Rank #1: Ta-Nehisi Coates: "There’s not gonna be a happy ending to this story"
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author at the Atlantic. His book, Between the World and Me, won the National Book Award, and was spoofed on SNL. He's writing the (awesome) Black Panther series for Marvel. He's a certified MacArthur Genius. And he just released a blockbuster story based on hours of interviews with President Obama about the role race played in Obama's upbringing, his presidency, and the 2016 campaign.Coates is also one of my favorite people to talk to, and I think this conversation shows why.The first half of our conversation is political: it's about Coates's conversations with Obama, his impressions of the president, his perspective on American politics, the way his atheism informs his worldview, why he thinks a tragic outlook is important for finding the truth but — at least for nonwhite politicians — a hindrance for winning political power. The second half is much more personal: it's about his frustrations as a writer, his discomfort with the way "Between the World and Me" was adopted by white audiences, how he learns, his surprising advice for young writers, his belief that personal stability enables professional wildness, his past as a blogger, his desire to return to school, his favorite books. I loved this interview. I think you will, too.
Rank #2: Pete Buttigieg’s theory of political change
First off. Hello! I’m back from paternity leave. And this is a helluva podcast to restart with.Pete Buttigieg is a Rhodes scholar, a Navy veteran, and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He’s a married gay man, a churchgoing Episcopalian, and a proud millennial. He’s also, according to CNN, “the hottest candidate in the 2020 race right now.”There’s been plenty of discussion of Buttigieg’s biography, and of whether a midsize-city mayorship is appropriate experience for the presidency. But I wanted to talk to him about something else: his theory of political change. How, in a broken system, would he get done even a fraction of what he’s promising? To my surprise, he actually had an answer.Before I did this podcast, I was surprised to see Buttigieg catching fire. Now that I’ve had this conversation, I’m not.Book recommendations:Ulysses by James JoyceArmageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 by Stephen Kotkin We are conducting an audience survey to better serve you. It takes no more than five minutes, and it really helps out the show. Please take our survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3X6WMNF
Rank #3: Hillary Clinton. Yes, that Hillary Clinton.
My interview this week is with Hillary Clinton. You may have heard of her.I won't bore you with Clinton's bio. Instead, I want to say a few words about what this interview is, as it's a bit different than the EK Show's normal fare (though I do ask her for book recommendations!).I got about 40 minutes with Hillary Clinton. I wanted to use that time to try to answer a question I've had about Clinton for years: why is the candidate I see on the campaign trail so different from the person described to me by her staff, colleagues, friends, and even foes? I wanted, in other words, to try to see what Clinton is like when she's working her way through policy and governance issues. And so that's what we talk about. Among the topics we covered are:- Extreme poverty, welfare reform, and the working poor- Is it time for more deficit spending?- Would more immigration be good for the economy?- The difficulties of free college and universal health care- What skills does a president need that campaigns don't test?- What's on her bookshelf?- Why America stopped trusting elites — and what elites should do about itIf you want more on this discussion, I also reported out a long piece on how Clinton governs — you can find it on Vox.com.
Rank #4: Malcolm Gladwell on the danger of joining consensus opinions
Malcolm Gladwell needs no introduction (though if you didn't know the famed author has launched a podcast, you should — it's called Revisionist History, and it's great.).Gladwell's work has become so iconic, so known, that it's become easy to take it for granted. But Gladwell is perhaps the greatest contrarian journalist of his generation — he looks at things you've seen before, comes to conclusions that are often the opposite of the conventional wisdom, and then leaves you wondering how you could ever have missed what he saw. To see something new in something old is a talent, it's a process, and it's what we discuss, in a dozen different ways, in this episode. Among the topics we tackle:-How Gladwell got started at the Washington Post after being fired from another job for waking up late-Gladwell’s high school zine based on personal attacks and Bill Buckley-How Canadians are disinclined to escalate conflicts-The value and nature of boredom in childhood-How people reflexively pile on to convenient narratives -How the economics of media might be influencing its current tone-Why pickup trucks today are so much larger than they used to be-His insights about the current identity of journalists as a culture-Why podcasting is different from writing for the page/screen-Why talking about numbers can be difficult in audio-How the internet will one day seem like an experiment gone completely awry-Why you shouldn’t have satellite radio in your car-Whether more individualized education is a a good idea-The importance of people who are above average though not exceptionalThis is a fun conversation, but it's also a useful one. It's hard to look at something that is believed to be understood and realize it's been misunderstood. Hell, it's hard to look at something that is believed to be understood and take seriously the idea that it might have been misunderstood. This is Gladwell's great skill — it is the product of both a process and an outlook, and it's worth hearing how he does it.
Rank #5: Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show
This is a serious conversation with a very funny man.Trevor Noah is the host of Comedy Central's the Daily Show. He's also a stand-up comic who grew up in apartheid South Africa, the son of a black mother and a white father. That was illegal in apartheid-era South Africa, so Noah grew up hiding his real parentage, only seeing his father in carefully controlled circumstances. Somehow, he managed to turn this into a very funny, very incisive stand-up act. Today, he occupies one of the commanding heights of American comedy, and when you talk to him, you can see why: he's funny, but he's also damn smart, with an outsider's perspective on America's very unique problems. In this conversation, we talk about:- What it was like growing up biracial in apartheid South Africa- Noah's experience watching South Africa’s post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commission, and what an American one might look like- Noah's thoughts on the right to be forgotten on the internet- How Donald Trump's superpower is his lack of shame- The ways in which Obama’s presidency changed – and sometimes inflamed — the conversation about race over the last eight years- What Obama does and doesn’t share with other Black celebrities in “transcending” race- The parallels between experiencing catcalling and experiencing racism- Noah's critique of both "objective" news sources, and biased ones- Why Noah was taken aback by the response he got criticizing Bernie Sanders- Noah's news diet, and why he doesn’t watch as much Fox News as you might think- How Noah develops a joke, from start to finishAnd much more. Enjoy!
Rank #6: Where Jonathan Haidt thinks the American mind went wrong
Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist at New York University and the co-founder of Heterodox University. His book The Righteous Mind, which describes the different moral frameworks that animate the left and the right, was a key influence on my work. But these days, Haidt is worried about something new. "Teen anxiety, depression, and suicide rates have risen sharply in the last few years," he writes in The Coddling of the American Mind, co-authored with Greg Lukianoff. "The culture on many college campuses has become more ideologically uniform, compromising the ability of scholars to seek truth, and of students to learn from a broad range of thinkers." The kids, in other words, aren't all right. Haidt sees a generation warped by overparenting and smartphones and flirting with illiberalism. He worries over a culture of "safetyism" that confuses disagreement with violence. He sees political correctness on campus as a threat not just to speakers' incomes, but to students' psyches. I often find myself a skeptic in this conversation. The panic over campus activism seems overblown to me. It's suffused with bad-faith efforts to nationalize isolated examples of college kids behaving badly in order to discredit serious critiques of social injustice. But that's why I wanted to have Haidt on the show: If anyone could convince me I'm wrong about this, it'd be him. Recommended Books: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie The Authoritarian Dynamic by Karen Stenner Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Pop
Rank #7: Bill Gates on stopping climate change, building robots, and the best books he's read
Bill Gates is one of those people for whom "needs no introduction" is actually true. The polymathic Microsoft founder now leads the world's largest and most important private foundation, and he's predicting that we're on the cusp of the energy breakthrough that's going to save the world. He also talks about the controversial idea that technological innovation is slowing down, assesses how close we are to true artificial intelligence, and explains why you really want to save being sick for 20 years from now.
Rank #8: Identity, nationalism, and fatherhood
Michael Brendan Dougherty is a senior writer at National Review and the author of My Father Left Me Ireland, a moving, lyrical memoir about fatherhood and identity. It’s also a stirring defense of nationalism, an attack on wonks, and a critique of some of the core assumptions of liberal modernity. When I opened it, I didn’t expect it to be quite so on point to my interests. But here we are.This conversation starts a little slow, but it accelerates into an exploration of some of the biggest questions this podcast has approached. What’s the purpose of the nation-state? Where does identity come from? What kinds of historical inheritances matter? How do human beings discipline their emotions and intuitions without losing their souls? When is violent revolution or resistance merited? And what does it mean to be a wonk?One of the nice things about a conversation like this is it required both of us to articulate and defend some core beliefs that often go unquestioned. So there’s a lot here, including, at about the 32nd minute, probably the clearest description of my moral approach that I’ve offered on this podcast. Enjoy!Recommended books:The Everlasting Man by G.K. ChestertonPolitical Writings and Speeches by Patrick Pearse The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom by James Burnham
Rank #9: Andrew Sullivan on quitting blogging, fearing political correctness, and Donald Trump
Last year, Andrew Sullivan quit blogging — the medium he had done so much to create. And you know what? He was pretty damn happy about it. He was taking walks, meditating, exercising, reading, and generally living the good life. Of course, then Donald Trump just had to go and drag him back into the fray...In this extremely, extremely fun conversation, I talked with Andrew about:- His 10-day silent meditation retreat- His central role pushing gay marriage from a fringe idea to a constitutional right- What it was like being an HIV-positive writer during the height of the plague, and how the experience deepened his faith- Why he believes in God- Whether you can build a media business based off of advertising- How his thinking on Obama has changed since 2008- What he thinks is so unusually dangerous about Donald Trump- Why a politics based on how people feel scares himAnd much more. This is one of the most fun conversations I've had for this show. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Rank #10: Robert Reich on supporting Bernie Sanders, dating Hillary Clinton, and fighting inequality
You could fill a podcast just reciting Robert Reich's biography. Rhodes Scholar. Assistant to U.S. Solicitor General Robert Bork. Director of policy planning at the Federal Trade Commission under Carter. Secretary of Labor for Bill Clinton. Candidate for governor of Massachusetts. Co-founder of the American Prospect (where I got my first job in journalism!). Member of Barack Obama's economic transition team. Author of bestselling book after bestselling book. Professor. Viral video star. Documentary maker.More recently, Reich has emerged as perhaps the most persuasive (and, on Facebook, widely shared) surrogate for Bernie Sanders. It's a turn that likely would have surprised Reich's younger self — he worked with Hillary Clinton in college, was close friends with Bill Clinton at Oxford, and served Secretary of Labor during Bill Clinton's first term.Among the topics Reich and I cover:- His early relationship with the Clintons, including the time he went on a date with Hillary Clinton- His effort to create an experimental, participatory alternative to college at Dartmouth- The three policies he would change first to curb inequality- The story behind his co-founding of the American Prospect — the magazine that gave me my first job in journalism- What Bernie Sanders is like in person, and how that does or doesn't differ from his public persona- How to communicate effectively about public policy- Whether inequality or political polarization is the root cause of government dysfunction- His relationship with his mentor, John Kenneth GalbraithAnd there is, honestly, much, much more. Reich is, as you'll hear, an incredible storyteller, a sharp thinker, and a very fun guy to talk to, Enjoy!This episode of The Ezra Klein Show is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/EZRA to watch hundreds of courses for free!
Rank #11: Cory Booker on the spiritual dimension of politics
Cory Booker is a United States senator from New Jersey, the only vegan in Congress, and the author of the new book "United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good". In this conversation, Ezra and Booker go deep on Booker's history and unusual approach to politics. Topics covered include:- How Booker's parents used a sting operation to desegregate a neighborhood, and why they did it- Why Ezra doesn't eat breakfast- Booker's disagreements with Ta-Nehisi Coates- How a 10-day fast led to a (temporary) peace with Booker's worst political enemy- How spirituality informs Booker's approach to politics- The lessons Booker took from his early losses in with elections and city council fights- What it's like to be the only vegan in Congress- Why Booker hates penguins- Whether it's cynical or simply realistic to doubt America's political institutions- Which books have influenced Booker mostAnd much, much more. Oh, and Ezra gives Booker some advice on productivity apps, drawn from the weird, possibly wrongheaded, way he lives his own life.
Rank #12: Taking Trump’s corruption seriously
The question of whether President Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election has consumed Washington since the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller special counsel in March 2017. But there's another question worth considering: the financial corruption swirling around Trump’s businesses, and now his administration. In any other White House, this would be the ongoing, constant story — the site of endless investigations and inquiries. And it still might be. We know Mueller is looking into the web of financial ties between Trump’s businesses and the post-Soviet bloc, and we know that part of the Mueller investigation gets Trump particularly outraged. Plus, we still don’t know what’s on Trump’s tax returns, or what could be discovered if Democrats take back a chamber of Congress and get subpoena power. Here’s my bet: If there is some scandal lurking that’s going to derail the Trump administration, I think it’s going to be found by following the money, not by following the Russian bots. Adam Davidson has been investigating this since Trump's election. If you're an avid podcast listener, you probably know Adam from his days at Planet Money. He's now at the New Yorker, doing some of the best investigative work on the Trump Organization. You’ll want to hear what he’s found.
Rank #13: This conversation will change how you understand misogyny
Misogyny has long been understood as something men feel, not something women experience. That, says philosopher Kate Manne, is a mistake. In her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, Manne defines misogyny as “as primarily a property of social environments,” one that not only doesn’t need hatred of women to function, but actually calms hatred of women when it is functioning.Politics is thick right now with arguments over misogyny, patriarchy, and gender roles. These arguments are powering media controversies, political candidacies, and ideological movements. Manne’s framework makes so much more sense of this moment than the definitions and explanations most of us have been given. This is one of those conversations that will let you see the world through a new lens.In part because her framework touches on so much, this is a conversation that covers an unusual amount of ground. We talk about misogyny and patriarchy, of course, but also anxiety, Jordan Peterson, the role of shame in politics, my recent meditation retreat, Sweden, the social roles that grind down men, and a piece of satire in McSweeney’s that might just be the key to understanding the 2016 and 2020 elections. Enjoy!Information about Peltason Lecture at UC IrvineBook Recommendations:Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah ArendtObedience to Authority: An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Rank #14: Is modern society making us depressed?
“What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief — for our own lives not being as they should?” asks Johann Hari. “What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost yet still need?” In his new book, Lost Connections, Hari advances an argument both radical and obvious: Depression and anxiety are more than just chemical imbalances in the brain. They are the result of our social environments, our relationships, our political contexts — our lives, in short. Hari, who has struggled with depression since his youth, went on a journey to try to understand the social causes of mental illness, the ones we prefer not to talk about because changing them is harder than handing out a pill. What he returned with is a book that claims to be about depression but is actually about the ways we’ve screwed up modern society and created a world that leaves far too many of us alienated, anxious, despairing, and lost. The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti famously said, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” So that, then, is the question Hari and I consider in this conversation: How sick, really, is our society? Books: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
Rank #15: David French on “The Great White Culture War"
David French is a senior writer for National Review and one of the conservatives I read most closely. About a month ago, he published an interesting column responding to some things I had said, and to the broader currents cutting through our politics. “Conservative white Americans look at urban multicultural liberalism and notice an important fact,” he wrote. "Its white elite remains, and continues to enjoy staggering amounts of power and privilege. So when that same white elite applauds the decline of 'white America,' what conservatives often hear isn’t a cheer for racial justice but another salvo in our ongoing cultural grudge match, with the victors seeking to elevate black and brown voices while remaining on top themselves." I asked French to come on the podcast to discuss this idea — and the controversies that motivated it — more deeply, and he quickly accepted. The result is a tricky conversation about very sensitive territory in our politics. It’s about how we talk about race and class and status and gender and sexuality and religion, how we understand and misunderstand each other, how our political identities turn conflicts about one thing into conflicts about all things, why groups that are objectively powerful feel so powerless, and much more. I always appreciate the grace, openness, and intelligence French brings to his writing, and all of that is on full display here too. Recommended books: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt Coming Apart by Charles Murray The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey
Rank #16: Conservative intellectual Yuval Levin on how the Republican Party lost its way
Yuval Levin has been called "the most influential conservative intellectual of the Obama era," and the moniker fits. As editor of National Affairs — in my opinion, the best policy journal going on the right — he's been at the head of the "reformicon" movement, and his work has had a heavy influence on top Republicans like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. If you had asked me a year ago to name the conservatives likely to set the agenda for the Republican Party in 2016 and beyond, Levin would've been atop my list. And then, of course, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination.In this atmosphere, Levin's new book, Fractured America, reads like a warning. Written before "Make America Great Again" became the rallying cry of the Republican Party, it argues that both Democrats and Republicans were trapped inside a dangerous nostalgia, and tried to propose a way out. We talk about that way out in this podcast, as well as:- How Levin defines the Republican Party, and how he thinks it’s changed with Trump- Why Republicans misunderstand their own voters- His distinction between the conservative movement and the Republican party- Why he views Brexit and Trump’s rise as a kind of “counter-cosmopolitanism” - The role of nostalgia in our current politics- Why a universal basic income is the most interesting idea on the left today- How the free market undermines cultural traditionalism- The way in which we have cultural/moral arguments under the guise of debates about how efficient/effective policies are- What Levin learned working for Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush- Why you’d have to be crazy to want to be presidentIf you want to understand the Republican Party today, you should listen to this interview.
Rank #17: How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy
In Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj’s new Netflix show, he does three things political comedians often don’t do. First, he makes political comedy personal. Second, he makes it visual. And third, he makes it last. Minhaj was the last correspondent hired by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Since then, he’s hosted the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner, debuted the critically-acclaimed special Homecoming King, and now, with the new show, he’s creating a unique space in the post-Stewart world. In this conversation, we talk about what Minhaj learned from Stewart, what political comedians owe their audiences, and whether creativity requires safe spaces. We also nerd out on process: how he writes his jokes, the difficulty of knowing what you actually think amidst so much noise and so many takes, and how it changes the editorial process when you know people will be watching what you produce a year from now. And most importantly, I force Minhaj to answer for his many, many slurs against my beloved UC Santa Cruz. This is definitely a conversation: Minhaj turns the tables on me more than once. And don’t miss the end, when Minhaj explains his three favorite stand-up specials. Notes from our sponsors:LEGO: In today's show you heard advertising content from The LEGO Store. With LEGO, every gift has a story. Start your story today at https://LEGO.build/EKS-Ship
Rank #18: JD Vance: the reluctant interpreter of Trumpism
J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy has been adopted as the book that explains Trumpism. It's the book that both Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rob Portman recommended as their favorite of 2016. It's a book Keith Ellison, the frontrunner to lead the DNC, brought up in our conversation last week. Everyone, on both sides of the aisle, has turned to Vance to explain What It All Means.All of which is a bit odd, because Vance's book is an awkward fit with Trumpism. As Vance describes it, it's about "what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south. It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it." It's a memoir about growing up amidst a particular slice of the white working class — the Scots-Irish who settled in and around Appalachia — and the ways that both propelled Vance forward and held him back. It's a book about one man's story — a story that is universal in some ways, particular in others, but was certainly not written with Donald J. Trump in mind.Vance, today, works for an investment firm founded by Peter Thiel. He's an Iraq veteran and Yale-educated lawyer who fits comfortably among the elites he never expected to know. He's a conservative who doesn't like Trump, but has nevertheless become a favored interpreter for his movement. He's a private person who finds himself having shared the most intimate details of his life with total strangers.We talk about all that, as well as some specific debates that have emerged in the age of Trump, and that speak to issues in Vance's book:- The resentment members of the lower-middle class have towards the non-working poor - The ways in which the discussion over poor white communities has come to mirror the debate over poorer African-American communities- How Trump constructed an "other" that merged both marginalized communities and powerful elites- Slights Vance faced as a member of the military attending elite schools, and how that made him think about the broader debate over political correctness- The difference between "economic anxiety" and "cultural anxiety," and why it matters- How members of Vance's family reconcile their support for Trump with their close friendships with unauthorized immigrants- What he feels defines the values held by elites, and how they differ from those he grew up withAnd, as always, much more. Enjoy. Books:-Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids”-William Julius Wilson’s “The Truly Disadvantaged”-Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart”-Robert Tombs’s “The English and Their History”
Rank #19: A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan
This is perhaps the most literal title I’ve given a conversation on this podcast. This is a discussion about how to expand your mind — how to expand the connections it makes, the experiences it’s open to, the sensory information it absorbs. And, more than that, this is a conversation about recognizing that our minds are narrower than we think, that there is a lot we’re filtering out and pruning away and outright ignoring. You know Michael Pollan’s work. He wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, perhaps the most influential book about how we eat in the modern era. He’s the guy who told us, sensibly: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” His new book is called How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. And it is, quite honestly, a trip. Over the past decade or so, the scientific community has reengaged with psychedelic substances, and done so to extraordinary effect: The studies Pollan describes in this discussion are remarkable, but so too are the insights into how our minds work, the ways in which they become overly ordered and efficient as we age, and the power that a dedicated dose of disorder can hold. You don’t have to be interested in taking magic mushrooms to listen to this conversation. Most of it isn’t about psychedelics at all. It’s about how we think, how we sense, how we learn, whether spiritual experiences can have materialist consequences, what makes us afraid of death, what our minds filter out in the world around us, and much more. Pollan changed how I think about my mind. He’ll change how you think about yours. Recommended books: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley Miserable Miracle by Henri Michaux The Evolution of Beauty by Richard Prum Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker article on refugees, trauma, and psychology
Rank #20: The Sam Harris Debate
There’s a lot of backstory to this podcast, most of which is covered in this piece. The short version is that Sam Harris, the host of the Waking Up podcast, and I have been going back and forth over an interview Harris did with The Bell Curve author Charles Murray about a year ago. In that interview, the two argued that African-Americans are, for a combination of genetic and environmental reasons, intrinsically and immutably less intelligent than white Americans, and Murray argued that the implications of this “forbidden knowledge” should shape social policy. In response, Vox published a piece by three respected academic specialists on genes and IQ who argued Murray and Harris got both the science and its implications very wrong. Harris felt slandered by the piece we published and publicly demanded I debate him. After failing to get Harris to debate the authors of the Vox piece instead, I agreed. Over email, he then revoked his invitation to debate me. Harris’s defenders published a few pieces, our authors published a second piece, and everyone moved on. That’s where things sat for months. Then, a few weeks ago, Harris reopened the discussion with me on Twitter, I published a piece on the subject in response, and he published all the private emails we’d sent each other along the way. As you’ll hear him say, that backfired, so he decided, at last, to debate me. Whew. So here we are. For all that, I think this discussion — which is also being released on Harris’ podcast — is worth listening to. Harris’s view is that the criticism he and Murray have received is a moral panic driven by identity politics and political correctness. My view is that these IQ tests are inseparable from both the past and present of racism in America, and to conduct this conversation without voices who are expert on that subject and who hail from the affected communities is to miss the point from the outset. So that’s where we begin. Where we go, I think, is worthwhile: these hypotheses about biological racial difference are now, and have alway been, used to advance clear political agendas — in Murray’s case, an end to programs meant to redress racial inequality, and in Harris’s case, a counterstrike against identitarian concerns he sees as a threat to his own career. Yes, identity politics are at play in this conversation, but that includes white identity politics. To Harris, and you’ll hear this explicitly, identity politics is something others do. To me, it’s something we all do, and that he and many others simply refuse to admit they’re doing. This is one of the advantages of being the majority group: your concerns get coded as concerns, it’s everyone else who is playing identity politics. Even if you’re not interested in the specifics of our debate, I think this discussion goes to some important questions in American life — questions that drive our culture and politics today. I hope you enjoy it. A few links mentioned in the discussion: My piece on this whole debate, which links all the relevant articles. Harris and Murray's original podcast Vox's original response piece The Haier piece Harris wanted us to publish defending him Our authors' response to various criticisms The emails between me and Harris