Letter to the Editor: In Response to “Trinity Faces History: 2020 Race Relations on Campus at Summit”

To The Editor:

This letter is in response to Katie Cerulle ’22’s Sept. 29 article “Trinity Faces History: 2020 Race Relations on Campus at Summit.”

If this report is an accurate account of the online summit, students and
faculty should be disturbed by the promotion of pseudo-scientific and
thoroughly reactionary racialist conceptions by the Diversity, Equity,
and Inclusion office, which is a branch of the Trinity College
administration. Based on this report, it would appear that Trinity has
totally embraced and incorporated into its institutional credo and
policy-making process the intellectually fraudulent and socially
regressive categories of critical race theory. The concept of
“whiteness” was employed uncritically as the basis of the discussion at
the on-line summit, as if the legitimacy of this brainchild of
post-modernist academics is beyond dispute.

The report includes the following astonishing declaration: “Participants
learned [!] that whiteness has its own narrative of privilege, norms,
culture and values. These values and ideals determine [!!] who is
white.” How should one even begin to theoretically unpack this nonsense?
Deriving [falsely] the structure of society from race, those who
“orchestrated” the summit then turn around and proceed to derive racial
identity [“who is white”] from “values and ideals.” All false theories
inevitably abound in the most glaring contradictions.

The summit leaders, according to the report, denounced “not seeing
color” as a grave error: It “detaches the personal culture and values of
the person you are addressing if you strip them of their racial
background.” Regardless of the intentions of the summit orchestrators,
this statement effectively makes racial identity the determinant of
culture and values. The Nazi theoretician Ernst Krieck, expressed a very
similar idea in his 1934 essay “The Racial-Völkisch-Political Conception
of History”. He wrote: “Race manifests itself in the will, the outlook,
and the worldview in accordance with the racial hierarchy of values.”

In calling attention to the reactionary content of the conceptions
advanced at the online summit, I am drawing, at least partly, on what I
learned as a student at Trinity a half century ago, when I attended
lectures by the brilliant historian Philip Bankwitz. His dissection of
the theories of Count Gobineau, the father of modern race theory, was an
intellectual tour de force. I have no doubt that Professor Bankwitz —
who fought against the Nazis in World War II — would be appalled by
what is being palmed off as progressive social policy by the Trinity
administration. I suspect that a good number of present-day faculty
members oppose and resent the Trinity administration’s  promotion of
intellectual charlatanry. They should make their views known.

According to the report, the online summit “challenged members of the
Trinity community to consider their own backgrounds and identities that
greatly shape their experiences on campus.” I would urge students to
forego this “challenge.” Rather than wasting their time on contemplating
the color of their navels, students should direct their attention to
fighting the government’s herd immunity response to the pandemic,
opposing the vast concentration of wealth in the richest five percent of
society, and demanding an end to America’s brutal wars of aggression. If
students really want to end racism, they should take up the fight for
social equality and the unity of all working people.

-David W. Green ’71

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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