The Left’s Hatred of Jordan Peterson Is Perfectly Rational


A contrarian snowflake in his ideological safe space.
Photo: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Identity politics will be the death of the center-right. There was a time when America’s Burkean contrarians felt compelled to engage with the substance of their critics’ arguments; to meet facts with facts, disputations with counter-disputations. Now, they’re content to merely assert their identity as tellers of uncomfortable truths (and don’t you dare ask them to validate that identity, empirically; if a center-right contrarian identifies as unfailingly rational and free of racial, gender, or class biases, then one must accept this as her personal truth). In fact, these “intellectual dark web” browsers have become so defensive of their identitarian ideology, they’ve grown blind to any and all realities that might complicate their worldview.

If this dire assessment of the center-right sounds overwrought, just take a gander at Caitlin Flanagan’s new essay on Jordan Peterson in The Atlantic.

The thesis of the column is simple: For years, a silenced majority had been suffering under the tyrannical hegemony of left-wing identity politics — until Jordan Peterson set their minds free with his devastating rebuttal of that creed’s bogus premises. Flanagan writes that what Peterson “and the other members of the so-called ‘intellectual dark web’ are offering is kryptonite to identity politics”; that Peterson provided her son and his friends with “the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives”; and that the left is afraid of Peterson’s ideas because they are “are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind.”

Not once in her (nearly 2,000-word) column does Flanagan define the “identity politics” she’s inveighing against, or so much as summarize Peterson’s argument against them. She does offer some examples of what she considers to be representative of the former: The Nation’s decision to apologize for publishing a poem written in African-American vernacular by a non-black poet; the alt-right’s pursuit of a white ethno-state; and former president Barack Obama — whom she dubs “the poet laureate of identity politics.”


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