No, Jonathan Haidt is Not Like a Slavery Apologist

No, Jonathan Haidt is Not Like a Slavery Apologist

Eve Fairbanks, in an essay for the Washington Post, argues that many of the writers on the so-called “reasonable right,” a group that includes such seemingly benign figures as Bari Weiss and Jonathan Haidt, are making many of the same arguments and using much the same language as proslavery advocates in the American South:

"The reasonable right's rhetoric is exactly the same as the antebellum rhetoric I'd read so much of. The same exact words. The same exact arguments. Rhetoric, to be precise, in support of the slave-owning South."

Fairbanks follows this breathless announcement by acknowledging that she is not accusing anyone of defending slavery, and that includes, weirdly enough, actual antebellum proslavery writers. “Proslavery rhetoricians talked little of slavery itself,” she writes. “Instead, they anointed themselves the defenders of ‘reason,' free speech and ‘civility.'” This is a bit like smearing someone as a Nazi, then qualifying it with the claim that overt anti-Semitism was really quite atypical of Nazism. In her characterization of proslavery thought, Fairbanks has taken a line that not even the most stalwart member of the Daughters of the Confederacy would care to defend. It is, well, an exact inversion of the truth.

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