Tuesday, April 10, 2018

We all have our blindspots

Excerpts from Ezra Klein's interview with Sam Harris:

Sam: I’m in the, once again, having the bewildering experience of agreeing with virtually everything you said there, and yet it has basically no relevance to what I view as our underlying disagreement.

Ezra: You have that bewildering experience because you don’t realize when you keep saying that everybody else is thinking tribally, but you’re not, that that is our disagreement.

Sam: Well, no, because I know I’m not thinking tribally ... It’s not tribalism. This is an experience of talking about ideas in public. ... That is not identity politics. That is my experience as a public intellectual trying to talk about ideas.

Ezra: That is what folks from the dominant group get to do. They get to say, my thing isn’t identity politics, only yours is. I will tell you, Sam, when people who do not look like you hear you telling them that this is just identity politics, they don’t think, “God he’s right. That is just identity politics.” They think this is my experience and you don’t understand it. You just said it’s your experience and they don’t understand it.

Shorter Sam Harris: The only people who are being honest are me -- a well-off white guy -- and those who agree with me. Everyone else who doesn't agree is lying about "the data" and just playing politically-correct identity politics.

And what is the tragedy here? What is the worst thing that deserves our attention and must be addressed? Hundreds of years of racial oppression and violence? Unarmed people being shot? Study after study showing continued racial discrimination?

No. It is a very rich, very famous, very influential white cross-burning guy being disliked by some people on the left. Again, Sam Harris:

I hadn’t paid attention to [Charles] Murray. When I did read the book and did some more research on him, I came to think that he was probably the most unfairly maligned person in my lifetime. That doesn’t really run the risk of being much of an exaggeration there.

Wow.

2 comments:

  1. To paraphrase someone else, it says a great deal about Harris on this issue that he considers 'contaminated by (black) identity politics' to be a sufficient reason to keep certain prominent black intellectuals off the podcast, but 'darling of the KKK and white supremacists', or the epitome of violent white identity politics, is insufficient reason.

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  2. John Rogers on Twitter: This is why every time I hear somebody decry “identity politics” I respect them 5% less. “Identity politics” is what we call “politics” when white people do it. Be it class or race or other social markers, the myth of the *purely* rational voter is a pretty one, but still a myth.

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