Sohrab Ahmari on the narrowness and tedium of leftist cultural criticism:
Culture is the whole constellation of practices, norms and institutions that help people think through big questions -- about truth, beauty and the good… The problem with identitarianism is that it… reduces all these mysteries -- the things great art and culture have grappled with for millennia -- into grievance and propaganda… Open up your social-media newsfeed, or go to nearly any cultural criticism website, and chances are you’ll spot the new philistinism right away: “Did you know that yoga is cultural appropriation?” “Your sushi restaurant is actually part of a structure of colonial oppression!” “Why the new Spider-Man movie is terrible for trans people!” And on and on. For millions of people, all thinking about culture is summed in the question: Does this affirm the feelings of the “oppressed” or not? Nothing higher, nothing transcendent or universal.
Jonathan Haidt shares a vision of the near future:
The [on-campus] microaggression programme teaches students the exact opposite of ancient wisdom. Microaggression training is — by definition — instruction in how to detect ever smaller specks in your neighbour’s eye… It’s bad enough to make the most fragile and anxious students quicker to take offence and more self-certain and self-righteous. But… what will happen to a democracy as students graduate from college and demand that microaggression training be implemented in their workplaces? If you think American democracy is polarised and dysfunctional in 2016, just wait until the baby boomers have aged out of leadership positions and the country is run by a millennial elite trained at our top schools, which immersed them in a microaggression programme for four years.
Damon Linker on the crab-bucket world of intersectional identity politics:
It should be obvious that this brand of politics is profoundly poisonous. Instead of seeking to level an unjust hierarchy, mitigate its worst abuses, and foster cross-group solidarity, intersectionality merely flips the hierarchy on its head, placing the least “privileged” in the most powerful position and requiring everyone else to clamour for relative advantage in the new upside-down ranking. Those who come out on top in the struggle win their own counter-status, earning the special privilege of getting to demand that those lower in the pecking order “check their privilege.” This is a sure-fire spur to division, dissension, and resentment.
Heather Mac Donald on racism, race hustling and things you mustn’t notice:
The notion that the dominant or exclusive racism in America today is white anti-black racism is absurd. […] The vast bulk of interracial violence is committed by black people. In 2012, blacks committed 560,600 acts of violence against whites, and whites committed 99,403 acts of violence against blacks, according to data from the National Crime Victimisation Survey… Blacks, in other words, committed 85% of the interracial crimes between blacks and whites, even though they are 13 percent of the population.
And Tyler Cowen on the different types of rich person:
The richest Americans are much less likely to have inherited their wealth than their counterparts in many supposedly more egalitarian countries. They’re not remarkably rich in degrees from elite universities. Rich Democrats have more social connections than rich Republicans. These are some surprising insights from a new study of the very wealthy... based on data on 18,245 individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more. The study portrays high-net-worth individuals as a more idiosyncratic and diverse group than reductionist clichés about “the 1 percent” might suggest… For all the talk of Sweden and Austria as relatively egalitarian societies, they are also the countries where the greatest proportion of high-net-worth individuals inherited their wealth: 43.8 percent and 49.6 percent, respectively. In the U.S., inherited wealth accounts for only 12.6 percent of the very wealthy individuals in the study’s sample.
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