By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
The journal Gender, Place and Culture, which calls for scholars to avoid citing “white, male, cisnormative, heterosexual voices” so as to avoid bolstering “white supremacist, patriarchal, and heteronormative paradigms.” This is in a journal of geography.
The authors are two feminist geographers who are encouraging their colleagues to be more mindful about citing the research of white males because doing so contributes to “the reproduction of white heteromasculinity of geographical thought and scholarship.”
The 22-page paper is insightful, albeit unintentionally. The authors, Carrie Mott of Rutgers and Daniel Cockayne of the University of Waterloo, are rethinking the purpose of scholarly research. Their goal is not knowledge but power, for specific identity groups.
It’s become a common theme in education. Earlier this year Teach for America promoted a six-week online program for instructors, “Teaching Social Justice through Secondary Mathematics.” The training, offered through the online course provider edX, complained that “for centuries, mathematics has been used as a dehumanizing tool.” After all, many mathematicians were “educated Western white males.” Amid national attention, and mockery, Teach for America and edX backtracked, removing some of the more radical elements of the training.
On college campuses, meanwhile, the course offerings get ever more ridiculous. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.—made famous this spring for a “day of absence” during which whites were asked to stay away from campus—students can take a course called “Botany: Plants and People,” and learn about “more socially just and environmentally sustainable relations with plants.”
This fall, Evergreen is offering a class on “Countertextual Ecologies: Gastropoetics,” in which students will “deliberately explore ‘eating words’ and the powers of taste’s orality—say of a mere swelling fruit—when well savored through mouth and/as mind.”
Occidental College in Los Angeles has a critical psychology course titled simply “Stupidity,” which instructs students that stupidity is “neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite.” Stupidity also “makes itself felt in political life.” Among other places.
All this is of a piece with the Gender, Place and Culture paper. Ms. Mott and Mr. Cockayne see citations as a currency of power, contributing to salary, promotions, tenure, conference speaking slots and other perks.
So they end up arguing for a grotesque form of tokenism. They urge scholars to audit their citations and “think through how many women, people of color, early scholars, graduate students and non-academics are cited.”
In other words, it no longer matters what is taught, only who teaches. Radical professors market pseudoscience as though it were empirical—and by pretending they’re dealing in the realm of hard fact, their adherents aim to pass off nonsense as authoritative. It’s nice work if you can get it.
If anyone wonders where the exploding racial divisions in American are coming from, one need look no further than you nearest college. If anyone wonders how identity politics sank to the levels we’ve just witnessed in Charlottesville, look no further than the university quadrangle.