In response to news that Howard University is disbanding its Classics Department, Cornell West reminds us that Frederick Douglas and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. were inspired and nurtured by the classics. West argues that the attack on the classics is an attack on the soul and symptom the moral and spiritual rot of American culture.
Olúfémi O. Táiwò reflects on his unease at being asked to speak for underprivileged black people in elite and professional settings. As a Black American of Nigerian descent, Táiwò is an elite; to have him and others like him “represent” and “speak for” poor or excluded people of color contributes, he argues, is more to the maintenance of elitism than to real revolutionary change.
The “great evasion” is before us, writes Samuel Moyn. With the victory of Joe Biden and the defeat of Donald Trump, there is a deep desire to return to normalcy. Moyn writes that part of the great evasion is a continued worry that the threat posed by Donald Trump as to democracy. On the contrary, he argues, Trump was a weak President and “American democracy was never under systemic threat from so fickle and hamstrung a wannabe authoritarian.”
“Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction.” Arendt sets plurality as the foundation of her understanding of man as a political being. According to plurality, we are all equal, which means we can understand each other and those ancestors who came before us and those will come after us. And yet, as distinct, we need to seek to make ourselves understood.
Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility has become a bestseller and a symbol, not to mention a cudgel. It promises to teach whtie people how to admit their racism and inveighs against any and all defense mechanisms—“silence, defensiveness, argumentation, certitude, and other forms of pushback”— by which white people might disclaim their racist tendencies. Coleman Hughes pushes back, writing without white guilt as a black man.
Some things, Julie Beck argues, are more important than truth. Hannah Arendt says something similar, arguing that thinking is concerned not with truth, but with meaning. It is meaning, not truth, that Arendt holds to be the basic human need. That is why for Arendt, the most basic of human rights is the right to have rights, the right to speak and act in a political world so that one is meaningful.
Parler, the right-wing alternative to Twitter, has somewhere around 10 million users. This is a far cry from the 330 active Twitter accounts or the 2.7 billion Facebook accounts. And yet Parler has become a “swamp-like ecosystem” in which the likes of Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, and leading QAnon acolytes have free reign. In this fact-free reality, the CIA supercomputers changed votes from Trump to Biden, Republicans were given Sharpie pens to vote with...
Recently the Hannah Arendt Center Race and Revolution lecture series featured a conversation between my former student Juliana Huxtable and Kimberly Foster. Now Philip Maughan pens a profile of Huxtable that offers one way to think about critical thinking: To resist simplicity and to make the world beautifully chaotic.