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The liberal university: a Nick Kristof joint

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In his latest column decrying the PC university, Nicholas Kristof indulges in the rhetorical pleasures of assembling and then incinerating a parade of strawmen.   Before getting to that, let’s note how he also gets tangled up in various unintentional ironies:

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.

In the midst of a column calling for sensitivity to the value of social diversity, Kristof doesn’t even notice the extent to which his own whiteness remains, for him, a completely unmarked category: “we” PC liberals who live in “our” elite bubbles in the universities and the coastal enclaves etc. etc. “want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us,” that is, white.

In other words Kristof’s modal liberal is someone who looks and talks like Nicholas Kristof, which, ironically, happens to be exactly what Fox News et. al. want people to think when they hear the word “liberal,” which in turn allows for nonsensical claims that the 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton constituted some sort of out of touch coastal elite.

Moving right along:

Some of you are saying that it’s O.K. to be intolerant of intolerance, to discriminate against bigots who acquiesce in Trump’s record of racism and misogyny. By all means, stand up to the bigots. But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots? Maybe if we knew more Trump voters we’d be less inclined to stereotype them.

Or maybe if “we” (a pronoun that’s doing so much invisible work in this column that it should get paid overtime) knew more Trump voters “we” would conclude that racism and misogyny were extremely commonplace among his supporters.  If only there were some social institution set up to study such questions!

But since there apparently isn’t, we’ll just have to settle for anecdotal bullshit, aka opinion editorial columns in elite media fora published deep inside bubble-like coastal enclaves.

The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,”[Cass]  Sunstein told me.

That is an amazingly weak argument, which is why it’s so shocking that prominent liberal academics such as [citations omitted] have made it.

Of course, we shouldn’t empower racists and misogynists on campuses. But whatever some liberals think, “conservative” and “bigot” are not synonyms.

Yes I remember well when “some liberals” won the 2015 Nobel prize in multicultural gender studies for arguing that conservative and bigot are actually synonyms.  That was indeed a dark day for academia.

I could go on (and on) but I’m temporarily out of snark.

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  • brad

    I really don’t understand what’s so complicated about this. People cannot demand considerations they refuse to show to others. Children go to school to be educated how to be adults.

  • But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots?

    Point one: Just under half of American voters voted for Trump, putting that number a lot closer to 25% than 50%.
    Point two: it’s less a caricature, than a description. Trump voter are either actively racist in that they support all of the white supremacy in which the Trump Campaign was soaking or passively racist, in that they were OK with that level of racism in their candidate and his closest advisors.

    • aturner339

      The sheer ubiquity of the complaint, the overwhelming offense at the notion that racism has not forever been banished to the fringes of American life after actions no one can name and a time no one can identify is the most infuriating thing about American politics.

      Baldwin had us dead to rights:

      I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.

      • It’s that American exceptionalism hard at work. Any other country built on Genocide, slavery and plunder would be bad, but we are the USA so we get a mulligan. Any other country that enshrines racial, and sexual discrimination into law would be bad, but we are the USA so we get a mulligan. Any other country declaring war on its own populace by racially motivated drug laws and sentencing guidelines and housing policies would be bad, but we’re the USA so we get a mulligan.

        Sheesh, I get that the USA is the home team, and we are supposed to be fans, but must that blind us to it’s very real faults? Yes, because those faults are making and keeping rich and powerful people, rich and powerful.

        • aturner339

          Even more that willful blindness allows us the ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives are still being ruined because of racism. That’s the country we live in every single day and a lot of us would rather not see it.

          • DrDick

            One of the hardest lessons I have to teach in my race and ethnicity class.

    • DAS

      Point three: How many people really voted for Obama twice and then voted for Trump? The story of the 2016 election doesn’t seem to be so much that Obama voters switched votes but rather that Trump brought a lot of people who hadn’t voted in presidential elections before.

      Point four: Do we really want to caricature some large percentage of Americans, all of whom have a black friend, as racist bigots?

      • The media keeps on digging people up who said they voted for Obama twice and then Trump. But that’s just anecdata, and unreliable anecdata at that — self-reported voting history is notoriously inaccurate.

        I’m sure these people exist, but I suspect there were fewer Obama-Obama-Trumps than Obama-Romney-Trumps or Obama-[nonvote]-Trumps or [nonvote]-[nonvote]-Trumps.

        • DAS

          self-reported voting history is notoriously inaccurate.

          At least when those same people say “I have a Black friend”, you can track down the African-American claimed to be a friend who will verify “Yep. So-and-so is my friend. We have gone shopping together; went out to events together, etc. (this isn’t gonna go anywhere but between us, is it? I don’t wanna insult anyone … no? it’s just between us? well, then lemme tell you honestly — So-and-So may mean well, but yep … So-and-So is a racist)”

          You can’t verify that said person actually voted for Obama.

          • Bill Murray

            can whether anyone voted for President at all be verified? I think not, so all we have is people’s word and some data correlations

            • dl

              voting or not is public though not always easy to track down

      • thebewilderness

        I don’t see how they can make the claim that 2012 Obama voters voted Trump in 2016 when Hillary Clinton received more votes in 2016 than Obama did in 2012. I think the Obama voter who chose Trump is a myth.
        I do so admire a man like Kristoff, and the many men who came before him, who is so far above it all in his self righteousness that he exhorts us to reach out with tolerance and understanding to those who intend to strip us of our civil rights. If we are nice enough for long enough perhaps they will stop demanding that we submit, or die.

        • My current belief is that the difference between 2012 and 2016 can almost entirely be attributed to: A) 2012 Obama voters who stayed home; B) 2012 Romney voters and nonvoters who switched to Clinton; C) 2012 nonvoters who turned out for Trump.

          Group A seems to be made up of a pretty broad swath of the Democratic base. Group B is college-educated voters and women (who really did swing to Clinton; the fact that Trump still won white women is being used to dismiss this fact). Group C is the “missing white voter”.

          Group B made up for Group A in the popular vote, but unfortunately it was mostly concentrated in safe states (like California) or in red states (like Texas and the South). Group C was particularly concentrated in the Midwest and Northeast.

          • thebewilderness

            Also too and besides this was the first national election since the voting rights act was gutted by the white supremacists on the court.

      • DrDick

        The story of the 2016 election doesn’t seem to be so much that Obama voters switched votes but rather that Trump brought a lot of people who hadn’t voted in presidential elections before.

        And that a lot of people who voted for Obama, did not vote in 2016.

    • DrDick

      Exactly.

  • aturner339

    In other words Kristof’s modal liberal is someone who looks and talks like Nicholas Kristof, which, ironically, happens to be exactly what Fox News et. al. want people to think when they hear the word “liberal,” which in turn allows for nonsensical claims that the 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton constituted some sort of out of touch coastal elite.

    Thank God someone else is saying this. After hearing about how “liberals look down on the working class for months” finally someone notices that the working class ARE liberals!

    I am of the belief the this is the end result of a successful con job conservatives played on the country in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and busing. They claimed the Democratic Party lost all right to be the party of “the (WHITE) working man” after they pushed working class neighborhoods to share classrooms with “those people” while the limousine liberals kept their lily white private academies.

    Looking back I think that was the key break and it’s never been healed.

  • The linked piece is an example of the comment I made the other day, about how if “the media” or “the elites” don’t seem to be respecting certain groups enough, self-declared defenders will raise ire against them for not doing to.

  • tonycpsu

    It’s always like this. Any time a liberal mentions the association between political conservatism and bigotry, conservatives and wankers like Kristoff alike jump in with #NotAllConservatives, which means the conversations is no longer about the problem that some conservatives may have, but about precisely how many, which ones, and how conclusively it can be proven.

    • aturner339

      And why are we trying so hard to prove it and can’t we all just pretend it’s not a thing?

    • Area Man

      The conservation becomes about how mean the liberals are for insisting on standing up for liberal values.

  • Taters

    “Stand up to bigotry but be inclusive of bigoted views”.
    ???

    • Hate the sinners but love the sins!

    • Why is Kristoff so intolerant of my intolerance for bigotry?

      • Lost Left Coaster

        BOOM!

  • sleepyirv

    The further I get away from college, the most bizarre it seems that there’s such intense interest in the activities of today’s undergrads, a very small subsection of a subsection. Is it because academics act as public intellectuals and are myopic enough to think their work environment says something about society as a whole? Undergrads are easy targets as strawmen? Run-of-the-mill anti-elitism? Ivy League graduates over-emphasize the “best years of their lives” and like to treat campus gossip as news? Or a mix of all the above?

    • aturner339

      Resenting the young is perhaps a universal and timeless human trait. In the words of one Atrios.

      We do love our children.

    • JKTH

      It’s a nice intersection of a lot of things old conservative assholes like to rattle on about. “Kids these days”, anti-PC hysteria, anti-intellectualism. Add in the fact that a lot of this is projection and it’s an easy story to push.

    • Murc

      The further I get away from college, the most bizarre it seems that there’s such intense interest in the activities of today’s undergrads, a very small subsection of a subsection.

      This isn’t new.

      There has been a strangely visceral and hostile interest in the activities of undergrads since at least the sixties, and probably going further back.

      I think it’s as simple as the fact that society implicitly accepts that young people who are completing post-secondary education and also have the time and passion to be politically involved are the future of the country, or more specifically the future ruling class of the country. That assumption needs some examining, but it’s very real, which means that the activities of said future ruling class and the environment designed to educate them and inculcate them with values comes under scrutiny.

      I know a lot of people who are deeply concerned about ideas they consider ideologically abhorrent emerging from campus radicalism, and whenever I drill down deeply into why they’re so concerned about a tiny cadre of people with no influence to speak of, I usually discover that they really want to forestall those people ever gaining widespread influence. They have just sort of accepted that a group of college students might be able to make that transition in a way they’d find the same notion applied to a guy who hand-types his manifesto for a mailing list of five hundred to be laughable.

      There’s also the fact that, in my experience, people get a lot more angry and concerned about things they’re ideologically opposed to in a strong way emerging from within their own political coalition. You don’t care so much about what the other tribe thinks except in the context of defeating them, but if the other tribe is filled with values and positions you hate, and your own tribe suddenly adopts values and positions you hate, now you have no tribe at all.

      That makes people afeared.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Well, this is true, but is has gotten worse. Now there are right wing noise machines that will find small events in a campus and trumpet it everywhere as though *this* is what is the norm for what goes on in *all* campuses today. And most Trump voters – who either have no idea what a college is or attended a relatively bland, conservative school – believe it.

        As I posted on an earlier thread: A *few* students come up with a crazy idea and it becomes national news in order to pretend that this was a bigger thing than it actually was.

        I can’t imagine what would happen if the Spartacus Youth League were still active in Oberlin today. In the early 1980s they had posters and handouts everywhere. I thought it must be like 10% of the student body. But I eventually learned that it was two outcasts doing all of that work. If those guys were present today you can be sure the entire right wing media would be acting like they were the majority of the student body.

      • JL

        This seems like it would also tie in to the strange fixation that the people who get very concerned about campus radicalism have with Ivies or similarly prestigious universities, and small, highly selective liberal arts colleges. Your average college student doesn’t go to one of these schools, but look at how much hand-wringing is centered around Oberlin. Angus Johnston is a proponent of the value of classroom trigger warnings, and a very active proponent of leftist student organizing in general, and he works at a community college in the Bronx. And he has managed to get himself into the discussion through determination, scholarly expertise on the history of student activism, and a fairly large social media profile. But how many articles get written on the activism of the students that he teaches and mentors in the Bronx?

      • paul1970

        Example no 1: jonathan chait, who, as Scott said the other day, is well worth reading if you screen out his obsession with campus “intolerance”

        • ColBatGuano

          Chait has a lot to answer for with his PC bullshit. I can’t believe number of times I’ve read an interview with some wwc voter whose third or fourth biggest complaint is how “college kids are too PC” as if it has some impact on their life.

      • efgoldman

        There has been a strangely visceral and hostile interest in the activities of undergrads since at least the sixties

        [Emphasis added] I think you slide by this too fast. Conservatives, particularly the “Reagan [no longer] Democrats” never got over the massive antiwar protests, on so many campuses, in the late 60s/early 70s. When they don’t know what else to complain about, they go back to it.

        • Hogan

          Not to mention the civil rights movement, black power, women’s liberation, etc. etc.

        • Murc

          [Emphasis added] I think you slide by this too fast.

          I’m gonna be honest. I can’t wait until the cultural scars of the ’60s stop dominating our political environment.

          It’s time for the cultural scars of my generation to do that, god dammit.

    • The obsession becomes even more bizarre and sinister when you consider that humanities and other liberal arts are shrinking and being slowly choked to death. We are all business majors now.

    • steve Rodent

      It’s the age old problem-kids need to get off my lawn.

      • Hogan

        ITYM the old age problem.

        • tsam

          DONTCHU TELL ME WHAT KINDA PROBLEM IT IS, YOU PUNK. I BEEN BITCHIN ABOUT THIS STUFF SINCE YOUR DADDY WAS IN DIAPERS.

    • DAS

      I think part of it is jealousy of the youth. We all mourn our lost youth, don’t we? So we think about young people a lot and how we’d be so much better at being young than those young people who are wasting their youth (or being led on the wrong path by evil college professors*).

      Also, some of the interest in college students is prurient, and “I’m so concerned about kids these days” is a way to justify thinking about college students in an, um, socially acceptable way.

      * full disclosure: I am an evil college professor

      • Origami Isopod

        Also, some of the interest in college students is prurient

        Ah, yes. The types who think Charlotte Simmons was nonfiction. The types who still say “co-eds.”

  • JL

    As is so often the case in discussion of US student activism, Angus Johnston has good things to say.

    • Yes. I think the perception of a bubble arises more from people who see activism only from a distance.

      • CP

        A big chunk of the perception of a bubble comes from these people being so ensconced in their own that they simply don’t grok how other people can fail to agree with them, and put it down to brainwashing. Which I suppose we’re all guilty of to some extent, but the right has far more tools than anyone else to help them remain in their bubble.

  • SIS1

    Conservatives aren’t dumb, but a lot of conservative ideas are built upon a foundation that denies or minimizes empiricism. Using theology for example as a basis for policy isn’t inherently stupid, in the sense that the people who push this have a low IQ or are unable to synthesize complex ideas, but any such views are extremely difficult to square with any ideas built upon the concept of empirical observation and experimentation.

    And the problem is that Conservatives as a whole aren’t willing to accept that something like theology is open to discussion. That if you are going to use Divine Will as a basis for policy, you need to be able to defend it against challenges. After all, the very notion of challenging Divine Will runs counter to Divine Will. So how are liberals supposed to argue again, say, Pro-life policies that have no basis on any notion of biology or psychology, but instead are based solely on “God doesn’t want us killing babies”?

    • aturner339

      Also conservatives really are predisposed towards bigotry. We’ve heard this explained by scholars as disparate in their approach as Corey Robin and Jonathan Haidt.

      This doesn’t mean they have to be bigots but the tendency isn’t distributed uniformly.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Pro-life policies that have no basis on any notion of biology or psychology, but instead are based solely on “God doesn’t want us killing babies”?

      #NotAllGods

      • SIS1

        And sadly, Evangelicals would not be even willing to countenance the sentiment of said hashtag. Which makes the whole “intellectual diversity” thing hard for them.

        • rea

          Until Protestant fundamentalists had to deal with integration of their colleges, God didn’t seem to have a problem with abortion.

      • DrDick

        Actually, not even YHWH.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Indeed. And even leaving aside the religious aspect, in my field, anthropology, we do crazy things like listen to people, respect them, and use empathy as a research tool to try and understand different people and their different points of view. This is anathema to conservatives. So this notion that there is somehow this secret pool of conservative social scientists out there who get systematically discriminated against in the academy is just horseshit. They’re not attracted to this kind of research, and they never will be. They don’t value it; it’s part of the conservative worldview.

      • CP

        They don’t value it; it’s part of the conservative worldview.

        This. Honestly, wondering why there are so few conservatives in academia is like wondering why there are so few pacifists in the military.

      • Origami Isopod

        They’re not attracted to this kind of research, and they never will be. They don’t value it; it’s part of the conservative worldview.

        Exactly. And it’s not just empathy but ambiguity that they don’t have any truck with. Whenever you see some asshole harrumphing that social sciences aren’t real science, meaning they’re not cut-and-dried things in which everything boils down to a solitary correct answer, you’re seeing that mentality in action.

    • Jameson Quinn

      It’s not even about what God wants. It’s about who gets to say what God wants. If you start arguing against their preordained conclusion, even if you are using the kind of evidence they usually like — scripture, tradition, natural law — they will just class you as the wrong kind of person and ignore your argument. After all, the Devil can quote scripture.

      (I mean, they won’t actually say they’re ignoring your argument. But they will downweight it by a variable factor which always coincidentally puts it somewhere below all the arguments they like.)

    • CP

      And the problem is that Conservatives as a whole aren’t willing to accept that something like theology is open to discussion. That if you are going to use Divine Will as a basis for policy, you need to be able to defend it against challenges. After all, the very notion of challenging Divine Will runs counter to Divine Will. So how are liberals supposed to argue again, say, Pro-life policies that have no basis on any notion of biology or psychology, but instead are based solely on “God doesn’t want us killing babies”?

      I’ve met conservative students in college who had a real problem with this in the sense that they literally cannot see that what we were taught in catechism isn’t an objective and scientific fact on which you can base an argument.

    • efgoldman

      Conservatives aren’t dumb, but a lot of conservative ideas are built upon a foundation that denies or minimizes empiricism. Using theology for example as a basis for policy isn’t inherently stupid

      A closed mind, regardless of actual intelligence, is willfully stupid.

  • Ronan

    Oh for Christ sake who gives a shit

  • BartletForGallifrey

    1) The title of this post made me think it was going to be Kristof Pulls A MoDo. I’m very disappointed.

    2) They are all racists, and that’s about the nicest thing I can say.

  • gmack

    This is the obligatory comment in which the commenter expresses deep concern about how college students have gone of the rails with their pc culture.

    • N__B

      A lot of students prefer Macs these days.

  • kped

    OT, but it’s about race. TNC has a huge piece about Obama in the Atlantic today.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/my-president-was-black/508793/

    Lots to chew on here, including interviews with Obama on his presidency. And to make it relevant to this blog…

    Much ink has been spilled in an attempt to understand the Tea Party protests, and the 2016 presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, which ultimately emerged out of them. One theory popular among (primarily) white intellectuals of varying political persuasions held that this response was largely the discontented rumblings of a white working class threatened by the menace of globalization and crony capitalism. Dismissing these rumblings as racism was said to condescend to this proletariat, which had long suffered the slings and arrows of coastal elites, heartless technocrats, and reformist snobs. Racism was not something to be coolly and empirically assessed but a slander upon the working man. Deindustrialization, globalization, and broad income inequality are real. And they have landed with at least as great a force upon black and Latino people in our country as upon white people. And yet these groups were strangely unrepresented in this new populism.

    Yeah, that’s what I and many others here have been arguing, and it’s telling that not just Coates, but many black writers are saying the same thing. Maybe…we ought to listen to them?

    • Murc

      Yeah, that’s what I and many others here have been arguing, and it’s telling that not just Coates, but many black writers are saying the same thing. Maybe…we ought to listen to them?

      You’ll find little objection to that sentiment here, I think.

      • kped

        Well, it goes against some or Erik’s thoughts on the election at least.

        Here’s another good one (really, everyone should read it, will have to dig in when i get home from work, just skimming a bit now):

        It was said that the Americans who’d supported Trump were victims of liberal condescension. The word racist would be dismissed as a profane slur put upon the common man, as opposed to an accurate description of actual men. “We simply don’t yet know how much racism or misogyny motivated Trump voters,” David Brooks would write in The New York Times. “If you were stuck in a jobless town, watching your friends OD on opiates, scrambling every month to pay the electric bill, and then along came a guy who seemed able to fix your problems and hear your voice, maybe you would stomach some ugliness, too.” This strikes me as perfectly logical. Indeed, it could apply just as well to Louis Farrakhan’s appeal to the black poor and working class. But whereas the followers of an Islamophobic white nationalist enjoy the sympathy that must always greet the salt of the earth, the followers of an anti-Semitic black nationalist endure the scorn that must ever greet the children of the enslaved.

        • Murc

          Well, it goes against some or Erik’s thoughts on the election at least.

          It really doesn’t. Erik has never said or even implied that the Teahadis haven’t been strongly motivated by racism or that racism didn’t play the dominant role in this election.

          • Thank you. It’s amazing how people are just projecting views on me now simply because I state that economic issues are part of the problem.

            • Murc

              More to the point, as a practical matter we can’t actually appeal to the hardcore racists without, you know, selling our souls.

              So to the extent economic issues are part of the problem, it makes sense to focus on them because that’s a set of issues we can address without selling said soils.

              I mean. We might be wrong about that as well. It might just be “Clinton was a very unpopular candidate, Comey and the Russians put their finger on the scale, and Trump is the sort of demagogue who can generate deep enthusiasm from America’s worst elements. Perfect storm.”

              But those are things we can’t actually control.

              • All we can do is create policies that help people, no matter what their race, and hope that brings some whites back into the fold. Those very much include economic policies in a nation where income inequality is the highest in a century and union membership is at the lowest in a century and automation is about the strip the last good working-class jobs from Americans. The fact that people are outright resistant to this as part of a program to deal with the election results is incredibly depressing to me.

                • Crusty

                  I don’t know that people are resistant to this as much as they are taken aback by the rejection of those policies by some of the people they help. Obamacare is one such policy- it helps people, no matter their race. But a certain segment voted for the guy who ran on repealing it. Maybe they were more focused on the replace it with something terrific part.

                  Put another way, I think it goes something like this. Hey, we’ve passed a program that provides subsidies for people to buy health insurance that they would not otherwise be able to afford. And that is greeted by fuck you, muslim manchurian agent with your fucking Harvard Law School community organizing arrogance. And so the liberals respond no, fuck you, you dumb ignorant fucks.

                • kped

                  It may be that you are not articulating it the best way you can then. Because this statement is inarguable, but a lot of your FP posts on this seem to obscure things, and a lot of us are seeing something there, reading it the same way. I’m not sure you can say it’s all projection.

                  And as I’ve said in many threads, I agree with you on virtually all of what needs to be done. I just think you put way too much stock in the explanation of “economic anxiety of the working class” and less in the “racial resentment of the WWC”. And i get it…but I still think it misses the point.

                  On all other points though, I agree. Liberals must keep putting forward plans that benefit all working class people, including those that don’t vote for them.

                • Kathleen

                  Most discussions about white working class and economic anxiety as rationales for Trump support have underlying aasumption that the only people who work and suffer economic anxiety are white men. I’m an old white woman living in a rustbelt who plans to eork the rest of my life. My greatest source of anxiety is that rethuglicans will gut my Social Security which is means of paying mortgage. African Americans,Hispanics and other members of the much maligned thanks St. Sanders “Identity Politics Brigade” also work and have economic anxiety but many of us recignized Hillary had concrete policies to address them. I don’t think she named them Identity Politics policies.I guess white male working anxieties are special and mine don’t matter? I already know the answer.

                • tonycpsu

                  Vox has some words about the limits of a Sanders-style threading of the needle with respect to appealing to these people with populism and leftism. Conclusion:

                  It seems clear that Sanders’s anti-establishment streak is compelling to many voters, especially to electorally crucial white working-class swing voters in the Midwest who feel alienated from the political system. But it was clear from the MSNBC forum that many of these same voters who find a lot to like about Sanders may not completely share his vision of Nordic-style social democracy — at least not yet. And while Sanders certainly can persuade other Democratic Party elected officials to adopt his policy positions — indeed, during the 2016 cycle he was already very successful at shifting the party platform to the left on a number of fronts — he almost by definition can’t turn the Democratic Party establishment into anti-establishment figures.

                  This is why last night’s forum was so important. As long as Bernie himself is on stage, Sanders and Sandersism can be one and the same. And that’s probably good enough — Sanders is popular and is popular enough in specific ways that appeal to voters who were pivotal in the Electoral College.

                  But the bigger question is what the Democratic Party does with Sandersism once Sanders himself has exited the stage. Sanders has always maintained that his campaign was more about policy ideas than personality — but it’s precisely the elements of his vision that are most contentious inside the Democratic Party that may also seem least appealing to the very Midwestern voters Democrats are trying to reach.

                  I think Sanders’ views are correct, but I don’t think they’re going to be sellable to these voters. It might drag out some new ones with better GOTV and a less tarnished candidate, but chasing Trump’s white whale voters with Sanders-style Democratic socialism isn’t going to work.

                • Luckily for me, I already believe Democratic socialism is the morally correct way to move ahead anyway, albeit with more intersectionality than Bernie can personally articulate.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I already believe Democratic socialism is the morally correct way to move ahead anyway, albeit with more intersectionality than Bernie can personally articulate.

                  But only the theory kind, right? Because you’ve made it very clear that intersectionality in practice is not your jam.

                • Murc

                  Because you’ve made it very clear that intersectionality in practice is not your jam.

                  Cites, of course, omitted. Because they’re nonexistent.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Cites, of course, omitted. Because they’re nonexistent.

                  Au contraire, mon ami.

                • Murc

                  Yes, Erik pointing out a perceived problem with intersectionality in practice means, of course, he is opposed to practicing it.

                • DrDick

                  Au contraire, mon ami.

                  I do not think that thread actually supports your point at all. Erik explicitly embraces intersectionality there, but says that in application it frequently ignores or minimizes class based economic issues. While my analysis and research focuses more and issues of race, ethnicity, and gender, than Erik’s, I would have to agree, at least in part, with him on this.

                • efgoldman

                  All we can do is create policies that help people, no matter what their race, and hope that brings some whites back into the fold.

                  I’m still not quite sure how we got from FDR’s “malefactors of great wealth” to working class people in economic distress voting for plutocrats’/billionaires’ agenda.

                • ColBatGuano

                  This program also has to be sold better and if that includes outright lies about how great it will be, well I guess that’s the price we pay these days.

              • aturner339

                And as a great interview up a Vox put it. It may also be that white voters are becoming increasingly indivisible to economic appeals as they see the monopoly on power that “their group” shares being eroded”.

                I don’t think Erik has foreclosed on this possibility but I do that that all of us as liberals would do well to consider it carefully.

                Are we starting to treat everything like a nail because the class-hammer is all we’ve had for so long?

                • Murc

                  And as a great interview up a Vox put it. It may also be that white voters are becoming increasingly indivisible to economic appeals as they see the monopoly on power that “their group” shares being eroded”.

                  I don’t think Erik has foreclosed on this possibility but I do that that all of us as liberals would do well to consider it carefully.

                  It’s worth considering carefully, but the thing is we can’t actually do much about it if true. If white voters all over the country start voting like white voters in the deep south do, for the same reasons, that actually just means we’re properly fucked, pure and simple.

                • aturner339

                  I believe that the fear that racial animus is unalterable is exactly what makes a lot of us more comfortable with economic appeals but although it may be less familiar ground it is not impossible that we might put together a project to stop the Alabmaification of the Midwest.

                  There is no doubt that the region is getting whiter and also no doubt that the Dem share of the white vote has been shrinking for decades. I think we need a plan.

                • kped

                  It’s worth considering carefully, but the thing is we can’t actually do much about it if true. If white voters all over the country start voting like white voters in the deep south do, for the same reasons, that actually just means we’re properly fucked, pure and simple.

                  yes…jesus that’s depressing…

                • The thing is anyone who reaches adulthood is going to realize “their group” has less actual influence in the world than they once believed. The difference is only white (usually conservative) people get told things should “still” be like the way they used to believe they actually are, and they are justified in throwing a fit whenever they’re not.

              • AMK

                I mean. We might be wrong about that as well. It might just be “Clinton was a very unpopular candidate, Comey and the Russians put their finger on the scale, and Trump is the sort of demagogue who can generate deep enthusiasm from America’s worst elements. Perfect storm.”

                I think this is closer to the truth than anything you’re going to find in the NYT opinion section. One thing liberals always forget that the GOP never does is that most voters are not political obsessives who think deeply or logically about any issues or understand the political system at all. The GOP never forgets this because this is how they have to run elections…almost nobody would actually vote for their policies if they knew the merits.

                Elections are conducted on a sixth-grade level, because that’s the level at which a huge majority of voters understand politics and the world in general, because our education system sucks, parents don’t know how to raise kids and lots of people just don’t have the cognitive architecture that lends itself to critical thinking. Gut feelings and emotions and projection and vague identities and peer pressure.

                • Rob in CT

                  Yup.

                  The bubble we’re in isn’t just “liberals talking to liberals” (though there is that) it’s “politics junkies talking to politics junkies.”

                • JKTH

                  Yeah that’s why I don’t think having the right policies is really from crucial from a political perspective (obviously they matter from an actual policy perspective so we should have them). If policies did matter, Trump voters voting based on economics wouldn’t vote for Trump.

                • ColBatGuano

                  Right. The things Democrats campaign with do not have to match 100% with the policies they enact. Vague generalities seem to be the limit of most people’s attention.

              • DrDick

                It is also the case that focusing on the economic issues actually disproportionately benefits minorities, as they are grossly over represented among lower wage workers.

        • DAS

          In re the idea that “Americans who’d supported Trump were victims of liberal condescension.” How come it’s liberal condescension for Clinton to have pointed out that some percentage of Trump’s supporters are deplorable, but not condescending or insulting at all, nosireebob, when Trump called the voters of Iowa ignorant when they didn’t vote for him in the primary?

    • I know some respected people have viewed the Tea Party as a populist movement, just like Occupy but on the right, but this seems wrong according to all the detailed descriptions of it that I’ve read. It has always sounded to me like a movement of local elites and people who identify with those elites, people who have distinctly anti-populist (and distinctly racially problematic) views.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        It has always sounded to me like a movement of racists who couldn’t stand having a colored boy in the Oval Office.local elites and people who identify with those elites, people who have distinctly anti-populist views

        Fixed that for you.

        I mean, that’s what it always seems to come down to for them. I don’t think that everyone who hates HRC hates her because they’re a misogynist. But the Tea Party is and has always been a movement fueled by racism.

        Maybe if more people (LOOKING AT YOU, MEDIA) had acknowledged and dealt with that sometime over the last six years we wouldn’t have had this fucking election.

      • kped

        I can’t see how anyone could view the Tea Party as populist. They started a month after Obama’s innaguration with the “man of the people” CNBC host Rick Santilli. His rant that started it was about the government helping underwater mortgage holders from losing their homes. Real populist movement there!

        • JKTH

          To the extent that populist means angry white people, it makes sense. To the extent that populist means anything remotely close to its actual definition, it doesn’t.

          • Yeah, I’ve always assumed that the modal Populist of the 19th century hated the rich people in his town and displaced his hatred onto a contrast between “Main Street” and “Wall Street”–but the Tea Party seems to be a movement led by the rich people of the small cities and large towns, against the rest of the country.

            • witlesschum

              Yeah, I think the Teahadis are “populist” to the extent that they really were a revolt of the conservative base against the conservative establishment for not living up their rhetoric, but it’s mainly the same sort of people as the last bunch, just different individuals.

              • efgoldman

                I think the Teahadis are “populist” to the extent that they really were a revolt of the conservative base

                The TeaHadis were astroturf, pure and simple, organized and funded through Dick Armey and his merry band. They, like Tropicana McRapey Ferrethead, caught anti-incumbent lightning in a bottle in 2010.

        • Area Man

          And it took maybe all of two weeks before the Tea Party was co-opted by Dick Armey, Fox News, FeedomWorks, etc. Not exactly the grass roots.

          • Colin Day

            FeedomWorks

            Well, freedom isn’t free.

          • tsam

            The best useful idiots. The best. Everyone tells me look how the spit out their dentures and hold signs. Beautiful.

    • kped

      To keep my OT stuff going (sorry Paul), Obama was on the Daily Show, and if you didn’t know who said it, you could swear it was Scott Lemieux:

      “The real question that I think we all have to reflect on is this: What has happened to our political system where some emails that were hacked and released ended up being the overwhelming story, and the constant source of coverage… that was depicted as somehow damning in all sorts of ways, when the truth of the matter was it was fairly routine stuff,” said Obama.

      • XTPD

        Last time I checked Scott loathes Noah’s tenure; I’d like to know his thoughts on this and the Lahren interview.

        • kped

          I haven’t watched a full episode. But I hadn’t watched Stewart in years either…not a quality thing, more a “I don’t want to stay up till 11:30…” thing.

        • petesh

          I always kinda liked Noah but found him a bit tentative and too often dull — till now. Samantha Bee is way ahead of him, admittedly, but Noah looks like benefitting greatly from the election. He’s sharp and pointed, and has proved capable of interviewing a hostile person, too. He should rise and rise. Unless and until he gets deported, of course. Bee is Canadian but has American-born kids so she may be fairly safe.

        • tonycpsu

          I’d compare Noah’s Lahren interview to Jon Stewart’s interview of Betsy McCaughey, the one where he dared her to find “death panels” in the text of the PPACA. Noah, like Stewart during those years, was firing on all cylinders during the Lahren interview. He had counterpoints, and for the most part didn’t let Lahren squirm out of answering questions with rehearsed pivot lines or other warglebargle.

          The rest of his tenure has been rather mixed. I give him a pass for the first six months or so when he was a bit too deferential in interviews and not nailing the timing of his news-y segments, but nowadays I still think he’s basically just barely over replacement-level as a left-of-center comedy/news show. Oliver and Bee have an easier job with only 30 minutes to fill each week, but I still feel like Noah has yet to approach the consistency of peak Jon Stewart, though he’s certainly several notches above the last couple of years where Jon was sort of phoning it in and trending toward false equivalency.

          Looking forward to watching the Noah/Obama interview tonight on the DVR.

          • kped

            Even John Oliver as guest host of TDS was better, in less time. He started out awkward as well, but by the end, I wasn’t missing Stewart at all, and actually hoped he would just not return. But it worked out for the best, I think his show on HBO is more worthwhile then a daily show.

          • Domino

            Even though he repeated it 3 times, I wish he kept asking the same question to Lahren “How should black people protest?” The fact that she didn’t have an answer after 3 times means she doesn’t have one. But I personally would keep repeating it until there was one.

            • Linnaeus

              Or that Lahren had an answer that she didn’t want to say.

    • strategery

      Deindustrialization, globalization, and broad income inequality are real. And they have landed with at least as great a force upon black and Latino people in our country as upon white people. And yet these groups were strangely unrepresented in this new populism.

      This is lazy.

      1. It has long been observed that a mismatch of expectations and reality generates more dissent than absolute conditions. The French revolution was of the bourgeois, not the peasants. Declining mobility is more destabilizing. If people see their group doing a little better over time, they aren’t going to be as attracted to political movements for change. This amounts to a function of privilege, sure, but that’s not the point.

      2. Urban America has been revitalized over the past decade.
      Rural American has continued a long, slow decline rooted in the economies of scale in agriculture (and now, meth, oxy, more crime).

      3. In re: Kristof et. al., if we accept that people have a right to a certain emotional place of safety, and we observe that religious people have an identity centered around their faith, PC culture is going to get in the way of ever bringing them into pluralism.

      • Origami Isopod

        PC culture

        Thank you for tipping your hand there.

        IDGAF about religious people having “an identity centered around their faith” if that identity involves trying to control other people’s uteruses, passing laws that penalize LGBT people, or targeting Muslims for roundups. Also, I notice you don’t seem to give a fuck about an “emotional place of safety” for anybody except straight white cis Xtian assholes.

        • trying to control other people’s uteruses

          It’s too bad that in the present day USA, those controllers are just as likely (if not more so) to be Protestant as Catholic; makes it hard to use the good old (Anglo) Montreal graffiti “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” to full effect.

  • Murc

    We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.

    In addition to Paul’s objection… this is just straight-up false.

    Liberals are absolutely tolerant of conservatives and evangelical Christians. We’re the ones who are at the forefront of defending the first amendment, which allows them to practice their faith without government intrusion. We’re the ones who are at the forefront of robust packages for labor protections such that arch-conservatives and evangelical Christians cannot be arbitrarily fired for their political or religious beliefs, or denied housing because of them, or denied service at places of public accommodation, and a whole host of other protections designed to protect those who find themselves in environments where they are ideologically unwelcome.

    We desire and demand that the state treat evangelical Christians and conservatives no different from any other group of citizens.

    That’s tolerance. That is, in fact, a historically robust level of tolerance.

    What we won’t do is treat their beliefs as if they are respectable, worthy of implementation, or that they’re good people in our eyes for holding them. We will not act as if they have good will, we will attempt to de-legitimize their political and social platform at every turn, and often refuse to associate with them beyond being willing to share the public and professional spheres with them.

    What they’re demanding isn’t tolerance. It’s endorsement. It’s us saying “hey, these guys are okay even if we don’t agree with them.” Indeed, Kristof actually gives the game away when he says ” By all means, stand up to the bigots.” He’s perfectly okay with taking strong, hard stands against people. He just wants to re-define what people are worth taking those stands against.

    There’s nothing wrong with that per se. “These people you’re attacking are not, on the merits and by your own lights and there’s, worthy of these attacks” is a legitimate argument. It might be WRONG but it isn’t RISIBLE. But Kristof isn’t making that merit-based argument; he’s sort of sidling into it from a weird angle, trying to make a process or legitimacy based one instead?

    The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,”[Cass] Sunstein told me.

    That is an amazingly weak argument

    Uh.

    Can you expound on why that’s a weak argument, Paul?

    Because the idea that conservative ideas are dumb seems like a very, very strong argument. You’re a front-page poster on a blog that has spent the past… man close to fifteen years I think?… dedicated to the notion that conservative ideas are dumb and should be dismantled. You and many others have assembled a veritable army of strong arguments backed up by solid facts and figures establishing that dumbness.

    This does not, of course, mean their ideas are unworthy of consideration. You have to actually consider an idea before you can reject it, after all. But the base argument “conservative ideas are dumb” seems damn strong to me.

    • muddy

      Teen: “Mo-om, I’m an adult. You have to respect and support my decisions now.”

      Mo-om: “You’re an adult, thus I will not interfere with your decisions. However, as an adult myself, I am free to respect and support only the stuff I like.”

      Teen: (grumbles indistinctly)

    • sigaba

      In order for a conservative to feel “tolerated,” everyone must acknowledge the basic rightness and decency and inevitability of conservatism. Anything less is hostility.

      • DrDick

        Pretty much.

    • CP

      this is just straight-up false.

      Liberals are absolutely tolerant of conservatives and evangelical Christians.

      And they’re tolerant of them on college campuses, too, though they’re rarely recognized for it.

      One of the things that goes unsaid about the campus experience is that there are plenty of social networks available for conservatives to plug into. If you want to tune out the rest of the campus, minimize the violation of your mind by new thoughts and ideas, and spend four years commiserating about how horrible it is to have to live on a campus full of liberals who refuse to vindicate you, the resources are totally there that would allow you to do that. It doesn’t always work: I know plenty of people who came to college conservative and came out of it not necessarily as committed liberals, but at least with their perspectives and horizons broadened. But if that’s not what you’re looking for? You’re in luck: right wing college students perfected “safe spaces” years before the LGBT version became a thing.

      • so-in-so

        Yeah, but you won’t let them bash gays, so, OPPRESSION!

        • CP

          It’s even worse than that. It’s not that we don’t let them bash gays: we totally do. The Westboro Baptist Church had a protest on our campus a few years back, and I understand they just did it again this year. My grad school, FIU, similarly had a crazy guy standing on a bucket in front of the main building who would rant and rave about sinfulness and gays and feminism all day. No one was stopping them. What we don’t do is let them bash gays without rebuttal. What they can’t do is call gays an abomination and then be protected from hearing other people call them homophobes. What they can’t do is call gays an abomination and then have the entire student body agree with them and throw itself at their feet. Etc.

          Conservatives don’t want free speech rights, they want universal validation, and the fact that they’re not getting it from most of the student body or faculty or administration is what they’re actually bitching about.

          • so-in-so

            I agree with your main point, although I was thinking of bashing gays more literally, which many of them really want to be able to do.

            But, yes, their main complaint is that CIS White Christina Male is not the “default” setting for “American” any more.

    • Jerry Vinokurov

      this this this this this this this this this

    • bw

      Yup.

      I still remember how back in the fledgling 2004 blogosphere, the likes of Crooked Timber and Matt Yglesias were kind of excited to have conservatives around to have a free exchange of policy ideas with. And then after a few months all the wonks realized that their interlocutors weren’t center-right types who had any interest at all in an actual policy conversation, but instead intellectually and morally bankrupt eliminationist hacks, dead-set only on trumpeting a garbage ideology over and over.

      Even the ones whose credentials suggested they had some measure of brains (Glenn Reynolds, Althouse) were only interested in using those brains in the most laughably hackish way possible.

      • Murc

        I still remember how back in the fledgling 2004 blogosphere, the likes of Crooked Timber and Matt Yglesias were kind of excited to have conservatives around to have a free exchange of policy ideas with.

        Anyone else remember that Crossed Swords project Armando at DKos was involved in? I stopped going there when the right-wing types he brought in to debate proved incapable of going more than a few weeks without uttering slurs.

        • Domino

          Is there an archive of this somewhere?

          • Murc

            Sadly the website seems to have vanished into the aether. Man, I hadn’t thought about Josh Trevino in years.

    • BobBobNewhartNewhartSpecial

      Can you expound on why that’s a weak argument, Paul?

      I think you are getting confused by the multiple uses of “weak” and “argument” here. Paul is saying that the “amazingly weak argument” is Kristof’s argument that the “weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation.” And Kristof is supporting this argument by using Sunstein’s comment that “[t]he idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it.”

  • BGinCHI

    How many state universities has Kristof taught at or attended?

    I forget.

    ETA: His parents taught at Portland State, so he ought to know better. Way to forget your roots, dumbass.

    • ASV

      Yeah, but back when he was a kid, kids weren’t so terrible.

  • tsam

    We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.

    Here, I’ll put in your language. I’ll wait for you to dry the tears and choke back the sobs….Ready? Ok:

    Are your poor little feelings hurt? FUCK YOUR FEELINGS. Geez, we are raising a whole generation of whiny, entitled brats who shut down every time they hear something they don’t like.

    • Murc

      Geez, we are raising a whole generation of whiny, entitled brats who shut down every time they hear something they don’t like.

      Every generations says this about the generations following them. The “Greatest Generation” fucking hated the boomers. “We beat the Axis. That was a real fight. The shit you care about is stupid. Stop crying, sissy!”

      • tsam

        Yeah–it’s pretty common, but lately it seems like the millennials have been taking an elevated amount of unjustified shit.

        I just think it’s hilarious that they make the argument that kids these days are spineless crybabies, while the same crowd shits up the internet with this kind of “They’re (sniff) picking (sob) on (sniff) us (sniff) CHRISTIANS WAHHHHHH. Fucking shut up already. Not having pole position in every single aspect of life isn’t a good reason to throw a temper tantrum about being oppressed.

        • muddy

          Knowing how they feel about trigger warnings, it’s especially precious.

        • JMP

          But we can still hate the millennials’ shitty music, right? I mean it’s too quiet and too inoffensive.

          • Origami Isopod

            You can hate it if you want. I don’t buy the assumption that louder = better or “realer.”

            • The hateable thing about JMP’s generation (whatever that may be) is that their sarcasm tags are too quiet.

              • Origami Isopod

                Eh, I’ve seen that argument in the wild.

        • Mayur

          As i was pointing out to my wife the other day, this nonsense about whiny millennials is coming from the cohort who literally tried to shut down the government by proxy and have now doomed the country Because of their fucking temper tantrums.

          Let’s work to get the NPVIC enacted. I don’t want to coddle these people’s fee-fees and racial animus, I want to be able to ignore them and get on with life in a functioning, civilized society rather than the dystopia they’re trying to inflict on me and my family.

        • CP

          Yeah–it’s pretty common, but lately it seems like the millennials have been taking an elevated amount of unjustified shit.

          I think that as with many other things, generations that are (rightly or wrongly) stuck with the label “liberal” get this kind of shit, and those that aren’t don’t. Boomers will always be The Woodstock Generation of hippies and flag-burners and troop-spitters for a large number of people, even though the hippies were always a distinct minority, so they get this kind of shit too. In between you have Generation X, which by and large hasn’t had this kind of stigma.

          • DrDick

            Frankly the whole notion that “generations” are in any way socially coherent entities is just stupid. Every generation is socially diverse, reflecting the rest of society. They may have shared experiences (the civil rights movement and Vietnam for my generation or the Great Depression and WWII for my parents) that shaped them, but they experience and understand them in very different ways.

            • CP

              Oh, totally. But they live for these kinds of stupid generalizations. After all, millennial-bashing has nothing on black-bashing or gay-bashing or Muslim-bashing.

            • Linnaeus

              William Strauss and Neil Howe’s generational theory books were interesting reads, but as history, they left a lot to be desired.

            • Thom

              And the period of shared experiences is quite narrow, maybe 5 years, whereas the conventional definition of a generation is 20 or 25 years. My experiences, as a person born in 1954, overlap very little with someone born in 1946, yet we are both “Baby Boomers.” This is of course not even to mention issues of region, class, race, gender, etc.

              • BartletForGallifrey

                “Millennial” goes from 80/81/82 to 2000/2001/2002/2003/2004, depending on whom you ask. It’s ridiculous.

                I’m trying to reclaim Gen Y for those of us from ’80 through ’92. I distinctly remember being called Gen Y when I was growing up, and I think that’s a good stopping point – it’s everyone who was old enough to vote for Obama.

                • mpavilion

                  As a marketing term, I think the years are pretty well defined (and 2004 is way too late an end-date).

              • DrDick

                Right. I am a couple of years older, but like you, differ from those born immediately after WWII and have almost nothing in common with folks born in the 1960s (who were not impacted directly by Vietnam).

    • Uh oh, I think you might have triggered them.

  • AMK

    There are plenty of conservatives at elite universities, just not the kind Kristof is talking about. You would be hard pressed to find an evangelical Christian or somebody who wants to “build the wall” at Harvard, but I guarantee you there are plenty of votes for the Paul Ryan agenda.

    • JL

      I would be very surprised, based on my experiences a ways down Mass Ave, if you couldn’t find evangelical Christians or people who want to “build the Wall” at Harvard. They’d be a minority for sure, but people at elite universities come from all sorts of places and backgrounds.

      Notably, though, people who enter as evangelical Christians or strongly xenophobic don’t always leave that way. Some do (I remember, for example, the Asian evangelical population at MIT being surprisingly large, and while some of them became mainline Christians, agnostics, atheists, etc, some didn’t). But some don’t. I can think of specific people that I know, off the top of my head (including one who was employed by the Clinton campaign for the last couple of months of it). I think that’s rather related to a lot of right-wing concerns about academia – they’re worried that their kids will be converted.

      • CP

        I would be very surprised, based on my experiences a ways down Mass Ave, if you couldn’t find evangelical Christians or people who want to “build the Wall” at Harvard. They’d be a minority for sure, but people at elite universities come from all sorts of places and backgrounds.

        I can testify that you can find them at AU, for sure, which is not Ivy League but still fairly prestigious nonetheless.

        The reason they often tell high school misfits that they’ll find their crowd in college is that college is where you’ll meet so many different kinds of people that you’re almost mathematically certain to find a group that fits you. That includes evangelical Christians, and libertarians, and probably every other kind of conservative under the sun.

        Which makes college kind of a microcosm of every kind of blue state environment. It’s not that there isn’t a place for the demographics that make up most of conservatism; there totally is. It’s that they’ll no longer be special and revered and the “default normal” simply by dint of being white or Christian or whatever. They’re just one possible identity among many. That’s what they fucking hate about these places. They need to be ruling, or else life isn’t worth living.

      • efgoldman

        I remember, for example, the Asian evangelical population at MIT being surprisingly large

        This, I don’t understand. While you can major in liberal arts at MIT, the whole foundation of the University (and Caltech and similar schools) is built entirely on empiricism. Is it that evangelicals are selectively belief-oriented? That they understand and can work with the laws of physics that hold up a bridge or complete an electrical circuit, but not archeology?

        • bw

          The Asian evangelical population at MIT is large because the Asian population at MIT is large. (Also applies to every other top-20 school.)

          FWIW, the Asian evangelical population at the top-20 school I’m most familiar with tended to skew pretty liberal politically compared with most evangelicals. Not particularly pro-choice or the kinds of folks you’d be hooking up with after a beer or four, but quite a lot of them were solid Democrats.

        • JL

          People are really good at compartmentalizing. Not just evangelical Christians, either – I’ve met scientists with a variety of observant religious beliefs.

    • Mayur

      Um, Ted Cruz?

      • DrDick

        My immediate reaction as well.

  • D.N. Nation

    Blah blah blah. Again I say – nebulous butthurt over PC isn’t so nebulous at all. These things have legitimate policy conclusions.

    So where would you like trans people to use the bathroom in public, dear anti-PC rebels?

    • so-in-so

      I’m sure conservatives would be fine with special “Trans Bathrooms”, as long as THEIR money (i.e. tax money) wasn’t spent to build or maintain them.

      Maybe.

      Mostly they want to be able to pretend Trans people do’t exist. Some want dearly for them to actually not exist.

    • People like Kristof (and Douthat, and Lilla) show their hand when they characterize civil rights matters as “social issues” or “political correctness” or “identity politics” that can and should be picked up and discarded by liberals (who are all affluent white indifferently-religious cis heterosexuals) as electoral needs may demand. In essence, they consider liberal campaigns for minority rights to be a favor, a kind of noblesse oblige.

      In reality, the battle for trans rights is led by trans people, who do not have the luxury to sacrifice their health or their lives so that the Democrats can win more elections. Trans people will fight for their rights and their lives regardless of whether cis liberals and leftists support them. Same with black people, same with gay people, same with Muslims, same with every other group that these guys want to scapegoat.

  • King Goat

    It can’t be forgotten that there is an ongoing, concerted and massive effort by conservatives to demonize academe (because academics often conclude conservatives are wrong about things). Every conflict on campus that admittedly might look silly (when framed in a certain way, oftentimes) is seized upon and given a ton of attention. If that kind of focused spotlight were turned on institutions dominated by conservative bias, like the military, the police, corporations, imagine the outrageous instances of bias that would be found.

  • witlesschum

    Hey, Asshole Kristof: a.) I know plenty of Trump voters b.) they are in fact bigots of various sorts c.) I could introduce you to some bigots who voted for Obama twice and then Clinton for variety and d.) fuck you.

    Yeah, I’ve lived all 38 years of my life around significant numbers of conservatives. The idea that a buffoon like Nick Kristof is going to explain them to me or tell me what I should think of them would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that he makes a very good living telling people who maybe don’t have my advantages what they should think. But there’s always a market for ostensible liberals with the lack of morals or sense required to write these things and I guess there always will be.

    • postmodulator

      As I’ve said before, I’m fascinated to hear these pricks describe the mentality of a Rust Belt factory worker to me. I finally know what mansplaining really feels like.

      • witlesschum

        Ha! Good one. That’s Kristof to a tee.

      • efgoldman

        I’m fascinated to hear these pricks describe the mentality of a Rust Belt factory worker to me.

        Does he even know any of those people? If I were a betting man, I know how I’d go.

    • so-in-so

      There’s your problem. He isn’t explaining to you, because you’d never buy what he is selling.

      He’s busily telling the bigots how liberals should understand them, in such a way as to dodge the retort that he is, himself, one of them. He’s paid well for soothing Conservative fee-fees that are all raw from holding back the slurs that just come naturally to them when confronted by something they don’t like.

      • CP

        He’s busily telling the bigots how liberals should understand them

        And telling elite and/or coastal conservatives that their cousins in the heartland aren’t bigots.

        • DrDick

          Well, no more so than they themselves are. While this is actually true, it is not in the way Kristof implies.

          • CP

            Very good point.

    • JKTH

      c.) I could introduce you to some bigots who voted for Obama twice and then Clinton for variety

      Yeah, the problem of calling Trump voters bigots isn’t that it’s too broad, it’s that it’s too narrow. There are plenty of bigoted non-Trump voters as well.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        This feels like the setup to an SAT problem. “If not all bigots are Trump voters, but all Trump voters are bigots…”

        • rea

          Very John Stuart Mill:

          I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.

  • Crusty
    • jim, some guy in iowa

      geez, I was surprised to go back up and find who I found in the byline

    • Woodrowfan

      GAH! ! You made m agree with Richard Cohen!!! I feel so….dirty now.

      • petesh

        Well, good for him. WaPo is clawing back credibility, inch by column inch (though not without some backsliding).

  • SatanicPanic

    Why don’t liberals tolerate intolerance? is like asking “if the customer is always right why don’t you allow shoplifting?” Because that’s beyond the bounds of what you can allow and still have things function. Duh.

    • Woodrowfan

      I LOVE that example!!!!

    • so-in-so

      Or even “This 55″ flat screen TV is nice, but I don’t think it’s worth the $5500.00 sticker price. Here’s the $25.00 I think it’s worth, please load into the big black SUV parked in the fire lane… I’m the customer, after all!”. Because I guess you could argue the shoplifter isn’t actually a customer, but the guy negotiating price probably is.

  • El Tigre Sabroso

    It seems to me that pundits of a certain age have a serious problem with epistemic closure, that as a result of their experiences in the 1960s they so desperately want the other side to be negotiating in good faith that they cannot see what is happening. Right now, the right is taking on the role of the abusive spouse, and some elements of the left are desperately trying to assuage their anger in order to keep on pretending that everything is fine, and that the truth is somewhere between the two sides. And mostly, it isn’t.

    • Origami Isopod

      that as a result of their experiences in the 1960s they so desperately want the other side to be negotiating in good faith that they cannot see what is happening.

      Not sure what you’re getting at here — that they want daddy’s approval, even after all these years?

      My own take on it is that it’s connected not to age but to class. The idea that we can always sit down and talk out our differences like civilized people is very middle-class and up. Not least because you need a certain level of class privilege (among other types, but I digress) before people will take you seriously when you talk. “Power concedes nothing without a struggle” is just so … gauche. Pun intended.

      • Origami Isopod

        See also Angus Johnston in the link provided elsethread by JL, rebutting Chait:

        And anyway, since when is outrage a bad thing? Since when is noisy contestation of political views something to be regretted?

        Because it’s unseemly, of course.

  • It’s pretty impressive when Kristof writes columns that are actually worse than the ones when he gets scammed by Cambodians playing on his white slavery passions.

    • XTPD

      How exactly did the white-slavery scam work? Wasn’t on my radar.

      • He wrote all these columns about flying to Cambodia to free sex slaves. It turned out that the woman he was working with there was paying women to claim they were sex slaves because it brought in big donations. I actually predicted it was a scam before it came out because it so closely tracked with similar scams in the early 20th century US. Was never more happy to be correct. Amazingly, Kristof never even properly apologized for it when in fact it should have cost him his sinecure at the Times. But as we have seen, there is really nothing those hacks can do to get fired from that job.

        • Murc

          He wrote all these columns about flying to Cambodia to free sex slaves. It turned out that the woman he was working with there was paying women to claim they were sex slaves because it brought in big donations.

          And really, even if it had been true, it wouldn’t have been him flying to Cambodia to free sex slaves. It would have been the people he was working with doing the freeing and him wasting a shit-ton of money on airfare to swoop in and take the credit.

          • If there’s one thing Kristof loves, it’s being the white savior.

        • Woodrowfan

          I haven’t heard of that scam. Details Erik, details!!!! I can use it in my late 19th-early 20th century class next semester. We’re doing a “Reacting to the Past” game set ion the Lower East Side of NYC and maybe I can make on of my students play a scammer…

          • dl

            Nicholas Marks had a Newsweek article that exposed the scam. Somaly Mam was one of the scammers.

  • Woodrowfan

    Well, right wing universities (Regent, Liberty, Patrick Henry, etc) are known for their tolerance of different views/

    • Murc

      Right?

      That also gives the game away. The so-called intolerant liberal universities won’t stop you from listening to gospel music in your dorm room or organizing a prayer breakfast or going to whatever church you like. Hell, depending on the university they might even allow you to hold some virulently bigoted protests, as long as you fill out the proper forms.

      Meanwhile conservative evangelical religious universities will expel you for holding hands.

      There’s no real equivalent there.

      • postmodulator

        My institution allowed one of those open-carry gun marches on its grounds a couple of weeks ago, in “response” to that attack by the guy with the knife. I was talked out of driving past them and tossing a string of firecrackers out the window.

        • Origami Isopod

          While I’ll admit to laughing at that, I’m glad you were talked out of it, because bystanders could have gotten hurt.

      • JL

        Chait tried to claim a while back that Liberty University was more tolerant of diverse views than many liberal colleges. Angus Johnston wrote a good rebuttal.

        • Hogan

          Good stuff.

          Chait doesn’t think of these issues from the perspective of students; he thinks of them from the perspective of an invited speaker.

  • Rob in CT

    I look forward to our glorious un-PC future in which liberals say EXACTLY what they think of conservatives and everyone will cheer because we’re Speaker Our Minds, Callin’ It Like We See It, and Telling It Like It is.

    I can’t wait!

  • Roger Ailes

    Half of Americans? Fuck, it wasn’t even half of voters for the top two candidates.

    Fuck Kristof.

  • Roger Ailes

    “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,”[Cass] Sunstein told me.

    I can’t wait for the Kristof/Sunstein seminar on scientific creationism. Should be enlightening.

    • rewenzo

      The “good conservative idea” is one of those things, like the god particle, that is theorized to exist, but has yet to be discovered. Until then, the Los Angeles Times’ Travel section should continue to publish racist letters that aren’t afraid to discuss the benefits of ethnic cleansing during war time.

      • Murc

        The “good conservative idea” is one of those things, like the god particle, that is theorized to exist, but has yet to be discovered.

        Especially because they keep moving what counts as conservative around.

        Obamacare would have been hailed as a triumph of conservative economic ideas with regard to the health care market if it had been introduced and passed in the 70s. Republicans would be taking credit for it today. But because it happened in 2010 instead, now it is socialism.

        • Rob in CT

          But because it happened in 2010 instead was passed under a Democratic President, now it is socialism

      • JMP

        Except that the Higgs boson, “the god particle” – a nickname hated by physicists by the way – was discovered in 2012 and confirmed in 2013. The good conservative idea however, that we’re still waiting on.

    • I don’t even know what that means. What does he mean by “the idea that conservative ideas are dumb”? What is a “conservative idea”? Is it defined by being promoted by a self-identified conservative, or are there some principles that make an idea conservative? Does an idea have to be not a liberal idea to be a conservative idea, or can it be both? i.e. is “The government shouldn’t spend a billion dollars painting the Grand Canyon purple” a conservative idea even though liberals would agree?

      I thought Cass Sunstein was supposed to be smart.

      • Hogan

        Makes you wonder what Sunstein actually told him.

  • elk

    I’m related to enough Trump voters to know Trump voters well enough to proceed with the stereotyping.

  • JMP

    Welcome to America, Mr. Kristof! You have apparently never been here before, because we have a hell of a lot racist white people here, and have for our entire existence, so being incredulous over the suggestion that 60 million white Americans might be racist when you’d have to be an idiot to not realize this must mean you are really unfamiliar with this country.

    • aturner339

      It’s just incredible. Isn’t he from Chicago? The power of human denial never fails to surprise me.

      • Linnaeus

        Kristof is from Oregon.

        • aturner339

          Ah well that particular brand of denial is a little less incredible though if one knew even a bit of the history….

  • patrick II

    I remember this story Salon story from just before the election 2008 when the economy was terrible and politicians were wondering whether a black candidate could overcome racism.

    Salon: Racists for Obama

    A man canvassing for Obama in western Pennsylvania asks a housewife which candidate she intends to vote for. She yells to her husband to find out. From the interior of the house, he calls back, “We’re voting for the nigger!” At which point the housewife turns to the canvasser and calmly repeats her husband’s declaration.

    So, for some white racists, the answer seems to be if we are actually starving we’ll vote for the black guy, but once things aren’t quite so dire, we’ll vote for a white racist clown.

    • Anna in PDX

      That anecdote really sounds like a Doonesbury strip from the 70s.

      • leftwingfox

        Hell, it sounds like a scene out of Blazing Saddles.

      • mpavilion

        Haha, TOTALLY!

    • so-in-so

      I, for one, am willing to see them keep starving if it will prevent them from voting Trump, or even GOP in general.

      Which, if kept up long enough, is a sure thing, I guess.

  • aturner339

    It’s not coincidental that college protests in favor of racial and gender equality are met with a different response from media “liberals” than were the anti Iraq war protests.

    Nick Kristof didn’t feel troubled by the OWS protests.

    • JL

      Kristof was fairly pro-OWS, at least at first, but as a group, the crowd of media that doesn’t like the current wave of campus activism is also not exactly pro-protests-in-general. Jon Chait, for instance, is not the most protest-friendly guy (and was pretty aggressively pro-Iraq-War).

      • aturner339

        Oh absolutely but there is a reason that the protests that really get them in a froth always come down to race and sexuality.

  • Steve LaBonne

    If I ever meet any conservatives I’ll be sure to treat their ideas with respect. The post-truth radical reactionaries I actually do encounter? Not so much.

    • Murc

      If I ever meet any conservatives I’ll be sure to treat their ideas with respect.

      And you know what, that’s not actually hard.

      This blog is deeply respectful of conservative ideas and conservatives. It takes the time to engage with and fully destroy them across the entire spectrum of conservatism. That’s treating them with the utmost respect, more than they deserve.

  • Ronan
  • Jerry Vinokurov

    It’s telling that whenever Kristof writes these dumb pieces, he never actually specifies which conservative ideas we’re supposed to take seriously. Is it creationism? “Scientific” racism? Free-market fundamentalism (joke! that’s already the orthodoxy in most econ departments)? Should we demand that climatologists give equal consideration to people who deny the theory of radiative transfer? It just goes on like this; Kristof never provides any examples because the actual things conservatives believe are, by and large, outright empirically false (when they can be put to any sort of truth test at all). Like, his examples of people who would be an “asset” on a college campus are… Condi Rice (who already teaches at Stanford anyway) and George W. Bush. Because I know what we’re really missing on university campuses is more apologia for war criminals, preferably from the war criminals themselves.

    Fuck Kristof. What a shithead.

  • The thing is, if your mom tells you, be nice to your more conservative or even bigoted cousins, that may be entirely reasonable. That’s not the logic we expect from political advice.

    • Murc

      The thing is, if your mom tells you, be nice to your more conservative or even bigoted cousins, that may be entirely reasonable.

      Yeah, even I will admit that you gotta be willing to have a lower bar for family. There should always be red lines; I’m getting mighty close to cutting off both of my parents spouses. But they aren’t blood. I’m willing to tolerate shit from my actual-factual parents I otherwise would not assuming they have my back in other ways.

      I sometimes wonder if that makes me a bad person, but it isn’t like I demand people who aren’t related to my conservative relatives to cut them the same slack.

      • Tyro

        For me, it’s about whether any children I have will be exposed to my more malicious conservative cousins. And the answer is likely no.

  • mpavilion

    Earlier this year, I was so annoyed by a terrible Kristof column about gun control (and “judge-y liberals” who “refuse to understand” gun culture), that I took the trouble to tweet him and explain that unless he named names, he was simply setting up straw men. (I also helpfully offered to name names of right-wing lawmakers doing real, actual damage via their “intolerance” and unreasonableness around the same issue.)

    Huh. Guess he must’ve missed my tweet, as I see he’s still pulling that move.

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