Prizes

The 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes to Colson Whitehead

By posted at 3:31 pm on April 10, 2017 24

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The Pulitzer jury named Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad this year’s winner in the fiction category.

Here are this year’s Pulitzer winners and finalists with bonus links:

Fiction:

 
 

General Nonfiction:

 

History:

 

Biography or Autobiography:

 

Poetry:

 

Winners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer Web site.

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24 Responses to “The 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes to Colson Whitehead”

  1. H.A.
    at 8:05 pm on April 10, 2017

    Such worthy winners. Blood on the Water by Heather Ann Thompson blew me away with her account of 1971 Attica and the utter lawlessness with which the uprising was handled, including the killing 10 guards in a takeover ordered by then Governor Rockefeller, and the 40 year quest for justice for the 40 murdered men and innumerable prisoners tortured. Her research is exhaustive despite thousands of documents “mysteriously” disappearing.

  2. H.A.
    at 8:06 pm on April 10, 2017

    *blood in the water (not “on”)

  3. Cecil
    at 9:03 pm on April 11, 2017

    After reading the Cheever piece, I found myself heartened by its insistence on Cheever’s value lying in posterity, his sustaining relevance even after 50 years. So I found myself wondering about The Underground Railroad and its continual amassing of awards. Without diss/harshing on Whitehead’s chops too much (and while reserving the right to roll my eyes at any guy with a ponytail, man-bun or dreadlocks in 2017), it seems pretty likely that a lot of the love this book is receiving is an anti-Trump response from the liberal establishment who, without their beloved and highly overrated POC president, feels beholden to remind Americans of the horrors of the slavery and their own historicity-drenched POV (the US is, always has been, and always will be evil, racist, and sexist, and don’t you ever forget it ever, whitey). But aesthetically, does T.U.R. merit its place alongside slavery classics from T. Morrison to F. Douglass, is it an ephemeral PC popularity spike that’s just critically and commercially well-timed but without the ability to sustain long-term interest, or is it something in between or neither? Just curious if the popular consensus is A): still genuflection, B): getting tired of this ID politics juggernaut already, or C): some other stance I haven’t thought of.

  4. steven augustine
    at 9:41 am on April 12, 2017

    @Cecil

    Listen, there’s been an epidemic of virtue-signaling prize-giving for at least a couple of years now… both Untamed State and The Sellout would never have been published if LIT were judged by Literary Standards, anymore. But before you can get away with typing “… I found myself wondering about The Underground Railroad and its continual amassing of awards…” you need to have read Whitehead’s book. At least, say, the first 50 pages. Have you? Why do I doubt that?

    I’ve read all the books I disparage (the books I love, I read 3,4, 5 times). I can tell you why I think the books that are too predictably hyped, and too often win the PC PITY prizes, are awful, usually sub-literate, efforts. Whitehead’s Underground Railroad is not awful; it’s not sub-literate; it’s pretty good. It not a masterpiece, but how many Pulitzer winners are better than Good? It’s a solid piece of writing with a great premise.

    In detail: there are two glaring technical problems with The Underground Railroad, stopping it from being a great book. First: Whitehead doesn’t do enough to imprint the particularities of his leading characters (or the particularities of their settings), on the reader, as the narrative takes shape. All the streams of info are presented in one plane, like a folktale (a folktale that required research), or an HBO miniseries. Writers need to remember that just one frame in the opening scene of a film can transmit a lot of useful information; a novel has to be sneakier, trickier… a novel has to cheat. Whitehead needs to learn to cheat. He also needs to learn to vary the rhythm of the sentences (varying the rhythm rhythmically is the gold standard); vary the rhythm and the tone. There’s a start-and-stop feeling to the prose. It takes a while for the book to assert itself.

    Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer for 2014 with his All the Light We Cannot See and it’s not quite as good a book as The Underground Railroad (though Doerr, despite a couple of serious stylistic deficiencies, has mastered one thing that Whitehead needs to work on: Doerr reels the reader in before he jerks the line; Doerr’s book isn’t my cup of tea but he’s got the “page-turner” technology down pat). Doerr and Whitehead are both Pulitzer winners… did you sneer, for any reason, when Doerr won his?

    Which is all to say that you really need to know what you’re talking about before you attack/ critique… if you don’t want to sound like a racist, that is, dismissing Whitehead’s book out of hand. Which would be just as racist as praising it sight unseen, but meaner.

    And re: “without their beloved and highly overrated POC president”

    Aha. Well, I happen to think that anyone who can kill so many people, while remaining so charming, is a sociopath, but if you’re comparing BHO, unfavorably, to the rest of the Figurehead Parade… to the idiotic Dubya, the ultra-corrupt Bill, the sinister Poppy, the oily Tricky Dick, the hapless Jimmy, the orgiastic JFK, the buffoonish Trump, the shallow and ignorant Ronnie, the inert Ford or the monstrous LBJ, I have to find your reasoning (and motivations) a little suspect. BHO was no better or worse than the best and worst of them.Remember: most racists don’t think they’re racist… they’re operating under the naive assumption that one has to hate, or act out, in order to qualify. But it’s much easier than that, Cecil. It requires very little thought or energy. An attitude will do.

    Your comment is another reason that Lit Prizes need to stop being such blatantly politicized farces: they give ammunition to crypto-racists and crypto-sexists and hurt innocent (and actual) writers like Whitehead, who doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with literary charity cases like Beatty and Gay. And imagine how Beatty and Gay might improve if greater things were expected (demanded) of them? It’s a great loss, all around.

  5. Swog Hollow
    at 11:03 am on April 12, 2017

    @Steven

    “In detail: there are two glaring technical problems with The Underground Railroad, stopping it from being a great book. First: Whitehead doesn’t do enough to imprint the particularities of his leading characters (or the particularities of their settings), on the reader, as the narrative takes shape. All the streams of info are presented in one plane, like a folktale (a folktale that required research), or an HBO miniseries. Writers need to remember that just one frame in the opening scene of a film can transmit a lot of useful information; a novel has to be sneakier, trickier… a novel has to cheat. Whitehead needs to learn to cheat. He also needs to learn to vary the rhythm of the sentences (varying the rhythm rhythmically is the gold standard); vary the rhythm and the tone. There’s a start-and-stop feeling to the prose. It takes a while for the book to assert itself.”

    This is pretty well put. TUR’s prose is good, but almost completely unmodulated. Whitehead can write–can’t speak to his other books, though I’ve heard the Intuitionist and John Henry Days are really good–but at least here he writes everything from a static, narrated perspective that never really bores down into his characters’ perspectives. Many of the characters, including Cora, are fairly stock and one-dimensional and no one really surprises. It does read like a folktale, with various elements borrowed from writers like Morrisson–describing slaves as “souls,” I found particularly grating.

    That said, TUR is a worthy, interesting book (unlike ATLWCS, which in my estimation is low-middlebrow dreck), with large aims, and I have no problem with him taking the prize. You correctly call Cecil on the casual racism implicit in his dismissal of Whitehead, which assumes that if a black man wins the Pulitzer it must be charity or virtue signalling. One thing I’ll add: in my estimation, a book having timely sociopolitical aims and concerns is not a demerit to its cause. If the Pulitzer committee awarded extra points to TUR for cultural relevance, that is their prerogative–people act as though multiculturalism (read non white-centricism) is some bullshit shadow consideration, when in fact, it is as legitimate a metric as anything else (as, in fact, a book being central to the white experience would have been in the 60s).

  6. steven augustine
    at 1:01 pm on April 12, 2017

    @Swog

    Totally agree!

    “If the Pulitzer committee awarded extra points to TUR for cultural relevance, that is their prerogative–people act as though multiculturalism (read non white-centricism) is some bullshit shadow consideration, when in fact, it is as legitimate a metric as anything else (as, in fact, a book being central to the white experience would have been in the 60s).”

  7. toad
    at 2:02 pm on April 12, 2017

    Tsk tsk Steve, we had a pact about the politics!

    I’m curious to see how TUR will hold up – it feels like a timeless book in that it could have been written 20 years ago, or 20 years from now, yet I do wonder if we’re in a period where it’s impossible to view art like this with totally clear eyes…best efforts notwithstanding…but, yeah, it’s a good novel. By my scientific calculations, 43.4 times better than The Sellout. It’s hard to quibble with its winning the Pulitzer, which doesn’t have 50 years of hindsight with which to pick a winner…though really, who cares, read it or don’t…

  8. steven augustine
    at 3:03 pm on April 12, 2017

    @T

    1. Yeah but I couldn’t pass up the uncanny pleasure of defending BHO’s totally effective, post-racial psychopathy from a (possible) racial smear
    2. My calculations say 79.3 but the gap between our two figures is relatively subjective, so…
    3. Have you read Bleeding Edge, yet…?

    @Swog

    (I also agree with your brow-rating on ATLWCS but I’ve learned to pick my battles)

  9. teedle
    at 3:05 pm on April 12, 2017

    “Listen, there’s been an epidemic of virtue-signaling prize-giving for at least a couple of years now… both Untamed State and The Sellout would never have been published if LIT were judged by Literary Standards, anymore. But before you can get away with typing “… I found myself wondering about The Underground Railroad and its continual amassing of awards…” you need to have read Whitehead’s book. At least, say, the first 50 pages. Have you? Why do I doubt that?”

    I swear, this HAS to be a parody account.

  10. teedle
    at 3:07 pm on April 12, 2017

    Still, much better trolling than Cecil’s brain-dead racism.

  11. steven augustine
    at 4:04 pm on April 12, 2017

    Hey Teedle!

    “Still, much better trolling than Cecil’s brain-dead racism.”

    Much better than swinging into a thread with very little to say and lots of hardwired tween animus to offer, too. Unless this is YouTube.

    You wouldn’t be saving up an interesting comment regarding Literary matters, would you? If so, now would be the time to unleash it on us. Blow our minds, Sir or Madam!

    Have you read The Underground Railroad? What’s your take on it?

  12. H.A.
    at 12:54 am on April 13, 2017

    I haven’t read the book yet, although I have read Whitehead’s back list, he is a writer of depth, Zone 1 killed me, not to mention his prior novels. Sadly the book is on my giant TBR. Is it wrong of me to be held back by Oprah’s gushing? Yes, probably. In the meantime, like a good Canadian, i am reading David Adams Richards “Principles To Live By”. Mind blowing! And since I am no critic, I do hope “mind blowing” is enough for you to research it, with an end to reading it. Mystery, beauracratic hypocrisy, and the Canadian Military Diplomatic fuck up in Rwanda.

  13. Sean H
    at 5:59 pm on April 17, 2017

    I don’t see questioning, dubiety or skepticism as “brain dead racism,” I guess that’s my take here. The notion that Whitehead might be benefiting from the morays of the day is hardly all that loaded a comment (and I would say “loaded” at worst, hardly even approaching “racism”). And plenty of people questioned Anthony Doerr’s win, I remember Vollman writing in the New Yorker that it was a good page-turner but not even literature/literary fiction. I think that’s the best way to look at the issue at hand — why is someone who is skeptical of Whitehead a “racist” and someone who is skeptical of Doerr a “formalist”?
    And the phrase crypto-racist is rather Orwellian, no? This notion that there are these people who are too ignorant to be aware of their own racism, that’s a slippery slope. If someone is actively not discriminating against people, they’re not a racist. If they look at all people of all colors as equally human, they’re not racists. They don’t need to know what a microagression is or be familiar with the other PC terminology of the day or have read the entire canon of bell hooks! They don’t have to go out of their way and bend over backwards and kiss the feet of people with different skin color than they have in order to prove how “anti-racist” they are (John McWhorter and William Deresiewicz have exposed this problem brilliantly). I mean, we live in a country where more and more, POCs express blatant racism out loud (ie: I refuse to live in a dorm with white people) and need to be called out on it. The fringe leftists and Maoist millennials who express real, virulent racism are every bit as despicable as the stereotypical Southern redneck calling a black child a racial slur. At a site like this one, I think it’s fair to assume that if someone criticizes a book, it’s because they have issues with the CONTENT of the book (as opposed to — they’re “secret racists”).
    Great comments on the presidents, BTW, Steven.

  14. steven augustine
    at 8:09 pm on April 17, 2017

    Sean:

    “If someone is actively not discriminating against people, they’re not a racist. ”

    Wrong. I’m going to go with the dictionary when it comes to the actual definitions of words… and I think you should, too. Otherwise, discussion/ debate is impossible.

    “The fringe leftists and Maoist millennials who express real, virulent racism are every bit as despicable as the stereotypical Southern redneck calling a black child a racial slur.”

    In my experience, the average Black person is every bit as racist as the average White (or Asian etc) person… it’s the outliers who are either not racist or out there committing hate crimes; having said that, this particular comment of yours is rather silly. A Maoist half-Kenyan conspiracy theorist with pierced nipples and a Vegan burrito in his backpack calling a lumberjack of German ancestry a “cracka” is not *nearly* as despicable as the same lumberjack (or Maoist) calling a child of any description a nasty name. But I’m pretty sure you know that.

    “And plenty of people questioned Anthony Doerr’s win…”

    Sure, but parsing the exact language of Cecil’s comment (and questioning whether he’d even read Whitehead’s book) was the point of (a small fraction of) my commentary… it had nothing to do with the general issue of whether any other book in literary history has ever been disliked.

    Have you read Whitehead’s book?

    PS I liked my comments on those POTUSES, too! Concise-but-accurate. Terrible people, on the whole. I much prefer librarians.

  15. Swog Hollow
    at 12:00 am on April 18, 2017

    Sean,

    To say someone has to be actively discriminatory to be racist is to set an extremely high bar for what’s racist, though I suppose that’s the point. Surely you’re aware that definition excludes things like white privilege and the belittling hostilities said privilege engenders–a germane example being the assumption by Cecil (and yourself) that a book by a black man is probably unworthy of a Pulitzer because liberals and stuff (it was pretty clear by Cecil’s comment that he hadn’t read it, hence the response).

    Your comment, in fact, reads like a parody of an unself-aware white person lecturing people about how there’s no such thing unself-aware white people. You say “This notion that there are these people who are too ignorant to be aware of their own racism, that’s a slippery slope.” I’m curious, do you hold the same epistemological view of things like, say, Bayesian statistical analysis? That is, would you feel comfortable saying that it’s a slippery slope to assert that some people are too ignorant of Bayes theorem to be aware of how wrong their assessment of odds are? Or more prosaically, say, grammar. Is it a slippery slope to say a large group of people are too ignorant of grammar to be aware how bad their grammar is? Insert any knowledge field there you like.

    Is there a reason why people’s awareness of their conditioned racial reactions, insensitivities, prejudices, etc., should be different? Is it a special, different kind of knowledge, or is it just that the word “racist” is so loaded and damning in our culture that no one can accept the possibility that they might be acting that way without meaning to?

  16. Sean H
    at 12:59 am on April 19, 2017

    Steven, I haven’t read The Underground Railroad, but that’s mostly because just as it was coming out I read Whitehead’s previous book, The Noble Hustle, and was thoroughly unimpressed.
    I agree that extremes of racism (like extremes of most things) are outliers but on the whole, with the exception of a few rural backwaters, America is a lot less racist than it was just twenty or thirty years ago and is trending in the right direction. It’s not perfect, but change takes time. That’s essentially my core critique of liberalism (they want the world to be utopic and perfect, and they want it perfect tomorrow). My core critique of conservativism, of course, being that they like things to be the way they were simply because they used to be that way (see Grace Hopper’s famous quote).
    Swog, I don’t see a lot of evidence for “white privilege” or “rape culture” or a lot of the demons that the left likes to get up in arms about (or massive illegal immigration ruining America or the scourge of marijuana legalization and the various demons the right quivers in fear of). I take a widely skeptical approach and think that, yes, things like Bayes’ Theorem are absolutely susceptible to overreaction based on people’s political peccadilloes. I’d also say grammar is a much bigger problem than racism in the America of 2017 (in the America of 1957 it was the inverse — the average person or business was better at knowing where to put the comma and apostrophe, but worse at knowing which people ought to be allowed to sit at the lunch counter).
    At the end of the day, I just want people giving awards to be as objective and clear-headed as possible, to try to limit prejudice. It’s as detrimental to start handing out awards based on politics as it is starting to hand out jobs based on personal preference or nepotism. It should be meritocratic. That’s the best way to eliminate racism, too. To judge someone on the color of their skin isn’t bad because it’s immoral, it’s bad because it’s silly, stupid, and ignorant to think that the amount of melanin in someone’s skin is relevant to a discussion of their worth or merit. Race is a fabrication, it’s skin deep. We treat it so seriously in America. So much so that we start this downward spiral of over-compensation, which may be happening with the sheer amount of accolades being handed to Whitehead’s book.
    But hey, David Foster Wallace didn’t win any of the major awards during his lifetime. David Mitchell hasn’t received any either. Maybe these things are pretty damn irrelevant. Still, it’s essential for people to put aside petty politics and retain the ability judge works of art purely on their merit AS works of art.

  17. Swog Hollow
    at 8:24 am on April 19, 2017

    “Swog, I don’t see a lot of evidence for “white privilege” or “rape culture””

    1 in 5 women in the general public report having been sexually assaulted. As for putting white privilege in quotes, I doubt I’m going to convince that exists in this message field, can only suggest that–as with the lack of evidence you see for rape culture–perhaps this has something to do with your own lack of experience with these things? I wonder if you’ve ever stopped to consider that maybe this stuff is real, even if liberals and PC are sometimes annoying. Why is the default reaction of the right wing to assume that people are bitching for no reason? Is it possible that women get assaulted and demeaned a lot in our culture, and people of color put up with a ton of bullshit by white people who don’t realize they’re being racist? Have you ever taken five seconds to entertain the idea that non-white men are not just irritating whiners, that they may have some legitimate complaints?

    “Race is a fabrication, it’s skin deep.”

    Indeed, yet the everyday hostilities and assumptions and insensitivities people deal with due to their skin color are very real. Waving it away as nonsense is a superconvenient position for someone with the culturally expedient skin tone.

    “So much so that we start this downward spiral of over-compensation, which may be happening with the sheer amount of accolades being handed to Whitehead’s book.”

    And we circle back to the beginning of this thread, and the fact that there is some unconscious and implicit racism in assuming a book is getting accolades because it’s written by a black man. It’s actually a pretty good book, better than quite a few past winners by non POCs.

  18. steven augustine
    at 8:37 am on April 19, 2017

    Sean!

    “America is a lot less racist than it was just twenty or thirty years ago and is trending in the right direction.”

    You need to consider the glaring fact that you’re not in the best position to know… unless you’re a member of a commonly-discriminated-against minority, Sean. I think things are actually *worse*, and trending in the worst direction. I lived in a nearly-post-racial, wonderfully-integrated, middle class neighborhood in Philly, in the 1970s, and if we had known, back then, how VERY *bad* things would be 40 years later…

    The good news you appear to detect comes, no doubt, from keying your sense of Racial Progress to the rise of highly visible token successes who represent the “uplift” of .00001% of the congenital underclass. The average White American is suffering terribly in the post-NAFTA Serf economy (you think a nation-wide plague of White drug addicts means nothing?) and the average Black American is suffering *more*… and the gulf between them is widening… and ever more hostile. How can you not see this?

    Things are racially dismal, in America, especially for Blacks, because A) the entrenched psycho-sociopolitical toxin of segregation B) ubiquitous, negative-stereotype-based propaganda C) not only sub-par educational opportunities and standards but the incredibly destructive and durable meme that an educated Black (male) is deracinated/ inauthentic/ a Tom/ unmanly/ a traitor. That last (Jim Crow) absurdity is a belief quite common to Left/Right/Black/White alike. Until that’s fixed, and the segregation problem is thereafter addressed, expect zero progress.

    “Swog, I don’t see a lot of evidence for “white privilege” or “rape culture”…”

    Well, again: how or why would you, Sean? Are you a master of Race and Gender disguise/ empathy….? I’m trying to imagine me proclaiming that “Anti-Semitism and Homophobia are no longer problems!” and getting away with it…

    “At the end of the day, I just want people giving awards to be as objective and clear-headed as possible…”

    And that’s where we agree. I am bone tired of watching Mediocrity’s endless victory lap in the stadium of the downward spiral.

  19. steven augustine
    at 8:47 am on April 19, 2017

    Sean

    PS

    “It’s not perfect, but change takes time. That’s essentially my core critique of liberalism (they want the world to be utopic and perfect, and they want it perfect tomorrow). My core critique of conservativism, of course, being that they like things to be the way they were simply because they used to be that way (see Grace Hopper’s famous quote).”

    I always thought of a “Liberal” as a “Conservative” with a guilty conscience. And I think that a “Conservative” doesn’t merely prefer the “good olde days” because “the good olde days” are old: they prefer “the good olde days” because they (or people like them) ruled, unopposed, back then, and they would very much like to continue to do so.

  20. Swog Hollow
    at 10:05 am on April 19, 2017

    Steven,

    The phenomenon of conservatives pronouncing unconscious racism and privilege imaginary by personal decree–itself an act of unconscious racism and privilege–is an extremely dispiriting modern phenomenon, both in terms of frequency and cognitive impregnability.

    “I always thought of a “Liberal” as a “Conservative” with a guilty conscience.”

    Strike “guilty” and you’re onto something there. There’s an essential central inability or unwillingness of the white (largely male) conservative mind to engage in empathy with people different from them. Any cultural grievance, racial or sexual or otherwise, must de facto be petty if not completely imagined. Which, of course, goes back to your definition of conservative–engaging in empathy with POC and women would necessitate rethinking assumptions about fundamental power balances in society, which is the real non-starter.

  21. steven augustine
    at 10:21 am on April 19, 2017

    Swog!

    What can we say? It’s quite a mess! Which makes the desperate need for W.O.G. (works of genius) even (and ever) more desperate!

  22. Sean H
    at 3:55 pm on April 19, 2017

    Thanks for the cerebral and balanced counter-arguments, Steven and Swog. I don’t want to stray too far from Whitehead’s book, but I just want to say that I’m a case-by-case guy. Of course there is rape and racism. I think that all forms of sexism and racism should be actively opposed as vehemently and as consistently as possible.
    I just can’t get on the collectivist bandwagon. I refuse to think that somehow by mere dint of one’s status as a woman or a POC, they are somehow more fit to judge the objective reality of a situation than an objective, clear-headed white male empiricist (believe it or not, they exist). Are plenty of white males racists, blithely unaware of things that other people face often that they face rarely or never, and lacking in reflection or empirical rigor? Sure. Absolutely.
    That said, if someone wants to lampoon unironic dreadlocks or yet another book about the evils of slavery in 2017, they shouldn’t have to be black to do so. Similarly, you don’t need to be white to lampoon the dorky white guy cliche. You don’t have to be a woman to make fun of Girls/Lena Dunham, or of the absurd self-righteousness of pussy-hat marches. You don’t have to be gay to poo-poo Moonlight or call it overrated. I just think this notion that only certain people get to have a voice is a form of censorship and of humorlessness (almost always the sign of lack of intelligence).
    Of course, there are plenty of people who are not whiners, who are legitimately aggrieved. But there are a lot of people who ARE whiners, who do want a handout, who weren’t raped and yet say they were for personal gain. And the best way to parse the two, the legitimately aggrieved and deserving legal redress from undeserving scam artists (which there are, y’know, kind of a lot of in America), is to look at it case by case. Is homelessness sad? Sure. Are some of the homeless victims of circumstance? Sure. But are a lot of them straight up liars, fraud, addicts, and makers of their own downfall? Yes to that too, no?
    I found Whitehead’s prose unremarkable so I didn’t run out and buy The Underground Railroad. I only have the time to read so many books. So I guess my initial inquiry was just based on trying to figure out if I want to devote my time to reading his book instead of someone else’s (who may be a POC, or may not; who may be an award-winner, or may not; who may not be a contemporary living artist with now millions of dollars, or may not).
    Thanks again for the feedback. I appreciate an honest, open-minded debate and even though we seem to have somewhat intractable positions, I do take your words seriously. I think privilege is an incredibly overused word, but yeah, I’ll admit it exists. I think racism and sexism are WAY overused today, but of course they both exist. Determining degrees and inhabiting the gray spaces honestly is at least infinitely better than being dogmatic black-or-white, you’re with us or against us manicheans (which IMO used to be much more the paradigm of the right, and has recently infected the left.

  23. steven augustine
    at 5:12 pm on April 19, 2017

    Sean!

    I agree: this has been a pleasure. And I can appreciate the fact that you aren’t sniping from a doctrinaire bunker… too many “Liberals” and “Conservatives” are doing just that, illuminating nothing.

  24. Swog Hollow
    at 11:44 am on April 20, 2017

    Sean,

    I agree with you that the doctrinaire quality of progressive rhetoric can be odiouss. I fundamentally believe the left really needs to work on its messaging vis-a-vis PC, as it turns off people (perhaps like yourself) who might otherwise be receptive to its fundamental aims. Stuff like pussy hats and terms like “white tears” are, I think, ultimately counterproductive.

    Still: “I refuse to think that somehow by mere dint of one’s status as a woman or a POC, they are somehow more fit to judge the objective reality of a situation than an objective, clear-headed white male empiricist”

    Is something you should think hard about. Women and POC probably know more than you about what it’s like to be a woman or POC. Try listening a little more and being turned off by the messaging a little less.

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