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Yet Another Reason Why ‘Progressive' Wokeism Is a Societal Cancer

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Here is reason number 3,962 why so-called progressive ideology is a cancer on American society. In this episode, we have the story of a professor who is suing his university after being suspended and his reputation besmirched by its leadership.

Gordon Klein, who teaches finance, accounting, and law at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, wrote a piece on Bari Weiss’ Substack explaining his ordeal which resulted from – you guessed it – woke, crybully zealots taking issue with his failure to adhere to the precepts of wokeism. He explained how the situation began:

My saga — which nearly led to my firing — began on the morning of June 2, 2020, when a non-black student in my class on tax principles and law emailed me to ask that I grade his black classmates with greater “leniency” than others in the class. “We are writing to express our tremendous concern about the impact that this final exam and project will have on the mental and physical health of our Black classmates,” the student wrote.

Klein continued, explaining how this non-black student brought up the high-profile killings of black Americans that occurred last year. The student wrote:

The unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the life-threatening actions of Amy Cooper and the violent conduct of the [University of California Police Department] have led to fear and anxiety which is further compounded by the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the Black community. As we approach finals week, we recognize that these conditions place Black students at an unfair academic disadvantage due to traumatic circumstances out of their control.

The professor stated that the student asked that the final exam be “no harm,” which means it is only counted if it raises the individual’s grade in the class. “This is not a joint effort to get finals canceled for non-Black students, but rather an ask that you exercise compassion and leniency with Black students in our major,” the student wrote.

Klein refused to acquiesce to the student’s request, noting that it would violate the California Constitution’s prohibition against race-based preferences in education. He noted that the email came off a “patronizing and offensive” to black students. He sent a reply:

Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black half-Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half? Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they are probably especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might possibly be even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.

In a normal world, this might be the end of it. But in 2021, those paying attention to the culture know that it could not have possibly ended with an email exchange, right? Klein explained that “by that evening,” students were calling for him to be fired. They distributed a petition calling for his ouster and almost 20,000 signed “without knowing anything about [Klein] or taking into account…the implications of non-color-blind grading.”

Predictably he was labeled and smeared as a racist, and the school’s leadership decided to give in to the mob. On June 5, three days after the email exchange, he was suspended. The professor began receiving death threats on his voicemail and email. One email in particular read:

You are a typical bigoted, prejudiced and racist dirty, filthy, crooked, arrogant Jew kike mother f**ker! Too bad Hitler and the Nazis are not around to give you a much needed Zyklon B shower.

The threats got so vile that police officers were stationed outside of Klein’s home.

The professor explained that the school’s administrators were “rattled” – not because he was receiving death threats, but because it hadn’t granted a black professor tenure “in decades” and had only a “handful” of tenured Latino educators. It appears the university also has a diversity problem. The leadership seemed to believe the furor over Klein would expand to the rest of the administration. This is when Antonio Bernardo, the dean of the school, decided to suspend and ban Klein from the campus.

The dean released a statement saying, among other things, that “it is deeply disturbing to learn of this email,” and that the school apologizes “to the students who received it and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves.”

However, others rallied in support of Klein. UCLA’s Academic Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom criticized Anderson’s leadership for punishing him for expressing his opinion and refusing to issue a discriminatory test. A petition was circulated demanding that the professor be reinstated, and 76,000 individuals signed it. He was given his position back about three weeks later.

But it’s not over.

The professor decided to file a lawsuit against the school because this whole fiasco damaged his reputation, and by extension, his sources of income. He wrote:

You see, most of my income comes not from teaching at UCLA but from consulting to law firms and other corporations. Several of those firms dropped me after they got wind that I’d been suspended — the better to put distance between themselves and a “racist.” That cost me the lion’s share of my annual income. The students involved in this escapade may have moved on to other causes. I have not. I’m not sure I ever will.

This seems like just another case of the Cancel Culture Community™ doing its thing, right? But there are several issues involved in this story. For starters, Klein rightly pointed out that the non-black student who demanded special treatment for black students because of the racial stories being discussed on the national stage is paternalizing.

This type of condescension towards black people is wildly rampant on the hard left. They use us to make themselves feel like a good and virtuous person when, in reality, they are only infantilizing black people. This need to virtue signal leads them to become destructive forces in academia and the rest of American society. It is why they enjoy ruining people’s lives.

The notion that young Americans would demand that black people not be expected to perform as well as others because of controversial news stories is abhorrent, and yes, it is racist as hell. Punishing an educator for not going along with this racism is about as disturbing as it gets. Klein may have gotten his job back, but how many others like him don’t? Even worse, how much worse will this get — if these people continue to hold sway over America’s learning institutions?