The New Inquisitors.
Back in 2010, nobody expected the identitarian inquisition. Their chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to identity politics.
They have come to dominate universities, centrist and leftist political parties, much of the mass media, and the most powerful corporate tech giants.
The chief dogma of The Identitarian Church is that our biological identity – our race, sex/gender, and sexual orientation – is what makes us who we are, not our choices, our actions, or our ideas. We are prisoners of our biology.
Ironically, identitarians believe that gender and sexuality, and for some race, are socially constructed – imposed on us by impersonal social forces. Yet for some mysterious reason, they also believe that everyone is free to choose their own gender and its associated pronouns. “Sex does not exist” claims one of their high priests.
So we have three mutually contradictory first principles: biological determinism, sociological determinism, and freedom of will based on “blank slate” psychology. These ideas cannot be coherently squared with each other, as Rachel Dolezal found out.
But these new inquisitors don’t care about logical consistency or truth. They care about power and the sublime feeling that comes from conquering their ideological enemies.
They have formed their own priestly caste. This includes gender and race theorists in universities, CBC producers, Hollywood stars, the CEOs of Facebook, Apple and Patreon, the heads of equity offices and HR departments, even the prime minister of our country. And when they can’t dominate, they excommunicate.
“Hate speech,” whose definition is left up to the most outraged voice, is the new blasphemy. And if they can’t find any evidence of this blasphemy, they just make it up, and are strangely silent if anyone discovers their lies, thereby giving succor to the very demons they claim to be exorcising. Heretics like YouTuber Sargon of Akkad are denied income to silence their voices. Classic liberals such as Jordan Peterson and moderate leftists such as Sam Harris and Christina Hoff Summers are judged guilty of using witchcraft when they indulge in reason, logic and facts. Angry mobs of identitarian cultists bang on garbage-can lids and throw Molotov cocktails when Peterson or Milo show up to give a talk.
Equally angry mobs hunt down Yale professors who dare to suggest that not all Halloween costumes are vicious acts of cultural appropriation that deny them a safe “home,” posing an existential threat equivalent to a medieval plague.
Canada has its fair share of inquisitors. Grad student Lindsay Shepherd was questioned by three of Wilfrid Laurier’s witchfinders general in November 2017 for daring to show a clip from a TVO show where gender pronouns were debated. In a secretly recorded diatribe, they told Shepherd that they found the debate sinfully “problematic.”
Equality isn’t the real goal here, but the signalling of virtue, an appropriate goal for a generation raised on Facebook and Instagram. It’s not about right actions, but about posing with the right meme beside your pouty lips and lustrous hair.
These inquisitors rewrite language and science in Orwellian fashion, basing truth on degrees of privilege. Their theology worships diversity, equity and inclusion, without any idea how to implement these in the real world without overturning capitalism – witness the Evergreen State College fiasco. Their deadly sins are racism, sexism, and homophobia, the existence of which does not require empirical proof. Their gospel can be found in angry tweets on Twitter, their faith fuelled by outrage.
Their first urge isn’t to debate critics, but to ostracize them. Their ninth circle of Hell is reserved for those engaging in sexual crimes like clumsy flirtations and dick pics.
Their campus speech and behavior codes ban anything that might “demean” others or hurt their feelings, thereby making all debate on serious social and political issues impossible. The mass of students and professors who aren’t acolytes of this new church stay silent, carefully censoring their discussions and lectures lest angry activists inform chairs or deans.
Where did they come from? We can blame social media, universities, and over-protective parents, in roughly that order.
Those born in what Jean Twenge calls “iGen” – coming into this world from 1995 and on, growing up with smart phones in their baby hands – exist in a self-chosen matrix. They swallowed the blue pill of hyper-reality soon after they stopped drooling on their bibs, and see the world through screens. The problem is that these screens distort reality for commercial purposes, to provide click-bait. So believing that the world is infested with moustache-twirling racists and homophobes, behind which stands a Mephistophelean patriarchy, is easy. It’s like playing Fallout or The Last of Us without a wireless controller.
Added to this is the existential void caused by the decline of traditional religions in the West. The faithful need a new meta-narrative to explain suffering, to give life meaning, to bring dead gods back to life. For millions, the Church of Identitarianism has replaced Christianity or Judaism. It combines an irrational faith in a coming utopia with a Manichean division of the world into children of light and children of darkness.
Make no mistake: Western culture is facing a slow-burning crisis, a loss of confidence in the principles of the Enlightenment, liberal democracy, and empirical science. It’s time to tell the truth – witches, demons, and Facebook friends aren’t real. It’s time for childhood to end.