A co-founder of Justice for Women, Julie has a long career campaigning against male violence. She’s the author of many books, and you can pre-order her latest, Feminism for Women, here. I disagree with her on many subjects but found strange agreement on others.
You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app” — which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. For three clips of our conversation — on how Julie distinguishes her own “liberation feminism” from “equality feminism”; on the crucial need to focus more on global feminism; and why she views prostitution as “paid rape” — head over to our YouTube page.
Meanwhile, many readers are offering up commentary on my discussion with Eric Kaufmann on race and shifting demographics. But first a quick correction from a reader, who clears up my conflation of two similar men featured on Bari Weiss’s substack:
Contrary to your passing comment, Paul Rossi (the teacher at Grace Church School who got fired) didn’t say that about systemic racism (“We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s”). It was Andrew Gutmann — a father of a student at Brearley.
Bari spoke to both men over Zoom here. And here she featured six takes — from John McWhorter, Lara Bazelon, Glenn Loury, Kmele Foster, Chloé Valdary and Kenny Xu — on the question of “what is systemic racism?” I’m working on my own attempt to answer that question.
Back to the Kaufmann pod, a reader offers firsthand perspective on racism outside the United States:
I’m glad you made the point that other countries have worse racial oppression. Whenever a CRT activist says the US is terrible on race, I always wonder, “compared to what?”
I lived in Africa for years and study it today, and the racism there is pervasive. Majority-clan Somalis treat the ethnically distinct, minority Somali Bantus (historically slaves in Somalia) horribly, to the point that some scholars believe they have suffered genocide. In Central Africa, pygmy peoples are seen as subhuman and have been nearly wiped out by surrounding people groups. The Khoisan in southern Africa were driven from most of their land by Bantu-speaking groups, and the Portuguese discovered that Khoisan made fabulous counterinsurgent fighters in part because they so hated the Bantu-speaking groups that populated the rebel ranks. In Mauritania, the light-skinned Moors to this day enslave many dark-skinned Africans, as much as 20% of the population. Sec. Blinken recently described what is going on in Ethiopia’s Tigray region as “ethnic cleansing.” And it goes on and on.
America is not a racial utopia, but no state ever has been or ever will be. It does, however, treat its minorities much better than does the great majority of countries. That is why it has by far the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, why millions of black Africans line up at US consulates for the remotest chance to get a visa, and why hundreds of thousands of people from Latin America head for the US-Mexican border whenever there is an opportunity to get across.
The idea that the U.S. is uniquely evil on racial issues is analytically indefensible, but also dangerous. I see in Africa every single day how destructive group grievances are to efforts to build unity, stability, and prosperity, and that is where the CRT crowd is trying to take us.
Amen. It takes unimaginable levels of historical ignorance to describe the modern West as uniquely racist, or as somehow “creating” racism in the modern era. And yet this very ignorance is now being taught to children as a “responsible” curriculum. Another reader makes an analogy:
While I am no astrophysicist, it seems to me “systemic racism” plays the same role in the liberal/progressive view of American society as dark matter (and dark energy) play in cosmology. Simply put, without positing the existence of massive amounts of unseen dark matter, our standard cosmological model — incorporating our very best understanding of “the science” — cannot stand. We cannot explain the Universe while maintaining the current cosmological paradigm unless dark matter exists.
Another reader pushes against my views on wokeness and immigration:
Excellent podcast with Eric Kaufmann. Lots of interesting stuff here, but I feel like there are two separate topics you sometimes confuse in the conversation.
The first topic is to what degree certain ethnicities or races or other demographic groups are disadvantaged in American society. I think a lot of what you call “neo-racism” is just a belief that right now the disparities are too big. Why aren’t 51% of congresspeople women? Why aren’t 18% Hispanic? Of course there are historical reasons for these disparities, and in theory they will slowly correct themselves over time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth proactively trying to help it along.
It’s disingenuous to claim that white liberals are looking to entirely invert the disparity, to completely remove all power from white men. They simply want to see the power in society more equitably distributed amongst the demographics of people that already exist in the country. Isn’t that the whole dream of democracy? A government run of the people, by the people, for the people?
The second topic relates to immigration, and the idea that people who welcome immigration are doing it as some kind of anti-racist flex. If you believe that most people who resist immigration are not racists, then it’s only fair to extend the same benefit of the doubt to those who welcome it. Couldn’t it be the case that most people who welcome immigration simply believe in extending democratic principles to the whole world? Why should people of one country be favored over people of another country, simply by accident of birth? Why wouldn’t an American want to extend their ideals to people all over the world? Welcoming immigration is fundamentally rooted in a belief that all humans deserve the same chances and the same opportunities, no matter where they were born. That’s not an anti-white or an anti-American belief. On the contrary, it’s a belief in many of the core values on which the country was founded!
One of the best points Kaufmann made was that only 8% of people actually fall into this idea of “woke” activism that you push so hard against. I think it’s worth remembering that statistic when you are tempted to make these sweeping comments about “white liberals”, as if the people you meet in newsrooms in DC are representative of all white liberals. The nomination and subsequent election of Joe Biden should make it clear that’s not the case. It doesn’t make it easy to say people are misrepresenting you as a racist, when you often make similarly extreme generalizations about everyone on the left.
The question is how you seek greater “equity”. By ensuring that minorities and women have equal opportunity to overcome the burden of the past, and rise according to their abilities? Or to find a way to impose equity by fiat from above on groups of people, in ways designed to undermine merit, and submerge the essence of an individual into the political collectivism of an identity group. I favor the former, believe it has already achieved marvels, and would rather identify actual reasons for minority under-performance — bad family structures, high levels of violence, cultural prejudices against “acting white”, etc — rather than re-engineering society to achieve a completely unfeasible equality of outcome for every population group.
On immigration, I don’t doubt the sincerity of many leftists’ beliefs about the arbitrariness of the genetic lottery in privileging all of us born in the modern West. They’re not wrong. But to abandon the nation-state, to see all borders as racist, and to see no need to prioritize your own citizens over non-citizens: this is utopian one-worldism.
This next reader comments on my incredulity that so many Republicans deeply loathed Obama as a person — that calm, moderate family man:
I first volunteered for Barack Obama the weekend before the 2008 New Hampshire primary and continued to throughout that year. In 2011-13 (continuing a bit with OFA 2.0), I was a core volunteer and was ultimately offered a paid position. In many ways I’m still a fan of Obama.
My sense is that residual — and at times paranoid — hysterical racism was at the root of some of the hatred for him on the right. But recall how hysterical and paranoid much of the opposition to Clinton was, too. You citing Obama as sort of a “diverse WASP” actually explains a lot of the resentment, insecurity, and anxiety he inspired among more right-leaning working-class voters.
Maybe some believed the birther nonsense. But my sense is more of them were put off by how effortlessly, smoothly arrogant he could sometimes appear — while condescending to downwardly mobile people like them whose ancestors might have been fighting in wars and settling homesteads going back to the early 1700s. To them it’s not that he was alien to America; it’s that he was emblematic of a new upwardly mobile America that was leaving them behind — and sneering at them or condescending to them while doing it.
A really helpful insight. As far as the podcast in general, a recommendation from a reader:
After reading your recent column on immigration (excellent as usual), I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to read Bryan Caplan’s book Open Borders. It’s a fun and easy read, so I would recommend doing so if you haven’t. I think Caplan makes a strong case for open borders, and while I would not go as far as to endorse the position, he definitely nudged me in his direction. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
Caplan just agreed to come on the Dishcast, so stay tuned. My old friend Niall Ferguson is up next. Please keep the pod suggestions and commentary coming: email@example.com. And speaking of Caplan and immigration, a reader provides an update on the ever-evolving situation:
Have you noticed that Republicans have begun to lose interest in the border crisis? Part of that is due to the gigantic transformational policies Biden has proposed and the (fairly incoherent) Republican response. But it’s also understandable in the context of the facts on the ground, which have shifted quickly. The fact is, the number of unaccompanied migrant minors in US custody has dropped by 84% in a single month, and the average number of hours each child in CBP control has dropped from 115 to 28 hours.
Nobody would describe this as some sort of solution to our border and illegal immigration problem — far from it. But it also indicates that the narrative that the initial crisis signaled a permanently increasing influx due to Biden policies which would only get worse and worse ... seems to perhaps be wrong. Right now, it would appear that the surge mostly reflected the usual seasonal upticks of migration PLUS left-over migration “demand” from the pandemic evening out.
The Biden administration’s lack of preparation and readiness for the surge warranted heavy coverage, but so does the administration’s apparent ability to wrap its arms around the problem and fairly swiftly get it under much better control. Again, this is still an issue and a liability for Dems. But you can always tell when the facts on the ground are moving away from the GOP once Fox and the right-wing media ecosystem starts generating bullshit stories like the Kamala Harris book handout (or in the case of their inability to coherently oppose Biden’s proposals, the nonexistent hamburger ban).
It’s taken resources to manage the surge in unaccompanied minors, and the situation is not sustainable. But for now, Biden has handled the situation and done so without the kind of draconian family separation policies of the Trump administration. So the progress should be noted.
Well, yes. If you believe that a more efficient way to maximize single-child-immigration is the goal. And let’s see what happens to the surge at the border, which Mexico has partly helped arrest for the moment, especially when Biden lifts the Covid restrictions altogether.
One more reader for the week:
I appreciate your voice on the enforced narrative around anti-Asian (but often random) violence. If you look deeper into the overwhelming majority of these stories, you’ll find the attacker is a homeless man with mental health issues. There are so many non-Asian victims of these attacks! It can happen to any pedestrian. So the key to these attacks seems to be homelessness, not race.
You’ll notice the attacks are also concentrated in cities that have particularly tolerant approaches to homelessness. These cities do not enforce reasonable boundaries against camping in public, using drugs/being intoxicated in public, and even public defecation! Chris Rufo has a particularly clear insight on this and would be worth talking to (though he’s sort of a militant conservative.)
I feel really passionate about this topic, as a former young woman and now young mother who doesn’t feel comfortable in many public places (certain public parks, beaches, libraries, and even neighborhoods) because they are dominated by homeless men with obvious mental health and addiction issues who are CLEARLY dangerous to be around. And yet in many circles, expressing this discomfort is forbidden as the worst kind of bigotry. Alas!
Indeed. The more you see of this — in videos, at least — the clearer it appears that the culprits are far more likely to be non-white than white and that mental illness and homelessness are very common among them. One reason I despise the woke assumption that every problem in society is a function of a non-existent “white supremacy” is that it obscures the need to be empirical, to infer from the data, to see what is really the problem, rather than to distract from it for cultural or ideological reasons. It ends up compounding problems rather than solving them.