Question to European Readers

Western European readers, have your countries gone as insane with “systemic inequalities,” “brown bodies,” “be less white,” “birthing parent,” “chest-feeding,” etc as Americans? I know this exists in all rich countries but do private companies force workers to recite “I have to be less white” as a condition of employment? Does the majority of academics grimly believe that asking students to demonstrate how they arrived at a solution is racist? Do people complain to the local periodical that the faces on the cover are “too white”?

In short, do as many people take this lunacy seriously as here in the US?

16 thoughts on “Question to European Readers

  1. My impression is that it’s really the anglophone world that’s been taken over by this stuff. Which makes me wish I had kept up with my Spanish or French, so I could read books/media that were free of it.


  2. Well, Canada is not Europe, but I did not experience any of the things explicitly mentioned by you even in a meeting devoted to appointing the next department chair. Deep within the abyss of the academia 🙂 (For those outside – such meetings involve representatives from department faculty, students, other departments, administration, etc.) Yes, significant fraction of questions were related to diversity. But a polite answer along the lines that we need to be aware of the prejudice and inequalities experienced by the members of underrepresented groups and be willing to help them to catch up if they missed something, or just encourage them if they were told that [subject] is not for [group], was accepted without much controversy. Despite this answer clearly implying that we aim at helping to elevate those who have fallen behind to the existing standards. The highly quantitative and sometimes abstract nature of the discipline was not questioned. Neither were the prevailing teaching methods. The whiteness of the candidate was not questioned either. Maybe maleness was, a little. Or perhaps not maleness per se, but ability to be sufficiently sensitive if approached about some delicate topics such as sexual harassment. Which in my opinion is fair. Humans are humans. It is too much to expect somebody who has just been harassed by a male to be fully comfortable discussing it with another male. So the male authority in question has to be extra careful…


    1. You have an interesting procedure. I never heard of anything like this, to be honest. I can’t imagine inviting students or people from other departments – let alone the administration – to Chair election.

      With us, it’s a completely internal affair that we decide among faculty in our department. When I was running, if it occurred to anybody even to squeak the word “diversity,” I would have walked out immediately. Thankfully, my colleagues are not insane, so it never arose. We are in foreign languages, and it’s unimaginable that any of us would take the diversity stuff seriously.

      I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s very sad. The whole procedure is bizarre and goes against academic freedom. Nobody should have any say in this process except for this department’s faculty.


      1. Also want to mention that we did have a situation a decade ago when the Dean tried to participate in this process. It all ended in a lawsuit. The Dean doesn’t work here anymore.


      2. “inviting students or people from other departments – let alone the administration – to Chair election”

        I can understand having student observers (especially grad students) for the process (maybe even department staff representation since they’ll bear the brunt of whoever is chosen) but other departments and administration…. nope.


      3. I did not say it was me. 🙂 But OK.

        It was not an election. It was a meeting of the chair search committee whose role is to collect various feedback and issue recommendations. I am not sure for whom, besides the future chair. The election itself is going to be Putin-style, meaning there is only one candidate. With 146% support rating 🙂 Just because nobody wants to be IT, including the candidate.
        In our university those broad search committees are a normal practice – once upon a time I have been on a similar committee for the chair of another department. We did not vote or produce anything binding to the department.

        Do not be sorry for me. I understand that for you “diversity” may be synonymous to lack of standards. It does not have to be. It is actually an interesting practical/technocratic problem – how to have both diversity and high standards.

        But returning to your original question – I do believe that even Canada is not likely to fully import the extreme US approaches to doing those things. The history is different, the immigration policies are different, many other things are different.


        1. I hope it’s true. I don’t want anybody else to be polluted by this insanity.

          To me, diversity isn’t lack of abundance of standards. It’s a lie. Nobody wants true diversity. Diversity simply means more black people. We were openly told that our dark-skinned colleague from South America is “not diverse.”

          I have absolutely nothing against having more black people in any capacity. But I don’t play word games. Name the goal openly, and I’ll participate.


          1. In Canada “diversity” still includes women, black, indigenous, other visible minorities, LGBT, etc. And, in reference to something said under your other post on diversity – my feel is that here it is still more along the lines of affirmative action than anything else.

            On a related topic – on our internal faculty forum, there is currently a discussion on returning to real teaching in the Fall. At the moment the majority is in favor. There are also some people who have relatives with immune system problems, or who are caring for elderly parents, who are reluctant to teach face to face. But nobody is calling each other a bloody murderer, the discussion is completely civil…


            1. Yeah, they must have gotten their crazy out ratting on their neighbors. I will never believe stories of peaceful and reasonable Canadians ever again. My sister published an innocent photo with a few friends, and rabid Canadians almost beheaded her.


    1. I realize it may be behind a paywall for those not subscribed to NYTimes, so here’s the relevant portion:
      “ The threat is said to be existential. It fuels secessionism. Gnaws at national unity. Abets Islamism. Attacks France’s intellectual and cultural heritage.

      The threat? “Certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States,’’ said President Emmanuel Macron.

      French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society. “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities,’’ warned Mr. Macron’s education minister.

      Emboldened by these comments, prominent intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture.”


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