Expert Excerpts: Cancel Culture

                      
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alan Dershowitz — Cancel Culture

Alan Dershowitz Transcript

Rick Banks:
Our first speaker on this segment is Alan Dershowitz. Well, Alan Dershowitz, is a professor from Harvard Law School, he was a faculty member when I was there as a student in the early 1990s. He taught at Harvard from 1964, amazingly until 2013. Although I never took a class with Professor Dershowitz, he was widely known among all the students, both those who were in his class and those who were not.

Rick Banks:
An accomplished scholar, he is in fact better known to the public for his wide range in involvement in high profile criminal cases and his engagement with public issues. Too many cases, literally to list and too many public issues to list as well. That is sufficed to say that as a law professor and as an intellectual, he has fearlessly, one might say, relentlessly engaged the issues of the day. He is the author of dozens of books and he has never been hesitant to call the facts as he sees them, to speak the truth as he sees it, even when it puts him on the opposite side of former allies or former friends, he is a model of intellectual courage, Alan Dershowitz. I turn over to you.

Alan Dershowitz:
Well, thank you so much for that wonderful introduction. I don’t think my mother could have written one as good as that one, I appreciate it. Let’s start with a little bit of history. We’re experiencing the second bout of cancel culture in my lifetime, the first bout has a familiar name of McCarthyism, I remember it well, I was at Brooklyn College in the 1950s when McCarthyism was coming to an end, but still had residues in college where I was. People were accused of being associated with communists or being red or being pink, and the accusation alone was enough to get you on lists, whether it be the lists that kept you off television, the list that kept you out of Hollywood, the lists that kept you from getting jobs and employment, even the Harvard Law Review had a list and two people who made the Harvard Law Review based on their grades were kept off because they had refused to answer questions in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Alan Dershowitz:
And everybody understood back then that McCarthyism posed a danger to free speech, to due process. And the new McCarthyism, which is now called the cancel culture, is in many ways worse, in some ways, not as bad. Let’s start with not as bad. Not as bad, the government isn’t behind it the way the government, at least members of the Senate were behind the cancel culture of McCarthyism. But it’s much worse because of the social networks and because of the media, and because the people behind the cancel culture are young, often college students, many of them who will be our future leaders. Some are now in the editorial roles of The New York Times and The Washington Post and CNN, and they’re applying cancel culture quite broadly to their political enemies. And cancel culture today is a cancer on our society and it’s malignant, it’s growing, it’s getting worse, it endangers freedom of speech on campuses, it endangers due process, if you’re accused, you’re guilty. I wrote another book recently called Guilt by Accusation: The Challenge of Proving Innocence in the Age of #MeToo.

Alan Dershowitz:
And it also endangers meritocracy because part of cancel culture is identity politics, and that is you are judged not by the quality of your character but by your identity, exactly the opposite of what Martin Luther King said in his dream speech, which I was at back in 1963 when I was a young law clerk. And so the dangers are great, and you hear from some on the left that there’s no such thing as cancel culture, it’s a contrivance of the right to try to de-legitimate the hard left. No, it’s real, and in my book, Cancel Culture, I have a list of people who have been canceled. And you can check it out, and everybody knows people on the list. Some of them are appropriately condemned, some are condemned without any form of due process.

Alan Dershowitz:
I will give as a perfect example, my own case, I was canceled by the 92nd Street Y, a venue in which I spoke for 25 years. I was the second most popular speaker after Elie Wiesel, and I was supposed to speak about my book, Defending Israel, to a predominantly pro-Israel Jewish audience, but the 92nd Street Y canceled me, said, I can never speak there again, because they said I was falsely accused of having a sexual encounter with a young woman who was friendly with Jeffrey Epstein. I categorically disproved it through her own emails, where she admits she never met me, her own manuscript, where she listed people, she had sex with and says, not me, her own interview with the FBI, where she names the people, she had sex with, but not me, an interview with a journalist where she was shown pictures of people that identify those, she had sex with, not me, a full investigation by the former head of the FBI concluded that I had never met her or anything like that. And the 92nd Street Y said they believe me when I said I’ve never had sex or any sexual contact with anybody other than my wife during the relevant time period, but it didn’t matter whether I was innocent or guilty because I was accused, and being accused was enough to cancel me.

Alan Dershowitz:
I was not only canceled by the 92nd Street Y, I was canceled by Temple Emanu-El, the largest temple in New York, and by a distinguished high school that had invited me to speak to their Jewish students about how to confront anti-Zionist on campus, and they canceled me saying, they don’t believe it at all, but they didn’t want trouble, they didn’t want controversy. And so the fear of controversy, the fear of trouble, the fear of yourself getting canceled, doubles and multiplies the impact of cancel culture.

Alan Dershowitz:
So I wrote my book, I didn’t write it as a defense of myself. I can defend myself in the court of public opinion, I had access to the media, I can write books, but there are many who can’t. And the cancel culture coupled with the Me-Too movement, has caused suicides, it has caused depression, it has caused many people to be falsely accused, some people have been appropriately accused, but there is no defense, there is no due process, there is no way of fighting back. The quality of what goes on college campuses today has been substantially diminished by the advent of cancel culture. And students are not given access to the diversity of ideas that was common when I taught at Harvard for 50 years, today speakers are not allowed to express certain views.

Alan Dershowitz:
And let me talk about just extreme cases, a case recently of a 15-year-old girl who was kind of emulating some of the rap songs she had listened to and used the N-word in a tweet once, in a way that is used commonly by rap singers. She really didn’t know what she was doing, when it was brought to her attention, she apologized, she joined Black Lives Movement, she became a strong supporter of racial equality. And nonetheless, her acceptance at the University of Tennessee was withdrawn. The school said, “Unless you withdraw it, we will withdraw it for you.” And so her life was ruined, her dream to go to Tennessee, her dream to be a cheerleader was destroyed by cancel culture. She was canceled because classmates of hers, sent that tweet around and told everybody to cancel her and write to the university.

Alan Dershowitz:
Cases like this are now rampant, people are canceled because of mistakes they made when they were 15 years old or mistakes they made once in their career, and distinguished careers are ruined. And it not only affects those people, it affects their audiences. So when you can’t listen to great opera conductors or singers or others, you lose as well without any semblance of real due process. And so I think the danger is that cancel culture will become the American culture, the way McCarthyism was in danger of becoming an American culture. A big difference is that when there was McCarthyism people were fighting back, there were people on the left who were demanding due process, and they were demanding free speech. Today, people are not, for the most part, fighting back against cancel culture for fear that they will become involved in the cancel culture, they will become canceled. And so I’m going to continue to fight against the cancel culture, I will continue to write against it, I will continue to support those elements of the MeToo Movement, which go after people who are provably predatory and provably guilty, but I will fight against the denial in due process, the denial of free speech and the denial of meritocracy, thanks.

Alan Dershowitz QA Transcript

Larry Bernstein:
Thank you, Alan, that was terrific.

Rick Banks:
Thanks for that, there’s a lot there. Let me start off with one question that is at the top of mind, which is Alan, I’m trying to understand how do we explain the emergence of cancel culture? It’s easy to look back and understand the emergence of McCarthyism, right?… We might be opposed to McCarthyism, but we can understand where it came from, why it came about in the midst of the communist threat. But how do we explain where cancel culture came from now? How is it that we find ourselves in this?

Alan Dershowitz:
It’s a great question. I think it comes from the deep divisions that we have in our country. Today, there’s no nuance, there’s no middle ground, there’s no center approach. Today, you pick sides, Red Sox or Yankees. You can’t be in between, you can’t say, “I like the Red Sox, sometimes they do some good. The Yankees, Hey, they’ve had some great hitters.” You’re either a Red Sox fan or a Yankee fan. Today, the choice between the hard left and hard right is driving people to basically choose sides, and when you choose sides you know the truth, capital T. And if you know the truth, why do you need dissenting opinions? And there’s now, for the first time in my lifetime, an actual academic discipline that is developing for arguing against the first amendment, arguing against freedom of speech, saying free speech is a patriarchal colonialist capitalist imposition by the right on the left. And we know the truth, why do we need dissenting views? We know that when a woman accuses a man, she’s telling the truth and he’s lying. Why do we need trials? Why do we need due process? So it’s a manifestation at the growing intolerance of nuance, the growing intolerance of opposing points of view, and of course the growing influence of social media.

Rick Banks:
How disappointed should we be in the university leadership or institutions more generally, and how they support the cancel culture?

Alan Dershowitz:
Never disappointed by university leaderships because I never expected anything of them, so I can’t be disappointed. The university leadership is exactly as behaving as I expected they would, in a cowardly fashion, the way they reacted mostly to McCarthyism, they’re interested in keeping things together. Take for example, what happened at Harvard. A very distinguished professor named Ron Sullivan, friend of mine, taught at the law school, teaches at the law school. The first African-American, along with his wife, used to be called master, now Dean of Winthrop House, one of the great colleges, and old colleges, Harvard, very distinguished, dean, but he dared to represent for only a month. Harvey Weinstein, as a result of that, some radical women in his house said that they didn’t feel safe with him present. First of all, it was a lie. They were just lying. Of course, they felt safe.

Alan Dershowitz:
He had previously, a year earlier, represented a New England Patriot player who had in cold blood, murdered two people, a gangland style killings. Nobody felt unsafe when he represented them. But when he represented Harvey Weinstein, they claimed to feel unsafe, they were lying, and I use my language carefully. I don’t treat students as young kids, I treat them as adults. And when 19 to 20 year old says, “I am afraid, I don’t feel safe.” I look at them in the eye and I say, “You’re not telling the truth, you do feel safe. But you learned that the words, I don’t feel safe, have now become a mechanism for imposing your will and censoring.” And what happened? There was a petition to remove him, not to rehire him as dean. And what did the administration do? It caved, and it didn’t rehire him as dean. Now people like Noah Feldman, my colleague at Harvard said, “Hey, Alan, what are you saying? He wasn’t fired, he just wasn’t rehired.” And I wrote back to Noah and said, what if they had discovered he was gay or Muslim, or in the 1930s discovered he was a Jew, and didn’t rehire him? Would you make a distinction between not rehiring, of course not.

Alan Dershowitz:
So administrators, faculty, cowards all have refused to stand up to the crowd, the bullying crowd of 19 and 20 year olds, egged on by bullying professors, many of whom have been very radical over the years and use the classroom as a podium for not teaching students how to think, but propagandizing them about what to think. And so it’s a deeper problem at universities, but I never could be disappointed by university administrators because for 65 years in the college and university business, I’ve never expected anything much from university administrators. Occasionally when you get a university administrator who has courage, like Larry Summers, he too gets fired and canceled.

Rick Banks:
Right. But even if we don’t expect the university administrators to take a stand, why don’t the faculty, if for no reason other than self-interest and the recognition that they might be next, why don’t they take a we should stand for as a university? Why don’t they do that?

Alan Dershowitz:
You put your finger on it. Again, 65 years of being in the adult world, I’d never met a less courageous group of people than tenured faculty. Tenure just doesn’t work. Faculty members want to be loved by their students, they want to get high teaching ratings from their students, and you know how you get high ratings from your students, the way Elizabeth Warren got high ratings from her students, never ever say anything controversial, telling the students exactly what they want to hear, confirming their preexisting views, teaching the same every year, telling you the same jokes every year, never getting involved in controversy, and you get the highest ratings. I used to get the highest ratings at Harvard Law School until I started taking controversial positions, and mostly out of class not in the class, in the classroom I was always the devil’s advocate, but when my pro-Israel advocacy outside of class became well known, groups of students started giving me zero evaluations. I mean zero knowledge of the subject, zero ability to articulate my views, zero in availability outside of the classroom.

Alan Dershowitz:
The dean called me in one day and said, “This is ridiculous, there’s no professor at Harvard that’s more available to students. You take every student that you have to lunch, you invite them over to your house for dinner, your door is always open, and you get zero for availability out of class?.” And I said, “Don’t you understand? They have a group that has said, ‘Give Dershowitz all zeros, and that will knock his student evaluations from perfect five down to 3.8 because he’ll have 10 or 15 zeros.'” And so students use teacher evaluations as weapons against the faculty and the faculty, who for the most part lack any courage or any willingness to stand up to students, simply go along at the faculty dining room they talk about it and they rail against it, but when it comes to making public statements, forget about it. You cannot count on tenured faculty members to show courage.

Rick Banks:
Let me just insert there though, as a faculty member who has tenure, we know that teacher ratings or student ratings don’t really affect one’s life. If you have tenure, the ratings don’t really affect your life in any material way, so it doesn’t… That’s not feeling like the real answer.

Alan Dershowitz:
I fundamentally disagree. If you have tenure at Harvard, it may not affect your life. But if you have tenure at Minnesota and want to go to Harvard, it affects your life-

Rick Banks:
Right, but we’re talking about-

Alan Dershowitz:
How did Elizabeth Warren get her job at Harvard? She had not published any significant scholarship, she got her job at Harvard because she was the most highly ranked teacher. So teacher evaluations do matter, teacher awards do matter, teacher awards matter in terms of getting into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and other evaluations. And it’s not only teacher evaluations, it’s your general approval. As a teacher, I’ve gotten many teachers who’ve told me, law school teachers, that they haven’t been overtly punished, but they just subtly were told, “You no longer teaching first year students, because you’re too controversial and the students feel unsafe when you talk about certain subjects.”

Alan Dershowitz:
Let me give you an example. Professor, friend of mine, taught criminal law for years, he spent the whole summer a few years ago finding any casebook, criminal law casebook that never mentioned the word rape, because he didn’t want to teach it because he knew that as a white male, there’s no way he was going to be able to teach rape without getting completely attacked for expressing any views that were in any way out of the political mainstream, and he didn’t want to skip it. So he looked for a book that didn’t include it and he found it, and he was so thrilled and he taught the whole criminal law class without mentioning the word rape and he got very good student evaluations and he continued to teach first year students. But that’s what happened today, you cannot take positions in the classroom, even as devil’s advocate that expose you to this kind of cancellation.

Rick Banks:
Wow. So I’m almost hesitant to ask, is there anything we can do to move beyond this morass that we’re in?

Alan Dershowitz:
Yeah, keep having programs like this and keep involving teachers to say what they think. Many teachers agree with me, they call me, they email me, always marked confidential, and often they’ll call me with a whisper. I’ve had the same experience even before cancel culture, when I would speak on college campuses about Israel. I remember going to Ohio State and speaking to a thousand students about Israel, making the moderate centrist two-state solution, pro-Palestine, pro-Israel speech, and a professor called me the next day, whispering on the phone saying, “Thank you so much for expressing those views, I agree with them.” I said, “Why don’t you express them?” “Well, I just can’t, it would just hurt my career if I do.”

Alan Dershowitz:
I was invited every year to speak in Columbia on Israel because they couldn’t get a single faculty member of the entire university to make the pro-Israel case. The moderate two-state solution pro-Israel case, so they had to import every year, a professor from Harvard, who’s prepared to make the case. Always with protests, efforts to cancel me, efforts to shout me down, prevent me from speaking. And that has become even more common today of course. I will never again be invited to speak at a college campus because of the false accusation against me, and if I do, there’ll be students protesting rape culture, rape this, rape that, Israel, Trump, he takes any… I mean, I have the tri-factor, I support Israel, I’ve been falsely accused of sexual misconduct and I defended Trump in front of the United States Senate, so you want to hear the perfect candidate who will never be invited to give another graduation speech? Never be invited to get another honorary degree? I got 15 of them before cancel culture began, but I’ll never get another one. I don’t care about that, what I care about is the young assistant professor who was trying to get tenure, how she or he will react to this.

Larry Bernstein:
Alan, outside of the campus environment, how is it affecting corporate America? How is it affecting governments positions, government speech? Is cancel culture-

Alan Dershowitz:
Yeah, let me start with corporate media, The New York Times, Bari Weiss had to quit The New York Times because she was so affected by the cancel culture of their newsroom and editorial room. The editors, the op-ed editors were fired and demoted for running a piece, Hachette Press, everybody threatened to quit if they dared to publish Woody Allen’s memoir, fortunately I helped to get my own publisher to publish Woody Allen’s memoir, and I was against him. Woody Allen in his lawsuit with Mia Farrow, I represented Mia, but the idea of not having his book published because he was accused 25, 30 years ago of something that he categorically denied and that the local law enforcement authority said is untrue, but he’s been canceled and he can’t speak on a college campus, and he can’t get a mainstream publisher to publish his book.

Alan Dershowitz:
So it goes outside and it’s going to be much worse because the corporate America will be influenced by the students who are now conducting the cancel culture on college campuses. And it used to be the case that, well, the students will grow up, many students are radical when they’re in college, when they get out into the real world they’ll see radicalism doesn’t pay off. That’s not the case anymore because many of the corporate boardrooms are now dominated by people who support this. Look, for example, at the impact of Black Lives Matter, today you cannot be critical of Black Lives Matter. I am critical of Black Lives Matter, I support the concept of black lives matter, but the Black Lives Matter statement of positions calls Israel a genocidal, apartheid state akin to apartheid, South Africa.

Alan Dershowitz:
And so I’ve been very critical of the Black Lives Matter platform. And today, if you are critical of anything in Black Lives Matter, you get a canceled. Every corporation supports holy without question Black Lives Matter as an organization, and so there’s no room for dissent. Black Lives Matters does good, so does the Me Too movement. But every movement were to be criticized, even Eric Hoffer once said, “Every cause begins as a movement, then it becomes a business and ultimately a racket.” And we’re seeing the Me Too movement and Black Lives Matter turn from a cause to a business, and at least in the hands of some people into an extortion and racket.

Larry Bernstein:

Do you think this, too, will fade? And you started the whole story with the Me Too movement, and then we got to Black Lives Matter and cancel culture. The Me Too movement seems to have really slowed down in the context of these new movements. Maybe it’s my own supposition, not yours, that why do you think the Me Too movement has slowed down? Did it go too far, and when it showed its weaknesses, there was a pushback?

And do you think that same process will hold itself for cancel culture, it’ll go too far, people will think what they’ve done is maybe ridiculous or off-base, and then it will naturally come to its normal conclusion? Just as the McCarthy period when that witness said, “Have you no shame?” Is that where we’re headed? And if so, what kind of timing do you see? Is this a five-year problem, a 10-year problem, a 24-month problem and we’ll move onto the next issue?

Alan Dershowitz:
I wish I could accept your underlying assumption. I don’t think the Me Too movement is slowing down. I think what they did is they exposed a lot of people, and a lot of people very legitimately right in the beginning. In some ways, they ran out of obvious famous suspects fairly early. But it’s still fully operational. Anybody who’s accused of anything, on a campus, in a job, anywhere who’s Me Too’d… I mean, look at Jeffrey Toobin. What he did was stupid and foolish and ridiculous, but he didn’t hurt anybody. And the idea that they’re ganging up on him, I’m no great admirer or supporter of Jeffrey Toobin, he wasn’t my student. But the idea that he should be fired from the New Yorker or CNN because of what he did clearly shows the strength of the Me Too movement.

Alan Dershowitz:
And whenever they try to say what he did and put it in context, you get the Me Too-ers out there attacking him and wanting to cancel him forever and ever. It’s just overreaching. I don’t see it. I don’t see the trend moving away the way it did with McCarthyism. It moved ahead because the Cold War dissipated, because McCarthy turned out to be a fool and a cheat, and of course famously the lawyer from Boston who said, “Have you no shame,” put a lot of shame on him. And the president of the United States and some presidents in universities stood up to him. I don’t see that happening today with the either Me Too, cancel culture, or Black Lives Matter.

Rick Banks:
But Alan, haven’t we seen on campuses though, haven’t we seen a revival of ideas now of due process, and this idea that you really are innocent until proven guilty? Or is that, am I just reading-

Alan Dershowitz:
No, we see that. No, that’s seen as a Republican ploy done by the Secretary of Education, DeVos. And now she’s attached viciously, and the Trump administration is attacked. Look, I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. But nonetheless, the changes on campus are seen very clearly as Trump’s attempt, and his Secretary of Education’s attempt, to undo what the Obama administration… Remember that it was the Obama administration that introduced the abomination of telling universities that they would lose federal funding if they required proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or proof by clear and convincing evidence, instead of proof by a preponderance that a sexual allegation was true. Or if they allowed cross-examination of the accuser.

Alan Dershowitz:
All of those were done by the Obama administration, they were undone by the Trump administration. But I don’t know what the Biden administration will do. I hope that they will, as in many areas, come down in the middle and have a more moderate and centrist position on all these issues. But I’m not convinced of that. I think that particularly if the Democrats get control of the Senate by a 50/50 vote, the Democrats will be held hostage by the Bernie Sanders and some of the extremists, and maybe will have veto power over what Joe Biden would like to do. Joe Biden himself I think is a very reasonable man who would like to move the country back to the center, and away from the extremism of some of the both Obama views and Trump views on either side. But I don’t know that that’s going to happen, we’ll wait and see.

            
 
 
 
 
 
 

Paul Rossi — Teaching Race Theory in K-12

Paul Rossi Transcript

Larry Bernstein:
Let’s go on to our final speaker. Paul Rossi. Paul is a former math teacher at the Grace Church School in New York City. He will speak now about teaching race to children.

Paul Rossi:
Since I published the article Very White on Substack, I got really interested in what this anti-racist pedagogy was doing at earlier and earlier grades. So I did an analysis of the types of anti-racist education in elementary schools. And I wanted to focus on one particular aspect of that, which was the identity formation or what’s called identity work. And this is going on at thousands of schools across the country I think now, and it’s really exploded since the murder of George Floyd. I’m sure for many of the parents in the audience today, this will be familiar to you. And this identity work is based on a theory called intersectionality. So intersectionality concerns the multifaceted ways that individuals are perceived by society and the impact of those perceptions on success outcomes.

So for example, Pollyanna, Inc. Is a popular educational consultancy. It’s used by many independent schools in New York and across the country and it has a proprietary racial literacy curriculum and this racial identity work starts in kindergarten. So there’s eight lessons for each grade and kindergarten level students are taught to see color as defining for characters in children’s stories. So they have stories that are like Brown Bear Brown Bear, what do you see? Red as a dragon? Green is a chili pepper. And in this way, children are introduced and taught to name and their own skin color and identify surface level similarities and differences. And by the end of kindergarten, teachers who feel confident to do so are urged to explicitly tie this color awareness to racial identity. This is framed as an advanced activity, something that teachers supposed to aspire to, but not push for too early. But ultimately, they’re going to do that when the students are ready for it.

In later grades, these identity wheel exercises develop a further understanding of these socialized identity. The way this works is the child places his name and personality traits in the center and then once that core has been established, the main focus really takes place. Which is, labeling wedges or spheres in this outer ring, which focus on the group characteristics like race, class, gender, disability, status, etc., and the participants will share and discuss the content in these orbiting circles.

The geometry of these wheels and the far greater time spent on their periphery, reinforce this priority that the externally and social constructed aspects of the self-expressed as group membership are what’s really important.

Back to specifically with Pollyanna and the 6th grade curriculum, they ask students to revise Webster’s definition of identity which is, quote, “The distinguishing character or personality of an individual,” by highlighting these external and group markers of identity. So teachers are told to encourage sociological identity markers and ideas and students to think about their physical and social identities as well as their inner world.

So what’s prioritized, again, as salient is always the group categorization often based on how you’re perceived in society. The way I think about it is that if the self is an Apple, the implications from these activities and that the most important part of who you are is the skin. Students are urged to treat each other’s multifaceted social identities with empathy, kindness, and acceptance, which are all very important, but absent are the many other defining personal and practical virtues, characteristic of healthy growth, such as emotional resilience, conscientiousness, industriousness, consistency, loyalty, fidelity, persistence under adversity, patience, and temperance in the face of opposing views.

Once defined by these group markers, the individual feels pressured to internalize politicized ideas, beliefs, and priorities that are attributed to these groups. So faith in one’s individual attributes as a bridge to success is transferred into faith in solidarity with the perceived group identity and it’s goal. So in this way, the locus of identity moves from the internal and the individual to the external and the collective. As students gain a deeper understanding of how racist policies influenced our history and present day disparities, their now externally based identities are now tied to power and privilege.

So this is the next stage of the game. To illustrate that, I’m going to quote from the website of the DEI consultancy called the Nova Collective, and this is characteristic of this rhetorical move which many of these consultancies do. Quote, “Things we hold that don’t impact the way we receive resources or gain access or privileged society are seen as personal identity and those things that lump us into groups and either give us power and privilege in society or inhibit power and privilege in society, those are seen as social identities.”

So this quote is illustrative because it implies there’s this hierarchy of significance. The social takes priority over the personal, which is defined in the negative. Social identity establishes one’s value in the world, which has inscribed, defined and characterized that individual.

And most remarkably to me, the personal character, the personal identity is reduced to a kind of fanciful pigment, which has no influence or impact on how we gain access to resources in society. Furthermore, now that personal identity has been dispensed with, a moral valence can be ascribed to one’s social identity. And the way this works is that the power of the people with certain social identities enjoy over others, based on solely the perception in the world, is therefore arbitrary. It’s unrelated to personal agency, competency and choice, and therefore it’s unfair and demanding of redress.

So, what does “content of our character” as a phrase even mean when that’s defined as irrelevant or defined out of existence? At this point, you’ve now taken that external locus of identity and it’s become an external locus of control. Research suggests that people with an internal locus of control are more adept at navigating intellectual and moral challenges. Whereas, external tend to feel they have less control over their fate, they’re more stressed, they’re more prone to clinical depression. And, external locus of control also correlates with something called “identity foreclosure”, a concept developed by James Marcia. “It’s a stage of identity in which an individual fetishists a fixed identity but hasn’t explored other options or ideas.”

This is most common in young adolescents. And at this stage the individual has just adopted simplistic traits and qualities and people with foreclosed identities correlate highly with measures of authoritarianism and ideological rigidity. So my thinking is that, having witnessed this at the school I taught at, is that this anti-racist identity work by setting an external locus for identity exacerbates these outcomes.

We live in a world where narcissism, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are all on the rise among adolescents. I suspect there’s also a connection between this kind of identity work, which is now common in schools. And the existential eraser that many young people and even people in college feel when their peers fail to, say, use their preferred pronouns, or when they don’t see a representation of “people who look like them” in art, culture and institutional settings. So by transferring your identity to this external group identity, then you’re dependent on society to perceive you a certain way. And if that becomes arbitrary or ambivalent, that is, I think, of terrible existential threat for children who’ve been raised by this type of pedagogy.

Which, in some ways it has a lot to do with race, but in some ways it’s independent, particularly in race. But I’m really hopeful that future researchers will shed more light on this question. My personal feeling and the real essence of my objection to anti-racist pedagogy, the way it’s practiced today, is that race is a falsehood. We know that race is a falsehood. We know that we live in a racist society where racism exists and it’s carried through in monstrous ways, historically. But when you focus on creating and recreating, reifying identities around this false construct, you create a kind of learned helplessness around it.

I really think that there is not a lot of evidence. I have looked for it and I haven’t seen the kind of evidence for the effectiveness of this so-called “anti-racism”. I don’t understand how you can have an anti-racism that is “pro race”. I understand the rationale for it, but I don’t think it’s effective. And my experience with it is that it promotes resentment, futility, and depression.

I suggest we return to a kind of anti-racism that is truly anti-race, that it asserts that race is a fiction, but emphasizes racial de-identification, stressing instead the power of personal virtues and agency in overcoming a disparate outcome.


Paul Rossi QA Transcript

Larry Bernstein:
Could you give some more examples of what this curriculum entails and how it differs as you get older from K-6 and maybe how it’s distinguished in junior high and how it proceeds into high school?

Paul Rossi:
The main thing I think that I saw in ninth grade was that they really reinforce racial identification. So, without racial identification, whether white, black, Latino, Asian, whatever, they can’t lard on top of it all of the responsibilities and all of the important ways of seeing that they use to frame history, literature and all of the activism that flows from that.

So, that takes many forms. It could be in a history class, they explicitly are going to divide up the history in terms of the marginalization of certain groups and the privilege of whites, for example. And through that critical lens, it’s called “the critical lens”, everything can be interpreted. So, you could read Shakespeare that way. You could learn about any particular event in history based on the power dynamics and the groups that are involved in those power dynamics. It’s not limited to a certain set of courses. It really does bleed into so many different subjects. And it is currently, at Grace, it’s the cornerstone, it is one of the foundations of our mission statement of values.

Larry Bernstein:
How much time is spent on this stuff? Are there assemblies on it? Is there weeks set aside for these types of discussion? Is it very minor or has it become central to the core mission?

Paul Rossi:
It’s become central to the core mission, we have all of the above. It’s ingrained in all of the humanities courses. There is a separate curriculum, community and diversity curriculum, for 9th and 10th grade that’s focused on it. There are over 18 affinity groups, groups that are collective by racial, gender, sexual orientation markers, that are optional. And, workshops and yes, we have weeks devoted… This year we had weeks where the normal curriculum is suspended and these types of issues are focused on, there are workshops. There’s a panoply of workshops that sound like you’re reading a college catalog on inequity, racial inequity, gender inequity, and so on.

Larry Bernstein:
Can a child opt out?

Paul Rossi:
No. It’s mandatory that you attend these sessions. I think I mentioned in the article that I wrote, every child must sign a Student Life Agreement, acknowledging their biases, acknowledging their commitment to identify them and agreeing to be held accountable when they don’t. No, you can’t opt out. They’re all required credits for graduation, in particular, community and diversity programming as well as during these workshops everyone’s expected to sign up for them. And the Dean will track down anyone who doesn’t.

Larry Bernstein:
And if you disagree, what happens?

Paul Rossi:
Well, what happens… I teach math, so I’m not as plugged into these courses as a student would be, but I can speak from my own experience. When I questioned some of the foundations for these beliefs, particularly racial identification, and I didn’t apologize for the harm that was attributed to that, I was relieved of my teaching duties. So there were definitely consequences for me. I’ve also heard from other students that there’s a very strong chilling effect for questioning intersectionality as a framework for understanding not only race relations in society generally, but also just your identity per se. So if you are white identified, for example, you are expected to move to a place where you identify yourself as such. And if you do not, that will be problematic.

Larry Bernstein:
What happens to the child who questions intersectionality?

Paul Rossi:
I don’t know. I mean, I actually have never… I hope that a child will. I’ve never seen the outcome of a direct challenge to the belief structure. I mean, it was difficult for me to do so, I can’t imagine what that would be like for a child to do so. Although I know that a lot of the kids falsify their preferences in that regard, I know that a lot of them don’t agree with the framework. I know a lot of parents don’t agree with the framework. People, many, dozens of them have talked to me about it. Parents have talked to me about it. But to do so publicly, the consequences are quite severe socially, I think, as well as what might happen to you.

I mentioned this in my article as well, if a student tends to behaviors of resistance to the ideology in say 9th grade, then there was an email chain where that particular type of resistance would be flagged and that student would have a conversation. They would be pulled aside and there would be a conversation about it. Now, I don’t know what those conversations look like. I know that they happened. I wasn’t a part of them, but I was on the email chain where that was discussed and that was widely celebrated as a positive thing to do.

And what this resistance might entail, it would be simply being silent or saying, “Why can’t we all get along?” Or, persisting in what’s called a “colorblind” view of the world where you don’t see color. Actually, in this framing of anti-racism, not seeing color is evidence of racism.

I think there’s actually a video that went viral recently of a student in another school who… A class, was being shown a picture of two girls and the girls were black. And the teacher was insisting that what was most important about that picture was that they were black. And when he showed it to a student and the student challenged him and said, “I just see two girls hanging out, just chilling,” the teacher pushed and pressed and prodded and eventually kind of lost his temper that student didn’t acknowledge the most important thing about that picture is that the girls were black.

So that kind of forced “color sight”, I call it “color sight”. I mean, what does color sight tell you about a person? What kinds of assumptions are being stressed that you should make about somebody because of what you see in their color? Those are the kinds of things that are being pushed. I think it’s totally counterproductive and disheartening and I really think that we need a different way of addressing racism. Which does occur, and does occur in society as well as in the schools. There are incidents that happen, and they need to be addressed. But doing it in this way, I think just adds so many more debilitating aspects psychologically and developmentally.

Larry Bernstein:
Another aspect of this besides race, relates to privilege itself. I understand that the Grace Church School has assemblies where they try to show privilege within its own class. So they’ll say something like, “Alright, here’s the class. Everyone who is not on financial aid, stay standing. Everyone who has two cars, stay standing. Everyone that goes on vacation outside of the US, stay standing. Those of you that have the more than one home, stay standing,” until there’s a very small minority of the students who by definition have the greatest privilege, according to these criteria. Why would we want to single out students who have privilege and then denigrate them in front of their colleagues?

Paul Rossi:
I don’t know. It really is disturbing that they do this kind of thing. It’s bad if adults were to do it, it’s 10 times worse if you make adolescents do it, because adolescents are so status conscious and conscious of… Really, it’s clique-ish. Clique-ish behavior is already prevalent in adolescents, I don’t know why you would push that?

I think that the reasons for doing that, and I’m kind of putting my mind in what they would be thinking, putting my thoughts about what they would be thinking is, they want to make the claim that the unspoken implication is that the students who are left standing are white. And so that is making the point that whiteness carries privileges.

Now, in New York City, you may get that result. If you did the same thing in Kentucky, in particular rural areas of West Virginia, you’re going to get a different result. And so, it’s a sophistic sort of exercise. And I think that it’s a foregone conclusion that they know is going to send a certain message. And so I think it’s bad in practice and it’s actually not illustrative of what they think it is.

Vivek Ramaswamy:
And how is this concept of identity and intersectionality and racial curriculum, how has it changed over the last 5 to 10 years? Both in its broadness and its breadth?

Paul Rossi:
It’s gotten broader and deeper into different subjects. In my particular subject, math, after a self-study of our department, we had to adopt an anti-racist plank where we’d work in. I think there are some aspects of say talking about the discoveries of mathematics, mathematics being a global thing, that yes absolutely, great cultures have contributed so much to mathematics and it’s not any particular culture necessarily. So, that kind of thing is fine. But when you start telling me that objectivity is characteristic of white supremacy, well then you’ve lost me. And you’ve actually started to say something which is terribly condescending to people who aren’t white or aren’t seen as white, I would say, and I will fight that until the end of my life.

Racism has exhibited so much concept creep over the last 5 to 10 year that now even things like whiteness and blackness are these floating signifiers that can land on anyone at any particular time, kind of like a ghost. And, they can hijack and be used as a rationale for dismissing evidence, arguments, it’s now become sort of a universal cudgel so that the blackness of a black person is no longer a value of their lived experience. Now if they have the wrong opinion, well, then it’s internalized whiteness.

People would describe it as a religion, I really think there is a lot to that. When the word racism has undergone such concept creep, anti-racism becomes a witch hunt, which is what happens when concepts broaden and take on significance in every context. Then you’re fighting shadows and the shadows are everywhere. And that’s where we are now.

            
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alan Charles Kors — Free Speech on Campus

            
 
 
 
 
 
 

Michael McConnell — Constitutional Protections for Speech on Campus

            
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eric Kaufmann — Censoring Conservatives

Eric Kaufmann Transcript

Larry Bernstein:
I’m going to try to bring Eric Kaufmann into the discussion. Do you want to open with your opening remarks and then join the conversation?

Eric Kaufmann:
I’m going to be speaking about academic freedom and the report that I’ve recently issued with the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, as well as my earlier 2020 policy exchange report, Academic Freedom in the UK. So really want to begin with two key concepts within universities and amongst the professoriate. The first is punishment. And the second is political discrimination. By punishment I refer to administrative penalties from being fired from your job all the way down to being removed from administrative roles, such as department head or given fewer resources for research, for example, or being told to teach courses you don’t want to teach. That’s an administrative punishment.

What we find in my reports is that one in three conservative American academics have experienced either a direct discipline from some layer of the administration or threats of discipline. One in three. So, when people say that academic freedom is a right-wing moral panic, I think it’s important to remind them that in fact, we have a very pervasive problem in the Academy.

The second arm of coercion is political discrimination. In my work on Britain, I find that one in three British academics would not hire a known leave supporter. That is who supported the leave side in the European referendum. I find that over 40% of American and Canadian academics would not hire a known Trump supporter. Now these are political positions that command either close to or over a majority of the population. And so is absolutely astounding that we have this level of discrimination going on in hiring.

We also have discrimination in refereeing papers and especially grant applications that is in a similar range. So, these are the constraints, punishment and discrimination, constraints that particularly political minorities, notably conservatives, but to some degree centrists as well, particularly in North America, are operating under and also gender critical feminists. For example, gender critical feminists, so the most no platformed group in Britain and only fewer than 30% of American and Canadian social science and humanities academics would feel comfortable sitting down to lunch with a gender critical feminist academic.

These two prongs of coercion, punishment and discrimination, produce profound chilling effects. And in fact, no platforming is not the biggest problem, although it is a symptom and it is a problem, it is not the most important threat to academic freedom. The greatest threat is in fact the chill effect produced by punishment and discrimination at the everyday level. For example, three quarters of British and American social science and humanities academics who are conservative report that their departments are hostile rather than supportive environments for their political beliefs. In the US, fewer than 10% of Trump supporting academics report that they would be comfortable revealing their views to colleagues, and 85% of those who did not vote Trump, that is mainly Democrats supporting academics, agree that a Trump supporter would not be comfortable sharing their views.

In Britain, it’s close to 70% of remain voters who say a leave voter would not feel comfortable. And it’s about 80% of leave voters. So, we have a really profound chill that shuts down a lot of conversations. That then leads to self-censorship. Self-censorship, 70% of conservative American academics say they censor themselves in teaching and research and in conversations. That’s an astounding figure, and it is almost 40% among centrists, not just conservatives. We have centrists in North America massively self-censoring.

So what we have here is a system of punishment and discrimination leading to chilling effects and self-censorship. This is the big threat to academic freedom. That then filters into graduate students. Conservative graduate students, 53% say their views would not fit in academia. And this projects them not being interested in an academic career. It’s not about the money. Money and the pay in academia is actually not something that distinguishes left-wing and right-wing graduate students in their desire to go down an academic track. It is in fact the sense that their political beliefs don’t fit that is having a significant deterrent effect on conservatives from entering academia.

So between the deterrent effects, the discrimination and the ambience that is produced in academia, we get the emergence of a monoculture. In my data, I find there are 14:1 on the left vs everyone on the right in the social sciences and humanities in Canada in the US, and it’s 9:1 in Britain. This work has been incidentally replicated. A lot of this work, chilling effects, the work on discrimination, the work on political monoculture has been replicated and in the US case using actually quite complete samples of voter registration data from at the top 60 universities by Mitchell Langbert and his colleagues.

So we have then this a closed system in which punishment and discrimination leads to chilling effects, self-censorship, repels political minorities like conservatives from the academy, producing an ever more homogenous professoriate, which is closed to competing ideas. And this is then becomes a system in which the more monocultural the environment becomes, the higher the degree of discrimination, simply because it’s not because academics are worse than anybody else, it’s that people tend to discriminate politically. And the more slanted, if it’s 10:1 left to right, the discrimination of the right against the left is not going to matter much compared to the left against the right.

And so as this becomes more monocultural, you get worse discrimination. You also get more, a larger pool of activists and you get a more permissive environment, because amongst the moderate left majority, there was a strong cross pressuring between their attachment to academic freedom and their attachment to progressive aims. The combination of this means that the more monocultural, the more punishment, the more discrimination and the cycle begins again. The only way to break the cycle, I argue in previous reports for policy exchanges that we need something like has occurred in Britain with the new white paper on academic freedom, where the government actually proactively enforces the law on academic freedom against universities, including the implementation of fines for violations and actively, not just passively, ensures that academic freedom is promoted, because it’s not enough to wait for people to sue. That punishment, that the process of suing and going through tribunals is in fact a punishment that leads to self-censorship. You need the government to be proactively enforcing the law.

The last point I’m going to make release around what the government can do on viewpoint discrimination. And here I would argue that you need to de-politicize administrative layers of the university. No university should be actively supporting a political view. The academics can do that, but not officials within universities. That, too, is part of British law in terms of schools. That should be applied, I think, into university administrators. And diversity, which is being promoted in terms of race and gender, there should be an obligation to have an equivalent, whatever action you take on traditional forms of diversity has to be matched in my view by action on political diversity to help break this cycle.

Eric Kaufmann QA Transcript

Larry Bernstein:
My first question is, there was a sense in America that there was something particular about Trump and Trump supporters and yet you’re seeing exactly the same thing with regards to leave and remain. So it doesn’t appear to be Trump specific or American specific. Why is this anti-conservative viewpoint taken hold right now? What is it about the timeliness that’s affecting the entire Anglo-Saxon community?

Eric Kaufmann:
Well, I actually don’t think it’s so much about right now. I mean, some of the papers that have looked at political discrimination in the Academy and even more widely in society go back to 2012. Political discrimination is higher amongst educated people. It runs equally in both directions, but it’s just a question of, when you have a skew of ten to one, the political discrimination of left against right really has a massive effect and creates a self-fulfilling feedback loop that makes the Academy more and more homogenous.

I don’t actually think Trump and whatever he’s saying or doing actually made that much difference to the picture. We’ve seen some of the previous papers pre-Trump found discrimination in grant bids and hiring that was kind of in the … approaching 40% range against the right as well. So, it’s not a new thing. And my survey took place certainly before the Capitol riots. I don’t think this is Trump specific. I think it’s much more deeply rooted than that.

Larry Bernstein:
And do you think things are going to change or is this the future? I mean, you talked about the government being able to … fines and violations, but that also assumes that the government will do it or that the academia will listen. Do you think it’s over, that the academia will remain hard left and gather steam?

Eric Kaufmann:
Yeah, I do. I mean, it’s not that they’re bad people, but I just think people are going to go with what’s comfortable and where their biases are. And again, it’s not most academics, but it might be 40% or in some cases higher. One of the points that I really make in the Wall Street Journal piece and in the other pieces is that the time has long since passed for believing that this is a fad, that it’s going to fade away, that somehow the universities will reform themselves. They won’t. Speech codes were instituted in the late 1980s. We’re now on into almost four decades of people writing books complaining about this problem. It’s not going to fix itself. It’s only getting worse.

And in fact, my data suggests the younger generation of academics, under age 35 are twice as intolerant, twice as supportive of moves to sort of dismiss controversial professors, as those over 50. So, we’ve got a growing and not a fading problem. It is absolutely vital that governments proactively uphold academic freedom through measures such as the British government’s, which is going to be really the world leader I think on this, although we see action at state level in the US, in Iowa, and South Dakota, and Arkansas, and many other places.

I think some of these state level bills need to be more focused and principled, focused in academic freedom, and coming from that principle of upholding the law and giving academic freedom primacy over emotional safety and other rationales, which should have lower priority. But this is going to take government. And there are people who think, “Oh, no, the marketplace will solve this problem.” It won’t, not in a sector like the university sector, which has strong network effects and legacy effects.

Casey Mulligan:
I wanted to ask Eric, we’ve seen in academia in the past discrimination against Jews. And that went on for a long period of time. The Ivy Leagues were openly prohibiting tenure from Jewish faculty. And what happened in that case, I think, but you should speak on this, was a competitive process. And so Rockefeller formed a university in my city where we did not have that bias. And we gobbled up the Milton Friedmans and others who the Ivy leagues were not accepting. And the rest was history. And MIT did some of that as well. So can a competitive process help us into the next phase of this?

Eric Kaufmann:
Well, I would, I guess argue slightly back on that, that I think the sort of decline of anti-Jewish prejudice more broadly in American society, across many spheres … the universities were part of that movement of kind of liberalism, I guess, I would see that as the more prominent, more powerful force, I guess, in bringing down that barrier. But I think there could be some role for … let’s say that the universities controlled by the red states all have academic freedom prioritized. And those in the blue states have emotional safety prioritized, over time perhaps the kind of name brand recognition of the Harvards and Yales and the … I mean, maybe over time, those things are going to weaken somewhat and as people realize the cutting edge is in the kind of red state universities. But I kind of think that’s such a difficult process given all the advantages and the endowments and reputational networks and all these other things. I just think it’s very difficult. I would be very skeptical that much would change.

I don’t think we can sacrifice another generation to self-censorship as we have already done. I just think it would be wrong to do that. I think it’s kind of … I think another approach is necessary and it’s not going to be popular within the universities, amongst many staff, but I think it has to be recognized. I mean, when the US federal government went and desegregated the Southern universities, I’m sure that wasn’t … that was against the wishes of those universities. It was violating their autonomy, but it was the right thing to do this. This is sometimes the case. You have to sometimes violate the autonomy of institutions to liberate individuals. You don’t want to do it too much, but sometimes it’s necessary. I think we’re at that point now.

Larry Bernstein:
I want to bring another speaker, David Weil, into the conversation. David, you were a member of the Obama administration, and afterwards headed back to academia. Was your being in the Obama administration considered problematic to the academic world? And now that you’re the Dean of a public policy school, do you feel there’s discrimination against conservatives in any way and what are you doing to hire people on the right?

David Weil:
Well, I have a very different view on the whole topic than I think we’ve heard. I think one person’s view about exclusion of voices under the current system needs to explain the fact that we’ve had an exclusion of many other voices for long periods of time in the history of this country in academic forums and others. And I think what we’re seeing is a long evolution to deal with that, that academia is trying to become more inclusive of multiple voices, not just one set of voices that have dominated, not only academics but business and government. That’s what this is a long-term, a much longer term, evolution of in my view.

David Weil
In terms of serving in an administration, I think in my current institution, as in institutions I’ve taught in the past, there is a value to coming in with a perspective on how public policies are set and made. And I think it’s been my experience of people who have served in the Bush administration, as well as in the Clinton and Obama administrations, particularly if you’re teaching in a school of practice, that’s valued. It allows us to say things. I would imagine Casey comes back to Chicago with a different perspective on how you get things done in Washington. That certainly was the case for me. And I think that in, any institution regardless, provides some value to students and to colleagues.

Larry Bernstein:
Eric, do you want to comment on that?

Eric Kaufmann:
I think it’s fair to look at your race and gender representation and seek to sort of broaden that. I mean, I don’t really have a problem as long as it’s done in a liberal way. What really sort of jumps out, however, is the fact that … the efforts that are being made in that department are not … there was no effort being made actually to try and politically diversify the university professoriate. In fact, a lot of universities are in fact leaning into an explicitly and overtly progressive ideology and agenda, which is actually chilling things even more. They’re permitting the hunting down or sort of persecution of those who’ve got views that are deemed to be in some way making people feel unsafe.

So I think really what I’m seeing is … I think you can certainly ensure … you can try and pursue diversity in one realm. That’s fine. But I think just sort of referencing history as a way of sort of dismissing the problem of political diversity is a bit of a diversionary tactic, really. If we’re serious about diversity, we’ve got to be serious about political diversity as well. And it’s just not consistent to pursue one form of diversity and close your eyes to two other forms that are not being addressed. And actually, if you want to look at the professoriate, I mean, the political lack of representation is much more glaring now than for example, the racial or gender. And yet there is absolutely no interest in this problem.
Larry Bernstein:
I wanted to bring back some of the comments that Paul was making earlier about working-class issues and immigration specifically. I know, Eric, that you’ve done a lot of work on public views on immigration and change over time. And I mentioned that the House this week passed a very liberal immigration position, giving citizenship to millions. From a political standpoint, are you surprised that the Biden administration went so quickly at a very pro-immigration bill? And what do you think it means for politics, both domestically here in the United States, and how similar issues will appear in the UK?

Eric Kaufmann:
Yeah, it’s very interesting. I mean, I’m not surprised. I mean, because, as Paul was saying, the nature of the intellectual left has really shifted from class to sacralized identity categories, focused around issues around race, gender, sexuality. And immigration is an issue that’s sort of adjacent to race, at least in the minds of many progressives, and therefore partakes of this sacred, Holy quality. And therefore, it’s a sort of key priority. And it’s not surprising that narratives like abolishing ICE and not deporting anybody and so on is …. sort of having a multiple appeal process that allows people to more or less just disappear into American society. I mean, that’s not particularly surprising.

I think what’s going to be interesting is then how this plays out. Because the majority of the American public, including most members of minority groups, are not in favor of essentially that kind of an open border. I mean, I don’t say it’s an open border, but it is de facto. When you have a kind of system where people can disappear into society after turning up to a hearing, it’s kind of an open border. And I think what will happen is this issue … this is the issue that launched Trump’s primary bid. So, it essentially strengthens the Trumpist forces on the right and it’ll strengthen support genuinely for that message.

And I guess the question is how long the identity left part of the Biden coalition can keep the pressure on to maintain this, frankly, quite unrealistic policy, that’s not representing the country. If they are successful in kind of keeping Biden on this track, it’s simply going to increase support for the Republicans in 2022 in the midterms and strengthen the hand of the Trumpists within the Republican coalition. And more than that, it’ll lead to more polarization. And we’re seeing similar trends to some degree in Britain, but I think it’s more intense in the US and it will continue the shift of politics from the old economic left, right to the new kind of open, closed cultural politics of immigration and wokeness. And these are going to be the issues that the Republicans I think are increasingly going to going to campaign on.

David Weil:
I think that is a complete mis-characterization of the Biden immigration policy. The Biden policy is a recognition that we have had an open … we have had an immigration policy that has benefited the economy and this society for a long point in time. And we need to adjust our immigration laws in light of what has happened. And the best example of that is the bipartisan coalition that is coming together around agricultural immigration reform, where you have a lot of businesses, and I dealt with these businesses in the Obama administration, who understand their reliance on an immigrant workforce to basically harvest our fields, and the need to treat those workers within the laws of our land. I think you can paint with broad brushes, but I don’t think it accurately portrays what this administration or the president has said on this regard.

Eric Kaufmann:
If you want to have a program to bring in temporary workers to harvest and so on and it’s orderly and it prevents people from falling into the hands of coyotes. But I think if we’re talking about incentivizing either asylum seeking and illegal immigration at the border, most of these claims are not going to make it, they’re not going to be granted, but yet there is no mechanism for deportation and for ensuring that people who are rejected sort of leave the country. So, it is a de facto system. It’s a kind of moral hazard that … I mean, if I was in their shoes, I’d be doing the same thing. I certainly do not blame these individuals who are coming to the border. I mean, they’re doing a very rational thing. But it’s a bit like … at some point there will … the only way to sort of remove the incentive is going to actually be to have more border security and a smoother deportation regime and a quicker turnaround time on adjudication of cases.

I just don’t think that you can send signals that are going to incentivize more people to come without having these other safeguards in place. And it just doesn’t seem like there’s a seriousness on border security in the current administration. Now, I mean, compared to the Obama administration, the Obama administration did have that seriousness. But I think the window has shifted in a way that … compared to the Obama years, some of the things Obama did and said are no longer acceptable by party activists. I just think that’s … until that is solved, I just don’t see how this cannot flare up into a bigger political issue.

Larry Bernstein:
Eric, just following up on … as immigration applies to the UK, one of the big reasons for Brexit was to limit immigration from the European Union to Britain. Brexit is now fully implemented. Have we seen a radical change in the number of new immigrants? I understand that COVID obviously reduced travel, but what is the public response to that?

Eric Kaufmann:
Well, I think the numbers from Europe have gone down and in addition, the sending countries are not sending as many due to demographic maturity. And I actually don’t think the EU inflow is going to be … I think that issue’s finished for good, I’d almost say. I mean, I can’t say that 100%, but increasingly they have moved to other parts of the world, to non-European parts of the world.

But of course COVID has dampened down the immigration. But I do think this issue is going to return once COVID … As COVID seems to be fading out and the economy comes back, foreign travel and air travel increases, I think we’re going to see this issue coming back on the agenda. And I think it’s actually going to threaten the conservative party more than I think … I don’t think labor is in a strong position in any case, but I think the rise of this issue is going to actually be a problem for the conservatives because a populist right … it opens space for a populist right party to come in. Because the numbers really haven’t fallen. They may become less European, but the aggregate numbers, there’s no indication the Johnson government has done anything to, or will be able to do anything to reduce that. They may, actually, if they see a threat coming from the populist right, they may start to act. But yeah, that could be an issue in Britain, but it isn’t one now because there’s very little immigration due to COVID.

Larry Bernstein:
Eric, thank you.

            
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monuments Panel: Sanford Levinson — Who Decides the Use of Public Space

Monuments Panel: Allen Guelzo — Why Monuments Change Over Time, and Who Decides If They Can Stay or Must Go?

Monuments Panel: James Campbell — Monuments