FAIR Weekly Roundup

October 17th, 2021


Around the Web

For his Substack, Freddie deBoer argues that there is a stark asymmetry between the dialogue on the Left and Right of the political spectrum. He believes that, privately, many people (and corporations) on the Left are not as ideologically extreme as they present themselves, but fear the repercussions they might face for publicly deviating from illiberal orthodoxies.

deBoer believes that “the left-of-center is in a profoundly strange and deeply unhealthy place” due to the rise of a “linguistically-radical but substantively-conservative” form of identity-based politics that has spilled out of elite university humanities departments and infected social media, entertainment industries, non-profits, and even government entities.

Proponents of these ideas, according to deBoer, would rather see their political opponents destroyed than turned into friends.

The rules of the game… tell us that some people have to mind their Ps and Qs while others get to engage angrily, vengefully, jokingly, and immaturely, as for some bizarre reason we have carved out a total exemption to basic rules of conduct in argument within... spaces for those who claim to speak from the standpoint of “the marginalized.”


Read the full article here.


For Quillette, philosophy professor and Heterodox Academy member Justin McBrayer wrote about the word “diversity” in an attempt to add clarity to ongoing cultural debates about its meaning and value. McBrayer makes the point that “diversity” alone is not necessarily meaningful or desirable. For the word to contain meaning and value, he says one must specify the type of diversity and clearly explain how it makes something better. 

McBrayer also highlights the vague and abstract way that higher education talks about diversity, which in turn makes it difficult to measure or quantify. This then makes it nearly impossible to determine the success (or failure) of any diversity initiative.

McBrayer believes that greater conceptual clarity is the best way forward.  

When an institution sets diversity goals, it should be clear about which human features they want to diversify and why that sort of diversification is valuable. Without clear answers to these questions, diversity initiatives are likely to be futile—we won’t be able to prioritize the goods of diversity against other sorts of goods and we won’t know whether we’ve made progress towards our goals.


Read the full article here.


For The Atlantic, Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels wrote about the failure of schools and universities to properly educate students on civics and the “Enlightenment ideas that animate it and the institutions that make it work.”

Daniels shared a survey of elementary and secondary schools, showing that a majority of principals believed that “students were not getting enough civics education.” But while we might expect higher education to step in to fill this educational gap, Daniels believes that universities have “shunned responsibility for an education in democracy almost entirely.”

While Daniels admits “bitter and unyielding” political and ideological divisions are difficult to overcome, he believes that the Right and Left are currently aligned regarding the need for a strong civic education, and calls on university “presidents, deans, and faculty leaders across the country” to “renew their obligation to democracy.”

Read the full article here.


FAIR Board of Advisors

For the Stella Adler School of Acting, FAIR Advisor Thomas Chatterton-Williams and Dr. Cornel West had a conversation, moderated by Colin Greer, about literature, theatre, existentialism, and art as a transcendent force which helps us to recognize our common humanity. 

Chatterton-Williams emphasized how modern technology and Big Tech algorithms have placed us in a profoundly new situation beyond our control. He argues that we are up against formidable odds and that "Those of us who care about art… text… stage and drama... [are] involved in a very important battle,” and that “in some ways we are involved in a struggle for what remains human in us..." 


Watch a recording of the event here.


For Bari Wiess’ Substack Common Sense, FAIR Advisor Maud Maron wrote a powerful piece from her perspective as both a mother and legal advocate on the recent DOJ memo which gave credence to the idea that parents protesting various policies could be labeled “domestic terrorists.”

Maron clarified that “Actual violence should be condemned without reservation.” However, she believes that “the incidents cited by the NSBA are not criminal and they definitely do not warrant federal intervention.”

Maron also disagrees with the statement made by the NSBA letter which claims the notion that “critical race theory” is being taught in K-12 is merely parent-driven “propaganda.” Maron reports that she (and other parents) have directly witnessed the divisive, neo-racist, and illiberal rhetoric being taught to her children over Zoom classes during the pandemic.

We are parents, and we have every right to speak passionately and publicly about our children’s education. To post on social media. To write open letters to school board members. To submit op-eds to newspapers. To form advocacy organizations with other parents. To organize protests. To show up to school board meetings. 

That’s not domestic terrorism. It’s good parenting. It’s patriotism. And it’s a basic American right—one we all need to defend.

Read her article here.


For UnHerd, FAIR Advisor Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that negative press surrounding “critical race theory” has caused its proponents to repackage the same ideas under a different banner. While many Americans have only just begun to understand “CRT,” she claims that “a different abbreviation has quickly become entrenched in America’s schools and colleges”—DEI, which stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Hirsi Ali argues that “...regardless of which trendy three-letter term you prefer to describe the latest iteration of America’s obsession with race, the goal in each case is the same: to shift away from meritocracy in favour of an equality of outcome system.”

She says that “implementing a grievance model into our youth education curriculum will not fix the problems it purports to solve.” In fact, she believes that DEI programs are actually backfiring and promoting more—not less—division and discrimination. The best path forward, according to Hirsi Ali, is to treat people as “individuals with agency, ability and choice.”

Read the full article here.


For his new Substack Beyond Woke, FAIR Advisor Dr. Peter Boghossian announced the launch of his new series—“Woke in Plain English”—designed to help people understand how the definitions of words have shifted, and to demonstrate how “people have been hoodwinked by words” into supporting causes they may not necessarily understand or agree with.

Boghossian explains that “words like ‘equity,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘belonging,’ and ‘safetyism,’ sound great, but they don’t mean what people think they mean.” This “nonstandard usage of terms” then creates an illusory consensus of support for various ideas, policies, and laws.

Dr. Boghossian believes that the first step in conflict resolution is a common vocabulary. 

I asked what my colleagues meant by “equity,” and nobody had a coherent response. One full time faculty member said, “fairness, it’s in the dictionary,” to which I responded, “Then why don’t we use the word ‘fairness?’”

Read his Substack here.



Join the FAIR Community

Click here to become a FAIR volunteer or to join a FAIR chapter:

Join a Welcome to FAIR Zoom information session to learn more about our mission by clicking here. Or, to watch a previously recorded session click here to visit the Member section of www.fairforall.org.


Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism
485 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor  | New York, New York 10022

Follow Us