I re-listened to Jordan’s interview with Tucker Carlson. Fascinating interview. Jordan has had a rough couple years with his wife’s cancer, being pilloried daily, and trying to get off Xanax, prescribed for him for the stress he’d been encountering. He’s been physically ill trying to do that.
I first heard him on Joe Rogan talking about the Carnivore Diet. (And his daughter.) Some blogger folks I follow spoke about him, and my son happened to start listening to him all at the same time. He came to national prominence in 2016 when he stood up to the Canadian government for refusing to submit to their laws (or proposed laws, not sure if they passed) to require certain pronouns for the LGBT community. He has taught at both Harvard and Toronto Universities so this guy is no slouch. He’s a clinical psychologst, a professor, and a scientist. When interviewed in the UK (I forget the reporter’s name), she asked him why his right to free speech superseded their right not to be offended. She could only sit there and gape at him, deer in the headlight look, when he said, “you have the right of free speech to sit here and offend me–it’s been very uncomfortable–and that’s your job and you have every right to do that–freedom of speech means that you are often going to offend someone.” I’m paraphrasing a little.
I imagine Jordan might once have leaned moderately left, yet everything he talks about with personal individual responsibility seems to scream conservative. He believes in incremental change and not “fundamental change” –and moreoever says words like “diversity, inclusion, equity (which means equality of outcome), and more– are dangeous words, despite how “good” they might sound. Something I’ve asserted to people who disagree with me, repeatedly. He says there is great danger to teaching people to view themselves as part of a victimized (or “privileged” group) instead of as an individual is terribly dangerous.
That leads me to my own decisions, at almost the same time he made his–to stand up for Northern Michigan University president’s decision (at Donald Trump’s travel ban) — to take NO political position at the university. He originally wanted me to sit on a panel with him to discuss all this with the woke left mob. But we (myself and a brilliant guy from the biology department) talked him out of even doing it. He had made the right decision. Leave it go at that–universities are places of dialogue and letting having an argument about that seemed ludicrous–we would just get attacked like I was constantly — for defending Trump’s travel ban — when I was defending the president’s decision. It would be an exercise in futility. I was an Adjunct Professor at the time and I had been attacked (eventually maneuvered out of the queue for my adjunct position), due to this. I can’t tell you the extent of the attacks. Acting head of the English Department did much of it publically, saying it was too bad I was a teacher and was an “anti-intellectual.” I had also made “the mistake?” –more on that later — of criticizing “literary theory” being taught to grad students on campus. Which was Michel Foucault’s post structural, post colonial attack on western civilization. I criticized it primarily not because I said it had no business being introduced, it might be a theory worthy of consideration, but that it had no business being introduced in a vacuum, as if there was no “theory” before it or no “theory” to come afterward, and that any debate or discussion of this or its validity– which had been forbidden nearly by the instructor who kicked wastebaskets and screamed at students–was wrong and not proper in institutions founded on free expression and the free exchange of ideas. I wrote this criticism in a memoir/cookbook I’d been writing and had submitted to my publisher (Wayne State University who had published my second collection of stories). Once they read it, they unfriended me, excommunicated me, and refused to even respond to reject me for a submission they had been eagerly awaiting. These happenings were the harbingers of the cancel culture to come.
University presses publish one point of view now.
(As a quick aside here, Donald Trump, no politician, saw what was happening here and ran for president. The elites and intellectuals couldn’ t have him disrupting their fanatic agenda which had been making inroads, interrupted by a bafoon like him– (inroads mostly from the brainwashing occurring in universities and even in grade schools). His America First and his rejection of this post-structural, race-based agenda (Marxism in new clothes), his populist rejection of this socialist agenda, was way too popular and they couldn’t have that. So they demonized him. This was not all that hard since depsite not being a racist or having any colonizing or expanding agenda in the world whatsoever–he also did not have the usual bullshit skills –he couldn’t lie smoothly like Barack Obama could. And he was far from a perfect human being, all of which made him ripe for the taking. And of course, the press and the deep state were allowed to deligitimize him daily. Because he never tried to curtail free speech other than point out their lies. So now they had their boogy-man, and the means by which they could promote this ridiculous and this “racism” narrative for something that always needed improving, but never existed, by the police or otherwise, in the way this was used to promote their Marxist agenda. All this was happening simultaneously. For me. And as Trump was demonized, so were all conservatives and certainly anyone who supported him. We were attacked by our “friends” on Facebook, impersonally, but sometimes very personally– and when we objected or disagreed we were demonized as “part of the systemic racism” problem –and labeled white supremacists if we objected to the obvious election integrity issues or the way they saw society. I am certain someday historians will see this for what it was since we already have people standing up to it — Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Alan Derschowitz, Jonathan Turley, and many more–the obvious libertarian/conservative voices like Tucker Carlson.)
The point here, and back to Jordan, is that for decades conservatives have been silent, loathe to sound “mean” and confident that most of this radical silliness would not take hold–and the better part of valor was to keep the peace.
Where to draw the line, says Jordan. Where, indeed.
You see people of all walks of life–and all past political positions–drawing the line. Even some of my favorite authors such as Margaret Atwood and JK Rowling–have written open letters concerned about the lack of intellectual integrity at universities now.
The line is here. Unfortunately, being vocal and saying no means using your rights, perhaps activism, not in the sense the fanatic left behaves. But that means the necessity of speaking up and exercising our rights means we have little in common with people supporting the left–at least if they won’t even stand up for free speech. Which has happened with several of my good friends. It’s not that you want politics to come between you, but since this is so desperately important to take a stand, it’s just difficult to see what you have in common. The anger you might get over (at being censored and canceled and lumped in as a white supremacist and actually told you are evil–by a couple of them), but it still remains that drawing the line has meant seeing people in different lights–as I presume they also see me. I do not think you withhold love from those who are not hypocrits. But it makes closeness difficult.
Jordan says this so clearly. If you have something to say, you must say it. He isn’t happy about everything that has happened to him since, though it’s astonishing the way his life has expanded in both good and bad ways, he says, since he’s done it. But really, he says, you have no choice. It becomes very difficult to stand up against things that “sound good” but really are not–and you will get pilloried for it. As I have been as well. In his case, and really in my own, he (and I) had no choice. I had to say what I believed in and whatever results from that has to be the best outcome there is. As he says, you will pay for it one way or the other. If you deny your Truth.
Jordan says this so clearly. If you have something to say, you must say it. He isn’t happy about everything that has happened to him since, though it’s astonishing the way his life has expanded in both good and bad ways, he says, since he’s done it. But really, he says, you have no choice. It becomes very difficult to stand up against things that “sound good” but really are not–and you will get pilloried for it. As I have been. In his case, and really in my own, he (and I) had no choice. I had to say what I believed in and whatever results from that has to be the best outcome there is. As he says, you will pay for it one way or the other.
So many things have happened to me since 2016 and like Jordan, not all of them have made me happy. I’m not happy at losing friends. I have not gotten international acclaim by standing up to being cancelled since I am not as brilliant as Jordan is. My life has been disrupted and turned upside down. His has for a variety of reasons as has mine. This ridiculous virus being used now to control people, censorship and cancellation which cost me my place in the Michigan literary community, the fact that I’ve been a full time care-giver for my father –something that is not easy, and you h ave to once again come to terms with your childhood and a parent’s strengths and weaknesses — and your own failings. Like Jordan, I miss my old life, but like he says, it is the best possible way it can be right now.
(And I believe, like Jung, in synchronicity, and the deceptive quality of perceived circumstances–it’s almost impossible for us to recognize good and bad, and there’s a certain amount of mystery and peace in that realization).
And so the bottom line: you do what you have to do. And I’ve done that. I don’t regret any of it. I’m not sorry I did it. I realize I have a revision to do in my memoir in the “On Teaching” section–and will likely replace my thoughts on “literary theory” and critical race theory, even if it bores my readers a little–something I wondered about and removed it.
The good news is you see people drawing the line everywhere. In states, in personal discourse, in refusing to be silenced.
But that section in my book really is not about politics, it’s about Truth. With a capital T. And to quote Jordan: “If you don’t say what you think, you kill your unborn self.”
Happy Friday. My brother comes to visit tomorrow, so we clean house today. I fell yesterday and hurt my back, arm, shoulder and knee, and I have a headache I think due to the low pressure. So will take it easy tomorrow. My brother will cook fish and bring sides and we will try a special wine I like. It’s a Petite Sirah. Tonight, a strip steak, I think. I’ll look in Sunday or Monday.
How goes it?