Concern for the excluded, the marginalized, the demonized, and the oppressed seems ubiquitous in American political discourse. But too often, genuine regard for the downtrodden is displaced by dogmatic and perverse understandings of compassion. Great confusion clouds our thinking about justice, rights, respect, and civic obligation.
Two authors, John McWhorter and Michael Shellenberger, approach this issue from different angles. McWhorter, in his latest book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, interrogates how the progressive movement for racial justice has inadvertently created its own brand of racism, to the detriment of the black Americans it professes to help. In San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities, Shellenberger explores how concern for the marginalization of the homeless in his city has led to the decay of public order, locking society’s most vulnerable into a dark spiral of drug addiction, mental illness, and disease. Both men offer unique perspectives on how good intentions have backfired and damaged our social fabric. And both have powerful messages of how we can rescue civic life from its current chaos.