In light of the tragic killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests and riots, the subject of systemic racism has come back to the fore of many people’s minds. As the dialogue on race and racism move forward I will be sharing some short thoughts on the ideas and dynamics which I believe are obstacles to fruitful discussion and reform. This may not be the ultimate starting point, but I begin with these two blog posts I wrote almost three years ago now. They seem to me to be truer than ever. Here are the main points. They all have to do with the nature of discourse and not specific issues per se.
- The polarization in politics doesn’t allow anyone to think or speak with nuance. It’s an all or nothing, you’re either wholly with us or against us, in most people’s minds.
- There’s an inevitable stalemate politically and in regards to public discourse as a result. (In hindsight I think there is always change, but it is often the result of one side’s will-to-power and not bipartisan achievements).
- People are incredulous towards one another because they assume the worst of those who have different viewpoints. There’s no room for questions. There’s no benefit of the doubt given to your neighbor. There’s no practicing of James’ “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”