Those who don't affirm the unassailable truths of intersectionality run the risk of being labeled "deniers." We are all familiar with how the "denier" refrain began -- climate science. According to NASA, "97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities" (see here). One either accepted that claim, and its many embellishments and exaggerations by politicians and journalists, or one was labeled a "climate change denier" or a "science denier." Critics of this position -- even well-credentialed -- kept their mouths shut, or committed career suicide. Don't believe me? Just ask retired Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry, who recently testified at the House Science Committee (see here). What triggered her shaming as a climate heretic? Her claim that:
It is an empirical fact that the Earth’s climate has warmed overall for at least the past century. However, we do not know how much humans have contributed to this warming and there is disagreement among scientists as to whether human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases is the dominant cause of recent warming, relative to natural causes. (for the citation, and a link to Curry's blog, see here)Included among the reasons Curry cited for her early retirement was that:
Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc. (for Curry's full statement on her resignation, see here)Ultimately, Curry felt she could accomplish more in the private sector (for an interview with Curry, see here). While the point of this post is not to get bogged down in the details of the climate science debate, I would like to draw attention to a few key elements of Curry's case. Curry was a senior, respected university researcher. Yet, her choice to swim against the political current of academia by challenging the master narrative of "human-caused climate change" resulted in Curry being stigmatized by her peers, shamed by the media, and ultimately driven from the university. Curry's case is, unfortunately, not unique. This "denier" template of ostracism is the focus of this post, as it is now being superimposed onto critics of the New Left's sacred cows in the social sciences.
There's sexism-deniers. Closeted Trump-supporters, and those who doubt white privilege, are probably racism-deniers. The Trump team has "a history of flirting" with Holocaust-deniers. The newest addition to the ranks of deniers is the insidious wage/pay gap deniers. The Economic Policy Institute assures us that "You can’t mansplain away the gender pay gap" (see here). "Denying the Wage Gap is Victim-Blaming" (see here). Vice is "Calling Bullshit on the Men Who Think the Pay Gap Is a Myth" (see here). "The gender pay gap actually is because of discrimination, according to yet another study" (see here). Why the fixation on denial? Perhaps, it's because Trump's election denied the story of "progress" that they learned in college. It was supposed to be a woman -- Hillary -- but the evil patriarchy reared it's rust-thatched head instead. But it wasn't Trump, or even Hillary's flaws that defeated her. No. It was "hostility to female ambition" (see here). Get it? -- male privilege.
Dark, unconscious forces are preventing progress. The Huffington Post warns that the wage gap is "well documented, enduring, and racialized," that "women's time and money are valued less," and that "systemic changes" are required to overcome the cognitive and unconscious obstacles women face, such as "college majors and job selections," which "are shaped in childhood by adult biases, stereotypes and stereotype threats, cementing salary paths long before anyone is thinking about them" (see here). The decision to start a family results in a “motherhood penalty” and a “fatherhood bonus.” It is the dismissal of "these realities," which "wage gap deniers deliberately overlook," that perpetuates a gender segregated workplace and pay differentials. Policies must be enacted to monetarily value "work that has traditionally been done by women, including, notably, unpaid care work." How can these "injustices" be fixed? Government intervention -- equal pay policies.
Trump's election is "How Climate Change Deniers Got Their Groove Back"; it's also apparently how pay gap deniers got their groove back (see here). Consider the case of senior advisor to the POTUS, Stephen Miller. Leftist media outlets have recently shifted their scrutiny from Steve Bannon to Miller, as they believe that Bannon's star is fading and Millier's is on the rise. What, you may wonder, is Miller's thought crime? According to the Huffington Post's Emily Peck, Miller is guilty of bringing the ideas of "pay gap deniers" to women's policy issues (see here). What evidence does Peck have that Miller is a "pay gap denier"? She cites excerpts from a 2005 oped he wrote while attending Duke, where he "forcefully argued against paid maternity leave and equal pay legislation" (see here). Peck summarizes Millers "denial" of the pay gap as: "men work longer hours, choose higher-paying jobs and take on more dangerous work." Peck spices her condemnation of Miller with a generous supply of quotes from Miller's oped, which were intended to underscore Miller's grievous denial, including that "the pay gap has virtually nothing to do with gender discrimination," and "the truth is, even in modern-day America, there is a place for gender roles." Scandalous misogyny!
Rather than acknowledge that conservatives, such as Miller, represent a well-informed, although contrary, position, Peck assures the reader that Miller's flawed perspective is due to "a lack of understanding when it comes to decades of research on economics and gender inequality." For Peck, informed analyses that support conservative positions simply do not exist -- Miller's oped is Peck's straw man. In Peck's estimation, Miller can't be taken seriously because he's uninformed. Peck assumes that educated people naturally share her opinion. Miller is an ignorant denier. Why doesn't Miller realize that a cabal of grumpy, old, cigar-chomping, white men want to keep women down?
What's troubling about this type of hatchet piece is that Peck avoids evidence that does not fit her theoretical assumptions. Peck may be surprised to learn that a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, Thomas Sowell, is the source of many of Miller's oped arguments (for a recent oped on the issue of the "pay gap" by Sowell, see here, for Sowell's website, see here). Sowell would argue that it is Peck, not Miller, that is out of touch with decades of scholarship on the issue of the so-called pay gap; that survey after survey of hard data reveal that women do in fact make rational choices in the market, which are primarily driven by the biological reality of child bearing. This is the crux of the issue -- new wave feminists believe that gender is socially constructed, and fluid; that no real differences exist between men and women other than those created by society...by the patriarchy. The question is, how did Peck come to her unquestioning acceptance of the "truth" of social constructionism, gender fluidity, and institutional misogyny?
In part, the answer may be that Peck simply wasn't exposed to other perspectives. The outside observer may see nothing new about the old nature vs. nurture arguments at play here. The outside observer may also think that both positions are well-represented in academia and that there's nothing controversial about emphasizing the biological determinants of identity, or in questioning the wage gap. However, like many college students in the last couple of decades, Peck was unlikely to encounter a conservative professor in the social sciences, thus ensuring she was fed a steady diet of new wave feminist theory, and without serious comparative reference points. Why is that?
Consider the case of American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers (for a video presentation by Sommers on the wage gap myth, see here). Sommers argues that modern feminism has been infiltrated by intersectional social justice warriors. They demonize men, marginalize dissenting women, and indoctrinate college students into the wage gap and campus rape culture myths (see here). Sommers denies the existence of an actual wage gap. Instead, she, like Sowell, points to rational choice in the market. Men tend to choose careers that are more dangerous and have demanding schedules. Women tend to choose careers more conducive to family life. These choices lead to different median wage outcomes. The "equal pay for equal work" mantra represents a Marxian maxim, and simply isn't true. Sommers' argument seems reasonable enough, but that didn't stop activists at colleges and universities across the nation from attempting to silence her through pressured disinvitations and protests to disrupt her speeches. Why? Because they interpreted her "dangerous" ideas as as "hate speech" that must be silenced.
Sowell and Sommers account for opposing arguments, and present their own interpretations of the data. Regressive leftists do not engage in this process. There's no need for discussion when one already knows the truth; confession is the only acceptable outcome of discussion. SJWs often invoke Freud when confronted with evidence they find distressing, while simultaneously employing Freudian arguments to explain resistance to the SJW agenda -- critics are unconsciously supporting the oppressive status quo; it's dark, irrational forces holding back the cultural revolution. That's the style of "justicesplaining" that they've been indoctrinated into.
For the rest of us, this tendency to dismiss opposing positions without evidence-based discussions represents a rejection of the scientific method and open inquiry, contempt for the Enlightenment concept of reason, and scorn for the very foundation of self-governance. The regressive left's reliance on normative social influence unmasks a darker, totalizing impulse. As Sowell points out, traditional notions of justice involve "applying the same rules and standards to everyone." In contrast, he writes:
In a sense, proponents of "social justice" are unduly modest. What they are seeking to correct are not merely the deficiencies of society, but of the cosmos. What they call social justice encompasses far more than any given society is causally responsible for. Crusaders for social justice seek to correct not merely the sins of man but the oversights of God or the accidents of history. What they are really seeking is a universe tailor-made to their vision of equality. They are seeking cosmic justice. (for the full speech, see here)
- The Cowboy Historian