There is no such thing as political neutrality

Being evenhanded with evil ideas is "ridiculous," argues Martin Amis.

MARTIN AMIS: Salman Rushdie has argued that you can't be—you know, it's idiotic to say you're above politics, because politics is all around you and above you and beneath you. I was resistant to that idea, but it's clearly true, isn't it, that it's very hard to imagine a piece of writing or a longish speech that doesn't have political bearing on us all. So I think neutrality is a chimera. It's not there. It's a mythical creature.

And evenhandedness is its own trap as well. I mean if the press had not been so "evenhanded" we would have President Clinton and not President Trump. Some things are so clearly wrong, so unshirkably ill-advised that I think being evenhanded about it is ridiculous. What do you do with Alex Jones and those people who harass the bereaved parents of Sandy Hook or Parkland, Florida, and say – and threaten them with death and say they're worthless—what is the phrase – emergency actors, crisis actors. Now I'm not going to sit down and say well let's go through your points one after the other. And we hear a great deal about being respectful to white supremacists. I'm not going to be respectful. I haven't got it in me to be respectful of that. Some things are malum per se, evil in themselves and the crisis actor business is one of them.

  • Every piece of writing has a political bent, says Amis. Thus, in his view, neutrality is a chimera — a "mythical creature."
  • Some things are so "unshirkably ill-advised" — such as white supremacy — that Amis believes treating such views "evenhandedly," as an alternative perspective of equal moral standing to others, is ridiculous.
  • Amis says that he doesn't have it in him to be respectful toward people who harass the bereaved parents of Sandy Hook or Parkland, Florida.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Matthew Yglesias and moderator Charles Duhigg explore the idea on Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Is immigration key to bolstering the American economy? Could having one billion Americans secure the US's position as the global superpower?

Keep reading Show less

Think everyone died young in ancient societies? Think again

In fact, the maximum human lifespan has barely changed since we arrived.

Photo by Juliet Furst on Unsplash
Surprising Science

You might have seen the cartoon: two cavemen sitting outside their cave knapping stone tools. One says to the other: 'Something's just not right – our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free-range, and yet nobody lives past 30.'

Keep reading Show less

Why social media has changed the world — and how to fix it

MIT Professor Sinan Aral's new book, "The Hype Machine," explores the perils and promise of social media in a time of discord.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House
Technology & Innovation

Are you on social media a lot? When is the last time you checked Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Last night? Before breakfast? Five minutes ago?

Keep reading Show less

Mystery anomaly weakens Earth's magnetic field, report scientists

A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.

ESA
Surprising Science
  • "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
  • The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
  • The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Keep reading Show less

Mars pole may be hiding salty lakes and life, find researchers

Researchers detect a large lake and several ponds deep under the ice of the Martian South Pole.

Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Italian scientists release findings of a large underground lake and three ponds below the South Pole of Mars.
  • The lake might contain water, with salt preventing them from freezing.
  • The presence of water may indicate the existence of microbial and other life forms on the planet.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast