John McWhorter on Cursing, Anti-Racism, and Why ‘We Need to Stop Being So Afraid’…

Date: May 23, 2021

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“Columbia University linguist John McWhorter on “anti-racism” as a new, misguided civic religion and his new book on curses, Nine Nasty Words.

If advocates of “wokeness,” “critical race theory,” and “anti-racism” seem to be acting like religious zealots who must crush all heretics, that’s because they are, argued Columbia University linguist John McWhorter at a 2018 debate at the Soho Forum.

“Anti-racism as currently configured has gone a long way from what used to be considered intelligent and sincere civil rights activism to today [being] a religion,” said McWhorter. “I don’t mean that as a rhetorical thing. It actually is what any naive anthropologist would recognize as a faith.”

The 55-year-old author first explored his idea of anti-racism as “Our Flawed New Religion” in a 2015 essay at The Daily Beast. He’s expanding the concept into a book, due out next year, that he’s serializing on Substack. Tentatively titled The Elect, it lays out his argument about the misguided fervor undergirding the anti-racist movement championed by people such as Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Meanwhile, McWhorter’s latest volume to hit store shelves is Nine Nasty Words, a study of how curse words such as fuck and the N-word became commonplace, unsayable, or something in between. Reason’s Nick Gillespie talked with McWhorter about the shifting status of curse words and accusations of systemic racism in contemporary America.”

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