My interview on Epoch TV’s American Thought Leaders discusses how DEI is a “charade” and “damaging performative art” that “forces people to lie” and how “bias-free” certification of algorithms and AI is a ruse where illegal “quotas and group results are going to be baked into the system”
I had the pleasure of sitting for an hour-long interview on the American Thought Leaders program on Epoch Times TV, hosted by Jan Jekielek.
Jan was a great interviewer, someone who didn’t make the interview about himself, and who asked all the right questions to bring out the information he wanted his viewers to hear. That’s why I’d never make a good interviewer. I’d inevitably want to make it about me. And people are sick of hearing me talk about me (but you really should watch the whole hour-long interview!).
The show title Epoch TV gave my segment was ‘Reign of Terror’ on Campuses Post-George Floyd and the Threat of AI Internalized Bias: Cornell Law Professor Bill Jacobson. (Full video at the link.)
We covered a lot of stuff! Here is the write up at Epoch TV:
“Group results are going to be baked into the system without any regard for the individual. And it’s going to take place at such a deep level that it will be very hard to prove. The administrator at Cornell or Harvard or Yale can say, ‘I know nothing about this. We don’t discriminate. We’re just using software that says it’s bias-free. Don’t sue me!'”
In this episode, I sit down with Cornell law professor William Jacobson. Out of Cornell’s 1,700 faculty members, he is the only one openly conservative, and for over a decade has faced threats, harassment, and organized campaigns to eject him from the school.
“The one diversity that you will never hear implemented on campuses is diversity of viewpoint,” says Mr. Jacobson.
He is the founder of the Legal Insurrection blog and foundation, which exposes and takes action against DEI discrimination in higher education, medical schools, and the corporate world.
“When you look at these DEI statements, they not only require you to recite that you agree with this, they also want you to show how you have tailored your career to advance it,” says Mr. Jacobson.
We discuss the rise of critical race theory on college campuses and its spread to other institutions, and the importance of elevating the individual over group identity. We also dive into the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, and the threat of AI algorithms infused with DEI principles.
“Right now, we’re on the cusp of this explosion of baked-in quotas through technology. Now is the time that people have to learn about it,” says Mr. Jacobson.
You may remember the issue of stealth quotas covered at the Equal Protection Project’s online event, Discrimination by Algorithm.
Here are two short promotional video clips (FULL VIDEO LINK BELOW)
There were some good promotional tweets and reactions as well:
Terrific interview, Jan. Prof. Jacobson's explanation of "anti-bias bias" AI and algorithms was fascinating and alarming. I've only heard of 2 leaders talk urgently about this – Gov. DeSantis and PM Bibi Netanyahu.
— stephen67 (@benpalmach1967) September 4, 2023
— Dave Collum (@DavidBCollum) September 3, 2023
There really was so much ground covered. See the full video link and transcript below.
Click HERE or on the image below to watch the entire program. (Sorry, no ’embed’ is available)
(Prepared by Epoch Times, with note: “This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity”)(emphasis added by WAJ)
Jan Jekielek: Professor William Jacobson, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Professor William Jacobson: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Mr. Jekielek: I first really became aware of your organization, Legal Insurrection, a bit late. Actually, it was in 2021. You profiled one of my interviews with Victor Davis Hanson and I thought, “This is an amazing site. Look at all the stuff they’ve got.” Paul Rossi has written for you, and he’s been on this show. You have this incredible body of work that you’ve been developing over a great many years. You actually went to school with Kimberly Crenshaw, which is a remarkable thing, as you ended up focusing quite a bit on critical race theory. How did this all come about?
Professor Jacobson: I was in private practice in Providence, Rhode Island, and represented investors and employees against stock brokerage firms. I had a national practice and I had graduated law school in 1984 from Harvard Law School, and ended up in Providence. Then I became very ill and had to leave private practice. A year later I joined Cornell Law School with this law specialty that I had been practicing. At the time they hired me, I had no blog, no website, and I wasn’t political.
During the 2008 presidential election, I became very frustrated with the overwhelming media bias in favor of Obama and Biden, but still never said anything. In late August, I was having dinner with a former client that I had won a lot of money for. He asked me, “Who are you voting for?” I said, “I’m voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin.” We got into this really long argument. At the end of it, he said, “I’ve never heard anybody explain your side as well as you do. You should start a blog.” I had no idea what a blog was. I started to look into it, and that led me to form and launch Legal Insurrection in October of 2008 as a solo blog on Google Blogger, a free platform.
To some extent, the rest is history. Now, we’re a whole big operation. We’ve got a foundation, and we’ve got multiple websites. But Legal Insurrection started as a classic solo blog, when blogs were a big thing before Twitter or Facebook were as big as they are now.
Mr. Jekielek: I remember one of your positions back then was that you believed President Obama was much more radical than he was portraying himself to be. Then you were witnessing racialization in the Obama administration, so tell me about that. You’ve even seen institutional capture happen at your alma mater. I want to explore that too.
Professor Jacobson: In many ways I’ve been an eyewitness to what we now call the critical race phenomenon, or the racialization of education and the capture of institutions going back to my days at Harvard Law School in the early 1980s. At that time it was called critical legal studies, and that was the hot topic—critical legal theory. Harvard Law School was an epicenter of that. It was the most famous one, not the only one, but the most famous one. I began to realize then the racialization of those concepts.
Nobody used the term critical race theory. It hadn’t been coined yet as a term, but it was called critical legal theory. It was the building of coalitions of so-called people of color, and the racialization of everything, and I witnessed that. As you mentioned, one of my classmates was Kimberly Crenshaw, who went on to invent the concept of intersectionality, and I think coined the phrase critical race theory.
Then I went off into private practice. The most radical students who were involved in critical legal theory went into academia. When I finally started paying attention to critical race theory much more recently within the last decade or so, it all made sense to me. I now understand the formative years were about the injection of race, essentially substituting race for class in the Marxist class struggle approach to everything, which never really gained traction in the U.S.
Because in the U.S., unlike some countries, people can move between classes. If you look at all our billionaires, very few of them were born wealthy. They’ve created things. In the U.S., that Marxist class struggle really doesn’t work for people, so they latched onto race as a substitute. Now it’s racial struggle, a never ending racial struggle. The system is corrupt from a race point of view, it can’t be fixed, and it has to be overthrown.
Now it all made sense to me when I started to see this. Although the term critical race theory wasn’t used during the Obama campaign in 2008, a lot of those concepts were there. That’s what made me very frustrated, and caused me to launch the blog. My first two or three posts at Legal Insurrection in October, 2008, were about the racialization of the campaign, and how race was being used as a weapon to silence people.
It was not being used to silence them because the government was going to throw them in prison, but to silence them because the false accusation of being a racist is extremely damaging. It can cost you your job. It can cost you your education. It can cost you personal relationships. I began to see that being used with greater frequency, and that’s how I started writing at Legal Insurrection. It was not exclusively about the use of race in the campaign, but a significant part of it was.
Mr. Jekielek: You attended Hamilton College. You believe that what happened to Hamilton College is a model of how institutions can be captured. There seems to be a lot less debate today than three years ago about many Ivy League colleges and institutions being overly Left-wing. At some point this was even a huge contention, but it seems to be less so now.
Professor Jacobson: Another thing I witnessed was essentially the capture of Hamilton College. I started at Hamilton College in the late 1970s. It was an all male, very conservative, fairly stodgy, but very traditional education. You had to take English and you had to study the classics, nothing that would be considered trendy at all. There was this sister school literally across the road called Kirkland College, which had been started in the 1960s as a new wave college, an alternative sort of school, very heavily focused on the arts, pottery and things like that.
It was a very different school and it was actually a pretty good blend. You had the girls school, which was a trendy, ’60s quasi-hippie-ish school, and you had the stodgy conservative school, and it actually worked pretty well. The problem is that Kirkland College couldn’t survive financially, and so Kirkland essentially went out of business. Rather than having an empty school across the road, Hamilton College acquired Kirkland.
During my sophomore year at Hamilton College, it went co-ed. Over the years, the Kirkland faculty became very radical and very far-Left. They gradually took over the committees, and they started hiring only their own. Over two decades, stodgy, conservative Hamilton College became indistinguishable from Oberlin College or Wesleyan College [waj note – my error, should have said Wesleyan University] in terms of the ideology. It had been completely captured.
It became so captured that a couple of the senior professors at Hamilton College got full funding to construct a building and create an institute on Hamilton’s campus, called the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Western civilization as a study topic had essentially been driven out of the curriculum at Hamilton, because it was considered racist. They were in favor of multicultural approaches. In fact, they were in favor of what we now call critical race theory approaches that at that time probably weren’t used as a term, and they got 100 percent funding.
The administration agreed, and it wouldn’t have cost the college a penny. The faculty threw a fit, rose up against it and Hamilton ended up backing away. That’s how radicalized the faculty had become. They had made a job offer to somebody who used to be one of the Weather Underground terrorists that blew up everything. I think Susan Rosenberg was her name.
That created such a controversy that the college backed away. But that’s what it was, and those are the types of people they hired. I literally witnessed how in two decades, a college that went back a couple of hundred years based on classic western education, was completely taken over by leftist faculty.
It’s now indistinguishable from all the other Left-leaning or far-Left colleges that are out there. I saw the genesis in the early 1980s at Harvard Law School. I saw what happened at Hamilton College. While I may not have been involved in it personally, I witnessed it. I knew it was going on, and I followed these trends. In 2008, that was the motivation for me, when challenged by a former client, to finally say, “Yes, I’m going to start writing about this. I’m not going to keep my mouth shut anymore. It’s now time for me to come out of the closet as a conservative.”
Mr. Jekielek: Why was the teaching of western civilization an anathema to the faculty?
Professor Jacobson: It goes back to these basic critical race theory concepts of us being a systemically racist society, and that the racism is not necessarily conscious in people. Therefore, the dead white male authors are inherently racist because they grew out of a racist system. It’s just an attitude that our entire society is sick, and therefore we should not be elevating the foundations of our society, which regardless of your race, color, or ethnicity, are western civilization foundations.
It was in many ways a revolt against the country, consistent with the goals of critical race theory and critical legal theory, which is tearing down society. Society cannot be cured around the edges, it can only be torn down. That is really a driving force throughout academia, that we are irredeemably corrupt as a society. Therefore, incremental improvements simply sustain a racist society, and there has to be a wholesale deconstruction. That is one of their favorite phrases—a wholesale deconstruction of society.
Mr. Jekielek: Decolonization is another term. Becoming aware of all of this in the last 10 years caused me to study up on western civilization. I realized how much I didn’t know. High school was probably the last time I actually had western civ courses. I loved them, but I didn’t go deep. So much good has come out of western civilization that it’s hard to catalog all of it. Yet it has become a societal concept that we don’t talk about, aside from the people that actively have this animosity and are seeking to break it down.
Professor Jacobson: It shows you how influential academia is. I remember through these many years and decades people would frequently say, “That’s just a couple of crazy professors somewhere.” Actually, they indoctrinated and they taught generations of students to believe that western civilization is uniquely evil. You can look at western civilization, and certainly a lot of bad things have happened, and nobody’s denying that. But it is not unique in the history of humankind that mass murders take place, that genocides take place, and that colonization takes place. That is not unique to western civilization.
But the way it’s taught on campuses is that it is unique to western civilization, and that western civilization therefore is somehow uniquely evil, needs to be fought against, and needs to be driven off campuses. That is what has happened. It’s an ahistorical perspective on our very bad world, where bad things have happened everywhere throughout many generations, but that’s not taught.
Mr. Jekielek: One of the things that has come out of western civilization is rule of law, correct?
Professor Jacobson: I can’t say whether that’s unique to western civilization, and I don’t want to overextend myself. But it certainly is a feature of western civilization, not just rule of law, but rule of law to protect the individual, individual rights, and the concept of the individual being worthy of protection, as opposed to group identity. Much of the history of the world are groups fighting against each other, not elevating the individual, and not treating people as individuals, but treating people as members of a group, whether it’s a religious group or a caste.
Western civilization in many ways was a uniquely liberating force in world history. I can’t say it’s unique, but it certainly was the most powerful. Those concepts made their way into our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our history since then. What they are seeking to tear down is the focus on the individual, because now what matters are group results.
Under the current dynamic, it doesn’t matter whether you were treated fairly as an individual. If your group has a worse outcome, now all of a sudden it’s claimed you’re the victim of discrimination. Part of what they’re fighting against is the protection of the individual. Almost every society you look at around the world historically, when group rights and group identity are elevated over the rights and identity of the individual, very bad things happen. That’s what causes genocide. What causes other mass killings and mass abuse is treating people as group members, not as individuals. That’s what we’re losing.
We’re fighting to reestablish the individual, and we’re not alone. A lot of the pushback that you’re seeing is really reestablishing the rights and dignity of the individual, and elevating the individual over the group. In many ways, that’s what the battle is now in society, but also on campuses.
Mr. Jekielek: The title of your blog was in a way prophetic. You didn’t want it to be an illegal insurrection, because that would be a bad brand. Actually, it’s an insurrection to bring back rule of law.
Professor Jacobson: Regarding the way the name developed, I mentioned I had been challenged to start a blog and I needed a blog title, and I did word association. I was so frustrated with what was happening that the word insurrection came to mind. This is in 2008. I looked it up in the dictionary, and by definition an insurrection is illegal. I said, “I just started a new job as a law professor, so maybe that’s not the best title.”
I said, “Why don’t I call it Legal Insurrection?” That is actually a contradiction in terms, there is no such thing as a legal insurrection. What does it mean? Does it mean that you’re going to have an insurrection within the law, within the legal community, or does it mean that you’re going to have a societal insurrection, but you’re going to do it through lawful means?
It’s a little bit of both. There was no branding idea, and there was no strategy. It was, “Okay, let’s just do this.” If you look at the top of our website, legalinsurrection.com, there’s some wording which is pulled straight from the dictionary. That’s how simple it was when I started. I just copied and pasted it from the dictionary. It is an uprising against established authority, which is the definition of insurrection in accordance with and as permitted by law.
Of course, after January 6th some people have said, “Maybe you should change your name.” We’re not changing our name, that’s been our brand since 2008. People can read into it, but I think it’s a little of both. It’s a little of insurrection within the law, but it’s also a lawful means of an insurrection within society.
Mr. Jekielek: I have to tell you, I like my version even better. There is this slow drip loss of rule of law, and you catalog this in multiple ways on the site itself. Then the insurrection is actually to maintain rule of law today. Anyway, at least that’s my version. You started with the Legal Insurrection blog, but you also have a number of other websites; criticalrace.org, and equalprotect.org. Please tell me about the purpose of these.
Professor Jacobson: Sure. We started with the blog legalinsurrection.com in 2008. In 2019 we launched the Legal Insurrection Foundation, which is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit at legalinsurrectionfoundation.org. The purpose of that was to advance our research. We’ve done a lot of research over the years, and it builds up those resources to improve our research and investigations.
We’ve launched two projects since 2019. The first was in 2021, which is criticalrace.org. It’s a really unique website which maps out the spread of critical race theory in higher education, in medical schools, elite K-12 private schools, and even the U.S. military academies.
In February of 2023, we launched the Equal Protection Project, which is equalprotect.org, which is meant to take the research we do at criticalrace.org and act on it. At criticalrace.org, we’ve documented how this has spread, but we never acted on it because we didn’t have that mechanism. Therefore, equalprotect.org files complaints, gets publicity, and exposes discrimination that takes place in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you make of this affirmative action ruling? I’ve actually had people on the show tell me very different things. One of the plaintiffs in that Supreme Court case told me, “This is a huge win. We’re going back to how things should be.” I also had Heather McDonald come on and say, “There’s a poison pill in what was said. There’s ways that they now have to get around it.” Where do you stand on this?
Professor Jacobson: It’s all of the above. First of all, it was a great decision and extremely important to completely and unequivocally reject what is frequently referred to as equity, or diversity, equity and inclusion, which are group identities. The Supreme Court announced that every individual is entitled under the Equal Protection Clause to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be treated as an individual, not based on racial stereotypes or ethnic stereotypes. In the Harvard case, it was mostly to the detriment of students or applicants of Asian descent who were clearly discriminated against.
The Supreme Court established that and said that merely wanting a diversity of race is not enough to overcome that equal protection that each individual is entitled to. Legally, it’s an enormously important decision that will have implications far beyond admission to universities, which was the narrow context of it. In terms of the poison pill, there was a sentence in there where the Supreme Court said, “You can’t consider the race of an applicant to be off the table. You can consider the experience that the applicant has had with racism or other similar factors.”
That is a loophole that Harvard seized on immediately. They said, “We can’t ask you what race you are and we can’t take that into consideration, but you can tell us about that in your essay.” Now, in the very next sentence the Supreme Court said, “What we just said can’t be used as a loophole. You can’t just use essays to get around our other findings.”
It’s a little unclear how that’s going to play out in the real world. Clearly, that was an opening that Harvard and others have seized on. That gets to a different point, which is the focus on race. The focus on [multi-]culturalism is so deeply embedded in the university bureaucracy, many corporate bureaucracies, and in HR departments that no matter what the Supreme Court said they’re going to try to find a way to get around it.
We’ve seen that. On the website, we tracked a lot of those developments before the decision, when everybody knew what the decision was likely to be, but hadn’t been issued yet. They start eliminating SAT scores and other standardized testing. Because the Asian students in the Harvard case, their primary piece of proof were the disparate SAT scores required for an Asian student to get accepted vs. a black or Hispanic student to get accepted, and even for a white student to get accepted. It was clearly discriminatory.
They’re not going to eliminate their racial preferences. They’re going to eliminate the proof of their racial preferences with things like standardized test scores. There’s no doubt that the Supreme Court decision is enormously important, but no one should kid themselves that all of a sudden with the stroke of a pen, the Supreme Court eliminated racial preferences in higher education.They will continue, but they’re going to be even deeper underground than before.
One of the things that we’re very focused on is how technology is going to assist in hiding this, with the use of algorithms and the use of artificial intelligence. We’re already seeing this play out at entities like LinkedIn, where they’re using their algorithms to present what they call diverse pools of candidates, which are essentially manipulated pools of candidates.
The algorithms are being certified because they have to be certified, and it’s a big Biden administration push as being bias-free. To be certified, the artificial intelligence that’s used to evaluate applicants is going to have to prove that it’s bias-free. What do they mean by bias-free? What they really mean are group results. If your algorithm for an engineering position is producing a pool of candidates based on GPA, where you went to school, and what your experience is, that does not reflect the racial mix that they think should be presented.
It’s not bias-free. They make you go back and tweak your algorithm. What is your algorithm looking for? Basically what you will see is technology developing in a way that gets them the quotas they want without the university or the company having to do a thing. All they will say is, “We are using artificial intelligence that’s been certified as bias-free.” But in fact it’s actually stealth quotas.
Mr. Jekielek: That is the height of doublespeak, because it’s precisely biased.
Professor Jacobson: It’s precisely biased to achieve the racial and ethnic and other quotas that they want. That’s how it’s biased, but that has now been defined as bias-free.
That’s another thing that we were seeing even before the Supreme Court decision, and that is going to ramp up. They will essentially offload the discrimination to the coders, who create the technology to screen people.
Because the reality is that large companies don’t go through 1,000 resumes. They have software that sorts it and tells them out of the thousand people who applied for this job, here are the 10 you should interview. That’s very common, and it’s going to work its way into the medical field, and it’s going to work its way into the legal field. Getting back to your original question about the Supreme Court decision, it’s hugely important, but there is a loophole. We don’t know how that’s going to play out in the real world, but the universities will try to find a way around it.
Mr. Jekielek: It reminds me of what Google euphemistically called machine learning fairness, if you remember that term. It creates biased results so that they appear fair, which is essentially exactly the same principle here. That is very difficult to screen for unless you have some other group that’s going in and looking at what a random choice would look like, or what a merit-based choice would look like. If you’re removing the measures of merit, then how would you even know that?
What a dangerous time to be developing AI at full speed , because right now AI is going into the exponential curve part of its development. If this stuff is all baked in there, then we have bureaucracies implementing it, and that feels like a very dystopian future to me.
Professor Jacobson: It really is. It’s really going to be baked into the system. Quotas and group results are going to be baked into the system without any regard for the individual. It’s going to take place at such a deep level, that it will be very hard to prove. You would literally have to go to the software company that developed the software to find out how they did it, and that’s multiple levels removed.
The administrator at Cornell, or Harvard, or Yale can say, “I know nothing about this. We don’t discriminate. We’re just using software that says it’s bias-free. Don’t sue me.” The hiring person at a company can honestly say, “I’m not discriminating. I’m just accepting, or at least as a starting point, what this bias-free software provides.” It’s going to take place at a level which is very hard for people to know about.
Even some employers may not know that they’re not getting the best engineers, they’re just getting a manipulated pool of candidates to achieve a desired quota based on race and ethnicity and other factors. It’s very insidious. People in Congress and on Capitol Hill don’t understand it. There has been legislation proposed which will make this worse, and it’s bipartisan legislation.
It’s not on the table now. It was proposed last year as part of a larger privacy act. But there was a section in it dealing with algorithmic biases. The people who drafted that either are ignorant, which is probably most likely, they just used verbiage that sounded nice, or somebody who has an agenda worked their way into it.
That’s something that we’re going to be focusing on—calling on Congress to not make it worse. Hopefully, what you’ll see is pushback at the state level. With this software that needs to be certified, Florida, Texas, and other red states should consider legislation that says, ” As a state, if we are going to use software, algorithms, and artificial intelligence that has been certified as bias-free, it also has to be certified that no tweaks were made in it to achieve quotas.”
But people have to wake up to it. That’s one of the things we’re going to try to do, is wake people up to the fact that what is happening is going to be more insidious than what we call affirmative action. Because it’s going to take place at a level where people don’t even know it’s happening.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s already an example of this thing happening in the realm of social and emotional learning tests. The point is that companies already exist that are ready to implement this type of technology.
Professor Jacobson: That’s right. You’re going to see the same consultant class arise with regard to algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning that you’ve seen in the education sphere. Follow the money. That’s where the money’s going to be. There’s going to be contracts handed out. There’s going to be consultants involved. People may not realize that what I loosely call the critical race industry, or the DEI industrial complex, is enormous.
It’s a multi-billion dollar a year industry to service the agenda of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which really is the agenda of critical race theory. It does not treat people as individuals, but instead treats them as group members and proxies for group members. The teachers’ unions are very heavily involved in this. Every place we go, when we look into what’s happening in education, you bump into the National Education Association, or the American Federation of Teachers. Maybe even tens-of-billions of dollars a year go towards pushing these group identities and these quotas.
Mr. Jekielek: There is this redefining of terminology to mean the exact opposite of the actual meaning. The obvious one is the redefining of the term woman, and it affects Title IX foundationally. All you need to do is redefine that word, and suddenly the whole meaning of the law is completely changed. Obviously, you think this needs to be stopped, but how? Because you’re painting the picture of this behemoth that’s just growing and eating up everything along the way.
Professor Jacobson: First is sunshine. People didn’t know it was happening until a few months ago. I didn’t know what was happening with this whole algorithmic and artificial intelligence bias-free system. People need to be aware of it. Politicians are not aware of it. Part of it is an education campaign calling attention to this. The tools that we now have that states are using, particularly more aggressive states like Florida, could be used. The states are big purchasers. The federal government is the biggest purchaser of almost everything in the country, because the government is so large. Certain red states could pass legislation or executive orders addressing the manipulation of artificial intelligence to violate the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
To me, what they’re doing with the algorithms, and what they’re doing with the artificial intelligence to bake quotas into it is a plain violation of existing law. You don’t need new laws, you just need to get somebody to enforce the laws and say, “You cannot discriminate technologically. Just like you can’t discriminate face-to-face or when considering a job application.”
It’s early enough in the development that if there is intervention now, it could make a huge impact. A year, or two, or three from now, it’s going to be much more difficult. Right now we’re on the cusp of this explosion of baked-in quotas through technology. Now is the time that people have to learn about it.
Mr. Jekielek: This euphemistic bias-free moniker, which actually means biased, you could apply that anywhere. You’ll have to have a discrimination-free tag, but what that actually means is you’re discriminating.
Professor Jacobson: This has worked its way into medicine as well. During the pandemic in 2021, New York State issued guidelines for the distribution of Covid therapeutic pills that were new to the market and in short supply, so they had to be rationed. One of the ways they were rationed, according to New York state policy, was based on race. If you wanted this medication, you had to test positive for Covid.
You had to have mild to moderate symptoms. You couldn’t be too far along. You had to seek it within five days of symptoms. You then had to show a risk factor. Being non-white was deemed a risk factor. If you were white, you actually had to show that you had some personal risk factor, like you had a heart disease or you had diabetes. They set up different tests depending on whether you are white or non-white.
I actually challenged that. I filed a lawsuit against the New York State Health Commissioner. The discrimination was not that someone is deprived of the pill, it’s that they have a barrier to entry that somebody else doesn’t have. Unfortunately, I lost in the federal courts on the concept of standing to sue. You have to show that you will actually be directly and imminently impacted by this.
The district court and court of appeals ruled that I hadn’t had Covid yet, and they didn’t know if I would get it. They didn’t know if I would qualify for this medication. They didn’t know, and therefore it’s too attenuated for me to be a plaintiff. There was another case brought by another person that moved on the same track. That person was also denied by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and they went to get it reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court did not take the case, but the argument was that, “It’s over, and this medication is not in short supply. We don’t know if this will ever happen again.” Justice Alito and Justice Thomas wrote a statement in connection with the denial of taking the case. It was not a dissent, but they said, “We agree this is an old issue. It’s come and gone. But in the future, should any state government use race as one of the factors in access to medicine that would warrant prompt Supreme Court review.”
Both in my case and this other case, the entire medical establishment backed the State of New York’s discriminatory policy, both the American Medical Association and the American College of Surgeons. Two to three dozen major medical groups filed a joint brief in which they said, “Yes, it’s okay for the state of New York to issue these discriminatory guidelines because Covid has had a bigger impact on non-white groups,” again, treating people as group members.
If you have two people who walk into an emergency room and want this medication, one automatically qualifies based on the color of skin. The other has to go an extra step and prove that that person has a risk factor. The entire medical establishment is behind this. You talk about capture of institutions. Our medical institutions have been captured by this ideology.
Mr. Jekielek: I absolutely want to talk about this in depth. You’ve described the racialization of medical education and medicine constitutes a national emergency. Maybe that’s not obvious to everybody, but why?
Professor Jacobson: The racialization of education, medicine, and other fields is now essentially pitting people against each other based on race, however you define race and ethnicity. The color of skin might be another way to do it. A lot of these talk about people of color. They never say how much color is needed in the skin, but it’s people of color versus whites. It’s setting up racial conflict, and that’s all it is.
It’s in the education establishment. It’s teaching students to view fellow students based on the color of skin, and to view teachers based on the color of skin. At Legal Insurrection we find either parents or teachers who we tell their story or let them tell their story, and we then bring them forward to national media attention. We had such a person who was a middle school teacher in Providence, Rhode Island. She was white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, had been in the system for 20 years, and never had a problem.
After the George Floyd killing, when all of this critical race stuff started to take over everything, they replaced the curriculum in her middle school. Great authors were literally pulled off the shelves and thrown into wheelbarrows to be thrown out. They brought in new books which were mostly new pamphlets. The consistent theme in the pamphlets was oppressor vs. oppressed. Everything in U.S. history was viewed through a white oppressor vs. non-white oppressed lens, every aspect of our society.
She talked about how over the course of just a year, it changed the students, and they began to have hostility towards her. She’s in a district that’s almost 100 percent non-white. It’s 90-plus percent non-white, mostly Hispanic, but also African-American. She talked about how they started refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. In Rhode Island it is required that every classroom recite the pledge. Now constitutionally, no student has to recite it, but the teacher needs to lead the class.
They stopped standing for the Pledge of Allegiance because they didn’t view themselves as part of the country. They started to refer to her as America, saying, “You’re America because you’re white. We are not America because we’re non-white.” The hostility escalated, and now she’s in legal proceedings with the school district. But that’s a good example of how poisonous this is to our society.
You’re teaching non-white students that they’re doomed to fail. You’re teaching them that their failure is baked into the system, there’s nothing they can do about it, and they don’t need to participate. The Providence School District where all of this is happening has time to spend on diversity, equity and inclusion, but their district is a complete failure. It’s so bad that it had to be taken over by the state. Their 2022 fall reading and math test scoring from the state testing came through, and only 12 percent were at grade level in English.
That’s the good news. Only 9 percent were at grade level in math. It is a complete failure. Yet they are obsessed with race, and this racialization is so baked in that they openly discriminate against white teachers. They have a new teacher hiring program with an incentive that you can get up to $25,000 of your student loans canceled if you’re a new teacher in the Providence school system. It is paid off by the largest foundation in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, a billion-and-a-half dollar charity.
They will pay off $25,000 of your loans if you’re hired by Providence, but only if you’re non-white. We filed a legal challenge to that, but they don’t care. They have other programs that have similar discrimination. They were actually holding segregated teacher events, literally segregated with no whites allowed, at the Providence School District. We did manage to stop that. This is so destructive to society.
When I say it’s a wake-up call, it’s a national emergency because you’re destroying education. You’re pitting people against each other based on race, which historically, certainly in our country, but also around the world, is one of the most inflammatory ways you can set groups against each other. That’s what this is about, and this is part of the tearing down of society.
Mr. Jekielek: About a half-a-year ago, I became aware of this ideology getting deep into medical schools, that will likely result in people not being schooled in competency around medicine, but around other things instead.
Professor Jacobson: We’re seeing this. We have a website called criticalrace.org which catalogs and maps out the infiltration of critical race theory into education, including a database and a map for medical schools. We’ve just finished that map for all 155 U.S. approved medical schools. The clear majority have adopted this ideology. They have bias response teams, and they have programming on DEI. They have all of these other things that inject race into it.
Certainly, there are times when race or ethnicity is something that needs to be taken into account in a diagnosis. Because there are some groups who, for whatever the reason, might have more sensitivity to certain types of medications. You need to know that, but that’s very different from stereotyping groups. That’s very different from the New York State Health Department saying, “We’re going to prioritize people based on the color of their skin.”
That is what is being taught. Everything that’s going on in academia generally is also happening in the medical schools now. I would argue in some ways it’s worse because this is where doctors are trained on how to treat patients. This is where the American Medical Association is extraordinarily aggressive in terms of pushing this ideology. Even the accrediting agencies are beginning to look at this.
This is really troublesome, particularly in the medical field, because people literally can die. Sometimes it’s hyperbole when you talk about things and say, “Oh, it’s going to kill people.” No, the New York State regulations or the way they were implemented could literally kill people with. We may never know.
When they discriminated on the basis of race in handing out these Covid therapeutics when they were in short supply, there may have been somebody who died, or got very ill because they were denied access based on the color of their skin. Somebody with a different skin color who did not need it as badly got it over them, so this is a very serious situation. When we speak to medical students, a lot of them know this is wrong. I can’t say we’ve surveyed enough to talk about this, but anecdotally, they all know this is going on. They don’t like it, but they’re not going to buck the system. You can’t expect a student to buck this system.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m sure a lot of the teachers feel the same way. What is driving this so hard? There are particularly odd incentive structures that are involved. But is there also a mania around this? Is there a mass hysteria? Somehow this is being pushed so hard, despite the fact that there’s so many people that are perplexed by it, but don’t want to buck the system.
Professor Jacobson: If you look back at the history going back to the early 1980s, for me at least, you can see how these concepts developed over time and they became embedded in the systems. If you’re looking for a triggering event that caused the mania that we’re seeing now, it was no question the death of George Floyd. It’s almost like there were plans on the shelf to take over everything, and that was the excuse they needed to do it.
You saw universities declaring themselves “anti-racist” campuses. Now, anti-racist doesn’t mean what you think it means, it actually means being racist. It is Ibram Kendi’s concept of being an anti-racist, which is you discriminate currently in order to cure past discrimination, so it excuses current discrimination. You saw this everywhere. I saw it at Cornell and spoke out against it. That was one of the things that led to us creating criticalrace.org.
It is a mania. In many cases, it is virtue signaling run amuck. It is corporations trying to buy peace by donating money. I’ve seen in multiple different publications that approximately 50, 5-0 billion with a B, not a million with an M, $50 billion were pledged in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd to “racial justice” programs. Now, not all of that has been paid out. In fact, you hear that gripe, “Where’s our money?”
But many billions, probably tens of billions have been paid to support these efforts. Follow the money. It’s where the money is. If you want to get a grant from a major foundation like the Ford Foundation or any of them, you’ve probably got to prove your DEI bona fides. That’s where the money is for universities, it’s where the money is for individuals, and it’s where the money is for the consultants. It’s follow the money. There were tens of billions allocated to this, not just at the private foundation and private company level, but at the corporate level, the state government level, and the federal government level.
It’s a massive undertaking, but it is a mania. It’s a mania that I think is subsiding a little. It’s beginning to burn itself out, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away. But the intensity of 2020 and 2021 could not be sustained. It was literally ripping things apart. It was having professors be targeted, including me. It was having people lose their jobs. It was internet mobs going after people who sent an ambiguous tweet that’s being taken out of context.
They track you down and they contact your employer and you get fired. It was a mania that was unsustainable, and in the last year it has calmed down. But the underlying factors are there, except in states like Florida, which is now cracking down. The DEI bureaucrats are still there. The philosophy is still there. For the most part, the money is still there.
At a lot of universities, you have to submit a DEI statement in order to even get hired. I could never be hired at Cornell for many reasons, one of which is political, but I would also refuse to sign a DEI statement. Cornell got some bad publicity about that, and changed it from mandatory to voluntary. But the fact is everybody knows if you’re going to get hired, you’ve got to bow down to the DEI ideology.
Even worse than that, when you look at these DEI statements, they not only require you to recite that you agree with this, they also want you to show how you have tailored your career to advance it. It’s very insidious. It is a mania, that’s the right word for it. It’s a mania that’s calming down, but the structural problems are still there. It’s still very deeply embedded.
Mr. Jekielek: You used the word insidious, and I was thinking the same word as you were speaking. The insidious part that we didn’t talk about is that it forces people to lie, “If I want to get hired I’m going to have to make up this DEI statement, and pretend that I’ve structured my whole life around this concept. Because if I don’t say it convincingly enough, they’re going to give it to the guy that did.” What a terrible way to shift society.
Professor Jacobson: It’s all a charade. It’s all a performative art in many ways, but it’s damaging performative art. Yes, it forces people to lie. It forces people to pretend they’re something they’re not. They have to keep their own thoughts to themselves. I studied in the Soviet Union in college.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve got a good case on this then.
Professor Jacobson: I’m aware of what it’s like to live in a society where you have to pretend to be something you’re not. You can express your private thoughts, but you have to be very careful who you express them to and look at who is really trustworthy, and who is going to turn you in. That’s a terrible society to live in.
That’s what academia is becoming in many ways, where you have to say things you don’t really believe, and you have to be very careful in whom you confide. A lot of students confide in me. There will be a knock at the door. It’s a student, maybe one I don’t know, saying, “Hi, professor, do you mind if I shut the door?” I know exactly what’s going to happen.
They’re going to say, “I can’t take it anymore. I’ve got to recite these things in class. It’s not that the professors threaten me, but I’m worried if I disagree on some of these racial or hot topic issues, that it’s going to affect my grade, or bad things will be said about me on the internet, and it might be hard to find a job.” We have created this society on campus, which is very much like the society in the Soviet Union, where there’s an official ideology that you must agree with, and you must pledge allegiance to. You have to keep any contrary thoughts to yourself at risk of exposure.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s not just that you have to ascribe to this ideology, you have to basically support a malicious one. It forces you to betray your conscience if you want to be “successful.”
Professor Jacobson: Campuses are the incubator for a lot of this, with bias response teams, anonymous reporting, and deprivation of due process rights in campus judicial tribunals. It’s very much like a totalitarian society. The fact that you can report someone anonymously, and then the burden is on them to prove that they’re not guilty. They don’t get the normal process to prove things, and they don’t get to cross-examine witnesses.
It’s a very malicious ideology that has taken over, where the mere accusation is enough to ruin your life. Kafkatrapping is the term that’s often used for it, where the denial of the accusation is used as proof of the accusation. That’s what you see in the racial programming oncologists.
Mr. Jekielek: Like the Salem witch trials, but please continue.
Professor Jacobson: Robin DiAngelo’s, White Fragility, says, “The proof of your racism is that you’re so fragile about being called racist.” That’s what you have on campuses, the denial is used as proof. Because in the critical race theory paradigm, you don’t have to be conscious of your racism. You’re just part of it.
Mr. Jekielek: You have to submit.
Professor Jacobson: You have to submit, and you have to essentially beg for forgiveness for things you’ve never done.
Mr. Jekielek: You talked about the BLM protests and riots. There is this whole thing of law enforcement taking the knee. You have to admit your guilt, or admit your complicity. It’s a loyalty oath.
Professor Jacobson: I think that’s it. It wasn’t just law enforcement, it was professional athletes, and it was university professors. Cornell had its own take a knee faculty protest, where I actually went just to see what it was like. I didn’t take a knee, but I said, “I want to see who’s here.” There were over a 100 faculty who went there to take a knee, right during that time period.
It’s a very repressive ideology that has taken over. It’s very hard to stand up against it, because as happened at Hamilton College, universities no longer have diversity of thought, certainly at the faculty level. Cornell’s Sun student newspaper has done many surveys. They’ve actually done a good job on this. Not everything they do is so great, but on this they’ve done well on tracking faculty, political donations and political registrations. No surprise that it is approaching 100 percent—97, 98, or 99 percent of donations go to Democrats, and that’s how faculty is registered. That’s what happens, and you get a monoculture.
Mr. Jekielek: I wonder if their purpose behind that is to indicate what the correct way to be is. We’re going to have to finish up, but talking about all these professors at Cornell, how many are with you on this?
Professor Jacobson: It’s hard to know. I know there are a small number who agree with me on this, and who are willing to express that to me. My guess is that faculty have the same concerns and fears that the students have, which is that faculty members will get protested, and there will be attempts to get them fired. It has happened to me, and it has happened to others. Nobody wants to live like that.
Plus you have a filtering, a self-selection that the people who get hired are the people who tend to not agree with me. I would never have been hired if I had my website before Cornell hired me. I started a year after I joined. Faculty is less diverse in terms of viewpoint than the students are. There’s more diversity among the students. The faculty is close to a monoculture, and same with the administrators.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re not worried about your job?
Professor Jacobson: Since I started the website, people find this hard to believe. For almost a decade there was a constant stream of attempts to get me fired, mostly from off campus, and a huge amount of hostility to my website. I stopped picking up my office phone in 2009, because I didn’t know who would be calling me, like somebody deranged. Then after George Floyd, when I spoke out against the rioting and the looting, there were organized efforts to get me fired that were unsuccessful.
There were organized letter writing campaigns from alumni and organized petitions. 21 of my colleagues signed a letter denouncing me. The dean denounced me. People learn the lesson not to speak out, because not everybody wants to pay that price. People learn the lesson. I think it was Lenin who made the statement, “Shoot one person and scare 10,000.”
That’s what happens on campuses. A lot of times people say, “This is not a prevalent problem. Count for me how many professors have actually been fired in the last year because of this? There’s only five or six or eight or 10 or however many.'” But for each one who gets fired, it tells the whole campus not to speak out, and it spreads even further.
That’s what you’ve been seeing for a number of years. You essentially saw a reign of terror on campuses post-George Floyd against any professor who spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement. The one diversity that you will never hear implemented on campuses is diversity of viewpoint.
Mr. Jekielek: What is your message to those in education, medical school, law school, or just people in general, that are concerned about all of this?
Professor Jacobson: Educate yourself. Take control of your children’s education, whether it’s homeschooling or some other schooling. If you’re going to send them to public school, get involved. Don’t just hand your kids off to strangers, who are almost invariably Left-wing strangers with an agenda. Don’t just hand them off and then 15 years later say, “Oh my God, what happened here?”
Where were you for those 15 years? You’ve got to run for school board. You’ve got to get yourself involved in the parent-teacher groups. Grab a hold of the future of your children and guide them. Don’t allow strangers to do it and then complain 15 years from now, when you don’t recognize your own child ideologically.
Mr. Jekielek: What about people who are faculty?
Professor Jacobson: It’s very tough, and that’s why a lot of faculty leave. The pressure has to come from outside. I do not believe that most universities can cure themselves or can resolve these problems on their own. They can’t reform themselves because they’re monocultures.
Whether it’s parents, whether students choosing not to apply to that school, whether it’s state legislatures when the funding comes from the state, all of those pressures have to be brought from the outside in. It could be publicity, because schools are very concerned about bad publicity. You cannot expect faculty, at least not faculty who want to keep their jobs, or get hired, or get promoted, to fight this battle.
I wish there were more who fought the battle. There are some who do, but there are relatively few. One of the things that I know because of messages I get is that there are a lot more people who agree with me than are able to admit it. I have no real criticisms for them.
I understand, because academia was not my life. I had a private practice before I came to academia. If they fired me, I would do something else. But for a lot of people, it’s their life. It’s the only thing they have known. It’s too much to expect them to put their jobs at risk.
Mr. Jekielek: Professor William Jacobson, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Professor Jacobson: Great. Thanks for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Professor William Jacobson and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.DONATE
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