, ,

Arguing with anti-feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers can be a pain; she’s honed her technique quite well over the span of a few decades, with the help of wealthy patrons who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. You have to put in some time and effort to understand what’s being targeted, and the end result is usually long and boring.

But the typical anti-feminist fulfills Voltaire’s Prayer. It really doesn’t take much to refute them, you don’t even need to know much about feminism. Take Sargon of Akkad, for instance, and his infamous petition.

We are calling for the teaching of social justice courses in universities to be temporarily suspended. What follows is up for debate, but as it stands now, social justice is causing far more harm than good and it must be halted and reassessed.

All social justice? Does this include anti-poverty work? Anti-racism? Why not just suspend the parts of social justice that are on the “harm” end of the spectrum, since presumably you’ve studied the problem and can point to them specifically.

For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/SargonofAkkad100 . Alternatively, read the comments on this petition.

Did he just outsource his responsibility for gathering evidence to random commenters? Because the top three comments are currently:

What I see in universities in the US and many other countries is a totalitarian government in the making.

Free speech has no limits.

Once upon a time someone made the greatest argument and statement of true in the history of mankind.
It went something like this:
“It’s 2016.”
Everything. Has. Been. Said.

If Sargon’s YouTube channel was nothing but discussion of universities and how they pursue social justice, that link would be relevant; instead, he rails away at religious believers, has a weekly round-up of “stupid,” and otherwise covers a range of topics. To learn what he thinks of universities, I have to manually scroll around, find relevant videos, and watch them.

There’s no evidence here, just sweeping generalizations. I could just as easily do a quick copy-paste job…

Philosophy has become scientifically illiterate, logically unsound, deeply bigoted and openly supremacist. Philosophy professors are indoctrinating young people into a pseudoscientific cult behind closed doors that is doing damage to their health, education and future.

Philosophy has become a victim of its own good intentions and in the desperate attempt to make the world better for some it is creating a world better for none. It has become another ideology fit only to pave the road to Hell, so it is time to turn around and choose another path that is concerned with reason, science and improving the lives of every human.

… and create a new argument from his own that carries equal evidential weight. There’s no counter-argument to it, because there’s nothing to refute; it’s just empty sloganeering, only effective to people who are already on your side. To everyone else, he looks like a YouTube scam artist, with the product being Akkad himself.

It’s pretty easy to see why he rarely tries to make an argument. Heard of “Humanism+“? It’s all the rage on Twitter at the moment, too, and Akkad has weighed in on it too. The catalyst for it all was the American Humanist Association, primarily through their announcement of a new social justice initiative.

To strengthen the humanist presence in social justice movements, today the American Humanist Association launched the Black Humanist Alliance, an adjunct organization that will promote racial justice and solidarity between the Black and humanist communities. In conjunction with the launch, the American Humanist Association is also relaunching its women’s rights adjunct, the Feminist Humanist Alliance, and its LGBTQ adjunct, the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance.

Kirabo’s essay probably fanned the flames too, but that’s the stated reason: the AHA was introducing social justice into humanism, and this is a bad thing.

Slight problem: SECULAR HUMANISM HAS ALWAYS INCLUDED SOCIAL JUSTICE. From the Humanist Manifesto of 1933, with emphasis by me:

ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.

FOURTEENTH: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.

From the Humanist Manifesto of 1973:

SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices.

ELEVENTH: The principle of moral equality must be furthered through elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. This means equality of opportunity and recognition of talent and merit. Individuals should be encouraged to contribute to their own betterment. If unable, then society should provide means to satisfy their basic economic, health, and cultural needs, including, wherever resources make possible, a minimum guaranteed annual income. We are concerned for the welfare of the aged, the infirm, the disadvantaged, and also for the outcasts – the mentally retarded, abandoned, or abused children, the handicapped, prisoners, and addicts – for all who are neglected or ignored by society. Practicing humanists should make it their vocation to humanize personal relations.

From the Humanist Manifesto of 1999:

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

A quick Google search brings up “Humanism is Social Justice,” “Social Justice and Humanism,” the Social Justice Leadership Award of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, “Secular Humanism Defined,” “What is Humanism?”, and even something from a secular Jewish site that all agree that social justice is a core part of secular humanism.

Sargon of Akkad is so bad at this that he can’t even take a few minutes to Google before pumping out a half-hour video. I’m grateful there’s a lot more like anti-feminists like him than Christina Hoff Sommers, his logic fails and basic misunderstandings make it a lot easier to promote feminism and other forms of social justice.