Was the Enlightenment Racist?

Jonah Goldberg in The National Review:

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate, recently penned an essay suggesting that the Enlightenment was racist — though the real point seemed to be that liking the Enlightenment too much is kind of racist. Regardless, the essay set off quite a hullabaloo, mostly on Twitter. His main targets were two new books, Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker, and Suicide of the West, by yours truly. Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist bogeyman of the moment for many liberals, was namechecked for good measure.

A wide array of writers took sides, either condemning the essay or defending it. The battle lines mostly tracked the Left–Right divide, but not entirely. For instance, Ross Douthat of the New York Times and National Review sided with Bouie, tweeting “That the Enlightenment was and remains a mixed bag whose intellectual-political-economic matrix made racism worse for a while (and may again, who knows?) is neither a radical nor an ignorant opinion.”

Before I go on, let me disappoint many of my defenders and state here that I think Douthat is mostly right. The Enlightenment was a mixed bag and it remains one as well. But Bouie, who makes many fine points, is ultimately wrong — and in many of the ways that I think Pinker is wrong in his discussion of the Enlightenment.

More here.