Update, August 16th: I will now no longer will be working for Facebook. I was to start Monday the 19th as a full-time employee; they told me yesterday, Thursday the 15th, that that was not going to happen. Technically they did not rescind the offer; I would be allowed to work for them as a full-time contractor for a period of up to 6 weeks while (with my co-operation) they would conduct their own investigation into what happened. My FTE offer would be dependent on the results of that investigation. Meanwhile I would be excluded from Facebook property. I declined that offer; the whole thing was giving me déjà vu.
Of course I knew that leaving this page up would almost certainly be the end of my job at Facebook. Everyone around me was begging me to take it down; but I said, how can I tell others to man up and then be a coward myself?
In case anyone is curious, my plan is to work for a Chinese company and maybe get a part-time position at a Chinese university.
I am leaving to take a private-sector job in Seattle, starting August 19th. I will still be working with my students and collaborators here remotely. As you'll see from this letter, I have been fired from Hopkins effective the 31st of August. I had arranged a backup plan beforehand, so will be leaving a bit earlier. Please don't blame the Whiting School or Andrew Douglas for this; this comes from higher up. You'll see from the letter that I am not supposed to communicate with (almost) anyone at Hopkins... technically I am just putting this on the web; and if you find it, you find it.
I don't expect all this will come as a surprise to most of you, given that three months ago I organized a counter-protest against the student occupation of Garland hall, and a number of people were extremely triggered about that; but I thought you might like a little background.
What was never in dispute is that, being frustrated as the prospect of a long siege at Garland where our computer servers live, I organized a group of what I called “counter-protesters” to try to regain control of the building from the students. This was on the evening of May 8th; there was a scuffle and I was carried out of the building by the protesters. They then made allegations to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), saying that I had attacked them. The OIE seems not to have been able to substantiate the allegations that I attacked the protesters, but university leadership still decided that I still needed to be fired. (The attached letter claims that they are still investigating... I think most likely the true story is either they found the protesters were lying or realize that they'll never know what happened).
What the administration seems to be saying is that I put the students in danger by bringing outsiders into what could have been a dangerous situation. You'll see that the letter states that I believed the group I brought with me “could become violent"... the actual conversation with their lawyer went like this: after I stated that everyone was under strict instructions to not retaliate if attacked, I was asked whether I was confident that they would be able to follow those instructions no matter what happened; and I shrugged.
So essentially I am being fired for what might have happened, while the students are getting off scot free for things that actually did happen. They actually made false allegations against me, both in public (on Twitter) and to the university authorities. They actually attacked me and hurt me; many of you saw the big scratches on my back. They also threw a lot of punches at the people with me, who showed admirable restraint, although I understand one punch was thrown by a person in my group. They actually shut down Garland and inconvenienced thousands of people, requiring the fire department to cut open the doors to get them out. But they suffer no consequences. Am I sensing just a liiiitle bit of a double standard? I mean, obviously faculty will be held to higher standards than students, but that's nowhere near enough to account for the difference in treatment.
Where could this double standard come from? Well, obviously there's the fact that they were protesting for a left-wing cause, and I was opposing them. I'm not convinced that that's enough to explain it, though. My feeling is that this mostly has to do with underrepresented minorities, specifically black people (and trans people). There seems to be nothing that Americans, or American institutions, fear more than being accused of racism (or similar ism's), which leads to ridiculous spectacles like what we're seeing here, where such a huge organization can be paralyzed by a handful of deluded kids.
Now if I had known in advance that everyone inside the building was black (that was what I saw; although from media coverage it seems that there may have been a white trans person in the core group)— I wouldn't have gone ahead with the counterprotest. I'm not an idiot; I know that as a person who demographically ticks all the 'oppressor boxes', I would have to be severely punished for opposing such a group. I miscalculated by trusting the coverage in JHNewsletter, which seems to have given a false impression of the demographics of the protest; their photos showed mostly white people. Now many of the people sitting outside the building were white, but that seems to have been window-dressing; they were just bystanders and didn't do anything except take a bunch of cellphone video. All the people that I saw fighting and screaming were black. If it were simply a matter of difference of opinion I expected that Hopkins would at least pretend to be even-handed; but once race and transgender status enter the picture I don't think that's possible any more.
I'm aware that it's a huge violation of social norms for me to say publicly that I think whites, or males, are being discriminated against1. As far as I can tell there are three specific circumstances in which it's acceptable for a white male in left-of-center America to allude publicy to these types of double standards:
1. Some people seem to be taking this statement out of context. This is not a blanket statement that white males are discriminated against in general, just in the context of campus politics.
White males in this environment seem to be expected to constantly atone for their existence by telegraphing their exclusive concern for every demographic group but their own, like a neutered puppy-dog or some Justin Trudeau man-child. It's pathetic, in my opinion; and I don't accept it at all. I am not prepared to apologize for being who I am. I don't think that empathy should preclude critical thinking or basic self-respect. I don't accept that a person should have carte blanche to disrupt everyone's lives just because of their minority status; and I don't feel it's right that I should be fired just for opposing a group whose victimhood makes them politically unassailable. This might sound very controversial to some people here, but to me it seems like common sense.
After writing the words above, I can hear in my head a chorus of marginalized voices crying: “But.. but.. but.. we're triggered!” “Hate!” “White supremacy!” “Transphobia!” and demanding special protection. I expect that some people will characterize my plea for equal treatment as an incitement to genocide. Let them. Unlike some people here, I have the mental strength to not be manipulated by these kinds of histrionics. I don't need the approval of victim groups to bolster my self-esteem; and I'm capable of weathering a little outrage. (The fact that I have career options helps, obviously). There's a difference between tolerance and cowardice; there's a difference between broad-mindedness and self-hatred; and no-one should claim they are bravely defending ‘oppressed classes’ when in reality they are just too timid, self-conscious or mentally feeble to stop themselves from being manipulated by their advocates. Males educated here in America seem to be uniquely supine in this regard. Is it something they put in the cafeteria food?
Perceptive readers may see the above as an appeal to masculinity. Yes, that's essentially what it is. The obvious response, for a progressive, would be to put the adjective “toxic” in front of that word “masculinity” and throw it back at me. OK. I'm aware that in the progressive world male is bad and female is good, just as in Orwell's “Animal Farm” it was “four legs good, two legs bad”. To round it out you can add: “non-white good, white bad”; “diversity good, uniformity bad”; “majority bad, minority good”; “powerful bad, powerless good”, and so on; and you have a nice little moral system, one that may be perfectly self-consistent. Now, I view moral systems as arbitrary and subjective: it's just a particular assignment of people, actions, thoughts, events, artifacts and so on, to the categories “good” and “bad”— typically reinforced by myths or cherry-picked facts, and held together by some more general principles or concepts. So from a certain abstract point of view, the progressive moral system as on the same footing as any other.
What I do find very odd, though, is that any straight white male would buy into it. It's the same as if a gay Jew were to join the Nazi party and begin endlessly apologizing for his ancestors having lent money to Aryans at too-high rates of interest; and agreeing that he needs to recognize his “problematic Jewishness” and “toxic homosexuality”, stop talking, and make space for Aryan voices to be heard. He might even take pride in having acknowledged the uniquely cancerous and exploitative nature of the Jewish people, despite being one himself. So is this person virtuous, or is he just too-easily manipulated? You decide. I know we're approaching cerebral-haemorrhage territory here, for left-of-center readers, but it's true: there are many things said by American progressives where if you replace “white patriarchy” and “women of color” with “Jewish capital” and “Aryan youth”, and add a picture of a blond boy and a swastika or two, you'd have a very serviceable Nazi propaganda poster. Think about it.
Of course, there are differences. Genocide of one gender by the other, or of a more-powerful majority by a less-powerful minority, is perhaps not historically common. The point is, the language used to describe the more-successful demographic (Jews in Nazi Germany; white males here) is similar; and the psychological states of the people involved are no doubt similar as well. This isn't about moral equivalence; it's about that hypothetical gay Jew's reaction to being told that his demographic characteristics are “problematic” and “toxic”. Do we see him as virtuous and strong, or as weak? Suppose we say that he's weak. What is it about a white male social justice warrior today who's constantly “checking his privilege” and “making space for minority voices” that might make us admire him? Yes, white males now are overrepresented in some respects; but so were Jews in early-20th-century Germany— much more, in fact. See “World on Fire” by Amy Chua, which says, IIRC, that they had a 10-times-larger-than-average income; and according to this they seem to have been 25-fold overrepresented at the top tier of business. (Hitler might have been a little bit triggered by that). So what exactly is different? Our guy might have been in more physical danger; but doesn't that give him more of an excuse to act the way he did?
I've heard the objection that unlike the situation today, the Jews were not oppressing the non-Jewish Germans. My response is that oppression is something that's in the eye of the beholder. No-one today would suggest that they were— not in polite society, at least— but at the time, many Germans felt that they were being oppressed. If you apply the logic of today's progressives, where differences in outcomes are automatically assumed to be the result of some kind of bias, I find it difficult to see how you'd argue that there was no oppression of any kind. Today, even a 10% salary difference can lead to cries of discrimination; a factor of 10 is much harder to ignore.
You might also say that the Nazis were wrong about the Jews being bad (or at least, worse than non-Jewish Germans), whereas it's actually true that white males are bad; and that history proves it. But that's a subjective judgement, because facts alone can never tell you what's good or bad unless interpreted within a moral framework. And if you use a moral framework that was constructed with the specific goal of proving that women and non-whites are good and white men are bad (because it originated in women's-studies and black-studies departments at universities), then that's the conclusion you will reach.
By singling out these academic disciplines I certainly don't mean to tarnish all women or black people. In fact, I feel that in the long term those academic communities are doing a disservice to the people they represent, by taking extreme positions that inevitably cause a backlash. Black people seem to be generally more sensitive to this concern than whites, as you can see from their greater support for moderate candidates in the current Democratic primary. Whether that's because they perceive it more clearly or because they actually have skin in the game, I don't know.
I also want to be clear that I'm not in favor of any political or cultural movements that are animated by resentment. The choice isn't, and shouldn't be, between demonizing one demographic group or demonizing the other. But to join a movement that's specifically against one's own group? That's retarded. Man up, America! You're better than that. Leave that ideology to the man-haters and racial agitators that generated it, stop apologizing, and start living your lives!
Anywho: as for me, I may not have my job, but at least I still have my dignity and my independence of thought. I'll leave you with some words of Bob Dylan:
I ain't sorry for nothing I've done
I'm glad I fought, I only wish we'd won
Please send my regards to the OIE, and say that, thanks to them, my career prospects have greatly improved.
PS I am aware that some people are trying to “cancel” me and get me fired from my next job. See if I care! I have lots of other career options. When this whole thing started I told my friends, if the worst comes to the worst I can always go to China or Russia. I'll tell you this, though: whatever happens, I will never apologize and I will never back down. I know the normal script is that I am supposed to get down on my knees and beg, “Please accept me back into your midst, liberal America! No way. Fuck you.
PPS They have now posted some video of the incident. Misleadingly captioned, but if you look at the video itself, and bear in mind it's what they felt was most advantageous to release from the much larger amount of video they collected, it doesn't really bolster their story that I attacked them. For me the funniest part is where they ominously zoom in on— da da da dah! — a Guns'N'Roses t-shirt. Like it proves we're white supremacists or something. Dudes! Guns'N'Roses isn't even metal; it's just mainstream hard rock. Plus I'm pretty sure that Axl Rose is Jewish. Did you guys even realize that it was the name of a band? (shakes head). Also: when they say I am pulling on one of their people, I believed I was pulling on the arm of the guy with me in the blue shirt. When I freeze-frame the video, it does actually look like the hand of a black person; I might have been confused.
PPPS As you can see from how this document starts, it was intended to be read by some of my colleagues at Hopkins, as an attempted workaround for a ban on communicating with them (we'll see whether Hopkins will decide to advance the date of my termination as a result of that). I did not provide any public link to it, and didn't really intend for it to go viral. But now that it has gone viral I don't plan to remove it, because I would see that as backing down in the face of pressure from ideologues; and that's not something I would do.
Afterword written August 12th: Some people seem to be interpreting this statement as motivated by anger against Hopkins, or against specific demographic groups. While I'm certainly not happy about my treatment, that is not the primary intent; in a sense they were doing me a favor by firing me. I don't even have that much interest in the legality or rightness of my firing, or the details of the events themselves, or the specific groups involved. This is about a broader cultural issue in the Western world, and the United States in particular. White people, and particularly white males, seem to be presented with a choice of either hating themselves, or hating others; and the left is then surprised and outraged when they choose the latter. I am saying: that's a false choice. Respect for others doesn't have to be at the expense of respect for oneself, and demonizing the majority is just as dangerous as demonizing minorities.