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Rhetorical Wheelies

Cyclists and the cycling industry must come to terms with the reality that cycling is a powerful narrator in the power of whiteness that feeds anti-Blackness.

Via Instapundit, news from the frontier of woke sports, where “the power of whiteness within cycling” is, we’re assured, a thing that exists:

It’s time for cycling to think beyond white fragility, white privilege, implicit bias, and microaggressions, and begin to think about its root cause. Cycling must reject interventions that continue to individualise anti-Black racism, and work to break down the structures that allow whiteness to retain power in the sport.

As is the custom, assertions soon pile high, albeit unsteadily, and questions are begged at a rate of knots. The “system of privileges and advantages afforded to white people” is denounced more than once, along with “the whiteness of cycling,” though, as so often, the particulars remain unobvious and unconvincing. Apparently, “white privilege” is a phenomenon to be taken as a given, always and everywhere, and in which we must believe. For instance,

In late September, many in the sport turned a blind eye when it came to light that world-champion Chloe Dygert ‘liked’ several racist and transphobic tweets. 

I’m unfamiliar with Ms Dygert or her views, but the sole, supposedly damning, example of her “transphobia” is her liking of the statement “Men who identify as women are not actually women.” This does not strike me as phobic, or scandalous, or indeed inaccurate. And for a female athlete to prefer competing against other women, i.e., fairly, should not be controversial - in a sane world. As for alleged racism, the only evidence provided is the liking of a tweet that says, “White privilege doesn’t exist; good choice privilege does.” But even to dispute woke conspiracy theories is, it turns outs, itself proof of racism and a basis for “disgust,” which seems enormously convenient, for the accuser, and must save a lot of time. And so, this liking of a tweet is framed as,

an expression of the violent normality of anti-Black racism in the world.

Which is in no way hyperbolical or ludicrous, obviously.

As wokeness is fundamentally pretentious, which is to say dishonest, failing to pretend must, of course, be punished. Say, by harassing Ms Dygert’s sponsors in the hope of derailing or destroying her career. However, it turns out that this approach has not been entirely successful:

Dygert, who has since unliked the tweets, has faced no real consequences that we know of, so far… She has returned to training with Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.  

A note of displeasure is hard to miss. The athlete in question having apparently escaped ruin, thanks to public scolding from her sponsors and a confession of heresy via Instagram

Cycling should be for everyone regardless of colour, gender, sexuality or background. Like CANYON//SRAM Racing, I am committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and equality in cycling and our wider communities. I apologise to those who I offended or hurt by my conduct on social media. I am committed to keep learning and growing as an athlete and a person.

Brings a tear to the eye.

Inevitably, this narrow escape is also seized upon as proof of “white privilege.”

Such public respect and civility toward Dygert, no doubt aspects of white privilege and power, allow her and her corporate sponsors a path to redemption, a means to restore or even reshape their image, build character, and come out on top.

To come out on top, i.e., to nearly but not quite have one’s career destroyed and have years of training flushed down the toilet, due to a pretentious and vindictive mob. All for acknowledging an obvious fact, and for liking a tweet that disputes the alleged ubiquity of “white privilege.”

To me, Dygert’s apology… lacks sincerity…  

As almost everything does, and must, in the world of the woke, given the kinds of people involved and their most common motives.

This is followed by some convoluted rumbling about the sportswear brand Rapha, a sponsor of Ms Dygert, and which is denounced as “a global company that is conscious of its whiteness and unearned privilege” and is trying to “regain control over whiteness.” A claim for which no evidence, or coherent explanation, is offered. Nonetheless, it seems we should be hissing with disapproval.

And this is the tone throughout, the basis of so much operatic indignation. The words “white” and “whiteness” are used thirty-two times, generally with negative, pejorative connotations – of fragility and privilege, intangible aggressions - yet particulars remain nebulous or entirely absent, with the words serving chiefly as cues to disapprove, a kind of intersectional prompt, an incantation.

Vague, disjointed insinuations, and appeals to unspecified “structures,” are, however, more than sufficient for the recreationally aggrieved. The kinds of people who comb through athletes’ tweets in the hope of spotting something that can be construed, with much squinting and tilting of the head, as a basis for social damnation and the ending of their careers. Such that an implied, one-word endorsement of Donald Trump is confidently presented as “anti-Black racism” and grounds for pillory. 

Woke piety, you see. 

For readers still unclear on what, exactly, “the whiteness of cycling” is, we must push on to the article’s end, where we learn, belatedly,

The whiteness of cycling, in part, is the ability to reduce anti-Black racism to a misunderstanding that can simply be overcome by introspection.

Which is to say, if you even hint at doubting the pervasive, crushing presence of “white privilege” - the go-to explanation for all modern ills - and even if you publicly apologise for doing so and promise never to do it again, you are still indulging in “whiteness” and “anti-Black racism” by daring to assume that an apology will ever be enough, or that this game will ever end.

The author of the piece quoted above is P. Khalil Saucier, an associate professor of Africana Studies at Bucknell University. An educator, then. Shaping young minds.

Update, via the comments:

Several readers have noted our associate professor’s reliance on modish waffle and unearned assertions, suggesting the term “word soup.” Some have questioned whether our woke educator is unwell.

There is, it has to be said, an air of unhappy monomania. The word “whiteness” is used nine times, and “white,” the favoured pejorative, a mere twenty-three - in an article supposedly aimed at enthusiasts of cycling. And given the wildness of the assertions and the apparent disregard for evidence or any sense of proportion, it’s hard to imagine how one might have an honest and realistic discussion with such a person. Our associate professor does seem lost in his own rather unhinged, self-ratcheting ideology.

That said, if the conclusion - Bad Whitey - is inevitable and predestined, then I suppose the argument used to get there doesn’t need to be load-bearing or particularly coherent. You can invoke terribly oppressive structures and systems that are never quite defined, and for which no credible evidence is offered, and whose supposedly crushing effects are never established or even clearly articulated. Attempts at realism and clarity, even basic honesty, seem likely to hinder the process, which would explain their rarity in arguments of this kind.

And as we’ve seen many times, this is a typical standard for our intersectional clowns. This is regarded as good enough, the basis of an academic career. Because, given sufficient prompting, sufficient repetition, the students – the kinds of students who think Angry Studies is a good use of time and money - will believe it anyway. Because they’ll want to believe it. Which is to say, if your students are already invested in victimhood, in pretensions of being oppressed, then they’re unlikely to be too picky when you affirm those pretensions. Any half-baked tat will do.


Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.