A Pandemic of Cowardice

2024-05-14

Defamatory accusations of bigotry are systematically used by promoters of gender theory, neoracism (which falsely claims to be antiracist) and anti-secularism. These three movements reject Enlightenment values such as universalism and objectivity, and use social censorship to silence dissent and debate. This behaviour is illustrated using several examples: the false assertion that sex is a spectrum, the Roland Fryer case, the suicide of Richard Bilkszto, the unmarked graves fiasco, and opposition to Quebec Bill 21. The solution to this conundrum is straightforward, but not easy: courage! We must not allow anti-Enlightenment ideologues to silence criticism and debate.

Sommaire en français Des accusations diffamatoires (de transphobie, de racisme, de xénophobie, etc.) sont systématiquement lancées par les promoteurs de la théorie du genre, du néoracisme (qui se prétend faussement antiraciste) et de l’anti-laïcité. Ces trois mouvances rejettent les valeurs des Lumières telles que l’universalisme et l’objectivité, et utilisent la censure sociale pour faire taire la dissidence et le débat. Ce comportement est illustré par plusieurs exemples : la négation de la binarité du sexe, l’affaire Roland Fryer, le suicide de Richard Bilkszto, le fiasco des tombes près des pensionnats pour autochtones et l’opposition à la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État au Québec. La solution à cette problématique est simple, mais pas facile : du courage ! Nous ne devons pas permettre aux idéologues anti-Lumières de faire taire les critiques et les débats.

We all know (or at least we did, before various institutions started succumbing to ideological capture) that sex is a binary biological phenomenon, defined by the type of gamete (sperm or ovum) which the individual can produce. Male and female are the only sexes. Even rare “intersex” individuals represent a combination of the two sexes, not some intermediate sex. The binarity of sex is not an opinion. It is a scientific fact, just as the evolution of species and the spheroidal shape of the Earth are scientific facts.

And yet, it has become fashionable to assert the falsehood that sex is on a continuum, a spectrum. This fashion has even spread to the sciences. In 2023, the American Anthropology Association (AAA) and Canadian Anthropology Association (CASCA) issued a joint statement denouncing “transphobia in anthropology.” In 2019, Scientific American published a blog claiming that binary sex is “phoney science” whose purpose is to “justify transphobia.”

The binarity of sex is not an opinion. It is a scientific fact…

How and why has this occurred? The accusations of transphobia made in both examples reveal clearly what is going on: emotional blackmail. If one fails to conform to currently fashionable gender ideology, then one is a bad, bigoted person. Forget scientific fact. The hurt feelings of a few fanatics take priority. Never mind the fact that “gender affirming care” is just a euphemism for mastectomy or castration (chemical or surgical).

Just as we must respect each adult’s right to self-determination of their own body, we must protect children and adolescents from unnecessary, irreversible, dubious medical interventions.

Neoracism

A similar fanaticism has infected the ostensibly “antiracist” movement, which has increasingly become little more than a cult. I call that movement neoracism. Neoracists are obsessed with so-called “whiteness” because of their hostility to Europeanness.

Classical European racism and 21st century neoracism differ in that the former considers European civilization to be superior to all others, whereas the latter considers it to be morally inferior to all others. They are flip sides of each other. Both are equally racist and Eurocentric. Both are equally irrational, toxic and reprehensible.

I offer three striking examples to illustrate the follies of neoracism.

The Roland Fryer Case

Roland G. Fryer Jr. is an economics professor and, in 2007, at age 30, the youngest black American to receive tenure at Harvard. One of his major research interests is the empirical study of race. In 2016, Fryer published a paper in the Journal of Political Economy in which he concluded that “blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police.” However, he also found that, in the most extreme cases, i.e. shootings, there are “no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.” He suggested a possible explanation: the potentially heavy cost, legal and psychological, incurred by police officers if using lethal force. But neoracists were not buying it. According to neoracist dogma, anti-black racism is ubiquitous and cannot not exist, so Fryer’s finding of no racism in police shootings was heresy.

According to neoracist dogma, anti-black racism is ubiquitous and cannot not exist…

In March 2018, Fryer was accused of sexual harassment, although the allegations involved only verbal behaviour, i.e. inappropriate jokes. He was barred from his research laboratory and, in July 2019, was suspended from the Harvard faculty for two years without pay. One of the members of the disciplinary panel which judged Fryer was the notorious Claudine Gay, dean at the time. Gay later became president of Harvard, but resigned after only 6 months, under accusations of failure to deal adequately with antisemitism on campus and of repeated plagiarism in her (not very numerous) publications.

Gay’s appointment to the Harvard presidency was a result of the demise of meritocracy in higher education. Furthermore, the charges against Fryer were apparently a result of ideological bias, i.e. because Fryer’s objectivity was incompatible with the neoracist ideology which undermined that meritocracy in the first place. In the words of Glenn Loury, “She defenestrated Roland Fryer. She tried to destroy him… by the time she was through with him, he was suspended, his lab was closed, his teaching was supervised, and he was treated like a sex criminal.”

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity

In 2021, Richard Bilkszto attended DIE (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity) training sessions imposed by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). When the trainer, Kike Ojo-Thompson of the KOJO Institute, asserted that anti-black racism is worse in Canada than in the USA, Bilkszto, who himself had experience in antiracist activism, expressed disagreement. In response, Ojo-Thompson insinuated that Bilkszto was motivated by white supremacism. Ojo-Thompson is evidently the sort of trainer who brooks no dissent and who imposes the Kendian view that anyone who is not actively antiracist must be complicit with racism.

The situation degenerated from there, with Bilkszto taking mental health leave, the TDSB then refusing to reinstate him to the position he held prior to taking leave, then Bilkszto suing the TDSB, which subsequently sued the KOJO Institute. Bilkszto concluded that his reputation had been destroyed and, tragically, he committed suicide in 2023.

Unmarked Graves

In 2021, the possible presence of unmarked graves was detected using ground-penetrating radar near several former indigenous residential schools in Canada. These schools had already been recognized as vehicles of cultural genocide, as one of their purposes was to suppress the languages and cultures of First Nations peoples, often separating children from their families and communities for extended periods. But now, with the possible discovery of children’s graves, the spectre of real physical genocide was raised. Speculation about unspeakable atrocities committed in the name of Canada circulated internationally. As the administration of these schools had been delegated to various churches, especially Catholic, there was a rash of arson and vandalism targeting Christian churches, some of which had been in use by First Nations peoples themselves.

However, as I write these lines, years later, no graves of children from indigenous residential schools have been found. Some sites have not been excavated. At those that have been, only previously marked graves associated with known cemeteries have been found. Thus the entire sensational story has turned out to be null and void, so far at least. And yet, mainstream media continue to repeat the allegations, as if physical genocide had indeed occurred. Already, in July of 2021 the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) published a statement asserting the “genocidal intent” of official Canadian policy. A group of some sixty dissident historians published an open letter, shortly thereafter, rejecting the CHA’s allegations.

…the more serious the accusation, the greater the accusers perceive their own virtue to be. In other words, they do it out of conceit.

Why do some people insist on promoting the worst possible interpretation of historical events, even when the evidence is lacking? Here is one obvious reason: the more serious the accusation, the greater the accusers perceive their own virtue to be. In other words, they do it out of conceit. In October 2023, I had personal experience of this fanatical disregard for objectivity. I was expelled from a Facebook group for Canadian secularists for the sin of posting about this issue. Just before my expulsion, one “antiracist,” true to form, claimed that my posting was “racist.”

Secularism and Quebec Bill 21

In June of 2019, Quebec adopted its secularism law, Loi sur la laïcité de l’État or Bill 21, which bans some civil servants, as well as public school teachers, from wearing religious symbols while on the job. This is a positive measure, although rather weak and should be extended to the entire civil service as well as to all physical installations. If civil servants and teachers are allowed to wear religious symbols while on duty, then separation between religion and State is obviously violated. And yet, very few Canadian secular organizations outside Quebec have expressed support for Bill 21, and some have even opposed it.

Banning the wearing of religious symbols […] targets behaviour, not people.

Some dishonestly accuse Bill 21 of “racism,” but that is clearly a category error. The law deals with religion and secularism and has nothing to do with race. Even more dishonestly, some accuse it of discrimination. But that is clearly false, because it applies to all religions equally. Banning the wearing of religious symbols—which can of course be removed while on the job—is a disciplinary measure (like hygiene standards, for example, or uniforms), not a discriminatory one. The ban targets behaviour, not people.

Civils servants in Quebec and many other jurisdictions—even the federal government of Canada—are required to behave with political neutrality, yet no-one objects to such a requirement. There is absolutely no reason why the expression of religious convictions by civil servants should be allowed greater latitude than expression of political opinions.

The Common Thread: Social Censorship

These three issues— gender theory, neoracism and anti-secularism—are linked by a common ideology which rejects universalism and objectivity. This anti-Enlightenment ideology elevates personal identity and feelings to a level that is unreasonable and does real harm to real people, including the very members of the minorities that that ideology claims to protect. In all three cases, there is a common strategy of social censorship, i.e. using intimidation to silence debate and dissent, using threats of ostracism—loss of job, loss of friends, loss of reputation, loss of contracts, etc.—in order to silence any opposition.

We all know the chorus here: specious and defamatory accusations of transphobia, racism, “Islamophobia,” xenophobia, etc. Any criticism of or disagreement with the ideology is instantly dismissed with accusations of being “right-wing” or “far right.” And it works, because people fear such accusations. It is because of widespread cowardice that the fanatics of gender theory, neoracism and anti-secularism are able to continue doing the damage they do.

To make matters worse, neoracist dogma has greatly strengthened anti-secularism. Neoracists denigrate European culture and elevate non-Europeanness. They thus consider Christianity to be the religion of the privileged and Islam the religion of the oppressed, leading to an absurdly complacent and positive attitude towards Islam, even though it is just as dangerous—arguably more so—than Christianity. Neoracists refuse to recognize the biological basis of race and racism, thus making the category error of conflating racial identity and religious affiliation and allowing them to make specious accusations of “racism” against those who criticize Islam. Finally, according to neoracist dogma, racism is always a one-way street, with whites being racist and non-whites targets of racism. Thus, neoracists refuse to recognize white-on-white racism such as anti-Québécois ethnic bigotry which is a major aspect of opposition to Quebec Bill 21.

When it comes to cowardice, it would be difficult to compete with ostensibly “secular” organizations in English Canada which oppose Bill 21…

When it comes to cowardice, it would be difficult to compete with ostensibly “secular” organizations in English Canada which oppose Bill 21 (and opposed the Charter of Secularism proposed by the PQ government in 2013-2014). Although they claim to support secularism, they hypocritically oppose it in the one place in North America—Québec—where secularism is making the most progress. By opposing Bill 21, such organizations are rejecting religion-State separation—the most important aspect of any secular program—and are thus antisecular. They are evidently incapable of freeing themselves from the assumption of religious privilege; that is, they cannot envisage treating religious ideologies fairly along with other ideologies by removing religion’s privileges.

Conclusion

If you support children’s rights, you will support restricting or banning unnecessary, irreversible medical interventions on underage persons, whether those practices are labelled female genital mutilation, male circumcision or the euphemistic “gender affirming care,” and regardless of the particular ideology used to rationalize such practices. You will also oppose the veiling of children.

If you support gay rights, you will oppose medically unnecessary procedures which attempt to change the sex of an underage individual, because studies have shown that a large proportion of young people suffering from gender dysphoria will, if allowed to mature without such procedures, grow up to be homosexual without gender dysphoria. In other words, applying such procedures prematurely often amounts to anti-gay conversion therapy. Furthermore, there is little evidence that medical transition decreases suicide rates.

If you support women’s rights, you will have no trouble defining the term “woman” objectively, as an adult female human.

If you oppose racism, you will oppose racist hiring practices and DIE programs in civil services, universities and all public institutions. You will support restoration of meritocracy.

If you support secularism, you will endorse religion-State separation and support legislation which bans civil servants, as well as public school and childcare centre personnel, from wearing religious and political symbols while on the job.

If you care about objective truth, you will speak up against the fanatical practices described in this article. To fear defamatory accusations is eminently reasonable, but you will not allow that fear to silence you. Remember the aphorism (attributed to Socrates, but I got it from Michael Sherlock): “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”


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The Long March of Emotional Blackmail

2023-10-23
2023-10-26: Added one new link

How the intellectual cowardice of some institutions is facilitating the spread of irrational ideology, in this case the denial of biological reality and the binarity of sex.

Sommaire en français Comment la lâcheté intellectuelle de plusieurs institutions facilite la propagation d’une idéologie irrationnelle, en l’occurrence le déni de la réalité biologique et de la binarité du sexe.

We live in a country (one of several) populated by large numbers of intellectual cowards. Cowards who capitulate to fanatics who use scurrilous accusations of bigotry in order to bully, and thus silence, anyone who might dare to question the fanatics’ nonsensical dogma. These cowards pretend to believe the nonsense, even when its absurdity is obvious, because if they dared to question it openly they would risk being “cancelled.” This situation is often called “cancel culture” although it might more accurately be called social censorship. That is to say, not censorship by the State, but by one’s peers and fellows, often via social media. Some are so extreme in their cowardice that they even deny the existence of cancel culture.

One of these nonsensical doctrines is the pseudoscientific notion that sex is not a binary biological reality. This doctrine asserts instead that sex among humans is a social construct, that it is fluid, perhaps bimodal, perhaps even completely arbitrary. One hallmark of this doctrine is use of the highly dubious expression “sex assigned at birth,” as if sex were just an arbitrary assignment. In reality, sex is of course observed, not assigned, at birth. There is no ambiguity except in a tiny proportion of exceptional cases.

We know that sex is a biological phenomenon which is strictly binary. Every human being is either female, of the sex which produces large gametes which are eggs, or male, of the sex which produces small gametes which are sperm. In those very rare cases where an individual is intersex (or hermaphroditic), displaying characteristics of both sexes, we are dealing with a combination of both sexes in a single individual—not an intermediary constituting a different sex distinct from male and female. Such an exception proves the rule, rather than contradicting it.

This pseudoscientific doctrine of non-binary sex is enforced by emotional blackmail. This is done by propagating the outrageous assumption that if one asserts that sex is binary, then one must be a bigot who would deny the existence of trans persons (i.e. those who suffer from gender dysphoria), or deny such persons protection against discrimination, or even wish them physical harm. This assumption is obviously false. There may exist persons who display such hostile attitudes, but that is certainly not generally the case for those who maintain the binarity of sex.

Thus, in today’s world, it has become dangerous to make statements based on biological reality. Emotion has become more important that truth. Someone might be offended! And unfortunately, there are far too many cowards who capitulate to that emotional blackmail.

Back in the 1960s, German Christian socialist Rudi Dutschke coined the expression The Long March through the Institutions to describe his strategy of subverting capitalism and promoting revolution by infiltrating various institutions of power, “to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery.

This phenomenon has been referred to as “idea laundering” in that the academic origins of a set of bad ideas launder them, making them appear legitimate.

More recently, that toxic mixture of anti-Enlightenment ideologies which I call the post-left and which some call “wokism”—a mixture which includes a denial of sex binarity, a neoracist faction which claims to be antiracist and a few other ingredients—was born in the universities, mainly in the social sciences. Thus, it was already well integrated into some of societies’ most influential institutions. Furthermore, its basis in institutions of higher learning has lent it a credibility which it does not deserve. This phenomenon has been referred to as “idea laundering” in that the academic origins of a set of bad ideas launder them, making them appear legitimate.

Anti-Enlightenment ideologues are currently putting Dutschke’s idea into practice, marching though university departments, academic publishers, government agencies, NGOs and other entities. Of course there are differences: the post-left is not really anti-capitalist, and it proposes no specific revolutionary goals. The post-left is not Marxist, but observes a sort of lobotomized post-Marxism. Be that as it may, whether this strategy has been pursued consciously or not, it has been disturbingly successful. It is spreading from the social sciences into the formal sciences, with alarming results.

Here are three examples.

  1. Astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson conflates biological sex (which is fixed) with gender roles (which are of course socially determined and very fluid), an obvious category error. He has also taken a position against banning biological males from women’s sports and, to rationalize this view, he even draws an utterly outrageous parallel between reserving women’s sports for biological women and reserving some drinking fountains for whites only.
  2. In a 2019 blog published by Scientific American, “Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia”, author Simón(e) D Sun claims to prove that “Actual research shows that sex is anything but binary.” As for the scientific angle, the Paradox Institute has produced an excellent video, “A Response to SciAm’s ‘Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia’” which refutes Sun’s denial of binarity. However, it is obvious that the fundamental topic of the blog is not science, but rather perceived morality. The title alone shows that the real issue is dodging accusations of transphobia. The blog’s conclusion confirms this by declaring that “the science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary, transgender people are real. ” In other words, if you assert that sex is binary, then the blog’s author says you must be a bigot who denies the very existence of trans persons. Thus, you must agree with Sun or else you are horrible person. (Ironically, if sex were not binary, then transition would have little or no meaning.)
  3. Clearly, the AAA and CASCA leaderships are terrified of being accused of transphobia and they are prepared to jettison scientific fact in order to save their sorry asses.

  4. Recently the American Anthropology Association (AAA) and the Canadian Anthropology Association (CASCA) issued a joint statement entitled “No Place for Transphobia in Anthropology” concerning their decision to remove a session about the importance of biological sex from their 2023 conference program. (The statement is also available as a bilingual handout.) The statement, like Tyson, fails to distinguish between sex and gender, rejecting the idea “that sex and gender are simplistically binary.” It baldly asserts the falsehood that “There is no single biological standard by which all humans can be reliably sorted into a binary male/female sex classification.” The statement implies that recognizing the sex binary would cause harm to “already marginalized groups of people” and that “we are committed to upholding the value and dignity of transgender people.” Like the SciAm blog, the statement reveals that the real issue at hand is a moral one. It even compares gender critical scholarship to “race science.” Clearly, the AAA and CASCA leaderships are terrified of being accused of transphobia and they are prepared to jettison scientific fact in order to save their sorry asses.

In the face of emotional blackmail, it would be nice if scientists like Tyson and organizations such as SciAm, AAA and CASCA displayed a little intellectual courage, responding with a decisive NO to fashionable nonsense such as the denial of the sex binary, while simultaneously supporting proper medical care and anti-discrimination protection for trans persons.


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