Academia: Reason Promotes White Male Privilege, by Jack Kerwick

A tour of the nether reaches of the Viscerally Visceral segment of academia, from Jack Kerwick at

Over 50 years ago, Susan Sontag infamously declared: “The white race is the cancer of human history.”  Sontag explained that “it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, [and] which now threatens the very existence of life itself.”

America, “the culmination of Western civilization,” alone suffices to prove that “there must be something terribly wrong with” it.

“The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al., don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world.”

Since Sontag made her remarks, the left, particularly in academia, has become even more opposed to the West.  At least Sontag could be read as suggesting that Mozart, Pascal, and so forth may be notable exceptions to the rule of Western depravity.  In contrast, what all too many contemporary academics maintain is that those ideas that have served to distinguish the West from the rest, ideas such as a common humanity, individualism, and the ideal of “color-blindness,” say, along with the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, and literature, are themselves weapons of white, Christian, masculine bourgeois repression.

Another American philosopher, the late Iris Marion Young, goes even further to expressly renounce the ideal of a shared humanity transcending differences of race, gender, religion, and so forth.  Such an ideal, she insists, has “oppressive consequences [.]”

The problem, as Young sees it, is that currently, in the West, “the privileged groups implicitly define the standards according to which all will be measured.” This is “oppressive” because, insofar as “their privilege” prevents them from “recognizing these standards as culturally and experientially specific, the ideal of a common humanity in which all can participate without regard to race, gender, religion, or sexuality poses as neutral and universal.”

In other words, this ideal of “a common humanity,” being the product of the “dominant culture,” is actually “Anglo, European, Christian, masculine, straight.”

Young’s thought is representative of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) wing of the postmodern academy.  Will Oremus, writing in the popular left-wing publication, Slate, accurately characterizes the CRT perspective: “Classical liberal ideals such as meritocracy, equal opportunity, and colorblind justice…actually served the white elite by cloaking and reinforcing society’s deep structural inequalities.”

To continue reading: Academia: Reason Promotes White Male Privilege


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