My last comment at the blog of Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology at Regent College, was not approved. I was arguing there that affirmative action has been detrimental to academic standards but also creates social injustices against Jews, Asians and white men, while shifting preferential treatment from white men to white women. I also argued that the long term effects of affirmative action and feminized education is that boys and young men are dropping out of the picture–that the issue of our day is no longer fairness to women but finding a way of encouraging boys and young men in education again. Finally, I became a little personal. I revealed my own personal frustration with affirmative action. I was discouraged from seeking employment in the academics because the selection of candidates was based not on academic merit but on being a member of preferred gender or race. I figured that dropping out of the rat race, I would be doing myself and others a favor, because I would not have to compete with other white males over the few jobs that weren’t given to preferred diversity candidates.
Prof. Stackhouse, Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology at Regent College, maintains that diversity is necessary in the academy, especially a place like Regent College. While I may grant this premise to a certain extent, I said that diversity should never trump high academic standards in the hiring process–which many academics recognize as a serious problem–but not Stackhouse. He trivialized my concerns, said that he felt bad for the victims, and then said that he too has suffered:
I feel badly for each and every one of those victims and, as I wrote before, I have myself been victimized by that process. (No, P. W. Dunn, I am not singing the blues, but you have no idea what it has been like for me as a privileged white male to make his way in the academy over the last three decades. So please stop assuming that it has been Easy Street just because I have managed to secure employment.) But no major social change occurs without problems. That’s what happens in the Real World.
I found this actually quite amusing. The power structures exploiting the glut of white male PhD’s is a well acknowledge problem in the academy and while even some other progressives are apologetic about the injustice to the burros of Academia, Stackhouse’s response is like, I’m sorry, but you know, I’ve suffered more than you. In our society today it is all about who can portray themselves as the biggest victim, harboring the centuries of injustice and rancour. So naturally, Stackhouse, when confronted with the serious injustice caused by the social engineering of affirmative action, has to portray himself as a bigger victim. I therefore responded:
Prof. Stackhouse: Thanks for this reply.
You know I didn’t realize the degree to which full-time professors with tenure suffer because they are privileged white males. Please tell us more so that I might have some appropriate empathy for your situation. I think that you must obviously be a much bigger victim than I could ever be.
As an insufficiently diverse person, I should just be happy that other people, who may be inferior scholars, will be given preference for academic jobs because they have the correct biological plumbing or skin colour. That’s like the story I heard when the full time faculty learned that the white male adjuncts had no real jobs–they said, well let them eat cake!
To institute social change which makes victims is one thing: the ends justify the means, don’t they? But then do you expect the victims to go away quietly? What do you think is the appropriate response to people or from people who have become the victims? Your response is to say to them that they have no idea how much YOU have suffered and then expect them to play nice? But many of my people–young white male scholars are made to suffer silently because they have been the beneficiaries of many years, excuse me, centuries, of discrimination against our women? But I wonder, do you think that Asians who have been the victims of affirmative action should also shut up? How does that square with the notion of fairness towards minorities? One of my big problems with affirmative action as a means of ending discrimination is that it perpetuates unfairness. That’s why the Asians are the new Jews. It seems that the advocates of fairness weren’t upset that unfairness existed–they were upset because they weren’t benefiting from it.
I had invited Stackhouse to explain how he as a full-time professor has suffered injustice from affirmative action, and he tacitly refused to elaborate, other than being passed over for a research grant. I am pretty sure why he didn’t elaborate. It was because he would have only strengthened my case further that affirmative action in its quest for diversity undermines the rewarding of merit. Therefore, he chose instead to attack me personally, my career, and my blog (1st edition):
You certainly make it clear when dialogue is a waste of time. Your rage and bitterness simply render conversation impossible. I’m frankly glad you’re not in the academy where you can influence people. I hope you’re good at making people money as the “righteous investor” you advertise yourself to be, but I think we’re done listening to you on this subject.
My first reaction is that this is a form of childish backlash. Stackhouse has his little diversity project at Regent College and he doesn’t want anyone to challenge it. Though I am used to a level of attack in blogging, I didn’t expect such a public reprimand from someone who is so brilliant and well-established as Prof. Stackhouse. So here is my response which he blocked:
I’m sorry Prof. Stackhouse. I thought I was adding a diverse voice to this discussion. Mea culpa.
But since you are trying to promote diversity, I think that you have serious problem when you want to define away certain kinds of diverse opinions. It makes it look like you are the one who is making discussion impossible, because when someone disagrees, he is accused of rage and bitterness, unhappiness, weirdness, lack of both focus and intelligibility. Since rage and bitterness are both great sins, you are now perfectly justified in excluding me permanently from both the discussion and the academy, at least as far as it depends upon you.
But if you’ve suffered, I’d like to hear about it. I’ve opened up to you and your readers at great risk. I am now on your blacklist, at least as potential faculty at Regent College (I said above that this was going to happen), which has a very large evangelical base. Well, too bad for me I guess.
But I’m not quite sure why you’ve chosen to bring up my blog, the Righteous Investor and my recent attempt at DIY investing. Are you saying, “Well you better be good at that because you can kiss your academic career goodbye”? This is precisely why I’ve claimed that most young white scholars who become victims of affirmative action are reticent to speak what is in their hearts: not only will they be accused of rage and bitterness, as well as sexism and racism, but they will be permanently banned from academics. Diversity is such a wonderful thing!
Prof. Stackhouse wrote to me an offline message that he had to screen my comment because I was so angry that my contributions were so extreme and vitriolic that they were not helpful to the conversation. He suggested that I get counseling and that he would not allow me to comment again on his blog until I could speak the truth in love.