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Cynical Theories

How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity--and Why This Harms Everybody

Dec 21, 2020baldand rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
This book is well worth reading even if it has been overlavishly praised by a number of reviewers. Douglas Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are both big fans of the book. It is ironic that the authors, who wear their liberalism on their sleeve, have written a book that seems to appeal mainly to conservative readers on the right, myself included. The liberals, and in Canada the Liberals, are the people who are most likely to invoke in one way or another the applied post-modernism theories, including postcolonial theory, queer theory, critical race theory, intersectionality, fourth-wave feminism and gender studies. Former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes channeled critical race theory when she tweeted: “Check your [white] privilege and be quiet” when former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier objected to funds allocated in the budget to a national anti-racism plan. The authors note that in spite of their differences, all of the applied post-modernism theories tend to blur categories. This is perhaps most obvious in gender studies, where we are supposed to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that there are a multitude of sexes. This, as Canadian sex researcher Debra Soh noted, is wrong. Even the very small part of the population that is intersex can mostly be classified as male or female based on their gametes. All three of the runners who forced Ottawa Lions runner Melissa Bishop into fourth place in the Olympic women’s 800-m final at Rio were probably males based on this definition of male and female. Strangely, the book has very little to say about intersex people and transgendered females in women’s sport, although they are poised to basically destroy women’s sport at the elite level. One would make a mistake in ignoring the footnotes, which often include nuggets the writers seem afraid to put in the text proper. We are told (p.395) that: “Despite the relatively minor cultural differences between different countries and sects, we all share a single human culture, grounded in a universal human nature.” Is this really the case? If you went from North Dakota to North Korea, wouldn’t you be more struck by the differences than the similarities? Again, we are told: “It [Theory] could also leave us at the mercy of nationalists and right-wing populists, who pose an even greater threat to liberalism.” Got that? The radical feminist who believes Newton’s Principia Mathematica is a rape manual or the gender theorist who wants to normalize pedophilia aren’t really such a threat to liberalism as Donald Trump or Viktor Orbán! God save us from liberalism, if that is the case. At the time of writing this review it appears that President Trump, who sensibly promised to remove Critical Race Theory from federal government training programs, will be denied a second term by Joe Biden, who wants to let small children decide their gender. If this happens, it will be a huge victory for applied post-modernism; it will be a big step in the wrong direction for America and the world.