Garret Keizer - Preaching What the Choir Doesn't Want to Hear

Discussion in 'Politics' started by SingingMongoose, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. SingingMongoose

    SingingMongoose Member

    May 12, 2008
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    One of my favorite Harper's Magazine writers is Garret Keizer.

    The genius of Keizer is that he aims to make the most of his writing space. Writing in very-liberal Harper's Monthly, he doesn't simply rail on the evils of society that his readers will already agree with. He doesn't simply offer new details pertaining to old issues, leaving his readers factually educated but ideologically in the same place as where he started.

    No, Garret Keizer is much more refined than anything that's as shallow and one-dimensional as "left vs. right." He has a strong command of his own political values, which we indeed would think of as "liberal," and uses them to challenge the ideology of other liberals.

    Take, for example, his liberal argument for guns. I originally read this in the magazine, but for purposes of quoting it here, I found this tidbit about "progressives" through a google search that brought me to Underbelly: Garrett Keizer on "Progressives" and Guns.

    Never mind his sparkling wit and eloquence - it's the context of these words that impresses me. He is writing to an audience that, because it agrees with his larger politics, is forced to actually listen to what he's saying and consider his arguments. He is doing what most political commentators never manage to, which is challenge an audience without completely alienating it.

    His recent essay is called "Requiem for the private word." He called to light something that hadn't occurred to me - the nature of privacy in our politics. (I'll be quoting this directly from the August 08 issue of Harper's.)

    Certainly NSA wiretapping, for example, is a major issue. He does open up the essay with an anecdote involving one of his neighbors, a lawyer who represents one of the inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and whose phones have been wire-tapped.

    There are certainly times when his essay sounds like old arguments we have all heard before:

    But what follows cuts deeper than shallow rhetoric.

    It may not be clear yet, how he is preaching what the choir doesn't want to hear - or what he's arguing, for that matter. Consider this:


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