Talking Ta-Nehisi Coates, Seriously?

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source:  Information Processing

Glenn Loury is Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Brown University. John McWhorter is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he teaches linguistics, American studies, philosophy, and music history.

Loury (@19min): “He’s a good writer but not a deep thinker, and he’s being taken seriously as if he was a deep thinker… he’s talented I mean there’s not any doubt about that but the actual analytical content of the argument, there are gaping holes in it…”

On the dangers of Identity Politics:

Loury (@21min): Coates’ immersion in a racialist conception of American Society … everything through the lens of race … is the mirror image or the flip side of a white nationalist conception about American society in which everything is viewed in terms of race and Williams in the review includes extensive reportage from his interview of Richard Spencer the white nationalist leader … and has Spencer saying back to him in effect I’m glad that people eatin’ up Tallahassee cause I’m glad that they’re taking it in because it’s a thoroughly racialized conception. It’s racial essentialism at its utmost and that primes them: they really believe in race, these liberals who are reading Coates, and that means I can flip them says Richard Spencer. The day will come given their belief in race — I can persuade them that they’re white. Coates wants that they regret and lament and eschew the fact that they’re white. Richard Spencer dreams of a day in which, them seeing themselves as white, they’ll get tired of hating themselves and flip over to the side of being proud …

I’ve been reading Coates for years, since he was a relatively unknown writer at The Atlantic. Here are very good Longform Podcast interviews which explore his early development: 201520142012.

Mentioned in the discussion: Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times, How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power.

More links.

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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