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« The Saturday Morning Coffee Break & Prayer Revival | Main | Gardening, Puttering and Adventure Thread, March 4 »
March 04, 2023

Who's afraid of the conservative activist?


I've been watching Christopher Rufo since he came into the news by publicizing diversity training in government organizations (mostly), and I've noticed some things:

1. He is very open about being an activist, though he doesn't shout much.

2. He is self-promoting. He draws a lot of fire toward himself.

3. His opposition is often powerful and established, but nonplussed.

I think that some of these observations may be explained by the fact that he was once a leftist activist. He doesn't really act like a "normal" conservative. His leftist roots were revealed in detail during a recent interview with Jordan Peterson.

Peterson also expressed his frustration with the degradation of education in general. This makes resistance to woke nonsense harder. This is from Rufo's description of the interview:

The Persuasion of Jordan Peterson

I have been engaged in an ongoing debate with Dr. Jordan Peterson about how to restrict DEI programs and racialist ideology in America's public institutions.

Earlier this month, I joined Dr. Peterson for dinner in Seattle before his live performance at the Paramount Theater. We ordered ribeye steaks -- Dr. Peterson is still practicing his beef, salt, and water diet -- and had a wide-ranging discussion about politics, culture, law, and psychology. He told stories from his clinical practice and shared his frustrations with the political system, which seems to be a point of both fascination and horror for him. He knows the brutal histories of the Soviet Union, for example, but has a certain hesitation about political action, including the relatively modest reforms I have proposed in public education.

The video below is Jordan Peterson's podcast, Imposing Limits on the Woke, and begins with a bit of his rant about teacher's colleges and departments of education. Why do they have a hammerlock on teacher certification? Why do conservatives allow this? This has been a negative force in education for 50 years. (The Feds have been involved for almost that long, too. And they are now pushing DEI, which Rufo is currently fighting in universities.)


A few notes I made on the video in case you don't want to listen to the entire podcast. It's long, but interesting. You might want to click over to YouTube, where the video is more heavily segmented, with descriptions of the general subject of each segment:

3 minutes
Rufo's background: His parents were lefties. His relatives in Italy talked about the ideologies of Marx and Gramsci. He and friends visited Berkeley in wonder as teens. It was while he was working on a 5 year documentary on "forgotten communities" for PBS that he started to change his thinking.

12 minutes
Attractiveness of leftism to the young. Rufo's 5 year documentary on people in Youngstown Ohio, Memphis Tennessee and Stockton California begins to change his mind about leftism.

24 minutes
At the end of the PBS project, the left shunned and excluded him. This left him pretty much without prospects for employment.

30 minutes
Bridges burned.

45 minutes
Some on the left secretly think their side has gone too far

47 minutes
What is CRT, exactly? How did it evolve from a "theory in law school" to a plan for activism? In this general segment, there's some discussion of the influences of Marxism vs. post-modernism. Rufo maintains that the basis of CRT in academia was in Marxism, according to the literature. Not true of Queer Theory.

These influences may have been intertwined later (Peterson). I think this view would be more in line with Cynical Theories.

54 minutes
Derrick Bell, the "father of CRT" started out as a hero of civil rights, but changed. Thomas Sowell describes his thinking as moving "from equality to revenge pessimism"

59 minutes
Kimberle Crensaw, who named both CRT and intersectionality. Activism. Again, CRT is not just a "theory taught in graduate law school".

104 minutes
Ron DeSantis, legislative moves

106 minutes
Activists must explain why some immigrants do better than whites, and why their programs sometimes violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Legal precedents for current moves by DeSantis.

112 minutes
Peterson sees the biggest problem in education as the capture of massive state funding by faculties of education. Rufo counters that legislatures have allowed them to proceed anti-democratically.

119 minutes
Moral framework and defining change

Jordan Peterson feels better about the "activist" nature of the changes being made in Florida and elsewhere after his discussion with Rufo. Many of his concerns were answered.

* * *

Here are some related links:

Schools are abandoning progressive teacher college curricula for teaching reading.

This degradation of reading instruction has been a disaster. One of the many Jordan Peterson was right about.


Twerking drag queens improve reading comprehension by toddlers.

Settled Science.


From J.J. Sefton's Thursday Morning Report:

Math proficiency in Minnesota



Teachers in Catholic schools are paid less, work more, produce better results.



Critical thinking as an educational shock collar.

A new way of thinking about the subject!


Rufo on DEI bureaucracy at Florida International University.

* * * * *

Qualms on the Right


Remember Moldbug the Monarchist?

I respond to Curtin Yarvin's critique of the conservative takeover of New College of Florida. We should not fall into the pit of self-fulfilling pessimism -- even against massive odds, principled action yields unexpected opportunities.

Attracting the attention of the left will just make things worse.

Think that's likely?

Note: This was a daring move. But New College of Florida is a very small school which has been way too expensive to taxpayers compared to other state universities. Should taxpayers be able to choose something different from all the leftist-led universities funded by their tax dollars?

* * * * *

Some of The Opposition



The Department of Education was established in 1979, when Jimmy Carter was in office. First link showing on its website is currently student loans. But there is also some history and an overview of the department on the front page.

Last updated in 2010:

What Is the U.S. Department of Education?

The U.S. Department of Education is the agency of the federal government that establishes policy for, administers and coordinates most federal assistance to education. It assists the president in executing his education policies for the nation and in implementing laws enacted by Congress. The Department's mission is to serve America's students-to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

I think most people would agree that they have not lived up to their vision. But the "equal access" part of that vision has often morphed into various forms of equity programs, somehow.

In the 1860s, a budget of $15,000 and four employees handled education fact-finding. By 1965, the Office of Education had more than 2,100 employees and a budget of $1.5 billion. As of mid-2010, the Department has nearly 4,300 employees and a budget of about $60 billion.


The NIH funds DEI programs.



* * * * *


CDR Salamander has been writing pieces for Diversity Thursdays for some time now. This is a very nice piece.

Some developments on the "Diversity Statement" front ... or "DEI Statement" or "DEIA Statement" or whatever they are calling it this week.

How do you connect the U.S. Naval Academy to the University of South Carolina, Florida, VMI, and the University of North Carolina System?

Let's check in where the other school's are, and then we'll finish up what is happening at our Navy's undergrad institution.

Thanks to John Sailer we have a look behind the curtain at the not so innocent "Diversity Statements" that so many colleges are making people fill out when applying for a teaching or tenure track position. Sure, they may tell you that there is no correct answer ... but ...


Sixteen minute video, how to abolish DEI bureaucracies

Clear instructions.

Successful political activism relies on three lines of effort: the narrative line, the policy line, and the action line.

Did he learn that when he was a leftist?


VICE is upset.

* * * * *



* * * * *

Hope you have something nice planned for this weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

* * * * *

Last week's thread, February 25, Last Weekend in Black History Month

Comments are closed so you won't ban yourself by trying to comment on a week-old thread. But don't try it anyway.

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posted by K.T. at 11:13 AM

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