Perspective: Are classrooms exchanging MLK’s dream for identity politics?
For Deseret News, FAIR Advisor Robert P. George writes about how some are dividing our world into two categories: persecutors and the persecuted.
The world is divided up into two categories or classes: persecutors and persecuted, oppressors and victims. You are one or the other depending on your “identity.” If you are a “white, heterosexual, cisgender” person, and especially if you are one of those who is also male, then you enjoy “privilege” that makes you, wittingly or unwittingly, at least something of an oppressor — or, at a minimum, a beneficiary of oppression. If you are BIPOC (Black, indigenous, person of color) or LGBTQA+, then you are in the victim class. Everything is racialized or (more broadly) “identitized.”
In this way, students are taught to think of themselves as privileged or victimized. The privileged are infected by “whiteness,” which it is their duty to recognize in themselves and in society and to ameliorate. They must adopt — and express (for “silence is violence”) —certain moral and political views. They must confess that they have wrongly benefited from “white privilege” and they must adjust their behavior accordingly. They must be an “ally” and, while not leading (for that would be taking advantage of their privilege), they must support “diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Christian Strangeness: A Muslim’s Faith and Friendship Across Deep Differences
For Neighborly Faith, FAIR Advisor Shadi Hamid writes about the experience of forging meaningful friendships across religious lines.
After I had spoken on a smaller panel, an older man approached me and asked if he could shake my hand. I said, yes, of course. He then said that this was the first time in his over eighty years on this earth that he had shaken hands with a Muslim. I was amazed, and I was grateful. I smiled and thanked him. I must have been beaming just a bit too much, because he quickly cautioned me. I appreciate what you had to say, he told me, but that doesn’t mean I think you can be saved without Christ. His meaning, however gingerly put, was clear enough: I would most likely face eternal damnation if I failed to convert. I remember feeling a tinge of irritation and even offense. For whatever reason, though, I made a decision in the moment to push my frustration to the side and reply with the same openness that he had extended me. What ensued was an illuminating conversation, running the gamut from our respective theologies to my familial background and where I had grown up. It may sound odd, but there was something liberating about the encounter. He had his views, and I had mine. And that was fine.
The Problems With ‘Gender Identity’
For Reality’s Last Stand, FAIR Advisor Lisa Selin Davis writes about how as definitions of ‘gender identity’ progressed, they became circular, vague, and often contradictory.
That is, by gender identity—later defined by Stoller as “core gender identity”—he meant that we all seem to know our sex. “It’s a fundamental component of human cognitive development,” said Alex Byrne, a professor of philosophy at MIT who has written extensively on gender identity. “Very early on, you come to realize not just that other people are divided into males and females, but that you’re either in one box or the other.” Stoller and others saw this clearly, he said. (Stoller doesn’t note that as toddlers and preschoolers, we understand sex in terms of sex stereotypes. It’s not until about age six or seven that most of us experience “sex constancy”—the realization that our bodies dictate our sex, not our adherence to stereotypes.)
In Defense of Defensive Confidence
For Discourse Magazine, Erec Smith writes about how defensive confidence not only hones our argumentative skills but also strengthens our society and helps us live more fulfilling lives.
It’s not that people are afraid of arguments; rather, they are afraid of losing arguments. Many people would rather avoid or shut down those with whom they disagree than risk being exposed as wrong in any way. Examples of this avoidance behavior abound, especially—and ironically—on college campuses, where students are supposed to be learning argumentative skills. So, we may need to reconceptualize the point of rhetorical education by not just teaching people how to argue, but also encouraging them to be open to argumentation in the first place. The key to the latter endeavor lies in the concept of defensive confidence.
The Man Amazon Erased
For Tablet, Jarod Facundo writes about Brandon Jackson, a black man whose Amazon account was suspended when a black delivery driver reported hearing racist remarks from his video doorbell.
Amazon’s intrusion into Jackson’s life, then, should not be understood within the context of protecting workers—which might begin by giving them adequate time to use the restroom—but rather as part of an emergent regime of technological control. The culmination of years of debate about political and civic norm moderation on social media and in public discourse has created a new normative standard in which “innocent until proven guilty” is now viewed as an oppressive and antiquated relic. As the new unelected masters of public discourse, tech giants like Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, have been encouraged to execute summary punishments of users for mere accusations of racism or “disinformation.”
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