Andrew Sullivan on the spillover of campus politics into society at large

This week I was interviewed by an editor of the student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon, who plans to write a profile of me. That was flattering, but of course I’m always wary of these things because, after all, it’s a reporter.

It turned out that she was friendly (that says nothing, of course, about what she’ll write), but had also done her homework about the topics that interest me, my books, this website, and so on. During the hourlong conversation, she asked me a question that gave me pause. It went something like this: “You often criticize ‘social justice warriors’. What is your problem with social justice?”

After a moment’s thought, I realized that I have no problem with social justice itself. After all, the term simply means struggling for equal rights for groups that have no rights, or are the subjects of oppression and bigotry. How could anyone oppose that? After all, the struggle for the rights of blacks in the Sixties, both in America and South Africa, and for women’s rights in the same era, are simply struggles for social justice, and I participated in and supported those struggles.

No, my problems aren’t with social justice itself, but with the tactics of the “intersectionalists” who use the term. And so I told the reporter that the modus operandi of social justice intersectionalists (SJIs) involves setting up a hierarchy of oppression, placing each individual and group on their own rung, and then decreeing that those on a given rung have the right to tell all those on lower rungs to shut up in the face of their “lived experience.” Further, individuals on lower rungs who try to say something, or violate the ideological standards of those above, are not just criticized, but demonized, excoriated, or even fired. This stifles discussion, creates a chilling effect, and leads to people simply shutting up about issues involving people higher on the ladder. The combination of the hierarchy and the increasing viciousness and censoriousness of the Authoritarian Left is toxic.

Often these people are explicitly against free speech—or rather, the form they call “hate speech”, which is speech considered offensive to those higher on the ladder than the speaker. As someone who takes a very liberal stand on free speech, I oppose this—and the censorship and deplatforming it creates. I see no downside to allowing free speech as the U.S. courts have defined it, and plenty of upside: the airing of ideas, no matter how odious, will lead to progress.

I’ve long written about the shenanigans of social justice intersectionalists on college campuses. Although those are  rarified institutions, I feel that what happens in those places will seep into society at large. After all, college students will be the leaders of the next generation, and, if they’re sufficiently numerous and sufficiently ideological, won’t (as some people predict) simply temper their views when they enter society after college. Rather, they can change the political tenor of society at large, corrupting classical liberalism into a form of authoritarianism that brooks no dissent. Dissent, after all, is the lifeblood of not just liberalism, but of social progress.

And this is what is happening: we already see the infiltration of SJIs into mainstream Leftist media like the New York Times the New Yorker, and National Public Radiowhich are slowly moving towards higher-class versions of the Huffington Post.  It happened during the Obama adminstration when the “Dear Colleague” letter changed the Title IX standard of guilt for campus sexual misconduct from “beyond reasonable doubt” (the legal standard) to “preponderance of the evidence” (50.5% judgement of guilt; close to a coin toss).

And while the Republican administration certainly doesn’t consist of SJIs, the extreme antics of SJIs have, I think, enabled the Right—especially when they call for censorship or silencing of views that deserve to be heard. The silliness of some of these antics is trumpeted daily on sites like Breitbart and The College Fix. It’s not out of the question that SJIs hold some responsibility for turning people toward Trumpism—something far more odious than authoritarian Leftism.

Anyway, I thought of my interview when I read a new piece by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine,We all live on campus now.” Over the past few years, Sullivan has moved increasingly leftward and become increasingly vocal about the malfeasance of Trump and the Republicans. In this piece, which I largely agree with, Sullivan describes (with many examples) the spillover of SJI culture into mainstream culture, and decries the results. I’ll give just a few quotes:

When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large. What matters most of all in these colleges — your membership in a group that is embedded in a hierarchy of oppression — will soon enough be what matters in the society as a whole.

And, sure enough, the whole concept of an individual who exists apart from group identity is slipping from the discourse. The idea of individual merit — as opposed to various forms of unearned “privilege” — is increasingly suspect. The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment — untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights — are now routinely understood as mere masks for “white male” power, code words for the oppression of women and nonwhites. Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency. And anyone who questions these assertions is obviously a white supremacist himself.

Polarization has made this worse — because on the left, moderation now seems like a surrender to white nationalism, and because on the right, white identity politics has overwhelmed moderate conservatism. And Trump plays a critical role. His crude, bigoted version of identity politics seems to require an equal and opposite reaction. And I completely understand this impulse. Living in this period is to experience a daily, even hourly, psychological hazing from the bigot-in-chief. And when this white straight man revels in his torment of those unlike him — and does so with utter impunity among his supporters — there’s a huge temptation to respond in kind. A president who has long treated women, in his words, “like shit,” and bragged about it, is enough to provoke rage in any decent person. But anger is rarely a good frame of mind to pursue the imperatives of reason, let alone to defend the norms of liberal democracy.

And yes, I’m not talking about formal rules — but norms of liberal behavior. One of them is a robust public debate, free from intimidation. Liberals welcome dissent because it’s our surest way to avoid error. Cultural Marxists fear dissent because they believe it can do harm to others’ feelings and help sustain existing identity-based power structures. Yes, this is not about the First Amendment. The government is not preventing anyone from speaking. But it is about the spirit of the First Amendment.

Sullivan then gives example after example of the transfer of SJI culture into mainsteam culture; you can read the piece to see them (you’ll already know many of them). But his most thoughtful quote is at the end of his piece, which I’ve put in bold:

Look: I don’t doubt the good intentions of the new identity politics — to expand the opportunities for people previously excluded. I favor a politics that never discriminates against someone for immutable characteristics — and tries to make sure that as many people as possible feel they have access to our liberal democracy. But what we have now is far more than the liberal project of integrating minorities. It comes close to an attack on the liberal project itself. Marxism with a patina of liberalism on top is still Marxism — and it’s as hostile to the idea of a free society as white nationalism is. So if you wonder why our discourse is now so freighted with fear, why so many choose silence as the path of least resistance, or why the core concepts of a liberal society — the individual’s uniqueness, the primacy of reason, the protection of due process, an objective truth — are so besieged, this is one of the reasons.

The goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: We are all on campus now.

Sullivan’s piece sounded familiar, and, sure enough, it’s similar in both ideas and examples to a piece from the Boston Globe on January 26, “How campus politics hijacked American politics.” (I’m not implying plagiarism here–just writing about the Zeitgeist.)  Both pieces are worth reading, and both raise the alarm that the tactics of identity-politics Leftism might discredit the traditional Left, and further entrench Republicans as our political masters.

76 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    … had also done her homework about the topics that interest me …

    So, lotsa qsuestions ’bout boots & cats & high-caloric repasts? 🙂

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    ““You often criticize ‘social justice warriors’. What is your problem with social justice?””

    And then you’re right where they want you, trapped, even though they are question begging.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      … I hasten to add your (PCC(E)’s) reply is well reasoned.

      But I wonder how the editing will go.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      Well, obviously Jerry wasn’t trapped and dealt with the question in the way any sensible person would, and in a way that seems to have been respected by his interlocutor.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 12, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

        Well, obviously, within five minutes, I added “PCC(E)’s reply is well reasoned.” to my comment.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 13, 2018 at 12:44 am | Permalink

        Professor CC remarks that the question made him think a bit. He also makes it clear that his questioner was a courteous young woman and that the conversation was a pleasant one. What irritates me is that because of this one question there is a kind of P.Z. Myers pile-on, complete with attacks on feminists and puerile talk about ‘groups’ and ‘individual responsibility’, poor put-upon men and ‘leftism’ in general. As for the term ‘social-justice warrior’, which almost everyone here seems to have an animus against, I came across the term some years ago when talking to highly intelligent American woman friend of mine here in Japan, who described herself half-humorously as a ‘social-justice warrior’. She is a realist, with a great sense of humour,and is not a person who has, or would have, any truck with ‘intersectionality’ or the ridiculous and dangerous extremes to which certain people, who are mostly university students, it seems, go. Like the term ‘New Atheist’, the term ‘social-justice warrior’ has come to taken up as a useful term of opprobium for applying to those you regard as your enemies. Just as one should distinguish between New Atheists and not tar them all with the same brush,as those who dislike atheism so readily do, so one should surely discriminate between the kind of social-justice warrior who seeks social justice in responsible ways and those who don’t, and not have such ready recourse to using it as a blanket term of abuse.

  3. Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Criticising ‘social justice warriors’ no more denotes opposition to social justice than deriding ‘armchair generals’ implies a contempt for living room furniture.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Try telling that to your average SJW. You’ll be wearing a swastika over a Klan gown before you’ve finished the sentence.

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    You don’t seem to think well of Liberty University.

    What do you have against liberty? As brilliant as asking what your problem with social justice is.

    You’re opposed to the policies of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? What do you have against democracy, people, and republics, and Korea?

    Sounds like a reporter. As long as the claim is by the “right group,” it’s taken as if it’s what they’re actually about.

    Glen Davidson

    • Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      So you’re against “family values”? So what have you got against families?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Condoms, spermicides and vasectomies.

  5. Greg Geisler
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Funny. Saw this same question asked of William Shatner in my Tw*tter feed today.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Did you see all the people attacking Shatner in the replies? A lot of them seem to want him to go the same way as Al Franken for daring to make such a comment!

  6. jaxkayaker
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    When did you stop beating your wife, Jerry?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      “Before she started to exist”.
      (I think PCCE has stated that he has never married, but I’m not sure. Regardless of that, I think the answer should leave the questioner doing the Dance of the Drowning Goldfish (mouth flopping open ineffectually, accompanied by spasmodic whole-body twitching).

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    … “preponderance of the evidence” (50.5% judgement of guilt; close to a coin toss) …

    It’s not accurate to compare the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to a coin toss. Under the legal preponderance standard, the party bringing the action bears the burden of establishing by competent evidence each of the essential elements of that party’s cause of action. Sure, the party need prove only that those elements’ existence is more likely than not, but that’s hardly to say that each side automatically
    has a 50-50 chance of prevailing, as in a coin toss.

    I’m not saying it should be used in campus sexual misconduct cases, but the preponderance standard is well-established and appropriate to most civil causes of action.

    • Filippo
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps I’m missing something, but, as a matter of principle, why shouldn’t “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” be used as the standard in civil cases?

      • harrync
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        Filippo – Perhaps this hypothetical might help: A car runs a red light and crashes into the plaintiff’s car. They sue. They and three witnesses say the plaintiff had the green light; the defendant and one witness say the defendant had the green light. All the witnesses seem equally creditable and without bias. I think most jurors would agree the plaintiff is entitled to compensation. Now suppose there was a passenger in the plaintiff’s car who was killed. The defendant is tried for vehicular manslaughter. I suspect there is a good chance jurors would say that there was a reasonable doubt that the defendant ran the light. I think there is a [rightly] accepted principle that monetary penalties [whether fines or damages] requires a lower standard of proof than punishment by imprisonment or death.

        • Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I suspect the motivation is that criminal cases are government vs citizen while civil cases are citizen vs citizen. We fear the heavy hand of the government so favor the citizen in criminal cases. With civil cases, the battle is more even.

      • glen1davidson
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Think of a dispute with the insurance company over damages. You sue, they can countersue if there’s any good reason to do so (or risk problems over a frivolous lawsuit). You’ve got equal standing, legally (although the insurance company can throw a lot more lawyers at it) the state likely isn’t doing much, if anything, to show that the defendant is guilty, and the whole issue of damages–and how much damage was caused, if any–is a matter of interpretation and weighing issues.

        Why should you have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that your property was damaged in order to get your insurance company to pay damages? You do have to provide evidence that it happened, photos or what-not, and if it’s good evidence on the face of it, shouldn’t you be paid? You should have a good chance of getting the insurance company to pay when damage occurs. They can counter with their own photos or other evidence, so why not just figure which side has the better evidence? It’s a money matter, and in my view it makes sense to just look at the evidence and make a judgment based on the preponderance of the evidence. If it’s not that, aren’t you giving sleazy contractors and insurance companies excessive protection, by demanding that damages be shown beyond a reasonable doubt?

        And while paying a wrongful judgment can certainly be painful, it’s hardly the kind of stakes that are involved with most criminal activity. That’s even true when it comes to the rape issue on campus (presumably going with the preponderance of evidence is rationalized by the fact that you’re not likely to be imprisoned over it, even if you’re found guilty), but of course the losses incurred educationally, socially, and to your reputation can be immense when you’re found guilty. If you are guilty, well, fine, screw you, but if you’re not guilty, you’ve been subject to a really serious injustice, which is why preponderance of the evidence is hardly fair when the issue is rape or other violent crimes, especially.

        But I don’t see why I should jump through the hoop of “beyond reasonable doubt” for getting an insurance payout over damages that appear evident to the court.

        Glen Davdidson

    • BJ
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      This standard is a big problem, though, when it comes to something like a sexual abuse case, if the only evidence on either side is the testimony of the parties involved. With “listen and believe,” the woman’s word will be considered sufficient evidence, regardless of what the man says.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      But Campus, or any other, sexual misconduct cases are NOT being treated as civil causes of action. They are all, regardless of seriousness, being regarded as criminal offences against society for which the accused needs to be pilloried and/or sent to the tumbrils. At least in civil actions plaintiffs have to bring some kind of evidence however weak. In todays #metoo replay of the French reign of terror the accusation is the proof of guilt – no evidence needed or asked for.

  8. Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The reporter’s first question definitely sounded like a “gotcha”. Either she comes into the interview biased against you or she was merely seeking to provoke a lively interview. I guess you will find out which soon enough.

    • Posted February 10, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      That wasn’t the first question by any means; it came up about halfway through. It was a very pleasant conversation and I got no sense that it was a “gotcha” interview.

      • Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, I misunderstood. Glad to hear it when well.

      • Craw
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        Neither did Jeffrey MacDonald. That Joe McGinnis guy seemed swell.

  9. Carl Powers
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    “You often criticize ‘social justice warriors’. What is your problem with social justice?”

    The ends don’t justify the means.

  10. Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed Andrew Sullivan’s piece, as well as his frequent appearances on Bill Maher’s show. His last line, connecting the social justice warriors’ emphasis on group membership to bigotry, is one of our best weapons to fight this crap. The other is the fact that the divisiveness of their position was in large part responsible for the election of Donald Trump, their (and our) worst nightmare.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      I really liked this quote from his piece too:

      “… on the left, moderation now seems like a surrender to white nationalism, and … on the right, white identity politics has overwhelmed moderate conservatism.”

      The right is always saying that the left engages in identity politics. That may be true. Personally, I think of it as standing up for those that are missing out. But the far right stands for white identity politics. They say things like they, “I don’t see colour,” but that’s not really true. The far right definitely sees colour. The moderate right often just expects everyone act like white men to be acceptable. It’s okay to be black as long as you speak and act like you’re white. It’s okay to be gay as long as you’re not effeminate. It’s okay to be a woman in power as long as you are granted that power by men (i.e. don’t seek it by running for president) and maintain your femininity. Etc etc.

      • Posted February 11, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Yes, I liked that line too. As you suggest, the right also engages in identity politics but most of them understand they must not name their identity. Only those “outed” individuals in the white supremacy movement self-identify as such. Same for male superiority.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 13, 2018 at 3:10 am | Permalink

        +3

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  12. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    JC’s post ends with concern that “…the tactics of identity-politics Leftism might discredit the traditional Left…” It is an old story.

    In “Ill Fare the Land” (2010), one of his last books, the late Tony Judt lamented the loss of popular support for the Social Democratic parties all across Europe. This was the inevitable consequence of the association of the word “Socialism” with things like Erich Honecker’s Socialist Unity Party in East Germany, the Socialism of his masters in Moscow, and finally the implosion of the whole huge, sinister edifice of the Leninist regressive Left in 1989-91.

    The campus Left regressives are busily reenacting a similar script at the level of farce. After this process is replicated a sufficient number of times, one begins to wonder whether there exists an intrinsic tendency on the Left to discredit itself. If only, I sometimes fantasize, there could be a Left without Leftists…

  13. Rich Sanderson
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    There is a lot of evasion and pushback from people to avoid admitting there is a problem with regressive, illiberal dogma in academia, the online media, and the left in general.

    I know one *skeptic* (Peter “Humanisticus” Ferguson) who goes out of his way to defend identity politics (along with antisemites and other smear-merchants, etc.), on the basis that groups working together can bring about change. However, I point that groups working together under the banner of identity politics has also brought about terror and misery, and we see the far right encouraging identity politics.

    I also engage with commentators on Patheos, who go out of their way to deny regressive dogma is a problem. They even state the terms I use are just “insults”. Needless to say, these same people throw terms like “Nazi” around on a daily basis.

    • jay
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      To me (and I’m not looking to get into a big debate, people have their opinions too), but I don’t consider this an anomaly. This is where leftism inevitably winds up if you follow it far enough.

      Equality goes FAR from our constitutional version of equality (equal rights under the law) and requires the government actively sandbag the players to equalize the results. An example of this is the demand that government and society handicap men because mammalian biology and personal choices temporarily or permanently pull some women out of the top tracks in the business world. It’s interesting to listen to Jordan Peterson’s commentary how male aggression (common to almost all mammals) works both the the benefit of men in the business world and to their detriment in other social situations.

      [An astonishing stretch of this idea is a new complaint that female dogs (why is ‘bitch’ an insult? –female dogs are wonderful companions) are pretty much out of active dog show competition once they start to breed, but males can go on for a longer time. Yes apparently their is a glass ceiling for dogs too. ]

      Much of leftism is based on the concept of equality (where everyone is equally successful) and groupthink where everyone comes to believe the same thing. Except people don’t, and the existence of outliers becomes the problem—to be solved by shaming, violence or exclusion.

      The founders never expected the government to equalize everything and everyone. It cannot ever be done. And the more push there is in that direction, the more distortion it introduces, requiring even more coercive correction.

      We’ve seen the harm done when religion acts perceiving itself to be the sole source of moral truth, leftism is simply a secular version of this.

      • Posted February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        why is ‘bitch’ an insult?

        I’ve often wondered if it started out as a euphemism for “witch”, back in the days when calling someone a witch could have serious consequences.

        BTW, I largely agree with your comment 🙂

    • chris moffatt
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      The ultimate identity politics was Naziism. ‘Nuff said.

  14. Rich Sanderson
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    BTW, I am also reminded of the “antiracist” claim you see in the bios of many-a-SJW……

    ….the number of “antiracists” who turn out to be antisemitic, is alarmingly high.

    But, they will tell you they “have fought racism all their lives”. The usual cliches.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know offhand the name of the fallacy that the reporter’s question begs? She is definitely begging the question (as in the fallacy thereof), but that’s not the fallacy I’m thinking of. She’s conflating criticism of certain people who trumpet their political correctness under the banner of social justice, with the principle of social justice itself. This is done all the time, in every sphere of action, and it’s the kind of thing that I, at least, need to be well-armed against,lest I lapse into silence which like it or not implies that the cavil is unassailable, and the person has a point, when on both counts, they don’t.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know but I’d love to know

      I spotted the question begging too – I’m getting better at it I think – hopefully the interviewer – or the higher-up who dispatched them – gets the drift that readers are paying attention.

    • BJ
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      I can’t think of one that fits exactly, but the genetic fallacy seems to fit well. The premise is that, if SJWs come from social justice, and social justice is good, then SJWs must be good (and opposing SJWs is opposing social justice).

      We could also call this a simplified equivocation fallacy. “Social justice,” within the context of “social justice warriors,” is assumed to have the same meaning as “social justice” alone.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, it seems to me that the simplified equivocation fallacy is the best of the two. And after thinking about it, I’d say that operating on a level below that, the “affirming the consequent” fallacy is lurking – as Wikipedia has it: the antecedent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be true because the consequent is true: if A, then B; B, therefore A.

        Thus: If one criticizes social justice, then it can safely be assumed that one would criticize social justice warriors; that I think is a reasonable assumption — but the consequent is not. I think this is what she was doing.

        • BJ
          Posted February 10, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I think you’ve put it well: while the question was an equivocation fallacy, the underlying concept of it was an affirming the consequent fallacy.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted February 11, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      ‘Criticising SJW’s is equal to criticising SJ itself’ is a fallacious false equivalency.

  16. Ray Little
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    On the spillover to everyday politics (Canadian version): Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, was fielding questions when one of the questioners incautiously used the term ‘mankind.’ JT took him to task, saying that his government preferred the term ‘peoplekind.’ (The word just got the wiggly line from spell-check that means ‘this isn’t a real word.’) One wonders what’s wrong with the word ‘people,’ and also what’s wrong with just answering the question without virtue-signalling about it.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      It was actually a female speaker who used the word “mankind” and who Trudeau corrected.

    • d McCallum
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      So much Wrong.
      It was a she not he. She was a member of a weird feminist religious cult and was going on and on. The crowd was getting angry but Trudeau insisted that she be allowed to speak,The people kind comment was a joke and a mild put down of her silliness. The media hit job came from the right and left both only show the people kind comment. The left enraged for his “mansplaining ” the right for not saying Mankind. Find the full episode and makeup your own mind

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      I heard Trudeau state apologetically that he was merely being puckish, that he wasn’t virtue signaling, and his joke fell flat with the hypersensitive PC crowd. I’m inclined to believe him — at least I want to believe him — it’d be nice to know that some public figure has a sense of humor; but the SJWs have no sense of humor, especially no self-deprecating sense of humor. I recall making a tongue-in-cheek comment in one WEIT post and was chastised by another reader, who took my comment seriously and accused me of virtue signaling, when I wasn’t doing that at all.

    • Posted February 10, 2018 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t trust the wiggly line. It says Lepidoptera isn’t a word either.

  17. ladyatheist
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    The current identity politics is antithetical to baby boomer values. In the 60s or 70s, a white person could sport an Afro, men had long hair, women believed they could do anything, we didn’t believe in labels, and everyone could “Do your own thing.”

    Now, Facebook gives you 51 gender labels to choose from, and commercials for genetic testing show people talking about “their culture” (one woman who is slightly more than 50% Nigerian buys Nigerian apparel). As if 400 years of African-American culture means nothing. (And a guy who thought he was German discovers he’s Scottish and gives up his German folk hobbies). White women can’t even wear hoop earrings!

    When it crosses from social justice to ghettoization, that’s when they lose me.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Now, Facebook gives you 51 gender labels to choose from

      Inference : the second suicide in the FB team ordered to think up possible gender labels took place at about entry 50 in the data table.

    • Posted February 12, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      And a guy who thought he was German discovers he’s Scottish and gives up his German folk hobbies

      Presumably he now wears a kilt and goes to caber-tossing classes

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Over the past few years, Sullivan has moved increasingly leftward and become increasingly vocal about the malfeasance of Trump and the Republicans.

    I think Sullivan is also doing the best, most precise writing of his career. The clearest thinking, too, as must be the case, since it’s no more possible to fashion clear writing from muddled thinking that it is to build a solid frame house from rotted lumber.

    Some writers, it seems, are suited best by the prevailing Zeitgeist. 🙂

  19. Nobody Special
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Whilst there is certainly a hierarchy of oppression in play, I think that PCC(E) is wrong to compare it to rungs on a ladder. To my mind it’s more of a pyramid, with the ‘privileged majority’ forming the base, and each row above made up of ever-smaller minorities, minorities within minorities, and so on. This, of course, logically terminates at the capstone, the one person on Earth who is totally beyond reproach. I have no idea who this person might be but, when one considers all the categories that come into play with intersectionalism, that person must be one messed-up individual indeed.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      This, of course, logically terminates at the capstone, the one person on Earth who is totally beyond reproach.

      Conveniently, Mohandas Gandhi is thoroughly dead, and so can’t speak for himself. In particular, he can’t tear new digestive fistulas for the people who try to put him onto that pedestal.
      I can’t think who else they’d try to hoist onto that petard.

      • Nobody Special
        Posted February 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        It wouldn’t have been Ghandi anyway: he was male, able-bodied and straight, as far as I’m aware, with no mental or identity issues. Each of these, and each of any other of his ‘privileges’ puts him a layer lower in the Grand Pyramid of Oppression.
        No, Ghandi would have been part of the damp-course layers.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted February 11, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

          I suggest that you all learn something about Gandhi’s bizarre sex life before you talk so readily about his lack of mental and identity issues and suggest that he was beyond reproach. It is readily Googled. I suspect that you then would not be quite so eager to stick the man wherever on the pedestal you want to stick him.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 11, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          So … you’re proposal for the capstone.
          I still think that being unable to object through being dead would be an important criterion – at least for the second person to be offered the poisoned chalice ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H hot seat. Being fictional with a dead author and no literary executor might be acceptable to the snowflakestorm, if not the Real World ™ .

          • Tim Harris
            Posted February 11, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

            Jesus Christ, of course.

    • Helen
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      You must be referring to the Christian Jesus when you mention the capstone.
      Zechariah 4:7?

      • Nobody Special
        Posted February 11, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Jesus might be good enough for Zechariah, but he certainly wouldn’t cap the Pyramid of Oppression. How much more privileged can one get than being the son of God? He was born with a silver universe in his mouth, for crying out loud.

  20. mirandaga
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    An excellent piece, Jerry. One of your best.

  21. Max Blancke
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Even the perceptions of injustice and oppression are just a dodge.
    Like most human endeavors, this is about people seeking status.
    Most of the most vocal of the SJWs seem to be people who could not achieve status the normal ways, namely through being attractive, brilliant, very hard working, talented, lucky, or some combination of the above.
    The hard part of plan to achieve that status is that it requires everyone to agree with the scheme, including those who have gotten to their positions of status the normal way.
    When they insist that people “check their privilege”, or stop “…splaining”, what they really want is submission. Constant acts of submission. And they want that submission specifically from those people who they perceive as holding the status they covet.

    This is only my own opinion.

  22. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing this post. So far I think it is the clearest description of the problems with identity politics I have seen here or anywhere.

    Ever since Solomon wrote The Noonday Demon I thought he possessed an amazing intelligence. In many ways his life and thought appeared conflicted and strange.

    One of my mentors claimed in politics we do not have enemies, we have opponents. Our enemies want to kill us, our opponents disagree with us. Unfortunately I actually was in a war and experienced people wanting to kill or maim me. So I knew what he meant. I fear that SJIs conflate opponents and enemies. We can find ways to overcome opponents but when you have decided someone is your enemy I am not sure how to proceed.

    • BJ
      Posted February 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      “I fear that SJIs conflate opponents and enemies.”

      It’s far more frightening than that, as they don’t conflate the two; rather, they see no difference between them. You can see this in the language they often employ, as in, when met with disagreement, they say, “you’re literally killing X people.” If you believe Ben Shapiro should be allowed to speak on campus, you’re literally killing trans people. If you don’t adopt certain speech patterns, strike newly appointed bad words from your lexicon, or use phrases suddenly deemed “microaggressions,” you’re committing “discursive violence.”

      And on and on it goes.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      I think perhaps you’ve conflated Andrew Sullivan with Andrew Solomon.

  23. DW
    Posted February 10, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Social Justice itself is a problem. When you collectivize the concept of justice, it is self-defeating.

    Justice is being held responsible for your own actions. Social Justice is being held responsible for your race, gender, or other designation. And that is not justice at all.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 11, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      Oh, dear. Why, DW, do you not learn something about the concept of justice in Western and also Eastern thought and its relation to both individual and society before trotting tired libertarian cliches that are just as dogmatic and thoughtless in nature as the ‘Leftist’ cliches you affect to despise?

      • Posted February 11, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Well put!

      • DW
        Posted February 11, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        I know quite a bit about western justice. I’ll freely admit, I haven’t studied eastern forms of justice. I don’t see why that matters. Have you studied it? Because all you wrote is a whine that I’m somehow libertarian. I’m not. But, based on that group designation, you decided I must not know what I’m talking about. Maybe a bit of prejudice you’ve got going there?

        If you go back a few hundred years, you can see how someone would have a different justice system applied to them if they were a member of the nobility. It’s a terrible system.

        If you want another historical analogy, the recent wave of colleges running their own secretive sexual assault tribunals were the Star Chamber system all over again. Originally, the star chamber was set up because it was believed that some people were just too powerful to be convicted in normal courts. So they set up a secretive tribunal to ensure that these people could be punished. Does that sound at all familiar to the feminist rhetoric about how men on trial for rape always escape justice?

        Punishing someone based on their group designation is not justice. It’s that simple.

  24. glen1davidson
    Posted February 11, 2018 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Ken Ham disinvited at University of Central Oklahoma due to LBGT groups.

    Not a school I’d ever heard of, and certainly not a speaker that is any great loss. Another instance of censorship, though, and it’s good to see Oklahoma state legislators unhappy about it.

    Glen Davison

    • glen1davidson
      Posted February 11, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      I don’t know what happened with that link. It’s the right news station website, but not the right page. I hope this one gets to the right place:

      https://tinyurl.com/y7mdpth6


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