Ethical questions are often dilemmas. In this case, it came down to a question of listening to a marginalized, often ignored, group saying that the book caused harm. The common good rather than individual good. This isn’t always the answer, but it sometimes is. The letter was a tourniquet.

Why didn’t I read the book? I read the free bit on Amazon. Those few pages show that the book fits into one trope in the culture wars. The current favorite in the genre is The Coddling of the American Mind, often cited in the footnotes of the book in question. Also, the book closely follows the structure and method of that book. Coddling itself closely follows themes from a book from the 1980s called The Closing of the American Mind. These are all neoliberal attacks on historically marginalized people and “young people these days” from a position of extreme white privilege. Click here for a quick look at the parameters of this particular bit of the culture wars.

The young people offended by the book were reacting to a much larger frame that the book is one tiny piece in. Neoliberalism is a threat to both progressive politics and liberal religion. Using the guise of reason and logic, neoliberalism is based in the assertion that only white elites know what’s best for everyone else. For a very sane take on these issues, I recommend a new book by Adam Gopnik titled A Thousand Small Sanities.

Written by

Poet, Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, a Humanist congregation. Amazon author's page amazon.com/author/davidbreeden

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