Most Solutions To Most Forms Of Internet Harassment Would Do More Harm Than Good
An unsatisfactory answer to a fuzzy and poorly conceptualized question
The New York Times recently published an article by Vimal Patel about a very, very unsympathetic advocate for free-speech concerns.
Daniel Schmidt, a sophomore at the University of Chicago, is a budding conservative activist, online influencer with tens of thousands of followers, and provocateur. “Over the last year or so,” notes the Times, he actively supported Kanye West, the artist now known as Ye, for president — work that he promoted with Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier. Mr. Schmidt declined to comment on his political activism or his dealings with Mr. Fuentes.”
He seems like a bit of a creep, and the Times article focuses on some tweets he published late last year, responding to a UChicago Anthropology course called “The Problem of Whiteness.”
Before we continue, I should note that this is a familiar and tired dance. The study of “whiteness” ranges from perfectly standard, legitimate academic inquiry into racial categorizations — for example, how did Irish and Italian Americans shift, over time, from being seen as members of racial underclasses to being seen as white? — to rather bonkers, metaphysical rambling about capital-W Whiteness that treats it as some sort of evil force that infects and causes and explains just about everything. I can no more render an overall judgment about the study of whiteness than I can about the study of critical race theory, because both include a ton of different types of research and writing of wildly differing quality.
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