A revealing article in the February 2022 issue of Frontiers in Communications provides tremendous insight into the roadmap that Critical Theory advocates are using to conquer STEM, the last academic sector still holding out against the long march through the institutions. Titled “Acknowledging and Supplanting White Supremacy Culture in Science Communication and STEM: The Role of Science Communication Trainers,” the article describes the step-by-step plan being used to educate science communicators who craft the narratives that frame the place of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in society:
SciComm trainers have a history of being cultural change-agents. They pioneer new methods of sharing ideas and influence the culture of STEM, so are [sic] uniquely situated to bring about systemic change.
As with most aspects of the long march, the plan is anchored in the skilled use of compliant media, the deft manipulation of weaponized language, social intimidation unleashed on critics, and the neutralization of pushback by demonizing free speech as hate speech.
The first step, begun decades ago, was to persuade science communication trainers to teach their students how to foment and wage a war on “Whiteness.” The authors open the article by stating their uncontestable axioms:
Racism is a root cause of underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx scholars across STEM. It also contributes to a lack of diversity in science communication, the types of science stories that are told, and the communities who are engaged. Racism is omnipresent in STEM, from education to research to science communication (SciComm), because STEM institutions operate within a system that advantages White people, termed by Jones and Okun in a 2001 article, White Supremacy Culture (WSC) (Jones and Okun, 2001).
The blind eye turned toward the tremendous contemporary success of Asians in STEM is an important part of this strategy. Asian success is as glaringly disproportionate as historical Jewish achievement and has led universities like Harvard to establish quotas to limit the number of Asians, just as they did with Jews in the past. Because logical consistency is not valued by Critical Theorists, they have no problem opportunistically categorizing Asians as either White or Oppressed Minorities depending on circumstances.
[Related: “Anti-Asian Discrimination at the Heart of the Progressive Education Agenda”]
The objective of the attack on “Whiteness” was to throw the leaders of STEM institutions into a defensive posture, forcing them to accept these racist axioms without analysis or evidence and threatening to socially demonize them as defenders of white privilege if they fail to surrender. The conflict-avoiding, fundraising-besotted leadership of these STEM institutions submissively accepted the axiom that their culture was rife with systemic racism and unconscious bias. They reinforced their cowardice by issuing public statements of contrition for past wrongs and establishing mandatory programs of anti-bias “education” purportedly designed to repair their systemically racist cultures. In this way, the groundwork was laid to fatally undermine color-blind meritocratic practices, which are central to the culture of accomplishment that has long characterized STEM.
Only once STEM leaders whose actions perpetuate WSC, relinquish their gatekeeping role determining who is considered a scientist, can we begin to consider the role of attitude, aptitude, and interests.
Central to destroying the “gatekeeper role” was legitimizing “different ways of knowing” and new kinds of “science” alien to the manner in which science has been conducted since the Enlightenment. This was easier to accomplish in the social sciences, which compared to the physical sciences, engineering, or mathematics are relatively bereft of objective or quantifiable standards. In turn, the social sciences provided cover for the even more radical ideologies of the Black Studies, Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, and similar departments that mushroomed across the liberal arts universities. These nests of pseudo-scholarship have gained a toehold in STEM institutions, serving as a highly vocal Greek Chorus that amplifies the narratives of ideologically trained science communicators. Together, this alliance becomes the primary vector for injecting Critical Theories into the STEM academic community. Unaware of the threat building around them, many faculty members doing real science retreated into their laboratories, unwilling to expend the time and energy, or pay the personal price, of fighting back.
[Related: “When Diversity Invades Precision Agriculture”]
Affirmative Action in its many embodiments has supported race-based admissions and race- and gender-based hiring and promotion practices for decades, vastly altering the racial and gender balance across American universities. This achieved a laudable goal through problematic means, creating pathologies of its own, such as the mismatch problem, and driving affirmative action admits who couldn’t perform at elite STEM universities into the rump humanities departments. Hence, certain minorities remain underrepresented in STEM. However, no serious attempt is made to examine the root causes because the answer is always the same:
White supremacist norms are prevalent in college admissions and hiring, awarding funding, determining who gets published and who has access to what is published, which communities and audiences are prioritized for communications, and who has a say in what is studied and why (Stevens et al., 2021; Taffe and Gilpin, 2021).
It wasn’t until the Black Lives Matter riots subsequent to the George Floyd media crisis that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs exploded into an eight-billion-dollar industry, establishing self-sustaining administrative structures throughout all branches of academia, government agencies, and the corporate world. Now firmly in place and growing their ranks, DEI agents serve the same role that political commissars served in the defunct Soviet Union, matrixed across departmental organizations charged with training, monitoring, and intimidating refuseniks so as to ensure ideological conformity.
Most liberal arts universities surrendered to this onslaught a long time ago, and many may be too far gone to recover. Yet the battle still rages in STEM. Once thought to be immune, cloistered professors in STEM institutions are now waking up to the invasion that has breached their perimeter. Effectively silenced by a cancel culture that threatens career-killing retribution if any part of the anti-Whiteness program is questioned, the axioms under which this entire plan have been perpetrated remain unchallenged.
At the outset of the long march through the institutions, demands for free speech, viewpoint diversity, and academic freedom were used to pry open the doors of the academy, allowing Critical Theory to take root. Now that these advocates are dominant, the tables have turned. Preventing the outbreak of a counter-revolution requires suppressing free speech, proscribing viewpoint diversity, and strictly limiting academic freedom. We cannot let that happen.
17 thoughts on “Unmasking the Campaign against “White Supremacy Culture” in Science”
As already noted and implied, there is always a cost to choosing people on any basis other than performance. In a non-competitive world, this reduction in performance might not be noticeable. But international competition picks winners and losers on razor thin margins. In a highly competitive environment, it only takes a small drop in performance to turn a winner into a loser. Ask any professional athlete or Olympic competitor about how thin those margins can be. Making choices based on DEI rather than performance will have consequences not yet imagined by the DEI proponents.
If STEM is the very heart and wellspring of uncountable and diverse accomplishments, comforts, wonders, inventions and things civilized and technical humanity cannot do without, then what effect will the weakening of end results have on the future of all these things being delivered in a manner we are accustomed to? Keeping in mind that most if not all who attack STEM now as some hotbed of racialized prejudice also enjoy these fruits and would not want to do without them anymore than anyone else.
We assume that results would be exactly the same, and that standards would be matched. It’s a great question to ask, would this be the case?
You can only dumb down a process so far before the stress fractures begin to show, and it becomes painfully obvious that the center will not hold. What then? The things that make high technology work so dependably are beautiful truths. They are so true that they do not care about identity. A motion detector is by nature, universally responsive (just for instance).
So when 2+2=4 becomes finally, a racist or sexist or phobic statement, it is then that we become so incredibly fragile in the face of reality that we can hardly stand up. This truth is not a “white-owned” thing. Not only is it there benefit to all of humanity (arguably debatable as to whose share of what pie) but also, opportunity for all humans to contribute (witness the activity of a very many non-white persons to collected knowledge, data and outcomes).
To tear down a good and necessary thing, a beneficial thing just so “white” people cannot enjoy it? I cannot imagine a more infantile tantrum that leads to no good outcome.
I recently watch a PBS Nova episode on Black Holes. Most of the featured astronomers were women and people of color – several of whom were more active in social issues than actual research.
Not the leading voices for the discipline but chosen for their representation and ideologies.
Granted Nova is pop science, but it appears race, gender, and sexual orientation are more important than contributions to understanding for this segment’s produces. You see, we need more gender studies in Science, so that gets the nod.
Excellent, BUT affirmative action does not aim at a “laudable goal.” Racial proportion should be absolutely irrelevant to scientific, or indeed any, evaluation. Full stop. Willingness to consider racial distribution as a valid measure of anything is the source of all our problems.
Frank Herbert quote:
“When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles. When I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles”
It should be obvious that STEM teaching should never be politicized by diversity, equity or inclusion overtones. One’s culture or race, has no meaning whatsoever in a quantitative subject. There are correct answers & they are fact-based theories; you either know it or you don’t. It is absurd to think that anyone should think that standards can be compromised to aid someone who can’t cope. A struggling student should be helped along at all costs but everyone loses if standards are tampered with. This seems to be where this stupidity is headed and it should be opposed by all academics under all circumstances.
Excellent analysis but arguably the problem is not White people but the excessive numbers of Asians and Jews who dominate STEM. Sort of like the NBA in reverse. If STEM grants were awarded on the basis of demographic forces, then far more Latinx scholars would win recognition and promotion. Much of this esteem might lead to mediocre analyses but so what so long as STEM is genuinely representative of the People and especially if working and marginalized people have their hopes and dreams met. Indeed, opening up these fields to groups heretofore not included, merit or lack of same not withstanding, is the best way to continue the class struggle.
Do you have a shred of evidence to support your claim that Latino STEM scholars are not getting recognition and promotion because of bias or systemic racism or whatever?
I also don’t understand how STEM advancement has anything to do with “being representative of the people”. Please explain.
Finally, I don’t understand how opening up [STEM] fields to people, merit or lack thereof notwithstanding, benefits anyone. Please clarify.
I strongly suspect (and sincerely hope) arturo is having a laugh, Patti.
STEM professors don’t get an especially wonderful deal as faculty at universities. Generally having higher paid options in the private sector, they are often told they have to bring in grants or their salary won’t be paid. This is true anyway at MIT, where half the salary comes from research grants. The humanities or social science professor in the next building may make a little less, or maybe not even less money, and they don’t have to bring in research grants and are essentially welfare cases who have little value in the market economy.
Why should they fight the very strategic leftists, when the university system makes them pay such a tax to be educators at all? I don’t blame them for retreating into their labs.
The whole idea of “science communicators” is wrong. We should have real scientists doing the communicating. I was sort of interested in the science I saw on TV, but I got hooked by a lecture from a physics professor, explaining correct and fascinating astrophysics in terms I could understand. They can communicate with the public, and (unlike “science communicators”) they deeply understand what they are communicating. They can say simple things that are important, that the science communicator would never think of.
There’s a hopeful sign. People are starting to not “trust the science”, a propaganda phrase that didn’t exist until recently. Science is not to be trusted, unless it convinces you. Try to break it, wear yourself out, you may prove it wrong but more likely you’ll learn something. When I was young, we loved the science because it was doing great things. That’s what happens when the message isn’t full of lies.
Perhaps we will finally see the end of the Global Cooling/Global Warming/Climate Change myth.
Affirmative action programs are pervasive in STEM programs now, but the proverbial “hand writing on the wall” says this will not last long, 5-10 years at best. After that they will slowly fade away.
By definition, affirmative action programs are designed to hire the mediocre. Science has always recognized true talent. (Case in point, Marie Curie won two Nobel prizes, in different fields, more than 100 years ago.) If one is truly among the best and the brightest, then there would be no need for affirmative action programs. If you don’t think this is true, name the university that says “yeah, X has stellar qualifications and would really bolster our research productivity and funding if hired. But alas, X has the wrong skin color or is a woman. Too bad.” Those universities don’t exist.
Mediocre faculty produce mediocre students and mediocre research. It doesn’t take too many of these individuals to tarnish a STEM academic department’s reputation and, given tenure rules, could have long term consequences. Even universities realize that you can only get burnt so many times before you need to back away from the fire.
To counter your argument, one would need a world in which all top departments are tarnished, so there is no objective standard. And we’re getting pretty close to that in fact.
Your example of a department not hiring faculty because she’s a woman doesn’t exist. But not hiring because he’s a white man, that happens a lot.
I agree with your last paragraph. That does happen a lot nowadays.
Patti, look at the woman hired as the President of the University of Maine at 0rono & Machias.
Mitt Castor sums up the last 10-20 years of the groves of academe precisely and expertly. One sentence nails down exactly why we have reached the dismal present situation: “many faculty members doing real science retreated into their laboratories, unwilling to expend the time and energy, or pay the personal price, of fighting back.”
The situation is asymmetrical. Most scientists entered their fields because they want to teach and practice science. For them politics is a distraction, and they have nothing to gain by their political involvement. For the true believers politics is their primary mission, and they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.