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The Hanson unit of cognitive closure

July 28, 2013

Though race may not have been a factor in Zimmerman’s killing of Martin, the killing and trial have spurred much discussion of it. As an older, white male, living and working in a high-tech city, I’m poorly positioned to know the warp and woof of racism in our society, either overt or tacit. I’m a bit suspicious that it is a lawyer associated with the Heartland Institute, someone with similar background to mine, who so confidently declares racism is gone. I suspect Keith Boykin has it closer to right, when he explains why Peter Ferrera may have a blind spot.

If Ferrera and I live a bit blinkered, as Boykin describes, nonetheless we can listen and read. When Ferrera hears Steve King’s characterization of immigrant children, can he at least concede that there is something ugly in our society, something that keeps electing people like King, who speaks not in dog whistles but in frenzied barks even his colleagues find grating? And is it really that hard to see the racism in writers like Victor David Hanson? Ta-Nehisi Coates explains it, for anyone whose reading comprehension is lacking. Conor Friedersdorf points to Hanson’s hypocrisy on this issue. How many clicks does it take to get from Hanson’s piece, in National Review, to a right-wing piece saying that racism is dead? We should call that the Hanson unit of cognitive closure.

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