “themes,” e.g., an opera dorm or History House. But, in fact, “theme” today refers usually to race, gender, and ethnicity.
In Wokespeak, everyone is for theme houses; no one is for racially desegregating them. Being against the racial segregation of college dorms can become racist; being for them is never racist. Picking a future college roommate on the basis of race can be allowed — if neither the selector nor the selected is so-called “white.”
“The Other.” See under “Diversity.”
“Unearned white privilege”— as opposed to mere “white privilege.” The intensifier “unearned” is usually an added-on confessional by middle-aged white people in administrative or elite professional and coveted billets who wish to express their utmost penance for their high salaries, titles, and influence.
“Unearned,” however, is not to be confused with “undeserved.” Instead, it suggests certain white elites who wish to publicly confess their guilt for doing so well but without having to resign and to give back what they admittedly claim they did not earn.
Thus a college president is allowed to confess to having enjoyed “unearned” white privilege that nonetheless does not mean his present position is “undeserved.”
In sum, despite the fact that he was unfairly catapulted into the presidency, the college president’s manifest genius displayed after obtaining the job means he is now woke and clearly deserves to remain in the post. In other words, what explicit “unearned” was then, implicit “deserved” is now.
The 2020 election was a referendum on the progressive elite, and they were soundly defeated
In a week of surprises, California’s rejection of a ballot measure that would have allowed the state to resume its affirmative action program was among the most significant.
The measure, known as Proposition 16, wasn’t defeated by shy Trump voters. Polling showed Hispanic and other minority voters evenly split on the measure, and on Tuesday it was defeated in California’s most Latino counties.
California’s result is just one piece of the mounting evidence that voters on Tuesday threw a wrench in the progressive plan to leverage a “coalition of the ascendant” and an “emerging Democratic majority” to turn the country into a woke utopia.
The 2020 election was in large part a referendum on Democrats’ race baiting and pandering, starting with the party’s own elevation of Biden to the top of the ticket. Democrats’ rejection of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris was a leading indicator that the media missed.
Millions of voters of all races made clear that they instead prefer the old ideals: equality of opportunity, economic freedom, and a society that judges its citizens not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.
Beyond that, the president whom Democrats have lambasted for four years as a racist and a xenophobe turned out more minority voters than any Republican candidate in decades. It’s not just that right-wing Cubans handed Trump a surprise victory in south Florida; he clinched some of the nation’s most Latino counties, improved his margins with black men and women, and even earned commanding majorities in some Native American counties. And that exit poll data does not account for the shy Trump voters, an effect we presume may well be exaggerated among black and Hispanic voters.
Senate races yielded more bad news for the progressive left. Even if Joe Biden wins the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who easily overcame an $80 million challenge, will serve as a check on the ascendance of socialists such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to the Biden cabinet. Voters may have wanted Biden, but there’s a whole wing of his party they’d prefer to do without.
Some House Democrats can see the writing on the wall. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) reportedly told her caucus that the progressive push to defund the police and embrace “socialism” almost cost them the majority. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) advised Democrats to drop the woke speak, starting with the bizarre “Latinx.”ADVERTISING
Tuesday’s results should shatter the Democratic presumption that their party is destined to command the overwhelming and eternal support of minority voters—but it won’t. The politics fueled by racial grievance and personified by the “squad” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib is a cancer on the Democratic Party that it indulges at its own peril.
Why politically correct institutions cave to Communist China
Last week a few sharp-eyed members of the audience for Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan noticed something ugly in the credits. The film’s producers thanked, among others, the publicity department of the “CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee” as well as the “Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security.” These are the same political and disciplinary institutions that oppress China’s Uighur minority. Disney cooperated with them without batting an eye.
But Disney is more than happy to call attention to human-rights abuses in the United States. Since George Floyd died in police custody earlier this year, the corporation and its subsidiaries, including ABC and ESPN, have issued statements in support of Black Lives Matter. The House of Mouse has reaffirmed its commitment to the ideology and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nor is Disney the only film studio to ignore repression in the People’s Republic of China while embracing the cause of social justice at home. They all do it. The question is why.
Part of the reason is parochialism. Americans just don’t care very much about what happens in other countries. Another motivation is profit. All companies desire access to the largest possible markets. Angering the Chinese Communist Party, or violating the tenets of political correctness, endangers the bottom line. Meanwhile the legitimacy of political, cultural, and economic institutions, including the corporation, has come into question. To ensure their survival, corporations must conform to the values and regulations of host societies and governments. That means playing nice with China, embracing “stakeholder capitalism,” and adopting the teachings of Ibram X. Kendi.
Selective indignation is not new. What’s striking about this latest version is its zones of prevalence. The sectors of the economy most wedded to the view that American society is systemically racist—entertainment, sports, media, tech—are the least concerned with the real and concrete injustices of the antidemocratic and hostile Chinese regime. This is the woke dialectic: dissent in America, acquiescence to China.
Just as people became aware of Mulan’s complicity in injustice, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promulgated a complicated set of ethnic, racial, and sexual quotas that films must meet in order to become eligible for the best picture Oscar. “The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is committed to building an antiracist, inclusive organization that will contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema, and build authentic relationships with diverse communities,” read part of the statement announcing the rules. But the Academy is less interested in contextualizing and challenging the absence of civil and political rights elsewhere. In 2013 it was happy to accept $20 million from one of China’s largest multinationals.
The NBA is no different. Its front offices, coaches, and athletes are among the most progressive in the country. Social justice messages adorn players’ uniforms. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court. LeBron James has leveraged his celebrity to earn further political concessions from the league, including the transformation of arenas into polling places on Election Day. But James has also made embarrassing comments regarding the conflict between democracy and autocracy in Hong Kong. And the league itself carries the shameof having operated training facilities in Xinjiang.
The Washington Free Beacon has shown that the same newspapers that devote so much space to advancing America’s racial reckoning (and whose foreign desks often report on the foulness of China’s dictatorship) also accepted millions from the Chinese government to run propaganda. The same company, Alphabet, that earlier this year announced millions in donations to social justice nonprofits expressed no qualms in 2017 when it opened an AI research center in China.
In other words, the same businesses that promote the progressive reconstruction, radical reform, or transformation of the United States are intertwined with the revisionist great power that aims to replace the United States as global hegemon. This synthesis of the woke dialectic lends an additional meaning to the term “allyship.” And it is why champions of individual rights, equality under the law, due process, and pluralism stand athwart both political correctness at home and authoritarianism abroad.
In 2020, there is no element of life too small or too trivial to not get outraged over. It’s time for us to be the change we want to see in the universe.
Finally, NASA is doing something important: Taking a closer look at the nicknames for cosmic objects.
In a real and not satiric press release announcing the move, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Science Mission Directorate, said, “Our goal is that all names are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion, and we’ll proactively work with the scientific community to help ensure that. Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value.”
This comes a little too late. It is 2020, after all. It also focuses on things like the Eskimo Nebula and the Siamese Twin Galaxy, and doesn’t take into account all celestial bodies. The sad fact is that it’s time to cancel all the planets in the solar system, starting with Uranus.
Discovered in 1781, the seventh stone from the sun was named for the Greek god of the sky. Although all the other planets except for Earth are named for Greek gods, this is especially troubling as the god of the sky is the sun, unless you have a misbegotten belief in a geocentric universe. Even then, though, no way Uranus would get the crown.
It’s a cold, desolate planet with harsh winds and foul-smelling clouds (obviously). Its environment is most likely too harsh to support any life, at least life as we know it. Its 27 moons are named for characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope, two white dudes. Its atmosphere is leaking out into space. As far as planets go, it’s the least capable of taking a joke. Uranus is no god of the sky.
Those reasons are not themselves sufficient, however, in explaining why Uranus is offensive. No, the real reason Uranus is offensive is the same as why the names for allthe planets are offensive. Naming the planets after Greek gods just reinforces patriarchy on a cosmic level. How can NASA truly achieve its goal of inclusivity if it doesn’t acknowledge this?
Starting with the one closest to the sun, we have Mercury, the messenger of the gods. He was also the god of financial gain (read: greed), and we don’t need a giant Gordon Gekko orbiting the sun. Canceled.
Then there’s Venus, goddess of love and beauty, who is just a tool of the patriarchy. Buh-bye.
Up next, it’s Mars, the god of war. War is bad, okay? Gone. Well, how about Jupiter, the king of the gods? Kings are also bad. Sayonara.
Saturn is named for the god of agriculture. Saturn’s reign was marked by peace and benevolence, but his girlfriend was called Mother Destruction, so he’s out.
We’ve already covered Uranus, so next on the chopping block is Neptune, the god of water. Water is good and Neptune was one of four gods that one could sacrifice a bull to, but bulls also produce methane (think of the polar bears!), and too much water causes problems, so Neptune is canceled.
What about Earth? Our planet is not named after a god or even a mortal — so far, so good. The word Earth, however, is derived from Old English and thus represents a tacit endorsement of colonialism. It’s time to ditch that one, too.
Some may object to renaming all the planets because it’s unnecessary and ridiculous. Well, those people should probably be canceled, too.
In 2020, there is no element of life, or lifeless planets, too small or too trivial to not get outraged over. It’s time for us to stop being the change we want to see in the world and start being the change we want to see in the universe. To not do so would be to not go too far enough!