Piper Harron is a mathematics professor at the University of Hawaii. She posted an article on an American Mathematical Society blog (where she is one of the editors) arguing that white men should resign their positions in academia and no longer be hired.
Let’s have a look at this expression of social justice.
Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power. That’s right, please quit. Too difficult? Well, as a first step, at least get off your hiring committee, your curriculum committee, and make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person. Don’t have any in your department? HOW SHOCKING.
First, I am a male not because I identify as male or because I was assigned male at birth. I am a male because of my genetics, anatomy, and physiology. It’s how I was born. That this may conflict with Herron’s crackpot notions of postmodernism is not my problem.
Second, people who serve on hiring committees or curriculum committees don’t have the power to dictate who will replace them. Thus, there is no way for an evil white male to “make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person.”
Third, Herron implies the evil white men are preventing women of color or trans people from joining their departments. But Herron provides no evidence of this. She would need to show a history of a department having numerous applicants who were women of color or trans people and a consistent history such applications being passed over in order to hire white men to even raise a justification for a closer look.
Clearly, Herron has been indoctrinated in postmodern, neo-Marxist ideology. As such, she views the world through a tribalistic “us vs. them” filter. She lashes out at one tribe and because this tribe has become the bogeyman, she postures with a proposal that rationalizes retribution. This is the standard Marxist technique of pitting people against each other.
Herron continues this approach:
Remember that you live in a world where people don’t succeed in a vacuum; most success happens on the backs of others who did not consent. You have no idea how successful you would have been if you were still you, but with an additional marginalization (not white, or not male, or not cis gender, or with a disability, etc).
What we need to remember is that this is standard neo-Marxist propaganda, once again trying to poison society with pills of bitterness and resentment. While Herron believes all white males owe their success to their skin color, she is just projecting her own racial lens on to others.
Herron then goes on some tangent complaining about ” the cis het family.” This is not surprising, given that Marxists have a long history of hating on the family structure. It has always posed as a serious obstacle to their crackpot notions of a better future. Anyway, I think Herron is trying to make some analogy, but she does a poor job of explaining it. So let’s skip it.
She then goes for the jugular:
What can universities do? Well, that’s easier. Stop hiring white cis men (except as needed to get/retain people who are not white cis men) until the problem goes away. If you think this is a bad or un-serious idea, your sexism/racism/transphobia is showing.
Wrong. Social justice neo-Marxists typically shield their irrational views by insisting that any disagreement/criticism is an expression of sexism/racism/transphobia. Y’gotta love the Orwellian hubris. For the only one showing racism here is Dr. Piper Herron. She is the one a) advocating a racial litmus hiring criterion that b) discriminates against one race. Now, I realize that social justice advocates deny that people who are “oppressed” can be racist, but that is an argument that plays only to those who are indoctrinated by neo-Marxist, postmodernist, ideology. Those of us who favor critical thinking over socio-political ideology recognize that the claim “Stop hiring white cis men” is a form of anti-white discrimination. And being anti-white is one expression of racism.
Sorry Dr. Herron, but your idea is bad for many reasons that have nothing to do with sexism/racism/transphobia.
- It’s a form of thinking that encourages and enshrines tribalism and tribalism has a long, documented history of being a “bad idea.”
- It’s a form of thinking the owes itself to ideology. That is, only those who have been indoctrinated in postmodernist, neo-Marxist ideology would think it a good idea. And postmodernist, neo-Marxist ideology is not a fertile ground for good ideas. On the contrary, it has a history of spawning bad idea after bad idea.
- It’s a bad idea because it is racist.
- It’s a bad idea because it’s the type of thinking that depends on scapegoats.
- It’s a bad idea because it leads to subjective, mushy hiring decisions that are fertile ground for cronyism and corruption.
In fact, along those lines, consider the world Herron wants to live in:
If you are on a hiring committee, and you are looking at applicants and you see a stellar white male applicant, think long and hard about whether your department needs another white man. You are not hiring a researching robot who will output papers from a dark closet. You are hiring an educator, a role model, a spokesperson, an advisor, a committee person. When you hire a non-marginalized person, you are not just supporting this one applicant whom you like, you are rewarding a person who has been rewarded his whole life. You are justifying the system that makes his application look so good. You are not innocent. You are perpetuating a system that requires your participation if not your consent.
In other words, instead of reading the lines and considering the evidence, read between the lines and treat this application as if you are fighting against a sinister conspiracy. What could possibly go wrong? Look, we don’t overlook a stellar candidate because he does not belong to the right tribe. On the contrary, we focus on what makes the candidate stellar because that gets us closer to being objective and fair. It’s not the perfect solution and has its flaws, but the alternative that Herron offers, where hiring decisions are made in the light of ideology and subjective intangibles, is the very approach that gives us things like Lysenkoism and incompetent bureaucracies.
Finally, Herron writes:
When your female students of color have no role models in your department, that’s not “meritocracy”; that’s on you. Again, if you think the “great mathematicians” are disproportionately male because of meritocracy, then your sexism is showing.
What makes a great mathematician great is not his/her sex, but his/her discoveries. It’s the discovery, the new knowledge, that can be shared with all humanity, across all tribes, that makes people great.
The problem with Dr. Herron is that she does not come across as someone who has devoted their life to mathematical discovery. On her own blog, she writes:
I spend most of my time dealing with childcare, worrying about politics, or researching the history of social injustice.
I applaud her for devoting time to childcare, but all that time spent worrying about politics and researching the history of social injustice is time that could have been spent on mathematical research. She had a choice. Politics and social justice ideology. Or math. She chose to spend most of her time on the thing that most interests her and it is not the math.
Look, I can’t help but think that part of the posting is just Herron trolling. It looks like she has got noticed by some right wing blogs, meaning she can now play victim even more. But the bottom line is that making hiring decisions on the basis of racial scapegoating and ideology is simply wrong. And the fact that Herron’s ideology allows her to deny this based on her “ends justify the means” approach doesn’t change that equation for those of us who value reason and fairness. It merely exposes just how extreme and authoritarian the Social Justice types are.