I spent some time this afternoon catching up on work emails, a task that usually involves the delete button and little else. Occasionally, I discover something that reminds me of the intellectual and moral dark age in which we live, and today was another of these occasions.

CS Lewis once said that we ought not think of dentists as evil merely because they cause pain. The pain they cause brings health. Pain often brings some sort of benefit. But when it comes to corporate training, it is all pain. There’s nothing else. Nothing redeems it. Today’s dark age email was about some new “diversity” training: several hours of learning how to discover “micro-aggressions”.

Traditionally – and whenever I use the term, I refer to the universal tradition spanning from the creation of man until yesterday – you listened to a man speak or read what a man wrote and you understood the meaning. As a subject, you might have feelings or memories that certain words and phrases bring to mind, but you can also understand the meaning of speech in the objective sense.

Sometimes people lie, and sometimes people speak without knowing, and so you can’t simply accept what someone says as truth, but you can accept that the words they speak carry meaning, that you can know that meaning with reasonable certainty, and that you can respond if you choose.

Thanks to the intellectual poison of postmodernism, this is no longer possible. Instead of dealing with the meaning of a text or a statement, we are told to be “critical” and to “deconstruct”; to break down a passage to words, read between those words, and find ways to condemn the author.

The weak-minded theory of “micro-aggression” follows in this abysmal pattern.

No longer does it matter what someone says; it matters that you can insert something into it that the speaker never meant. No longer does it matter what a person writes; it matters that you can read something into it that the author never meant. Because truth is relative on this scheme, your insertion is no less true than the author or speaker’s actual intended meaning.

Accusations of “micro-aggression” then are a way to dishonestly and spitefully tear someone to pieces, regardless of what is said or meant, to have power over the victim. In true Marxist anti-logic, the accuser is the victim, not the one who is misrepresented and slandered.

How should we respond then?

First, never accept the accusations. Never apologize. And never stand down. The entire point of the mechanism is to exert power, and showing weakness emboldens the creature that uses this technique. If you don’t stand down, don’t make excuses, and don’t try to explain yourself beyond a limited scope, you don’t give up ground, and the creature’s weapon breaks.

Second, use the technique back on the user. The people who fall for these stupid concepts are generally not intelligent people. They won’t be prepared for this, and they won’t know what to do.

As an example, suppose you say “I think the people on our team need to be more accountable because we haven’t met our obligations on time for a full year”. A trained NPC, likely part of the problem you are facing, is likely to say: “[Your name] is telling the team that minorities are lazy. He’s exerting white culture on our diverse group. We can’t have someone who hates diversity on the team.”

How can you respond? First, don’t accept it, and don’t apologize. You can reiterate, and if necessary provide clarification, but that’s it. In this case, you might say “We haven’t met our commitments. If we want to continue getting work for our team, we have to meet our commitments. We are paid to work hard, aren’t we?”

Second, employ the weapon: “Why does NPC think only white people work hard? Why does NPC think ‘diversity’ means ‘different levels of talent’ and that only white people possess enough talent to get the job done?”

There are, no doubt, other rhetorical tricks to use, but these are some preliminary thoughts.