90 Miles From Tyranny : The Truth According to Social Justice—A Review of ‘Cynical Theories’

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Truth According to Social Justice—A Review of ‘Cynical Theories’

A review of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Pitchstone Publishing (August 25th, 2020), 352 pages.

In November 1964, the American historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay in Harper’s Magazine about the paranoid style in American politics, arguing that “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds” ripe for “conspiratorial fantasy.” Arguably, many elites in contemporary mainstream American institutions appear to believe that anybody expressing concern about a so-called cancel culture has been in possession of such a paranoid mindset. Even when 150 artists and writers signed an open letter in none other than Harper’s Magazine, decrying “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity,” the response from many has been to mock these concerns and dismiss them as “paranoid,” or “privileged.”

The backlash to the Harper’s Letter comes on the heels of John McWhorter’s thesis that anti-racism is a new religion, David French suggesting that a secular fundamentalist revival is occurring on the Left, and Andrew Sullivan asking whether “intersectionality [is] a religion?” In short, there is indeed something of a militant crusade that lies at the heart of what Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay call “Social Justice in Action,” the title of chapter nine in their sensational new book, Cynical Theories, which explains “How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody.”

While there are those who claim, not unreasonably, that cancel culture is “a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write about a disabled grandfather and bag packer who was sacked by his employer for sharing an apparently Islamophobic Billy Connolly skit, an act, which they claim “follows from applications of postcolonial Theory” (in this case, the grandfather was eventually reinstated). They also write about the software engineer James Damore, who was fired by Google for writing an internal memo on diversity which cited scientific research about sex differences, arguing that this sacking “follows from the assumptions underlying queer Theory and intersectional feminism.” They write about how a British football commentator and comedian Danny Baker lost his job at the BBC “for not realizing that a photograph of a chimpanzee in a smart coat and bowler hat that he tweeted could be construed as...

Read More HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment

Test Word Verification