“Imagine three kids running around a maypole, forming a chain with their arms. The innermost kid is holding the pole with one hand. The faster they run, the more centrifugal force there is tearing the chain apart. The tighter they grip, the more centripetal force there is holding the chain together. Eventually centrifugal force exceeds centripetal force and the chain breaks.
That’s essentially what is happening in this country, N.Y.U.’s Jonathan Haidt argued in a lecture delivered to the Manhattan Institute in November. He listed some of the reasons centrifugal forces may now exceed centripetal: the loss of the common enemies we had in World War II and the Cold War, an increasingly fragmented media, the radicalization of the Republican Party, and a new form of identity politics, especially on campus.
Haidt made the interesting point that identity politics per se is not the problem. Identity politics is just political mobilization around group characteristics. The problem is that identity politics has dropped its centripetal elements and become entirely centrifugal.Martin Luther King described segregation and injustice as forces tearing us apart. He appealed to universal principles and our common humanity as ways to heal prejudice and unite the nation. He appealed to common religious principles, the creed of our founding fathers and a common language of love to drive out prejudice. King “framed our greatest moral failing as an opportunity for centripetal redemption,” Haidt observed.”
DL: David Brooks has written a challenging piece, and it is full of great points, but it is so abstract as to be almost meaningless. Does he really mean that college professors and their students are as responsible as Donald Trump and the GOP for centrifugal forces tearing apart America? A second, careful reading suggests that Brooks is in fact aiming most of his barbs at Trump and the GOP, but so abstactly, that he maintains a distance, even deniability. Many of the commenters point out that it is mostly the GOP that is doing many things to undermine our democracy and its principles, as they cater to the desires of the billionaire donors.
Here is a comment, that though it fails to recognize that a few Republicans are not pleased with GOP radicalism, I endorse:
B. USA 3 hours ago
The right spends a significant amount of its time and effort to make it harder for individuals to participate politically, while making it easier for corporations and organizations with vast sums of untraceable money to be included in the political process.
The right has been driving wedges and creating an us-vs-them atmosphere since Reagan declared “government is the problem” and demonized freedom of association by attacking unions which work for the common good.
The right has abandoned the notion of truth, has abandoned education for all, and has abandoned traditional moral values in favor of dogmatism, science denial, exclusivity, and power-grabbing at any cost. The current leader of the right now sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania is the embodiment of GOP beliefs and practices brought to life.
After 30 years of attacks on American values and decency, the left has finally said “Enough!” and have started to speak out. Suddenly Brooks et.al. think the nation has become divided as never before.
The nation has been divided for a long time; it’s only recently that the left has decided things have gone too far in the wrong direction and it’s time to fight back, to fight for American values of honesty, decency, and inclusion. There is a big blue wave just over the horizon, and it’s going to sweep away anyone who is not willing to stand up for traditional American values of honesty, decency, inclusion, and a fair deal for all.
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