"The American Left uses “conspiracy theory” to dismiss news and narratives it doesn’t like much in the way the American Right uses “fake news.” Other eras would’ve considered this a bug, but at this moment it’s a feature of the mainstream and alternative news and opinion cycle. Aristotle’s observation that “the more we know the more we don’t know” helps to explain why too often conspiracy theories fill in the gaps of what we don’t know...and sometimes of what we think we know. The prevalence of conspiracy theory in a time of unparalleled information abundance reveals deep anxieties that Enlightenment inspired values such as truth and opinion supported by facts and argument aren’t working as well as they once did. This examination of different ways to think about conspiracy theory is an effort in the fight against the most unfortunate trend in American intellectual life."
"Social conservatives need to maximize turnout from the base and expand the map by stressing the softer side of the faith agenda: education reform, immigration and criminal justice reform, and anti-poverty measures,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which has extensive outreach to conservative evangelicals in battlegrounds across the country."
"The genius of the new far right, if we could call it “genius,” has been their steadfast determination to blend into the larger fabric of society to such an extent that perhaps the only way you might see them as a problem is if you actually want to see them at all."
"The opacity of Claire's inner life over the first five seasons of House Of Cards served a singular and focused purpose. It was a lens. Through it we understood the lure of power politics in virtually every Machiavellian aspect of life. We accepted seizing and wielding power in a republic as a talent for which the most well-adapted are also the most successful and therefore the most deserving. We also squirmed as this austere dharma made meritocracy self-justifying."
"Stan Lee used myth and history to show the best AND the worst of us. He gave nerdy kids like me in the 70s who bought Marvel back issues from second-hand stores for a quarter, read them over and over voraciously, and realized superheroes for us now are what gods once were for the ancients that we didn't have to stand by in the face of evil, or even in the face of the everyday banalities that make us small, petty and cruel."
"“White identity policing” is an instance in which a white person reports the actions and behavior of a black person to the police that (s)he would not report were the same actions those of a white person. I’ve suspected that the frequency and tenor of white identity policing is a knock-on effect from the curious way that Black Lives Matter receded from the spotlight of a very specific cultural, political, and media moment."
One of the gloomier American narratives of our time is the possibility that Millennials will not prosper as their Boomer parents have. We assume that the obvious question in response to this is “Why?” as if Millenials are the paltry exception to a trend of ever increasing prosperity. But what if the question is “Why not?” as if the inevitability of their situation weren’t already baked in before they were born?
We sense that something has gone wrong, that our way of doing things has been disrupted by its own rules. That everything we’ve built over all this time is more fragile than it should be. We may even feel some low-frequency trauma that we might not have it as well as our parents or grandparents. What Pinker might dismiss as “un American gloominess” shouldn’t dissuade us from thinking through to some clarity about whether Enlightenment values are still sustainable, even though Enlightenment institutions are still going strong.
Today: Looking for Mr. Good Jobs, The Nation vs. The Globe, Amazon is China, and A Comic From The Before Time, In The Long Long Ago