Professor Bret Weinstein, who has been at the center of the chaos unfolding at Evergreen State College, gave an interview to Joe Rogan Friday in which he describes what has been going on at the college both before and after this story became national news. It’s a long interview but a compelling one. I’ve transcribed some of the most interesting bits for those who don’t have time to listen to all two and a half hours of it.
Many of the points Weinstein makes here have been made by conservatives many times, but the fact that he is a progressive teaching at one of the most left-wing schools in the country makes it hard to dismiss his critique as being part of a racist backlash. At least it should make it hard. But of course, the campus mob is now calling him a racist and demanding his head for saying these things. As you’ll see toward the end, there is no “venue” in this system of thought for someone who wants to defend themselves against the charge they are a racist. You are simply supposed to accept the claim as true without debate.
What follows is a vision of where the progressive campus is headed, not just at Evergreen but everywhere. It’s a nightmare.
On how and why he wound up being called a racist by protesters:
Bret Weinstein: The people who have talked to me privately and expressed concerns are actually quite a diverse group, so it’s not as if white folks are disturbed by this and people of color are united. It’s not at all like that. Part of the hidden story here is that in order to advance certain policy proposals it has to appear that the community is united behind them and that anybody that stands against them is standing against them for illegitimate reasons. So that means that the number of people who are willing to express any sort of nuance about what’s taking place has to be small and they have to be dismissable. So what they did is they called me a racist. Which is ironic because I’m an anti-racist. I really have gone out of my way to, first of all, study the question of why racism occurs and I believe have been pretty courageous in fighting against it wherever I run into it. So to challenge me with that particular epithet was a mistake on their part. It was a strategic mistake. And I kept trying to tell them while this was still internally being discussed in the college. I kept trying to tell them that they should really check the concept that I’m a racist. They should ask. Because if they did, they would discover that they were actually way off the mark and then they would have an interesting puzzle on their hands. Then they would have to explain to themselves why they had found themselves hurling this most poisonous term at somebody who not only isn’t a racist but is pretty nearly the opposite.
On the redefinition of the term racism
Weinstein: This also actually points to something pretty important and for anybody who travels this ground themselves, they’re going to discover this. Many of the terms that are being used have been redefined, but they haven’t been fully redefined. So one of the things that I’ve seen in several places is that a term like racist has been redefined so that the bar for being a racist is so low that you couldn’t possibly help but trip over it. But then, once you’ve tripped over it and you have accepted that you are a racist, then the stigma goes back to the original definition. So it is the dodging and weaving between the two definitions that actually does the heavy lifting.
Joe Rogan: Well there’s also a really disturbing idea that’s being bounced around lately that it’s impossible to be racist if you’re anything other than white, which is ridiculous.
Weinstein: Preposterous. Anybody who looks up the actual definition of racism will discover that that’s preposterous but yes that does pass in certain places as logical.
On the progressive campus bubble
Weinstein: Well, this is the most shocking thing. I’m, you know, I haven’t been censured. I haven’t been suspended. I’m still on the email distribution lists, so I’m watching the traffic inside of my college and I’m able to compare it to the huge flood of stuff that I’m seeing from the outside world as they get wind of what’s going on at Evergreen. The difference is a million miles. Inside of Evergreen, actually, we are descending further into madness. The faculty are blaming the fact that the campus had to be suddenly closed due to a threat from the outside yesterday on me, for having talked about this in the outside world…
The intensity and the out-of-touch nature of the discussion inside the college simply reinforces the impression that something is desperately off, that what we really have is a filter bubble that is so strong that even when the world sends very clear evidence that you’ve missed something somewhere and it’s time to rethink what you’ve been doing, they’re not waking up.
On the complaints about the college president’s microaggressions
Weinstein: Did you see the video in which Dr. Bridges, our president, is being challenged for his hand gestures? The protesters are actually policing his hand gestures.
Rogan: No. What’s wrong with his hand gestures?…
Weinstein: I don’t want to caricature this because I really think it’s very important. As preposterous as what’s going on is, I think it’s very important that we understand it. It’s very easy to dismiss it because it’s so strange but it’s very important that we get it right. I think the complaint about the hand gestures was that they represented microaggressions if you will. I don’t know for sure that that was the complaint but I can’t make heads or tails of it otherwise.
Rogan: What was he doing?
Weinstein: I think he was kind of gesturing like a person…
Rogan: Just trying to talk with emotion.
Weinstein: Right. So I do think there’s a translation which [gestures with his arms], this can be portrayed as a microaggression in some way.
Rogan: How is this a microaggression?
Weinstein: I mean, it isn’t. We should talk about whether or not microaggressions are even a good category. Let’s just say the protesters had enough control over him that he gestured, they didn’t like it, they told him not to and he capitulated, which he has been doing the entire time.
On responding to bullying
Rogan: There’s also the problem, the very real problem, with the mob mentality. It is a common thing with human beings when they get together in large groups and people start chanting and screaming and they feel very justified. And they always want to escalate…It’s a weird thing that people do but I was watching it in your videos where people are saying ‘You should resign’…’You need to apologize to that woman for communicating with her the way you did’…They want to bully you around. They want to push you around. They want to take that professor, that guy who has been allowed to be the one who’s talking and distributing all the information and they want to shut you down.
Weinstein: It’s flat out bullying. And what I’m seeing is that almost nobody seems to know what to do about bullies, especially when they’re armed with the superweapon like the accusation that you’re a racist. Nobody understands that capitulating to bullies may solve your problem in the moment but it makes the problem vastly worse over time. And so, all I’ve done is apply that piece of knowledge, that when a bully challenges you not capitulating is just a prerequisite to getting anywhere. Ideally, you want the bully to pay enough of a price that they don’t continue what they’re doing.
On being contacted by Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis
Rogan: You’re fighting against this current movement of ridiculous ideas that’s going on through schools and we saw it with Yale. We saw it with those students screaming at…Was it a professor who was trying to defend his wife’s email about Halloween costumes? That maybe we should allow people to wear ridiculous Halloween costumes because that’s part of the fun of Halloween. People were acting like you were saying we should by lynching people.
Weinstein: Well, so first of all, he did reach out to me and his point was what you are going through is eerily reminiscent—he’d watched the videos and he was just pointing out how shocking it was.
On whether or not the school actually asked white people to leave campus for a day
Weinstein: Their claim is that white people were not asked to leave campus, that there were only 200 spaces in the venue off campus and therefore this was just supposed to be for a small subset of people—which is nonsense. There were only 200 spaces if you wanted to go to the particular seminars that they were holding […] but in any case, they are conflating the 200 spaces off campus with what was actually expected of us and it was quite clear. In fact, one of my staff colleagues put out an email…I think it was last night, in which he detailed the several emails that we had seen in which the school did ask white people to leave for that day. So they are promoting falsehoods themselves designed to obscure what’s going on, I think because they finally understood that the world doesn’t get what they are doing.
On the intersectional left behaving like a cult
Weinstein: Several people, in fact, many people, have started to now refer to what’s going on in the staff/faculty zone here as a cult. And I think, on the one hand, that could be tongue-in-cheek. On the other hand, the mechanisms at work that have people doubling down on absurdities rather than trying to get on the right side of history as quickly as possible, it is very cult like. Again, you asked me what would have to happen for us to right the ship, the second one is my faculty colleagues have to wake up to the fact that their belief structure has become bizarre and unrecognizable from any normal position.
On being accused of racism and told he should not defend himself
Weinstein: There was an instance where a faculty member accused those who were challenging any of these equity proposals as being part of a racist backlash. She was clearly talking about me because I’m the most prominent person objecting.
Rogan: Is this faculty member a white person?
Weinstein: No. So anyway she says in a faculty meeting that this is a racist backlash and I said to her in front of this faculty meeting, I said, ‘Somebody might want to check on the question of whether or not I’m actually a racist because if you do check on it, you will discover I’m not and if you don’t this is going to blow up on you.’ And the chair of the faculty told me that the faculty meeting was not the place to defend myself against accusations of racism.
Rogan: It’s also not the place to level the accusation.
Weinstein: But I said to her ‘Where is the place?’ and then the faculty member who had made the accusations said ‘You should not expect there to be a venue in which to defend yourself. You should just get used to these accusations.’
On the search of his emails by the professor who accused him of racism
Rogan: So what does this person [who made the allegation of racism against Weinstein] teach?
Weinstein: They teach media.
Rogan: How ironic.
Weinstein: Right. They teach media. They are currently running a program where she’s teaching students to make documentaries and one of the students in the program filed a public records request. Since we are a public college you can request the emails of faculty and staff if you want them. And so she had a student file a public records request for my email to make a documentary in her program. So you’ve got one faculty member searching another faculty member’s email through a student looking for evidence of I don’t know what.
Rogan: Evidence of racism.
Weinstein: Well, presumably.
I’ve only transcribed a fraction of the entire interview but, hopefully, it’s enough to give you a picture of what is taking place behind the scenes at Evergreen. This is a college that is beginning to take on some behavior that seems cult-like, but which is also becoming dangerous. As Rogan points out at one point, you have to wonder what the students were going to do to Professor Weinstein if they had found him while searching cars last week. Would they have hauled him out? Surrounded him and not allowed him to leave? The protesters complain they are being unfairly tarred as violent but while they may not be throwing punches, they are up for intimidation and humiliation. The real question is what happens when someone finally tells them no.