when a mob at Vermont’s Middlebury College shut down a speech by social scientist Charles Murray a few weeks ago, most of us saw it as a another instance of campus illiberalism. Jonathan Haidt saw something more – a ritual carried out by adherents of what he calls a “new religion,” an auto-da-fé against a heretic for a violation of orthodoxy.1
… These believers are transforming the campus from a citadel of intellectual freedom into a holy space–where white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but to”the community,” victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
The fundamentalists may be few, Mr. Haidt says, but they are”very intimidating” Since they wield the threat of public shame. On some campuses,”they’ve been given the hecklers veto, and are often granted it by an administration who won’t stand up to them either.”
… Today justice means equal outcomes.”There are two ideas now in the academic left that weren’t there 10 years ago,” he says, “One is that everyone is racist because of unconscious bias, and the other is that everything is racist because of systemic racism.” That makes justice impossible to achieve: “When you cross that line into insisting if there’s not equal outcomes then some people and some institutions and subsystems are racist, sexist, then you’re setting yourself up for eternal conflict and injustice.”
Bari Weiss “The Cultural Roots of Campus Rage: The Weekend Interview with Jonathan Haidt,” Wall Street Journal April 1, 2017, p. A9.
HB Editor’s Note.
1.auto-da-fé is Portuguese for “Act of Faith.”