During an interview aired on Friday’s broadcast of PBS’ “Firing Line,” Columbia University Professor and author John McWhorter argued that many people “end up pretending to agree with ideas” on race because they’re afraid of being attacked on social media.
While discussing the debate over critical race theory in schools, McWhorter said, “After last summer, there was this educational opportunity many of these people saw where you could start saying that you needed to do this within this racial reckoning, and if you don’t do it, you’re a racist. Now, if anybody had tried to pull that, say, 15 years ago, it wouldn’t have worked, but now we have Twitter. So if you go against them, you get called a racist in the public square. For nine out of ten people, that’s enough to make them follow along. Because most of us are buying groceries and raising our kids. But the result of this has been truly dangerous.”
After the discussion turned to the concept of anti-racism, McWhorter said that things that aren’t racist get seen as racist, “So, the common idea that you get nowadays, black kids tend not to do as well on standardized tests. Well, instead of saying, how do we get black kids to do better on them? Which is something that has happened in the past, the new idea is that you say, let’s just get rid of the test. Because the test must be racist. You don’t have to specify how. But if the black kids don’t do as well on it, the test is a racist practice. That’s a real leap. That is a hyper-radical way of looking at things that I think most people, if presented with the mechanics of the argument, would think of as rather cruel, frankly, to black kids. That’s not the way to run a society, most of us would think. Some people might be able to make a case for it, but most of us wouldn’t agree with that. But, instead, we’re being taught that if you’re not an anti-racist, you’re bad, and we’re going to embarrass you on Twitter. And, as a result, many people end up pretending to agree with ideas like this.”
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