Philanthropy Roundtable: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Writes About Identity Politics and Its Relationship With Universities

Identity Politics is a pathogen that developed in the petri dishes of university campuses. It was cultured, matured, and disseminated into the college-educated American population. And now it is spreading like a virus through our corporations, charities, and institutions.

Professor Peter Boghossian has shown how academics developed Identity Politics from a set of philosophical musings they “laundered” into “knowledge” and then drummed into young minds. Students today are far more likely to be assigned to read Robin DiAngelo, Ibram Kendi, or Kimberlé Crenshaw than Alexis de Tocqueville, Friedrich Hayek, or Thomas Paine. And now those young minds are working for your firms and foundations.

Identity Politics is an ideology that separates society into “oppressors” and “oppressed.” Within its power matrix, rankings are determined mostly through inherited traits like race, sex, or sexual orientation. The more “marginalized” traits you have, the higher you rise in the victimhood rankings.

Identity Politics is only one name for this mind virus. It is also variously referred to as critical theory, the social-justice movement, cancel culture, wokeness. My eight-year-old son likes to call it Woked-19.

There is a cure for Woked-19. And the readers of this magazine can be a part of it. “To address the politicization of our expert class, we need a complete reformation of the system that feeds it—the universities,” Orrin Hatch recently suggested. I would argue that this reformation starts with all of you who are college donors.

First, to prevent individuals from being condemned and their careers ruined on the basis of mere accusations, donors should demand that any university they support must establish and maintain a strict system of due process. It has become increasingly rare for basic legal principles such as “innocent before proven guilty” to be applied on campuses today.

Second, donors need to insist on principles of academic freedom. Over the past several months, we’ve seen professors “cancelled” merely for having viewpoints at odds with woke orthodoxy.

Then donors must demand that the army of diversity officers and Title IX officials, who are currently omnipotent on campuses, be retrained or released. These people are often the main violators when it comes to due process and academic freedom. They not only act as campus thought police, they also propagate the demands of Identity Politics through “unconscious bias training” and other forms of indoctrination.

A university education should teach students how to think critically—not what to think, uncritically.

Let’s stop the spread of this toxic mind virus. We must develop herd immunity against it, or better still a vaccine. Together, we can do that.

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