A secret group email, or listserv, of progressive data analysts has been outed after one of its members was ostracized for publicly sharing data showing that violent rioting doesn’t tend to be effective in persuading people to support a political cause.
The listserv, called “Progressphiles,” appears to be similar to the JournoList, JournoList 2.0 and GameJournoPros — a place where members of a profession purportedly dedicated to facts and truth-telling gather to enforce political conformity and groupthink on each other, pressuring members to push leftist narratives even when they run contrary to the facts.
The problematic facts, in this case, came from a new paper from a professor at Princeton, showing that violent rioting makes undecided observers less likely to support a cause, while peaceful protesting has the opposite effect. One of Progressphile’s members, election data analyst David Shor, made the mistake of tweeting this study, and was immediately denounced as a racist.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine obtained the full discussion from the listserv, in which Shor was roundly condemned as a racist and agent of white supremacy for the crime of stating obvious facts.
One member of the discussion urged his fellow progressive data analysts not to let facts get in the way of a good narrative, especially if the narrative helps “systematically dismantle the very institution of policing:”
For those of you who don’t realize what makes the tweet problematic, try not to overanalyze the statistical validity of the research paper and think about the broader impact it will have if people perceive it to be true. Democrats will wave this tweet urging people to protest their oppression peacefully, which will conveniently ignore how the majority of the most visible of these actions have occurred in areas where we have Democrats running the city council. Shor had initially defended his tweet by saying “Helping Trump get re-elected is not going to lead to better behavior by cops,” and I’m certain many people here would be inclined to agree. But it is this sort of binary thinking that we have that can be so oppressive as well. Helping Trump get un-elected (in itself) is not going to lead to better behavior by cops, when the goal of abolitionist work isn’t to have better-trained/nicer/POC cops but to systematically dismantle the very institution of policing to begin with.
Another, predictably, said the study tweeted by Shor was racist:
I’ve been in progressive spaces since 2006, and it didn’t take long for me to understand that in our spaces, racism isn’t always loud. It isn’t always brash or demanding, spewing racial slurs with a foaming tongue. Sometimes it’s quiet; steeped in seemingly innocuous data and facts. Racism can wrap itself in the trappings of credible logic and I swear it can make sense. But when you see how data can and has been used to oppress, undermine and devalue movements, it’s impossible not to offer a critical eye. The context to anything is everything. Just because it was written by a “type of person,” or has a decimal point means nothing. The right to question and criticize works, is the reason why people all over the world have to defend their academic work to be considered a scholar.
In a message announcing Shor’s removal from the group, a member accused him of encouraging “harassment” by standing up for himself, saying that he was making it harder for members to “decolonize our minds:”
David Shor, a member of this community, knowingly harassed and bullied another member of this space. In response to a well-deserved call in over a racist tweet, he encouraged harassment that led to death threats instead of choosing to learn and grow from his mistake. We as the Progressphiles Moderators, professionals in this industry, and as people, absolutely condemn this behavior. It is unacceptable to make people on this list and in this community feel unsafe for calling out wrongdoings. We cannot begin to decolonize our minds if we do not create safety for those fighting against white supremacy. It is on all of us to do this work, but especially to show up for those already doing it and make sure they are safe. By not acting, we are perpetuating the racism and sexism we know exists on this list and in our community at large. As such, we have removed David Shor from Progressphiles.
Another member called New York Magazine the “neoliberal Breitbart” because of criticism by Chait and others of woke racial politics. There is one similarity — Chait and New York Magazine did get a legitimate scoop. Read it in full here.
Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address email@example.com.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.