Philosophy’s Woke Follies

by Daniel A. Kaufman


These days of pandemic, police brutality, mass protests, looting and rioting are disconcerting. They confront our beliefs; our values; our sense of who we are as a society and as a people.  Many of us are looking for guidance; a sense of moral clarity in these morally uncertain times.

We should thank our lucky stars, then, that we have Weinberg to help us rediscover our moral centers. Like Superman emerging from a humble phone booth, Weinberg always comes to the rescue in our darkest hours. Where else could we find the kind of moral wisdom that seems to flow so effortlessly from his digital pen? That it is brave to put everyone’s lives in jeopardy during a pandemic, so long as one is motivated by anti-racism; that looting shops is an effective way to persuade elected officials to enact police reform; and that a business owner might – might – be right to be upset about having his life and livelihood burned to the ground by an angry mob. With regard to these and other weighty matters, Weinberg’s moral acuity and generosity know no bounds.

Meanwhile, his New Consensus shines like a beacon for those who find themselves lost in dark times. You will recall that in a piece celebrating the Daily Nous’s fifth anniversary, Weinberg described this New Consensus as “a set of attitudes that rejects acquiescence to abuses of power in philosophy, one that seeks to overturn rather than turn away from the profession’s problems, one that seeks to support rather than silence the vulnerable.” This must be why he allowed Alex Guerrero, a senior faculty member in the philosophy department at Rutgers, to verbally abuse Justin Kalef, an untenured, junior member of Guerrero’s own department, in the discussion that followed the aforementioned fount of Weinbergian wisdom. Kalef had wondered out loud whether, perhaps, institutional racism might not be the best framework from which to understand police brutality, and we can’t have any of that sort of thing in philosophy. Of course, this point had already been made by scholars like Adolf Reed and Randall Collins, but what do those two old hacks know? Just let them try and come to the Daily Nous and peddle that social science crap. The New Consensus will fuck their shit up, and (if we’re lucky) Alex Guerrero will be the one naming names and kicking ass.

It must also have been in order not to “acquiesce to abuses of power in philosophy” that Weinberg refused to publish Kalef’s posts defending himself and then emailed Kalef to tell him that he should think of Guerrero’s abuse as “harsh words from a loving parent” and “make the most of this learning experience.” Everyone knows that good parenting sometimes means tough love, after all. But the shining example of the New Consensus at work has to be when Weinberg, in a remarkable gesture of good faith, published Kalef’s defense! Of course, it was after Kalef already had been chased off (he said that he would not return to the Daily Nous again, in light of how he’d been treated), and of course, the thread was closed down to further comment immediately after, but we must remember that balancing support for the vulnerable and the righteous pursuit of anti-racism is a tricky business, and Weinberg bears the unimaginable burden of doing both, at once.

Like its Broadway counterpart, shuttered by Covid-19, the Woke Philosophy Follies are suffering hard times. Take poor Robin Dembroff, who was enjoying a well-deserved rest after putting the shiv in Alex Byrne for publishing an article arguing that women are female. (You might remember Dembroff as being one of three trans-activists who resisted being “non-consensually co-platformed” with three notorious witches, Julie Bindel, Holly Lawford-Smith, and Kathleen Stock.) She had successfully executed the hit job over in Philosophical Studies, accusing Byrne of dark, hateful motives, of “undermining [trans] persons’ self-understanding” and “pitting them against other trans persons” and “undermining [their] civil rights,” and of just being an “unscholarly,” “ill-informed,” “rhetorically bullying” boob in general. There was even the added bonus of snagging the resignation of Philosophical Studies’ editor, Stuart Cohen, who had tried to publish a paper by Byrne, defending himself against what Cohen characterized as “defamatory” attacks, but who was prevented from doing so by several unnamed editors in a Stunning and Brave blow against cisnormativetransmisogynistphobia.

How cruel it must have been, then, to discover that Byrne’s reply had gotten out anyway and that people were actually reading it! All that virtuous effort gone to waste! All that cisnormativetransmisogynistphobia released into the atmosphere to wreak its cisnormativetransmisogynistphobic havoc on the vulnerable! The celebratory drink and shrimp cocktail spoiled in an instant, with the realization that Byrne was still alive and walking around and breathing and writing stuff.

One might worry that Wokeness’s best days have passed. The public seems to be getting wise to the trans-activist grift and are deciding that they don’t really think males belong in women’s sports or prisons or rape shelters after all, regardless of how they identify. The reaction to efforts to justify and ennoble looting and rioting has been generally poor. A spectacular effort at virtue signaling on the part of Democratic politicians – complete with African regalia and everything – have turned the Cultural Appropriation crowd into a circular firing squad. And more generally, there’s just less and less taste for the sort of “performance activism” that is Woke Philosophy’s bread and butter. It’s all fine and well when the nation is enjoying fifty to sixty years of dramatically declining crime rates and remarkably improving conditions for minorities and women (not to mention the end of the Cold War), since no one enjoys too much good news. But when the really bad stuff starts to happen; when the country suffers a hundred plus thousand deaths in a few months and experiences a wave of rioting and looting on a scale unseen since the late 1960’s, all while being governed by a vulgar, degenerate sociopath, who gleefully unleashes the army to tear gas and shoot and brutalize the citizenry, a deadly seriousness descends on the public consciousness, and the desire for the sort of performance art proffered by Woke Philosophy dries up. Add a Covid-19 induced economic collapse on top of it all, and we very likely may be kissing the lot goodbye for the foreseeable future.

All I can say in these grim days is thank God for Weinberg.  We need him now more than ever.

**Addendum: Apparently, Philosophical Studies has allowed Byrne to submit a reply, which may or may not be accepted, depending on the referee’s report.  Cohen’s resignation was due to the fact that he felt the journal owed Byrne the right to reply, given that they had published what Cohen believed to be unprofessional and defamatory attacks.  I concur, so this doesn’t affect my bottom line very much.

***Second Addendum: Weinberg apparently has permanently removed all “likes” from the Daily Nous website.



49 responses to “Philosophy’s Woke Follies”

  1. Daniel Plate

    Long-time watcher of First time posting here. Thanks for all the work you do.

    I’ve found myself torn when it comes to woke reactions to Floyd. On the one hand, there’s an obvious uniformity of thought required and severe consequences for those who dissent. On the other hand, I find in myself a knee-jerk reaction to cnn, npr, nytimes propaganda groupthink that gets me pretty close to seeing footage of the Floyd funeral and feeling put off by it as political performance.

    Is that what I want to be? Someone so turned off by woke rhetoric I struggle to have authentic outrage at real suffering?

  2. I can only speak for myself, but I was sufficiently outraged by the video of Floyd’s merciless killing all by itself. The woke performances added nothing to this, but they also did not diminish it.

  3. s. wallerstein

    At a time when there is a huge movement protesting police violence and mourning the murder by the police of George Floyd which identifies itself as “woke”, why associate that movement in your post with the rather shabby tricks of
    Professor Weinberg by referring to what he does as “woke philosophy”? In fact, it isn’t philosophy at all, just dirty politics.

    Yes, I’m not in favor of looting and yes, I know who Adolf Reed is and have read Leiter’s summary of Reed’s thoughts on the subject. And yes, I tend to trust Leiter’s intellectual courage and honesty rather than what leftwing crowd believes. Still, there is a huge anti-racist and anti-police violence movement in the streets and most of them are peaceful and again, most or many of them consider themselves to be “woke”. So, once again, why tie that, in my opinion, generally positive movement for social change to Weinberg’s dirty politics?

    When you tie that movement to Weinberg’s politics, you lose support for your legitimate protests against Weinberg and company, I believe.

  4. Do you really think that the wave of “wokeness” is cresting? I have heard that for several years, notably after the Hypatia Affair in 2017. But the tide seems to keep rising. And I think it will continue to do so since there appears to be nothing standing in its way.

  5. I disagree entirely. And I think you’re ignoring a lot of what’s going on, in order to make this point.

    The fact is that we have been told for months that we must engage in social distancing and mass lockdowns, regardless of whether it destroys our businesses, our livelihoods, or our mental health. Those who even dared to wonder aloud whether this was all rather extreme or that the harm caused by the lockdown was greater than the harm caused by the virus, were shouted down and berated as “grandma killers and the like.”

    But now the Woke — and yes, I am calling them that — are telling us, “never mind all that. If your cause is moral enough, not only doesn’t it matter whether you kill grandma, but you are morally obligated to do so.” This is not hyperbole. There have been multiple public statements by public health officials and doctors, not to mention the rabble that pass for a media today, claiming that racism is a bigger public health hazard than Covid19 and that consequently, it’s noble for people to violate public health orders that *everyone else has had to suffer with* in the tens and hundreds of thousands. This is a classic Woke argument and it is one that is being broadcast constantly, through every mode of communication.

    So, no, I don’t think mass protests are ethical, at a time of a global pandemic, regardless of the cause. And the cynical, disingenuous, grotesque hypocrisy of Weinberg and his entire Woke gang is of a piece with everything I’m seeing on television and online today.

  6. When trying to learn some philosophy online a few years ago, I very much enjoyed Guerrero’s Coursera course, and I’ll admit to watching a video or two of Olly’s Philosophy Tube videos. This was also right around the time the Tuvel abomination happened and I was horrified and drawn into the gender debate.
    I did (and sometimes still do) put philosophers on a pedestal. The technical knowledge, the rigour, the cool analogies! I am usually in awe, because I forget what relativism means, for instance, and have to look it up, while philosophers know so many terms and have read so much philosophy.
    So while I’ve learned that of course philosophers aren’t Vulcans or robots, and the likes of Ivy/Kukla/Oseroff have taught me a PhD is not a silver bullet for stupidity, bullying, and childishness, I am still constantly disappointed in people with skills and knowledge and training I am envious of engage in this stuff. The Tuvel incident showed me the truth of what Montaigne wrote: “even kings and philosophers shit.” To that I would add “and act as if they didn’t have years of training in analyzing and constructing arguments.”
    It’s one thing for us common Joes to commit ad hominems and crap all over the principle of charity; it’s quite another to see professional philosophers do it. They debase themselves and the profession, I think, with their virtue-signalling, cancel culture sniping Twitter feeds and papers with arguments so bad even I can identify them as such.
    I really hope Prof. Kaufman is right and the tolerance for these people, in the academy and among the public at large, is coming to an end.

  7. It only seems to keep rising in the narrative being peddled by the media and other “information” classes who, as they did in 2016, may receive a rude shock in November 2020.

  8. Dan,
    I generally agree, albeit with important qualifications. First, the agreement: the protests as they have happened – mass crowds marching – couldn’t be more poorly timed, given the pandemic. That doesn’t mean that there should not be protests; but they have been remarkably poorly planned (when at all); rather than childishly taking their cues from the anti-lockdown protesters on the right (‘if they can, why can’t we?’), they should have learned ways to protest for the safe health of participants. There also doesn’t seem to be an end-game planned here; at what point is victory declared so that we can move to the next stage? “Defund the police” won’t do, since this is just a slogan, and the kind of necessary (IMO) restructuring of the hiring, training, and operating procedures of the police it references are actually buried beneath it. Anyway, such restructuring requires politics and elections at all levels, local, state, and federal, and I fear the protesters have lost sight of this. These protests cannot continue until November 3rd without becoming self-defeating.

    Further, opportunists of various sorts – from the radical left, the radical right, even just plain old hooligans (including, some research indicates, organized crime) – have used these protests to sew violence, looting, destruction; had the protests been better organized, this could have been accounted for and reduced before happening.

    On the other hand – some notes:

    1: I have too many friends and family members who have suffered ‘stopped by police for being Black” to take these matter lightly.

    2: Despite some pro-woke media (the Guardian, Huffpost, etc.) assertions, my sense is that the majority of the protesters – especially African Americans (who should have primacy here) are not woke at all, but simply fed-up. It is noteworthy that non-woke media (e.g. USA Today) have reported the protests with sympathy, and that non-woke politicians (Bush, Romney) have supported them.

    3: The militaristic response of some police agencies has complicated the issue considerably. I understand that some police might feel under threat in this environment; but that is hardly an excuse for engaging in exactly the behavior that is being protested. The militaristic training and arming of police over the past two decades now proves nearly catastrophic. Having a fascist in the White House, and another in the Attorney General’s office, as well as some in Congress, willing to subvert the Constitution and urge violence against American citizens, doesn’t help.

    4: One benefit of the protests is that it has lit fires world-wide. That’s actually a good thing. Right-wing population has enjoyed a free ride for some years now; it is important for all to remember that a left wing populism, however well-surveilled, however self-suppressed by its own goody-two-shoes touchy-feely mentality; or by its own proto-Leninist or Maoist rigidity – its ‘wokeness’ – is still capable of mounting a response to the irrationalism and threat on the right.

    5: On a historical note, I’m not sure that there is any resolution here at all. Slavery may well prove to have been the stake in the heart of Constitutional democracy here, before it was even born. An entire ethnic group – that is, of living human beings – cannot be denied their humanity. Unless genocide is allowed as a possibility. The Germans tried that, with horrible consequences. Americans have fortunately avoided it – although they came close with the Indians; and if the Confederacy had won, this would have been inevitable there. Which tells us there is something horribly monstrous in the American soul, endangering the democratic republican ideal at every turn. What is the solution to this? I have no idea.

    As to the ‘woke philosophy’ issue that is the primary issue of your article – I have little interest in it, except as bemused outsider. I witnessed politics make hash out of English studies; their salvation proved the teaching of a ‘skill,’ “composition,” in which I had/ have no interest (if you want to learn to write, read books and write). Eventually “philosophy” may reduce to the teaching of basic logic (which in fact was the case in some state colleges here in New York) or ‘history of philosophy.’ Perhaps that’s just as well. If we aren’t a democratic republic anymore, who needs reflection? what good is reasoning? and isn’t even science but a luxury for the well-to-do?

    Many celebrate the end of the Enlightenment. Well, this is what the end of the Enlightenment really looks like. Are we happy yet? What, no one? Why am I not surprised?

  9. ombhurbhuva

    So much guilt, so much breast beating and rending of garments, historic guilt, white guilt, philosophy guilt. The latter is an interesting one. Unless Africana and Black Studies are given the same status as Greek white guys then we are contributing to genocide. That must be true – an expert told me:

    And now the riots and the destruction of property – see what you made me do as a justification. On all levels counter-productive, lacking basic nous. Metaphors run wild. The real virus is racism.

    In Bristol, England the statue of Colston in Colston Square, a slave trader who sanitized his money by much benevolence, is thrown into the harbour. Not far away is a statue of Edmund Burke who was the member for Bristol. Eddy baby, be very afraid, though you were against the American War you are the archon of Conservatism.

  10. Daniel Plate

    A small note. Introducing phrases like “American soul” into this makes conversation nearly impossible. Nations don’t have souls. Therefore, nations don’t have corrupted souls. One way to work toward solutions (there is no single solution) is to avoid obfuscating, religious language.

    Racism gets referred to constantly as America’s Original Sin. Even orthodox Christians have a terrible time making sense of what original sin could possibly mean. How is it possible to inherit wrongdoing in any way that binds moral responsibility?

    I literally don’t know what American Soul or Original Sin could in principle mean. Therefore I suspect neither refers to anything real.

  11. Kanthelpmyself

    The connecting tissue between “woke” politics and “woke” philosophy is the appalling intellectual dishonesty that each has taken up as SOP—the brazen assertion of palpable nonsense on the strength, not of any rational appeal, but rather the blunt threat of character assassination of those who reject it.

    It is precisely because “murder by cop” is both revolting and a threat to constitutional democracy, that the opposition to it must resist the metastatic progress of “wokeness”—“abolish the police,” “defund the police”—which can only discredit it.

  12. Daniel Plate

    Gnostic wokeism run amok. You all don’t get it — if you got it, you’d see why opening up for the protests is necessary. How would we have heard the heart-warming “I really get it now” conversion stories from new quarters — “White Coats for Black Lives” — if we hadn’t allowed the protests?

  13. Daniel Plate

    Sorry. Mistake. I clicked the wrong “reply” button. This comment meant to reply to Dan’s “kill your grandma” reply above.

  14. Kanthelpmyself

    Exactly. Part and parcel of “woke” discourse is asserting figurative and even hyperbolic statements as though they have some quasi-literal meaning. With regard to rhetorical flourishes such as the assertion of “something horribly monstrous in the American soul,” such turgid prose diverts attention from practical goals in favor of mystical conditions for which there are no conceivable resolutions (a “soul spa”?), and which, therefore, may always be repeated regardless of actual conditions.

  15. Kanthelpmyself

    Re your link: Pelosi, Schumer and Co., kneeling per social distancing, having draped themselves in kente-cloth tallises, have brought absurdly to life John McWhorter’s description of “anti-racism as a religion.”

    Demented psychodrama. Can anyone wonder why the left is in such disrepute?

  16. “American Soul” make perfect sense to me. There is a long tradition of using “soul” in a non-theological sense.

    The expression “America’s Original Sin” seems fairly recent, as far as I know. It may have originated with a 2015 book of that title. But, again, I don’t have any problems with it. There is a long tradition of taking a well known phrase, and giving it a new meaning. I’ll note that America’s Original Sin is usually attributed to the nation rather than to individual citizens of that nation. I don’t see that usage as implying inheritance by individuals.

  17. Daniel Plate

    I agree there’s a long tradition of using religious language for rhetorically non-religious purposes. The rhetoric would seem to be aspiration and jeremiad by turns: we ought to find motivation for fellow-feeling or the pursuit of justice by imagining others sharing the same soul I have some part of. Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural uses the high-flown language of togetherness as he also aims at something like reparations talk: “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”

    But what about when we want to set aside the rituals of rhetoric and figure out whether these words actually mean anything now? When petty power plays are made using the same language or rituals drawing on the power of that language, those on the “punished” end can legitimately ask for a shift in register. Let’s set aside the religious/pseudo-religious talk, the catharsis or scapegoat or whatever other ritual procedure, and ask, “Can we just say what these words actually mean? What are we actually talking about?”

    Otherwise it’s all just power-play. “There’s something horribly monstrous in the American soul” can be used as a power move. It silences through its reference of some vague, ominous thing we need salvation from. And who will provide that salvation? Any folks out there in editorial rooms or university committees willing to take on that role?

  18. Animal Symbolicum

    So. Many. Things.

    But here’s one thing that happened to strike me today: Weinberg’s characterization of Guerrero’s posts as “harsh words from a loving parent” and his telling Kalef to “make the most of this learning experience.”

    These are telling glimpses into the paternalistic, preachy, and gnostic sensibility that seems to inform so much wokeness, both in its more theatrical and in its less self-conscious moments. (And I’m using ‘sensibility’ here in something like the way George Will uses it in his The Conservative Sensibility: it’s more than an attitude but less than a theory. So I’m not talking about any particular person or their character, nor am I concerned with any commonly-assented-to hypotheses or codes.)

    According to one aspect of this sensibility, being an expert in a moral-political sub-industry means having the truth about the subject matter of that sub-industry, a truth that can only be revealed to or truly understood by the initiated. Thus we get the high priests condescending to “inform” us, “raise” our “awareness,” and help us grasp the correct lesson from our “learning experience,” to correct our deviations from what they know is best for us but we are too benighted to see, or to admonish us for not reading the right scriptures and, because the truth is too awesome to cast in a form that at least aspires to reasonability, to encourage us to go read the scriptures for ourselves.

  19. But what about when we want to set aside the rituals of rhetoric and figure out whether these words actually mean anything now?

    Sorry to break the news, but words don’t have actual meanings. Words are ink marks on paper or vibrations in the air. The meanings come from the people who use them.

    Otherwise it’s all just power-play.

    I did not see ejwinner as making a power play.

    We are drifting a tad from the main topic. Yes, woke politics does attempt to stretch the meaning of words. Yet I see Dan’s point as being about who is hurt by this, rather than just a concern over word usage.

  20. s. wallerstein

    Instead of original sin, how about tragic flaw? As I recall, the tragic flaw is a defect which leads a good or virtuous person, for example, Oedipus, towards his ruin.

    The United States is based on the good and virtuous idea that all men are created equal. Yet it tolerated slavery for almost a hundred years of its history until a bloody civil war ended it. Then another hundred years of Jim Crow and segregation.

    I don’t doubt that there has progress in dealing with racism in the last fifty years, but still racism seems to be one of the major issues dividing the United States and producing a great deal of the violence that plagues the country, the U.S. being probably the most violent developed nation.

    That racism divides the country seems a tragic flaw in a nation which explicitly posits that all men are created equal. What the country is capable of transcending that contradiction remains to be seen.

  21. I wasn’t going to reply to Daniel Plate’s first comment; although I disagreed with it, it seemed a fair position to take. However, now that the criticism has been expanded to assert that I am engaging in a ‘power-play’ and am now accused by Kanthelpmyself of being a woke propagandist, (and it seems clear that neither of these respondants have read my first comment entirely), I’ll have to respond in no uncertain terms.

    First it is historically appropriate to use religious metaphor in discussions about racism in the US for several reasons; for me, the two most important are these: First, as the clouds of war gathered before 1861, it had become clear that much of the national divide over slavery involved a conflict between two opposed Protestant interpretations concerning human being, human spirituality, and the presumed god-given liberty human beings could or should enjoy. The Southern ideology on the matter was made explicit in the Dred Scott decision of the SCOTUS, that a) Africans were sub-human, and b) Biblical laws prohibiting miscegenation (and delivery of the earth to god’s chosen people) were superior to the Constitution; together, this meant that slaves and former slaves could not be considered ‘citizens’ in even the percentile manner deployed in the Constitution. (These points were later adopted into the state constitution of Texas during its process of attempted secession.)

    Second, the core of many African American communities is to be found in their churches, and a conversation involving them around the problems of racism could thus never be free of rhetoric originating from those churches.

    Third, one reason I feel relatively comfortable using such rhetoric, despite beinga non-believer, is that, having studied Hegel, I know that the notion of human spirit, qua consciousness, encompases processes and trends, history and trajectories, not simply some brute but spacey ‘thing’ out there. The pathways the American people have travelled down since their ancestors began forcibly importing human beings they would not treat as human, have been tortuous, violent, unjust, often corrupt. The Civil War did not end in 1865 but in 1876, when the Republicans agreed to end the Reconstruction so that Hays could become president. Thus the War actually ended in a kind of tie: the United States was preserved and its founding principle of social contract re-affirmed; but on the other hand the Southerners could go back to treating African Americans, not as ‘second class citizens,’ but as not citizens at all.

    But of course this is not simply the story of the South. This process, this ‘soul,’ this spiritual journey, this struggle to attain inclusive self-awareness, is that of America, inheritor of biases, thoughts. and pathologies from Europe but confronting what at the time of initial colonialization must have been unimaginable opportunities in the New World. For it took considerable effort over time to realize, articulate, and at last make manifest those opportunities. And at every step of that journey, non-Europeans (even occasionally non-Northern Europeans, or non-Protestant Europeans) were initially excluded and needed to take political action to receive due notice. However, because of the history of slavery and its grounding premises, the ambiguous aftermath of the Civil War, and continuing racial tensions and racism, due notice and opportunity have been denied African Americans, despite strenuous efforts to find some way to adapt the African American experience to the possibilities of the American experience over-all.

    What is monstrous in the soul of America is a residual tribal ethnocentrism and ethnophobia, similar to that which misled the British to starve and brutalize their colonial natives; the Belgians to reduce the Congo to a gigantic slave camp; the Germans to produce murder on an assembly line at Auschwitz.

    ‘That was years ago; we weren’t even born; we’re not responsible for the past!’ The past is not a canal with locks where our ships safely wait for the water to go down before we sail to the next resting place. It is the tidal wave in which, oft unknowingly, we swim. It gives us our clothes, our tools, our languages, our perspectives, the very colors we interpret as the light coming from the sky.

    One doesn’t have to be ‘woke’ to recognize any of this; one simply has to pay attention to history – History in both the grand sense, and the personal. I was raised among racists; one uncle by marriage lived in Virginia and had spent the better part of his life reclaiming the manison his family lost during the Reconstruction, just in the hope that the South would “rise again.” Yet, I now have grand-nieces and nephews and who are Black and Hispanic; while I have not seen them since my last major move, and they were moving elsewhere as well, I still remember how difficult it was to encourage pride in themselves, in their ethnic idenity, surrounded by White dominated culture in every field but music….

    As I admitted, I don’t know what the solution here is; I’m doubtful that there’s any in the long term. Generally we will do as we have done, patchwork here, step forward there, tinker incrementally; perhaps that’s the best we can do; perhaps all that will accumilate into a long-term solution. Afterall my family was racist, but I don’t think I am; my grand-nieces and nephews aren’t; hopefully their children will live in a world where there is less reason to fear ‘being stopped by police for being Black.’

    But whatever solutions come forward, they probably won’t be found in Kanthelpmyself’s childishly mocking good-will gestures on the part of Democratic politicians (or am I writing too turgidly here?); nor on simple assaults on rhetoric: “I literally don’t know what American Soul or Original Sin could in principle mean. Therefore I suspect neither refers to anything real.” – Ah, the same old Fregean-Logico-Positivist bullshit! The fear of rhetoric expressed as what I elsewhere called “the arrogance of reason.”

    As for the charge that I am woke – I’ll let my first comment and previous comments I’ve made on other essays on the subject answer that.

    Paranoia on the left doesn’t sanction paranoia *of* the left.

    Sadly Daniel Plate has achieved a self-fulling prophecy: “this makes conversation nearly impossible.” All right, conversation between us is impossible. I get that, thanks.

  22. Daniel Plate

    I appreciate the reply, ejwinner. I didn’t mean to claim that you personally were engaging in a power-play with the “American Soul” language, but I went back and read my posts and see that I did make such a claim. So I apologize for the looseness of my phrasing.

    I don’t regret prompting you to a longer reply, though. There’s a lot to chew on there — and it rises to a pretty high eloquence in its own right. I’ll give it some more thought.

    One thing I will comment on, granting the strength of your reply on the whole. I thought about this sentence for a while before hitting “post” — “I literally don’t know what American Soul or Original Sin could in principle mean. Therefore I suspect neither refers to anything real.”

    I thought specifically about the Positivist gesture it makes, but I went ahead with posting it. I’m pretty far from a Positivist in my leanings. My personal background is in studying Kenneth Burke and his attacks on Positivism in the 1930s, and I’m pretty sympathetic to anti-Positivist moves.

    My sentence tries something simpler, a registering of genuine perplexity. Whenever I try to think about nation states using spiritualized language, pulling individuals into some mystical unity extending over time, I get totally stuck and muddled. This might just clarify the limits of my own thinking or imagination. But I also suspect it’s not just me.

    Thanks again for the exchange.

  23. Kanthelpmyself

    Mr. Winner (I assume it is mister, please forgive any errror) thank you for your reply. I am responding to your post of 6:25 p.m., June 10th, and I hope this appears in sequence in the thread. I can assure you that I’ve read every word of each of your posts (and yes, they’re still pretty turgid).

    An initial correction of a notable error: I did not call you a “woke propagandist” as you imply—I criticized your written statements, and I think that’s the real source of your irritation, but more on that later. Let me first be more specific about what you wrote.

    As with most woke rhetoric, the messages from you and, to a lesser extent, S. Wallerstein, luxuriate in extensive historical “reviews,” which culminate in dramatic conclusions such as that there is “something horribly monstrous in the American soul.” (And not just “monstrous,” mind you, but “horribly monstrous.”) Let’s consider that move.

    First of all, we all know the history, and know it well enough to recognize that such recitations, despite cursory nods to “progress,” are so ludicrously one-sided as to make clear that their purpose is not to elucidate some useful point, but simply to serve as the “wind up” to the inevitable, hyperventilating denunciation. All know where the recitative is going well in advance of the final cadence, and so nod off or withdraw to the lobby. Specifically, everyone, by now, recognizes virtue signaling when they see it. (The obligatory reference to Naziism was dispositive—under Godwin’s Law you lose).

    One of the most tiresome aspects of virtue signaling is that it changes the subject—the focus is shifted from the issue at hand to the speaker, and very deliberately so. The discourse is no longer aimed at a defense of a position, much less persuasion, but ostentatious self-display. The language becomes so “thunderous” as to leave no doubt of the speaker’s rectitude.

    That’s another reason the religious hyperbole falls flat: woke rhetoric aspires to resound as “righteous,” but comes off as merely sanctimonious. All the John-Brown-like invocations of sin and blood may make the speaker feel exalted, but, to most mortals sound like the Hallelujah Chorus played on kazoos.

    Those who feel the need to expiate sin should see their confessors rather than project guilt onto America and its history in public discourse. Mr/Ms. Ombhurbhuva’s observation—”So much guilt, so much breast beating and rending of garments, historic guilt, white guilt, philosophy guilt”—is particularly acute in that regard. Moreover, as Mr. Plate observed, such an arch rhetorical gambit “makes conversation nearly impossible.” Indeed, the disquisition was so ponderous as to make you yourself despair of any solution. Please understand: it has the same effect on others.

    I believe the real source of your complaint is that Mr. Plate in his way, and I in my own childish way, called attention to the excesses of an inflated soliloquy. But, because the soliloquy was not really about racism in America, but rather about you, you took it as a personal attack. You believed yourself, for example, to have been characterized by me as a “woke propagandist,” when I made no mention of you. Hence the defensiveness of your riposte.

    The contention that the history of the United States is no more than a litany of atrocities has long been as cliched and shopworn as the prior myth of American exceptionalism and preeminence among nations. (You do know that the last venues of actual slavery are in Africa, don’t you?). The historic wrongs upon which your posts fixate were each overcome in turn by the prolonged efforts of countless Americans. In a country of 320 million, there will always be individuals who commit grotesque and repellant acts of racism, such as we have seen. Aa for them, the mills of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. Despite those atavistic examples, however, there is less racism in America now, and black people have never been better off, than at any time or place in history. That’s something to build upon.

    If you would like to take that up as a resolution for debate, it might make for a more interesting and useful discussion.

    Best regards.

  24. Mate

    It is encouraging to see that the comments of Justin Kalef, Spencer Case and others at DailyNous routinely get more up-votes than those by Weinberg, Guerrero or the asinine Mark Alfano. What is not encouraging is that these people tend to get the high-paying jobs. Not familiar with their oevre but if comments on blogs are any indication, their scholarship must be seriously hindered by their ideological blinders.

    Fascinating to see how stifled the discussion at DailyNous and among white liberal academics is in general. One would think that the insanely high crime rate among Blacks and their tendency to resist police would at least warrant a mention in a discussion about police violence against Blacks. No, a real discussion of potentially racist actions by the police gets sidetracked by some musings of what racism could all be. Loury and McWhorter are infintely more focussed and practical in their discussion, athough they do not have the luxury to carefully weigh every word in their non-scripted interviews. Speaking of ideological blinders, this discussion between Loury and Cohen is a prime example. It is so sad and embarrassing to see Cohen stammer when he is pressed by Loury on why he thinks that Floyd was lynched. Answer: He saw the racism in Chauvin’s eyes. (The sad part starts at around eight mintes in.)

    I found this video rather informative when it comes to police violence:

    I had a look at Guerrero’s website and saw the page on the Latinx conference. There is so much wrong with this. I personally decry the recent trend to focus more and more on philosophy with a poltical bend and the neglect of the core areas ( I guess only then you have societies like “APA Society for Mexican American Philosophy”). I personally find that philosophy loses a lot of its initial attractiveness when issues are viewed through a lense of race and sexual identity (“Would you like to investigate justice through a black, hispanic or white lense?”). More importantly, it speaks volumes of how US society is fractured among racial lines and now philosophy is just another part of the academy that fosters this divide. Why should the tax payer pay money to institutions that actively destroy the cohesion of the society? And has there ever been a long-lasting, prospering multi-ethnic society that was egalitarian and did not devolve in some sort of (racial) caste system?

  25. “Is that what I want to be? Someone so turned off by woke rhetoric I struggle to have authentic outrage at real suffering?” Sums up how I feel too.

  26. Just an important factual correction: Justin Kalef is an NTT faculty member in the Rutgers Philosophy department. We have no TT junior faculty in our department. Our non-Tenure Track faculty are unionized and well protected, have multi-year contracts and full benefits, are judged based on their teaching and administrative performance (not publishing), and are well compensated relative to many academics (all our salaries are a matter of public record; Justin’s is north of $90,000).

    I almost certainly have more power (from various editorial roles, writing letters, etc.) over any random philosopher who is still in the world of publishing academic philosophy than I do over Justin, given his contractual protections and the fact that he is (to my knowledge) a competent teacher.

  27. Well, that’s good to know at least. Of course, the point re: “The New Consensus” would still seem apt regardless. Unless, as I suspect, it is very “flexible” in its application.

  28. Kanthelpmyself,
    The reference to the genocide in Germany was not “obligatory.” It was prefaced with: “What is monstrous in the soul of America is a residual tribal ethnocentrism and ethnophobia;” I then referenced, not a litany of American atrocities, but of European atrocities born of this tendency, because American racism while taking shape over its own history, certainly derives from biases brought over by its European colonizers. Let’s be clear this tribalistic ethnocentrism and ethnophobia is not unique to European or American cultures, it appears to be universal to human culture per se, as is the impulse toward tribal violence and ultimately genocide it initiates. It is a problem I have devoted considerable effort in understanding and unraveling, My first essay here was on Hitler; I also investigated the massacre at Wounded Knee, and the Potato Famine in Ireland. I am trying to understand this impulse toward absolute destruction of those different from ourselves.

    “First of all, we all know the history,” – that isn’t true. The principle explanation of slavery and the Civil War for the past century has been economic; racism is often also addressed in economic terms and addressed with purely economic solutions. What I pointed out, which you still apparently don’t get, is that the problem with slavery was *primarily* race, and the Civil War was in fact a race war, predicated on two opposing Protestant conceptions of race, that of (thanks for the reference) Abolitionists like John Brown – charitable and inclusive, but still salvationist (since complete equality was not yet conceived), and on the other side the brutal determination of Africans as sub-human and possibly necessarily evil, as I noted.

    If the issue with slavery was largely economic, then the ‘alternate history’ version of the Confederacy’s history – that slavery would become economically burdensome and phased out makes sense. If the problem was primarily one of race itself, the “alternate history” would inevitably have led to some form of genocide; when the slaves would no longer be useful, they would be bothersome to maintain; and their inherent evil would need to be excised. Perhaps they would have been placed on reservations; but mass slaughters would probably have been the routine for a few years.

    In the actual history, of course, the South had its nose drubbed, but the racist ideology was allowed inculcation to the young. Northward, tribalistic ethnocentrism and ethnophobia developed along different but parallel lines. E.g., when the city of New York first began to coalesce as a metropolis, the Dutch treated Irish immigrants as interlopers, and the Irish treated freed or escaped slaves as interlopers; later the Italians and the Jews were treated as interlopers, and so on. eventually, the Irish, Italians, and Jews, and others from Europe, would develop political movements that would allow them respect and even power in New York. The African Americans, despite all effort, have not yet fully achieved this.

    Such is the backdrop of what is really going on here: confrontation with decades of frustration on the part of a large demographic that has still neither found a way, nor been fully allowed to find a way, to achieve full inclusion in the fabric of American life as a whole. Nor is it clear, given the fragmentary state of American affairs in the current era, whether that is any longer possible.

    “black people have never been better off, than at any time or place in history” Wow, what a tin ear. At any rate, the immediate issue is that a principle response to Black demands and frustrations since the 1950s, in all too many states and municipalities (and routinely encouraged by federal agencies) has been the militarization of the police, and training techniques that encourage racial profiling even when this is explicitly denied, and hiring practices that allow racially biased applicants relatively easy access to police employment. The immediate issue is that these practices have allowed the recurrent deaths of young Black people at the hands of police, some achieving public notoriety, others disappearing into filing cabinets without proper invoice or accounting. Occasionally police agencies will make effort at community out-reach; all too often they stone-wall behind police unions and arcane regulations that make public accounting difficult. This immediate issue offers some patch-work solutions in the near future. However, the larger issue, tribalistic ethnocentrism and ethnophobia, will prove much more difficult to unravel, since, as your comment demonstrates, many of us remain oblivious to it.

    “because the soliloquy was not really about racism in America, but rather about you,” – the original comment was a conversation with Dan Kaufman, with whom I have corresponded both publicly and privately for several years now. I wrote it as a meditation; you chose to read it as a speech.

    “You believed yourself, for example, to have been characterized by me as a “woke propagandist,” when I made no mention of you.” – You quoted me. You were talking about me, a participant in this conversation, as if I weren’t present. You reduced me to a slogan and then mocked the slogan.

    The condescending tone of your remarks does not suggest that an interesting or useful discussion is in the offing. The most serious problem with the Woke brigade has been its narrow-minded rigidity, its suspicion of argument as nothing other than rhetoric, its demand to accept conformity, its unwillingness to attend to opposing views, or to offer correction rather than mockery. With but a little tweaking, your comments would fit in nicely with theirs.

    No best regards; I have none for you.

  29. Daniel Plate,
    Thank you for your graceful apology, which I readily accept. Everyone puts their foot in their mouth occasionally, no matter how beautifully cobbled together the shoe seems at the time. I have done so often enough; if I wore a mustache, people would mistake it for shoelaces.

  30. s. wallerstein

    If I may add a comment, the affirmation that black people have never been better off at any time or place in history has to be put in context.

    The U.S. is one of the most prosperous societies in the world and with a high degree of individual liberties. One could easily argue that people in the U.S. in general are better off than people at any time or place in history. You probably can counter that people are better off in Denmark, Norway and Luxemburg, but the U.S. is a lot bigger with a lot more people.

    So in fact, black people in the U.S. are better off because everyone is better off in the U.S. and they are worse off than white people in terms of income, wealth, health indicators, and police violence among other factors. Is racism the only factor? Maybe not, but it clearly is a factor in the disparities between black and white well-being.

  31. Ken MacInnis

    Are you suggesting that because he is well-paid and unionized, your condescension was warranted? And to accuse him of taking up “discursive space” in the *comments section of a blog?*
    You pulled all the conversation-stopping tricks favoured by the Woke out of the hat: you’re taking up space, read the literature,the appeal to expertise, the appeal to tone….
    I absolutely loved your Coursera courses. They were accessible and engaging explorations of some political philosophy. I read and learned a lot. I had to think hard about huge concepts like justice and freedom. So I was very disappointed to see how you acted at Daily Nous. Laypeople, fairly or not, expect academics to do better when confronted with questions and arguments and criticism.

  32. Bunsen Burner

    “… and black people have never been better off, than at any time or place in history… ”

    What a bizarre comment. A society that changed its laws so that slaves were only whipped half as much could argue that the slaves were better of than any other time, but is hardly a statement of meaningful change. I am sure I have heard similar remarks said about the civil rights of blacks in the 1960s. Surely, the point is not whether some minor improvement in a peoples’ oppression has been made, but whether that oppression has been well and truly removed? I find it funny that while you berate ejwinner of meaningless virtue signaling, you yourself do very little but produce a litany of your own quite vapid signals.

  33. Lurker

    “All the John-Brown-like invocations of sin and blood may make the speaker feel exalted, but, to most mortals sound like the Hallelujah Chorus played on kazoos.”

    I shall treasure that. Nicely put.

  34. Zac

    “One would think that the insanely high crime rate among Blacks and their tendency to resist police would at least warrant a mention in a discussion about police violence against Blacks”

    …Ah, yeah, the self-reinforcing rationalization loop for over-policing and over-incarcerating black people. I might’ve heard it before. For the Wokeaphobics this might be unduly triggering, but I refer you to arch-Woke-master-general Radley Balko, former editor at Reason magazine:

  35. Zac

    “Are you suggesting that because he is well-paid and unionized, your condescension was warranted?”

    I mean, if you’re concerned about condescension between peers, I’m not sure you’ve read the essay this is appended to. Is there something else that bothers you here?

  36. Is there? You tell me.

    I see mockery of ridiculous people doing ridiculous things. Is it uncharitable? Maybe. I don’t see condescension, presumption of ignorance, and silly accusations of people “taking up space” and appeals to “philosophy 101.”
    The essay above can be defended – there is nothing false in it – but I don’t think the same could be said for Guerrero’s comments.

  37. Zac

    “I see mockery of ridiculous people doing ridiculous things.”

    Isn’t this what everyone sees themselves doing when they condescend to or mock someone? Isn’t this what Alexander sees himself doing?

    “The essay above can be defended – there is nothing false in it – but I don’t think the same could be said for Guerrero’s comments.”

    Well, if the moral is that condescension is fine when you agree with it and bad when you don’t, I don’t see much bite there. That just falls back into evaluating the arguments, if you can manage it, so you might as well just do that. The scoldy dismay at his tone comes off undercooked.

  38. Kanthelpmyself

    Mr. Winner, glad to have you back (although the sulky tone is disappointing).

    First, I understand you to be saying that the “horrible monstrousness” of the “American soul” is neither unique to America, nor especially exceptional, much less remarkable. Yet, one would have thought that a phrase such as “something horribly monstrous in the American soul” encompassed all those things.

    Woke hyberbole once again is shown to lead nowhere. Yet you complain of my ”mocking tone”? Indeed, so much of your latest post continues to strain at making the discussion about you:

    “You quoted me. You were talking about me, a participant in this conversation, as if I weren’t present. You reduced me to a slogan and then mocked the slogan.”

    As anyone may confirm from my post, I was talking not about you, but about what you wrote, a classic method of critiquing a composition (or “meditation” if you like)—analysis focused on what can be discerned from the author’s words. If you feel that reflects on you, how could it not do so?

    But, are you seriously complaining that I “quoted” you? That I “reduced [you] to a slogan”? Who prominently featured the slogan in his post, a slogan now revealed to be even more meaningless than it originally appeared to be? If you are going to use words like that, be prepared to defend them. There’s no need to mock this.

    You previously said, “One doesn’t have to be ‘woke’ to recognize any of this; one simply has to pay attention to history – History in both the grand sense, and the personal.” Regarding the recurring, in fact near universal, patterns of ethnocentric tribalism you acknowledge, however, consider the most fundamental element connecting Germany, Wounded Knee, Ireland, etc. The answer is not in national histories but in natural history, specifically evolutionary biology.

    A brief digression: Our human and pre-human ancestors roamed in tribes, extended kin groups, because survival was otherwise impossible. Remember your Hobbes: if the life of man then was not literally solitary, it was certainly poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Specifically, the shortage of resources and opportunities to mate meant that whenever one group encountered another it usually led to bloodshed and conquest.

    Human and pre-human creatures have existed on earth for over 3,000,000 years, the period during which biological evolution has had ample time to encode ethnocentrism deep into the human gene. Well before the advent of discernible human history—less than 10,000 years ago even as extended by archaeology—human hard-wiring had been ineradicably encoded in our genes. That is where you will find the source of the “impulse toward absolute destruction of those different from ourselves.” There is no question that it is “universal to human culture,” and indeed to the cultures of other primates. Small wonder then that, throughout human history, slavery was not the exception but the norm. That successive ethnic groups have suffered at the hands of others is hardly remarkable.

    Compared with principle, guilt is an unreliable basis for sustained action, subject as it is to replacement by self-pity in times of adversity. Inasmuch as the evolutionary basis for human tribal ethnocentrism reveals the source of such impulses to be common to us all, however, the guilt-based approach of woke style anti-racism is not merely ineffective, but virtually irrelevant. As we are all in the same boat, the venues of tribal aggression and the groups involved blur, dictated as they largely are, by vagaries of geography, climate, technology, disease, and opportunity. You yourself mentioned successive ethnic groups suffering at the hands of more powerful groups.There are, of course, better ways. More on that later.

    Second, in denying that we “all know the history,” you proceed to claim that the “principle explanation of slavery and the Civil War for the past century has been economic,” rather than that grounded in race. That is demonstrably untrue, and would be scoffed at by Alex Haley, Ken Burns, and the millions of people who read and watched Haley’s “Roots” in 1976, and Burns’s “The Civil War,” in 1990, each of which made clear the comprehensively racial basis for American slavery.

    Moreover, the theory of the economic basis of the Civil War was a contrivance fabricated as part of the larger project of propping up the “states’ rights” element of “The Lost Cause” myth, a regional effort to soothe southern consciences, and distract from the heartless history of slavery. Whatever its success in its region of origin, I can tell you from personal experience that the racist basis of slavery was taught to school children as an express element of public schools’ curricula in the northeast.

    Far from prevailing “for the past century,” the economic theory has been recognized, at least to those outside the south, as a discredited sham for over sixty years. From such vantage points, any doubts were resolved by the time of the Greensboro sit-ins. Most living Americans do, in fact, “know the history.”

    Finally, let me quote you again:

    “However, because of the history of slavery and its grounding premises, the ambiguous aftermath of the Civil War, and continuing racial tensions and racism, due notice [sic] and opportunity have been denied African Americans, despite strenuous efforts to find some way to adapt the African American experience to the possibilities of the American experience over-all.” (Emphasis added).

    At the outset, this appears to concede my observation regarding the “prolonged efforts of countless Americans,” if not their successes in overcoming historic wrongs. Are those successes illusory? If not, who contributed to them? Would acknowledging those successes tend to undermine key woke assumptions?
    More particularly, does the patronizing overtone that can be detected in the passage represent a flip-side of white folks’ Jeremiads against “something horribly monstrous in the American soul”?

    Your statement also seems to miss entirely the extent to which black culture is at the heart of American culture, and not separate from it. Woke politics must do so because it promotes division and acrimony, leading to rioting, looting, violence and other criminal activity, not to mention idiotic slogans (e.g., “Abolish the Police”). The danger that the result of such conduct may be that an increased number of Americans give their judgment on such conduct in the voting booth next November is not inconsiderable. See O. Wasow, “Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting,” American Political Science Review (may 21, 2020). Considering the stakes, the movement’s recklessness is breathtaking.

    Another defect of woke culture is its reactive character, the long silences awaiting the instances when a black American is killed under circumstances that are, or initially seem to be, unjustified, at which times protests are mounted ad blurry demands are made of White America, petitioning, despite the rhetoric, from a position of weakness.

    Consider the following:

    “The Progressive Party recognizes the distinctions of race or class and political life have no place in a democracy; especially does the party realize that a group of 10 million people who have, in a generation, changed from a slave to a free-labor system, re-established family life, accumulated $1 billion in property, including 20 million acres of land, and reduced their illiteracy from 80 to 30%, deserve and must have justice, opportunity, and a voice in their own government.
    W.E.B. DuBois.

    DuBois’s statement was issued during the heart of the era in which lynching of black men was officially tolerated, if not promoted, yet, rather than focusing upon lynching, he leads with the successes of black Americans, who “in a generation” established themselves.

    And this:

    “It’s as though racism has always been the action and dealing with it the reaction. That is maybe why black thinkers and artists try to turn things around, to transcend race, to get out of white jurisdiction. When black students in the 1970s baited Ralph Ellison for his detachment from protest movements, he said that writing the best novel he could was his contribution to the struggle.”
    Darryl Pinckney.

    There are few positions more clearly reactive and within “white jurisdiction” than that of protesters rioting against the police.

    There is much more in this vein from a long tradition of writers and artists that include Albert Murray, Stanley Crouch, Wynton Marsalis, and Ellison himself. I commend them to you, and I’ll leave it to you, Mr. Winner, to consider how their views relate to these times.


  39. Zac


    “When black students in the 1970s baited Ralph Ellison for his detachment from protest movements, he said that writing the best novel he could was his contribution to the struggle”

    He kind of missed his chance by the 70s, didn’t he? He had his masterpiece in 52 with Invisible Man but suffered an interminable writer’s block afterwards, well through the height of the Civil Rights movement, never finishing his second novel. The claim that it burned up in a fire turned out to be a lie and it was released posthumously in 99. So as much as I like the idea of a division of labor, of different types of people contributing to the cause in different ways (which is true), this was sadly a poor excuse.

  40. First of all, you haven’t shown the essay to be condescending. You’ve asserted it, twice.
    Second, Guerrero wasn’t mocking. He was directly abusing Kalef.
    The arguments in the essay are pretty straightforward. Weinberg and the Woke are bullies and hypocrites. The kneeling Democrats are virtue-signallers.
    I’m not taking your “manage it” bait, Zac.

  41. EJ check your email.

  42. Kanthelpmyself,
    The amount of deflection here is staggering; and the dive into pedantry is amusing. I haven’t read the whole comment (you sort of lost me 3,000,000 years ago), but at a glance I see no castaway irrelevant details, like the fact that there is still slavery practiced in parts of Africa which pretty much has absolutely nothing to do with the history of slavery or its aftermath in this country. Except that, let me see – there are Black people in Africa… oh, I get it. As I get the last few references here to all the African American thinkers and artists you keep handy for just such an argument.. Taken out of historical context. Yep, you sure trumped my arguments with superfluous ellipses! Anyway, since you’re clearly talking at me, and I can only respond by talking at you, let’s say the talk is done. However, if you wish to talk at others, fine; I am not pretending, as you did me, that you are not part of the discussion here any longer; It is just that I do not think further discussion between you and me would prove beneficial.

  43. Zac

    You might need a thicker skin, dude.

    Of course Dan’s essay is riddled with condescension. I can go through and prove it, but that seems like a meaningless exercise when it’s plain as day. When Dan says “(if we’re lucky) Alex Guerrero will be the one naming names and kicking ass” is he … errrr … not being ironic? What’s the point of “showing” this, though? One, you already granted it was condescending but said it was appropriate. Two, he’s perfectly free to be condescending if his purpose is mockery, as is the case with Guerrero. So, again, I ask, what is the issue? You’re throwing up sand. Right now it sounds like you tried to go for a guilt-trip on Guerrero that you ultimately can’t cash out in a reasonable way, so you’re lashing out.

    I get that your ideologically aligned with Dan, but you don’t get your own hypocrisy. The kneeling Democratic dashikied Congresspeople were silly. So? How does that address what I said? You’re not taking my “bait”? Great. Go be a bad arguer elsewhere.

  44. Zac, all of the essays I do in this area are written in an ironic, humorous vein. What I’m criticizing is not.

  45. And EJ and I are hardly ideologically aligned. He’s far further Left than I am.

  46. Zac

    I know, and like I said, you’re perfectly free to mock if that’s you’re game, but so is Guerrero. K-Mac’s guilt-trip is toothless. I’m not incensed by either mockery and honestly find this whole Nous affair incredibly frivolous next to what we’re facing right now.

    K-Mac is more sympathetic to you and I’m more sympathetic to Guerrero, since (from what I bothered to read) Kalef came off as sealioning. So it goes. I’m not going to manufacture indignities here. I’ll address the issue where I take issue, and not selectively apply standards.

    In my hometown, Breonna Taylor was shot to death in her own home on a no-knock warrant in search of drugs that weren’t there and for a perp that was already in custody. Only a week ago a man was shot to death when police and national guard rolled in to the black part of town with lethal ammo to break up a BBQ in the name of curfew. None of this had to happen. We talk of Ruby Ridge and Waco all these years later as acts of governmental failure and overly aggressive, incompetent acts of lethal force. Let’s not save that just for the white people.

    This is where I’m coming from right now.

  47. Kanthelpmyself

    Ellison began work on “Invisible Man” in 1945. He was a deliberate and painstaking writer. Although the book was of medium length, he worked on “Invisible Man” for seven years before publication. He began work on the second novel in 1954. With the progression of the Civil Rights Movement under MLK, Ellison’s expanding vision of the book led him to increase its scope, requiring frequent revisions, to embrace the transformative political, social and racial issues of the times. Ellison’s publication of an excerpt from the book in 1965, entitled “Juneteenth” created great anticipation for the completed the book.

    By 1967, Ellison had produced approximately 2000 pages of text, hardly evidence of writer’s block. That year a fire in his summer house destroyed the home and parts of the draft. He initially determined the loss to be about 360 pages of core revisions that he had worked on over that summer, plus valuable notebooks. Some additional losses to the manuscript were subsequently identified. He nevertheless resumed work, reconstructing the draft, but died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.

    After Ellison’s death, his literary executor found the expanded and partially reconstructed text. Lacking any instructions from Ellison, he worked for several years on the expansive text, extracting from the it a relatively brief novel, “Juneteenth,” based on the 1965 excerpt, and published in 1999.

    Ellison also published two highly regarded collections of essays during his life. Among other honors, “Invisible Man” was included by the Modern Library ‘s list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th Century, and in the early 1960’s was included on the New York Herald Tribune’s list of 10 best American novels of post WWII.

  48. I never conceded the essay contains condescension.
    I’m not the one issuing challenges, nor lashing out. You’ve insulted me three times now – “if you can manage it,” called me a hypocrite, and called me a bad arguer.
    I haven’t seen an argument from you, just assertions, assumptions, and insults.
    Asking me to leave the conversation doesn’t seem to be your place, and feels a bit like lashing out. Anyway, I won’t leave and I won’t engage with you further. Call it a win if you’d like.
    But I’d point out your comments are quite similar in style to Guerrero’s. They are disrespectful and not adding anything of value. Have a great night, Zac. Stay safe.

  49. I’m having to edit comments to prevent the discussion from turning into a flame war, so it’s probably a good time to close comments. Please remember to read the “For Readers” guidelines, before commenting.