‘Am I awake enough?’, a book by the Flemish humanist Martin Harlaar, is a collection of articles worth reading for those who want to quickly familiarize themselves with the problem of waking up. However, it would have been better if Harlaar had used the articles as raw material for a coherent book, argues Arie Graafland.
Martin Harlaar was disturbed when the American Humanist Association (AHA) stripped Richard Dawkins of his honorary Humanist of the Year title. Harlaar, who is himself associated with Humanist Forening, went in search of the case and ended up in the wonderful world of wake, where awake activists are always and everywhere aware of injustice. Harlaar sees that world as a mixture of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and George Orwell’s 1984.
Harlaar’s book is based on 23 blogs he wrote for the Flemish Humanist Association, which were published between April 2021 and January 2022. It is not a scientifically based overview, he writes, but they are impressions of a disturbing movement.
It quickly became clear to Harlaar that universities were on the front lines of the war for social justice. He saw university boards without backbone and science subordinated to ideology. The most militant part of the wake is narcissistic, anti-scientific and anti-humanist, and it often turns out to be prone to anti-Semitism and prone to totalitarianism.
Sometimes it reminds him of fascism, sometimes of the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao. Harlaar not only sees it as an academic delusion, but he also recognizes the narcissistic and violent side of wake. For example, he shows how a student master at Evergreen State College in Washington turns out to be a true dictator. And how George Bridges, the university dean, keeps to all that. The incident is also described in my review of Pluckrose and Lindsay’s book. The Evergreen State College is now firing anyone who doesn’t comply with the vigilante dictatorship.
Harlaar writes that the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam asked Valika Smeulders to open the exhibition Slavery to decorate. Smeulders is from Curaçao, promoted on slavery and was therefore considered the right person to do this. The guardianship is given to a descendant of slavery. But Harlaar writes that the Smulders are descended not only from ‘slaves’, but also from slave owners.
Another example. In 2020, Kimberlé Crenshaw received an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Leuven for ‘easily bridging science and society’. Crenshaw, an American lawyer and civil rights activist, is one of the founders of Critical Race Theory . She built that theory out of legal discourse and blended it with radical feminism and black activism. The guiding principle is the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, along with European intellectuals such as Gramsci and Foucault. Essential to the theory is that whites are by definition guilty because of their racial origins.
56 gender options
Another example. In 2021 it was Decolonize KU LeuvenManifesto, which recommends decolonizing libraries and making racial curricula mandatory for all students, regardless of what they study. Of course black professors should be appointed and black support staff should never be fired. There is always something to do and nothing is left to the individual. In fact, everything comes from America and is eagerly adopted here.
Somewhat clichéd, Harlaar writes that ‘there is another ghost haunting Europe’, now in the form of Critical Race Theory, intersectionality, identity politics and awakened. There are now 56 gender options on Facebook, no longer just transgender, transsexual or androgynous, but an infinite number of crossovers. It is the illusory search for the new man.
We are all racists
In China and Russia a dictatorship was established in favor of the new man, but it was not the new man of the proletariat. The New Man turned out to be a complete disappointment. Today’s Social Justice Warriors don’t have to wait for the revolution, university administrators are already silently complying with activists’ demands. Herman Van Goethem, Chancellor of the University of Antwerp, now signs his emails with him/her. He calls it a search for a new language.
Institutional racism is everywhere, according to Social Justice Warriors (SJW), we’re all racist after all, and if you think you’re not, that’s all the more proof. Arguing with such people in the hope that they will see the reasonableness of your point of view is completely pointless, writes Harlaar. Any concession to their demands will prove irreversible in practice and get you further and further into trouble.
There is no objective reality
Harlaar discusses the influence of Malcolm X, important to the black liberation movement in America. Malcolm X, or Malcolm Little as he was originally called, converted to Islam in 1949. The Nation of Islam, a sect to which he felt related, sees itself as the successor to the mythical tribe of Shabazz, who are said to have been the first blacks on earth and existed long before there was an earth. Malcolm X’s intentions remain vague and symbolic, he hardly makes concrete proposals for social improvement, a strategy later adopted by the universities.
Denial of an objective reality is characteristic of the SJWs. It is not about objective reality, but about lived experience. A completely subjective reality. And at university, people are afraid of missing the boat. Diversity officers and diversity and inclusion managers are being appointed everywhere. It all started in America, but a number of Dutch universities now have the same agreements. Salaries for diversity officers in America are higher than for professors. Trigger warnings, safe spaces and speech codes have long been the most natural thing in the world at American universities.
Gender-neutral sanitary napkins
The university, where the debate should be at the forefront, has become a padded boudoir. You may even get a scratch. The effect is that the teachers walk on eggshells, the oversensitive students complain to the ‘diversity officers’ and deans and principals do not want negative publicity or rebellious students.
There are plenty of reasons for complaints, students are easily hurt if a Western perspective is discussed or if too many men and too few women are discussed. Harlaar quotes a journalist from Financial Times which she compares to a candle: if there is just a slight breeze, the candle is out. This is exacerbated in the Netherlands by the large number of foreign students who may be injured even earlier than the Dutch.
The sanitary napkin brand always makes its packaging gender-neutral; away with the feminine Venus symbols. Nanoah Struik considers a step in the right direction that although she was born a woman, she does not identify as a woman and describes herself as ‘them’. And ‘them’ have their doubts about Always’ real motives. Harlaar found the article on the website for A world. Independent journalism on global connectivity and sustainability.
Parent 1 and elderly 2
‘Their’ is of course distinctive, gender is left unanswered, biological sex no longer exists in the transgender world. And ‘them’ want you to conform because ‘them’ are part of an oppressed group and ‘them’ can’t take it anymore. Hen is therefore the second Dutchman with an xi sit passport. And of course Transgender Network Netherlands, COC Netherlands and the Dutch organization for gender diversity are very pleased with these new passports.
An extraordinary situation? Lisa van Ginneken, Member of Parliament for D66, recently asked the minister if it was not possible to revise the Civil Code with more inclusive language. After all, the terms “father” and “mother” exclude some people. So why not parent 1 and parent 2?
Harlaar’s book concludes with a Part 2 consisting of an introduction by Harlaar and a further 26 short contributions by others. It is impossible to discuss all that. The book is already a collection of articles written by Harlaar. I’m not convinced of such a set-up for a book, although the content is definitely worth checking out. Why have the articles not been used as raw material for a coherent book? It would have increased readability. But for those who want to take a quick look at wake and don’t want to be hindered by chapters, the book can be recommended. You can dive into it anytime, anywhere.
Martin Harlaar (ed.), Am I awake enough? A journey through the land of Social Justice WarriorsGompel & Svacina (2022)
We want to bother you as little as possible. But of course it is true: Wynia’s Week is made possible by the donors. Can we record you? You can donate HERE. Thank you!