Looking Anti-White Academics in the Face

The JYT’s series called ‘The Stone’ are philosophical ruminations (or, sometimes, pseudo-philosophical ruminations) about things. The current column is titled “Looking ‘White’ In the Face“.

Oh boy…

It features a discussion between white, leftwing, postmodernist, Syracuse/Villanova philosophy professor John Caputo and black, leftwing, postmodernist, philosophy professor George Yancy, the latter described as:

George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Duquesne University. He has written, edited and co-edited numerous books, including “Black Bodies, White Gazes,” “Look, a White!” and “Pursuing Trayvon Martin,” co-edited with Janine Jones.

I have a pretty good idea where Yancy will be coming down on the issue of ‘whiteness’ and where this NYT ‘debate’ will find agreement on. But what about Caputo?… The suspense is killing me.

I spit soda on my screen after reading the column’s first paragraph:

George Yancy: I’d like to begin with an observation — maybe an obvious one — that the task of engaging race or whiteness in philosophy has been taken up almost exclusively by nonwhite philosophers. My sense is that this is partly because whiteness is a site of privilege that makes it invisible to many white philosophers. I also think that some white philosophers would rather avoid thinking about how their own whiteness raises deeper philosophical questions about identity, power and hegemony, as this raises the question of personal responsibility. I have found that it is often very difficult to convince white philosophers that they should also take up this project in their work — they tend to avoid it, or don’t consider it philosophically relevant. Do you agree?

Yeah! That’s why whites — in any social setting, whether the philosophy faculty lounge or near the water fountain at work, won’t go near this issue.

More disturbing than Yancy’s loaded premise is the self-flagellation by Caputo throughout the entire piece. It’s not worth dissecting in detail, so I’ll just paste together some of the latter’s representative prostrations and liberal-white-guilt, chalk full of every postmodernist euphemism and P.C. cliché imaginable:

I was once criticized for using the expression “true north.” It reflected my Nordo-centrism, my critic said, and my insensitivity to people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, no such thing had ever crossed my mind, but that points to the problem. We tend to say “we” and to assume who “we” are, which once simply meant “we white male Euro-Christians.”…

But my experience is that most philosophers, most academics, are quite progressive in their thinking about race and sexuality and politics generally and they are often active in progressive causes. My guess is that if they don’t write professionally about racism — I suspect it is often part of their teaching — it is in part because of a certain thoughtlessness, like my “Nordo-centrism.”…

So I am at least as guilty as other white philosophers. My own work has always involved theorizing the “other,” the claim made upon us by those who are excluded by the prevailing system…

The trigger-happy practices of the police, not all police, but too many police, on the streets of black America should alert everyone to how profoundly adrift American democracy has become — attacking the poor as freeloaders and criminals, a distorted and grotesque ideological exaggeration of freedom over equality. The scandal is that the Christian right has too often been complicit with a politics of greed and hatred of the other…

Etc, etc.

This is what qualifies as a ‘debate’ on whiteness in the NYT.

This entry was posted in Anti-White, NYT, Postmodernism. Bookmark the permalink.