Upon occasion, I come across a statement from a progressive that so perfectly illuminates their muddled, nearly incomprehensible thinking as to be nearly breathtaking. Have they no idea they’ve descended directly into self-parody? I think. Of course, they have no idea; this really is the way they think, and what passes for reason and intellectual discourse in progressive circles. I speak primarily of academia and politics.
The man spouting the assertion that inspired this brief article is one Ta-Nehesi Coates, who is an editor for The Atlantic. As well as being an obviously heart-felt progressive, he is also black, which is clearly detrimental to intellect in the exposition of Mr. Coates’ worldview. I don’t suggest that black people are inferior intellects, merely that some black people allow an idea of “authentic” blackness to determine what they think and believe, and usually to their detriment and the detriment of society. The same is true of those that judge the world through the lens of whiteness or la Raza. Coates, of course, is also billed as an “educator.”
He has recently published a book titled “Between The World And Me,” whichScott Johnson critiques at Powerline. By all means, take the link and read the whole thing (Johnson also has several follow-up articles). For now, however, consider this excerpt:
Coates infrequently makes his points directly or attempts to formulate an argument. I take it, for example, that he did not get good grades as a student at Howard University. This is how he puts it: ‘I wanted to know things, but I could not match the means of knowing that came naturally to me with the expectations of my professors.’ No further explanation is offered.
“I could not match the means of knowing that came naturally to me with the expectations of my professors.” Perfect.
This is among the clearest–unintentional–explanations of the progressive mindset I’ve ever seen. But to understand it, we must first learn–don’t worry, unless you’re like Coates, you can learn–that “means of knowing” has a long and dishonorable history in academia.
Underlying every “studies” department in the modern university is the foundational concept of “alternate means (or ways) of knowing.” It’s quite simple, really. Want to build an academic discipline, get tenure and the prestige of a full professorship, but there is absolutely no proof for your theories of race, culture, gender, intelligence, language, history, etc.? Merely claim that conventional, stodgy thinkers are unable and unwilling to understand your brilliant new ways of knowing! Of course they can’t replicate your results (usually there aren’t any)! Their ancient science, invented by dead, patriarchal white men, cannot embrace superior, racial, sexual–fill in your preference here–means of knowing, so they can’t possibly understand the inestimable value of black studies, queer studies, queer black lesbian gay transgender studies, and every other way of knowing not accessible to traditional, pedestrian thinking and logic.
After all, who is to say whose means of knowing is correct? Who is to say whose way of knowing truth is better than that of anyone else?
Please go read the whole thing, it is masterful