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Today In Illiberal Leftism

Sir Isaac Newton, Enemy of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

The publisher W.W. Norton has decided to pull all copies of Blake Bailey’s recent biography of Philip Roth, after (unproven) allegations that Bailey is a sexual assailant:

Norton’s decision to take Mr. Bailey’s titles out of print marked an extraordinary response to the allegations against the author and raised questions about publishers’ ethical obligations to respond to controversies that extend beyond the contents of the books they publish.

“As a publisher, Norton gives its authors a powerful platform in the civic space. With that power comes the responsibility to balance our commitment to our authors, our recognition of our public role, and our knowledge of our nation’s historic failure to adequately listen to and respect the voices of women and diverse groups,” Ms. Reidhead wrote.

This is correct:

Yesterday, walking up Andrassy Street in Budapest, I passed a bookshop window, and saw this:

The Hungarian version of The Benedict Option finally hit the shelves this week! But look, it is next to a book by Michel Foucault, who traveled to Tunisia to rape boys. By the standards of today’s publishing progressives, I ought to march into that bookshop and demand that the manager remove the Foucault book from the display. Of course I would never do such a thing, because when it comes to books, I am a good liberal (besides, Kierkegaard, Berdyaev and I have the French creep surrounded). Seriously, Michel Foucault is probably roasting in hell now for what he did, but he was an enormously important 20th century thinker (alas, the dog!), and the public should be able to buy his books and judge them apart from his personal immorality.

What Norton has done is not exactly a book banning — as the head of Norton said, Bailey is free to sell his manuscript to somebody else — but it’s troublingly close. This is exactly what happened with Woody Allen’s memoir last summer. Now both books have a permanent taint, and neither Allen nor Bailey is ever likely to get a significant publishing deal again.

Which is fine, I guess; nobody is entitled to a literary career. But Woody Allen is a major 20th century film director, and though he may well be a man of poor character, attention must be paid to his life and work. Philip Roth was a major novelist, by all accounts an unpleasant and misogynistic man, but an extremely significant artistic figure — one who personally tapped Blake Bailey to be his biographer. Blake Bailey’s work on Philip Roth stands or falls on its own, not on whether or not Bailey is a sleaze. We absolutely have to maintain the art-from-the-artist distinction if we are going to have a culture worth having. Otherwise its socialist realism (woke realism?) all the way down — that is, art whose merit is decided by political criteria, not actual merit.

At the University of Toledo, they are well on their way to that kind of corruption. Here is a press release from Dr. Willie McKether, vice president of diversity and inclusion of the school:

This year’s Inclusive Excellence Awards from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has launched a passionate and important conversation about how The University of Toledo works to ensure all individuals on our campus feel included and respected.

The awards were created in 2019 as a way to recognize the faculty, staff and departments on our campus who have put in the work implementing the University’s Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion to make our campus a more diverse and inclusive place to study, work and grow.

When we talk about a diverse and inclusive campus we mean a community free from discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, beliefs, age, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. As a public university educating the next generation of leaders, we have a responsibility to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in the broadest context allowing for and encouraging differing perspectives, backgrounds and thought. We must teach our students respectful discourse for our society is at its best when we challenge one another respectfully and consider viewpoints that may be different from our own.

In this our second year of the Inclusive Excellence Awards, which was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we reached out to the campus community for nominations this spring.

UToledo College of Law Professor Lee Strang received an overwhelming number of faculty nominations focused on his presence in the classroom where he “enjoys and respects a good healthy debate,” as one nominator wrote. The individuals who nominated Strang for the award recognized his conservative point of view as a minority in academia and a benefit to legal debate.

One nomination read: “Professor Strang always welcomes students to present and defend their perspectives while respectfully challenging them to consider points of view contrary to their starting point. I believe the academy at its best is a place where truth claims and viewpoints can contend with one another based on their own merits and scholars from all life experiences have the opportunity to wrestle with the arguments of others as well as their own assumptions.”

Another wrote, “As much as any demographic measure of diversity, the diversity of thought and perspective is at the very heart of our identity as an academic institution.”

It is for these reasons Strang was recognized with the 2021 award.

The intent of this award is to recognize those at UToledo who best represent our diversity and inclusion values and the feedback we’ve received on the nomination and review process is important as we continue to advance this new recognition into the future.

We have learned that more work is needed on our part to inform our campus community and our alumni of this recognition opportunity and to seek their nominations. Our UToledo alumni is an audience we had not actively engaged for nominations and will do so in the years ahead. In addition, we will broaden the review committee beyond the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to be sure we have diverse perspectives during the selection process for this honor.

In these first two years of the awards in 2019 and 2021, the recipients have been selected based exclusively on the nominations submitted. We are working to revise the nomination and review process to be sure we take a comprehensive approach in selecting the recipients to ensure their bodies of work represent our diversity and inclusion values.

As an institution we are committed to promoting a campus environment where every member of the UToledo community feels included and respected. I will continue to do my best to acknowledge and facilitate respectful discussions that enable us all to grow and do better.

Thank you for your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Got that? Lee Strang was so admired by his colleagues that he received an overwhelming number of nominations for this award. They admired what he does to diversify “thought and perspective.” But he is a conservative, and just as bad, is, on evidence, a Pale Penis Person:

So naturally, the University of Toledo is changing the award criteria, to prevent anything like this from happening again: “We are working to revise the nomination and review process to be sure we take a comprehensive approach in selecting the recipients to ensure their bodies of work represent our diversity and inclusion values.”

Some people are more diverse than others, as Orwell might have said. Seriously, if there is a more Orwellian concept than “diversity and inclusion,” I don’t know what it is. It is precisely to exclude the Wrong Sort Of Person, and to congratulate oneself on one’s broad-mindedness in doing so.

Here’s an exquisite moment of white-progressive cringe:

Listen to the audio. The interviewer, a Jewish woman, is audibly shocked by what Philippe, a black man, has written about gassing whites. Emotionally stunned, she says that her family includes Holocaust survivors. You can hear the gears grinding in her head as she processes this, and then she blurts out to this race-murder fantasist, “I’m so sorry that your experience of the world made you feel that way and made you feel compelled to write that.”

(Remember back in 2017, when I started writing about the race-murder fantasist Tommy Curry, a black professor of philosophy at Texas A&M? I quoted his white-hating academic and broadcast work, including a 2007 paper he wrote in which he favorably considered killing white people — and according to him, there are no innocent white people — to end what he regards as black oppression? The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about the ensuing controversy with sympathy towards Curry, eliding over the actual horror of what he wrote. This is how many white liberals are: they cannot bring themselves to condemn even the endorsement of genocidal hatred, if voiced by a person of color.)

Meanwhile, if you thought this primitive woke ideology was going to leave the hard sciences alone, you are quite mistaken. The Telegraph this week reports that Sheffield University is considering canceling Isaac Newton. Yes, the founder of modern physics. More:

Students at the university in the north of England will reportedly have lessons on Netwon’s groundbreaking three laws of motion, including the law of gravity, with explainers detailing the “global origins and historical context” of his theories.

Professors in the engineering department of Sheffield University will seek to “challenge long-standing conscious and unconscious biases” among pupils and to confront the supposed “white saviour” and “Eurocentric” view of science and mathematics, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.

A diversity consultant at several top universities in Britain decried the efforts to decolonise the curriculum, warning that the movement is expanding from the traditionally left-wing humanities departments into the hard sciences.

“I’m employed by universities to do this training but for me equality, diversity and inclusion training is equality of opportunity, diversity of thought and inclusivity of action – that’s all,” the unnamed consultant said.

“This is something different altogether. It is blatantly teaching people to be activists,” the consultant added.

A leaked copy of the university’s “draft inclusive curriculum development” strategy developed by the Russell Group research university claims that “much important engineering content and curriculum resources is based on maths developed in the 18/19th century”.

It goes on to say that scientists such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Paul Dirac, Pierre-Simon Laplace, and Newton could all “be considered as benefiting from colonial-era activity”.

I hope, at the end of the 20th century, when the Chinese masters of the globe write the history of the West’s decline and fall, they note that it was a suicide. Seriously, yesterday I was having a beer with a Hungarian journalist, and mentioned to him that it troubled me that the Hungarian government is going to welcome a Budapest campus of Fudan University, the first foreign outpost of the Shanghai college. Fudan U. is one of the best in China, and best in the world. My Hungarian interlocutor observed that “there won’t be any wokeness at Fudan.” As much as I recoil at the idea of Communist China establishing a beachhead in Hungary, on second thought, it would not be obvious to me that it’s more dangerous to do an academic deal with the Chinese devil than with the Western devil. As we see daily, wokeness is destroying the West. If this insanity takes hold in Hungary, it’s going to tear Hungary to bits. There’s an argument to be made that a country would be better off with ChiCom College than with the University of Baizuo (the Chinese term of derision for “white leftists”).

UPDATE: From Thomas Friedman’s column today, about the prospect of a US-China war:

Meanwhile, the failure of the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq to produce the pluralism and decency hoped for after 9/11, coupled with the 2008 economic crisis and the current pandemic — together with the general hollowing out of America’s manufacturing base — has weakened both American self-confidence and the world’s confidence in America.

The result? Right when China, Russia and Iran are challenging the post-World War II order more aggressively than ever, many wonder whether the United States has the energy, allies and resources for a new geopolitical brawl.

Friedman is missing the role that cultural degeneration among America’s elites plays here. Again, if you were a Hungarian leader looking West, do you see anything healthy or strong in the cultures of the US, of Britain, or western Europe? No, you see cultures being cannibalized by self-hating elites and woke barbarians.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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