The Backchannel
The Backchannel
Feb 11, 2019
Extremely Offline: Briahna Joy Gray and Coleman Hughes on What We Get Wrong About Race In America
Play • 1 hr 2 min

It's time to admit it: when we argue online, we’re not actually trying to persuade anyone. We’re not even trying to ‘win’ a debate. We’re trying to “dunk” on our rivals, “own” our political enemies. We’re just performing for our followers, who are usually people who share our politics, our attitudes, and our biases.

That kind of discourse might be entertaining, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. We don’t learn from each other or about each other. We don’t sharpen the arguments we make for our favored policies. All we do is widen the divisions of our politics. We harden our alliances with people like ourselves, while increasing our contempt for people who think differently. We feel even more certain of our own opinions, while becoming even blinder to their shortcomings. It’s an unhealthy, dysfunctional way to approach our disagreements with others. It’s profoundly harmful to our democracy.

On this podcast, we aspire to be the opposite of “extremely online.” What does that mean? It means we want to bring people from warring political tribes together to have substantive, respectful conversations about both their common ground and their differences — the opposite, in other words, of a Twitter flame war.

Extremely Offline is our small contribution to combating political polarization in America. On this show, we’ll bring together people from the populist left and the identity-based left, the center left and the far right, paleoconservatives and socialists, and every other permutation we can think of. We’ll have far-ranging discussions that do not elide our political differences but that are rooted in mutual respect.

Our first episode is with two guests who are both critical of the way mainstream liberals talk about race in America, but from very different directions. Briahna Joy Gray is Senior Politics Editor at The Intercept, where she argues that liberal discourse often isolates racial issues from economic issues and that we can't tackle structural inequality in America without discussing both at the same time. Coleman Hughes is a columnist at Quillette, who argues that liberals and the left often overlook cultural norms when we talk about the roots of racial inequality.

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