Doofus Of The Day #1,018

Yet another example of the blithering idiocy that has overtaken so much of academe in this country is provided by an organization calling itself “the BABEL working group”, which earns our Doofus award today.

A prominent association of medieval studies scholars has pledged to boycott the discipline’s largest annual conference over a lack of social justice programming.

On July 11, the BABEL Working Group published an open letter to the organizers of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) … outlining two “concerns” about the conference.

“Decisions that seem in favor of ‘academic freedom’ or ‘fairness’ to the current small group of decision-makers, for others, reinforce structural inequalities.” 

“The first is that there seems to be a bias against, or lack of interest in, sessions that are self-critical of medieval studies, or focused on the politics of the field in the present, especially relative to issues of decoloniality, globalization, and anti-racism,” the letter explains, adding that the second concern relates to an alleged “lack of transparency around the process by which ICMS programming decisions are made.”

The letter, which has been signed by more than 600 people as of press time, argues that by rejecting workshops such as “How to Be a White Ally in Medieval Studies 101,” “Toxic Medievalisms,” and “Intersectionality and the Medieval Romance,” the ICMS organizers are hurting scholars of color and excluding their perspectives.

“The rejection of multiple sessions co-sponsored by Medievalists of Color (MOC) in particular minimizes the intellectual guidance that scholars of color would provide at the conference, when these scholars are already severely underrepresented in the field,” the letter protests.

Other workshops rejected by ICMS organizers included “Toxic Medievalisms: Misuses and Abuses of the Medieval in Contemporary Culture,” “Race and the Medieval,” “Translations of Power: Race, Class, and Gender Intersectionality in the Middle Ages I and II,” and more.

. . .

The letter goes on to invoke “the current political climate here in the US and abroad” as justification for why the rejected workshop proposals should be reinstated, suggesting that the field of medieval studies should serve as “a site of resistance” against the “darker forces” of nationalism and academic freedom.

“We implore the Congress Committee to work together with us to ensure that the discipline of medieval studies will act as a site of resistance to, and also refuge from, these darker forces,” the letter concludes.

There’s more at the link.  Fortunately, the ICMS appears to be resisting their demands.

It hardly needs to be pointed out – except to these idiots – that in medieval times, the topics they wish to discuss were not only completely and utterly irrelevant to those living back then, they’re so far out in left field that medieval people wouldn’t even have been able to think of them, let alone discuss them.  To try to impose a twenty-first-century, far-left-wing, politically-correct, ideologically-biased perspective upon a bygone age is doomed to failure before one has even begun.  The two fields are so incompatible as to be ludicrous.  (It also ignores the reality that, if they had lived in Europe during medieval times, the “Medievalists of Color” who signed this letter would almost certainly have been slaves, chattel possessions of their masters.  As for “academic freedom” being a “darker force” . . . do these people ever listen to themselves?  It’s beyond parody!)

Their attitude is familiar to me from other settings.  For example, on occasion I speak to US students about the realities of the Third World, with particular reference to Africa, which I know well and where I’ve traveled extensively.  As one among many examples of cultural differences, I point out to the ladies present that they’re incredibly fortunate to be born and raised in the USA, where they can choose to be what they wish, and live as they please.  In traditional African tribal society, to this day, they would be the property of first, their fathers, and then their husbands, who would “buy” them from their family for a “bride price” (lobola in Southern African parlance).  Once “bought”, they would literally be owned by their husband, who could do with them basically as he pleased, up to and including (in some, but not all, tribal cultures) ordering them to “keep the bed warm” for any visiting guest of importance, no matter how repulsive he might be in his health, hygiene or habits.  What’s more, their husband could fool around whenever and wherever he pleased, and if he came home with AIDS or some other loathsome disease, would have no compunction in spreading it to his wives.  If they came down with the same sickness, he’d expel them from the household in disgrace, because it was “their fault” they were ill – never his.

It’s never ceased to amaze me how many young American women absolutely cannot face up to this reality.  I’ve been accused of lying, of making it up, of being sexist and racist and tribalist (whatever that means), and a host of other reactions.  When I invite them to confirm what I’ve told them by consulting any of a myriad of authoritative anthropological and social studies, they usually refuse.  It’s almost as if, because they can’t handle reality, they simply deny its existence.

I’m seeing a similar reaction in these politically correct professors and academics.  The reality of medieval studies has nothing whatsoever to do with their pet shibboleths and politically correct perspectives;  therefore, they want to ignore that reality, and impose their views upon a field that has absolutely no relation to them.  There was no “social justice” in medieval times, except that decreed by the local overlord, or dispensed by armed men at sword- and spear- and arrow-point – which was seldom “just”.  To impose a “social justice” interpretation upon the realities of that era is so nonsensical as to defy understanding.  Those who want to do so are demented, IMHO . . . but I suppose that goes with the territory in academe these days.  There doesn’t appear to be much room left for logic, reason or thoughtful debate.

Doofi indeed!



  1. It's good to see that the folks running this have not given into the nuts.

    Slavery was not a color based thing for most of time… I did a google thing on "slavery in medieval europe" and found some good reading.

  2. Reality is patriarchal oppression.

    Change my mind.

    (And hey, thanks for giving me today's next meme. 😉 )

  3. Makes me wonder: is there any way to end this SJW academic movement that's threatening every area of study?

    Remember a couple of years ago when the Feds Spent $412,930 Studying ‘Relationship Between Gender and Glaciers’. Gender applied to inanimate hunks of ice?

    A paper with quotes like, "Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions,"

    That's impossible to read without sustaining actual, physical eye damage. They're corrupting everything.

    Yeah, free speech, right to study what they want, yada yada yada, but we're paying tax money for them to damage things.

  4. I very much want to believe this is a spoof. Because if not, how are we going to satirize anything any more?

  5. O. M. G. Social Justicing the Western European Medieval Period? Where one already had women leaders, women in the various guilds and trades, women warriors, women doctors, women scholars…

    Oy, vey. Please let the spirit of Eleanor of Aquitaine come down and slap the fancy right out of these people. Please.

    I so want to go to a conference with these idiots and throw an actual gauntlet in their faces.

    The stupid, it burns. Especially if you cover it with pitch.

  6. Not to nitpick but generally speaking: In countries like (now) England or France where everything flows from the crown you could have some problems with the abuse of power – in areas like the german states under the emperor or the italian city states it wasn't that much of an issue because the cities and small "states" in these regions made it easy for most to leave an oppressive lord. Keep in mind that most people at that time were in fact free in these regions and not serfs.
    Medieval europe is not medieval europe.

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