In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.
The year began with an oddly specific medical diagnosis courtesy of the Guardian, where Afua Hirsch informed us that boob eczema is caused by “racist microaggressions.” Readers were left to suppose that the condition might only be resolved by lengthy grumbling about “structural racism” and the oppressive nature of “whiteness.” More prosaic solutions – say, a change of detergent, or indeed bra, were not explored. “Whiteness” also bedevilled Ms Cristina Beltrán, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, who was both mystified and aggravated by the existence of non-white Trump supporters, and who identified “multiracial whiteness” as the only conceivable explanation. For Ms Beltrán, non-white voters who prefer to be engaged with as individuals, as opposed to racial mascots, are merely surrendering to “whiteness” and “white supremacy.” And so, Ms Beltrán bemoaned racism and “the debasement of others” while casually erasing agency from anyone brownish who happens to disagree with her.
Meanwhile, academics at the University of York were rendered fretful and distraught by an image on the website of an art history conference – specifically, of the seventeenth-century Buddhist figurine, the three wise monkeys – which, via much focussing of intersectional lenses, was construed by our academics as a caricature of black people, and therefore oppressive. And denunciations of “whiteness” and “white supremacy” also featured in a mandatory course at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. On grounds that, in order to be a dentist, you must first submit to condescension and insults, and accusations of being either a bigot or an enabler of bigotry, based solely on unchangeable aspects of your appearance.
In February, we beheld the chutzpah of our new downtrodden elite at the United Nations International School, where the children of diplomats and titans of international banking insisted that even a single mispronunciation of an unobvious name is a form of “racial trauma” inflicted by “the white man’s mouth.” Elsewhere, at the University of Minnesota, we heard one student recount his experience of racial profiling and police brutality – “the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced” – and then, thanks to dashcam video, saw what actually happened.
And in the Los Angeles Times, the scrupulously progressive Virginia Heffernan aired her outrage at neighbours who cleared the snow from her driveway, but failed to vote for Joe Biden - the latter act requiring “absolution,” and thus excusing Ms Heffernan’s supposedly principled ingratitude for the former. You see, resenting neighbours’ acts of kindness, and publicly badmouthing those neighbours, in print, is the progressive way, and a basis for expecting applause.
Oh, and we also learned how to turn toilet paper into drinkable alcohol.
“Larger-bodied person” Emily Duke enlightened us in March, via the pages of Slate, with an emotional tailspin triggered by a vaccination form featuring the word obese. The mere sight of which resulted in “unparalleled grief,” three hours spent deciding what to have for dinner, and an elaborate, rather convoluted claim that being given priority for a vaccine during a pandemic, while others must wait, is actually a form of oppression. Slate’s comment moderator added that, should any remarks “contradict the author’s understanding of her own situation,” they would of course be deleted.
Elsewhere, in Scary Mommy, where progressive ladies preen and seethe, Erin Hendriksen widened our eyes with her politics of laundry - a subject explored at length and in seemingly fractal detail – while pointing to her struggles with personal hygiene as proof of martyrdom. We also pondered the mental health of other Scary Mommy contributors, among whom the use of mood stabilisers seems remarkably common, and noted the things one must pretend in woke academia – say, when faced with “indigenous elders” whose cures for gastro-intestinal ailments include arm-flapping and rubbing corn pollen on the feet of the afflicted.
The pages of Scary Mommy gripped us again in April, when Ms Amber Leventry, a “queer person and educator,” managed to be outraged by the fact that she had been asked not to swear and scream in the workplace. This appeal to reciprocal courtesy, and preference for not being assailed with bellowed epithets, was denounced as both “tone policing” - a wickedness “rooted in colonialism and white supremacy” - and an effort to crush underfoot the rights and wellbeing of transgender people. When not expecting deference and “validation” for her frequent fits of temper – one might say bullying – Ms Leventry encourages her own small children, aged seven and nine, to shout profanities at passers-by who may have voted Republican.
A visit to the Rockwood School District, Missouri, revealed educators so gorged on wokeness that they had created a fake curriculum to fool parents, thereby concealing the details of how children were being indoctrinated, and while simultaneously insisting, “This is not being deceitful.” And racial monomania - seemingly to the go-to setting of progressives - cropped up again in the pages of the Guardian, where the anhedonic Natalie Morris informed us that the employment of fashion models who are difficult to racially categorise is “impossible to see… as a positive thing.” On account of the models’ “proximity to whiteness.”
We also bore witness to the creative outpourings of Finnish artist Liu Susiraja.
In May, ¿jordan¿ - a “black trans artist” and prodigious taker of selfies - announced his discovery of a new form of “violence” – specifically, “When people get my pronouns right and I can tell they still perceive me as a man.” That those cowed to mouth obvious lies regarding Mr ¿jordan¿’s alleged womanliness were not in fact hallucinating on demand and actually seeing him as a woman, albeit one with a moustache and beard, and were instead merely being polite, was an outrage for our bejewelled narcissist.
We also learned, via Mr Kenny Allen, editor of Northwestern University’s student newspaper, that “white people walk awkwardly on sidewalks because of their internalised racism.” Following his pronouncements on pavement users of pallor, Mr Allen was scandalised by polite requests for evidence, any evidence, to support his claims – an expectation seemingly quite alien to this would-be intellectual. Ruminations on racist pavement use were followed by equally bold assertions regarding racist cycling, thanks to P. Khalil Saucier, an associate professor of Africana Studies at Bucknell University, whose ramblings on the subject were likewise untroubled by evidence, or coherence, or indeed honesty.
The month ended with a reminder that the absurd and the sinister aren’t mutually exclusive, with revelations regarding eye-widening indoctrination in Portland schools, where the stated goal of “anti-racist” educators is the “disintegration” of children’s personalities, such that they experience “white guilt” and “feel bad for being white.” When the eight-year-old victims of this psychological abuse complained that they were unable to sleep and felt alienated from their friends and parents, this was taken by the educators as a sign of progress, of emerging wokeness.
We learned, In June, via a Yale lecturer, that “white people don’t eat bread.” The imparter of this wisdom, Ms Aruna Khilanani - a psychiatrist with paying customers - also shared her belief that murdering random white people, guiltlessly and for no reason beyond their pallor, would be doing the world, and I quote, “a fucking favour.” Ms Khilanani’s areas of expertise, beyond bread consumption and homicidal fantasies, include gender theory, race theory, queer theory and Marxism.
Elsewhere, we learned that complimenting a friend or colleague on their weight loss is not only “fatphobic” - and worse, encouraging - but is also “a perpetuation and enforcement of white supremacist beauty standards.” Should comments of a favourable kind prove unavoidable, they should instead be directed towards said person’s shoes. Self-styled activist William Hornby also denounced the evils of “fatphobia,” insisting that one should do nothing to avoid or delay the unsightly expansion of any body parts, on grounds that not wishing to be obese is “intrinsically entangled with white supremacy.” Mr Hornby also steered us to the Fat Liberation Syllabus for Revolutionary Leftists – an actual thing – which in turn denounced the “fatphobic logic of productivity, discipline, and personal responsibility.”
In July, Sinead Watson offered a welcome reminder that not all people with gender dysphoria are insufferably woke, with a frank and moving account of her own experiences, including that of de-transitioning, and a warning about the erasure of boundaries between adults and children, and the fashionable affirmation of mental illness.
Elsewhere, Dr Albert Stabler, an assistant professor at Appalachian State University, confessed his innate wrongness – “I am a white teacher” – before disdaining the “white feelings” of fellow educators who objected to being punched and humiliated by brown-skinned students - including Dr Stabler’s immediate predecessor, a female art teacher whose hair was forcibly cut by a black student. These objections were denounced by our woke educator as “white supremacist violence,” while the actual violence – the punching and cutting and so forth - was airily waved aside as a display of the students’ “cultural knowledge” and “kinetic” creativity.
The subject of bras returned to the fore in August, thanks to Gender Studies Professor Sami Schalk, for whom bralessness, and twerking, and a cape emblazoned with the words “I AM 100% THAT BITCH,” constitute acts of “political defiance.” When not referring to the police as “fucking pigs,” and offering refreshments to rioters and arsonists, Ms Schalk, a grown woman and professional educator, and paid somewhere in the region of $102,000 a year, invites us to admire her ample buttocks and their magic blackness.
The month also brought us a striking illustration of transgender gaslighting, and indeed sociopathy, with Mridul Wadhwa, the head of one of Scotland’s largest rape crisis centres, laying down conditions for receiving the centre’s services. Wadhwa, a transgender woman, insisted that actual women in search of help following sexual assault must first declare their embrace of Wadhwa’s own rather niche transgender ideology, and that failure to do so is “unacceptable” and will be “challenged.” Because, you know, priorities.
In September, we spied more racial neuroticism in the form of Dr Derek Hook, an associate professor at Duquesne University, whose areas of expertise include “post-colonial theory” and “white anxiety.” The good doctor was visibly titillated by the idea that “white people should commit suicide as an ethical act,” in order to “castrate whiteness.” Readers are invited to imagine an educator speaking in such terms, excitedly, about any other racial demographic, and doing it in the name of “anti-racism.”
Elsewhere in academia, we learned that “suspending proficiency requirements” will – in ways somewhat unclear – “benefit” those on whom these things are inflicted, and that expecting basic and reciprocal standards of behaviour – say, respecting other pupils who are trying to hear what’s being said - is “the definition of white supremacy,” and therefore very, very bad. And a visit to the high-security wing of transgender TikTok proved informative, with news that wearing a low-cut top to work is sufficient proof of womanhood and should never result in even momentary confusion, however polite, among female colleagues. We also learned that “cis people should not be having conversations about trans issues” and should instead be mere objects of discussion, not participants. And, oh yes, the revelation that trans people “can’t fart.”
Boutique gender identities, or pretensions of such, cropped up again in October, when party-person and would-be iconoclast Mr Jordan Bennett visited Heaven, a nightclub for London’s famously downtrodden homosexuals, and found that his pronoun-stipulating earrings were insufficient to exempt him from the club’s security procedures. Elsewhere, at Middlebury College, counselling director Alberto Soto noted a surge in students reporting mental health problems, notably anxiety and depression, and promptly identified “whiteness” as the “source of all our psychic suffering.” The possibility that the college’s preoccupation with race, and racial conspiracy theories, and near-continual racial scolding, might have some bearing on the issue was somehow not considered.
And over at George Washington University, associate professor of education Julia Storberg-Walker told us, “I didn’t know I was white.” And further, “I think a lot of people don’t know they are white.” This oversight can, however, be corrected with “somatic, embodied training” and realigning one’s “positionality” as a White Devil, a doer of “harm.” Happily, Dr Storberg-Walker is equipped to deliver “whole-planet flourishing” by drawing on “wisdom traditions” and, inevitably, “quantum field theory.” Readers are welcome to speculate as to exactly how quantum field theory might bear upon such topics as “critical race activism,” or “colonised words,” and how it might inform “deep learning” about the seemingly endless pathologies of being pale.
In November, “white supremacy” was invoked yet again, this time as the go-to explanation for workplace dress codes and broader expectations of professionalism - say, when teaching other people’s twelve-year-old children. When not devising excuses for deploying the word racism, and painting his nails, and generally being fascinated by himself, the 30-year-old teacher in question, Mr Segal, entertains his TikTok followers with his inability to grade papers on time, and by talking about the state of his mental health, a topic revisited more than once. The competitively woke world of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation was another highlight of the month - in particular, the union’s move to “eliminate racism” by weighting the votes of non-white members, such that leverage very much depends on the colour of one’s skin.
More coherent thinking came from Noah Carl and his research on the role of women in the phenomenon of wokeness. Needless to say, some Guardian contributors and other ladies of the left were brought to a state of high dudgeon by Mr Carl’s charts and tables of statistics, denouncing his alleged “fear” and “hatred” of women, especially intelligent women, while scorning the “fragility” of the “straight white male,” and while carefully avoiding anything approaching a substantive rebuttal. As intelligent women do.
We were also entranced by “really radical” aboriginal rap, or rather by the contortions performed by Guardian columnists who pretend to, like, totally dig it, man.
As the year drew to a close, we poked through the “teachers of TikTok” hashtag and found much to ponder, including a tall, bearded educator claiming that his days spent parading around the classroom in five-inch stilettos, and sometimes full drag, which he just so happens to enjoy, is a way to make pupils feel “safe,” and not, say, bewildered. The “safe” classroom, we were told, is “a place for them, by them,” while clearly being all about him and entirely his idea, and entirely dependent on his cartoonish cross-dressing preferences on any given day. Such is woke selflessness. It remains unclear whether pupils or parents who find this educator’s behaviour, shall we say, distracting, or not wholly reassuring, will be indulged to the same degree.
We also continued our series on employees who may not be entirely suited to the job.
And finally, we visited Swarthmore College, where annual tuition fees are north of $70,000, and where having a suitably inclusive and intersectional student party is not a simple matter. Especially when “an outsized number of white students” attend, thereby oppressing everyone else with their rampant pallor, and thus necessitating a looped and amplified message, blaring through speakers for several minutes, “telling white students to leave.” “By the time the message stopped playing,” we’re told, “the party’s racial demographics had shifted significantly.” And at which point, of course, further complications ensued regarding the precise ratio of gay people present and their respective skin tones.
So, plenty to chew on.
Heavens, a button. I wonder what it does.