I’m not on the side of Boghossian and Lindsay, OK?

Critical Race Theory is simultaneously a profound readjustment of how we see American history, and a trivial, obvious fact. Yes, the United States was founded by genocidal European colonizers who built their country on the backs of African slaves. Yes, the Founding Fathers were philosophical hypocrites who wrote elegantly and beautifully about liberty and freedom and human rights and then went home to rape black women. Yes, that lovely classical architecture and those white pillars were erected on an Indian burial ground by black slaves. Get used to reality and accept it and do something about it.

The only people who reflexively object to Critical Race Theory are the worst and whitest buffoons in the country. So who do we see eagerly marching up to the microphones and cameras to express their dissent from reality? Two representative white atheists with arrogance to spare and a history of whining about “grievance studies,” Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay.

Jesus fuck, it’s embarrassing to be an atheist anymore.

Their ignorance got exposed and ridiculed on air, and now Michael Harriot completes the disembowelment. This is a truly ugly execution. Jimmy and Petey really need to stay at home, hiding under their bed, from now on.

Lindsay and Boghossian are college professors who have turned whitesplaining into an academic field called Grievance Studies. Basically, they propose that social justice is just a bunch of whining from people who don’t want to be held accountable for their lack of agency, unlike our white brethren who are coasting off a quarter of a millennium of privilege and convulse into conniptions at the very mention of this country’s racist past.

That’s just the prelude. Marc Lamont Hill, the man in the middle, let the two insipid fuckwits dig their own graves for 10 minutes. I about died when Lindsay, thinking he was so clever, tried to go on the counterattack and tell Hill that he was made uncomfortable by the word “folk” because Germans used the word “Volk” in Nazi propaganda. What a maroon…but here, enjoy the idiocy for yourself:

Or just savor Harriot’s summary:

So when Lindsay and Boghossian began whitemanning using polysyllabic words to explain why all the negroes are wrong, they had no idea that Hill was a practitioner of the ancient African tradition of knowing what the fuck he’s talking about. The pair filibustered through two segments while Hill patiently allowed them to say the things they made up. When they were done, Hill surprised Pinky and No-Brain with why they would not be able to take over the world with their pseudo-intellectual tripe.

“Of course, we’re running out of time but I’m going to respond just so people don’t think I don’t have a response,” Hill said, before launching into an explanation that Critical Race Theory is only related to Critical Theory in the way that bullshitting is related to having someone slap the shit out of you; it’s not the same shit. They may have known that Hill was the author of six books and holds a Ph.D. in the subject on which they speculated, but they were unaware that Hill also holds the position that can only be described by the things he is not.

He is not one of their lil’ friends. He is not Boo Boo the fool. And, most importantly, if they thought they were going to overwhelm someone with their white-centric Critical Racist Theory, they should have known:

Marc Lamont Hill is not the one.

Bewildered, Lindsay could only respond by saying: “You actually know a lot about this.”

And then, with a smile, Hill invites them to come back on sometime to continue the discussion. He sure knows when he’s got some tasty fish on the line.


  1. specialffrog says

    Later on Twitter Lindsay was basically saying that the intellectual dismemberment didn’t count because Hill is a communist.

  2. Artor says

    PZ, your Harriot link goes to an article about Juneteenth, not the one where he skins and butchers Boghossian and Lindsay.

  3. Hj Hornbeck says

    Lindsay: The Juneteenth debate is a dialectical trap, and basically everybody walked right into it.

    Lindsay: Juneteenth could have been cool, but the Woke and the Democrats made it a Critical Race Theory holiday. They ruin basically everything.

    I haven’t seen an infestation of brain worms this bad in a long while. Lindsay needs to free himself from his grift and step outside for a bit.

  4. Ridana says

    Speaking of German words, they have that wonderful word to describe Lindsay’s smug face: Backpfeifengesicht. That probably makes him uncomfortable too.

  5. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    I love when people like Lindsay use “woke”, “social justice”, etc. It indicates that their much-vaunted concepts of intellectual honesty are absolute horsecrap. They use pejoratives instead of accurately describing specific opponents by terms that those opponents themselves would use, violating principles of intellectual charity.

    And, of course, the hilarity of trying to pretend that Juneteenth could ever have not had among its implications that America’s history is as a racist country. Which is why neither he nor anyone else can articulate an alternative interpretation.

  6. hemidactylus says

    Oh Jebus now we gotta cancel Volkswagen, because Lindsay strained at a gnat? And why does he reduce Critical Theory to Marcuse? Because the New Left? The 60s called and wants its relevant referents back. And CRT eliminates agency because what postmodernism said? Bogeyman BINGO?

    Lindsay went totally crazy eyes when he went deep into the weeds contrasting post-structuralism and Marxian superstructure. WTF? BTW corporations do try to influence through media and consumerism is a thing, Marcuse or not. See Habermas on system versus lifeworld, a more nuanced approach than pessimistic “culture industry” bashing of 1st generation CT.

    Wow Hill laid it out heavy with the de Saussure reference on structuralism which is a red herring in terms of structural racism. Does Lindsay argue in puns?

    Is Hill dissing CT as vulgar Marxism? I wasn’t quite following.

    Hmm, if structural determinism held there would be no point to CRT, because we lack agency to change ourselves or society. History becomes fatalistic or inevitable, stuff Popper critiques in The Poverty of Historicism.

    If anyone has a legitimate axe to grind with Critical Theory it would be Popper for the whole positivism dispute fiasco. Luckily Habermas matured much since labeling Popper a positivist back then.

  7. Matt G says

    Slightly OT (but not by much. File under: toxic atheists): The book review by Harriet Hall has been pulled over at Science Based Medicine, but has been reprinted by…Michael Shermer! He claims he hasn’t read it, and published it as a matter of principle, but this is almost certainly BS.

  8. wzrd1 says

    …and tell Hill that he was made uncomfortable by the word “folk” because Germans used the word “Volk” in Nazi propaganda.

    OK, so he wants to cancel one word because a reprehensible group of people used that word in the past. Given that many common words were also used by that group, are we to render language ineffective via censorship of words used outside of the context of the reprehensible?
    Oh wait, since he couldn’t offer a cogent response on subject, he tried to derail the conversations with irrelevant bullshit.

  9. equisetum says

    Germans used the word “Volk” in Nazi propaganda.

    They also used it during the fall of the Berlin Wall: “Wir sind das Volk.”

    It also appears in the German translation of (drumroll) The Constitution of the United States of America: Wir, das Volk der Vereinigten Staaten, von der Absicht geleitet, unseren Bund zu vervollkommnen, etc.

    It also appears in the German Constitution, which was approved by the American occupiers.

    It means “people”, folks.

  10. equisetum says

    To add: Not to mention that he’s just plain wrong on the origin of the word.

  11. mailliw says

    I wonder what Lindsay thinks about German words like Geschäftsführer (CEO), Reiseführer (travel guide) and Zugführer (train driver). Führerschein is the German for driving licence – as Hitler never passed a driving test there is the joke that he was the Führer without a Führerschein.

  12. mailliw says

    Of course what Lindsay is trying to do with his comments about folk is to make objections to the use of particular words look ridiculous.

    It all depends on the context and who is using the word to describe another person.

    Take my Führer example about – all the words I mention are perfectly acceptable – but to use the word Führer to describe the leader of a political party would immediately carry strong Nazi connotations.

  13. mailliw says

    I would be interested to hear what Lindsay’s view on freedom of speech would be over things that actually have been made illegal.

    In Germany it is a criminal offence to display the swastika or make the Nazi salute in public. Would Lindsay consider this to be an infringement of free speech?

  14. Clovasaurus says

    Assholes are all to ready to tell you why they should be allowed to be assholes. They were not ready!

  15. snarkrates says

    Part of the problem really is physiological/mental. Studies show that people who identify as conservative tend to feel negative emotions as more intensely painful than normal folk–hate, anger, shame and especially disgust. I really wonder if we couldn’t solve the problem by microdosing the municipal water supply in the burbs and fashionable zipcodes with ecstasy (which has been shown to keep negative emotions under control while people deal with PTSD). I’m only partly joking.

  16. hemidactylus says

    @16- snarkrates

    Attempts to improve society always come with unintended consequences. Concomitants of ecstasy are smoking cloves, twirling glow sticks, and an obsession with Moby. Although that might seem better than the current situation, the thought of CPAC and the Republican convention taking on the characteristics of an underground rave where old white men X-out to trance house and engage in Dionysian orgiastic rituals conjures very disturbing images in my mind. Picture Moscow Mitch gyrating buck naked grinding teeth on a pacifier. Nobody wants that!

    Granted the Republican party platform might have some surprising transformations. They could push this as the new national anthem:


  17. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lindsay came across as a real slimeball. Boghossian looked less bad by virtue of letting Lindsay do most of the talking. That “folk” BS (eyeroll). In English or German, it means “people.” The word existed, and split into the English and German versions, centuries before the Nazis came along. Whereas with “master” and “slave” – human slavery has been around probably before human history began to be recorded, so there is no similar disclaimer.
    Here is their cheat sheet against social justice rhetoric if anyone needs a good laugh.

  18. garnetstar says

    Thanks, Reginald S. @18, I wanted to read the rest of the crazy, after seeing how they “defined” systemic racism.

    I recently saw some other interviews by Marc Lamont Hill of other (hapless) RWNJs, and immediately fell in love. He’s one of the best journalists/commentators/interviewers I’ve ever seen. Really penetrating ideas and explains things so well and so simply and clearly that even crazed MAGAs have a hard time denying them. Also, HIll has a very fresh outlook, he introduces points of view that have never occured to me.

    Anyway, I’m a follower and fan.

  19. Rich Woods says

    Is this the James Lindsay who claimed he could kill any trans person stone dead with one punch? Charming fellow.

  20. steve1 says

    Peter looked uncomfortable in a I’m in over my head way. He did throw out a get of jail free card. Saying hey if this cheat sheet is wrong let me know and we will revise it. Plus having this piece of crap out for anyone to parse through at their leisure would make anyone uncomfortable.

  21. chrislawson says


    Even if that specific research finding is true, which I’m not convinced of, it does nothing to determine causality. Are people conservative because they feel shame and disgust more strongly than liberals? Or do conservatives feel exactly the same thing but rate shameful and disgusting emotions more severely because they’re accultured to mobilising negative emotions against progressive thinking? It also fails to address what things people find shameful and disgusting in the first place. Why, for instance, do conservatives find outspoken discussion of national flaws so shameful, but are somehow not at all ashamed of those flaws? Why, for instance, was only one of the perpetrators of the My Lai massacre ever punished with a prison term (commuted to house arrest and then paroled after 3.5 years for murdering 22 people) while the helicopter pilots who intervened, saving the lives of many civilians including children as young as 4, were publicly attacked by Senators as “traitors”?

    The idea that there is some innate neurological difference that explains people’s political leanings is simplistic and fails to account for huge cultural changes. Did the basic neurology of East Germans change after the Berlin Wall came down? Did Scandinavians evolve different neurochemistry between their hyperviolent Viking culture and their modern social democratic culture?

  22. chrislawson says

    Follow-up: apologies, snarkrates. Looking over my post I can see that it comes across as an attack on you. It’s not intended that way. I’m antagonistic to the idea, which is quite widespread in liberal circles, not to you personally.

  23. John Morales says


    chrislawson @22,23: good comment, needless proactive apology.

    Looking over my post I can see that it comes across as an attack on you.

    Only to someone who imagines attacking a claim is perforce an attack on the claimant.
    In a sense, you’re now actually insulting snarkrates by insinuating they’re such a person. ;)

  24. pick says

    I am not familiar with Lindsay. After watching the video I have to comment on his apparent mental health. He comes across like a paranoid/delusional patient in an intake interview at the hospital. Boghossian was sufficiently self aware to see in advance how his views came across in the context of Lamont Hill’s intellect.

  25. John Morales says


    I am not familiar with Lindsay. After watching the video I have to comment on his apparent mental health. He comes across like a paranoid/delusional patient in an intake interview at the hospital.

    FWIW, your comment impelled me to watch the video (x1.25 FWTW).

    In my own estimation, he came across as someone who tried to be clever, imagining he was clever enough to do so convincingly.

    (Mind you, those two perspectives might refer to the very same thing)

  26. rrutis1 says

    Chrislawson @22
    I also have doubts about how the conservative brain is motivated per the shame theory, especially in specific circumstances like you cited with the Mai Lai Massacre. But…it helps me to think about all the different motivators we have and how they “compete” to drive a decision in our minds. For instance, in the case of the senators calling the helo pilots traitors…authoritarianism and the desire to inflame the base emotions of their voters to get re-elected overrode any shame they would have about committing war crimes. This way of thinking, at least to me, shows how upside down conservatives are/can be on dealing with reality and how hard it is to suss out what is going on in the black box (brain).

  27. DLC says

    I caught this video the other day. I have to confess that I did not recognize any of the people, but I did recognize the lousy, crummy non-logic the two white guys tried to use. All I could think of was “wow, it’s too early for word salad with condescension dressing and a side order of bullshit.” Then the guy in the center spoke up, and I watched with a considerable amount of amusement as the two fools got verbally smacked around. Not knowing who Boghossian and Lindsay are, I attached no importance to them. And now, having seen them perform, I still attach no importance to them, although it appears that they do prove that merely being an Atheist does not also make one intelligent, wise or right. Much as there are theists I respect and admire despite their inability to perceive this particular facet of the truth.

  28. hemidactylus says

    I wonder due to its inherently emancipatory nature whether Critical Theory collapsed Hume’s is/ought contrast by viewing the former through the biasing lens of the latter.

  29. hemidactylus says

    So much has happened since failure of mobilizing the proles was attributed to the influence of the culture industry. The developments of privilege, intersectionality, ascendant identity and other considerations pushed class consciousness to the back burner.

    The odd talking past each other nature of a Snowian two culture clash between critical rationalism and critical theory (aka positivism dispute) paled in comparison and was eclipsed by the science wars which focused instead on Latour, Baudrillard and other postmodern luminaries centered on the Sokal affair.

    We have culture warmongering opportunists who are trying to construct a connect the dot narrative that ties critical theory, postmodernism, identity politics, and critical race theory, and the science wars together as a mad lib. They have pivoted from the new atheist focus on Abramic religions to culture studies programs instead as the new enemy that needs countering. A rebranding?

  30. says

    mailliw @ #12:

    I wonder what Lindsay thinks about German words like Geschäftsführer (CEO), Reiseführer (travel guide) and Zugführer (train driver). Führerschein is the German for driving licence – as Hitler never passed a driving test there is the joke that he was the Führer without a Führerschein.

    Didn’t know this. I still think about this random bit of history I posted about here a while back: when the Nazis abolished speed limits.

  31. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Germans used the word “Volk” in Nazi propaganda.

    I guess I’ll jump on the pileup, pointing out Volkswagon is one of the most popular manufacturers of cars in the world, only recently topped by Toyota.
    It is incomprehensible how he would associate “folks” with the NAZI use of volks, How can he possibly think the most common world for casual reference to conventional people is derived from NAZIs? Really says something about him, don’t it?
    Guess he’d recommend against buying Mitsubishi products because they built the airplane Zero during WWII

  32. tinkerer says

    I think a few people here are missing Lindsay’s point. It’s still stupid, but it’s a failed attempt at a “gotcha” rather than a genuine argument. He’s trying to make objections to loaded language seem ridiculous by using an example which is obviously ridiculous.

    It failed because Hill said that although he recognised that Lindsay was being tongue in cheek, if Lindsay had genuinely found the word “folk” distasteful because of it’s Nazi connections he would stop using it out of respect. It wasn’t the response Lindsay was expecting and it completely defused his argument.

  33. hemidactylus says

    Has anyone found it odd that Paul Boghossian wrote “What the Sokal Hoax Ought to Teach Us” which is found in the book A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths About Science? The book was published in 1998.

  34. says

    For my part, I was riffing off of the Volkswagen comments and hadn’t yet watched the “folk” portion of the video. tinkerer @ #35 is correct about Lindsay’s “folk” gambit. (W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk was published in 1903, by the way.)

    I do have to say that as someone who’s studied the history of Nazism but who doesn’t otherwise know German, when I hear “volk” and “führer” my mind does go to “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer,” which I assume isn’t the case for people who see these words in ordinary contexts. Is there a use of “volk” in German that’s more akin to “folks”? If you’re talking about like folk art or folk music, what term is used?

  35. Tethys says

    @SC’s question 38
    Folk and Volk are merely alternate spellings of the same word, and are used exactly the same in their respective languages. Volkmusik. Father-Vater-Padre/Pater

    Volk also happens to be my paternal Grandmother’s surname, and I laughed loudly at the smarmy attempt at claiming he was offended by the use of a rather common word, because the Nazi used it. Of course the Nazi’s used common German words.

    Ridana #5

    I laughed hard at this word. My German is not good but, Yes, he did turn his face into a backpipe. Does this word also imply a horse’s backside, or just a sewage pipe?

  36. Tethys says


    Pop Musik

    New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody think about Pop Musik!

  37. ChrisE84 says

    I’d prefer Watschengesicht over Backpfeifengesicht (but that just shows that German is pluricentric).

    In certain cases, Volk is avoided today, but that is usually when it would exclude ethnic minorities etc. (except if you want to sound like a Nazi or neo-Nazi, of course). Words like Volkslied or Volksfest are not affected. Of course, people who like Volkstümliche Musik have the reputation of being more … conservative … (I guess that’s not different for folks who listens to country music, especially if they reject other popular modern music).