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.
Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask
Some heretics can do more holding the coat than any can do with a blog post You just have to trust your heretic. The wolf can do more wearing a fleece than they’ll ever do howling.
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Precisely what some imposing (or attempting to impose) an orthodoxy fear. Hence, one must be on the lookout for signs of heresy — perhaps among those who won’t carry an ULFA placard on the picket line because an EDI hashtag is written on it. A little sniff of suspicion. Is the sign just a bit too heavy, or is there something on that sign that member is not committed to? A meta-protest.
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A younger wolf just explained the background to your post. Good for anyone not holding anything they don’t ascribe to – let the sniffers sniff. It’s also interesting how the elite can protest but frame the newly unemployed and those they place in a basket of deplorables as terrorists and extreme. As the young one said recently: we’ve waltzed authoritarianism in the door and kissed it on the mouth. There’s no Listerine for this problem…only a choice to leave or remain in the system we’ve all loved and feel we’ve lost.
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The resume-writing services must be about to launch a product line of personally crafted DEI letters. (For higher level jobs, you’d hire a PR form to write it.) The beauty is that the platitudes expressed therein need only be plausible and refer to true facts. (If you say you ran logistics for MSF in Congo, you bloody well better have. What you really thought of the people, or they of you, is nobody’s business.). Your reflections don’t have to be sincerely held and you aren’t being manipulated into making deliverables, like promising to pass all your affirmative-action students. (The university will make you pass them anyway.). You just need to memorize the platitudes for when (if?) you are asked about them at the interview or, God forbid, at three-year review. Keep a copy! Or five. At home.
Writing these letters would be a great career path for DEI commissars who have left the university through retirement, disillusionment, or purging. They would know exactly what to write. Stuff that the applicant couldn’t write about her guilty, unworthy self without nausea and despair just flows out of a hired writer’s pen. All the applicant has to do is sign it. We got this.
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1) Here are “25 [heartfelt] Examples of Awesome Diversity Statements” to set you on your way to success. https://blog.ongig.com/diversity-and-inclusion/10-examples-of-the-best-diversity-statements/
I call those who claim to be sincere on their diversity statements to the floor. These claimants are applying for a job, a chair, or a grant and aren’t (usually) writing to fail. They are attempting to outcompete other applicants, sincere or not. And so they’ll polish-up their diversity statements to outshine the others. “I-want” comes first. And that’s okay. But these competitors might consider that condemning others who also-want appears a tad unseemly.
2) I grew up in a union town with a real union. I’m rather miffed at EDI hashtags being added to ULFA strike placards. Part of the role of the faculty association is to offer its members a protected position from which to criticize university policies – including EDI. Putting an EDI hashtag on the placard is putting an agreement with a policy in the mouths of all its members when not all of its members subscribe to the policy (or parts of it). What would ULFA do with a placard that reads: I support my union, but have reservations about the EDI agenda? Thoughts?
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To clarify my worry about the placards. Leaving EDI aside, signalling one’s commitment to EDI is partisan.
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If the ULFA is woke enough to indicate on strike picket signs that it supports any policy of the employer, I would predict the union would take severe retribution against a member who took issue with it.
A Halton local of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation adopted a racially-unbalanced voting system for board meetings of the local. For votes, it up-counts the Black, Indigenous, and racialized board members present until they equal 50% of the total attendance. So if there are 15 white — sorry, non-racialized — members present and only 5 BIR members, each BIR board member’s vote will count for 3 for each motion voted. (This regardless of the proportion that BIR teachers account for in the local’s membership at large.) The change was adopted by a 68% vote under the old one-person one-vote rules last year. Note that if the white board members were the minority, their votes would not be up-counted. There is no mention of sex or gender in this formula.
Substantial numbers of white board members must have voted for the change because the rationale was that BIR board members didn’t feel “safe” at board meetings. Presumably they are a smallish minority, not enough to achieve this non-equitable voting policy on their own.
The Post article quotes OSSTF’s Equity Statement:
“Equal opportunity to participate in the Federation does not mean treating all members the same. Within a democratic framework, promoting the engagement of members of equity-seeking groups is a valid and necessary approach to reaching equal outcomes.”
So you see that unions, which are supposed to advocate for all their dues-paying members, nonetheless still do some spiteful and racially prejudiced things. Buck them with great wariness.
Thank you, Leslie.
You’re welcome, Pam. Addendum to my post about the teachers union local in Ontario.
This process illustrates the ratchet effect at work in pseudo-democratic leftism. Again, assuming the race-adjusted voting policy had to have been supported by substantial numbers of white members, it will now be forever impossible for the local’s Board to rescind it if a majority of the Board comes to find the policy unwise or leading to perverse results. (Hell, never mind what the dues-paying members think of it.) For the racialized minority will now always have 50% of the votes, no matter how small their numbers are. Unlike their white colleagues, they will never be so foolish as to surrender that power. No challenge to the Ontario Human Rights Commission or appeal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will ever succeed because discrimination in the service of a historically disadvantaged group is embraced in Canadian law. (And it will be observed that the white members entered into the arrangement voluntarily….)
This is what the saying means, “You can vote yourself into socialism but you have to shoot your way out of it.”
(I’m going to assume it would be un-Canadian for white Board members to strategically self-identify as Black in order to disrupt the voting system.)
Excellent point Pam. With grants, I hope it’s more specific around what analysis would take place (GBA+), what efforts are made to be inclusive in hiring practices, how the work of those involved in the grant will be conscious of perspectives and Inclusion of minority groups. I’ve never once suggested in my sphere that an EDI statement should be embraced at hiring. Nor could I – they’re performative at best and hollow as a norm.
My perspective shifted more in the last few months on this subject than I ever thought possible. Once you get into the sphere and see the machinations it’s even more disturbing. Now I’m left feeling like I need to take my hand very carefully out of a lions mouth and howl from the top of my lungs when it’s safe to do so…if it will ever be safe to. Say hello to Howard for me.
Thank you, Anon.
I should have used scholarships $ rather than grants $ as an example of where these statements-simpliciter are liable to be required.
We’re watching people in our sphere stress over the belief that this statement is-as or is-more important than any other qualifications one brings to the table. Or at least that one misstep on or in relation to this statement is liable to be a disqualifier. We have had conversations with people seeking our advice/feedback, which includes questions such as: “Do you tick any boxes? Can you tick any boxes? Believably (truthful or not)?” The I-wants are hedging their bets against the also-wants and are bringing new meaning to the term ticked-off.
I grant that some won’t stress so much about writing the statement, readily ticking the boxes and talking the talk. But the stressed-over and the non-stressed-over compete, and one will win — whatever position is being competed for. And each will be a bitter loser, each — the did and did-not tick — finding evidence for discrimination. And even if the statement doesn’t actually factor (behind the scenes) into their success or failure, that the statement is demanded makes the objectivity of these decisions a hard sell.
Anyway. I had coffee with Howard this morning, and I passed on your hello. He was delighted, but says he’d rather return your hello in person. You two will have to connect.
A university near Chicago where I worked and retired from, is in on board with all things DEI, with requisite banners and framed ads promoting these values everywhere. (Every few years, I stop by just to see how they’re doing.) My former office now has a sign “Office of Professional Graduate Studies.” And the smaller office right next door to it also had a xeroxed sign taped taped to their door: “Pofessional Graduate Studies.”
My thought was, ‘I should let someone know about the typo.’ It happens, and part of my job was to catch such errors quickly, and resolve them. My second thought was ‘Could this be some new cultural thing that I’m missing, or a protest?’
When I was fairly sure it was just a typo, I went into the office and told the person at the desk. Even after I had her look at both signs, it was clear she wondered why I was telling her this at all, and what did that have to do with her?
I left with a simple “You might want to mention this to someone” whereas before I would have had the authority to state the obvious— it makes the university look stupid.
It was evident the sign had been there for quite some time; I can’t have been the first to notice the typo. Yet even as a retiree, long gone, I still had to think before saying something that mild, as the university controls my pension.
A very nice post. And I have a better understanding of why everyone affected is treading lightly. Thank you.
It wasn’t a protest, Su. It was a potest.
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Sylvester, Ching-Yune C., et al. “The promise of diversity statements: Insights and a framework developed from faculty applications.” NCID Currents 1.1 (2019). https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/currents/17387731.0001.112?view=text;rgn=main, http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/currents.17387731.0001.112, accessed April 7, 2023.
“Finally, academic administrators can use this type of framework to revise and establish review structures for their current faculty around DEI contributions, e.g., in annual reporting, tenure and promotion reviews. If institutions assert that DEI is central to their university mission and are moving toward selecting faculty in part based on the expectation that they will support institutional efforts to bring about DEI, then institutions should also be prepared to evaluate and reward faculty for work done in these areas.”