Monday, October 15, 2018
Opinion

Selected readings from the left and from the right

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.

FROM THE LEFT

From "Laura Ingrahamís Anti-Immigrant Rant Was So Racist It Was Endorsed by Ex-KKK Leader David Duke" by Kelly Weill and Tim Burke in the Daily Beast at https://thebea.st/2vVM0xn.

The context, from the authors: During the opening to Fox News anchor Laura Ingrahamís primetime show The Ingraham Angle, she complained that "the America we know and love doesnít exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people," she said, in the form of documented and undocumented immigrants.

The excerpt: It should be no surprise that Ingrahamís rhetoric got the endorsement of an open white supremacist. Ingrahamís fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson also echoed white nationalist rhetoric when he said immigrants were leading to "the collapse of the American family" in June. Ingraham and Carlsonís monologues borrowed the rhetoric of what white nationalists falsely call "white genocide," an innuendo that refers to racist fears about people of color coming to outnumber white people in the United States.

From "Democrats And Their Promises" by Seth Ackerman in Jacobin Magazine at http://bit.ly/2vxLAhg.

The context, from the author: Of course, Democratic candidates will claim to support progressive policies. Donít assume theyíre telling the truth.

The excerpt: No one should be surprised when Democrats lie about their supposedly progressive policy stances on the campaign trail. My favorite example is from the 2008 presidential primaries, when Barack Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA and, failing that, to withdraw from the pact. Shortly afterward, his chief economic adviser, University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee, met privately with Canadian foreign ministry officials to assure them that Obama was just bullsh-----g.

From "Facebookís Free Speech Problem Is Bigger Than Alex Jones" by Alex Shephard in the New Republic at http://bit.ly/2MvjWaZ.

The context, from the author: The InfoWars mess is symptomatic of an industry that has grown too large and unruly, with an outdated legal and regulatory framework that both under-regulates platforms and gives them little motive to self-regulate.

The excerpt: The pressure on Facebook, YouTube, and others to block (InfoWarsí Alex) Jones had reached a critical mass. These companies were faced with two options they did not care for: Either ban Jones and deal with a backlash from the right or keep him and deal with a backlash from those demanding that they not facilitate the spread of conspiracy theories that not only mock the deaths of massacred children, but also result in real-world violence. Itís now clear that Facebook will remove a dangerous hatemonger if a lot of people demand it. Itís not clear, however, if it will swiftly remove a figure of Jonesí ilk without a larger public campaign.

FROM THE RIGHT

From "The Conservative Case Against the Death Penalty" by Stephen Beale in the American Conservative at http://bit.ly/2OpaFlv.

The context, from the author: Forget Pope Francisí supposed leftism. The right has many reasons to oppose capital punishment, too.

The excerpt: Beyond purely pragmatic considerations, conservatives should be against the death penalty on the principle of small government. As (the senior manager of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty) told me in a previous interview, "There is no greater power that we can give to the state than the ability to decide who lives and who dies."

From "Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson" by Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic at http://bit.ly/2vTH8sq.

The context, from the author: The Canadian psychology professorís stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline ó and deeply vulnerable.

The excerpt: What (these students) were getting from these (Peterson) lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives. That might seem like a small thing, but itís not. With identity politics off the table, it was possible to talk about all kinds of things ó religion, philosophy, history, myth ó in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology.

From "If You Donít Mean It, Donít Say It" by J.J. McCullough in the National Review at http://bit.ly/2KBtgsh.

The context, from the author: Now we live in a world in which everyone is constantly calling everyone else a liar, even if they donít ó technically speaking ó really mean it.

The excerpt: We are a nation of less and less impulse control, a people who want the sugar rush of chomping the marshmallow right this second. Thereís an endorphin kick in speaking in terms more extreme and ridiculous than adults should use, and in an age of echo chambers, little immediate social consequence for doing so. But ... communicating in a language that lacks precision ultimately means having to justify your words to people exercising their own agency in deciding what they want to hear.

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