Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bigotry of Bigotries; All Is Bigotry

Famed economic historian Niall Ferguson was recently denounced for being insensitive to diversity. He does not mention the point-- perhaps it does not need mention-- but Ferguson is married to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, long a target of Islamist assassins, and the father of a biracial child. Calling him a bigot is a bit rich. Failing to feel some pride in his wife's courage bespeaks a special kind of bigotry.

Anyway Ferguson recently convened a conference at Stanford's Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank. No one much cared about what was discussed and debated. For those who believe in diversity uber alles, a conference on history and public policy must be judged by the number of representatives from different oppressed groups.

The virtue of this approach, Ferguson explains in his Times of London column this morning, is that you do not need to think. You do not need to consider the facts and the evidence. You do not need to activate your rational faculties. In this case, you need but know the gender breakdown of the group… to know what to believe.

The New York Times was appalled at the lack of diversity. It blared out the shrill headline… there were no women at the conference. Which means, to Times readers, that the whole thing was an exercise in bigotry. You need not know anything else.

As it happened, Ferguson did invite five women to participate. All declined. He described the result:

Last month I organised a small, invitation-only conference of historians who I knew shared my interest in trying to apply historical knowledge to contemporary policy problems. Five of the people I invited to give papers were women, but none was able to attend. I should have tried harder to find other female speakers, no doubt. But my failure to do so elicited a disproportionately vitriolic response.

Under a headline that included the words “Too white and too male”, The New York Times published photographs of all the speakers as if to shame them for having participated. Around a dozen academics took to social media to call the conference a “StanfordSausageFest”.

Shaming the participants as bigots. Two Stanford historians, wanting to show why they had not been invited, took the occasion to display their own special kind of bigotry:

So outraged were Stanford historians Allyson Hobbs and Priya Satia that they demanded “greater university oversight” of the Hoover Institution, where I work. Other Stanford institutions had embraced diversity, but Hoover had “proved impervious to the demographic changes transpiring in the academy.” It was “an ivory tower in the most literal sense”. The most literal sense?

Embracing diversity means hiring historians who want the world to know that they were hired to fulfill diversity quotas. And also, to promote radical leftist political causes. What other conclusion would you draw from their overreaction: they are especially sensitive about diversity because it seems to have been a primary consideration in their hiring:

What we see here is the sexism of the anti-sexists; the racism of the anti-racists. In this Through the Looking Glass world, diversity means homogeneity. I was struck by the objection of professors Hobbs and Satia that, whereas Stanford has the “high-minded purpose” of “fostering education, research and creativity for the benefit of humanity”, the Hoover Institution’s values are “very different . . . economic freedom, private enterprise, and commitment to facts and reason”. Good grief, not those discredited tenets of white patriarchy!

These professors are so woke that they have invented new words, words like whitesplaining… because, don’t you know, whites, and white men in particular are a plague visited on the earth:

“The whitesplaining of history is over,” declared another heated article by Satia last week. The historian’s role, she explained, was not to help improve policy but to be a “critic of government . . . to speak to the public, so that people may exert pressure on their elected representatives”. Her exemplar in this regard? Step forward the very white, very male British social historian EP Thompson.

Hideous Newspeak terms such as “whitesplaining” and “mansplaining” are symptoms of the degeneration of humanities in the modern university. Never mind the facts and reason, so the argument runs, all we need to know — if we don’t like what we hear — are the sex and race of the author.

Emphasize the point. They want to use the educational system as a way to brainwash students into adhering to the ideologically correct position, based on the sex and race of the author. As we have seen in many other cases, they denounce anyone who has ever taken a divergent political position and want him to be shut up or shut down.  Now, that will surely help America to compete in the world.

Of course, mindlessly attacking bigotry risks turning one into a bigot:

But does it really constitute progress if the proponents of diversity resort to the behaviour that was previously the preserve of sexists and racists? Publishing the names and mugshots of conference speakers is the kind of thing anti-semites once did to condemn the “over-representation” of Jewish people in academia. Terms such as “SausageFest” belong not in civil academic discourse but in the pages of male-chauvinist comics such as Viz.

In a world where it has recently come to everyone’s attention that the British Labour Party, through its leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been infested with anti-Semitism, we should not be surprised that leftist academics are trafficking in the same tropes. I am sure that I do not need to tell you where these woke professors stand on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.


Sam L. said...


Sam L. said...

Well, there's idiocy, too.