The Best Threats are the Existential Ones

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Luana Maroja, a biology professor at Williams College, writes at Bari Weiss's substack on An Existential Threat to Doing Good Science.

If you had asked me about academic freedom five years ago, I would have complained about the obsession with race, gender and ethnicity, along with safetyism on campus (safe spaces, grade inflation, and so on). But I would not have expressed concerns about academic freedom.

We each have our own woke tipping point—the moment you realize that social justice is no longer what we thought it was, but has instead morphed into an ugly authoritarianism. For me that moment came in 2018, during an invited speaker talk, when the religious scholar Reza Aslan stated that “we need to write on a stone what can and cannot be discussed in colleges.” Students gave this a standing ovation. Having been born under dictatorship in Brazil, I was alarmed.

Soon after that, a few colleagues and I attempted to pass the Chicago Statement—what I viewed as a very basic set of principles about the necessity of free speech on campus. My shock continued as students broke into a faculty meeting about the Chicago Statement screaming “free speech harms” and demanding that white male professors “sit down” and “confess to their privilege.”

Professor Maroja notes (among other things) the denial of sex as a biological binary.

Briefly noted:

  • It's sometimes tough to steer a course between the Scylla of mindless anti-intellectualism and the Charybdis of "lets let smart people run our lives". James Broughel manages that tricky feat at Discourse: The Right Kind of Anti-Intellectualism.

  • At Hot Air, Captain Ed Morrissey notes "strange new disrespect", the latest example being the Washington Paper of Record: WaPo's category of lying for Biden: "The Bottomless Pinocchio".

    Not that it matters, but I've given up trying to dodge the WaPo paywall. (Goodbye, George F. Will! So long, Megan McArdle!) So I'm glad when massive excerpts show up on friendlier sites.

  • And (as it happens) here's another example of that genre, from WIRED: Twitter’s Ex-Election Chief Is Worried About the US Midterms.

    That "ex-election chief" is Edward Perez, and the article is full of sour grapes, and Elon-blaming. (Which is also an ongoing theme at WIRED.)

    Interesting point: the article says Perez left Twitter in September, weeks before Elon took over. An odd thing to happen to the "election chief" so close to an actual election.