The Case for (Some) Tribalism — My Latest for Arc Digital

I have been thinking about tribalism a lot lately—and I know I’m not alone. Just last week, Arc Digital’s Berny Belvedere wrote a piece on it.

Considering differing viewpoints is an intellectual virtue — yet one we tend to emphatically reject. And that’s why it’s accurate to say we live in echo chambers. … Tribalism exists, and it is exacerbated by the echo chambers we willingly retreat into. This just follows from our human nature. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the one hand I agree about the dangers of extreme tribalism. I’m a literal card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but I still read op-eds by Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, and Arc’s Cathy Young to see what they have to say. I disagree with 95 percent of their ideas — often vehemently — but by reading their arguments, I can give them full consideration, even if I go on to reject them in the end.

I can also gain a clearer picture of why I disagree with them, and at precisely which points. If I don’t read opposing viewpoints, I run the risk of misunderstanding those positions. When I do read them, it crystallizes just where the disagreement lies, which then helps me better express how our views differ.

Despite the benefits of familiarizing myself with opposing viewpoints, I sometimes wonder whether tribalism is really as bad as advertised. I sometimes wonder if all tribalisms are equally bad. What if some tribalism is actually conducive to self-preservation?

Read the rest here.

How to Talk about Trans Issues — My First Article for Arc

The Atlantic’s Jesse Singal recently came under fire for an article about transgender youth. It focused on several people who first identified as transgender, went through medical transitioning, but eventually realized they weren’t trans and “detransitioned.” Critics noted that Singal used a study that was based on sketchy science, and presented a member of an anti-trans parent group called 4thWaveNow as an unbiased source. In response, Singal asked if transgender people are the only ones who can write about trans issues.

He probably meant this rhetorically, but it’s a question worth exploring. Yes, cisgender (non-transgender) people can talk about trans issues. However, when they do, they should practice some sensitivity, because language can either humanize or dehumanize people.

Read the rest here.

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