Victory over cancel culture!
Cancel culture is everywhere. A celebrity might be canceled over a tweet made decades ago. A picture of a politician at a party might trigger a demand for his resignation. Using the wrong pronoun can get a person fired, sued, even arrested. The hardest hit are universities, where the love of learning has been replaced by an obsession with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The diversity on display may be slavish conformity to progressive thinking and values, and there is certainly no inclusion for anyone who questions progressivism, but no matter. The individuals devoting themselves to DEI are different colors and espouse the theory of gender being a matter of preference rather than biology, and that's what counts.
In such times, it's heartening to observe an instance of successful pushback against cancel culture. Geophysicist Dorian Schuyler Abbot was invited to lecture at MIT. That lecture was canceled after Abbot criticized DEI, claiming that it "entails treating people as members of a group rather than as individuals, repeating the mistake that made possible the atrocities of the 20th century."
Strictly speaking, DEI is not within Abbot's area of expertise. He's a research scientist at the University of Chicago. He studies climate, paleoclimate, ice, habitability, and exoplanets. His lecture at MIT was supposed to be the John Carlson Lecture on climate and the possibility of life on other planets. Abbott is a recognized expert in this field. Nevertheless, Abbot has an opinion about DEI and concerns about how it is affecting academic life, and he expressed himself. The First Amendment gives him the right to express himself.
Student-activists who were horrified at the thought of actual diversity and equity promptly demanded that MIT cancel Abbot's lecture. MIT obliged. The story usually ends with the heretic being punished as the mob demands. In this instance, there was a happier ending.
Abbot was recognized by the American Council for Trustees and Alumni as a 2021 Hero of Intellectual Freedom. The University of Chicago staunchly refused all demands that Abbot be disciplined in any way for speaking his mind. Best of all, Princeton University decided to host Abbot's lecture, and more than 4,000 people signed up for the Zoom. Score one for the good guys!
Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.
Image: Dorian Abbot. YouTube screen grab.
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