People like Caroline Hodes like to complain about people complaining about “the indoctrination of their children in our schools”. But school just is indoctrination. There’s no such thing as value-free education. So what she really means is she likes the values into which their children are currently being indoctrinated, and doesn’t want them replaced by what she calls right-wing values. Fair enough. But then she can hardly rail against those who want it their way rather than hers.

There is indeed a culture war raging, all across the U.S., but also here in Canada, especially here in Alberta, and especially here at the University of Lethbridge, where both Hodes and I teach. Certainly there have been skirmishes and minor battles, but it’s too early to tell which side is going to win the war. The war between the Woke and the Unwoke is a bit like the war in Ukraine. The Russians have the momentum, but the Ukrainians are pushing back with all they’ve got.

Aided and abetted by the same forces that are pushing back back here at home? No, this is an orthogonal cut. The Ukraine and its allies claim to be fighting for western democracy against Russian tyranny, as do the Unwoke against Woke illiberalism. But the Woke claim it’s the liberalism of the Unwoke that’s aiding and abetting settler imperialism. Two ships passing in the night, each firing feckless volleys at the other across the uncomprehending divide.

I’ve made no secret of on which ship I’ve enlisted. But Hodes has it wrong if she thinks her enemies of my ilk are all conservatives, big C or small. I, for one, am not a civil libertarian. I was raised a Marxist long before she was born. My concern about cancel culture is that if today we allow the left to do it to the right, when the winds shift tomorrow – and they will – it’ll be the right once again doing it to the left. Which I’m old enough to remember, but Hodes is not.

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy, Why My Colleagues Are Idiots

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1 reply

  1. On point:

    Lukianoff, Greg. “The Second Great Age of Political Correctness,” From the January 2022 Issue, Reason Magazine, https://reason.com/2021/12/13/the-second-great-age-of-political-correctness/, accessed April 11, 2023

    Excerpt: “Political correctness didn’t decline and fall. It went underground and then rose again. If anything, it’s stronger than ever today. Yet some influential figures on the left still downplay the problem, going so far as to pretend that the increase in even tenured professors being fired for off-limits speech is a sign of a healthy campus. And this unwillingness to recognize a serious problem in academia has helped embolden culture warriors on the right, who have launched their own attacks on free speech and viewpoint diversity in the American education system.

    We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness. If we are to find a way out, we must understand how we got here and admit the true depths of the problem.”

    *In conclusion, Lukianoff offers some suggestions for how to save higher ed


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