I Heard A Crash From The Lab

The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began with several displays of exquisite sensitivity by our woke betters, including the “poet and essayist” Rashaad Thomas, who managed to take umbrage at an old photograph in a restaurant, a photograph of miners drinking beer while covered in coal dust, which Mr Thomas promptly construed as “blackface,” a message of “whites only,” and therefore a “threat” to his wellbeing. And Zack Ford, the “LGBTQ Editor” at ThinkProgress, was traumatised by crime news. Specifically, on hearing that a woman alone at a bus stop in Chicago was able to defend herself from an armed mugger on account of herself being armed and shooting her attacker. According to Mr Ford, who declares himself a “proud SJW,” women being attacked on their way to work should not attempt to defend themselves: “If she had let him rob her, even at gunpoint, both likely would have survived.” And apparently, the well-being of the mugger – who was mugging while on probation - trumps any imperative for self-defence, even if the victim fears for her life. 

In February, we learned how to “shatter capitalism” and explode “fragile masculinities” with emojis, courtesy of the scrupulously woke Vice magazine, which, in entirely unrelated news, was simultaneously laying off hundreds of scrupulously woke employees. We also marvelled at the the creative outpourings of Ms Angeliki Chiado Tsoli, whose attempt to “challenge the existence of social, economic, cultural, and class-based inequalities” is both difficult to describe and a thing to behold. Other delights included the discovery of intersectional knitting, a subculture in which the merest deviation from the latest woke pieties can result in staggering levels of spite. And we mustn’t forget the news, courtesy of Salon, that many progressives are now suffering from “Post-Trump Sex Disorder.

In March we encountered Dr Deborah Cohan, a mistress of “embodied medicine” and “shamanic healing” employed by the University of California, and who rails against the “tendrils of white supremacy” - the ones in her head, presumably - while indulging in a kind of theatrical ethno-masochism. Such that we’re told, quite emphatically, that white doctors are a clear and obvious danger to non-white patients: “Health care is not safe for people of colour as long as the overwhelming majority of U.S. physicians are white.” A claim one might categorise as paranoid, invidious and wildly irresponsible. Though it did rather highlight the overlap of wokeness and ludicrous New Age woo

Dr Charlotte Riley, currently employed by the University of Southampton, unveiled her latest feminist innovation, which she titled Patriarchy Chicken, and which entails deliberately and repeatedly colliding with random male commuters. For the Sisterhood, you see. Mr Claude Boudeau thrilled us with his seemingly limitless artistic talents, namely a performance piece titled Cascade. We also witnessed the phenomenon of Brookylnite lefties in search of love via a socialist-only dating platform, with the fiercely egalitarian declaring their revolutionary ambitions to each other, along with their preferred pronouns and various mental health issues. Alas, said platform has not proved an enormous success, resulting instead in disgruntlement, mutual loathing, and demands for romantic quotas.

In April, we turned to the pages of Library Journal, a “global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators,” where academic librarian and intersectional feminist Ms Sofia Leung railed against “white men ideas” and the “so-called ‘knowledge’” of the male and melanin-deficient, which, we’re told, she finds oppressive. It turns out that public libraries are “sites of whiteness” and crush the very breath out of the heroically brown. We also encountered a “diverse group of thought leaders” - all leftwing, inevitably - who shared their thoughts on space travel and the need for deaf and disabled astronauts, before pondering whether a mission to Mars would benefit Black Lives Matter. Oh, and we revisited the pages of the Guardian, where lawyer and activist Clive Stafford Smith airily dismissed burglary as “really quite inconsequential” and unworthy of punishment, especially when the perpetrator is a “young black person,” before disdaining the victims of such crimes and their expectations of justice as, and I quote, “idiotic attitudes.”

“A brilliant new weapon of progressivism” was unveiled in May, thanks to Ms Christina Cauterucci, writing in the pages of Slate. You see, those “right wing, centrist, or politically complacent parents” - the parents you love, presumably - must be purged of their “ill-informed allegiances,” and made to conform politically - i.e., made leftwing - with the threat of never seeing grandchildren. Which is how well-adjusted adult offspring behave, of course. Other fruits of progressive mental activity were offered by Ms Saira Rao, “one of the country’s strongest voices for social justice,” and by W. Benjamin Myers, an enthusiast of “queer theory,” whose scholarly ponderings include “straight and white teeth as a metaphor for a straight and White identity” – with a focus on the “uninterrogated Whiteness” of routine dental hygiene.

In June, we felt the pain of competitively woke film critics, for whom a children’s animation about talking animals was in fact an “ode to heteronormativity, toxic masculinity and patriarchal worldviews.” Particular agony was inflicted by a character choosing to get married and have a child, which the agitated reviewer, Mr Carlos Aguilar, dismissed as “conservative” and therefore detrimental, if only to the wellbeing of competitively woke film critics. Mental distress was also evident in the mutterings of feminist “theorist” Ms Sophie Lewis, who insisted that the foetus, a nascent human being, is “violent,” and that abortion, via drugs or dismemberment, is a form of “anti-violence,” a way of “going on strike against gestational work.” “We need,” said she, “to move away from… arguments around when human life begins.” And the Guardian invited us to imagine the horror of the Earth’s feminists departing the planet, never to return.

Superhuman sensitivity was displayed in July, when Mr Zack Ford again caught our attention, this time with a first-hand tale of enormous personal suffering. Namely, being “emotionally wounded” by a patriotic hat, “a hat that embodies evil.” Mr Ford, a gay activist, revealed that he is challenging prejudice and “educating the world about queer identities.” By indulging in overwrought dramas more typically associated with fourteen-year-old girls – i.e., policing what his friends wear on Facebook, and then being hysterical about it. Elsewhere, in the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “fat-positivity” activist and “Instagram therapist” Ms Sonalee Rashatwar proposed a bold solution to the problem of obesity – namely toppling Western civilisation. A project more righteous, and somehow less difficult, than cutting back on carbs. Ms Rashatwar’s own impressive girth and consequent health issues were of course blamed, not on her frequently announced love of doughnuts, consumed in bulk, but on “white supremacy.”

In August, we were offered a front-row seat to the wearying psychodrama of Ms Rosanna Arquette, an “actress, poet and activist” who wants the world to know how terribly ashamed she is of being white. A display that prompted the question of which is more neurotic and contemptible - actually believing such things, or merely pretending to believe them, repeatedly and compulsively, in order to signal in-group status. A kind of political jewellery. The inherent evils of “whiteness” also tortured the mind of Western Connecticut State University’s Dr Daniel Barrett, who claims to be “blinded” by his own pallor, a unspeakable condition that, we’re told, corrupts and befouls everything it touches, including “integrity, honesty… common sense,” and must therefore “dissolve into oblivion.”

Fellow educator Adam Kotsko insisted that reservations about mass third-world immigration and rapid demographic change can only be explained by racism, and not, say, by the unhappy realisation that your neighbourhood has been enlivened with back-garden abattoirs and Congolese machete gangs. And educator and anti-racism activist Dr Asao Inoue insisted that universities should no longer judge the quality of students’ writing when grading papers. This is in order to purge “white racial habits of language,” by which the good doctor means such trivialities as grammar, punctuation and comprehensible spelling. Dr Inoue went on to explain that grading a student’s ability to convey their thoughts in writing - and to formulate thoughts by writing – is a manifestation of “white language supremacy,” and therefore to be abandoned in the name of “inclusive excellence.

September brought us ruminations on a phenomenon that I’ve chosen to call The Blurting, whereby the left-leaning feel compelled to announce their political persuasion seemingly at random and regardless of incongruity, while expecting agreement, or at least hushed deference. Other feats of leftist cogitation came to our attention, including scenes of the elderly and disabled being physically harassed by masked members of Antifa, which is not so much a political movement as a metastasising personality disorder, a Cluster B contagion. And then there was the desire, aired by Vox’s Kelsey Piper, to “eradicate the voting age entirely,” thereby allowing socialists to exploit the unworldliness of children, whose conscientiousness and forethought are of course renowned, and with whom, it would seem, they have much in common.

The Guardian was especially Guardianesque in October, thanks to a piece by Ms Ngaree Blow, an employee of the University of Melbourne, who denounced modern healthcare as “fundamentally colonial,” plagued by “Western paradigms,” and therefore “not fit for purpose.” Ms Blow, we were told, has instead “embraced disruption,” championing aboriginal medicine, including a reliance on healing songs and bush dung, and seemingly irrespective of its rather limited effectiveness. Untroubled by any flickering of irony, Ms Blow went on to denounce “outdated approaches to health.” We also pondered the unfashionable nature of shame, and common efforts to deflect it.  

With November came more scenes of student hyperventilation, this time at College of the Holy Cross, a private liberal arts establishment in Worcester, Massachusetts, and for which parents fork out $54,000 a year in order to have their children brutally oppressed by Heather Mac Donald and statistics they don’t like. The aggrieved students denounced the “privilege” of Ms Mac Donald, who dared to disagree with their claims of victimhood, while carefully overlooking their own air of entitlement and obvious leverage, deployed with recreational glee, and their own seemingly routine expectations of being disruptive and abusive with impunity.

This practised hysteria was ramped up several notches at Binghamton University, where conservative students were reminded, quite vividly, that by advertising a lecture by the economist Arthur Laffer and offering passers-by free hot chocolate – by simply daring to exist – they should expect to be harassed and physically threatened, while their property is either vandalised or stolen, and racial and sexual profanities are screamed in their faces. Until they, not their assailants, are escorted off campus by police, along with their invited speaker. And before they, not their assailants, are denounced by university administrators as somehow “provocative.”

And Atlantic columnist Lauren Smiley performed some neat rhetorical limbo-dancing in her attempt to avoid the obvious while excusing brazen and habitual thievery.

As the year drew to a close, we attempted to define “social justice” and trace the elaborate mental contortions it regularly entails, while noting its appeal for those inclined to acts of petty malice. We supped once more at the teats of performance art, with some of the “best projects” currently available, including the stirring works of Amanda Kleinhans, who thrilled passers-by with her radical rotundity, “explorations of the fat body,” and questions of pressing import, among which, “Can I fit in that seat?” and “Do I fit into these pants?” And we paid another visit to the pages of Slate, where the woke and well-adjusted mull the issues of the day – in this case, “Do I have to tell my new girlfriend I’m going to keep seeing sex workers?

Answers on a postcard, please.

Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.