By John Klar
On March 8, a University of Vermont (UVM) professor joined the growing chorus of brave souls willing to risk their careers and public scorn to stand for what is right. Professor Aaron Kindsvatter, a self-declared liberal, claims that the university is embracing dubious ideological racial policies. The intolerant backlash against this professor was fast and fierce, but so too have been the expressions of support.
Americans once regarded themselves as sharing agreement on most goals, just differing in desired means. But “social justice ideology” does not broach dissent: it negates traditional liberalism and free speech protections. Thus, “liberal” professors will be silenced as readily as conservative speakers such as those at Middlebury College. “Social justice” ideology behaves much like an institutionalized cult.
Professor Kindsvatter titled his latest video “Racism and the Secular Religion at the University of Vermont” as an allusion to that religiosity, warning that this ideology will seed future hate and division:
[W]hiteness falls under the umbrella, in the derogatory meaning of the word, of critical social justice. And whiteness, the thinking that informs it is so crude, and so lacking in falsifiability, and it speaks so eloquently to our tribal impulses that the same logic that informs what’s currently being called whiteness right now can easily find its way to desperate persons who need a group to hate and who will adopt the suppositions that inform whiteness towards their own ends.
We face not just a future of ever-greater atomization, rage and violence, but a future in which the possibility of a backlash against all rights advances — including the good ones — grows more likely. A future in which racism is responded to with racism, denigration based on gender is responded to with denigration based on gender. At some stage of humiliation there is simply no reason for majority groups not to play games back that have worked so well on themselves. (p. 9)
This stifling social justice ideology now predominates at American universities. Professor Kindsvatter’s alarm should concern all citizens:
I just couldn’t believe that someone would denigrate another person by their race in such a crude way on a progressive campus. I know it happens in society, I just didn’t expect it to happen in my workplace. I was also aware though that it wasn’t OK to speak up about it[.] … I never expected the concept of whiteness to endure because it’s so obviously discriminatory, but not only has this ideology endured in the University, it has flourished[.] … Do you see how clever this ideology is at protecting itself? It makes it impossible to dissent from on pain of being labeled a racist[.]
His most recent video, “Racism and the Secular Religion at the University of Vermont” is harmful to our campus’ community of color. His demands to remove anti-racist work done by administrators on the basis that it “reduces his identity to his race” defends his privilege and denies accountability that campus groups have spent years advocating for.
Predictably, these “students of color” demonstrate precisely the “impossibility of dissent” that this honest professor warned of:
Claims of being “suppressed” for his “moderate views” are unsavory and asinine — the first step towards any kind of progress on campus is through accountability and having honest discussions[.] … Having conversations around anti-racism and acknowledging the role of whiteness in systemic racism has been supported by every department on campus, as it is rooted in our campus’ common ground values. Speaking out against this work is harmful when you cannot hold yourself accountable and begin practicing good allyship. This video is particularly harmful towards the community of color through his calls to organize.
(Translation: “Only after indoctrination may you express an accordant opinion.”)
The students also display the mentality of “anyone who disagrees with our racist classification of people is a racist”:
A UVM faculty member, especially one who teaches courses in counseling, should not hold this ideology employed by white supremesists [sic]. The freedom of free thought is not what is being restricted here, it’s the fact that Aaron Kindsvatter is using his position of power and authority as a platform for spewing these ideologies.
Fortunately, supporters of Professor Kindsvatter have created a rebuttal petition, encouraging more “freedom of free thought.”
“Social justice” ideology employs layers of circuitous pseudo-logic to call its racist identification system anti-racist, to call unfairness equity, to label constitutional guarantees as white supremacy, and to silence dissenting speech as a necessary precondition for “progress.” Opposing such toxic nonsense is the responsibility of not just conservatives, but intelligent Americans of any stripe who affirm the Bill of Rights.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. This commentary originally appeared in American Thinker.