Hannah Arendt is a thinker who insists that we make distinctions. One of Arendt’s most controversial distinctions is that between racism and what she alternatively will call “race thinking” in The Origins of Totalitarianism, and then "prejudice" in many of her later essays. In the wake of the shooting in Buffalo last week, John McWhorter made his own distinctions while trying to understand the place of racism in U.S. society. McWhorter argues that we use the word racism today to mean too many things. He states that we need to distinguish between different aspects of what we call racism in order to think more clearly about the problems and prevent such tragedies as the shooting in Buffalo.
Simon van Zuylen-Wood has a profile of J.D. Vance that looks beyond the diatribes and tries to understand Vance’s evolution and his popular appeal. He argues that Vance represents an “alienated worldview” that appeals not only to disaffected white voters, but increasingly to multiracial working-class voters.
Sabrina Tavernise does a deep dive into the way the pandemic has intensified a larger fight over what it means to be an American.
When asked by Günter Gaus what was irretrievably lost when she had to flee the Nazis and leave Germany and Europe behind, Hannah Arendt answered: “The Europe of the pre-Hitler period? I do not long for that, I can tell you. What remains? The language remains.” In a profile of the writer Lydia Davis, Wyatt Mason dives into this question of how knowing many languages changes and enriches a writer.
Professor David Bleich of the University of Rochester has been suspended from teaching because he spoke aloud the n-word while reading from a short story.
In her last book The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt writes that “thinking is out of order.” Thinking frees us from the world of appearances and allows us to think things beyond our common sense that we share with others. In this way, thinking is not about the pursuit of truth but it is, Arendt argues, about the pursuit of meaning. Thomas Bartscherer meditates on Arendt’s characterization of thinking as out of order.
Scott Samuelson reports on his experience teaching the humanities for free with the Catherine Project, named for “Catherine of Alexandria, the scholar who refuted the crusty academics who’d been hired to refute her—and then suffered an ancient form of cancellation.”