The circular argumentation and evidence-free “qualitative” claims drawn from “stories” or other “narratives” exacerbate our epistemic crisis and further thicken the postmodern miasma in which we find ourselves today. Whatever its effects on race relations, and they are decidedly negative, CRT can be dismissed on academic and scholarly grounds alone. It’s well past time that the halls of academe were emptied of such rhetorical rubbish.
Although sometimes dubbed “the ivory tower,” the academy is anything but a quaint exception to or ancillary adjunct of the real world. Quite otherwise, academia is an ideological state apparatus. I maintain that the academy is the dominant ideological state apparatus. Or, to borrow a more recent formulation, the academy is best understood as “the cathedral,” as the contemporary equivalent of the medieval papacy in our “progressive,” postmodern times.
The received notion of the academy’s irrelevance is a guise that has allowed the institution to hide its ideological role in plain sight. Yet the cathedral does generate dominant ideologies, although time is required for its products to be disseminated across the broader social body after they have been digested and excreted by the media, the interchange between the cathedral and the unwashed. However, the time lapse has decreased in the digital age, when academics can speak directly to the public on social media, and when their publications are accessible to the layperson in digital formats—although in jargon laden and often incoherent prose.
Nevertheless, if the primary means of ideological production is the academy, and if academics are the primary owners of the means of ideological production, then the pronouncements that come from academics are significant.
““Dead Honky”—against Technologies of (White) Violence”
It may take time for academia’s ideological work to affect the social body, but the effect is sure to be felt. That’s why a recent article, published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, should be a cause for concern. Titled “‘Dead Honky’—against Technologies of (White) Violence,” it not only “performs violence” against “whiteness” but also represents an extreme case of academic malfeasance and fraudulence. The article has been making the rounds in conservative media, with implicit outcries over its racist language. With calls for “the death of whiteness” and “to let whiteness bleed out,” the piece contributes to the already incendiary and ludicrous field of critical race theory (CRT).
Had this essay applied its violent rhetoric and imagery to any other racial or ethnic category, its barely concealed homicidal ideation would have had its author, D.-L. Stewart, dubbed a “Nazi” and relegated to a figurative gulag in academic Siberia. Instead, the article will, no doubt, be cited favorably in future “scholarship,” by some equally or even more unhinged academic fraudsters.
Others have written at great lengths about the racist implications of such CRT texts and their corrosive effects on race relations. I will point instead to the intellectual damage it does the academy and society at large.
“Whiteness,” Stewart declares, “is itself violence.” As evidence that whiteness is violence, Stewart simply appends a footnote to the claim. The footnote baldly asserts: “Over the last 2 years, I have seen this said with a specificity and clarity by Black people on Twitter in a way I have not so readily seen in academia.” That is, the evidence that whiteness is violence can be found in unspecified tweets by unspecified black people who say so. But Stewart’s article is rife with citations to previous books and articles that also make the assertion without evidence or reasoning. Such self-referentiality has become the hallmark of academic discourse in the humanities and social sciences, and especially in CRT.
Other CRT “scholars,” Stewart also notes, have suggested that the term “whiteness” should not be used in lieu of “white people” because such usage “may deflect assigning operative agency and responsibility to white people for their white supremacist beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.”