Magazine July 9, 2018, Issue

Was the Enlightenment Racist?

John Locke (via Wikimedia Commons)
Some of its proponents were, but the solution was built in

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate, recently penned an essay suggesting that the Enlightenment was racist — though the real point seemed to be that liking the Enlightenment too much is kind of racist. Regardless, the essay set off quite a hullabaloo, mostly on Twitter. His main targets were two new books, Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker, and Suicide of the West, by yours truly. Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian psychologist bogeyman of the moment for many liberals, was namechecked for good measure.

A wide array of writers took sides, either condemning the essay or defending it. The

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