Once upon a time, children, the University Near Here held a yearly "celebration" in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 'Twas a happy time for Pun Salad, because the festivities were, more often than not, a magical combination of virtue signalling, gaseous prose, and hard-left politics.
Pun Salad is a sucker for that sort of thing. Historic blog posts looking at the merrymaking: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019. [Pun Salad skipped reporting the 2008 and 2016 events, because they were boring.]
And UNH announced the fun for 2020, and Pun Salad was all over it, … and then it didn't happen, because of Covid. Even the 2020 announcement was memory-holed. (I can't even find it at the Wayback Machine!)
Sigh. I'm sure the scheduled speaker, David Hogg, would have been hilarious.
UNH is (more or less) returning to post-Covid normality. But without a lot of fuss, they seem to have become uninterested in doing the MLK Celebration. Nothing in 2021 or 2022. And if they were going to do something in 2023, I'm sure they would have announced it by now.
Instead, UNH's Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion bureaucrats have announced the approved activities for Black History Month 2023. That page (as I type) lacks a single mention of Martin Luther King. Five of the listed activities are actually hosted ten crow-flies miles to the southeast of UNH, at Portsmouth Public Library.
Perhaps even more telling: one of those events, and one that is hosted at UNH, is the "Audre Lorde Summit". And the description is pretty upfront about the memory-holing:
The Audre Lorde Summit (formerly known as the MLK Summit) is hosted annually by the Aulbani J. Beauregard Center for Equity, Justice, and Freedom. The summit is a weekend long extended development opportunity that provides a supportive learning space for students to build identity competencies and expand their knowledge and skills to foster equity and inclusion. The Summit is an excellent opportunity for students to create a greater sense of community and explore critical issues related to social inequity in a learning space that promotes growth, reflection, community building, and honest dialogue.
Emphasis added. (But you'll note they still have the gaseous prose generator in full operation.)
So forget MLK, kids. Audre is the present, and the foreseeable future of Academic Wokism. We have quoted her Wikipedia entry in the past:
Audre Lorde (/ˈɔːdri ˈlɔːrd/; born Audrey Geraldine Lorde; February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) was an American writer, womanist, radical feminist, professor, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," who "dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia."
Back in 2017, Jillian Kay Melchior wrote about Audre at the WSJ: Lorde of the Flies: Why College Students Reject Reason.
But for a more recent look at why MLK has faded in academia, here's Rodney Stevens: Martin Luther King Would Choose Reflection Over ‘Intersectionality’. It is a reflection on the current woke preference for "impenetrable jargon" as opposed to MLK's powerful, understandable rhetoric. And our favorite UNH prof makes an appearance:
Recently I was browsing my local Barnes & Noble and happened on “The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dreams Deferred.” The author, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, is a star cosmologist and physicist and assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire. Many of the essays in the book aren’t easy reading.
On a website biography, Ms. Prescod-Weinstein describes her “focus on Black feminism-grounded social epistemology which explores the impact of the presence of minoritized people in STEM,” and says she is a “pansexual agender cissex woman.” Other than “woman,” I don’t know what that means.
I was able to fathom that she feels white “intellectual colonialism” prevents women and people of color from being fully accepted into university science programs. Yet Ms. Prescod-Weinstein herself seems to refute that claim.
It's tough to put yourself forward as oppressed when you're pulling down $92,660.00 as your annual base pay.
Slightly related to our MLK item, Glenn Reynolds interviews David Bernstein on The Idiocy of America's Racial Classification System.
Americans typically make two primary errors about race. The first is that the racial classifications we use in common parlance--Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic—are somehow natural and arose spontaneously. Very few of us realize that the US government codified them in 1977 in a formal federal law called Statistical Directive No. 15. Before that, almost no one called people of Spanish-speaking descent “Hispanics.” What we now call “Asian Americans” were nothing like a coherent group; Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino Americans had distinct cultures and significant history inter-group conflict. Americans from India were typically classified as “white” or “other,” but a last-minute lobbying campaign resulted in them being added to the Asian American group.
Relatedly, very few Americans are familiar with the scope of the federal classifications and how their definition. For example, Hispanics are officially an ethnicity, not a race, but the media often treats them as a racial group. Contrary to popular belief, “Hispanic” includes Spaniards, but not Brazilians. The government defines indigenous people from Spanish-speaking countries as having Hispanic ethnicity, but thanks to lobbying from Native American tribes, are not “Indians” and have no racial box that fits them. Arab Americans, Iranians, Armenians, and other people from Western Asia are white, not Asian or Middle Eastern (there is no such official classification).
People also assume incorrectly there is some sort of cut off, that you can’t claim “X” ancestry if, say, only your great-great-grandfather was “X.” But the Black/African American classification is defined as anyone with “origins in one of the black racial groups of Africa,” so the one-drop rule prevails. The Small Business Administration has concluded that a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors haven’t lived in a Spanish-speaking country for centuries can still claim Hispanic status.
Neither the UNH Library nor the Portsmouth Public Library carry Bernstein's book (Amazon link above). My request for an Interlibrary Loan via UNH also failed; too new. I may have to buy it.
And: not to brag, but Pun Salad was all over the Federal racial pigeonholing back in 2005.
I'm kind of a fan of "whataboutism". It is, after all, a manifestation of Rule Four on Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
We'll pass by the implicit dehumanization shown by Alinsky's use of "its".
Anyway, Jeff Jacoby is less of a fan, although he admits it does have its uses: When 'whataboutism' is appropriate.
Whataboutism goes by many labels. The classic Latin term is "tu quoque," meaning "you also," but English has more colorful ways of expressing the idea: "The pot calling the kettle black." "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." "So's your old man." In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned whataboutism into an ethical reproach: "First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to pluck the speck out of your brother's eye."
Those who engage in whataboutism in order to deflect legitimate criticism from themselves or their party deserve to be scorned. But so do those who cry "Whataboutism!" when their own double standard is being highlighted. Consider an example of each.
Examples: GOPers excusing George Santos for his lies by saying "What about Biden?" Inappropriate! GOPers excusing election denialism by pointing to Stacey Abrams? Appropriate!
Could WIRED be going libertarian? Susie Alegre ("International human rights lawyer, author, and speaker") seeems to point that way with her headline: Freedom of Thought Is a Human Right.
In 2023, we will see regulators and lawmakers around the world make it clear that the surveillance capitalism business model based on targeted advertising is no longer acceptable—in law or in practice.
There are already signs of big tech companies thinking carefully about the implications of their work for freedom of thought and taking radical steps. In 2021, Facebook scrapped its research on wearable brain-computer interfaces. In 2022, Microsoft announced that it would phase out public access to controversial emotional recognition technology. Google, following the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, scrabbled to address the dangerous ways data can be exploited to expose our opinions on the front line of the culture wars. Apple has announced a new “lockdown mode” in response to the Pegasus scandal that will prevent phone hacking to access the inner lives of human rights defenders around the world.
It turns out she's talking about something else entirely by "freedom of thought"; according to Susie, it will be protected by wise government regulators and woke tech barons. Like … um … Apple's Tim Cook.