Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Racism

No Easy Answers: Why Vox is an Anti-Intellectual Publication and How it Can Do Better

The other day, I ran across a piece on Vox by Zach Beauchamp entitled “No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right wing populism.” This piece captures everything that has always bothered me about Vox. Today I’d like to dissect this piece and show you what I mean.

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How Bad Does Trump Have to Be to Match George W. Bush?

Former President George W. Bush has been out and about, charming people with his paintings and his inability to put on a poncho, all in a bid to get people to buy his book of paintings to raise money for veterans. It sounds nice, but of course Bush is the reason so many of these vets need money in the first place–they were wounded, disabled, and sometimes killed in the tremendously expensive wars he started. Yet because Donald Trump has moved the Republican Party so far to the right, Bush now strikes many people as a moderate, and it’s become increasingly common for Trump critics to pine for the 00’s and praise the Bush administration. This nostalgic narrative will likely become more dominant as the memory of the 00’s continues to fade. But today I want to tilt against this windmill and show how much work Trump will have to do to fail as hard as Bush failed.

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How to Reframe Anti-Discrimination Politics to Overcome Division

A few readers asked a good question about yesterday’s post. The question boils down to something like this:

How can we talk about discrimination–about racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia–if we have to show conspicuous respect for the white working class? Some of them are racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic. How can we deal with them in a way that isn’t appeasement?

The people asking this question believe that we can’t fight discrimination while concurrently respecting the people who practice it. But this isn’t true–we can do both at once. Indeed, by respecting these people we can make our anti-discrimination advocacy more effective. Here’s how.

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How to Fight Fascism Intelligently

President Trump was inaugurated Friday, and a lot of people are understandably upset. Many want to do something about this. This is a good and noble impulse, but I fear in our efforts to fight right nationalism we will instead end up its handmaidens. Let me show you what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »

Cory Booker, John Lewis, and Discrimination-Only Democrats

In the last week, two news stories have caught my eye:

  1. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attempted to draw praise from Democrats when he broke with Senate norms and testified against Jeff Sessions. Yet that very same day, he voted against legislation which would have enabled Americans to purchase less expensive Canadian medicine.
  2. Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) claimed that the president elect is “illegitimate”, drawing the standard Trump Twitter response. Liberal media outlets immediately began publishing posts lionizing Lewis as a civil rights hero, as if this made him immune from criticism concerning his congressional record. In the past, Lewis has misled the public about Bernie Sanders’ policies and record as an activist.

Booker and Lewis are often portrayed as if they were radical progressive or left wing figures because of the strong public stances they have taken and continue to take on racial issues. But this activism on race and social issues belies a creeping disinterest in much of the rest of the left’s platform–Booker and Lewis don’t seem to care about tuition-free college or single payer healthcare. Indeed, Booker doesn’t even believe in lowering drug prices by exposing the American pharmaceutical industry to Canadian competition. What’s going on here?

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