A truly rational conversation not contaminated by identity politics

Ezra Klein did the podcast with Sam Harris, and there’s a transcript. It is, naturally, an interesting read. One sample:

Ezra Klein

One of the things I’ve come to think about you that I actually did not come into this believing is, you’re very quick to see a lot of psychological tendencies, cognitive fallacies, etc. in others that you don’t see applying to yourself, or people you’ve written into your tribe. You say words in there like confirmation bias, etc., to me about how we’re looking at Murray. The whole thing I just told you is that Charles Murray is a guy who works at conservative think tanks, whose first book was about why we should get rid of the welfare state, who is, his whole life’s work is about breaking down social policy.

To the extent that I have any biases that flow backwards from political commitments, so does he. We’re all —

Sam Harris

Okay. But what’s my bias?

Ezra Klein

Hold on Sam. I’m going to go through this.

Sam Harris

But what’s my bias?

Ezra Klein

I promise you I will get to your bias very quickly.

[one para omitted]

Then you asked me — and I think this is a good question, because I think this gets to the core of this and it gets to where I tried to open us up into — your view of this debate is that to say that you have a bias in it is to say, in your terms, that you’re like the grand dragon of the KKK. That the only version of a bias that can be influencing what you see here is a core form of racism. That’s actually not my view of you, but I do think you have a bias.

I think you have a huge sensitivity, let’s put it that way, and you have a lot of difficulty extending an assumption of good faith to anyone who disagrees with you on an issue that you code as identity politics. There’s a place actually where I think you got into this in a pretty interesting way. I went back and I read your discussion with Glenn Loury.

At the beginning, when you’re talking about why you chose to have Glenn on the show, you say, “My goal was to find an African American intellectual, who could really get into the details with me, but whom I also trusted to have a truly rational conversation that wouldn’t be contaminated by identity politics.” To you, engaging in identity politics discredits your ability to participate in a rational conversation, and it’s something, as far as I can tell, that you do not see yourself as doing.

I don’t know what they say next because I paused there.

That’s one of the things that just drives me nuts about Harris and guys like Harris – their blindness (their smug blindness, frankly) to how easy it is for people with the Approved Forms of identity to see “contamination” in the “identity politics” of people who don’t. It’s almost comical that Sam Harris thinks he has truly rational conversations that are not contaminated by identity politics. It’s less close to comical that he doesn’t even realize that his hostility to “identity politics” is “identity politics.”

So, yeah, that’s his bias, or one of them.

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