My former colleague at Quillette, Colin Wright, has written a good piece for his Substack newsletter about a cartoon he did in 2021 (see above) to describe his own political journey – or, rather, the fact that his political views haven’t changed, but those of his fellow liberals have, leaving him feeling isolated and under attack. Here is an extract.
I was out for a walk last Thursday when Elon Musk tweeted a political cartoon that I created in August 2021. It received hundreds of thousands of retweets and more than 1.5 million likes. The stick figure in the middle depicts me, a centre-left liberal in 2008, and how the ground had shifted under my feet by 2012 and 2021.
At the outset, I stand happily beside ‘my fellow liberal’, who is slightly to my left. In 2012 he sprints to the left, dragging out the left end of the political spectrum along and pulling the political ‘centre’ closer to me. By 2021 my fellow liberal is a ‘woke “progressive”‘, so far to the left that I’m now right of centre, even though I haven’t moved.
When my cartoon went viral, it resonated with many people – and caused dissonance in the left-wing media. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called it a “silly chart” that has been “brutally debunked”. His colleague Philip Bump described it as “simply wrong” and an “obvious exaggeration”. Mr. Bump even provided a series of actual silly charts showing “the average ideological score (using a metric called DW-NOMINATE)” and “evaluations of ideology as measured in the biennial General Social Survey (GSS)”.
Debunking a cartoon with a chart is like answering a love poem with a syllogism. Politics and culture, like most of human reality, can’t be reduced to data and abstractions without losing much of their essence. And self-styled progressives, who love to talk about the importance of ‘lived experience’, are awfully disdainful of their critics.
Worth reading in full.
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