The Monday Morning Teaser

After “Why You Can’t Understand Conservative Rhetoric” and “Silly Season in the Culture Wars“, I figured it was time to let the cancel-culture debate rest for a while. But then Matt Bai wrote a Washington Post column that could have been a direct answer to my posts. (I’m sure it wasn’t. I’ve never seen any indication that Bai is a Sift reader.) And liberal social-media friends who ought to know better started using right-wing-talking-point terms like “woke mob” and linking to New York Post articles making a generational case against the “millennial Maoists”. (I’m nowhere near the millennial generation, but I’m starting to sympathize.)

Possibly unwisely, I took the bait. The result is “Is an Intelligent Cancel-Culture Discussion Possible?”, which is just about done and should be out shortly. In it, I don’t just respond to criticism, but also lay out some ground rules for an intelligent discussion of the issue, and point you to a couple of articles I found helpful.

I refused to let that post delay yet again a post that didn’t get done last week: “What Makes a Good Conspiracy Theory?” Two weeks ago, Ross Douthat wrote a column “A Better Way to Think About Conspiracies“. I almost never get to agree with Ross, so I didn’t want to let this opportunity go by. His “tool kit” for separating plausible theories from crazy ones is pretty good, as far as it goes. So I wanted to review it and add to it. In general, I think we’d do a better job of fighting back against QAnon and other crazy theories if we had a widely acknowledged set of standards, rather than making an ad hoc case against each new theory.

That post should appear maybe around 11 EST.

Then there’s the news of the week. Covid relief really did pass! If it continues to be as popular as it has been so far, it might mark a turning point in the public’s relationship to government. Maybe the Reagan Revolution could finally be over. We marked the one-year anniversary of Covid being declared a pandemic, which led to a lot of retrospectives. Personally, I noticed because I was watching the Big Ten basketball tournament; the same tournament getting abruptly cancelled last year was when I noticed that things had gotten serious. Biden gave a prime-time address. Voting rights legislation continued on its collision course with the filibuster. And a few other things happened. I’ll try to get the weekly summary out by 1.

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