America, Land of Brutal Binaries

Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine:

It was entirely a coincidence that I found myself reading Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind in the same week that Brett Kavanaugh was credibly accused of sexual assault in his teens, and Ian Buruma lost his job as editor of The New York Review of Books, after publishing an essay by a man credibly accused of 23 separate instances of sexual abuse, but cleared of all criminal charges. And the book does not, of course, address the specifics of either case. But it’s a sharp analysis of the toxic atmosphere in which our current debates take place, a reminder that it is close to impossible, in this polarized climate, to deal with the specifics and complexities of each scandal from a non-tribal perspective.

And so it seems that Kavanaugh is either a perfect exemplar of judicial expertise and impeccable moral conduct, or he is a lying rapist determined to destroy and control the lives of all women. Ghomeshi is evil, and granting any space for such a monster to defend or account for himself is itself an act of oppression, which must be shamed and punished. Those appear to be our choices, ladies and gentlemen, in this particular polarization cycle. There is little nuance in these battles and absolutely no mercy for anyone unlucky enough to get caught up in their swirling vortex.

More here.