In the Atlantic piece I wrote of how “antiracist” protest shut down Bryn Mawr last semester. The protest actually spread to allied schools Haverford and Swarthmore. I have it on good authority that at Swarthmore, the President simply folded arms and said “no” to the protesters, upon which they basically folded in their tails and went away.
Why? Because the President is a black woman, Valerie Smith. This is key here: she knew she could respond to melodramatic performance art with the refusal it deserved because no one could call her racist. As in: the reason Kim Cassidy over at Bryn Mawr caved, snuff-video style, to the protests on her campus was because she was deeply afraid of being tarred as a racist on social media, along with attracting that same judgment to her institution. To wit: being black allows you to respond to this agitprop with basic sense, including affording these performance artists the fundamental respect of calling them on their bullshit.
This just in …
No – I do not mean that being against racism is, itself, bullshit. I mean that a certain strain of “antiracism” these days is, yes, bullshit. And on that, we must address that a certain Mr. (sorry, “Dr.,” as he so pointedly specifies in his Twitter handle) Kendi announced last weekend that I am of a piece with the Trumpian insurrectionists. This joins him calling me a racist who “’sort of’ should look at himself in the mirror” a few months ago when speaking at Harvard. (I liked the “sort of” hedge – he knew he was “going there,” and “there” he indeed went and should not have.) That is, my 20+ years of commentary on race is the work of a self-hating black bigot whose ideas are compatible with the right-wing zealots who stormed the Capitol.
Read the entire piece at McWhorter’s Substack page. It gets pretty nasty. I’ve never met McWhorter, but I’ve seen him on television a few times and he seems like a pretty calm guy. Those who know him have confirmed my impression of him. But I guess when someone tells you that your ideas are similar to the pro-Trumpers who stormed the U.S. capitol you can get pretty riled-up.
I am guessing I will also take some heat for even sharing McWhorter’s post. So be it. The Columbia University professor is, in my opinion, one of our great public intellectuals. While his critique of Kendi is harsh, it is worth considering.