Saturday, September 22, 2018

Brutal Binaries of American Politics

Christina Hoff Sommers calls this a "dazzling analysis."

But I know. I know, it's Andrew Sullivan, our former practicing gynecologist from the 2008 presidential campaign.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day, they say.

So, let it be.

At New York Mag, "America, Land of Brutal Binaries":

For homo sapiens, it is natural to see the world, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it, as radically “divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.” It is much harder to see, as Solzhenitsyn did, even after he had been sent to the gulag by his ideological enemies, that good and evil run through every human heart.

And it’s this reflexive, reptilian sorting of in-group and out-group that has now been supercharged by social media, by Trump’s hideous identity politics, and by campus and corporate culture. There seem to be just two inalterable categories: the oppressors or the oppressed; elite globalists or decent “normal” people. You are in one camp or the other, and, as time passes, those of us who don’t fit into this rubric will become irrelevant to the discourse, if we haven’t already got there.

After a while, the crudest trigger points of tribalism — your race, your religion (or lack of it), your gender, your sexual orientation — dominate the public space. As Claire Lehmann, the founding editor of the refreshingly heterodox new website Quillette has put it, “the Woke Left has a moral hierarchy with white men at the bottom. The Alt-Right has a moral hierarchy that puts white men at the top.” The looming midterms will not be about health care or executive power or constitutional norms (although all these things will be at stake). They will primarily be about which tribe you are in, and these tribes are increasingly sorted racially and by gender. The parties are currently doing all they can to maximize these tribal conflicts as a way to seek power. This isn’t liberal democracy.

And in this fevered, fetid atmosphere, where the stakes are always sky-high, there are no constraints. Dox, harass, troll, lie, smear, mock, distort, harangue, and preferably ruin: those are the tools of the alt-right just as much as they are the tools of the woke left. In such a civil war, the idea that the Supreme Court could ever perform the role it was designed to — interpret the law in a non-tribal way — is laughable. Indeed, the notion of a filibuster becomes moot, because it requires some sort of common ground between senators, and this is regarded by both sides as complicity in evil. Even a private, confidential hearing for accuser and accused is now, according to Senator Gillibrand, equivalent to silencing the accuser. I lean toward believing Christine Blasey Ford, as I believed Anita Hill and Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones, but I cannot know about something that happened 36 years ago. So I favor an FBI investigation and see no reason to rush a confirmation vote. But offering someone a chance to provide testimony in a private session wherever she chooses is not “silencing” her. Senator Hirono has gone further and told half the citizenry to “shut up” solely because they are male...
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