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[flagged] The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism (nymag.com)
49 points by arto 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

>“Our democracy’s ideals were false when they were written.”

This is a very dangerous sentiment. If you look at the movements for abolition and Civil Rights, the most successful appeals were calling America to live up to her founding ideals.

However, it seems that many people are trying to effect change not through encouraging Americans to live up to their county’s ideals, but the shame them and guilt-trip them into doing it.

The problem is that guilt is a very poor long-term motivator. Think of you have a someone you are trying to do better. Are you more likely to succeed by telling them how horrible they are and how they have always been horrible and how their parents were horrible? Or do you tell them that they are a fundamentally good person and that they should try to do better in this area as well?

The shaming approach may feel for satisfying, but it is likely to create a strong backlash and and problems down the line.

Think about it, there is no denying that America has been fabulously successful for white people. Now do you tell white people that their success was because of the ideals and open society, and they should cultivate them more, or do you tell them that their success was due to oppression of brown/black people? And if you tell them the later, what will you say when others also come and agree with what you are saying and say that we should get back to oppressing brown and black people in earnest, since that what our success was built on?

> not through encouraging Americans to live up to their county’s ideals, but the shame them and guilt-trip them into doing it

Shame and guilt-tripping on a national level is a fundamental part of modern non-violent protest in the US: https://www.history.com/news/selmas-bloody-sunday-50-years-a...

>Now do you tell white people that their success was because of the ideals and open society, and they should cultivate them more, or do you tell them that their success was due to oppression of brown/black people?

Both are true. Part of cultivating the ideals and open society is being aware of the artifacts of racial prejudice and privilege that still influence it. One can accept that white privilege exists without interpreting it as a blanket condemnation of all white people.

So what is the reason of Germanys success? Or Israels or the UK? Oppression of black people?

Reason for Germany success were the industries built for war with money and resources taken off others. Combined with reasonable work ethic and being on the right side of USA - Russia debate. (Which included things like Marshall Plan.)

For a time, Italy was successful too, but they slipped. Why they slipped I'm not fully clear on.

Israel got USA support and investment, including military. That's about it. (You can repeat the same for e.g. South Korea, who are an even bigger success. For now.)

UK was a success (for a time) based off a huge empire and consequent innovation needed for war and to adapt for living in weird places, and to look like they own the world and not like a dark smudge of coal. Big cultural exports.

And lately it's only holding to its financial industry, boosted by the position of middleman between EU and US. No idea what will happen to it now. They cannot be industrial powerhouse anymore to rival China or Germany.

>So what is the reason of Germanys success? Or Israels or the UK? Oppression of black people?

You're pretending that my comment was arguing that oppression of black people is the only reason for any success by any population, which would of course be an absurd and easily refuted claim, when it explicitly argues otherwise, as would be obvious from even a cursory reading of it in good faith.

You need to put a bit more effort into constructing your strawmen, this one was mostly hollow.

It’s as if liberal editors reined in radical writers but couldn’t do so coherently, and lost the plot at times.

This is a great way to describe it. I usually check the NYTimes front page a few times a week. It’s really gone of the rails.

Headlines have gone from slightly biased journalism, to opinion pieces in disguise and it looks like every NYT reporter is trying to outdo each other.

I’m not naive enough to believe that any news source is truly unbiased, but the NYT appears to have given up any attempt to do so now.

NYTimes is no longer the "paper of record". It's dominated by opinion pieces. Both explicit and implicit.

Go to NYTimes.com and count the links you see "above the fold". On my monitor there are 7 non-opinion links. But there are 11, yes eleven!, opinion-section articles.

If you want to read "news" and not "opinions" these days it's impossible. Because flamebait opinions get all the clicks and generate all the revenue. I don't blame them for their choices. But I don't respect them either.


If the NYTs is no longer America's newspaper of record (in fact it was the first newspaper that term was ever applied to, anywhere), I struggle to think of what is. The other newspaper commonly cited as a newspaper of record in America, the Washington Post, seems little better (or worse) than the NYTs.

In any event, I don't think the term was ever used to indicate a lack of editorial bias. Certainly the NYTs has never qualified if that's the meaning of the term.

[Response to a deleted (but fairly reasonable) comment asserting the NYTs is no longer the newspaper of record.]

Was there ever one then? And if not, then what did the term ever mean?

Before you answer, please consider the case of Walter Duranty and the NYTs covering up Soviet-lead genocide in Ukraine during the 1930s (the Holodomor, a term many Americans have never heard before.) It wasn't until 1990 that the NYTs came clean (https://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/24/opinion/the-editorial-not...), more than half a century too late. Were they the newspaper of record in the interim period?

I don't know enough about the history of journalism to give a satisfying answer.

I consider "being the newspaper of record" to be an ideal. It is almost certain that anyone striving for the ideal will fail at times. Do I think the NYTimes ideals were lies when they written? No. I believe the organization tried as a whole. Even if individually or collectively they fell short at times.

But I don't think that is their ideal at this moment in time. Their new ideal is one of activism. Which I personally find disappointing.

They lost that title in 2003 as far as I'm concerned, by slavishly repeating WMD propaganda designed to get everybody behind going to war in Iraq. Back then, they were sycophantic adjuncts of the DoD; now, apparently they're your local university's Racial Studies department, but it hardly matters one way or the other. Just read it for entertainment like everything else in this giant circus of lies and counter-lies.

I noticed that as well. Opinion pieces dominate “the news” and the headlines are clearly written to be inflammatory and clickbait.

And this is the newspaper that that published the Pentagon Papers!

It's possible they have too much opinion in the "above the fold" section you're talking about, but counting them by link seems misleading. I'm seeing about 2/3 of the space being news and 1/3 as opinion. The opinion pieces are more numerous because they are individually given less space.

A broad slanderous statement with no evidence...I think they do darn good work in hard situations. For me the NYTimes is often conservative in the people they quote, but they have a good fact-checking network.

They fail sometimes, but that's what I love about US journalism, it is very self-critical and publications call out each other for factual errors.

> "The complexity of history in a country of such size and diversity means that everything we do now has roots in many, many things that came before us. You could say the same thing about the English common law, for example, or the use of the English language: no aspect of American life is untouched by it. You could say that about the Enlightenment. Or the climate. You could say that America’s unique existence as a frontier country bordered by lawlessness is felt even today in every mass shooting. You could cite the death of countless millions of Native Americans — by violence and disease — as something that defines all of us in America today. And in a way it does. "

The way I see it, something as expansive as an entire country is doubtlessly a hyperdimensional matter. From any particular point of view, you can only glimpse one projection of that hyperdimensional mass. The projection you see is factual (insofar as any human perception can be factual) but it's nevertheless one of many factual projections.

Consider if you were a flatlander looking at a 2d projection of a cylinder. Depending on your perspective, that cylinder may appear to be a circle, or a rectangle. Both projections capture factual information about the true form of the object in question, but two flatlanders with different perspectives could perceive radically different projections of the same cylinder and could have a bitter dispute over who was right.

It's a pity this submission was flagged very quickly. Agree or disagree, the main idea underlined by the article is something that needs to be very much discussed in the US. Sadly, platforms for this discussion have decreased greatly to near nil. It also seems to be too much for HN.

It's hard not to flag this article when it brings comments as absurd as calling the NYT neo-Marxist, the "Fox News of the left" or "far left" to HN.

If there is an interesting idea underlying the linked opinion piece, the author is making a good job hiding it below cheap rhetoric.

Thank you. This inarticulate author goes on a long rant about the critical importance of word choice and non-sequiturs...

...and then jumps to a ridiculous, unfounded relationship that somehow a piece about slavery = neo-Marxism. I had to read that sentence three times: "Surely he meant to elaborate. Surely..."

People with double-agendas always fell on themselves.

Nytimes is almost Fox News level bad, the comments and bigotry are just hidden under more complex prose. The non opinion section of the WSJ is the best source of news. Nytimes is a far left propaganda rag.

I think NYT tried to remain neutral, and discovered the hard way that in 2019, there's no middle ground, or rather, the middle ground gets no voice, which is literally deadly for a media company.

I agree, WSJ seems to have swung back a little. Strange times!

Agreed. Sits very difficult to find fact based news. It’s all polarizing opinion.

Funny, I totally agreed with you until you said far-left instead of far-right! The op-ed section is consistently to the right of Bush-era conservatism, while the non-opinion section is a sort of Biden-centrism (i.e. right of center with left of center jargon) on most issues.

At least everyone agrees NYT is a rag now

It’s interesting how this article is trying to convince us that the NYT’s argument that racism has “touched” every aspect of US history should actually be interpreted as the NYT is asserting that every aspect can solely be viewed through that lens. I think this type of argumentative magnification and reduction leads to a lot of overblown inter-partisinal argumentative malpractice.

In the internet era, opinion "journalism" tailored to certain kool aid drinking demographics is what is profitable and expedient. It is not that much different than supporting any advocacy organization with a membership fee and weekly newsletter.

I came to say what I see other commentators saying.

What sells is the bait, the piece that confirms your thinking rather than challenges it.

A fair bit of education (see Yale / Harvard etc) is going down this path as well, especially outside the sciences I think.

We are also getting more articles that never even attempt to explain what the other viewpoint might be. I just read a super long article, some govt agency apparently targeting a local dance crew - without detail or context of the actual targeting of the crew (ie, a regulation calling them out by name?) or comment from the agency (ie, responding to complaints? Motivated by hate of dance? Targeting something else entirely).

conservative andrew sullivan writes typical conservative opinion piece that falls in line with his party's political line

HN treats it like it is some sort of objective, academic study

some commenters even use this opinion piece to complain that the NYT runs opinion pieces

This has been true of most American "journalism" for at least a decade now. Activist journalism has become so common that editorialization is just taken as normal - I doubt that the average person even understands the degree to which news is editorialized. It's next to impossible to find an objective mainstream source these days - for both left and right leaning media.

Probably related to the modern polarization of the nation, though which is the chicken and which is the egg is hard to say.

"But the NYT chose a neo-Marxist rather than liberal path to make a very specific claim: that slavery is not one of many things that describe America’s founding and culture, it is the definitive one." Well, the author does know what liberalism is, but definitely does not know what Marxism is!

Marxism does have a good answer to the original question of the piece: "How can an enduring “ideal” — like, say, freedom or equality — be “false” at one point in history and true in another?" - Marxists argue that ideas can be progressive at one time, and become reactionary at a later stage of history. Ideas do not determine history, but are in general a reflection of class forces. When capitalism was progressive, in the founding days of the country, the ideas that upheld the system of private ownership were progressive ideas! The forces these ideas represent helped defeat monarchies and slavery. Today, advocates of the free market play the opposite role, of holding society back, because capitalism is in a deep crisis and socialism has become socially and technologically possible.

Very strange claims. Citation please?

> All that rhetoric about liberty, progress, prosperity, toleration was a distraction in order to perpetrate those lies, and make white people feel better about themselves.

Well, quite a bit of it, yes. It takes some phenomenal doublethink to set out 'all men are created equal' as a basic principle during a war of independence, then enshrine slavery in the rule of law when it comes time to write an actual constitution.

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