Columbia University linguist John McWhorter argues that “the new religion” of anti-racism is reconstructing America’s sense of morality, justice, education, personal expression and national identity.
In an excerpt from his new book on “Neoracists Posing as Antiracists,” published in Persuasion, the black scholar and atheist wrote that anti-racism is a nonsensical new religion “posing as wisdom” and “world progress.”
Many would argue with his assertion that anti-racism is a religion and that it poses a threat to a “Progressive America.” But an interview program co-produced with Religion News Service might only take issue with McWhorter’s second argument.
“Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice,” which is dedicated to confronting “the racist ideas embedded within ourselves,” started its second season in late January.
Hosted by Simran Jeet Singh, a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, the program draws from the ranks of anti-racist academics and activists. Guests have included Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour and religion professors Anthea Butler at the University of Pennsylvania and Jennifer Harvey at Drake University.
In its inaugural episode, Singh described the purpose of the show as studying racism’s personal and systemic impacts, as well as how to “put what we learned into action, because if we don’t, the ideas just stay in our heads and nothing changes.”
Invited experts explain the dynamics of racism in American and world society, often confronting “whiteness” and white supremacy. Taking anti-racist action can come in the form of “wisdom” or grappling “with the racist ideas embedded within ourselves” or the “forms of racism all around us,” Singh said.
Neither McWhorter nor Singh responded to several College Fix email inquiries last week. It’s not clear whether Religion News Service received messages sent through its contact form, as the receipt page didn’t load each time The Fix submitted a message.
McWhorter has referred to anti-racism as a religion for several years in his published writing and at Heterodox Academy’s “Open Minds” conference in 2018.
In his Persuasion excerpt, he claims that anti-racist activists have a “sacrosanct” need to act as inquisitors and reveal people as “bigots.” The scholar, who once convinced a Yale University audience that “free speech is threatened on campus,” warned readers against the influence of their “liturgical concerns” and “gospel.”
This anti-racist religion “has no place in the classroom,” but determined activists are “headlocking us into making an exception, supposing that this new religion is so incontestably good, so gorgeously surpassing millennia of brilliant philosophers’ attempts to identify the ultimate morality, that we can only bow down in humble acquiescence.”
Unlike the Christian gospel, the religion of “Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice” does not appear to offer much in the way of redemption.