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.
It is craziness to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory, as many states have done. But it is also bad pedagogy to make children feel guilty about the color of their skin or their religion. David Bromwich on how the parents of all races are rebelling against essentialist antiracist discourse in schools.
At the 2019 Arendt Center Conference, Ian Buruma moderated a panel on The Great Replacement, a popular right-wing theory in France that immigrants and other minorities are replacing the Catholic French. Now, one of the leading French presidential candidates, Eric Zemmour is embracing the theory.
Wen Stephenson embraces Hannah Arendt’s rejection of collective guilt in order to argue that in thinking about climate change we should resist the idea that we are all equally guilty.
David Graeber’s books have become an increasingly important part of my intellectual life. His searching and restless exploration of what it means to live in freedom is at the forefront of his last and posthumously published book The Dawn of Everything, co-written with David Wengrow. Review by William Deresiewicz.
In writing about one of the many recent efforts to de-platform a speaker because of that speaker’s political views, John McWhorter rightly emphasizes the anti-intellectual and simplistic arguments of those who justify such acts.
This week I screened Dave Chappelle’s The Closer for some of my students. It was optional. But I was heartened that they were eager to see the Netflix special that has generated so much controversy.
Professor Bright Sheng showed a movie of Othello in his music composition class at the University of Michigan. Because Laurence Olivier appears in blackface in the movie, students called for his removal and colleagues denounced him.