Whew. Peter Boghossian has gone full on crackpot. He’s nuttering along like a Baby Mussolini, claiming he is the true and rightful defender of Western Civilization (whatever that is), and declaring war on everyone who disagrees with him…because it’s really important that we allow freedom of expression…? Yeah, he’s that incoherent.
Did I hear that right? “Full-scale ideological warfare against the enemies of Western Civilization”? Coming from the guy who wrote the foreword to Stefan Molyneux’s book, I wonder what this could possibly mean 🤔 pic.twitter.com/KWmf2A3rdc
— ⚒ Sam Hoadley-Brill ⚒ (@deonteleologist) May 14, 2021
People want you to think a certain way, but let’s be clear about something. I’m done playing, I think Douglas is done playing, I’m waging full scale ideological warfare against the enemies of Western Civilization. I am taking no prisoners. I have very large scale projects coming for the enemies of reason and science and rationality. These people are divisive neo-racist hatemongers, and there’s simply no…we must broker zero tolerance with this ideology, and the only way forward at this point is full-scale ideological war and I will take no prisoners and that is what I’m devoting my life to. I will…I seek the complete eradication and extirpation of the ideology from every facet of life.
His rant reminds me of this classic exchange.
Bluto: Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.
He’s just reciting martial cliches. He’s not going to eradicate or extirpate anything. He’s not going to take any prisoners because he’s not going to have an opportunity to capture anyone. It’s all noise and posturing.
Boghossian was never much of a presence in the now-defunct New Atheist movement. I remember when he started appearing on the scene, and it was almost entirely by attaching himself leech-like to the most horrible, controversial phonies around, like Molyneux, which was amazing — Boghossian is supposedly a philosopher, but he was endorsing a ridiculous cult-leader whose “philosophy” is an incoherent mish-mash of racism and misogyny? I dismissed him then, but now he seems to think he’s been promoted to be the General Patton of conservative atheism.
There’s more, and recently. Here’s an hour-long video in which he gets together with Bruce Gilley and Dennis Linthicum to complain about diversity and tolerance in academia.
In case you have no idea who those other people are, Bruce Gilley is head of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Scholars, a fringe political organization funded by right-wing millionaires which deplores “political correctness” and wants “a return to mid-20th-century curricular and scholarship norms, and an increase in conservative representation in faculty.” Yeah. One of those. Gilly himself became notorious with his “scholarship” that decreed that colonialism was a good thing. Fascist organizations everywhere clamored to have him defend their views.
The German parliament, the Bundestag, is rarely an exciting place, and even less often the site of debate and protest. But in December, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) managed to scandalize the German public by hosting an academic lecture on German colonialism.
The speaker the AfD invited has made a name for himself as a colonial revisionist in the most literal sense: Bruce Gilley, professor of political science at Portland State University, became the subject of global debate in 2017 when the (small but renowned) journal Third World Quarterly published his essay “The Case for Colonialism.” In it, Gilley argued not only that colonialism was “objectively beneficial,” but also that it should be reconsidered as a model of governance for countries in the Global South today. Critics, while scandalized by the proposal itself, mainly focused on the question of how a paper that was “blind . . . to vast sections of colonial history,” contained major “empirical shortfalls,” and was essentially “the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes” made it through peer review. As it turned out, the paper had been rejected by three peer reviewers, and the decision of editors to publish it without consulting the editorial board of Third World Quarterly led to the resignation of most members of the board and the retraction of the article.
He takes the interesting position that sure, there were excesses in colonialism, it wasn’t perfect, but all the hand-chopping and murder and rapes were reactions to the resistance offered by the colonized people, and wouldn’t have occurred if they’d just accepted the gifts of Western Civilization. Meanwhile, the collapse of post-colonial nations wasn’t really caused by the colonial institutions and the history of depradation, but was just the true nature of those people emerging, justifying further the loving hand of colonial imperialism.
Dennis Linthicum is a politial non-entity — a Tea Party member of the Oregon senate, one of the chickenshit Republicans who went into hiding in 2019 to undermine Oregon’s efforts to combat climate change. His contribution here seems to be to recite lists. He’s an incredible bore.
And finally, Peter Boghossian seems to have been invited because he is a notorious asshole who is comfortable with the likes of Gilley and Linthicum.
They got together to whine about the university imposing a race studies requirement in the curriculum, and about the university prioritizing diversity, which they claim is racist (that’s what he means by “neo-racist”) and against academic freedom. How dare they address contemporary issues, rather than pretending it’s still 1950!
At about the 16 minute mark, Boghossian gets on another roll.
Let’s be blunt about what we face. We face a group of small-minded, petty ideologues who have hijacked a public institution, who are hell-bent on ripping down Western Civilization. This is explicit in the doctrines of Critical Race Theory. They have created a system and a structure in which any form of dissent is punished as the new heretic, you are a heretic and you have committed blasphemy against the ideology. This is an ideology that proselytizes the consciousness of what is ordinarily…people who are ordinarily reasonable. What this is not is a partisan issue.
Not a partisan issue, which is why he got together with his far-right pals to rant. Sorry, if it’s not a partisan issue, where are the people who are not right-wing ideologues in this discussion?
I have news for Boghossian: there aren’t any universities that are trying to tear down Western Civilization. The destruction of America isn’t explicit or implicit in Critical Race Theory — if anything, the idea that we should come to grips with the failings of Western European and American history is the only way to save this culture.
You know, sometimes people are just plain wrong, an idea I’m sure Boghossian would agree with, and pointing out that people like Boghossian and Gilley are wrong in their interpretation of history and culture isn’t labeling them as heretics, any more than telling someone they don’t understand vaccines or the shape of the Earth is branding them as heretics. Boghossian is wrong about just about everything. He’s also an ass.
I expect he won’t have his platform as a member of academia for long. He’s an untenured assistant professor with a history of uncollegial behavior who is happy to condemn his institution, so I would be very surprised if he were retained — he has already been denied promotion to associate professor. He’s going to be reduced to fantasizing about running over “Wokists” with a tank without an academic title.