Like many other Americans over the past few weeks, I have taken the opportunity offered by months of lockdown to re-explore online dating. After spending quite a bit of time on the Bumble app last month, I was surprised when I opened it Tuesday morning to find this post:
We have seen many examples of big business trying either not to offend or to cultivate left activists. They’ve removed or renamed content and logos, donated, and posted videos, among other things. But Bumble’s bossy tactics represent something far more insidious – and the next frontier for awakened activists.
Bumble’s requirement that users follow its guidelines, refraining from offensive behavior, makes sense. As long as it’s done fairly – an issue with some tech companies – private entities should be able to regulate customer behavior in their workplaces.
In the brick and mortar world, no one would expect a store or restaurant to serve a customer who is intoxicated or violent, or who uses racist language. Similar standards should apply online. Not only do I not indulge in this kind of driving, but I would not want to use a platform that allows others to do so.
But Bumble goes far beyond regulating user behavior by also regulating user beliefs. Note the wording: “By using Bumble you are expected to adhere to our values as good as our guidelines ”(emphasis added). Bumble doesn’t just require its users to behave appropriately, it requires them to believe the same things that Bumble management believes.
But what exactly does Bumble believe in? The message does not say, but affirms: “We must be relentless in our anti-racism. “
What “anti-racism” means has changed a lot since the days when the civil rights movement sought equal treatment before the law. Nowadays, some argue that people are inherently racist just if they are born with a certain skin color.
Bumble could easily believe that racism is defined by someone who has written a leading book on anti-racism, touting its principles in an attempt to incorporate them. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist, submitted an article to Politico last fall outlining an anti-racist agenda. The relatively short piece is worth quoting in its entirety, lest anyone think I’m taking Kendi out of context:
To right the original sin of racism, Americans should pass an anti-racist amendment to the US Constitution that enshrines two anti-racist guiding principles: Racial inequity is evidence of racist politics and different racial groups are equal.
The amendment would make racial inequality beyond a certain threshold, as well as the racist ideas of public officials (with clearly defined “racist ideas” and “public official”) unconstitutional. It would establish and permanently fund the Anti-Racism Department (DOA) made up of formally trained experts on racism and without political appointment.
The DOA would be responsible for pre-approving all local, state and federal public policies to ensure that they will not produce racial inequity, monitoring such policies, investigating private racist policies when racial inequality surfaced and monitor officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be provided with disciplinary tools to use against policy makers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their policies and racist ideas.
In other words: Kendi’s group of unelected (but “formally trained”) “racism experts” will have an uncontrolled veto (at a minimum) over all policies at all levels of government. If political decision-makers have the temerity to oppose the actions of these so-called experts, the “experts” will have “disciplinary tools to wield” if they “do not voluntarily change their policies and their racist ideas”.
Andrew Sullivan called this kind of platform “totalitarian”, and he’s right. Kendi proposed a modern version of Leninism or Maoism, with an intelligentsia of awakened professors taking the place of Lenin’s dictatorship of the proletariat. Much like Bumble, Kendi wants to regulate not only actions and policies, but also ideas, raising the specter of “anti-racist re-education camps” similar to those of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
Bumble wouldn’t say whether the company agrees or disagrees with Kendi’s proposals. But if the author of the book on anti-racism proposed these “solutions”, how can a company dedicated to “relentless” anti-racism do anything other than endorse its platform?
Holding information hostage
Bumble will not tolerate any opposition to its new awakened manifesto. Users can agree, or they can… agree. Users cannot pass this screen over to the rest of the app until they click the “I agree” button, signaling consent not only to follow Bumble’s usage guidelines, but also to “embrace our values” – which means Bumble’s beliefs about “racism”, whatever they are, and his commitment against racism, whatever definition the company chooses to define.
Bumble users can of course delete the app from their phone. But to delete their accounts, users have to do it on the Bumble app, and they can’t access it without first clicking the “I Agree” button, by logging into the policy platform of the company. Thus, Bumble appears to be holding user account information hostage to its political agenda. Users cannot access it, or retrieve it, unless and until they approve the company manifesto.
I emailed Bumble on Wednesday afternoon about these issues. I asked if Bumble would publish the list of “values” that it expects its users to adhere to, if the company agrees with Kendi’s proposals for “disciplinary tools” against “politics and racist ideas ”, and if the company had made its users hold data hostage to the political litmus test it now imposes on its users. So far, the company has not responded.
Bumble’s actions this week represent just the latest attempt by media companies to dictate Americans’ political beliefs and ostracize anyone who dares to contradict the waking crowd. Sadly, given recent history, Bumble’s actions will likely be far from the last.