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A leaked document from the Alberta Public Service seeks to impose a far-left ideological worldview on public servants in the province.
The document includes a variety of proposals which conform to the precepts of Critical Race Theory, a far-left ideology which holds group identity to be the primary marker of an individual's experience. According to notable critical race theorist Richard Delgado, "[unlike] traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law."
By March 2021, the plan intends to review current practices of the civil service "to determine if there is systemic racism and/or unconscious bias." However, the plan also states that it will implement unconscious bias training upon all new hires by March 2022 with no regard as to whether the intended review uncovers real evidence of unconscious bias in the civil service.
The plan to implement unconscious bias training runs counter to all available evidence which suggests that not only do such trainings not achieve their goals, but they may actually be counterproductive to reducing bias and discrimination.
The APS explains that "systemic racism... is often the result of institutional biases in organizational culture, policies, directives, practices, and procedures that may appear neutral but have the effect of privileging some groups and disadvantaging others." The emphasis here should be placed on the term "effect." So long as the civil service does not perfectly represent the diversity of the province of Alberta, the concept of systemic racism suggests that the civil service would in effect be biased, even if there is no evidence of bias.
Many scholars have noted that things ranging from cultural differences to statistical chance could impact the demographic makeup of an institution, and that the existence of discrepancies is not always explainable by institutional bias. Systemic racism, on the other hand, assumes all inequities within an institution to be the product of oppression, even when no evidence of such a claim could be provided.
The document also includes a number of other proposals which promote fragility in the workplace, including a focus on creating a "safe space" and learning to identify "microaggressions." A safe space is a place where those who exist within it are shielded from any ideas or concepts which may make them feel excluded, while a microaggression constitutes minor slights and comments which so-called oppressed groups receive regularly without the perpetrator of the microaggression even being aware that they are saying something considered intolerant. In both cases, what is considered exclusive or a microaggression is entirely up to the victim of the situation, leaving the alleged perpetrator of a microaggression or exclusivity with no mechanism by which to defend their actions.
Such a focus is paired with speech codes decided upon by the APS. Training surrounding "[inclusive] language, including alternatives to words with racist and misogynist connotations," will be provided. However, when it is the sole right of the victim of any microaggression to declare what is and is not inclusive, virtually anything can be painted with racist or misogynistic connotations. According to Critical Race Theorist Robin DiAngelo, for example, concepts such as objectivity and individualism are considered to be white supremacy, which she claimed in her recent best-seller White Fragility.
Scholars have noted that such policies create a victimhood culture where individuals are taught to catastrophize, a process where an individual assumes the worst possible scenario arising from minor inconveniences. In their book The Coddling of the American Mind, academics Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt explain how such focuses actually make mental illness more severe and prevalent, particularly examining college campuses. The authors propose instead the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which they suggest would lead to the creation of a more resilient and antifragile environment.
The APS is also planning on training employees on "how to become an ally." According to Mia McKenzie, a critical social justice activist who discusses race and racism at universities across the United States, the precepts of being a good ally involve:
- "shutting up and listening
- educating yourself (you could start with the thousands of books and websites that already exist and are chock full of damn near everything anyone needs to know about most systems and practices of oppression)
- when it’s time to talk, not talking over the people you claim to be in solidarity with
- accepting feedback/criticism about how your “allyship” is causing more harm than good without whitesplaining/mansplaining/whateversplaining
- shutting up and listening some more
- supporting groups, projects, orgs, etc. run by and for marginalized people so our voices get to be the loudest on the issues that effect (sic) us
- not expecting marginalized people to provide emotional labor for you"
Essentially, those who become "allies" of so-called "marginalized groups" have no choice but to listen to what those trained in Critical Race Theory have to say, are not allowed to critique or defend themselves from critique, and are not provided with any support in return. In essence, those who are not considered marginalized just have to "shut up and listen." Dr. James Lindsay, a prominent critic of Critical Race Theory, has described their concept of "allyship" as nothing more than an Orwellian term for vassalage. It is unclear how such a policy will lead to a more productive or less toxic workplace environment.
The proposal from the APS places a great deal of focus on the concept of "equity," a concept which undermines equality of opportunity in favour of equality of outcome. Proponents of equal opportunity seek to level the playing field in order to ensure that all people can take advantage of their skillsets in order to fairly take part in a competitive environment. Under the principle of equity, favourable treatment is afforded to certain groups or people who are deemed to be "disadvantaged" in order to attain an equal outcome across groups. The striving for equity overrides such considerations as personal choices, interests, and motivations which may impact people's life trajectories and assumes that any unequal outcome must be the result of an oppressive force.
The Post Millennial reached out to the Deputy Minister of Executive Council, Ray Gilmour, for comment but has not received a response.