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Revolution Eats Its Own: How a Left-Wing Black Professor Got Trapped in 'Anti-Racist Hell'

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So far this month, we've already written two piece about disturbing 'woke' excesses.  One involved pro-criminal "social justice" and "equity"-minded policies resulting in the murder of a woman of color in Portland.  If you think that's an uncharitable exaggeration, read the original story, or my summary of it, and judge for yourself.  Relatedly, the Los Angeles Times just wrote about Portland's left-wing lurch toward failed city status, which is quite an indictment, given the day-to-day realities in the city that newspaper serves.  The report is headlined, 'What’s the matter with Portland? Shootings, theft and other crime test city’s progressive strain' -- which seems to both pose a question and answer it.  Some incredible excerpts:

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Flora Gonzalez, who lives on the north side of the street, is distressed about conditions in the historically blue-collar neighborhood. The 40-year-old package handler for FedEx said that people have openly dealt drugs and urinated on the sidewalk outside her family’s duplex. They’ve dumped feces and used syringes in her manicured yard, played booming music at 3 a.m. and stripped stolen cars for parts. Shots have been fired behind her children’s bedroom. “We feel abandoned,” Gonzalez said. “We pay our taxes and the police are not watching over our security.” But Juniper Simonis, who rents a home across the street, said she opposed calls for police clampdowns. The 38-year-old environmental biologist and data scientist, whose frontyard features a handmade “DISARM, DEFUND, DISMANTLE POLICE” sign, said Portland officials continued to fail the homeless by underfunding services and “sweeping” camps with callous disregard for people’s dignity and property. An activist who marched downtown in 2020, Simonis said the problem is not that Portland is too liberal, but that it is not liberal enough...

Over the last three years, the number of unhoused people in the metro area has jumped from about 4,000 to at least 6,600. Shootings in the city have tripled. Homicides climbed from 36 in 2019 to 97 last year — a record. Lower-level crimes have spiked too: More than 11,000 vehicles were stolen in 2022, up from 6,500 in 2019.  “You don’t have to watch Fox News to look around Portland and say, ‘This is not cool,’” said City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, a Democrat and former political science professor at Brandeis University. Fatal drug overdoses nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021 across Multnomah County. The fentanyl epidemic combined with the housing crisis, Mapps said, made for a “scary” situation. Conservatives have long branded this city Exhibit A for how liberals and progressive policies have run amok. While many Portlanders roll their eyes at such tropes, polls conducted last year showed only 11% of voters thought Portland was heading in the right direction — a steep drop from 36% in 2020 and 76% in 2000. A backlash is underway.

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The backlash, led by the vast majority of Portland residents who think their city is headed in the wrong direction, will be fought tooth and nail by the 'DISARM, DEFUND, DISMANTLE' brigade, who have convinced themselves that Portland's real problem is that it's just far too conservative.  Madness.  Another story we highlighted involves a whistleblower from a pediatric clinic in St. Louis that provides 'gender affirming care' to minors.  The allegations made by years-long employee at the facility are deeply concerning and are now the subject of a state investigation in Missouri.  That episode involved a self-identified leftist exposing what she has described as serious harms being inflicted on children, through "morally and medically appalling" action.  In another realm of insane 'progressivism' run totally amok, to the point of alarming devoted leftists, this essay by a black professor made the rounds over the weekend.  

It's his account of how an elite program for gifted high school students devolved into an "anti-racist" nightmare in which he, a black leftist, became a scapegoat for what has become a cult.  For years, the program was fairly ideologically diverse and emphasized the sharing and testing of ideas in a seminar-type setting.  But hardcore leftists have now captured the institution and are destroying it:

Those first few days, the students were exactly what you would expect, at turns bubbly and reserved, all of them curious, playful, figuring out how to relate to each other and to the seminar texts. Four weeks later, I again sat in front of the gathered students. Now, their faces were cold, their eyes down. Since the first week, I had not spotted one smile. Their number was reduced by two: The previous week, they had voted two classmates out of the house.  And I was next. “I was guilty of countless microaggressions.” Each student read from a prepared statement about how the seminar perpetuated anti-black violence in its content and form, how the black students had been harmed, how I was guilty of countless microaggressions, including through my body language, and how students didn’t feel safe because I didn’t immediately correct views that failed to treat anti-blackness as the cause of all the world’s ills. This might be just another lament about “woke” campus culture, and the loss of traditional educational virtues. But the seminar topic was “Race and the Limits of Law in America.” Four of the 6 weeks were focused on anti-black racism (the other two were on anti-immigrant and anti-indigenous racism). 

I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Philadelphia, my daughter went to an Afrocentric school, and I am on the board of our local black cultural organization. Like others on the left, I had been dismissive of criticisms of the current discourse on race in the United States. But now my thoughts turned to that moment in the 1970s when leftist organizations imploded, the need to match and raise the militancy of one’s comrades leading to a toxic culture filled with dogmatism and disillusion. How did this happen to a group of bright-eyed high school students? ...In the wake of the George Floyd protests, a group of black Telluride alumni pressured the association to examine the racism that, they claimed, was baked into the organizational culture...in the 2022 community, afternoons and evenings would no longer be spent having fun and doing homework. Two college-age students called “factotums” (led by one I will call “Keisha”) were assigned to create anti-racism workshops to fill the afternoons...Students described the workshops as emotionally draining, forcing the high schoolers to confront tough issues and to be challenged in ways they had never been challenged before.

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This professor lays out all his racial and ideological bona fides, then explains how everything spiraled against him anyway.  Even for him, this became far too much:

From what I gleaned, [the workshops] involved crudely conveying certain dogmatic assertions, no matter what topic the workshops were ostensibly about:

  • Experiencing hardship conveys authority.
  • There is no hierarchy of oppressions—except for anti-black oppression, which is in a class of its own. 
  • Trust black women.
  • Prison is never the answer.
  • Black people need black space.
  • Allyship is usually performative.
  • All non-black people, and many black people, are guilty of anti-blackness.
  • There is no way out of anti-blackness.

...The non-black students learned that they needed to center black voices—and to shut up. Keisha reported that this was particularly difficult for the Asian-American students, but they were working on it. (Eventually, two of the Asian-American students would be expelled from the program for reasons that, Keisha said, couldn’t be shared with me.)...During our discussion of incarceration, an Asian-American student cited federal inmate demographics: About 60 percent of those incarcerated are white. The black students said they were harmed. They had learned, in one of their workshops, that objective facts are a tool of white supremacy. Outside of the seminar, I was told, the black students had to devote a great deal of time to making right the harm that was inflicted on them by hearing prison statistics that were not about blacks. A few days later, the Asian-American student was expelled from the program. Similarly, after a week focused on the horrific violence, death, and dispossession inflicted on Native Americans, Keisha reported to me that the black students and their allies were harmed because we hadn’t focused sufficiently on anti-blackness. When I tried to explain that we had four weeks focused on anti-blackness coming soon, as indicated on the syllabus, she said the harm was urgent; it needed to be addressed immediately.

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Look at those bullet points.  Pure poison.  This professor admits that he'd recently dismissed the accusation of a black conservative that 'anti-racism' had become a new religion.  He now confesses that based on his experience, it's actually a full-blown "cult."  The situation came to a head on day, when the students (those who hadn't been voted our of the program for thought crimes and "harms") recited a bill of woke indictment against this man, demanding that he agree to simply brainwash them with zero critical thinking allowed.  This is what these sullen, browbeaten kids insisted upon, clearly at the behest of  'Keisha' the Ivy League grad whose mentor, we're told, is a famous racial demagogue and cable news pundit.  It's all so creepy:

Tuesday morning, no one was in the seminar room. I waited 10 minutes, and Keisha entered. She said the students had something to say to me. Ten more minutes of waiting in silence. Then all nine remaining students entered, each carrying a piece of paper. One by one they read a paragraph. Out of their mouths came everything Keisha had said to me during the “urgent” meetings she had with me after classes when students had allegedly been harmed. The students had all of the dogma of anti-racism, but no actual racism to call out in their world, and Keisha had channeled all of the students’ desire to combat racism at me...The students ended with a demand: In light of all the harms they had suffered, they could only continue in the class if I abandoned the seminar format and instead lectured each day about anti-blackness, correcting any of them who questioned orthodoxy. The only critical perspectives they were receiving during the summer, they claimed, were from Keisha. A white girl punctuated their point: “Keisha speaks for me: She says everything I think better than I ever could.”

This is a depressingly apt observation:

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Ultimately, the seminar was canceled. The only students who reached out after the unraveling, or expressed any interest in further learning, were the ones who'd been kicked out by the radicals. The whole journey is a wild read. I'm glad this gentleman decided to share it with the wider public, providing yet another snapshot of insane and destructive institutional capture by the extreme Left. Having read it twice, a few questions linger with me: (1) Does this professor explicitly regret feeding into an atmosphere that finally went so far off the rails that the mob ended up turning on him?  Does he feel at all complicit, perhaps having assumed his side's leopard would never eat his face?  (2) He hints that he was wrong to dismiss people's concerns about leftist illiberalism, but does he have any more specific apologies to make? (3) Also, why did he decide to allow 'Keisha' to remain anonymous. She's an adult. She's a bully. She shoveled toxic garbage at teenagers, turning them into little tyrants and monsters.  Why does she get to elude accountability?  (4) And why does her mentor also go unnamed?  I'll leave you with a few clips from a recent Vice focus group-style conversation, if you can call it that, around racial issues:

I think it's clear who would have gotten voted off of this seminar by the high school students mentioned above.  Here's one final note, which is just perfect:

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This guy would also absolutely get sent packing by the kids:


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