The ‘leftist fictions’ taking over the ivory tower
When James Carville was asked what helped Republican Glenn Youngkin win the Virginia governor’s race, he said it was the Democrats’ embrace of wokeness, rather than kitchen table issues.
In a similar vein, John McWhorter writes in the New York Times that a requirement to publicly espouse a belief in “leftist fictions” has become corrosive. He uses an example of a university’s search for a physics professor to show how bad things have gotten:
The San Diego State University physics department is seeking a physicist. The job description asks candidates to show how they “satisfy” at least three of the following criteria: “(a) are committed to engaging in service with underrepresented populations within the discipline, (b) have demonstrated knowledge of barriers for underrepresented students and faculty within the discipline, (c) have experience or have demonstrated commitment to teaching and mentoring underrepresented students, (d) have experience or have demonstrated commitment to integrating understanding of underrepresented populations and communities into research, (e) have experience in or have demonstrated commitment to extending knowledge of opportunities and challenges in achieving artistic/scholarly success to members of an underrepresented group, (f) have experience in or have demonstrated commitment to research that engages underrepresented communities, (g) have expertise or demonstrated commitment to developing expertise in cross-cultural communication and collaboration, and/or (h) have research interests that contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education.”
They’re all admirable activities and aims. However, they are vastly less applicable to becoming or being a physicist than to, say, social work, education or even disciplines such as anthropology and sociology. That an applicant to the university’s physics department would be required to meet such benchmarks is a very modern proposition, and probably leaves most people now reading this job posting — physicists or not — scratching or shaking their heads.
Or simply ending the academic job search there. But the disease is taking root:
The notion seems to be that practitioners and scholars, across disciplines, must devote a considerable part of their time to putatively antiracist initiatives. It’s a bold proposition, but given how shaky its actual justification is, it is reasonable to think that lately this devotion is being imposed by fiat, as opposed to being an organic outpouring. And if the price for questioning that notion is to be seen as sitting somewhere on a spectrum ranging from retrogressive to racist, it’s a price few are willing to pay. One is, rather, to pretend.
And with more time devoted to pretending, the less remains for anything else — like work.