Quite often I wonder whether I should struggle against the sense of loyalty I feel towards my tribe. After all, feeling closer to one stranger than another simply because he looks like he might be distantly related to me is a bit primitive. Of course, evolution probably selected this primitive instinct to help groups survive but that doesn’t mean that it is still useful today. And even if the instinct is natural and useful for my group that doesn’t make it good, or mean that I have to follow it blindly. After all, it is natural for men to gawp at attractive young women but most try not to do so too obviously.
So do SJW also have qualms about their beliefs? Do they puzzle over why they feel so little tribal loyalty, why they believe women to be victims of the patriarchy, why they think diversity is an unalloyed good or why, given that you can’t have both equality and freedom, the former trumps the latter.
I was thinking about this while watching Channel 4’s Cathy Newman’s interviewing Jordan Peterson and the conclusion I came to was that if Cathy Newman is anything to go by then no, SJWs don’t do much soul-searching. While Jordan Peterson gave the impression of having looked from various sides and thought deeply about the issues raised, Cathy Newman gave the opposite impression. She talked only in the simplest of slogans and was unable to understand Jordan Peterson when he qualified her overly simple statements.
Why was that? It’s not because she lacks intelligence because she is clearly bright. I suspect she has just never bothered to listen to anyone who disagrees with her. After all, why should she when all her friends think as she does and these friends all have top jobs? Nothing she said sounded as though it had been digested, reflected upon or turned over even once in her mind. It was all generic feminist boilerplate that any university student could have uttered.
Perhaps the disadvantage of never having properly engaged with opposing views was not obvious to Cathy until now. Perhaps even now she can’t see it and believes she held her own against Dr. Peterson. In fact if her tweets are any indication then this is indeed what she believes. Probably in the past she has always managed to steamroll her guests with her abrasive style and misplaced self-confidence. But Jordan Peterson is not easily intimidated and his intelligence and learning is certainly a match for Cathy’s. At one point Cathy was clearly floundering and it looked like her mind had got stuck. Unable to think through in the moment what she should have given a lot more thought to before, she resorted to daft accusations and willful misunderstandings of what Dr. Peterson was saying in the hope that this would be mistaken for a counter-argument; it appears that some watchers did indeed think she held her own.
At one point she dismissed Jordan’s Peterson’s claim that women are more agreeable than men as ‘a generalisation’, appearing to belive she had thereby refuted his claim. Yet Peterson quite rightly pointed out that by the same token Cathy’s claim that men earn more than women was also a generalisation since some women do earn more than men. Did she then assume that her own point had thereby been refuted? The whole point of generalisations is to bring attention to a recognisable trend; they are not descriptions that admit no exceptions. So, either Cathy believes that generalisations should never be uttered or she believes that all men really do earn more than all women. Both beliefs strike me as silly.
What must have been galling to Cathy was that Jordan Peterson remained good-humoured throughout, despite the constant interruptions and misrepresentations. In the end it was the interviewer rather than the interviewee who came across as shallow, uninformed and bigoted.
A week later: Here is Douglas Murray writing about the aftermath of that interview. Somehow the progressive left have managed to turn the narrative around so that one of their own is the victim rather than the aggressor. So even when we win we lose.