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Kafkatrapped at Evergreen State College

Kafkatrapped at Evergreen State College

Prof. Bret Weinstein’s attempt to clear himself of false charges of racism used as proof of his racism

Bret Weinstein is a professor at Evergreen State College in Washington State who ran afoul of student and faculty social justice warriors when he objected to a proposal to have white leave campus for a day.

Weinstein’s reasonable and nuanced objection was met with confrontation, as we documented many times. See our Evergreen State College tag for all the posts, including these:

As Prof. Weinstein himself has explained, the context of the day without whites was a larger administrative push to impose racial mandates in hiring faculty. Those mandates were euphemistically called “equity” hiring. Prof. Weinstein explained in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next (emphasis added):

It would would shift the college “from a diversity agenda” to an “equity agenda” by, among other things, requiring an “equity justification” for every faculty hire.

The plan and the way it is being forced on the college are both deeply authoritarian, and the attempt to mandate equality of outcome is unwise in the extreme. Equality of outcome is a discredited concept, failing on both logical and historical grounds, as anyone knows who has studied the misery of the 20th century. It wouldn’t have withstood 20 minutes of reasoned discussion.

This presented traditional independent academic minds with a choice: Accept the plan and let the intellectual descendants of Critical Race Theory dictate the bounds of permissible thought to the sciences and the rest of the college, or insist on discussing the plan’s shortcomings and be branded as racists. Most of my colleagues chose the former, and the protesters are in the process of articulating the terms. I dissented and ended up teaching in the park.

It would would shift the college “from a diversity agenda” to an “equity agenda” by, among other things, requiring an “equity justification” for every faculty hire. The plan and the way it is being forced on the college are both deeply authoritarian, and the attempt to mandate equality of outcome is unwise in the extreme. Equality of outcome is a discredited concept, failing on both logical and historical grounds, as anyone knows who has studied the misery of the 20th century. It wouldn’t have withstood 20 minutes of reasoned discussion. This presented traditional independent academic minds with a choice: Accept the plan and let the intellectual descendants of Critical Race Theory dictate the bounds of permissible thought to the sciences and the rest of the college, or insist on discussing the plan’s shortcomings and be branded as racists. Most of my colleagues chose the former, and the protesters are in the process of articulating the terms. I dissented and ended up teaching in the park.

Prof. Weinstein’s opposition to racism both at the event and administrative level led to Prof. Weinstein being labeled a racist. Some faculty members have been Prof. Weinstein’s most vocal critics, and have blamed him for bringing unwanted attention to the racial politics at Evergreen.

(Language Warning)

Michael Zimmerman, a former Provost of Evergreen wrote about the situation in Huffington Post, The Evergreen State College Implosion: Are There Lessons To Be Learned?

So why was Professor Weinstein the epicenter of the student protest and why did it occur when it did, so long after he offered his critique of the Day of Absence?

The answer to the first question revolves around the unique role that Professor Weinstein has played on campus during his time on the faculty. As much as it might like to think of itself as an open and tolerant environment, Evergreen isn’t very accepting of voices that question the Evergreen orthodoxy. While this might be seen as a terribly ironic situation for a liberal arts college to find itself in, this has been the Evergreen reality for quite some time and the result is that a large number of faculty members, perhaps the majority of them, simply absent themselves from most discussions. Professor Weinstein is not one of those who have opted for self-censorship. He has always been willing to ask questions, to point out what he sees as flaws in ideas, and to offer suggestions for improvement.

Zimmerman relates how the faculty turned on Prof. Weinstein. The following account is chilling (emphasis added):

n response, he was branded a racist and an obstructionist.  A faculty member who sat on the Equity Council explicitly called him a racist in two different faculty meetings. When Professor Weinstein asked for an opportunity to defend himself, he was told that a faculty meeting was not the appropriate venue for such a defense. When he asked what the appropriate venue was, he was told that no such venue existed because he was a racist. Neither the president nor the interim provost interceded to make it clear that leveling such charges against a fellow faculty member was unacceptable within the college community. When Professor Weinstein spoke privately with both of those administrators about these incidents, they both acknowledged the inappropriateness of the behavior but each said that it was the responsibility of the other to do something about it. Neither administrator took any public action in response.

I’ve tried to think of a construct for being accused of being racist, but told there is no venue to defend oneself because you are a racist. When I posted the quoted language on Facebook, someone used the term Kafkatrapping.

I’ve written about Kafkatrapping before, based on this reader email I received in 2013:

In White-liberal white-baiting link-baiting gone wild you mentioned this:

Make an outlandish statement about White people.

Watch White people react in denial.

Use denial reaction as proof you were right all along.

There’s a word for this logical Fallacy. It’s called Kafkatrapping.

In short it takes the form of using denial of guilt as proof of guilt. Here’s the blogthat explains it very well.

I think the term should be used more widely.

Here is one explanation of Kafkatrapping:

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap….

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

It seems that’s the situation in which Prof. Weinstein finds himself. His denial of being racist, including seeking media attention to clear himself because there was no other forum available, was used as proof of his racism.

That defending oneself against false accusations of racism would be used as proof of racism is nothing new. It’s an experience with which conservatives on campus are familiar.

The situation is not likely to improve. Former Evergreen Provost Zimmerman notes the situation at Evergreen, which is all too common:

The Evergreen campus has become a place where identity politics takes precedence over every other aspect of social intercourse. It has become a place where it is acceptable for colleagues to levy personal attacks on colleagues in response to differences of opinion and even in response to calls for dialogue. It has become a place where it is acceptable to shout down those with whom you disagree. And it has become a place where the administration watches from the sidelines, apparently fearful of antagonizing anyone.

Kafkatrapping is here to stay on campuses.


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To summarize the black students are wanting special treatment because of 400 years of oppression. Prof. Weinstein who has Jewish heritage and a 2000 year history of Jewish oppression on his side is the bad guy?

[class] diversity has winners, and losers, selectively, based on the “color of your skin”.

Kidnapping consists of:

A) preventing a person from leaving or

B) transporting a person to where they don’t want to go.

R.E. #BlackLivesMatter, hang ’em.

I could be wrong in my assumption that, up until his mis-fortune, he was an active member of the progressive/SJW faculty who has created the current environment. Until proven wrong, I have as much sympathy for Prof. Weinstein as I would have had for Maximilien de Robespierre or Leon Trotsky. Something about: You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.

    TX-rifraph in reply to SHV. | July 8, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Your position makes sense. However, is not Prof. Weinstein now trying to do what is right? Did not David Horowitz change from his Communist past to a fierce fighter for freedom? Would not Prof. Weinstein have credibility that most of us would not have? Should we not support the Professor at this point?

    I think it was Oscar Wilde that said “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

      DaveGinOly in reply to TX-rifraph. | July 9, 2017 at 1:28 am

      Until he takes a position in defense of someone with views in opposition to his own or works actively to break the back of SJW tyranny (against all), no, he doesn’t deserve a break. Right now, what he’s doing is self-serving. He’s trying to carve out a niche for himself within the fold, and not trying to extend that protection to others outside the fold.

        tom swift in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 9, 2017 at 2:16 am

        I’m hardly enthusiastic about diving into the intellectual morass of Leftist racism, but I think that Weinstein ran afoul of the militant SJWs when he questioned the wisdom of driving whites off the campus for a short period as well as a longer-term program to purge them from the faculty and staff. If so, then he was supporting the rights of all whites to be free of racist persecution, not just himself. He’s not trying to pretend that he is personally immune from this by virtue of, say, “self-identifying” as black.

    Char Char Binks in reply to SHV. | July 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Do you really know enough about Weinstein to say that? He may be a progressive, as he calls himself, but he seems to be a man of principle. Everyone should applaud that, whether he ends up having a rightward political conversion or not.

These colleges are spinning into a black hole of ‘social justice’.

If nothing is done, they’ll soon reach the event horizon, and be beyond help.

Do they learn anything in that school? Can a black student fail a course?

    Old0311 in reply to Jackie. | July 8, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    The very thought that a non privileged student would fail is so racist. Please send $500 to the Michael Brown scholarship fund and say Obama is Awesome four times while skipping in a circle. Once this has been completed you will receive (at no cost) a book entitled The Wisdom of Maxine Waters. Good night Comrade

Bear with me here…

A few decades ago, there was a wave, a vogue, an hysteria involving incredible (literally) sexual abuse by day-care people.

Some of the legal targets are wounded beyond repair, though they were completely innocent.

But the worst victims were the children. In them, false memories were planted that cannot EVER be unremembered. The people planting them were not evil. They were just terribly flawed, fallible human beings, some of whom were actually victims of various kinds of abuse.

A lot of the kids attending these “institutions” are the most tragic victims. In them have been planted the notion that they are viciously oppressed. Many of them will never shed these false “truths”, and their lives are forever twisted.

It isn’t just sad, its a tragedy in the fullest sense.

    Petrushka in reply to Ragspierre. | July 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    False accusations are the weapon of choice these days. It’s been used for months in an attempt to overturn an election.

    casualobserver in reply to Ragspierre. | July 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Not entirely on board with the analogy. Although the Evergreen students exhibit behavior almost as immature as adolescents or younger children, they are still physiologically more advanced. So they theoretically are better equipped to survive the brainwashing.

      Ragspierre in reply to casualobserver. | July 8, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      OK. Maybe. But you cannot deny that a lot of these young people fundamentally BELIEVE that they are victims of grinding oppression. Hence, they can engage in terrible conduct in response.

        Char Char Binks in reply to Ragspierre. | July 9, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        I think they WISH to believe they are victims, and pretend to be. I wonder if any of them actually believe it.

          Arminius in reply to Char Char Binks. | July 10, 2017 at 11:00 am

          They don’t merely wish to see themselves as victims. They need to believe themselves to be victims. It’s why Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t speak on a college campus. Because college girls have to believe they are the victims of the rapiest rape culture of the worst rapiest rapey patriarchy that ever existed.

          Naturally they can’t hear about Somalia and what Somali women and girls have endured. Mattress girl has superior victim status, as long as everyone shuts their eyes and pretend. Their parents are paying good money for that victim status. Who the hell is some chick who had her clitoris gouged out with a shard of pottery to come along and ruin things for them.

          In short, we are dealing with people who have been systematically destabilized. It’s the opposite of treating people for a phobia. If you want to get over a phobia, typically the therapist will expose you to the object of your phobia gradually, so that you learn that there really isn’t anything to fear. What the organized child abuse system we call education does is to cultivate that phobia. They convince children that they are victims of forces outside their control, there are monsters everywhere, and they need to be be protected by the government from those monsters. In other words, they need to be protected from the monsters under their beds by their teachers.

          In some ways it’s gratifying seeing these same teachers being devoured by their own creations, but it doesn’t bode well for the future.

      DaveGinOly in reply to casualobserver. | July 9, 2017 at 1:34 am

      Even adults are not immune to brainwashing, suggestion, and induced delusions.

casualobserver | July 8, 2017 at 11:12 pm

With the exception of University of Missouri, so few schools and administrators suffer any negative consequences for increasingly insane and un-American, un-democratic environments that are purposely created. It will be interesting to see if the donor class for Evergreen continues to be as giving, for starters.

Leftist movements build on the destruction of earlier movements. Weinstein has been deemed unworthy and is no longer viable, or rather has become a viable target.

People who deny individual dignity including [class] diversitists, intrinsic value including selective-child and one-child, and adopt other aspects of the Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, doctrine, are known to be untrustworthy and are the first people sacrificed by progressive liberals. That is during monotonic (e.g. generational) divergence from normal.

One group of beneficiaries is, black women. I have met hundreds if not thousands sickened of black women poisoned by that which can not be talked about.

DouglasJBender | July 9, 2017 at 2:14 am

It’s hard for me to imagine how anyone of even average intelligence could think that “denying racism is evidence of racism” qualifies as an argument, let alone a good argument.

    Arminius in reply to DouglasJBender. | July 9, 2017 at 5:09 am

    It’s a double edged sword. The black women could speak the truth. But then they have to gamble on you the white man. Sticking around.

interracial marriage is no easy thing.

I worked as a contractor for the US government for 35 years and got to see the endpoint of much of the nonsense we see going on at Evergreen and elsewhere. Countless times, I would meet the new person charged with overseeing my division’s work only to be told by the individual (with one exception they were all black females) that they had no clue as to what my division did, what the requirements were, or how to evaluate/oversee the work being done, and then asked if I could educate them on the subject. In many cases, these people were not even trainable and frequently came away from lessons I tried to teach them with an unshakable belief that 1 + 1 = 27 and, very often, was told that if I were to disagree with them then they would file a grievance against me for your racist/misogynist behavior.
On one occasion, my division’s work was being audited and we we found to be deficient because we were not providing the employees with the information this “auditor” demanded that we provide. When I objected to this because the information the “auditor” was demanding be disseminated was false and even dangerous, the “auditor” actually stated that the regulations stated we had to provide the information and nowhere did the regulations demand that the information be accurate or true.
What was the most amazing issue of all was how senior government managers who oversaw these people whom I had to train to oversee and evaluate my division’s work had the unshakable belief that, even though my division’s work involved the chemistry of what the plant did and involved extensive technical analysis and knowledge, backgrounds of those sent to oversee and supervise my division’s work did not have to be technical in nature. Many sent to oversee the work had degrees in Art History, English, and even kinesiology and never took even as much as Freshman Chemistry. I can only assume that they felt they could get Mother nature to abide by their social justice values.

    Tom Servo in reply to Cleetus. | July 9, 2017 at 8:06 am

    You would have liked an incident on the Dallas City Council a couple years ago when John Wiley Price, a South Dallas Councilman, got all upset and accused one of the other members of making racist statements, since the accused had said something about information he was seeking felt like it was disappearing into a black hole. “How come no one ever complains about a White Hole???” Price demanded to know.

      guyjones in reply to Tom Servo. | July 9, 2017 at 8:48 am

      I just looked up Mr. Price — currently on trial for corruption. He seems to be a pathologically embittered and spite-filled racist, and, a complete fool, to boot. His history is filled with violent and belligerent encounters with police, citizens and fellow council-members.

      What a loathsome and vile reprobate.

        murkyv in reply to guyjones. | July 9, 2017 at 9:24 pm

        Hung jury. No retrial.

        Just in the news last week for being the sole dissenter on a resolution to honor the 5 cops gunned down last year by a BLM whacko.

        He basically said they had it coming for all of those blacks being shot and did not deserve to be honored.

    jhn107 in reply to Cleetus. | July 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Sounds like my experience working for the federal government. We had people working in the legal department who were incapable of putting files in alphabetical order who moved up the chain of command at lightning speed. I remember telling one such supervisor that her actions were illegal and would result in a fraud on the community estate claim if she continued. She leveled the racism charge against me and I backed down. Three months later she was served with paperwork accusing her of fraud. The legal department capitulated on 240k claim because the liability was obvious.

Is anyone truly surprised that administrators and faculty in academia are now running Soviet-style show trials and administering ideological purity tests to faculty and students who are deemed to not be in sufficient obeisance to Leftist orthodoxies?

Over eight years of Obama’s disastrous tenure, the one positive thing to emerge during that time has been the Left’s removal of its fig leaves of “tolerance” and “diversity,” and the visibility of its increasingly unabashed and unrepentant totalitarianism, visited upon anyone — even card-carrying Leftists — who falls afoul of the Party commissars.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | July 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

I recognized what is happening to Prof. Weinstein as “Kafkatrapping” in my comment to your May 31 post.

The person who used the term on Facebook was not me. I read the blog daily so I don’t read Legal Insurrection on Facebook.

People are catching on.

Is it possible to get too much schadenfreude from this?

Char Char Binks | July 9, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Commandante Guevara once assigned “The Trial” for one of his Cuban victims to read so he would understand what he was doing to him.

This kind of thing used to be solved by a big lawsuit and a big payout but with the courts being insane in the 9th circuit and this guy not having the balls to finally threatened these people that their campus is not a US Constitution free zone.

I love it when liberals eat their own.

This type of situation is the spawn of Obama. When he was chosen by the Soros cabal for president, it was because he was a black racist and hater of white people and capitalist United States. He had scores to settle. In truth, he has set race relations back 60 years, and caused a new level of incivility and arrogance by blacks which I noticed within months of his installation in DC. Just compare the news of the last 2 years with that of previous years and you’ll see that the dogs have been unleashed in the form of social justice warriors, and black radicals who have created Evergreen College. God help the employers who might be forced to hire these babies.