David Cole — Taki’s Magazine May 25, 2017
Last month, in a column titled “The Left’s Transracial Monster,” I wrote about the slow but steady acceptance among leftists of “transracialism,” the idea that someone who is not genetically of a certain race can “become” that race by sheer desire. I pointed out that leftists have been put in a real bind by the fact that transracialism is now on the table. If they reject the notion that a genetically Caucasian person can magically become black merely because that person “identifies” with being black, by logical extension they must also reject the notion that a biological male can magically become a woman merely because that person “identifies” as female. Rejecting such hokum would, of course, alienate the (for some reason, suddenly) all-important “trans” demographic of the Democrat left. But accepting the transracial bunk carries perhaps an even greater risk—alienating black people, a far larger and more important Democrat demo. Blacks on the left are obsessed with race, and the very suggestion that whitey can become blacky by sheer power of will is guaranteed to make black leftists very displeased.
After all, as I pointed out in this column last week, race is what makes a lot of young black Americans “feel special.” Transracial acceptance, I predicted, would lead to some excellent, popcorn-worthy left-on-left brawling. Well, call me Nostradamus, because not more than two weeks after my column ran, a major scuffle among leftist intellectuals broke out in the exact manner I foretold. Rebecca Tuvel, assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, wrote an essay titled “In Defense of Transracialism” for the peer-reviewed publication Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (I’ll cop to never having previously read that esteemed publication, perhaps because I assumed a journal of “feminist philosophy” would consist of nothing more than one page with “boo men, yay abortion” written in bold 100-point type). Tuvel presented her essay as a theoretical exploration of transracialism versus transgenderism:
In this article, I argue that considerations that support transgenderism extend to transracialism. Given this parity, since we should accept transgender individuals’ decisions to change sexes, we should also accept transracial individuals’ decisions to change races.
In the end, Tuvel concludes, “Considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism.
Exactly as I expected, Tuvel’s fellow academicians, and various minority and transgender activists, responded with outrage that was so over-the-top, you’d think Hypatia had published a thesis by Dylann Roof. Indeed, Tuvel was accused of committing an act of “epistemic violence” (because remember—to the left, hurty words and thoughts are every bit as bad as literal violence). The pile-on became so severe, even liberal New York magazine decried the “modern-day witch hunt” against Tuvel. Sure enough, Hypatia apologized for having published Tuvel’s piece, with the editors promising they would tighten up the review process so that such foul ideas could never again see the light of day (because it’s not like philosophy involves the study of controversial or unpopular notions). They also pledged to make the journal more friendly to “trans-feminists” and “people of color.”