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E-Pluribus | August 3, 2021
From no-fly to no-buy, a less woke attempt at "antiracism," and the competing propositions of modern day nationalism.
A round up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
David Sacks: Get Ready for the 'No-Buy' List
Writing at Bari Weiss’s Common Sense Substack, Davis Sacks, one of the founders of Paypal, warns that moves by Paypal and other online payment services to ban certain users based on viewpoint is a danger to free expression. While policing e-commerce users can (and should) stop criminals and terrorists from raising and transferring funds, it can also prevent legitimate if controversial groups from fully engaging in a very online world, and that could ultimately harm democracy.
The harm is compounded when the loss of speech rights is followed by restrictions on the ability to participate in online economic activity. Within days of the Trump-Parler cancellations, most of the finance tech stack (Stripe, Square, PayPal, Shopify, GoFundMe, and even enterprise SaaS company Okta, which wasn’t used by anyone in the events of January 6) declared they were canceling the accounts of “individuals and organizations connected to the [Capitol] riot.”
Now PayPal has gone much further, creating the economic equivalent of the No-Fly List with the ADL’s assistance. If history is any guide, other fintech companies will soon follow suit. As we saw in the case of speech restrictions, the political monoculture that prevails among employees of these companies will create pressure for all of them to act as a bloc.
When someone mistakenly lands on the No-Fly List, they can at least sue or petition the government for redress. But when your name lands on a No-Buy List created by a consortium of private fintech companies, to whom can you appeal?
Read it all.
Nick Gillespie: Diversity Seminars Don't Have To Be Maoist Struggle Sessions
While some may bristle at use of the term “antiracism,” the manner in which Chloé Valdary approaches the task, for which organizations are hiring her firm, is significantly different than the industry (and it is an industry) standard. Nick Gillespie of Reason interviews Valdary to get a sense of how her approach differs and how her use of literature and culture to unite those of different backgrounds can unite rather than divide.
In a world where workplace diversity sessions increasingly resemble Maoist struggle sessions, Chloé Valdary's Theory of Enchantment seminars seek to bring people together using popular culture to explore our common humanity and generate empathy rather than division.
The 28-year-old Valdary started a group to combat anti-semitism as an undergraduate at the University of New Orleans, and after a fellowship at the Wall Street Journal opinion page, she created Theory of Enchantment as an alternative to the antiracist programs of Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo, which she believes deepen the very resentments they seek to alleviate. Her program employs materials as varied as Disney's Lion King, music from Kendrick Lamar, and writings by James Baldwin and Cheryl Strayed.
Valdary spoke to Reason about how her life experiences inform Theory of Enchantment, why the demand for her program is growing, and why she's optimistic about the future of race relations and individualism.
Read (and listen) here.
Chris Stirewalt: The Contradictions of Paranoid Nationalism
The rise of Donald Trump and his success with Republicans and many conservatives has caused more than its share of head scratching among observers who have wondered how so many individuals can endure what appears to be such a contradiction between message and messenger. Chris Stirewalt points out at The Dispatch that the current strain of nationalism exhibits a paradoxical mistrust of government coupled with a desire for the state to exercise some measure of power over social media free speech issues. While these competing interests are not new to conservatism, they should not be ignored.
Somehow, many of the same folks who say that government authorities shouldn’t be trusted to make sure vaccines are safe or that elections are fairly conducted also say that we should have the government set industrial policy, regulate speech on the internet, or even engineer the size and shape of American families. How can institutions so corrupt as the ones described by right-wing nationalists be trusted with the power to administer matters far more complicated than testing vaccines or counting ballots?
That’s not to say that one cannot criticize the government unless he or she favors limited government. Progressives tend not to see any contradiction between decrying the failures of governments while simultaneously demanding massive increases in government authority. The tension is not apparent to them because progressives are systematizers who believe that when the proper protocols and settings have been determined, government will be a responsible custodian of nearly limitless power. Indeed, we saw this when left-wing skepticism about vaccines developed by the same companies and overseen by the same regulators under then-President Donald Trump turned into enthusiastic support when Joe Biden became president.
Suspicion of authority is an old and important part of American conservatism. But so too is respect for righteous authority and tradition. Ongoing efforts on the right wing to discourage Americans from getting vaccinated against coronavirus and to overturn the certified results of an election held nine months ago tell me that things have gotten pretty badly out of whack between those competing impulses of suspicion and tradition.
Read it all here.
The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) proposes a definition for “neoracism” to describe race-essentialism:
Via Greg Lukianoff of FIRE, “Answers to 12 Bad Anti-Free Speech Arguments”:
A (very) short thread from Eric Weinstein on how to spot “science,” or, more to the point “not science”:
Finally, a thought from Wesley Yang on one of the true benefits of a diverse society: