"Speaking as a White Male …"—Poor David Brooks Is Just Trolling Us Now
March 23, 2018, 05:33 PM
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From the New York Times:

Speaking as a White Male …

David Brooks MARCH 22, 2018

How much are you in control of your own opinions? I ask this sincerely because, as you’ll see, I’m trying to think this through and I’m not sure how.

If you go back to the intellectuals of the 1950s, you get the impression that they thought individuals could very much determine their own beliefs. People like Hannah Arendt and Irving Howe believed that if you stood alone and researched carefully and hard, you could transcend your own background and render independent and objective judgments about society.

David’s background has nothing to do with his choice of Hannah Arendt and Irving Howe as examples …
… We don’t think this way anymore, and in fact thinking this way can get you into trouble. …

Then came Michel Foucault and critical race theorists and the rest, and the argument that society is structured by elites to preserve their privilege. …

Now we are at a place where it is commonly assumed that your perceptions are something that come to you through your group, through your demographic identity. How many times have we all heard somebody rise up in conversation and say, “Speaking as a Latina. …” or “Speaking as a queer person. …” or “Speaking as a Jew. …”? ….

I’m searching for a line here, a distinction. Under what circumstances should we embrace the idea that collective identity shapes our thinking? Under what circumstances should we resist collective identity and insist on the primacy of individual discretion, and our common humanity? …

Wider inclusion has vastly improved public debate. For example, in the 1990s, African-Americans strongly supported tougher criminal justice laws. Now opinion has shifted and a majority of African-Americans strongly oppose them. That shift, born out of a direct and unique experience, reveals that, say, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have had harsh unintended effects.

Such as cutting the murder rate way down since the 1990s. Oh, wait, that was intended … But now we have “vastly improved public debate” so now everybody is well informed about the racial breakdowns among murderers. Or not …
But other times, group identity seems irrelevant to many issues. How does being gay shape your view of U.S.-German relations or breaking up big tech? How does being Latina influence how you read a black writer like St. Augustine?
Has N.N. Taleb been informed of this?

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