Leading up to the United States presidential election one month ago and in the weeks since, the nation has experienced increasingly divisive rhetoric and a rise in bias-based attacks on members of vulnerable groups. In light of this polarized post-election climate, the board of officers of the American Philosophical Association reaffirms the association’s core values of inclusion and diversity, open and respectful dialogue, and academic freedom.
The board of officers further commits to continue working to ensure that all in the philosophical community and beyond have the opportunity to study, work, and engage in free inquiry across cultural, linguistic, and other social boundaries. Today, philosophy and other humanistic disciplines remain fundamental to our nation’s most deeply held ideals of justice and freedom of expression, and as such, the work of philosophers and humanists is needed now more than ever.
Apparently, what prompted the APA to issue the statement is “a rise in bias-based attacks on members of vulnerable groups”. In a similar vein, Jennifer Saul refers to “a wave of hate crimes sweeping the nation” in a forthcoming piece for The Philosopher’s Magazine. This “wave” is supposed to reflect the fact that “the culture is changing rapidly from the bottom up to support these [racist] agendas” set by the President-elect.
Now, there is plenty of reason to question the alleged rise in hate crimes (see, for example, this guest post, and also this, this, this, and this), which, by the way, is also alleged to have occurred in the wake of Obama’s election. The evidence for the rise—mentioned neither by the APA nor by Saul—probably is a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a political advocacy group whose methodology is far from transparent.
But let us assume for the sake of argument that we can trust the SPLC’s numbers. Among the “hate crimes” counted by the SPLC as consequences of the recent presidential election, were there any that could equal in respect of scale and viciousness the mass killings and sexual assaults committed by immigrant or native Muslims in the US and in Europe in the years leading up to the election? When it comes to “divisive rhetoric”, “bias-based attacks on members of vulnerable groups”, threats to “inclusion and diversity, open and respectful dialogue”, “freedom of expression”, and so on, who has the worst track record to date: the followers of Trump, or the followers of Mohammed?
Anyone who has been following the news recently can only take these to be rhetorical questions. But, if that is the case, then why did the APA not issue a similar statement in the wake of any of the terrorist attacks that have rocked the US and Europe since 9/11? Most likely, the explanation is that the APA is itself a political advocacy group that has been left-leaning for decades (see Neven Sesardic, When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics, chapter 12, for more evidence), and which only cares about “vulnerable groups” to the extent that they can be considered to be the victims of right-wing extremism.