People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect… You might be tempted to say we need to find ways to disagree less, but that is incorrect… This might sound like a call for magnanimity, but it is just as much an appeal to self-interest… Finally, we should see the contempt around us as what it truly is: an opportunity, not a threat… It is easy to feel helpless in the current political environment, but I believe that is unwarranted.
(Arthur C. Brooks, “Our Culture of Contempt,” NYTimes, 3-2-19)
Mr. Brooks’s rhetoric is interesting. The snippets quoted above, taken out of context, might lead one to think he’s being provokingly disputatious in his essay, bent on contradicting the reader’s “incorrect” assumptions. That would be a misreading, however; Brooks in fact has some affirming things to say and states them persuasively. As basis for his discussion he cites the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on “motive
attribution asymmetry.” This, he says, is “the assumption that your ideology is based in love, while your opponent’s is based in hate.”
This blog skirts ideology for the most part, so I leave it there, having noted a style trait used to good effect in my view.
(c) 2019 JMN.