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March 27, 2018


Sean Davidson

Thanks Brad. This grew out of a long FB conversation over David Brooks' recent NYT op-ed "Speaking as a white male ..." https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/opinion/speaking-as-a-white-male.html Two FB friends pushed back on Brooks, caricaturing him as a white man who doesn't like being silenced as he clings to power. I got what my friends were saying, but I felt there was more going on than that. What we're seeing with Brooks (as with others in the liberal old guard like Margaret Atwood) is a desire for a kind of civility and truth-seeking that doesn't automatically entail winning or losing in a power game. In other words, he's aspiring to a certain Enlightenment ideal. Identity politics knows better than to countenance that aspiration. It can see through the hypocrisy of cosmopolitan rationality and its pretension to unity and inclusion. And it is happy to fight fire with fire. Brooks has a serious blind spot in all this, but I don't think he's clinging to power or afraid of losing. In fact, he shows keen sensitivity to issues of discrimination via meritocracy (see https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruining-america.html). I think he's simply lamenting the reduction of reason and civility to identity and power and what that means for public life more generally. And he's doing that while recognizing many of the problems that identity politics seeks to overcome. This led me to consider alternatives from a distinctly Christian perspective.

Brad Jersak

Interesting: One could use Paul's statements here to say he's either in the "all lives matter" camp OR endorsing non-binary erasure. Sean, you're showing us that he's doing something entirely different--the wiser third way, perhaps, if we could only hear him without pre-existing ideological cataracts (I was going to say lenses, but lenses typically clarify more than they blind and obscure). Thanks for writing this.

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