I don't know if you've noticed, but the professional Left* loves thinking in terms of binaries: black and white, male and female, rich and poor, Left and Right.
For the media, it means easy headlines: find the Black Hats, and you've got your story. Likewise for Hollywood: drama depends on conflict, and what better conflict is there than that between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil? Academics tend to take a little more prodding before they will admit to thinking in such reductive terms, but get them talking about power and oppression and the categories will become clear.
"We" (the speakers) are necessarily the Good Guys. "They" (those who think wrongly about sex, race, and gender) are the Bad Guys. All the Good Guys are on the side of the Oppressed (blacks, women, the poor); all the Bad Guys are on the side of the Powerful (whites, males, rich).
It does not matter that the categories make no historical sense, whether because they are recent in…
Transgender historian of economics Deirdre McCloskey has a word for intellectuals who constantly bash classical liberal (think Adam Smith) ideas about where wealth and human flourishing come from. She calls them the “clerisy.”
In her words, the clerisy are
the opinion makers and opinion takers, all the reading town, the readers of the New York Times or Le Monde, listeners to Charlie Rose [whoever that is], book readers, or at any rate book-review readers. My people. Like me.
I would say, “My people. Like me,” too, except that I don’t read the New York Times or Le Monde, I have no idea who Charlie Rose might be, and I am pretty sure thanks to my support for Milo none of the opinion makers or takers would be interested in talking with me.
But these are my people. They are like me. Academics. Book readers. Book writers. The intellectuals. If you prefer (say it with the proper accent), the intelligentsia.
Those of us who have bet bigly on our cultural capital, as Pierre Bourdieu might p…
You’ve read the Buzzfeed article. You love Milo, but you have questions. What was he doing in the karaoke bar with Richard Spencer and friends? Why was he so mean to Allum Bokhari? Why was Steve Bannon so mean to him? Why did he write those things in the emails that Buzzfeed published? Is he really friends with Devon Saucier?
You don’t want to believe what the media are saying about him – that he is secretly a white supremacist even though he just married his black husband; that he is a misogynist, racist, xenophobic bigot – because you have read his book and listened to his college talks, and nothing that he has published or said on camera fits with this description. But now that you know that he has had help writing those talks and that Allum was his ghostwriter for Dangerous, you are worried.
Who is Milo? Can we trust him?
Short answer, as emphatically as I can put it without being on camera myself: YES.
Yes, you can trust him.
Yes, I have trusted him from the first moment I starte…
It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College (pictured in 2014), wants to make sure you understand the stakes.
The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students.
That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse!
Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are you going to be apathetic weapons d…
[UPDATED: October 8, 2017, at 12:23am. Corrected version.]
We are living through an interpretive crisis. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. The Christian world, after all, is now celebrating (if that is the right word) the five hundredth anniversary of being ripped apart by a similar challenge to its interpretive frame, started when a certain obscure lecturer in theology nailed (or not) Ninety-five Theses to the door of the university chapel in Wittemberg hoping to initiate a debate about indulgences. (Trigger warning: talk of Scriptural exegesis to come!)
Back then, Martin Luther and his fellow reformers (some of whom he vehemently disavowed, and yet who still get lumped together with him as anti-Catholic) came up with the idea that readers of Scripture should be able to interpret the texts themselves, without any necessary input from the Magisterium or the tradition. As Luther put it: “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.”