Dave Chappelle seems to be almost single-handedly saving comedy from the woke scolds these days. He received the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday, and we can’t think of a more deserving honouree.
While addressing the crowd, Chappelle referred to comedians who may be racist: “I don’t get mad at ’em, don’t hate on ’em. Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the First one doesn’t work out.”
Do social justice warriors have an ounce of humour left? The list of things we are allowed to talk or joke about seems to shrink every day. The latest in a long line of offence-riddled rants by activists in the outrage industry was cooked up by Shailja Patel, a real-life Titania McGrath (yes, she’s even won a slam poetry competition), who posted a tweet which started off a twitterstorm two days ago:
“Today in white male solipsism. From the school of ‘women comedians are terrible’ and ‘non-white literatures are terrible’ and ‘hip-hop is terrible’ and ‘anything that doesn’t cater to me and reinforce my conviction that I am the center of the universe is terrible.’ We who?”
The tweet was a response to Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom), who again had responded to another tweet by Jon Becker:
What followed was Patel’s indignation at how someone dared say they found Indian food terrible.
“(Nichols) trips over himself with eagerness to spew racist bullshit in the name of “I’m going to say something controversial tee hee.” Then chortles at the clapback: “People are tOuChY.” Why, yes, centuries of colonial slaughter, plunder, and mass starvation tend to have that effect.” She proceeded to talk about the 1943 Bengal famine, stating Winston Churchill had said Indians bred like rabbits. She said: “I guess @RadioFreeTom has never worked in a restaurant where he had to serve racist yobs all night, and be thankful for if they just insulted him, instead of killing him.”
Other presumed historical wrongs were also mentioned: anecdotes about children, presumably of Indian descent, living in the West, throwing away their mothers’ curries for fear they would be ridiculed by their peers, or Indian students in the West walking for miles in harsh winter weather to find vegetarian food, dressed in unsuitable clothes. The list goes on. Nichols was then accused of othering, bullying, and “punching down in the crudest and ugliest way.”
Really? Daring to state your opinion on a nation’s cuisine is “fuelling harassment” of “every South Asian call center worker, service industry or retail worker, cultural worker, student, (and) child on the playground”? As we’ve become accustomed to, in this brave new world of everything being racist, the tiniest micro-aggression can inflict the greatest of offence. Instead of tackling real issues of actual discrimination—of which there are many, even in India—Social Justice Warriors prefer to brew storms in teacups. Saira Rao weighed in too. A Democrat politician, long-time race-baiter, (or, as she calls herself, “racial justice activist,”) and co-founder of “Race 2 Dinner” (where white women “willing to set aside their white woman tears” are invited to dine with women of colour in order to be confronted with their racism), tweeted:
“Having white people trash Indian food is extremely triggering as an Indian who has been told that I smell weird, that my food smells weird and that Indians shit on the street which is why everything we are smells bad. My whole life.”
Her tweet has 72,000 likes at the time of writing, but to say that the Twittersphere was awash with only support for the aggrieved ladies I would be lying. The real Titania McGrath poked fun at the whole debacle:
“Any white man who doesn’t like Indian food is a genocidal racist. Any white man who likes Indian food is guilty of cultural appropriation and is no better than Hitler. Take your pick.”
And with that, she (or Andrew Doyle, the comedian behind Titania) nailed it. This is really what we’re being told now. This is Critical Race Theory in action. White supremacy means we’re all complicit in a system of structural racism, and there’s no way out, according to the believers. Even your food preferences are signs of white supremacy. Nuance and humour are dead, and you have to pick sides.
Speaking of Hitler, Rao is outspoken on her hate of Israel. She’s called all Jewish Israelis “combatants,” accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and called UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “notorious racist.” This is the height of far-left, woke activism: denouncing everything white people do and say, while also hating Jews, and claiming all people of colour are helpless victims and need protection from insensitive remarks about their cuisine. Her world view is so black-and-white that anyone who veers from her script is outright evil. Five-year-olds are frankly better at arguing their case than she is.
Of course, saying you don’t like someone’s food is not especially polite. It’s what we teach our children not to do. Hardly anyone would insult someone’s food at a dinner party, but as adults we’re still allowed our preferences. If you tell me you think Norwegian food is bland on Twitter, I couldn’t care less, although I am Norwegian. You’re probably partially right. Jamie Oliver, the British chef, is famous in Norway for mocking our goat’s cheese—a sweet, fudge-like brown cheese made from whey—when he visited the country back in 2008.
I think most Norwegians forgave him without throwing a tantrum saying he was the product of his ancestors’ colonialist past or something in that vein, but then this was before identity politics took hold and we all got along, more or less. It was simply brushed off as a bit impolite. And so it should be. Someone’s opinion of a type of food shouldn’t be noteworthy. Tom Nichols’ opinion on curries should not outrage anyone. He’s a professor of national security affairs and author with 287,000 followers on Twitter, not because he dislikes Indian food, but because of his academic merits.
In Britain, we love Indian food, but someone not liking it doesn’t need to be clamped down on from so-called anti-racist activists . Chicken Tikka Masala, once hailed the UK’s favourite dish, was recently beaten into the number two spot by another curry, the creamier Chicken Korma. I doubt Indians, in the UK or in other places, care whether a man on the internet thinks Indian food is terrible. I might cook a curry tonight.
While our culture obsesses over manufactured identity-based crisis after crisis, I say there’s a real crisis of value—we need to see it and understand it.
It’s a kind of crisis not seen by others but felt only to deeply by the person trying to figure it out. We’re told our value comes from an imaginary ranking system that consists of how we identify, in the amount of followers we have or how well we fit into a protected group. These lies have distorted our sense of value not only in how we see ourselves but our ability to see others as well.
The beast that runs society, social justice, has distorted the value of humanity. And so, a restoration of equality and individualism, an acknowledgement that my value is equal to yours because we’re both human.
Every person on this planet possesses unconditional value. It’s that simple. We can discover our own value through faith. Jesus was the greatest equalizer. Who else spent time with lepers, the outcast and the rulers of the day, yet placed them all on the same scale of equality? Imagine the state of our world if everyone did that!
Unconditional value is instilled into each individual the moment they are conceived; that’s a pretty big deal when you think about it. In the eyes of God, every person is equal, no matter how “bad” or “good” society perceives them of being. Religious or not, there’s a lesson to be learned here.
The removal of Judeo-Christian values from our society has produced a state of confusion. It’s interesting to watch people place others on a value scale. Usually, their conclusions are determined on someone’s social media, degree of victimhood, or professional status. But what we’ve created is an ecosystem to figure out where we lie on the scale that we created. Why? Because we want to figure out a way to feel just as valuable as those that we place value in.
Society has rendered humanity less significant than at any point in western history. Today’s religion is all about debasement. Humans being described as a plague, is not only disturbing but devastating. The root of these types of views stems from a denial that men and women were created in God’s image.
Still don’t believe me? Well, here’s some more food for thought, how does one explain the highest rates of suicide, depression, self-harm and anxiety ever recorded? These issues have plagued my generation.
By focusing on identity groups, we undervalue a person’s worth. Fighting for “justice” and “equality” when we still do not see each other the right way will only lead to a vicious cycle of cancel culture and shaming. Whenever you distort the original form of a foundational element, you destroy the beauty of everything that is built upon it.
So where do we start? How do we develop a culture that isn’t so fixated on identity? We start in our own lives, we start to value those closest to us—genuinely. Through this lens, we no longer root causes in an issue’s superficialities but from a source of truth. That truth is an understanding that God instilled in us the same worth as he placed within kings and beggars. When we see our value as genuine regardless of position or the things we hold as status symbols, we start to see, act and treat others differently.
Your value isn’t found in another’s words or the level at which you perform but rooted in the God that made you. He made you for purpose, for a reason and he decided that you, of all people, would bare a uniqueness this planet has never seen before. True identity isn’t achieved through the demeaning of others or being part of a special group that strokes your ego, but the understanding that we all bleed the same and each one of us were given the same amount of value as the other, no more, no less.
Our culture is currently backwards. We don’t need to “find our identity” first, we need to understand our value first, take personal responsibility, and then do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
A rather pyrotechnic display happened on Twitter earlier this year when writer and author DC McAllister got into a heated exchange with journalist Yashar Ali about homosexuality.
As a result of her textual altercation with Ali, McAllister was let go from two of the outlets she was writing for regularly, both The Federalist (where I am a Senior Contributor), and The Daily Wire, helmed by Ben Shapiro.
Though it’s been 8 months since she was released from The Daily Wire, she posted the text exchange she had with Shapiro, during which she was let go.
The backlash to her online confrontation with Ali was swift and fierce, and both outlets were uneasy with what amounted to more than an anti-gay opinion, but a straight-up insult.
It’s hard to gauge the reason why McAllister would post her firing. If she thought it made her look more sympathetic, it doesn’t. Instead, it has the feel of a petulant kindergartener yelling “but teacher, he hit me first.” And everyone saw that. Shapiro was professional and was within his rights to let her go. McAllister exposed what should have remained a private exchange in hopes to make herself look better, but the fallout of her callout is total failure.
While support poured out for Ali, and now Shapiro, McAllister was roundly and publicly bashed. It was hard to watch her career combustion in real time. The first round was back in March 2019, and since then, McAllister has been rebuilding. McAllister has been an outspoken advocate for men and traditional masculinity, and that’s where she stakes her brand.
She has a book coming out early next year, called What Men Want to Say to Women (But Can’t), though since her near career-killing tweet, she has doubled down on the anti-gay rhetoric. She backs up her position with Christianity, forgetting about the “do unto others” and “love thy neighbour” part.
The internet can be a brutal place. One misstep is enough to get pretty much everyone in the social media verse to turn on you. It can for sure keep things interesting to see public freakouts online, when there are so many people trying to carefully curate their feeds. But perhaps honesty online can go too far.
If the homophobic tweet cost McAllister her job, the reveal of Shapiro’s professionalism during their parting of ways cost McAllister her credibility. She was fired because neither The Federalist nor The Daily Wire thought cruel, anti-gay remarks were the right look for a news outlet. McAllister clearly feels that she was unfairly fired just for telling a gay man how intolerable his lifestyle is by her religious standards, but exposing how she was let go did more to elevate Shapiro’s professionalism than let her play the victim.
Is Dr. Jordan Peterson a “gateway drug” to the alt-right? Heterodox Academy has published a research summary that attempts to answer that question. What’s weird is that these kinds of questions keep being asked of a mild-mannered psychology professor and author who has helped thousands upon thousands of young people straighten out their lives.
This study used machine learning tools in a similar way that Becca Lewis did in her infamous and debunked Data and Society report. (Lewis, by the way, was recently caught spreading misinformation about Peterson and his daughter on Twitter.) It also cites as evidence this panic-driven Cornell study that embarrassingly refers to moderate Conservative Canadian MP Michelle Rempel as “alt-lite” (whatever the hell that means).
Much of Peterson’s draw has been from the young, white, male community, and once he realized they were listening, he has reached out to this demographic. This is the same demographic that, in the spirit of righting old wrongs, has been so vilified. However, to say that he reached out to this demographic because of their identity would be a mistake.
Prior to the YouTube video on pronouns that sparked his international fame, Peterson was giving lectures on religion, mythology, and virtue. He was talking about the importance of personal responsibility and the lessons of western culture. The people who wanted to hear how they could change their lives for the better, without waiting for an organization, or government, or society to change it for them, listened. Once Peterson emerged onto the bigger stage, that message was amplified, and even more people were able to hear it.
Are those people hateful? Are these folks who go to YouTube to try and make themselves better, bad? How can this be quantified? The way that these people are organized into groups is pretty much arbitrary, as are the groups they are classified into. Studies like this look first at viewers because it is so hard to quantify what constitutes hate speech.
What this means is that instead of trying to identify the language that is hateful, those who are “hateful” are identified, their language analyzed and tracked across the platform. After users have been assigned to groups based on perceived identity, the language within the channels used by those groups is deconstructed to see where it overlaps.
This is the information that is used to determine whether or not Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a “bad guy” or whether he should “do better.” The conclusion is that he isn’t quite, but he should do better somehow, use different language. The idea is that he should not make himself attractive to those individuals who may otherwise tend toward disenfranchisement. We’ve got to a point where a person’s perceived proclivity is enough to make them untouchable.
But here’s the thing: Jordan Peterson’s entire project is not about identity, not even a little. It’s actually anti-identity. Identity politics is being grafted over him where it does not actually exist. The reason people feel comfortable doing that is because we live in an identity-based age, where it is assumed that everything boils down to identity eventually. It is probable, even likely, that for many people, identity factors are irrelevant to how they live their lives.
The authors claim that they do not want Peterson to “self-censor.” But then they go on to say, “Instead, we would encourage Peterson et al. to consider ways they may be able to make the same points, just as forcefully, while avoiding a particular set of tropes.”
What is “avoiding a particular set of tropes” if not self-censorship? You can use as much window dressing as you want on your authoritarianism but it doesn’t change the fact that you are an authoritarian.
Sometimes a problem requires a simpler explanation. Yes, there are bad actors in the world. And yes, the internet is full of them. The alt-right spreads hate and panic and their vile ideas must be combatted. But the notions of guilt-by-association or guilt-by-proximity that studies like this propagate are dangerous and counterproductive. We used to know this.
Peterson has been able to tap into the hated white cis male category of people, and for that he is vilified. It’s been determined that people who fall into that identity category are a problem, but they deserve compassion, too. How people are identified is not always how they identify, and either way, a person’s identity should never be used against them. We used to know that, too.
Peterson is as clear and concise as possible, and if his ideas reach people who are operating in the world in dangerous, destructive ways, there’s every reason to believe that they will rethink that behaviour. Not all audiences can hear the same message in the same way. If these angry young people can’t hear messages of inclusivity, anti-racism, and personal responsibility from the trending leftist sources, there must be voices, like Peterson’s, speaking in a way that they can hear.
Regardless of their mindset, these young people do not deserve to be lost, tossed aside, or dismissed. Their lives have meaning and Peterson tells them that. The truth of the matter is that Jordan Peterson has been a great force for deradicalization in ways that are not easily explained by elaborate data sets. There are countless examples people whose lives have been improved by his advice that will never be tracked by IP address or pixel.
It seems strange that of all platforms, Heterodox Academy, which purports to promote “open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning,” would run such a narrowly defined piece of research. It appears to be the kind of identity-obsessed scholarship that Heterodox Academy usually fights back against.
We live in an era that depends too heavily on machine learning. Peterson preaches the exact opposite of this: deeply personal, human, and humane learning. He is not easily quantified because his message based in neither identity nor algorithm, but in classical values. Concepts that can’t be instantly categorized as either left or right don’t have a place in the easily digestible, portion-controlled ideological landscape.