Sit back and enjoy the following paragraph from the abstract of a paper published in January by the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Human Geography:
“Feminist and postcolonial theories enrich and complement each other by showing how gender and colonialism are co-constituted, as well as how both women and indigenous peoples have been marginalized historically (Schnabel, 2014). Feminist glaciology builds from feminist postcolonial science studies, analyzing not only gender dynamics and situated knowledges, but also alternative knowledges and folk glaciologies that are generally marginalized through colonialism, imperialism, inequality, unequal power relations, patriarchy, and the domination of Western science (Harding, 2009).”
Wait. Feminist glaciology? This research is even funded by our tax dollars through the National Science Foundation.
If you slog through the paper’s well-nigh impenetrable prose without your eyes glazing over—not that you really need to—you’ll see that it’s not science at all. The chief author, a historian from the University of Oregon’s “Robert D. Clark Honors College,” uses post-modernist boilerplate to turn a normal subject of study for geographers into political propaganda.
These days, such naked politicization of science in nothing new. What’s striking about this instance, however, is that neither the co-authors, nor their university (who put out a complimentary press release about it), nor the journal’s editors see the humor in it. The paper could serve quite well as a parody of its genre. What makes it even funnier is that they’re serious. By missing the irony altogether, they sharpen it.
Fortunately, some do get it. Powerline’s Steven Hayward quips, "This is why you get Trump." Over at Reason.com, Robby Soave concurs:
“He's not wrong. Disaffected college students are rebelling against the hegemonies of leftist dogma and political correctness that rule their campuses—and ‘Trump!’ is, sadly, their rallying cry. In a country where working class people are being forced to fund research on the postcolonial gender theory of melting ice caps, is it any wonder some of them are rooting for a charismatic demagogue who promises to bully their tormentors?”
By quoting that, I don’t mean to defend Donald Trump. Neither I nor Soave have any wish to defend him, and he wouldn’t need it if we did. The significance of feminizing glaciers at our expense is that, as yet another example of PC run amok, it fuels a counter-reaction that keeps growing and that finds expression in support for somebody like Trump.
Whatever one may think of The Donald on the merits, one has to admit that the corruption of science—by political correctness and other, mostly economic factors—is becoming ever more visible. That’s a serious problem indeed. But it won’t be addressed by irony-deficient ideologues like those involved in producing that paper—or by the government that enables them.
Michael Liccione earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and his BA in philosophy and religion from Columbia University. He has taught in a number of institutions, mostly Catholic, including the Catholic University of America, the University of St. Thomas (Houston), and Guilford Technical Community College.
His conventional publications have appeared in The Thomist, First Things, National Review, and Christifideles; his personal blog is Sacramentum Vitae.