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The New Religion of Anti-Racism Can Turn Disagreement into Heresy

John McWhorter recently noted the resemblance between religious fervor and anti-racist activism:

An anthropology article from 1956 used to get around more than it does now, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema.” Because my mother gave it to me to read when I was 13, of course what I remember most from it is that among the Nacirema, women with especially large breasts get paid to travel and display them. Nacirema was “American” spelled backwards—get it?—and the idea was to show how revealing, and even peculiar, our society is if described from a clinical distance.

These days, there is something else about the Nacirema—they have developed a new religion. That religion is antiracism. Of course, most consider antiracism a position, or evidence of morality. However, in 2015, among educated Americans especially, Antiracism—it seriously merits capitalization at this point—is now what any naïve, unbiased anthropologist would describe as a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.

To someone today making sense of the Nacirema, the category of person who, roughly, reads The New York Times and The New Yorker and listens to NPR, would be a deeply religious person indeed, but as an Antiracist. This is good in some ways—better than most are in a position to realize. This is also bad in other ways—worse than most are in a position to realize.

Heterodox Black Professors Say Scalia was Right

Justice Scalia caused an uproar last week when he tried to defend the “mismatch” hypothesis in an unvarnished and direct way, to which some took offense:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well.

The mismatch hypothesis says that race-based affirmative action hurts black students on the whole, because when it is done across the country, it places many black students into schools where they are below average in academic preparation or ability. This sets them up to earn low grades, feel discouraged, and to drop out of highly competitive fields such as STEM and law. If race-based affirmative action were ended, black students would then do just as well as other students at their schools, and would be MORE likely to pursue careers in STEM and law.

What Can Help African-American Students Feel Included?

Race was at the center of campus protests that spread through American universities this fall. Many of the protestors were African-American, and they demanded that colleges stop treating them like outsiders. Although I’m not African-American, I’m a non-White immigrant (from India), so I can understand these feelings of not quite belonging to the campus community. However, I’m also a social psychologist. When I look at what these protestors are demanding, I see a set of policies that seem unlikely to work as expected. Worse, some of them could backfire and make minority student feel even more aggrieved. I fear that schools such as Yale, Emory, and Brown, which are committing to meet many of these demands, are going to make things worse, not better.

John McWhorter Joins Heterodox Academy, Critiques Religion of Anti-Racism

We are thrilled to announce that linguist and heterodox thinker John McWhorter of Columbia University has joined Heterodox Academy. McWhorter has long confounded people who tried to label him politically (though he’s on the left on most social issues), and he has continued to be confounding and original in his writings and commentary on the current campus turmoil. Here are some excerpts from his blockbuster Wall Street Journal essay “Closed Minds on Campus”, from Nov. 27:…
“When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.”

Centrism and Sociology

Conservativism doesn’t seem to be a unipolar thing, according to much of the social psychological research on political attitudes. Rather, research by John Duckitt shows you can be conservative by being high in either social dominance orientation (SD) or right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). Of course, the two dimensions are moderately correlated but they’re not the same thing. High-SDO people dislike socially subordinate groups, and high RWA dislike socially deviant (or unconventional) groups. As a centrist, however, I’ve found that there’s a lack of research on the opposite poles of these scales…