There Were “Nazis” Before the Nazis and They Were American.

While we’re on the topic of the alt-right: I’ve been fairly critical of calls to simply call them Nazis or neo-Nazis. As writers in the anti-fascist movement and I have argued, the fact that most of them don’t actually espouse Nazi ideology should be of relevance to our efforts to understand and put out accurate information about the movement for a number of reasons. One underacknowleged reason is that the kneejerk “Nazi” charge blinds us to the ways in which the ideas animating the alt-right are firmly rooted in American history. Virulent racism and eugenics, as should be painfully, stupidly obvious to us, are not foreign imports from Nazi Germany. In fact, Adolf Hitler is known to have been influenced by American eugenicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Madison Grant, author of an incredibly influential work of scientific racism called The Passing of the Great Race. “Hitler quoted liberally from Grant in his speeches,” the Times‘ Timothy Ryback wrote in 2011, “and is said to have sent him a letter describing The Passing of the Great Race as “my bible.”

Last week at Marginal Revolution,  Alex Tabarrok shed light on another important American eugenicist—Richard T. Ely, co-founder of the American Economic Association

Ely … wanted more government ownership of the commanding heights, more regulation of economic life and more militarism and service to the state. Ely didn’t just reject laissez-faire in economics he rejected laissez-faire in all areas of social life.

For example, after explaining why the benevolence of modern society might lead to a decline in the fitness of the race, he argued, don’t worry, we have a solution:

“….the regulation of marriage, which is proposed, and which is being pushed forward by physicians and thoughtful people, — by people who are the farthest removed from any possible designation as cranks, — looks beyond the prevention of the marriage of paupers and feeble-minded.”

“[T]here are classes in every modern community composed of those who are virtually children,” Ely wrote in 1898, “and who require paternal and fostering care, the aim of which should be the highest development of which they are capable. We may instance the negroes, who are for the most part grownup children, and should be treated as such.” Tabarrok goes on to point out that this racism was central to the AEA’s early work:

One early and influential publication of the AEA, for example, was Frederick Hoffman’s Race Traits of the American Negro which after presenting reams of statistics (Hoffman was later a president of the American Statistical Society) concluded with these recommendations:

“…Intercourse with the white race must absolutely cease and race purity must be insisted upon in marriage as well as outside of it. Together with a higher morality will come a greater degree of economic efficiency, and the predominating trait of the white race, the virtue of thrift, will follow as a natural consequence of the mastery by the colored race of its own conditions of life…

“…All the facts prove that education, philanthropy and religion have failed to develop a higher appreciation of the stern and uncompromising virtues of the Aryan race. The conclusion is warranted that it is merely a question of time when the actual downward course, that is, a decrease in the population, will take place. In the meantime, however, the presence of the colored population is a serious hindrance to the economic progress of the white race.”

The whole post is worth a read. As too few are aware, the country wasn’t merely drunk on eugenicist thought at the time. Sterilization was enthusiastically supported public policy across most of the country through WWII. The alt-right isn’t some kind of dark, new Nazi revolution. It’s an all-American revival.

The Average American Hasn’t A Clue What the Alt-Right Is.

From Pew today:

A majority (54%) of U.S. adults say they have heard “nothing at all” about the “alt-right” movement and another 28% have heard only “a little” about it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Just 17% say they have heard “a lot” about the movement.

Liberal Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are far more likely than other Democrats to have heard about the movement. Two-thirds of liberal Democrats (66%) have heard a lot or a little about it, compared with fewer than half of conservative or moderate Democrats (39%) and just four-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners overall (40%).

Pew’s survey goes on to say that a little over a third of Americans who’ve actually heard of the alt-right associate the label with white supremacy or white nationalism, with an additional 17 percent of Americans associating the alt-right with racism more generally. So much for euphemization. “Democrats (47%) are nearly three times as likely as Republicans (17%) to say the movement stands for “white supremacy” or “white nationalism,” Pew’s John Gramlich writes. “Democrats are also more likely than Republicans to associate the movement with “racism” or “prejudice” (18% of Democrats, 10% of Republicans).”

The Democrats Should Obviously Ram Through Merrick Garland. So They Probably Won’t.

Over at Crooks and Liars, Karoli Kunis has a post about the last shot Democrats will have to land Merrick Garland on the Court:

David Waldman (KagroX on Twitter) has outlined how they can confirm Judge Merrick Garland on January 3rd for the few minutes that they will be the majority in the Senate. Waldman is a long-standing expert on Senate procedure and political plays. He was one of the first to call for passage of the ACA via reconciliation in the Senate after Scott Brown was elected.

Here it is, in a nutshell.

On January 3, 2017, Democrats will hold the majority in the Senate for a few minutes, until the newly-elected Senators are sworn in. Biden could convene the Senate in those few minutes and call for a vote. The majority could then suspend the rules and vote in Merrick Garland.

The key here is that VP Biden would have to be willing to convene the Senate and recognize Senator Dick Durbin instead of Mitch McConnell. Durbin moves to re-nominate Garland, and Senate Democrats then vote to confirm him. They will have a quorum for those few minutes.

It’s bold. Garland would be confirmed by 34 Democrats and no Republicans. It will certainly enrage Republicans, but they’re already enraged and full of hubris about how they’re going to screw Democrats anyway, so what do they really have to lose?

It would be a both highly dramatic and highly necessary move. Leaving without appointing Garland would guarantee Trump and the Republican Party at least one (and maybe two, possibly three) nominations if the Republican Party eliminates the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Which they likely will—they’re entirely willing to pull moves like this to achieve their objectives; their willingness to subvert norms is the very reason why Garland has been hung out to dry for months while the Court has been deadlocked. Pushing Garland through is the right move. It’s the responsible move. And it probably will not be done.

A Reality Show President Was Inevitable.

Alex Ross had a piece at The New Yorker yesterday about Donald Trump as the ultimate vindication of the Frankfurt School’s social critics:

As Stuart Jeffries points out in his recent book “Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School,” the ongoing international crisis of capitalism and liberal democracy has prompted a resurgence of interest in the body of work known as critical theory. The combination of economic inequality and pop-cultural frivolity is precisely the scenario Adorno and others had in mind: mass distraction masking élite domination. Two years ago, in an essay on the persistence of the Frankfurt School, I wrote, “If Adorno were to look upon the cultural landscape of the twenty-first century, he might take grim satisfaction in seeing his fondest fears realized.”

I spoke too soon. His moment of vindication is arriving now. With the election of Donald Trump, the latent threat of American authoritarianism is on the verge of being realized, its characteristics already mapped by latter-day sociologists who have updated Adorno’s “F-scale” for fascist tendencies.

The most incredible thing about this moment is indeed how ludicrously “on the nose” it is, as Ross writes. Trump’s election is an event that would be over the top in all but the very preachiest satires or dystopian works on the deadness of American cultural life and the political questions it obscures (Infinite Jest, perhaps the preachiest of them all, notably includes a Trumpesque celebrity president of the “Organization of North American Nations”).

Minima Moralia‘s been on my reading list for an embarrassingly long time, so I can’t claim full command of Adorno’s ideas. But it seems that many of the insights of the Frankfurt School have become, or perhaps always were, commonsensical, broadly accessible, and, at this point, clichéd notions about the nature of popular culture and how it interacts with political power—everyone who’s ever griped about the American “sheeple” or muttered about “bread and circuses” seems, I think, to grasp the basics of what Adorno had to say. I suspect that many of Trump’s own voters share that cynicism and would acknowledge themselves, if pressed, that Trump is the product of a hollow and narcotizing mass culture. But they voted for him anyway. And the rest of us have spent decades helplessly watching that culture metastasize.

On Ross Douthat, Cosmopolitanism, and Cultural Relativism

I’ve been thinking to myself for some time about how certain parts of the discourse of the right have seemingly flipped over the years. Today, for instance, we have the spectacle of conservative writers responding to student movements by adopting an absolutist position on free speech that would have been anathema to conservatives warring against communism, obscenity, and the perversion of American society not too long ago. As I wrote in Harper’s earlier this year, God & Man at Yale, the text that many argue launched the American conservative movement in earnest, was a full-throated jeremiad against free expression and the free exchange of ideas on college campuses. Now, writers at William F. Buckley’s magazine mock students who agree with Buckley’s stance in Yale as idiots. So it goes.

It seems as though Brexit, Trump, and furor on both sides of the pond over immigration have revealed an even more dramatic and complicated shift. The right has finally succumbed to cultural relativism.

It’s not liberal relativism, but it’s a kind of relativism nonetheless and the inevitable outcome of years of conservative pop sociology that sought to explain – defensively, ham-fistedly, and incorrectly – American political divides as largely immutable and easily defined by certain cultural markers.

One of the most salient critiques the left has been leveling of late against liberal pundits is that the explanatory mode is essentially amoral. To concern oneself merely with the explanation of what is and what seems within the immediate realm of possibility rather than with what is ultimately right or wrong is to bias oneself towards the status quo and ignore the reasons why we engage in political thought in the first place. We should be striving towards a general Good. The things around us – cultures, systems, practices – don’t take on a moral weight simply because they exist. They need to be justified or thrown away.

This, broadly speaking, rings true as far as material politics are concerned. Social politics are more complicated This is not dissimilar to the central claims conservatives have made against cultural relativism and multiculturalism: They erase right and wrong. Not all ways of living are equal. An explanation for a culture is morally insufficient as justification for its practices. Et cetera. This is the kind of thinking that animates paranoid right-wing fantasies about minority cultures and helped lead Brexit to victory.

But lately, it’s become clear that the right’s opposition to relativism only goes so far. Ross Douthat is the latest conservative writer to explain Brexit in the terms of “tribalism.” There’s nothing new about this lens – it’s another iteration of the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus-type routine David Brooks hawked to explain American politics in the last decade. It’s the background of every piece written about how liberals just don’t understand gun culture. Here, Douthat sketches a picture of the cosmopolitan tribe:

The people who consider themselves “cosmopolitan” in today’s West…are part of a meritocratic order that transforms difference into similarity, by plucking the best and brightest from everywhere and homogenizing them into the peculiar species that we call “global citizens.”

This species is racially diverse (within limits) and eager to assimilate the fun-seeming bits of foreign cultures — food, a touch of exotic spirituality. But no less than Brexit-voting Cornish villagers, our global citizens think and act as members of a tribe.

They have their own distinctive worldview (basically liberal Christianity without Christ), their own common educational experience, their own shared values and assumptions (social psychologists call these WEIRD — for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic), and of course their own outgroups (evangelicals, Little Englanders) to fear, pity and despise.

This is an old critique of multiculturalism based on an old and flat stereotype of liberals that few would deny holds at least partially true. There are, as Douthat writes later, “open borders Londoners who love Afghan restaurants but would never live near an immigrant housing project” and “American liberals who hail the end of whiteness while doing everything possible to keep their kids out of majority-minority schools”. Liberal hypocrisy on race is a fact and a shame. This gets pointed out in cosmopolitan outlets far more often than Douthat implies, and cosmopolitan city-dwellers are held to account for their own racism most stridently and compellingly by minority voices that are not at all conservative. But that’s not the point here.

The point is that when cultural conservatives such as, say, Allan Bloom used to advance this critique – the idea that liberals are only shallowly interested in other cultures and end up subsuming difference into a bland monoculture – it was an appendix to a larger and more important argument: that we should be invested in the idea that certain ways of living and thinking are Good, or at least better than others. Multiculturalism, cultural conservatives have argued, denies this. Liberals like myself believe critics like Bloom were wrong to suggest that multiculturalism is incompatible with ethical striving. We also believe that kind of thinking is an open door to, if not an outright self-justification for, the kind of bigotry we’re seeing here and abroad. But they weren’t wrong about the existence of right and wrong or about the existence of the Good being an inevitable source of tension between cultures.

I’m certain Douthat believes this. But his column argues simply that, “Human beings seek community, and permanent openness is hard to sustain.” Given this, the tribalism of cosmopolitan “elites” and anti-immigrant Brexiters alike is presented as an inevitability. It is natural. People are simply different. Absent here is any kind of moral evaluation of either side, beyond the potshots takes at liberals not for letting multiculturalism distract from a notion of the Good or core principles, but for not being multicultural enough. Cosmopolitans, he argues, are just as much of a closed community of similar people as Brexiters are.

In his rendering these are two closed cultures in conflict, and it seems almost irrelevant whether one side has the better end of the argument, politically, economically, or ethically. He is explaining, not judging because, he seems to imply, it’s not our place to judge. Douthat’s critique of multicultural cosmopolitans is itself couched in a kind of empty multiculturalism. It is a limp cultural relativism advanced in a whataboutist defense of a “tribe” and a culture that constitutes a significant threat to minorities.

The fact that liberals can be hypocrites on diversity and the fact that liberals can be blind to the reasons why others resent them has no bearing whatsoever on the rightness or wrongness of the way Brexiters speak about, treat, and would like to deal with immigrants. If pressed, Douthat would say this himself. But in this piece we see the kind of smoke-screening that seems reflexive on the right in debates about culturally potent issues. Again, the dynamics of the gun debate are similar. Actual arguments against gun control are flanked by pieces like these in which the divide on guns is explained as a cultural divide liberals are too ignorant to understand. A deep cultural divide certainly exists. It is not obvious what bearing that ultimately has on how we should think about gun control as a matter of ethics and a matter of policy.

Likewise, conservatives obviously do advance actual arguments (that I disagree with) about the challenges posed by high levels of immigration. Douthat has made them elsewhere. But it seems that conservatives find actual debate about the efficacy and ethics of immigration policy insufficient. As with the gun debate and other debates, it must evidently be coupled with rearguard defenses of entrenched cultures that just happen to be on the right. This reflex would be less suspect if conservatives defended, say, Islam or African-American culture just as regularly. Of course, they don’t. For minority cultures, the prescription is routinely assimilation and the erasure of differences and cultural practices for the greater good. Tolerance – the taking of cultures as they are without demanding or expecting change – is for gun owners, Brexiters, and Trump supporters. Their cultures are to be explained and not challenged.  It’s an inconsistent and self-serving kind of relativism. But it is relativism.

Me, Myself, and I

Today in Slate, senior editor Laura Bennett has a piece up exploring the rise of the (often squeamishly) personal essay as one of the most popular mediums on the web:

First-person writing has long been the Internet’s native voice. As long as there have been bloggers, there have been young people scraping their interior lives in order to convert the rawest bits into copy. But we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented moment in the online first-person boom. The rise of the unreported hot take, that much-maligned instant spin on the news of the day, has meant that editors are constantly searching for writers with any claim to expertise on a topic to elevate their pieces above the swarm. First-person essays have become the easiest way for editors to stake out some small corner of a news story and assert an on-the-ground primacy without paying for reporting. And first-person essays have also become the easiest way to jolt an increasingly jaded Internet to attention, as the bar for provocation has risen higher and higher. For writers looking to break in, offering up grim, personal dispatches may be the surest ways to get your pitches read.

The key problem with what the title of the piece calls “The First Person Industrial Complex” is its opportunism. These essays aren’t better, substantively, than the “hot take”, but the fact that they recount lived experience lends them credibility, whether or not, Bennett argues, they demonstrate meaningful introspection or self-awareness. I would personally add that they are uniquely protected from the kind of probing criticism one might give an analytical piece making the same arguments. Moreover, they fuel a weird, disquieting confessional arms race:

The mandate at xoJane, according to Carroll, was: the more “shameless” an essay, the better. Carroll describes how “internally crushing” it became to watch her inbox get flooded every day with the darkest moments in strangers’ lives: “eating disorders, sexual assault, harassment, ‘My boyfriend’s a racist and I just realized it.’ ” After a while, Carroll said, the pitches began to sound as if they were all written in the same voice: “immature, sort of boastful.” Tolentino, who worked as an editor at the Hairpin before Jezebel, characterizes the typical Jezebel pitch as the “microaggression personal essay” or “My bikini waxer looked at me funny and here’s what it says about women’s shame,” and the typical Hairpin pitch as “I just moved to the big city and had a beautiful coffee shop encounter, and here’s what it says about urban life.”

This is all of a piece with the primacy of lived experience granted (for some people, anyways) by what I suppose could be called the Identity Left. As Bennett notes, the personal essay boom has meant that a growing number of outlets have dedicated space to telling the stories offered by minority writers, just as the Identity Left has (re)emerged to insist that those stories illuminate things about life in our country that abstracted analysis cannot. These trends are reinforcing each other and that is largely good. Concerns should arise though, for anyone who believes that personal experience, while critical to understanding how the abstractions and contextual facts about issues like race manifest themselves in actual life, cannot nourish that understanding alone. It is a simple thing for a writer to talk in personal terms about the injustices, misunderstandings, and ignorance they encounter in their own lives. It is  harder to understand and write about the policies that reinforce them. There are plenty of young writers doing the former and too few doing the latter.

On Jonathan Chait, Fredrik deBoer, and Political Correctness: A Facebook Comment/Essay

I wrote this an hour or so ago to a Facebook friend named Harry. I did not mean to. The grammatical and spelling errors will serve as proof until I get around to fixing them.

“Suppose Harry, that I wanted to convene a center-left pow-wow of sorts. A discussion group, or book club, or even a class explicitly or implicitly put together to cater to those on the center-left. Suppose then that one day an individual comes to my pow-wow and, in our weekly round of introductions to each other, this individual says something to the effect of, “Hello. My name is ___________. I, like you, believe that things should be done to alleviate poverty and want in the United States. I also happen to believe that the state does not have the right to collect income taxes. No, I haven’t studied economics or policy at all. I don’t really even read the news. I dunno. I just sorta kinda believe it. But don’t worry about it. I’m one of you.”

There are, I think, two approaches I could take in response to the presence of this person. One would be to spend time, over the course of a few months or a year or however long it would take to try to get this person to assimilate to the views of the wider group. You’d print out articles. Explain to him how income taxes came about in America and the Constitutional precedents used to justify their existence. You’d engage him in philosophical discussions about the role of government. At the end of it all, he might not come around. But he also might. And so I might decide to put in that effort.

The second approach would be to say to this person, “No, sorry. What you believe is actually fundamentally different from what I believe in a number of ways. You don’t belong.” Suppose I took this approach, but was quite mean about it. I might mock or ridicule this person for their ignorance. I might make a show of indignation. “What you believe would lead to the ruin of all we hold dear in this country, and you’re morally bankrupt for thinking it.” This would almost certainly lead this person to abandon the idea that they might be on the center-left. And, unbeknownst to me, center-leftism might lose one more potential advocate. This would be sad.

It would not, though, be sad enough to merit inclusion in a 3,000+ word New York Magazine feature as an indication of the collapse of American liberalism. I do not think Jonathan Chait would have been paid very much to argue that the conversion of people with libertarian tendencies to center-leftism is central to the future of center-leftism as an ideology. Taking the second approach would certainly lose the center-left a few allies. Or many. I do not think very many people, though, would be worked up about it. The second approach, in fact, is taken by many people of many ideologies at many colleges on issues of domestic and foreign policy every day. No one really cares. And to the extent that certain people might actually care, no one, I think, would be truly worked up about it enough to excoriate me for it in a profanity laden blog post.

There is something about identity politics that is different to people like Chait and deBoer. It is not immediately obvious why that should be. The gap between someone who believes gender differences are innate and someone who doesn’t is about as wide, I think, as the gap between someone who thinks income taxes shouldn’t exist and someone who thinks that they should. In one area, Chait thinks that choosing not to extend a hand is reprehensible. I have a hard time believing Chait – who has earned a living being mean to people on the center-right and right for longer than I have been alive – would believe the same about the other.

Ideology *is* groupthink. Always. There are boundaries to the realm of acceptable beliefs within ideolgical groups. Lines that, once crossed, put you outside of that group. This is something that we accept without much thought when it comes to matters of rote policy. But whenever identity politics and social politics are discussed broadly, there is an insistence from people on the center-left that the left should build and maintain bridges. That center-leftists would be natural partners of the left on social issues if the left would only realize it and be less mean. Chait and deBoer are smart enough to know that socialists and people who think that capital gains taxes should be raised are not the same and want very different things at the end of the day, no matter how politically convenient their marriage might be on certain fronts. They understand that socialists and center-leftists can and do have ferocious fights about such things. They are okay with this. But for some reason, they are appalled that people who believe men and women are not different refuse the friendship of people that do.

This is because deBoer and Chait believe that disagreements on identity politics are frivolous and unimportant. They take issues of race and gender less seriously than rote policy. Both are too cowardly to say this. But that disdain drips from every word they write about so-called p.c. culture. Fredrik deBoer does not think believing there are innate differences between men and women is that big of a deal. Gender-neutral pronouns probably annoy Jonathan Chait. But the institutions that they emerged from and the young people that inhabit them (and the new outlets of opinion journalism) increasingly disagree. They have new and energetic competitors from the left – both ideologically and professionally. And sometimes these competitors say things that hurt. Chait and deBoer are losing ground on the basis of issues they consider trivial in the wider scheme of things. And they hate it.

They’ve chosen to respond by insisting that the expanding gap on identity and social politics between them and a now-p.c. minded left isn’t very much of a gap at all. That the substantive differences between Jonathan Chait and Jezebel are dwarfed by differences in tone and temperament. This is not, I suspect, actually true. But it is convenient. It is their way of trying to wheedle their way back in to the positions of ideological authority they are used to without engaging their p.c. opponents in substantive debates they suspect they might lose or offend people by participating in.

Here’s the bottom line: Center-leftists like Jonathan Chait and I do not have the right to insist to leftists that we are their friends. That is for leftists to decide. They are reevaluating our relationship with them. In their review of our 100+ years of history with them, they may well decide that in spite of the incremental progress we’ve made together on social issues, the partnership has fallen short. We want, at the end of the day, either different things or the same things delivered at different paces. For Chait to insist, from his perch at a mainstream cultural publication – with all the clout and authority he’s been granted (and I’m speaking purely in terms of the acceptability of his politics; his race and gender, to many, make all this even more risible) – that he knows what the left wants and that those things really happen to be the same thing that he, Jonathan Chait, and all the center-left want and that the left can’t be taken seriously until they are willing to dilute their beliefs enough to welcome back Jonathan Chait et al into the fold…this is naked, undiluted arrogance. The left is capable of expanding without my help and the help of Jonathan Chait and Fredrik deBoer. They are doing so now by taking up the concerns of constituencies marginalized and excluded by the institutions that Jonathan Chait owes his livelihood to. Constituencies that include many who believe that the center-left has insufficiently represented their interests. It is not surprising, or interesting, or offensive to me that the p.c. left has decided that it has little time for people like me, and Jonathan Chait, and the rest of the center-left. Or that college students can be pedantic assholes about their beliefs. But Chait has a writing gig at New York Magazine. And I do not. So.”

The New New Republic Shapes Up

Most people interested in the world of political media that haven’t been living under a rock for the past month have likely heard – and have likely had something to say – about the crisis at The New Republic. (If you have been living under a rock, Ryan Lizza’s story on the whole mess is probably the only thing that you need to read, although The Awl‘s Choire Sicha impishly put together a fairly comprehensive list of “hot takes” about it all a while back. Of them, Coates’ is, unsurprisingly, the most worthwhile.)

Today, incoming editor Gabriel Snyder, formerly of The Atlantic Wire and Gawker, put out a letter broadly addressing the situation and the magazine’s complicated legacy.

The New Republic has always been both in love and at war with its prior self. The magazine’s early decades were marked by abrupt ownership changes, unceremonious dismissals of editors, shifting policy positions, and uprooted headquarters, all accompanied by masthead upheavals.

In 1974, Martin Peretz, a 35-year-old social studies lecturer at Harvard College, bought The New Republic. He pledged to leave things as they were and to keep then-editor Gilbert Harrison “for a minimum of three years,” as Harrison told the Times. Sooner than that, however, Peretz installed himself as editor, resignations followed, and much of the staff was replaced by his former students. They would go on to dominate the masthead for the rest of the century.

A decade into Peretz’s tenure, Michael Straight, the owner-editor after World War II and son of the magazine’s first financial backer, wrote a letter to The New York Review of Books announcing “the spirit which Croly created and which Gilbert Harrison maintained in recent years was shattered.” Peretz, who stood accused of endorsing Israel’s 1985 bombing of Beirut, rightly ridiculed this appeal to constancy. “What spirit of The New Republic exactly would they be violating?” he replied to the letters page. “The magazine has had a long and complicated history.” Last year Peretz was the one complaining, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the current owner, Chris Hughes, is “not from the world of Herbert Croly.” A survey of the many deaths and rebirths of The New Republic shows, if anything, that its most important survival skill has been to attract new champions from beyond its inner sanctum.

The most relevant paragraph for those of us with a more than passing interest in the magazine’s racial history – and those of us who want to make a living in this business – was this one:

As we revive one proud legacy of The New Republicthe launching of new voices and expertsthose new voices and experts will be diverse in race, gender, and background. As we build our editorial staff, we will reach out to talented journalists who might have previously felt unwelcome at The New Republic. If this publication is to be influential, and not merely survive, it can no longer afford to represent the views of one privileged class, nor appeal solely to a small demographic of political elites.

Interestingly, it was announced today that one of the “new voices” that’s set to grace the magazine’s pages in the near future will be Jeet Heer, a Canadian journalist who was one of many to examine exactly why non-white and non-male journalists were “unwelcome” for so long in the immediate aftermath of the staff departures:

Heet has some additional thoughts on The New Republic and gender on his blog Sans Everything.

Other “new voices” announced today: New York Magazine‘s Ann Friedman, freelance writer Batya Ungar-Sargon, poet and writer Cathy Park Hong, Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Inga Saffron, The Hairpin contributing editor Jazmine Hughes, Jeffery Ball, scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Center for Energy Policy and Finance, freelance writer Thomas Rogers, Mental Floss contributing editor Jen Doll, and novelist William Giraldi. It’s not entirely clear what exactly “new” means in this context given that pieces from most of these writers has been published by TNR over the past few months. Still, it’s definitely a diverse and promising slate.

Until We Meet Again…


An incredible sendoff to an incredible character. I’ve been watching since middle school. I grew up politically as a member of the Colbert Nation. This was a genuinely, potently sad moment for me and I imagine countless other viewers. But Stephen’s off to do bigger and, hopefully, even better things. Best of luck to him. Over at Jezebel, Rebecca Rose has the most comprehensive list I’ve yet seen of all the people who were on the set:

There were way too many people to name right now, but here’s the ones I can remember as I type this out: Alan Alda, Jon Stewart, Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Tom Brokaw, Mandy Patinkin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Michael Stipe, Cindi Lauper, Katie Couric, James Franco, Charlie Rose, Barry Manilow, Jeff Daniels, Patrick Stewart, Dr. Francis Collins, Andy Cohen, Henry Kissinger, Andrew Sullivan, Arianna Huffington, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Christian Amanpour, Goerge Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Bill Clinton, Keith Olbermann, Jeff Tweedy, Tim Meadows, Mike Huckabee, Mark Cuban, Bob Costas, Ken Burns,Gloria Steinem, Thomas Friedman, Claire McKaskill, David Gregory, Eliot Spitzer, Yo Yo Ma, John Ratzenberger, Samantha Power, Vince Gilligan, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Bill DeBlasio, Randy Newman, Sam Waterston, Toby Keith, Bo Dietl, Cory Booker, Elijah Wood, Pussy Riot, Leslie Stahl, Smaug, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Debra Wilson, Paul Krugman, Jon Batiste, Stone Phillips, Peter Frampton, Alexi Lalas, Chuck Schumer, Chief of Staff of the Army General Ray Odierno, Nate Silver, Bradley Whitford, Jake Tapper, Jeffrey Toobin, Leon Wieseltier, Ric Ocasek, Dean Kamen, Trevor Potter, Jon Alter, Richard Clarke, Norm Ornstein, David Hallberg, Kevin Spacey, Grover Norquist, George Saunders, astronaut Garrett Reisman in ACTUAL SPACE, a group of military servicemen and women in Afghanistan and a WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHERS. Alex Trebek also made an appearance at the very end, but was not part of the musical number.

A probably unprecedented and probably awkward gathering. Matt Taibbi tweeted a hint of what it was like backstage: