A group of students at Pomona College wrote an open letter to the school’s outgoing president claiming that “the idea that there is a single truth . . . is a myth and white supremacy,” according to a report by The Claremont Independent.
The letter, which was written by three self-identified black students and has been signed by at least 30, claims that “historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity . . . as a means of silencing oppressed peoples.”
According to The Claremont Independent, the letter was in response to an e-mail that Pomona president David Oxtoby sent to the campus after protesters shut down a speech from Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald that had been scheduled for April 6.
“Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses,” Oxtoby wrote in his email, according to The Claremont Independent. “What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker.”
“Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society,” it continued.
Yes — “the discovery of truth.” Who could have a problem with that? After all, truth is the one thing that no one can really argue against, right? Well, apparently not — and apparently, believing that that’s the case is actually pretty racist:
“The idea that there is a single truth — ‘the Truth’ — is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain,” the students’ letter stated, according to The Claremont Independent. “This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny.”
“The idea that truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples,” it continues.
The letter declared that MacDonald “is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live,” and also demanded that President Oxtoby apologize for his e-mail.
First of all, let me come right out and say that truth is a thing. It is not a myth; in fact, the truth is the opposite of a myth — and whether they realize it or not, the students who wrote this letter clearly believe that, too.
Think about it. They are demanding that Oxtoby apologize — why? Because they believe it is the absolute, objective truth that MacDonald is all of the things that they say she is. If they really did believe that the truth was subjective, then they would be open to speakers coming to share their own interpretations of it — and certainly not declaring any person’s unique views to be objectively wrong.
Now, I personally don’t agree with MacDonald on a lot of things. Here’s the thing, though: Whether you agree with MacDonald or not is irrelevant in this case, because what these students wrote is stupid no matter where you stand. Once you start trying to argue that it’s bad to encourage people to seek the truth, you have officially reached peak idiot. For one thing, admitting that you find valuing the truth to be offensive hardly helps your case when you’re literally trying to convince others that something is true. Second, some things just are objectively true. Let me let you kids in on a little secret: There’s this thing called “reality,” and it’s actually super beneficial to try and figure out what “reality” is, because you’re going to have to live there whether you acknowledge what it is or not. It may sometimes be uncomfortable, but living somewhere uncomfortable sure beats not knowing where you live.
Oh, and by the way, plenty of objectively wrong things occurred during that protest, according to The Claremont Independent. For example: Using physical force to keep people from entering the building, including pushing an elderly professor who was trying to get in. The fact that these things are not okay is objectively true, and denying that fact isn’t going to get you anywhere — except for, perhaps, a jail cell.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.