FAIR Weekly Roundup
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This week on our Substack, FAIR Advisor Wilfred Reilly wrote a piece discussing how media narratives on race a racism not only do not often reflect reality, but are frequently opposite reality. Reilly highlights several media stories and surveys to point out that “[w]hile there are certainly exceptions, the vast majority of racialized police brutality stories collapse under even a cursory examination.”
He believes the incentive structures of both the news media and social media are largely to blame:
[W]hy do so many smart people believe inter-ethnic violence is so much worse than it is? One reason is that American mainstream media is structured in a way that incentivizes the promotion of stories that worsen political polarization. The same could also be said for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Basic data about inter-racial violence often seem not merely ignored by mainstream media sources, but actively misrepresented.
According to Reilly, this is all very unhelpful and gets in the way of addressing the “vestiges of racism that still exist” in America, since any solution will require us being able to form an accurate picture of reality.
On FAIR Advisor Bari Weiss’ Substack Common Sense, she hosted a symposium of top intellectuals to discuss the meaning and purpose of Black History Month (BHM). The symposium consists of FAIR Advisors Sheena Mason, Daryl Davis, Eli Steele, and Coleman Hughes, and other top minds.
Does it risk dissociating the black history from the rest of American history, as though they are separate and distinct? It it essential to highlight the contributions of Black Americans? Does BHM cause unnecessary racial strife by emphasizing our differences instead of our similarities? These questions and more are addressed in this piece.
For UnHerd, former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani wrote a piece discussing the ways the so-called “antiracism” movement betrays Asian students. Nomani used her son’s school—Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ)—where Asian students comprise over 70 percent of the student body, as a test case. According to Nomani:
In the months that followed [the 2020 race riots], the local school board…voted to remove the school’s merit-based, race-blind admissions process, and replace it with one that was race-based. Along with other parents I was horrified by the school’s readiness to use identity, rather than achievement, as the basis of admissions.
When Nomani and other parents spoke out against implementing these race-based admission policies that would greatly slash Asian admissions, they were frequently met with vitriol, insults, and attempts to pressure them into silence.
For the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey Snyder wrote about the ways diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures can restrict or eliminate free speech. He described a situation at George Washington University where provocative posters created by a Chinese-Australian artist critical of the CCP sparked outrage by Chinese students who viewed them as “racist” and a “naked attack on the Chinese nation.”
After taking the posters down, University President Mark Wrighton reversed course when he received criticism and learned of the posters’ true origin and message. He then affirmed his commitment to free speech: “I want to be very clear: I support free speech — even when it offends people.”
However, the Chinese Cultural Association at the university attempted to suppress criticism of China’s human-rights abuses by “exploit[ing] the logic of DEI” and social justice. The Cultural Association cited “offense,” claimed the posters violated the university’s commitment to “equality and inclusion,” and said they “posed a risk to the safety of Chinese students.”
In The Guardian, David Rozado, Musa al-Gharbi, and Jamin Halberstadt wrote a piece describing their new study published in Social Science Computer Review demonstrating a “substantial shift” in “words related to prejudice and discrimination beginning in the early 2010s.” According to the authors, this phenomenon is observed in both “left- and right-leaning media alike.”
It may be that this rapid shift in attitudes among news producers and their primary audiences is what ended up driving the rapid changes in media discourse – setting the stage for social justice movements to “break through” into the mainstream in a way that they might not have been able to prior.
However, the authors’ data suggests that “it is changes in media coverage that seem to predict shifts in public perceptions around race and gender discrimination – not the other way around.”
For Newsweek, author Lisa Selin Davis described what both sides of the political spectrum get wrong about “gender affirming care.” She points out how, from a mainstream media perspective, it may appear that the political Left is fighting to ensure children with gender dysphoria get the care they need, while the political Right is dead-set on banning all such attempts. “But,” according to Davis,
when the politics are pulled back and the science scrutinized, a very different picture becomes clear—or rather, it becomes clear just how murky the science is, just how much dispute there is about how life-saving these medical interventions are. Absent a partisan lens, it becomes clear how ambiguous the long-term safety and efficacy is of medical intervention, and how bipartisan the concern about them.
Davis urges us to view both sides as wanting the best medical outcomes for gender dysphoric children, instead of viewing care and empathy as being restricted to one side of the political aisle. While it is tempting to cast your opponents as evil, such depictions are often inaccurate and stand in the way of real progress on many important issues.
On Tara Henley’s Substack Lean Out, she interviewed investigative journalist, author, and conflict mediator Amanda Ripley about the ways we can help pull our society back from “the brink” of societal chaos, as well as strategies we can employ to prevent us from “losing relationships with loved ones.”
Ripley describes “high conflict,” or the state of discourse where “the facts stop mattering very much and it becomes all about the fear of the other side.” When public discourse enters a state of high conflict, problems are portrayed as being overly simplistic—”There’s good versus evil. Us versus them. Black versus white. Democrat versus Republican.” This, according to Ripley, is “a coping mechanism for people who are dealing with anxiety and fear and uncertainty and disinformation.”
Ripley says the solution to periods of high conflict is to “get insanely curious.”
[Y]ou do have to do something really hard, which is to get insanely curious at a time when no one else is curious. So, really trying to understand why people are behaving the way they are. It’s like a game of chicken. No one will listen until they feel heard. Right now, no one feels heard. Who is going to listen first? Who is going to interrupt that dance?