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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 165

John McWhorter — The Elect: Neoracists Posing as Antiracists and their Threat to a Progressive America

In episode 165 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with John McWhorter about his new online book on how the antiracism movement poses a threat to progressive America. Shermer and McWhorter discuss:

  • antiracism as a religion,
  • the 3 waves of Antiracism:

    1. abolition of slavery and segregation,
    2. 1970s/1980s battle against racist attitudes,
    3. 2010s: racism is baked into the structure of society so whites are complicit.
  • creation myth of antiracism: problems began in 1619,
  • the antiracism trinity: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi,
  • The Elect (like Thomas Sowell’s The Anointed),
  • antiracism,
  • white fragility,
  • black bodies,
  • reparations,
  • Black Lives Matter (BLM),
  • BLM and the nuclear family,
  • George Floyd, Tony Timpa and police violence,
  • the N-word and language as violence,
  • systemic racism (incarceration rates, housing, jobs, income, etc.),
  • Third Wave Antiracism catechism (from The Elect):

    1. When black people say you have insulted them, apologize with profound sincerity and guilt. But don’t put black people in a position where you expect them to forgive you. They have dealt with too much to be expected to.
    2. Black people are a conglomeration of disparate individuals. “Black culture” is code for “pathological, primitive ghetto people.” But don’t expect black people to assimilate to “white” social norms because black people have a culture of their own.
    3. Silence about racism is violence. But elevate the voices of the oppressed over your own.
    4. You must strive eternally to understand the experiences of black people. But you can never understand what it is to be black, and if you think you do you’re a racist.
    5. Show interest in multiculturalism. But do not culturally appropriate. What is not your culture is not for you, and you may not try it or do it. But — if you aren’t nevertheless interested in it, you are a racist.
    6. Support black people in creating their own spaces and stay out of them. But seek to have black friends. If you don’t have any, you’re a racist. And if you claim any, they’d better be good friends — in their private spaces, you aren’t allowed in.
    7. When whites move away from black neighborhoods, it’s white flight. But when whites move into black neighborhoods, it’s gentrification, even when they pay black residents generously for their houses.
    8. If you’re white and only date white people, you’re a racist. But if you’re white and date a black person you are, if only deep down, exotifying an “other.”
    9. Black people cannot be held accountable for everything every black person does. But all whites must acknowledge their personal complicity in the perfidy throughout history of “whiteness.”
    10. Black students must be admitted to schools via adjusted grade and test score standards to ensure a representative number of them and foster a diversity of views in classrooms. But it is racist to assume a black student was admitted to a school via racial preferences, and racist to expect them to represent the “diverse” view in classroom discussions.

Subscribe to Dr. McWhorter’s site to read chapters of The Elect.

John H. McWhorter teaches linguistics, American studies, and music history at Columbia University. He is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast. McWhorter is the author of twenty books, including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.

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This episode was released on March 16, 2021.

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