As the culture war rages unabated, a war of attrition draining the mental and emotional energy of all decent sensible people with internet connections and social media accounts, we are seeing a doubling down of the most vicious and socially destructive forms of identity politics. Race, gender, sexual orientation; valid topics of discussion, to be sure, but the positions of identitarians on all sides of the political spectrum make reasonable conversation impossible by making every form of identity a zero-sum game: intersectionality on one side, bigotry on the other, no matter what the complexities of one’s views. Read More…
Megan Phelps, a former member of the incredibly divisive Westboro Baptist Church has given an inspiring TED talk on why and how she left the church – of which she was one of the most zealous and committed members.
Her decision to leave the WBC was not a Damascene conversion. It was part of a long process of engaging with people who opposed her on social media. Often they did so with anger or bemused disdain, but, occasionally, she would encounter individuals who would argue with her civilly. It was these discussions that began to slowly chip away at her harsh worldview, eventually causing it to collapse.
The story of Megan Phelps is a powerful illustration of just how important it is to listen and speak to those with whom you disagree. Especially in these polarised times where people too easily dismiss perspectives they don’t like.
On the Imagine Athena podcast I had the great pleasure of speaking to the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, one of my go-to writers and thinkers.
We discussed how simplistic moral narratives are used in political discourse to conceal harder, more complex truths about the world.
Did Britain really attain the victory it set out to in WW2? Is Britain’s relationship with the US a lot more adversarial than the two countries like to admit? And can Trump really make America great again?
The two books he mentions in the podcast are The Deluge by Adam Tooze and The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
Professor Jordan B. Peterson on why sunlight and air is the best disinfectant for hateful speech:
“You want to drive the people who hate underground?
We know what happens, psychologically, when you do that. It’s a very bad idea. Anything you drive underground thrives. It thrives.
It partly thrives because it isn’t even allowed to express itself. And then it festers and turns into hatred that far exceeds the original. The idea that you make society safe by not letting horrible people say terrible things is not a good proposition.”