Evergreen University and the Intersectionality of Race, Vocality and Religion. An opinion — Yes, From A White Male.

(Sorry; correction: Evergreen State College) I’ve been paying attention to the blog Why Evolution Is True, specifically about the situation at Evergreen University in Olympia, Washington.

Here is a quote from that link that I think gives a pretty good representation of what is really occurring over there, but a number of places besides:


“If you had asked me who is one of racism’s most powerful foes, I would have said Bret Weinstein,” Eric Weinstein told The Times.

“There’s something sort of ‘Twilight Zone’ about one of the most thoughtful commentators on race, at one of the most progressive schools in the country, getting called a racist.”

Here is another article about that situation, and there are a bunch more articles.

I think it’s interesting that just the other day I was commenting on another post in the blog “Why evolution is true” about postmodern articles and the potential for people to hoax papers or put forth fake papers that are taken as actual legitimate theory.

I don’t know if I really understand how engaging theoretically with a
‘Sokal-esque’
hoax article or fake theory posed as a legitimate theory gets us anywhere. It seems to feed right in to the whole post-modern phenomenon where you can’t even really tell anyways if a paper is legitimate or fake; in the end the credibility or veracity of any paper ultimately relies upon whether the author comes out and tells you whether it’s fake or not.

My take on this last post about quantum theory (or at least its terms and or ideas) being used in a post-modern social cultural paper (if you scroll down a couple posts on the “Why evolution is true” blog you’ll probably find the post I’m referring to), is that, first off, I think the paper is actually not fake, and I think the professor or theorist put the paper up as a legitimate piece of theory; second, I understand what she’s saying, but I think the mode of presentation that goes along with such pomo (post-modern) theory presents it self similar to religion. and actually in the comments to that (WEiT blog) post I described how people in such theoretical academic legitimate positions are actually taking their theory as substantial, which is to say as having legitimate and authentic substance, but to the point that you cannot even argue with them about the substance of their papers, because the current environment of postmodern theory is such that if you argue against the substance of their papers (not the content; if you challenge the theoretical basis of the paper rather than challenging the argument itself then…)  you are actually confirming that the substance of their papers is correct. And I surmise this situation as a kind of fundamentalist religious situation.

Now see, what I’m saying there is not merely theoretical or speculative. Indeed I am saying something about the actual situation of certain academic arenas, or areas within the arenas, as there are indeed departments that house representatives of more than one theoretical paradigm (hopefully), and this seems to pan out if you understand that the discourse of racial relations arose out of, or at least largely at the same time as, the postmodern era.

I’m sure we could find traces of postmodernity going back all the way to the mid-19th century, say with philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard, but we could say that feminist theory is closely linked to postmodern (structural and post-structural) racial theory and where it finds its theoretical footing as a social movement; women’s suffrage, but namely white women’s suffrage (maybe, but maybe not).

I could be wrong about the actuality of the unfolding of these events, but it is not too far-fetched to say that there is a coincidence of the arrival of postmodern theory with the arrival of the 1960s and the social uprisings.

The image of race relations now, exemplified at Evergreen, doesn’t appear to be a rational discussion of race relations, but neither reaction based in being fed up. it doesn’t even seem to have its basis in the historical actuality of social justice, political movement in general or its academics. It seems to me like a bunch of kids with narrowminded views of over a century’s worth of discussions of actual hands-on working out of race relations and systemic racism.  They appear to be acting or appropriating an idea of social activism that steps into the world of fundamentalist religion.

Again I don’t know all the details about what’s happening up in the northwest of America, but it seems to me that it is not valid to reverse the situation. Of course, we do have some evidence that there is a significant form and tradition of systemic racism in the Northwest areas that we (or at least me) are not used to thinking about, so perhaps there are tensions that are not overt to the outsider (such as myself).

Systemic racism is not solved by just reversing the positional hierarchy of colors or the genders of the players involved in that system of racial and basically human oppression; that would be to admit defeat of what we consider intelligence, higher learning and just plain social justice. Systemic racism is not solved by just reversing the colours or the genders of the players involved in that system of racial and basically human oppression. (Oops. Did I just say that?) It is not correct merely to say that, oh, white people have been in power all this time oppressing people of color, and so if there’s any instance of a white person maintaining a certain type of rationality against what a person of colour maybe suggesting is proper, then he is racist; that is basically like just putting the people of colour in the position of power to oppress white people.

The true enlightened mind moves beyond such retaliation; but I think any even more appropriate statement of the situation is that these are just kids with fucked up ideas, or ideas that have removed themselves from the ideal anchor of a humanity beyond base racism and oppression. They have ceased their thinking critically about the issue and instead develop a reactionary politics (if we can even say this) that appears much like a fundamentalist religion. I may be a white man, but I am sure that there are people of colour that are in positions of power, that have a rational mind, that have been in this process of working out race relations and social oppression for many many years that would disagree with, not that these young people are protesting or not that they might disagree with what that professor did, but rather that they presume to merely switch the polls and enact the violence they propose are being effected against them. Has any of them ever read The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” ???

It appears that one of our institutions of higher learning is failing to teach higher intelligence and critical thinking to its students, and actually fostering ignorant reaction.

But again, I am outside of that area’s immediate situation, as well, a white male.

>>

We might see where this (apparently) actual situation is operative and concordant with my statement of position as it is reflected in the ideas I put forth in my essays.

For what is occurring, it appears here and there, is that what we generalize and call “Post-modern” theory or critical thinking, is actually loosening itself from any practical and indeed applicable bearings. The ‘theory’ is ‘misinformed’ by (the phenomenon) what I am calling the ‘term-object identity’. I cannot go into all the twists and turns and ramifications of this sentiment here, but basically what we are seeing is what happens when ‘talk and discussion’ and the ‘natural’ ability to ‘make sense’ takes itself Too seriously. Its not that we do not need a correction in our system, but the manner by which the meaning of theory is not only being produced, but is first and foremost being appropriated, is askew with intelligent application; substance is reduced to meaning-making instead of meaning-making being reduced to substance, which is to say, answering to actual substance. While for those who are caught up in all the ethereal theoretical and analytical postures might feel that there is actual substance underneath such heady discursive gymnastics, the actual substance is evident in what is occurring on the ground of their departments on their watch: It is inciting and enflaming ignorance.

But further, this situation, itself, is not theoretically unfounded, as I will discuss in a later essay concerning the Significant Event.


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