What I’ve been discovering is that the woke-ness one espouses in public, and the opinion of it one holds in private, are often two very different things. Why is this? Others may not put it as eloquently as did my wife, but it’s because, as she puts it, “The safest place for the heretic is holding the Inquisitioner’s coat.”
This is precisely what’s happening with one now having to include in any job application, not just a pro forma pledge to Equity-Diversity-and-Inclusion, but also a heartfelt and personally crafted acknowledgement of, and apology for, her white privilege. Everyone on the committee knows the letter is a lie, just as it was when he got the job. But everyone has to continue pretending just in case someone isn’t.
This is what happened with the Conversos in Spain. It happened in the USSR under Stalin, in Kampuchea under Pol Pot, in China during the Cultural Revolution … In 1949 the faculty at U of C Berkeley were required to take a loyalty oath against communism. The list goes on and on.
Compelled speech is as old as speech itself. So that it’s now happening in pretty much every university and college in the English-speaking world shouldn’t surprise us. But neither should it outrage us. For decades the right did it to the left – in some places it still does – and now the left is doing it to the right. Soon enough it’ll toggle back. And after that it’ll toggle again.
Everybody talks the talk of freedom of conscience and expression, but push come to shove, nobody – and I do mean nobody – walks the walk of it. “I disagree with what you’ve said, but I’ll defend with my life your right to say it.” No you won’t. If you won’t give your life, nor should you, to defend your right to say what’s on your mind, why would you give your life to defend what’s on mine?
That said, the mandatory EDI commitment letter is the canary in the coal mine. It puts the applicant on notice that this institution is not committed to anything even approaching academic freedom. Someone who’s just laboured for over a decade earning a PhD is unlikely to throw it all away because in the meantime academia changed the rules on her. So that she elects to hold the Inquisitioner’s coat attests not to her moral turpitude. If, as Barry Goldwater famously remarked, “Extremism in defence of freedom is no vice,” then neither is acquiescence to extremism.
Mind you, some people interpret Goldwater to have meant that neither is a bullet in defence of freedom a vice. As the institution I love continues to deteriorate, I’m finding it less and less difficult to agree with them.