Writing this weekly round-up of the muddled and nonsensical bull in the New York Times op-ed pages is usually a pleasure. It’s not all that hard to take a typical NYT column and easily identify the gapingly obvious liberal biases, factual errors, and logical mistakes.
But sometimes the NYT publishes something so ridiculous it can’t be ignored, but analyzing it requires wading through massive piles of, uh, mangled verbiage compounded by longwinded pomposity. Thus, I have to endure the painful experience of wading through the massive pile dumped on the Times’ pages by one Falguni Sheth, Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at Hampshire College.
In a 3000 plus word “conversation” titled How Liberalism and Racism Are Wed, Sheth makes the tired old argument that America is a fundamentally flawed country because of systemic institutional racism. And by “liberalism” she means the classical 19th century definition of free market democratic rule of law, and not its modern American bastard child of a statist welfare society based on quotas and redistribution.
Sheth makes the task of even figuring out what she means all the more difficult by tired and dated cliches from French radical deconstructionist feminist crit lit theory. So we have to contend with “the epistemology of [white] ignorance.” “institutional aggressions” and “micro-aggressions” And most of all, how “whiteness... is not about any individual specifically but about groups in power, and it is negotiated and contoured by factors of gender, class, ethnic identity, and institutional and historical factors blahblahblah.” (Incidentally, Sheth also has problems with simple English grammar and usage.)
Sheth is also a bit of a whiner (surprise, surprise). She starts off with a heart rending example of how she has suffered from the the systemic racism and oppression in our vicious and evil US of A. Sheth is an immigrant, and she applied for (and granted) US citizenship after the usual interview.
“The interview was demanded by the government during the American Philosophical Association meetings in December 2000 (it was virtually impossible to renegotiate the appointment without a long, punishing, delay).” You see, the APA is where professors and graduate students get together to hear each other give lecture and socialize. And the U.S. government didn’t “schedule” her interview, no the government “demanded” that poor Falguni show up for her interview like every other prospective citizen, even if she had to miss a day of the APA meetings. No wonder they call us “the US of the KKK with an A!”
Sheth continues to prove her thesis that “racism, racial exclusion, racial violence, is part and parcel of liberalism.” She has carefully analyzed John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and guess what? Locke is a racist and his Enlightenment theories of social contract are racist at their very core. You see, Locke thinks that the social contract doesn’t apply to “‘lunatics and idiots,’ women, and ‘savages.’” Poor Locke, back in the 17th century they hadn’t heard of political correctness.
And all this rhetoric about the rule of law and equality before the law is just more chicanery of those Dead White Men who wrote the Constitution. In fact, “peace, safety, recognition of one’s humanity, law, order, rights will be doled out — or withheld — only in terms that allow those in authority, those with wealth, to remain comfortable.” Yes, only wealthy white people have rights in America. And proof of that is “the recent Supreme Court decision to allow restrictive voter ID requirements in Texas.” Yes, that’s how fascism always operates, you want to vote, you need an ID card.
The fact is, Sheth appears to be yet another beneficiary of both affirmative action and the current popularity of fashionably radical gibberish in our universities and colleges. If rigorous scholarship (and an ability to write in clear, proper English) were requirements to join the professoriate, she would have flunked out before getting to sophomore year.
And if America were the country she portrays, she wouldn’t have a cushy well paid job at a purportedly elite liberal arts college (Hampshire is however one of the most expensive colleges in America, poor people need not apply.) Nor would she have the opportunity to have her ridiculously simplistic and laughably ignorant views accorded the dignity of a place in the Newspaper of Record.
Oddly enough, Sheth makes no mention of where she specifically comes from, only that it is somewhere in South Asia. Yes, South Asia as in countries like India with a rigid caste system and where widows are still burned alive with their deceased husbands. At the risk of sounding churlish, I’d like to suggest that she choose some other country she finds more to her liking, and go there for a very long visit. And send us a postcard telling us how much better it is there than here in the mean ole’ United States.