FAIR Weekly Roundup

November 21, 2021

For The Wall Street Journal, Garry Kasparov looks at the pejorative use of the word “woke” as it’s being used to describe a set of progressive identitarian ideologies surrounding issues of “Social Justice,” and why he believes the word may be “overused and abused.”

According to Kasparov, something is “woke” if it utilizes “the abuse of power—mostly social, not yet governmental—to silence debate and paralyze the spread of any ideas that challenge the prevailing ideological dogma.” While this behavior is all-too-human and not exclusive to one side of the political spectrum, many have noticed a sudden rise in this tendency throughout our culture.

While these impulses are understandable in terms of human nature, history has shown that the costs of such intimidation tactics falls predominantly on the societies least powerful and most oppressed. 

Destroying the mechanisms of democracy to preserve democracy won’t work. We can’t promote marginalized voices by telling them what is acceptable to say. We must fight to preserve the free flow of ideas, of debate and an open society, however uncomfortable it makes us. Democracy has never been a safe space.

Read the full article here.

On her Substack, The Truth Fairy, FAIR Advisor Abigail Shrier broke a story about activism-minded teachers in California schools pushing conformist and illiberal views of “gender ideology” on students without parents’ knowledge. 

Citing low student turnout to LGBTQ+ clubs, teachers began targeting students for recruitment by “stalking” their Google search history, observing their classroom behavior, and eavesdropping on their hallway conversations. The clubs were also unsanctioned, by design, in order to avoid record-keeping requirements for student attendance and keep parents in the dark about their childrens’ activities.

For decades, gay Americans lived under the shadow of a vicious calumny that—if granted full inclusion in society—they would ‘recruit’ children. This was, and remains, a lie—one that was used to justify bigotry, even violence. But taking advantage of Americans’ current desire for LGBTQ inclusiveness, California’s largest teachers’ union seems, perversely, to have perceived the opportunity to coach teachers in student-recruiting tactics.

Since the publication of her piece, Spreckels Union School District has responded positively, and announced plans for "immediate steps to address” parents’ concerns.

Read her original piece here, and her update here.

For Spiked, Paddy Hannam reached out to FAIR Advisor Peter Boghossian to get his thoughts on the newly launched University of Austin (UATX), where Boghossian is one of three Founding Faculty Fellows.

Dr. Boghossian says he is hopeful that UATX will pave the way for a new model of higher education that celebrates tolerance of disagreement, fosters viewpoint diversity, and is committed to the unfettered pursuit of truth, because “when you think you have the truth already, you do not seek it.” 

Most universities in the United States, according to Boghossian, are stifling freethought and have become environments of socially enforced ideological conformity, and that many professors are behaving more like activists instead of educators. 

Boghossian believes students ought to be exposed to ideas that challenge and inspire them. They should hear other viewpoints and be encouraged to think for themselves, because “every time you remove debate, you encourage unscientific thinking, because there is no way to falsify ideas.”

Read the full interview here.

For City Journal, FAIR Advisor Zaid Jilani wrote a piece about why immigrants to the United States, contrary to popular belief, do not necessarily vote for progressive candidates.

“The late conservative British philosopher Roger Scruton once wrote of encountering a ‘peculiar frame of mind’ across the Western world that ‘felt the need to denigrate the customs, culture, and institutions that are identifiably ours.’” Scruton coined a word to describe this cultural self-loathing: oikophobia. While xenophobia indicates a distrust and disdain of foreigners, oikophobia refers to being fearful of one’s own native land.

According to Jilani, we’ve seen a surge of oikophobia among America’s opinion-making institutions in the past several years. Politicians, the news media, the creative class, and even heads of major corporations, frequently describe America as a dark place beset with backward, racist, and sexist inhabitants who lack the enlightened attitudes of our peers in the developed world. Jilani states:

The conservative response to such left-wing disdain for America has often been “love it or leave it.” But conservatives have been less keen to adopt the flip side of this strategy: perhaps we should welcome those around the world who want to come here precisely because they love this country so much.

Read the full article here. 

This week, FAIR Advisor Michael Shermer announced that he has revived his old Scientific American ‘Skeptic’ column on Substack. For his inaugural piece, Shermer took aim at Scientific American for focusing on unscientific issues relating to “Social Justice” instead of their tyical popular scientific reporting.

Shermer believes the shift may have occurred in part due to the fundamental differences between Left- and Right-wing political philosophies and behavioral tendencies:

Perhaps some insight might be gleaned from the British historian and Sovietologist Robert Conquest, who observed in what became an eponymous law that “any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” The reason, I surmise, is straight out of John Stuart Mill: “A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.” Conservatives wish to conserve traditional institutions, so unless an organization or publication is avowedly conservative it will inevitably drift Leftward...

Read the full article here.

This week on The Glenn Show, FAIR Advisors Glenn Loury and John McWhorter had an amicable cross-partisan conversation with Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy about policing, affirmative action, and Dr. Kennedy’s new book Say It Loud! On Race, Law, History, and Culture

The three discussed why Kennedy, a progressive, feels “torn” and “bewildered” about the current discourse on “race” in America. Loury exlplains why he believes we must “deracialize” the conversation around policing. And McWhorter wonders why there isn’t more conversation about the power of cultural differences to explain group-level disparities.

Kennedy explains that he has always considered it a good philosophy to judge whether or not an action is racist by asking himself whether it would still appear so “if the shoe were on the other foot.”

For the Institute for Family Studies, FAIR Advisor Ian Rowe discussed how Terry McAuliffe’s focus on the racial makeup of teachers relative to their students, instead of prioritizing teacher excellence regardless of race, was likely a significant contributing factor in his recent gubenatorial loss to Glenn Youngkin in Virginia.

Rowe believes McAuiliffe’s statements reflect the “perverse demands” of so-called “critical race theory,” which requires elected officials to “see the world solely through the prism of skin color.” According to Rowe, this narrow focus on race-based intervention to any and all problems in education must be roundly rejected by governor-elect Youngkin if he is to be a successful governor.

[T]he governor-elect should implement a different approach that will empower parents to choose schools that offers the kind of high-quality teaching faculty, comprehensive curriculum, and culture of excellence that they think is best for their child—regardless of race. 

Read the full article here.

On her Substack Common Sense, FAIR Advisor Bari Weiss discussed the poor mainstream media coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. For claim after claim, the media narrative reliably presented either dishonest or grossly misleading accounts of the events.

Weiss studied the narratives that emerged—that Rittenhouse was a “White supremacist” with no connection to Kenosha, that he brought his gun to Kenosha over state lines, that him having the gun was illegal per se, etc.—and shows one-by-one how the media had misled the public on each point. According to Weiss:

This wasn’t a disinformation campaign waged by Reddit trolls or anonymous Twitter accounts. It was one pushed by the mainstream media and sitting members of Congress for the sake of an expedient political narrative—a narrative that asked people to believe, among other unrealities, that blocks of burning buildings somehow constituted peaceful protests.

Read the full article here.


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