The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, December 27, 2020


As I do at the end of almost every year, I just sent out a number of charitable donations, including one to my alma mater, The University of Connecticut. My donation to UConn was accompanied by instructions that the funds be used for the Engineering School only. The engineering curriculum continues to teach practical problem solving skills and demands a degree of critical thinking that often avoids the kinds of fantasy solutions that are becoming more and more common in our society today.

I requested that my donation be specifically targeted because far too many schools within UConn, along with virtually every other major university throughout the United States, have become proponents of one or more elements of Critical Social Justice Theory (CSJT), often referred to as "wokeness." I cannot and will not allow my donation to be used to support an ideology that I believe is destructive to learning in general and society at large.

Far too many university administrators and academic programs worship at the alter of Critical Social Justice Theory. And as a consequence, they have been consuming by an ideology that looks at knowledge through a lens that sees systemic racism at every turn, gender politics as the reason for unequal representation in different fields, capitalism as as evil that drives poverty and inequality, and socialism as a utopian ideal (despite a long history that belies that notion). Instead of encouraging debate on these beliefs, advocates of CSJT (and hence, a non-trivial percentage of the professoriate at many universities) abhor free speech, cancel those who speak out, and censor ideas that conflict with their often dubious theories.

A writer who uses the pseudonym, Samatha Jones, comments:

I have a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, but I’m not woke anymore. I write under a pseudonym because, if my colleagues were to find out about my criticisms of this field, I would be unable to find any employment in academia. That someone who critiques the axioms of a field of study feels compelled to write under an assumed name tells you everything you need to know about the authoritarianism underpinning this ideology. I no longer believe that the fundamental ideas of Women’s Studies, and of Critical Social Justice more generally, describe reality; they are at best partial explanations—hyperbolic ideology, not fact-based analysis. I have seen this ideology up close and seen how it consumes and even destroys people, while dehumanizing anyone who dissents.

I’m sad to say it, but I believe that Critical Social Justice ideology—if not beaten in the war of ideas—will destroy the liberal foundation of American society. By liberal I mean principles including, but not limited to, constitutional republican government, equality under the law, due process, a commitment to reason and science, individual liberty, and freedom—of speech, of the press, and of religion. Because Critical Social Justice ideology is now the dominant paradigm in American academia, it has flowed into all other major societal institutions, the media, and even corporations. Far from being counter-cultural, Critical Social Justice ideology is now the cultural mainstream. A diverse spectrum of liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and all others who, to put it bluntly, want the American constitution to continue to serve as the basis for our society have to team up to prevent this ideology from destroying our country.

The content of anonymous commentary must be viewed judiciously, and what the writer claims about his/her background may or may not be true. But "Samantha's" critique of CSJT is on-target. 

Critical Social Justice Theory, like its cousin, Critical Race Theory (CRT), rages against a system that has brought more people (including the "oppressed" people it claims to support) out of poverty than any other system in the history of the human race. That system, exemplified by our constitution's guarantee of free speech and its suggestion that individuals, not the state, are responsible for their own futures, has offered more opportunity to more people than Critical Social Justice Theory ever could. CSJT is an angry ideology that promotes grievance, encourages certain groups to view themselves as victims, and advocates dependence (on the state).

"Samantha" adds an additional comment:

I realized that Critical Social Justice ideology is not only intellectually vacuous; it is downright dangerous, and that the reason it has captivated so many minds is not because of the strength of its ideas, but because it has succeeded in silencing more reasonable and time-tested principles. If I had encountered a wider variety of ideas in my undergraduate—and especially in my graduate—education, I would have been spared years of being captive to Critical Social Justice ideology; I would likely have changed my field of study to something more practical; I would have matured more quickly in understanding the complex, and sometimes tragic, nature of human behavior; and I would have developed a more rational, sustainable understanding of how to live in the world as a decent person, outside of the narrow framework of being an activist for “social justice.” If Critical Social Justice ideology had been presented in a more intellectually diverse educational landscape, I would have been able to properly assess the strengths and weaknesses of Critical Social Justice arguments. Sadly, American universities are, for the most part, not marketplaces of ideas, but mere echo chambers.

CSJT looks only at societal problems that reinforce its narrative by dishonestly amplifying them, and then proposes not solutions, but a polemic in which America (and more broadly, Western thought) is bad, and only grievance politics can fix it. 

CSJT is the offspring of the more benign political correctness of the 1980s and 1990s. What started as a modest attempt to point out societal biases has now become a new genetic strain, virulent, dangerous, and mean. It seeks not modest change, but aggressive, near-totalitarian  transformation. One can only wonder what the next generation of CSJT will bring. One thing is certain—it won't be good.


Because the arguments and policies that are at the core of CSJT are often vacuous, sometimes infantile, and almost always rather easy to refute, its proponents are enthusiastic believers in cancel culture. Write an opinion piece that is critical of some element of CSJT (e.g., radical feminist theory) and social justice warriors first express outrage, then level ad hominem attacks and name calling, and finally demand that the opinion piece be censored and the writer be sanctioned, banned from further publication, and removed from whatever position they hold in the real world. This has become so common that it's S.O.P. for CSJT.

In a truly entertaining commentary on the "Dr." Jill Biden story, The New Criterion describes how the original author, Joseph Epstein, of the controversial critique of Dr. Jill was cancelled by the Left. The demand to cancel him and remove his opinion piece from The Wall Street Journal was a coordinated campaign in the worst traditions of CSJT. The importance of Epstein's cancellation has little to do with the comical demand by Jill Biden that the honorific "Dr." be conspicuously applied whenever she is referenced. Rather, The New Criterion writes:

It is very rare that [WSJ Opinion Editor, Paul] Gigot responds in print to criticism of what appears in his pages [by an organized army of Biden protectors]. Doubtless this is because he understands that criticism is a natural part of the metabolism of opinion journalism. In the normal course of our political life, it is not only expected but salutary. People have different points of view about contentious issues. A respectful airing of those differences is or should be part of the lifeblood of democracy. If Gigot stepped into print over this contretemps, it was not so much to defend Epstein or even to respond to the chihuahua-like yapping of his interlocutors. It was to sound an alarm against that “big gun of identity politics” he found operating in the background.

The governing strategy of identity politics [a pivotal element of CSJT] is not to encourage free expression but to shutter it. In essence, it is a totalitarian enterprise, deploying the shibboleths of race, gender, and radical egalitarianism to enforce a stultifying conformity. [emphasis mine] It is heartening to see Gigot affirming that, at one of our nation’s most important newspapers, “these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe.” If, as we suspect, the preview we just witnessed was a sort of sighting shot, it suggests that Gigot is going to have his hands full dealing with ever more intolerant efforts to “turn the page” and enforce ghastly new modes of “healing” and “unity.”

Heh ... "healing and unity" when espoused by the Left are almost as hollow as the "Dr." that they demand be placed before Jill Biden's name.