Substack seems to be a refuge or safe space for marginalized liberals--liberals who have found themselves behind the liberal curve, which has taken an ever more Leftward turn. John McWhorter, an African American linguistics professor, finds himself in that position. Having previously been something of a liberal darling--a coddled black academic sought after by white liberal publications--he's been marginalized to Substack. He's still saying pretty much the same things, but now for a somewhat different audience, in the same way that Glenn Greenwald does--becoming a regular on Tucker Carlson's show. More power to them, although I wish they'd have learned a bit more about their liberal ideas from what has happened.
Anyway, he has a piece today sniping, as has become usual for him, at the mainstream CRT people, who have become the Left's mainstream for commenting on all matters racial. He has worthwhile things to say, even if his audience isn't what it used to be:
So, he's gonna recommend books on race to read, rather than the stock CRT oriented books that are all the rage on the Left. Fine, but I won't bother going there--if you're looking for books to read about race, follow the link. Instead, here's his intro, which is blessedly common sensical:
Fish don't know they're wet. And either do a lot of us when it comes to how we think about race.
Here are three pieces of advice for living.
1. What doesn't kill you makes you weaker.
2. Always trust your feelings.
3. Life is a battle between good and bad people.
Do you see these three tenets as wisdom, or as something a person should be taught out of? I need not even ask.
But why, then, does enlightened America embrace the idea that where black people are concerned, living by these three tenets is cognitively healthy?
* * *
Note that McWhorter refers to "enlightened" America without comment. Those are the people who now reject him. The irony here is that he can't get himself to acknowledge that the people most likely to agree with him are conservatives, because to do so would bring too much of the rest of his worldview into question.
The tenets are the heart of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt's brilliant The Coddling of the American Mind from a few years back. They analyze these as counsel given to students, today, in general. However, this extends to black America as a whole.
Of course, the usual suspects will have a hard time recognizing themselves in these tenets when spelled out. However, they are the fish who don't know they're wet. They've never known anything but those tenets, and thus see them as a normal way of being. They don't know that these tenets are "a thing."
What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker – as in melodramatic claims of injury at seeing the N-word written "n*****" on a test, or hearing a Mandarin expression that sounds like the N-word, and calling it trauma. Or the whole idea that a black person living today is the vessel of a "trauma" inflicted on black people over multiple past generations.
Always trust your feelings – as in the watchcry that impact trumps intent, such that if a black person feels something said or done as racist, then it simply is, and no questions can be morally asked, because black people's feelings are in themselves a kind of truth (an outgrowth from the Critical Race Theory we are supposedly so remiss in discussing these days).
Life is a battle between good people and bad people – as in that America is full of "racists," such as white people menacingly united in preserving their "white" interests (á la rhetoric Robin DiAngelo is fond of), such that Ta-Nehisi Coates watched the firefighters killed on 9/11 and found himself numb to the suffering of people whose type otherwise could have been responsible for "shattering" his black body.
And he continues from there, riffing off those three points. What's sad is that the Leftist choir isn't listening. Fashions have changed, and left McWhorter behind.