Glenn Loury is an American economist, author and the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University.. John McWhorter is a linguist and an associate professor at Columbia University and is a frequent guest on The Glenn Show, Loury’s weekly podcast on blogging heads.tv.
Loury is an outspoken conservative and McWhorter an outspoken liberal. Their discussions about race and politics are a welcome relief from the yelling and screaming found elsewhere on social media. Although they come at it from different angles both are highly critical of the current racial orthodoxy and the so-called cancel culture.
Neither deny that racism and racial prejudice exist or are problems in society. Both recognize that racism and prejudice are ingrained human flaws and the fixation on the eradication of such is a pipe dream. Furthermore, the fixation distracts from and ignores more important issues that can be addressed.
McWhorter has stirred some controversy in the past. His book Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America swam against the tide of the standard narrative of race in America. McWhorter, Loury and a small cadre of African-American scholars and writers including Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Coleman Hughes, Larry Elder, among others, have challenged the notion that racism is the primary problem facing the black community in America.
McWhorter’s views can be seen on YouTube.
More recently McWhorter has focused his attention on anti-racism.
(For a more in depth treatment McWhorter is a guest on Sam Harris’s “Making Sense” podcast )
McWhorter is writing a book about it and has released several chapters on his substack site. The chapter “Black Fragility” is worth quoting at length.
Law professor Jason Kilborn cited the N-word (and the B-word) on an exam thusly: n****, b****. It was in a question about an employment discrimination case. He has done so for years previously to no comment – as all reading this but a sliver would expect.
But this year, a group of black students initiated a protest against him for harming them in exposing them to this expurgated rendition of the N-word. That is, in a class training them in litigation in the real world.
One black student claimed that they experienced heart palpitations upon reading the words. During an hours-long Zoom talk with a black student representing the protesters, Kilborn made a flippant remark to the effect that the law school dean may suppose that he is some kind of “homicidal maniac” – upon which the student reported to the dean that Kilborn indeed may be one. Kilborn is no longer teaching the class, is relieved of his administrative duties, and because of the possible physical threat he poses to black students because of the Hyde-like tendency he referred to, he is barred from campus.
No, this is not an SNL parody or a heightened storyline on a show like The Good Wife or Law and Order. This has actually happened, to and with and by real human beings here and now.
McWhorter goes on to question the mental stability of the students — heart palpitations on simply reading such words? He charges that anti-racism is condescending and infantilizes black people.
Later in the article McWhorter takes it one step further. He writes,
Modern “antiracism” is neither a philosophy nor a political program: it is a religious creed, complete with priests, Original Sin, heresy, evangelism, and millenialism (although it hasn’t quite gotten to forgiveness yet). Jason Kilborn is not being disciplined. He is being stoned. His accusers and sanctioners are modern equivalents of the prelates who condemned Galileo to home arrest.
The list could be expanded to include things like Pharisaism, fundamentalism and the cancel culture’s shunning or burning people (metaphorically-speaking) at the stake through public humiliation.
What is most ironic is the harsh fundamentalism. The most fervent adherents of this new religion come from the left who in the past generally abhorred attempts by Christians and conservatives to apply or force their sense of morality on society. Yet, they are doing the same thing with the doctrinal mores of this new religion.
One of anti-racism’s central doctrines asserts that all white people are inherently racist. This is also ironic, in that, the doctrine is itself blatantly racist (Pharisaism). But no amount of logic or reason will dissuade its adherents. Right, wrong or indifferent once a doctrine is set it is very difficult to dislodge. Any divergence from orthodoxy is not disagreement but a heresy that must be stamped out (burning at the stake).
For this it seems rather obvious that McWhorter’s theory is true.
This lends credence to the notion that people are naturally religious. Rather than an invention borne from the mythology of the ancient past and something we must be rid of, religion is part of the human condition. Usually attributed to G. K. Chesterton the truth is stated quite simply. “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes in anything.”
This is certainly true for the new religion on anti-racism.
To be continued… Next, unpacking the new religion.