Only two races: the anti-racist philosophy of Viktor Frankl
For FAIR’s Substack, Dennis Kukuk writes about the anti-racist philosophy of Viktor Frankl, which he developed through his experience as a holocaust survivor.
Frankl's attitude that decency of character exists in an array of persons, transcending race and nationality, brought him much criticism from a variety of individuals and groups. Frankl even claims that decent persons existed among his Nazi captors. After all the horrors and atrocities wrought upon the prisoners by the Nazis, Frankl’s attitude was a tough sell. Furthermore, In the aftermath of WWII, a debate raged over whether or not the average German citizen knew what was happening in the concentration camps and whether or not the German population as a whole was culpable.
Frankl does not allow himself to be caught in the moral trap of castigating a person for belonging to a group that another group judges to be indecent. By stressing individual responsibility and character, Frankl transcends prevailing group biases. From all his experiences we learn that “... there are two races of men in this world, but only these two—the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of ‘pure race.’”
Know Your Enemies
For Persuasion, FAIR Advisor Angel Eduardo writes about why he believes in an era of hyper-certainty, dialogue and humility are more vital than ever.
Of course, the problem is that many people think they already know everything they need to know. In fact, they’re certain of it. When you have moral certainty, you can presume the authority to shut people down. When your opponents are not just wrong but monstrous, and when their words are not just arguments but violence, silencing them becomes more than just a tactic—it becomes a moral duty. That’s why recent shout-downs of campus speakers like Judge Kyle Duncan at Stanford Law School and Riley Gaines at San Francisco State University seem not only justified to those doing the shouting, but righteous and necessary.
Unfortunately, certainty of this sort seems to be at a peak right now. We’ve always had difficulty communicating, but there’s something especially disconcerting about our current moment. Discourse is chilled and too much of our polity is siloed into fervent and immovable ideological factions. Times like these are precisely when the core liberal values undergirding the American experiment are most important. As our tolerance and appetite for dissent continue to plummet, we’re giving up more than we realize.
The Freedom to Read
For Persuasion, Emily Chamlee-Wright writes about why it’s time we cultivated some moral imagination in an age of book bans and censorship.
Just as importantly, the freedom to read connects us to humanity, our own and others’. As Martha Nussbaum observes in her book Cultivating Humanity, when we read the stories of people from far-off places, times, and circumstances, we develop our moral imagination. We extend our capacity for compassion beyond what our direct experience might allow.
The alarming trend we’re seeing in organized book banning efforts is relevant here. Among the most frequent targets is George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, which reminds black gay readers that they too have dignity, that they too are worthy of love and compassion. (Dangerous stuff, that. Imagine if everybody started to think this way.) And every time the censors succeed in taking another copy of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye off the shelf, we’re robbed of the compassion it might have kindled in the reader’s heart, and the world is left a little colder.
The DEI Industry Needs to Check Its Privilege
For The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about why the DEI industry has become so expensive and how it often runs from useless to counterproductive.
The DEI spending of 2020 and 2021 was a signal sent from executives to workers that the bosses are good people who value DEI, a signal executives sent because many workers valued it. Put another way, the outlays were symbolic. At best, they symbolized something like “We care and we’re willing to spend money to prove it.” But don’t results matter more than intention?
A more jaded appraisal is that many kinds of DEI spending symbolize not a real commitment to diversity or inclusion, let alone equity, but rather the instinctive talent that college-educated Americans have for directing resources to our class in ways that make us feel good.
The Oxford kids are alright
For UnHerd, Kathleen Stock writes about why she believes students aren't the source of the culture wars, but the solution.
Other supportive students in Oxford, neither feminist nor anti-feminist, just seemed fed up with being emotionally blackmailed into stifled silence by a small group of childish and histrionic narcissists — among which they doubtless would include the occasional lecturer. And from within each Union, the committee members responsible for inviting me were totally impressive, standing resolute against pressure and showing exemplary resilience in the face of harsh criticism from some peers.
And I’m afraid I have even more disappointing news for those with unhealthy emotional attachments to the present culture wars. There were — indeed, undoubtedly still are — plenty of students who feel like this at my former workplace. I know they are there, either because they told me outright at the time, or because they demonstrated it to me via the open, inquisitive way they conducted themselves in the classroom.
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