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A spark of life for intelligent debate

Rod Dreher is an American journalist and one time film critic. His book, The Benedict Option has been described as “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” Dreher has been involved in multiple controversies regarding his views on race. He is a conservative Christian and has often been accused of homophobia and racism in his writings. But he is also a very intelligent and articulate critic and for that reason he is a sought-after interview by various mainstream media outlets. He was chief film critic for the New York Post. His commentaries have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and he has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Court TV, and other television networks.

Friday he was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show and found himself paired off with the brilliant and charismatic Eddie Glaude Jr, Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, and the former head of the Religion Department at Bowdoin College. It was a fiery discussion as Dreher was taking a shot at progressives for fostering a kind of “soft totalitarianism” by stifling free expression. It was like watching a heavyweight boxing match, but of minds, not fists. It was the kind of debate that hardly ever happens now on TV, with the news media so badly polarized that people tune in for validation of their views, not for information. When it was over, host Joe Scarborough commented that he wanted to see a lot more of this kind of discussion. I hope it does become more common.

Although it is not hard to find Dreher’s views on race and sexuality offensive, he makes a valid point when he makes the case that the progressive or left movement is no longer synonymous with liberal. In fact, it is arguably decidedly illiberal through the imposition of sanctions such as cancel culture and shaming. In his latest book “Live Not by Lies” Dreher argues: elites and elite institutions are abandoning old fashioned liberalism based on defending the rights of the individual and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups—ethnic, sexual and otherwise and to think of good and evil as a matter of power dynamics among groups. A utopian vision drives these progressives– one that compels them to seek to rewrite history, and reinvent language to reflect their ideals of social justice.

I was interested in his line about the reinvention of language. It is something I have increasingly noted in political discussion and in media interviews. I sometimes think that the people who talk about inclusion most, have themselves developed a vocabulary that sets them apart from ordinary people. Words like “intersectionality” for instance, are used to talk ABOUT people with multiple barriers—race, poverty, gender—but certainly don’t talk TO them.

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  • Personally, I stay clear of those who identify as Social Justice Warriors because their mantra is not really about justice, only that you succumb to their version of truth. These types usually bark in your face when you try to present your view or perspective.

    So here in the city, one high placed individual always goes to the same phrase when you give an opposing view to his, you dont respect me.

    The word respect is a noun and a verb with slightly different t meanings. Language, a person taught me that you should look up words even if you think you know meaning.

    Too many out there, those obsequious types, brown nosers, who have risen not due to innovation or changing the system that clearly stomps on people, they are individuals who demand respect because of their supposed position they gained by brown nosing. Respect is earned by ones actions that show you are not afraid to enact change not by an individual who clearly gives an endless word salad of nonsense that shows they do not have the skill or qualifications to have the position of power.

  • My parents were both Liberal. My father-who identified himself as a ‘small l Liberal”-occupied every position on the local riding association, including carrying the banner for the Fed’s on Hamilton Mountain in the 1960’s
    The ideology is literally in my blood, and at times, it is as if I can not be helped.
    Yet I have been unable to find and support a Liberal candidate in my riding for over a decade, and I do not anticipate that changing anytime soon

    Exactly as you say, individualism has been replaced by group think, and divides have been blurred. Everyone wants to be everything to everybody, setting the stage for predestined failure.
    The spectacle down south demonstrates this is not an isolated event.

    It is a challenge to remain optimistic.

  • “He is a conservative Christian and has often been accused of homophobia and racism in his writings.” hmm. lets change that phrase slightly and ask if the Bay Observer would be publishing Mr Drehers beliefs?. “He is a conservative and has often been accused of expressing anti-Christian and anti-Semitism thoughts in his writings” Would the Bay Observer ask us to put aside an authors anti-Christian bias or anti-Semitic views? dont think so.

  • you couldnt find another example to illustrate your point? one without the past of Mr Dreher? i did a quick google and found quite a few examples of high quality, fact based, civil discourse between people on the left, right, middle and everywhere in between. all of the speakers and contributors had great resumes. none of the contributors had been “involved in multiple controversies regarding his views on race” or “often been accused of homophobia and racism in his writings”.

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