This is great, but isn't the basis of this Persuasion club at the college just replicating what all college used to be and should be again? Can we fix what is broken with a free-speech club on each campus, or is it just a bit of a bandage on a festering wound?

"It is commonplace that students who are not white, especially first-generation Black and Hispanic students, feel out of place on college campuses."

Morgan Freeman, when asked by Don Lemon, what he thought we should do to improve race relations in this country said: "Stop talking about it. Stop calling me and you a black man."

It is commonplace for many students of all races, genders, etc., to feel out of place on college campuses. Personality, economics, social skills, familiarity with the dominant cultural behavior... the list goes on. I think the author here makes the mistake that feeds the beast that required a special club to slay... referring to people as belonging to a group other than the group that is the human race.

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Thanks for this thoughtful response to our work!

In order:

1. Good point about the traditional role of the campus as a haven for free speech. Colleges have by and large either allowed free discourse on campus to atrophy through neglect or have actively destroyed it. Occidental, for example, will soon be instituting a "Bias Response Team" (BERT), based on the explicit premise that "Bias incidents may or may not be intended to cause harm." Who would ever want to say anything to anyone, given that even the best-intentioned words may be interpreted as harmful "bias" and reported to BERT? Under these circumstances, faculty, staff, and students have to take back free discourse for themselves if they want it to exist at all.

2. You're not wrong that repeating the language in which questionable assumptions are embedded is, in effect, to endorse those assumptions. And, yes, all sorts of students, white or not, may feel out of place on campuses, especially in their earliest semesters. Imposter syndrome, culture shock, and so on, are universal. We believe, however, that we are unlikely to make progress by simply declining to talk about race, as Morgan Freeman, with whom we are in sympathy (indeed, Prof. Mackey is a race eliminativist), would have it. That's been tried by faculty who don't buy into DEI ideology, without success. As you no doubt know, the DEI bureaucracy is firmly entrenched on most campuses. They are certainly not going to stop talking about race and neither, frankly, are students. Given that there *will* be a conversation, why grant DEI administrators a monopoly on it, especially when many of their ideas are so flawed and so easily answered with comparatively sane ones? We feel we must either meet this new class of commissars on the playing field that has been set, or just give up.

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Thank you for the response.

Clearly language, the use of it, the definition of the words adopted for it, and the repeating of it... are the persuasion tools for the cultural revolution radicals. I think we make the mistake of adopting their tools in debate as this this empowers their position. They push a level of language absurdity, then being the critical thinking animal that we are, we argue points against it... thus cementing it as a new language normal. I think what we should be doing instead is simply rejecting language/idea absurdity and branding the user and being absurd.

I think John McWhorter offers some good advice for dealing with the DEI bureaucracy on campus. Frankly, I think we are heading to a new era where we identify people holding certain views that derive from critical theory as being damaged.

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Speaking for myself as a prof: Yes, there are clearly terms that come preloaded with ideology and that pretend to have but in fact lack scientific foundation, such as "microaggression," "implicit bias," "stereotype threat," etc. We should not accept or use these terms, at least not without scare quotes. Then there are terms that need to be renegotiated but that are practically speaking unavoidable. To be part of any conversation, you have to use them. Those of us on campus today don't have the luxury of taking a purist position on these matters. We have to play, to some extent, with the cards that are currently in circulation, and attempt to nudge the conversation in better directions. The alternative—planting a flag and declaring war—is a recipe for being sidelined and ignored or, worse, "canceled" or, as we are seeing more and more, fired.

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I may be overly optimistic, but I believe the tide is turning related to the last sentence. I am already someone that will not hire any employee exhibiting ownership of this belief system.

I do get your point. How do you fight the power structure on these things when their weapons are so career-killing deadly?

Thinking more deeply about my perspective, I think that I don't believe that many or maybe most of the practitioners actually believe in the causes they claim justifies their activism. Frankly, I see it headed by social malcontents in academia that are supported by people interested in gaming and monetizing the movement. The students are only pawns in this game... too easily influenced given the time in their development cycle where they are not yet life-wise, highly idealistic and desperate to belong.

You may laugh at this, but I think when comedians break free to openly poke fun at these practitioners for their blatant absurdity, the students will no longer want to belong. Elon Musk buying Twitter and implementing reforms may accelerate that shift.

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Unfortunately, Critical Theory or its views seem to be rampant in our society. I read a blog yesterday by a Black woman who claims professionalism in medicine is a vestige of "White Supremacy", based on the fact that she has to trim her nails and her braids can't fit into a surgical cap.

I commented that the definition of professionalism has nothing to do with whiteness or supremacy, and that many people in certain jobs or professions must sacrifice their individuality for safety purposes.

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Yes. There is a lot of this.

There seems to be an overarching design in the woke implementation of critical theory that seeks to reject and destroy existing social/cultural/professional/... standards as those standards create stability.

We can see from the historical record, for a cultural revolution to gain enough traction, first, the people have to be sufficiently miserable in social and economic chaos to want change. Norms create stability and thus why they advocate for rejection of the norms because, as you know, they are all party of the white male patriarchy.

I think the mistake the revolutionaries are making is that they are too impatient in their timeline. Because not only do they need to create social and economic chaos, they need the population to have forgotten what it was like before when there was stability. That is the key to collectivist take over attempts. The people have to be sufficiently miserable to give up freedom for enough crumbs to feed their family, but also inexperienced in the alternative.

The problem with the woke movement that the Democrats have adopted is that they overplayed their hand. They exploded it in 2020 during the Pandemic. Social media gave them oversized power. They have succeeded in making people miserable, but the people remember the previous period of stability and are not willing to accept the crumbs of collectivism. That is much of the reason we will see a red wave in the 2022 election... and why, I think, the woke movement will be punched down.

The problem is that we will still have a great number of people out there indoctrinated with that mindset, including our newest SCOTUS judge. What do we do with them?

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Jun 17, 2022·edited Jun 17, 2022

I think if enough people start really "waking up" and rejecting these concepts, the others will realize it's not cool to be "woke" anymore. I honestly believe much of this is fad, as evidenced by the effect Liberal Hollywood and sports figures have on the populace. And witness the recall and threatened recall of some of these DAs who have been indoctrinated in CRT and allowing crime to run rampant. People are getting tired of this garbage.

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Very interesting and very nice to read about someone doing something about the problem. I have two simple questions: What keeps canceling from happening outside the club based on what is said inside? I.e. do use use Chatham House Rules? Or ?? Second, this seems like a great start, but like it won't do much unless there's a way for it to grow; do you have ideas for how it can grow?

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There are no explicit rules besides the agreement to treat one another with respect. This turned out to carry over into other scenarios and encounters, outside club meetings. Strong affective bonds formed in the regular, recurring setting of club meetings. Everyone liked everyone else too much to cancel them!

As for growing it: great idea. We'd love to see it expand to other campuses.

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Jun 16, 2022Liked by Jacob L Mackey

Thanks much for the reply. Great to hear the bonding was so strong it carried over outside. That's very encouraging. I think your writing will help spread it to other campuses -- which is most important. But I was actually wondering about growing it on your campus. I don't know the numbers, but I assume it's a tiny fraction of the student body. Any ideas, or is its appeal very limited -- to just a few brave, open-minded yet politically concerned students.

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Jun 16, 2022Liked by Jacob L Mackey

>>> There are a lotta good aspects to this club:

"No one was expected to speak on behalf of their 'group,' however defined."

"Secondly, students have to feel empowered to dig fearlessly into the difficulties, inconsistencies, contradictions, and tensions inherent in any issue."

>>> Great exercise.

"... no one demeaned anyone else as a bad person for the views they expressed, however contentious."

"Instead, students appeared to learn from those whose views differed from their own, and they evinced not merely mutual respect but mutual affection."

>>> Good moves.

“'students are actually much more politically heterogeneous than the faculty or (especially) university admin.' And yet, whatever their inherent diversity, students are good at reading signals from faculty and administrators—and from a few vocal peers—as to what views they may acceptably express. If those of us in higher education want to make our campuses places where all students can feel free to be themselves, in all their viewpoint diversity, we should strive to create a college culture in which they are empowered to express themselves."

>>> I'm glad, but not totally surprised, that students are more politically heterogeneous.

>>> I found a couple of, what are to me, questionable theories:

"Entering a meeting, one is affirmed to be no more and no less than a fully formed human being, legitimate and worthy in one’s own right, and possessed of a voice no less valuable than that of any other."

>>> This is factually incorrect. The brain isn't fully formed until mid-20s, right? Yeah, everyone is legitimate and worthy. But all views are not, in actual fact, equally valuable. How could they be?

Some views are based more on reality and some less. It's mathematically impossible for it to be otherwise. Yeah, I get it. You want everybody to feel comfortable to express their views. IMO, what should be encouraged is the minority views that one is likely to never hear about. The rest will be more than glad to express their views. Which are more valuable is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right? The *people* are no less valuable and should be heard with the greatest *attention.* The "voices?" Not so equally valuable.

"... many professors and students want not merely to create knowledge through research and to transmit it and learn it in classrooms, but also to leave the world a better place than they found it by resolving inequities, mitigating oppression, and so on. To have any hope of accomplishing such ambitious goals ..."

>>> Lemme give a little advice. Get off Your high horses. Yeah, most *everybody* wants "to leave the world in a better place." But those people who think their job is to actually change the *world?* That's probably what You were told when You grew up. Or You accreted the delusion. Either way, the only thing a person actually *can* change is themselves. Sorry. Mebbe that's common knowledge. Mebbe not.

>>> Most people find it easier to try to change someone else to believe what they believe. Good for self-validation, if You need that kind-a thing. But that'd first of all mean what You believe has a value over what other people believe. That comes from having a lot more experience than Your years in a university.

>>> The harder, and more valuable thing, is to open Your *own* mind. Accept what's right in the views You disagree with. Try that for a couple decades or more, is my advice.

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Check out Keri Smith's Youtube channel - "Deprogrammed" https://www.youtube.com/hashtag/deprogrammed

Smith was programmed from her campus experience to be a social justice warrior. But she discovered it was a cult and escaped.

"Smith said she first encountered social-justice theories in the late ’90s when she was a biological anthropology and anatomy major, with a minor in women’s studies, at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, when most people hadn’t heard of critical race theory.

She also worked with Amnesty International, the international nongovernmental human rights organization, which held a seminar on “dismantling racism,” she said."

“It wasn’t a fast process,” she said. “It was just as slow as it was getting into a cult. That’s how slow it is getting out of a cult.”

"“What they [the wokeists] are afraid of is real,” she said. “They are afraid of losing their friends, their jobs, their good name, their families, and their sense of security. All of these are very real things to be afraid of losing.”

But eventually one must realize there’s more to be afraid of if one doesn’t speak up, she said.

“If people don’t speak up in the early stages of an authoritarian belief system, an evil belief system—and I do call it evil—there’s going to come a time when you’re not allowed to speak at all,” she said."

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I sincerely hope you young folks can start up intelligent conversations and allow for expression of different points of view as we move into the future. I have just removed myself from 3 different medical news and opinion forums because multiple comments were rejected, none were mean-spirited, vulgar or hateful. It makes me wonder why these sites even allow any comments at all, if they are only going to allow ones that agree with a certain agenda.

Keep up the good work and long live free speech!

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The reality is that America (including academia) is hopelessly intolerant. On how many college campuses could you say "Will Thomas is a man and doesn't belong on the UPenn woman's swim team"? That answer is roughly zero. Save for Fox news, how many media outlets would allow such a statement to be uttered? A majority of Americans might agree with the statement. So what? The NYT and the WaPo are adamant that Will Thomas is really a woman and that's what counts.

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I tried to make a comment on Medpage, a medical news site. The article was about a man who transitioned to a woman but got prostate cancer (big surprise). My comment was "You can't change biology", and I tried to post it several times, each time being rejected. This is how insane things are, when a medical site can't tolerate a true, factual statement.

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Don't worry, it gets worse. The Biden administration recently decided that the word 'mother' was out and now we have 'birthing person'. The same nonsense can be found in medical schools these days. Of course, 'mother' isn't a synonym for 'women' or 'female'. However, 'mother' still has to go to be PC these days.

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Yep. The AMA and med schools are all going "woke". It's sad when grown, educated people insist men can get pregnant.

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Don't worry. It gets better. 2 + 2 = 5 according to Harvard (Kareem Carr) and Popular Mechanics.

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I’m sure the banks and other vendors would appreciate that kind of accounting.

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I am curious to know what the ground rules of the meeting were, assuming there were some? For example, was their limitation in how long each individual could speak?

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I'm curious to know what were the ground rules that made these meetings successful, assuming there were some, and how was the moderation handled? For example, was there a limitation in how long each individual could talk?

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No formal limits on how long anyone could talk, but there was an understanding that one would not "hog" the floor. Matt did light moderation, in order to keep things on track and focused on the issues at hand.

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