Tag Archives: UW-Madison

The Wisconsin rock episode was a textbook demonstration of the difference between…

… sincere activism and playacting, out of a desire to join the civil rights struggle in a time when the problems are so much more abstract than they once were.

The true fault here lies with the school’s administration, whose deer tails popped up as they bolted into the forest, out of a fear of going against the commandments of what we today call antiracism, which apparently includes treating Black people as simpletons and thinking of it as reckoning.

True wokeness would have been to awaken to the tricky but urgent civic responsibility of, when necessary, calling out Black people on nonsense. Yes, even Black people can be wrong. As the Black professor Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law puts it in his upcoming “Say It Loud!”: “Blacks, too, have flaws, sometimes glaringly so. These weaknesses may be the consequence of racist mistreatment. But they are weaknesses nonetheless.” To pretend this is never the case where racism is concerned is not to reckon but to dehumanize.

I know — you thought, based on what people of a certain charisma are telling you, that the idea is that where race or racism is concerned, Black people are always right. What matters is not what someone meant, but how the (Black) person says he or she feels about it. Anything less is blaming the victim.

The problem is that to subscribe to this etiquette requires consideration beyond what logic dictates. For example, according to the tenets of critical race theory that has such influence on so many these days, each Black person represents a race-wide narrative of oppression that we need to think about regardless of pesky details such as empiricism or even coherence. Or perhaps Black infallibility is just complicated?

Right. All of us, on some level, know that this is nonsense, and readers who think I am making this point only to white people are quite mistaken. I mean all of us. Neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor redlining renders a people’s judgment of where racism has reared its head infallible.

Treating a people with dignity requires not only listening closely and sympathetically to their grievances, but being able to take a deep breath and call them on aspects of those grievances that don’t make sense. And there will be some, unless those airing the grievance are fictional creations instead of human beings.

On race, we should assess, look ahead rather than backward, channel our thoughts and feelings with cortex rather than brain stem, think slow rather than fast — and the notion that this counsel is “white” is science fiction. That goes for both protesters as well as those whom they protest at. Instead, too much of what passes as enlightenment on race these days involves merely pretending that something makes sense out of fear.

The Performative Antiracism of Black Students at the U. of Wisconsin – The New York Times

Constitutional Liberties Under Assault

More thoughts on Pussy Riot at UW-Madison…

Like many Orthodox Christians (I won’t speak for those outside the Orthodox Church) I think the Russian government and the Church of Russian over reacted to Pussy Riot. I think that the ROC is too closely identified with Putin.

At the same, Pussy Riot wasn’t simply pointing out that Church and State are too close in Russia. They desecrated Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. The original Cathedral was destroyed by the Communist. Pussy Riot “performance” was in the new Cathedral. Pussy Riot’s protest in the Cathedral was, is, offensive to many Orthodox Christians in Russia and around the world. They choose a place that is sacred to the Orthodox Church not only because it is a cathedral but because it is a memorial to millions of martyrs. And frankly, I find it impossible to believe that UW’s Center for Russia, East Europe, & Central Asia (who are co-sponsoring the event) doesn’t know this. More likely they just don’t care.

What concerns me more as both a Christian and an American citizen is that now twice within one week UW has shown a marked hostility to fundamental human rights. UW has signaled its willingness to limit free speech by regulation and to support those who made a thuggish assault on the freedom of religion.

Pussy Riot didn’t civilly engage the Church on her position on homosexuality. They desecrated a church. And now UW is giving them a forum as if they were something other than common criminals.

Since I was an undergraduate, I’ve gone to church with Christians who suffered for the Gospel under fascism and communism. What I’ve learned from them is the resilience of faith. And from their example, I know that the  idea that UW represents any credible, long-term threat to me or the Orthodox Church is laughable.

And yes, I understand why people are upset about someone wearing an Obama mask was seen with a noose around his neck (here). Likewise, I understand why people at UW are swooning over Pussy Riot.

However, it is worrisome to me, as a citizen, that there is seemingly no willingness to even entertain the idea that the noose was not a racist act but a legitimate form of political protest. Likewise, Pussy Riot is invited to campus with seemingly no awareness that their protests were an assault (however feckless) on the conscience of the Orthodox Church and on religious liberty more generally.

Come UW, you’re better than this! At least I hope you are.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory