Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Kristin Du Mez's Response to Jay Green on her "Illiberal" Positions: More Nonsense from the "High Priests of White Dude (Increasingly Reactionary) Centrism"

I am glad that Kristin Du Mez has responded con gusto to the charge of Jay Green of Covenant College that she, Jemar Tisby, Shane Claiborne, Danté Stewart, and Beth Allison Barr are illiberal religious thinkers who represent the left-wing equivalent of Rod Dreher, R. R. Reno, Eric Metaxas, Dinesh D'Souza, Charlie Kirk, and the crew at The Daily Wire. She writes,

Excuse me, but what the hell?

Jemar, Shane, Danté, Beth, and I are the equivalent of Metaxas and Kirk? We have embraced a "whatever it takes" mentality, abandoning any principled commitment to liberalism, tossing aside the rules of liberal democracy? We prefer coercion to persuasion?

I'm sorry, but the guy who spends his days protesting state-sponsored executions, embraces poverty, and lives by an ethic of nonviolence is your model of an authoritarian-leaning Maximalist? Shane Claiborne doesn't have a coercive bone in his body.

Apart from Shane, the rest of us are, coincidentally, not white men. And we happen to write about race and gender.

Two black men, two white women, and Shane Claiborne, who is a white male: in the false-equivalency, both-sidesist game Jay Green is playing, this group "balances" the likes of Reno, Metaxas, D'Souza, Kirk et al. Jemar Tisby also issued a powerful response to Green today, noting, essentially, that he appears to know almost nothing about the Black church and the prophetic role it has played for a very long time in promoting "liberal, multi-racial, inclusive democracy," not illiberalism.

Du Mez and Tisby have defended themselves eloquently, and I have nothing to add to what they say, except that I am beyond tired of seeing white men (like myself), usually straight ones, set themselves us in our intellectual and journalistic life as arbiters of (self-serving) "objectivity" and (self-serving) "moderation" and (self-serving) we-see-both-sides-clearly.

Who anointed these men as such omniscient, disinterested and objective demi-gods who live above the fray and set up the definitions and classificatory systems for the rest of us, never acknowledging the unmerited privilege they derive from their gender, complexion, and sexual orientation? I'd like to point again to Thomas Zimmer's recent commentary that Parker Molloy captures in a posting entitled  "The Self-Important Arbiters of Reason and the Scourge of 'Both Sides,'" Zimmer takes to task the 

type of pundit [who] operates from the conviction that he is capable of superior judgment across a wide variety of fields and subjects - from pandemic response to American history, from the climate crisis to how (not) to tackle racism.

These self-proclaimed Arbiters of Reason owe much of their prominent status to the idea that they are unbiased, dispassionate truthtellers, all about data, all about objectivity, brave enough to give us the unvarnished facts in a heroic effort against conventional wisdom.

And then he states, absolutely correctly, it seems to me, 

That’s a big part of why these white male pundits are obsessed with pointing out supposed fallacies of leftwing activism and spend much of their energy on scolding “the Left”: To their own elite status, these lefties constitute more of a threat than rightwing authoritarians.

This kind of "objective" "centrist" analysis in journalism and in sectors of the academy are a large part of why we are where we are in the U.S. now, with the hard right normalized and normalized again, as the supposedly dangerous "woke" left is castigated repeatedly by what Zimmer rightly calls "the high priests of white dude (increasingly reactionary) centrism."

Enough. It's long since time that for this nonsense — only straight white men see the world objectively, and the entrance of women, black people, and LGBTQ people into the public square, with perspectives enriched and not distorted from their historical experiences represents a threat to objectivity and balanced centrist analysis that sees "both sides" clearly? 


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