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Speech isn't violence; it's how we avoid it
This week on our Substack, Harlyn De Luna writes about the increasingly common perspective that “words are violence,” and the effects this perspective has on our society and our youth.
It has become even more commonplace to see students on college campuses labeling even commonly held beliefs as potentially dangerous. Many conclude that the concept of diversity does not include diversity of thought. So alternative perspectives to the current liberal narrative are increasingly rare on college campuses. Teachers and scientists will justify this thought process. They say hearing ideas you don’t agree with can cause you to feel anxious, worried, or angry, which can increase blood pressure and stress, leading to potential suicidal ideation or a greater risk of heart attack or stroke. As a result of this, they justify calling speech violence.
But the purpose of speech is as an alternative to violence. Open discourse is a sign of progress. What we’re doing now is the opposite.
How Marxism replaces education with indoctrination
Also on our Substack, FAIR Advisor Erec Smith discusses the issues with “cultural Marxism” in his field of writing and rhetoric—particularly that of writing studies scholar Asao Inoue, who self-describes as a “scholar of Marxian Stripes,”—and how it impacts the ability to put students’ educational needs first.
In my view, Inoue’s beliefs make sense if the real goal is not writing instruction at all, but the fundamental transformation of society into one that deemphasizes the individual and emphasizes the communal—a society that does not see individuals as sovereign beings but as valuable parts in a collective; a society that sounds much to me like a Marxist utopia. I would argue that Inoue and his ilk are a temporal manifestation of the “long march through institutions” put forth by economic and cultural Marxists, who—despite their differences—agree that society is nothing more than a battle between oppressor and oppressed. It is this belief that informs Inoue’s pedagogy, and through citing prominent Marxist theorists and pedagogues, one can better understand why a writing teacher would, with such righteous indignation, refuse to actually teach writing.
"I Am American"
For Free Black Thought, FAIR Advisor Dr. Sheena Mason and illustrator Donna Druchunas share a web comic about “the limiting ways we have thought about and defined who is American,” and that freeing “our minds from the strictures that race(ism) creates for us,” we can come to understand that “‘American’ without any qualifiers embodies all Americans.”
For people like me, whose family has been in America much longer, ever since Who is a “real” American? If one comes to understand the formation of nations, cultures, and ethnicity, it is clear that we are all American. Something entirely new originated on these lands: a new American ethnicity and culture that defies racialization. We must recognize and embrace our unity and diversity outside the bounds of race(ism).
Youth employment programs show reduction in crime
For NewsNation, FAIR Advisor Zaid Jilani writes that “the skills students learn during summer jobs are not just helpful for their future careers, they also help reduce crime. It’s one reason communities across the country are formalizing programming aimed at summer youth employment.” Jilani outlines the ways summer youth employment programs (SYEP) have been helping young people throughout the United States.
Across the country, cities use SYEPs to employ teenagers and young adults in meaningful work over the summer. Research has shown that SYEPs significantly reduce youth involvement in crime during the summer of the program, and sometimes that benefit carries over up to a year afterward. For example, in New York City, SYEPs decreased the likelihood of arrest by more than 12%.
SYEPs also often serve low-income young people who would have had difficulty in obtaining a summer job otherwise. Research looking at these programs in New York City, Chicago and Boston found that between 80 and 90 percent of people offered slots in an SYEP program were offered paid employment during the summer of the program, compared to somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of those who weren’t offered a slot.
Coleman Hughes' New Blasphemies
For Free Black Thought and Root Quarterly, FAIR in the Arts Fellow Heather Shayne Blakeslee interviews and profiles FAIR Advisor Coleman Hughes regarding his views on philosophy, music, reparations, police, and the phenomenon of “acting white.”
For the progressive left, Hughes’ blasphemies are many. He has testified in front of Congress against reparations for his generation of black Americans, and can patiently explain why he’s not afraid of being shot by cops. He has roundly criticized the work of other black intellectuals such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the seminal essay “The Case for Reparations” and the bestselling book Between the World and Me (which I have gifted to at least one girlfriend and to my parents). Hughes has also thrown down the gauntlet to How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi in an open letter challenging him to a public debate, but the glove has been laying on the ground unanswered.1 Hughes’ satisfaction will have to come in the form of an audience that continues to grow and through amassing other accolades, such as being named a 30-under-30 of Americans to watch by Forbes magazine.
Forgiveness is Worth the Risk
For The Atlantic, David French discusses his wife Nancy’s Washington Post story about surviving sexual abuse, as well as the couple’s experiences being “Never Trump conservatives” who “rejected Donald Trump early in the presidential campaign cycle.” French goes on to note the importance of forgiveness, and the fact that “we can give second chances, and when we do, we can sometimes see that an enemy isn’t an enemy at all.”
The Beginning of the End of 'Gender-Affirming Care'?
For FAIR Advisor Bari Weiss’ Substack Common Sense, Lisa Selin Davis writes that “Britain’s National Health Service announced that it was closing down [the Gender and Identity Development Service at the Tavistock Clinic in London] for good—and, in effect, rebuking the common American medical approach known as ‘gender-affirming care’ for treating children with gender dysphoria.” Davis goes on to wonder how America, along with the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) will respond given these recent changes elsewhere in the West.
WPATH’s position is in keeping with an array of U.S. medical associations and activist groups across the country that insist gender-affirming care is “life-saving.” Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who is herself a transgender woman, recently asserted that there is a medical consensus as to its benefits. Some activists and gender clinicians in the U.S. feel that WPATH doesn’t go far enough, asserting that any child who wants puberty blockers should get them, for instance, or claiming that a teenager who later regrets having her breasts removed can just get new ones.
In Sweden and Finland, this issue has been primarily a question of health and medicine. Here in the U.S. it is a political football.
The Corruption of Apology
For Persuasion, Stephanos Bibas writes about how “apology was once a cornerstone of our everyday moral practice, helping us to make amends and reconcile with those whom we have wronged. Its value lay in its sincerity, not in any precise formulation.” However, Bibas writes, “today’s public practice of scripted apologies looks very different. These days, universities and corporations compel robotic confessions from students and employees who give offense just to avoid a lawsuit or bad PR. They want to save their skins by stifling scandal. But Twitter mobs are not sated by performative groveling or even sincere apologies.”
We all depend on apologies and forgiveness to go on living with one another. Husbands and wives admit their faults and patch up their differences. Kids on playgrounds say they’re sorry and then get back to recess. Coworkers talk through misunderstandings. As Hannah Arendt argued in The Human Condition, we wrong one another every day, and we learn to forgive constantly so that we can start afresh. The alternative is trapping ourselves in endless cycles of vengeance.