Home/Rod Dreher/Pink Terror Mailbag.2

Pink Terror Mailbag.2


A reader writes:

I’m a long time reader, and to be honest I always thought you were a little over the top, although I enjoy your writing and perspective. I no longer think you’re exaggerating the threat we face.
I’m happy for you to share anonymized excerpts of this email, but please do not share my name, the specific industry I’m in, or anything else that could be connected to me other than the city. I’ve used [] to indicate things I especially don’t want shared. I’m sure I would be fired for sending you this. [Note from Rod: I have put “deleted” inside the bracketed information.]
I have a PhD from [deleted] and I’m in a senior role at [deleted] firm in Washington DC; I specialize in our [deleted]. I’ve been highly successful — in 3.5 years with the company I’ve gotten a raise or promotion every 6 months. I’m well respected and I now run my own team. Despite this, I have no doubt if my political beliefs were public I would be fired instantly.
When I interviewed with this company, I was asked point blank if I could “put my political beliefs aside” to do unbiased [work in this field], because I had previously worked for a Koch organization. For years I have routinely heard my Roman Catholic faith and my politics (libertarian-GOP) mocked. To be clear, no one knows about my beliefs because they assume everyone is a far leftist. People (including executives) hate-watched the Kavanaugh hearings in the office during the workday; people loudly proclaim their hatred for Trump, Kavanaugh, Barr, etc. The one openly GOP/Trump guy in the office is roundly attacked and mocked daily. These people are so sure everyone agrees with them that many times, they have ranted to me about their hatred of Trump, Kavanaugh, Barr, and even Koch (my former employer), assuming I agree.
Even with all that, I spent enough time in higher education to put up with intolerance towards me (and my libertarian side ends up causing me to agree with the left on enough issues to provide cover without lying). I’ve enjoyed the work and the success of the last several years. I didn’t become truly scared until the last couple months. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by our HR executive and other C-level executives to take a free day off to protest, and to donate to BLM and similar radical leftist groups (not even the UNCF, the NAACP or similar). Of course, they have also promoted all the same “anti-racist” stuff you’ve pointed out from Baylor and other orgs recently. Over and over it has been affirmed since May that either you support these specific organizations/principles or you don’t belong at the company.
Our HR exec said in a company wide meeting that we have been prioritizing hiring on the basis of race and will continue to do so, and that moving forward, people will be assigned to interview candidates based on the race of the interviewer and interviewee. This is all obviously illegal. Did I mention that my company is more than 50 percent female and is only 55 percent White? So what’s the problem? It’s that we have relatively few Black colleagues (about 10 percent) but many Chinese, Korean, and Indian colleagues. (Note that the logical outcome is that “diversity” means that every organization has slightly more Black members than the population as a whole…not sure the math works out).
Our CHRO and CEO pointed out that whole we have special social/activism groups at work for Blacks, Women, LGBTQ, there are likely other groups that could be formed. They are asking for suggestions. Should I suggest Men in [deleted], or Company Republicans? Catholics? Christians? Only if I want to be fired. And remember, even without these clubs, this is a very leftist company that is overwhelmingly welcoming and even biased towards women, LGBT, racial/ethnic minorities, etc. The only people who are unwelcome are White Christians/Republicans. So what are we even trying to “fix”?
For the first time in my life, I’m truly scared — for myself and my family, and for the country. For now, I’ll continue to try and keep my head down but I don’t know how long it can last.
Thanks for your writing, and for reading this.
This is really happening. Conservative readers, do not be gaslighted by liberals and progressives who say we’re exaggerating, or that it’s can’t really be happening because that’s not how people on the left operate. No, not all of the left operates this way. But it’s happening in more and more places. I think it’s important to print these accounts because people who are in the disfavored demographic groups, as well as conservatives, need to be aware of the emerging environment.
I am thinking about the time at a journalism conference over a decade ago that I spoke to the publisher of a major newspaper about something provocative his newspaper had published — something that struck me as gratuitously insulting to social and religious conservatives. He told me that if his newspaper lost readers over it, that would be fine with him, because “we don’t need bigots for readers.” Even though this approach stood to cost his publication readers (this in a time when all newspapers were hemorrhaging readers), he didn’t care. He believed it was morally correct.
Many people have a completely erroneous view of why corporations do what they do. They assume, naively and simplistically, that the balance sheet dictates all their decisions, and that anything a company does must have been done because it was profitable, or believed to have been profitable. This is flat-out wrong. Companies are run by human beings, not algorithms. Never, ever underestimate how important it is to people in charge of companies to be respected among their peers. In the part of the country that publisher’s newspaper served, there are a lot of conservatives. My guess, though, is that among the business elites in his city, taking progressive stands publicly was highly esteemed. I would wager that when that man’s paper published the insulting story, he received congratulations from the people at his country club and in his social circles for having taken a bold stand. This is not just a liberal phenomenon; it’s human nature. We all want to be liked and respected by the people we like and respect.
It is easy for me to believe what the reader above says, because as a  journalist, I have spent most of my career in professional milieux that are overwhelmingly liberal. The epistemic closure in those workplaces has been just about as severe as the reader reports in his workplace. The people who work there can’t imagine that any decent people would disagree with them, and because they like those with whom they work, they assume that everybody shares their views. Once at the New York Post, a colleague told me, “For a right-wing religious nut, you’re pretty cool.” She was paying me a compliment, and I took it as such, but it was true that I was the only openly religious person in the entire newsroom (or at least the only one identified as a religious conservative), and she was confessing, in a veiled way, that she was surprised to discover that religious conservatives could be pleasant, even fun, people.
I get that in past eras, other minorities — racial minorities, religious minorities, atheists, gays, and others — felt excluded and closeted, or semi-closeted, in the workplace. I think that was generally wrong, and I’m grateful that those practices have fallen into disfavor. But it’s not progress when one set of bigotries have been replaced with another set. (And by the way, if you are one of those commenters who is planning to say, “You right-wingers have it coming,” save your effort, because I’m not going to post it.) If I were the manager of this reader’s company, and I knew that the workplace environment was such that some employees felt coerced and afraid because of their minority status, I would be ashamed, and would work to reform the company.
But we know that is never going to happen, because Human Resources departments always move the ethos of companies in one direction: to the left.
Here’s another letter I received from a reader, this one in response to my “Quiet Fury” post, in which I noted results of the new Cato Institute survey finding that a shocking number of people on both the left believe people should be fired for donating to Donald Trump, and a lesser (but still shocking) number on the right believe people should be fired for donating money to Joe Biden. The reader wrote to say that he knows it’s wrong, but based on how he has been treated in academia, he understands the desire to see leftists ground down. The reader’s first letter was very detailed and specific. When I asked him if I could publish it, the reader, whose name I know, said that no, it would get him and others who helped him in trouble. I edited the letter to obscure these identifying details. The reader has approved this version for publication:
I’m a graduate student and a Catholic. This is my second program, as I left voluntarily from my previous graduate program. I was there nearly two years at great cost of wealth and time and I lost it all.  Chock full of naivete, I had made the mistake of writing a term paper taking a philosophical position that violated a particular left-wing orthodoxy. I took a position that is not terribly controversial outside of academia, but apparently nuclear inside that particular university. My work was attacked from within the department, based on the supposed intolerability of my position. Though I found some faculty support, the ordeal left me deeply depressed, desperate, and almost suicidal. Were it not for a traditional Catholic fear of rational suicide and some particular attention by my family, there’s an even chance I would have gone through with it. I was so constantly on my guard and paranoid that my health, already fragile, deteriorated. All the jibes, snide comments, put-downs, or disingenuous representations of my points were wrapped in a veneer of professional courtesy and concern. When I finally changed to a different topic to try and save my grade, I just didn’t care anymore. I wrote an even worse paper, failed the class, and was glad to be free of the department. Certainly not my finest hour, by any means.
My new university was, at first, a breath of fresh air. I should stop here and mention that I am physically disabled and racially mixed. I should be a winner in the Woke Olympics. But, I’m also Catholic, male, and closeted as a conservative. All this is relevant because no sooner had I started at my new school than I faced a political inquisition in a hallway–an undergraduate took me to task when I merely declined to indicate support for [a left-wing politician]. He did it right there in front of some of my classmates, who were clearly uncomfortable but wisely remained silent.
The reader gives another anecdote, which I can’t summarize without giving away too many particularities. He goes on:
I’ve also been told that I made a particular point in class “only because you’re a white male,” even though I’m not white. Take these and the sum total of other incidents and combine them with a complete inability to freely express myself politically, theologically or philosophically for fear of repeating my previous experience all over again, and one might begin to understand why I wouldn’t mind the “other guy” getting a taste of this hell. It’s a nightmare, and I’m so sick of it. In my best moments I’m not proud of the part of me that can’t forgive these slights. I know I should. But, in my worst moments I just want…retribution? Poetic justice? Revenge? I don’t even have to administer it; just watch it. It’s that same part of me that was delighted by the emotional angst of the left in 2016…even though I wasn’t at all thrilled that Trump won. Seeing that smug satisfaction and self-righteousness collapse on so many people was so…liberating.
There’s another part of me, the part I leave in control, that doesn’t want anyone to have to go through this kind of treatment. It’s truly soul-crushing. No one should have to face it, especially in a free, pluralistic society. I might not really be rising above these slights, so much as I’m afraid of becoming the very kind of person that hurt me, the kind that I really do detest in flesh and blood. In the end, I sympathize entirely with your position on the unsustainability and undesirability of the nation the Cato survey indicates we have. But, I absolutely understand why some highly educated conservatives/Republicans might want to see the other guy punished for political support of Biden, even as they fear punishment themselves.
Living in the midst of academia has always done things to people; most academics are odd apples one way or another. That’s why universities keep us away from the real world. But these days it seems like an entirely different ball game. It messes with the head not in a hoary, absent kind of way, but in an oppressive, stifling, numbing kind of way. I’m terrified to write anything at all now, much less let someone else read it. I’ve no idea how I’m going to be able even to speak in class this fall.
This is the world progressives in academia have created.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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