The dilemma of “citational justice”

To the editor:

“Citational Justice”??

Why bother? A citation is only an indication that Dubious Author 2 relied upon Dubious Author 1 to construct his own particular something by using the fruit of whatever poisoned tree Author 1 happened to find.

To explain the Dilemma of Woke Citations, we must go back to 2017, and Heather MacDonald’s invitation to speak at Pomona College.

Her subsequent ‘Cancelling’ was accompanied by the following rant, issued by the Protesting ‘Pomonites” in response to their President’s plea for ‘free speech’: “Your statement (the President’s) contains unnuanced views surrounding the academy and a belief in searching for some venerated truth. Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”

Allow me to repeat: “the idea that Truth is an entity for which we must search… is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples”.

So again, let us ask: Why cite?

Citations, by definition, are designed to provide a reference to a source (Author 1) which can serve to validate or support in some way the work being produced by Author 2. In combination, citations serve a “critical role in orchestrating the state of knowledge on a particular topic.” They serve, in other words, to help construct ‘Truth’ (slowly, incrementally, over time).

But here in Wonderland, Truth is a “myth”, and ” white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny.” So how could citations do anything other than further such horrible, terrible, no good, very bad, monstrously mythological things?

As for ‘citational justice’? An oxymoron if ever was one.

Given that there is no Truth to be pursued, to tell us that your particular pursuit of a non-existent truth has been buttressed by Under-Represented-Minority (URM) citations of their own false pursuits does not build justice; it silences the very URM’s one might be citing!

So no….this citation silliness must end.

Rather we should all simply tell stories. Standpoint theory tells us it’s just subjective nonsense anyway, leading nowhere, doing nothing, cited or not. Or, as Prof. Tweedledum put it, “““I know what you’re thinking about…but it isn’t so, nohow.” “Contrariwise,” continued Dr. Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be.”

The Lesson is clear: don’t cite, don’t worry, don’t oppress!

Or as the Pomonites might put it, ‘Advocating for Truth, by advocating for citations’ is really just to advocate “for white supremacy and giving white supremacists platforms wherefrom their toxic and deadly illogic may be disseminated is condoning violence against Black people.”

Crazy talk, yes, but no crazier than the exceedingly crazy notion of ‘citational justice’.

Kansas City, Missouri