Bret Weinstein is the former Evergreen State College biology professor who became the focus of a social justice witch hunt on campus earlier this year. Weinstein and his wife later sued for several million dollars but agreed to a settlement for $500,000 in exchange for leaving the school. All that to say, Weinstein is the voice of experience when it comes to the mob of social justice warriors on campus.
In this brief interview recorded late last month, Weinstein argues several interesting points. First, he believes the social justice warriors are winning their battle to control campuses. “I don’t think that we can say that the entire educational apparatus is a failure,” Weinstein said. He continued, “But we can say that the part of the apparatus that is a failure is taking over more and more territory.
“The number of classes in a university that are immune to this extremely broken way of thinking is ever smaller. And I think we can even see from here the day in which it will be no classes that are immune because every class is going to be subject to some set of rules that is built around this very naive notion of privilege and white supremacy and all of that. So that day is coming.”
This all goes back to one of the reasons Weinstein became a pariah among the far left on his former campus. He objected to a new “equity” platform introduced at the college which would have made social equity a factor in all future hiring decisions. He argued at the time that professors teaching in STEM fields should be hired based on academic qualifications without regard to social justice concerns. And as we all know, he was eventually branded a racist and students demanded he resign.
“If there’s one thing that people fail to appreciate about the social justice movement where it interfaces with the academy is that just because what is being said is crazy to the point of absurdity does not mean that the strategic plan is absurd,” Weinstein said. He added, “The strategic plan is far more effective than you would expect based on the sophistication of the ideas that are being promulgated.”
This is an interesting distinction. As I’ve pointed out before when writing about this topic, the goal of this movement is often vague, the leadership difficult to pin down. What is always clear however is the demand for attention and dominance. When SJW’s shut down a conservative speaker (aka no platforming) the talking points are all about students safety and their feelings, etc. But the real goal is dominance, i.e. to claim ownership of the space and with that ownership the right to exclude the unwanted.
Going back to the Occupy movement, one of the popular chants was “Whose streets? Our streets!” Today that has been replaced with “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” and of course “Shut it down.” In both cases, the goal is dominance and exclusion.
In August I wrote about a professor at Evergreen State College who, in the midst of the student takeover there, had students surround her and demand to know where she was going. When she tried to talk to them, they refused to engage in a conversation. “The only thing which they would accept was my obedience,” she later wrote of the experience. At the same exact time, white students were being told they were not allowed to speak at a student meeting in the campus library because they were white. Again, the goals are dominance and exclusion.
As to how the SJW movement has become so powerful on campus, Weinstein has an interesting theory about that as well. He suggests the left’s talking points have undergone 25 years of evolution.
“Heather and I encountered the post-modern stuff in 1992 at the University of California Santa Cruz,” Weinstein said. He went on to say, “Those ideas have been morphing and bubbling through a quadrant of the university system since that point and of course a bit before.
“Each cohort [of students] that has encountered them has wielded them in some circumstances. And those arguments that were hard to defeat persisted and those arguments that were easy to defeat have perished. Which means that the new crop of students shows up and they’re handed this toolkit of argument that are incredibly hard to confront, not because they’re true but because of the way that they’re structured.
“Each of these definitions can’t be pinned down. You can’t figure out what they mean be equity. On the other hand, if you start asking questions about equity you’re going to run afoul of a booby-trap that’s gonna have you portrayed as a white supremacist.”
At this point, Benjamin Boyce who is conducting the interview interjects, “It’s brilliant!” Weinstein agrees, “It’s brilliant, but it isn’t brilliant on the basis that those who are wielding it are brilliant. It’s brilliant on the basis that selection has weeded out those parts that didn’t work.”
I think he’s got a point. Going back to what I was saying about the call for dominance and exclusion, I think the “booby-trap” is another step that helps complete the SJW’s vicious arguments cycle.
- Demand for dominance/compliance (because of lack of safety/perceived threat).
- Dominance exercised through the exclusion of perceived threat.
- Non-compliance/questions trigger accusations, i.e. racism, sexism, etc. (the booby-trap).
- Accusations become proof of lack of safety/threat.
- Return to step 1 and repeat.
This is the core of the SJW movement. It will continue to spread because few people in college leadership positions are willing or able to stand up to the mob.
Update: Along the same lines as the video, Weinstein posted this today.
The students that protested me were sent to do a job, with a script. I did not know a single one of them. The "racism" accusation was generic.
In the present climate the stigma can silence almost any "white" person on a college campus, irrespective of the merit of the claim. 2/
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 26, 2017
The authoritarian left is cannibalizing the libertarian left. On the chopping block are: enlightenment values, science, merit, MLK's dream.
The replacement is an unstable, uninvestigated, vindictive world where bad actors rule and become fiercely armed oppressors. 4/
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) November 26, 2017