John McWhorter calls them the “Elect.” Georgetown Palestinian-American feminist law prof Lama Abu Odeh called them the “Progressoriat.” Lacking both the intellectual bona fides of these academics and the identitarian cred, I’ve come up with no new names and have relied on a variety of terms that are invariably seen as pejorative when they come from an old, unwoke, white male liberal lawyer. But then, does the name really matter when someone goes as far out on a limb as Lama Abu Odeh?
Progressive liberals are blind to the fact that there is a regime take-over apace everywhere in academic institutions. A new ruling elite is taking over academic institutions by using its “minority status” to exercise a “soft” coup and is appealing to the minoritarianism of progressive ideology to legitimize its coup—or, if you like, to “manufacture consent.” I will call the adherents of this ideology the “progressoriat.”
What she’s referring to is the reaction of the law profs at Georgetown to the firing of Prawf Sandra Sellers, The faculty had an internal discussion about it, but two prawfs raised concerns.
In the face of this overwhelming support by the non-black faculty, two white professors of the boomer generation with plenty of progressive credentials pushed back.
How did that turn out?
Both of these statements were met by silence.
The silence to my mind is telling. It speaks of the lack of resources within progressive thinking that could be drawn upon to resist the trend that has bedeviled American academia over the past few years. The academy is a different place today than it was only a year ago and was different a year ago than it was five years before. Terror and dread fill academic workers, professors, and staff alike, and it is everywhere. Neither the call for distinguishing between unconscious bias and structural racism; nor for dismantling “merit” so that “minorities” succeed, seem able to do the work the authors of these emails want them to do.
Why? What did these two white boomers with plenty of progressive cred do wrong?
The reason that challenging any aspect of this dominant ideology is taboo is because it leaves you vulnerable to the charge that you are uncomfortable with the project of empowering minorities—not just the transfers of power from traditional elites to historically disadvantaged groups that has already begun to take place in the academy, but further transfers of power.
What, then, should they have done if they didn’t want their responses to evoke deafening silence?
The only acceptable response when confronted by any aspect of the ideology that has facilitated this coup is to enthusiastically endorse it—to celebrate it. If you’re not a minority, anything less risks being interpreted as dread at the prospect of your own imminent loss of status—or, if you are, as evidence that your soul has been “colonized” by white supremacists. As I said, virtue as the other side of dread.
Why would the legal academy allow this to happen?
The ranks of this new ruling class are refreshed by immigrant academics who come to understand themselves in the way progressivism understands them: as minorities who can also act victim-like if they want—a precious endowment in the cultural academic market. Intersectionality awaits to welcome them and give them a warm hug. They can be treated on principle as black-adjacent. To do that, they quickly learn that they have to concede leadership to their black colleagues as having the greatest claim to victimhood. If they don’t play the victim card, they throw away valuable currency when it comes to shinning up the academy’s greasy pole. A colleague of mine commented that I was wasting precious victimhood resources by refusing to sign the statement by non black faculty: Muslim, Palestinian, woman, dadidadida. This is the cleverness of minoritarian rule: a coalition of minorities that, collectively, form a majority but that is nevertheless always able to invoke its minoritatian status to preserve its power. Power is presented as the absence of power to preserve actual power.
Lama Abu Odeh likens this to a Maoist coup in the legal academy.
No hesitation or nuance is allowed: nothing but unequivocal loyalty oaths. The progressoriat can only repeat, “I believe in the cause. I believe. I believe. Believe me I believe.”
If this echoes a Maoist take-over, that’s because it is. It passes the sniff test.
I’m often constrained to wonder why law students and baby lawyers, as otherwise sentient human beings, are so strident in their certainty that they know more and better than anyone else. I’m beginning to appreciate that they never had a chance to believe otherwise.