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bodies and lives of Black people

From City Journal:

Conformity to a Lie

Academia’s monolithic belief in systemic racism will further erode American institutions and the principles of our civilization.

Heather Mac Donald

The lethal arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May triggered widespread riots and a torrent of contempt for America from virtually every institution in the country. Businesses large and small, the education establishment, and the press rushed to condemn the country’s purportedly endemic racism, implicitly accusing the majority of Americans of destroying “black lives.” Banks and law firms pledged that hiring and promotions would now be even more race-conscious than before. Hundreds of millions of dollars poured forth from corporate coffers into activist groups; the corporate benefactors hoped to dismantle America’s white supremacy, they announced.

Colleges and universities also promised increased diversity spending, though in amounts dwarfed by those corporate outpourings. Nevertheless, the academic response to Floyd’s death and the ensuing violence will have the greatest impact on the nation’s future. Academia was the ideological seedbed for that violence and for its elite justifications; it will prove just as critical in the accelerated transformation of the country.

Fealty to “diversity” and denunciations of white privilege have been a unifying theme in academia for decades, of course. What’s different this time is the sheer venom of the denunciations. College presidents and deans competed for the most sweeping indictment of the American polity, rooted in the claim that blacks are everywhere and at all times under threat.

“We are again reminded that this country’s 400-year history of racism continues to produce clear and present danger to the bodies and lives of Black people in every part of the United States,” wrote Ted Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania law school. Amherst College president Carolyn “Biddy” Martin announced that the “virulent anti-black racism in this country has never NOT been obvious, and yet there are those who continue to deny it.” Martin was making a plea, she said, “to white people in particular, to acknowledge the reality of anti-black racism, its long history, and its current force; to recognize how embedded it is in our institutional structures, social systems, and cultural norms; and to assume our responsibility for ending it.”

Ted Ruger ’90 is probably the highest ranked Eph at an Ivy League institution. He is also Woke! He will probably be recruited for the Williams presidential search in a few years. Biddy Martin, perhaps the most Woke president among NESCAC schools, needs no introduction. (If readers disagree with these judgements, let us know! Is there a higher ranked Eph in the Ivy League? Is there a more Woke NESCAC president?)

MacDonald continues:

All such institutional self-accusations by college presidents leave out the specifics. Which faculty members do not treat black students fairly? If that unjust treatment is so obvious, why weren’t those professors already removed? What is wrong with an admissions process that lets in thousands of student bigots? In other moments, college presidents brag about the quality of their student body and faculty. Are they lying? Shouldn’t they have disclosed to black applicants that they will face “racist acts” and “systems of inequality” should they attend?

Good questions.

The prevalence of systemic racism in the U.S. is far from an established fact, however. Other credible explanations exist for ongoing racial disparities, including family structure, cultural attitudes, and individual behavior. To declare from the highest reaches of the academy that racism is the defining and all-explaining feature of American society is to adopt a political position, not to state a scientific truth.

MacDonald is a bit of a cuck, so she doesn’t even mention the most likely explanation.

Each diversity initiative, whether in academia or in business, requires pretending that it was not preceded by a long line of identical efforts. Instead, every new diversity campaign starts with penance for the alleged bias that leads schools and corporations to overlook some vast untapped pool of competitively qualified blacks and Hispanics. Now, the pressure to admit and hire on the basis of race will redouble in force, elevating even less skilled candidates to positions of power throughout society. American institutions will pay the price.

Indeed. But would that necessarily be a bad thing? There is a common elite delusion that the best way to organize the world is to centralize excellence as much as possible. The best conservative intellectuals, for example, should all be brought together in a handful of elite institutions, the better to marinate in their collective excellence. Perhaps. But might not decentralization make for a better, healthier society? I hundreds of White/Asian students are rejected from the Ivy League, they don’t just disappear. They go to Iowa State. Why is that so bad from the point of view of American society?


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