I spent 90 minutes today listening to this recent interview of Bret Weinstein by Dave Rubin just because I found it interesting. The whole interview covers a lot of territory from what happened at Evergreen State College, Weinstein’s life in Portland after Evergreen, evolutionary biology, new atheism, and concludes with a discussion of sex and gender and Scandinavia. All of it’s worth hearing, even if you don’t agree with it, but I wanted to highlight just one small piece that comes about midway into this.
Weinstein is talking about the fact that, despite being very far left on many issues, he has been warmly embraced by a lot of people on the right. He says he has encountered many people who assume that his experiences at Evergreen would cause him to move to the right, but Weinstein says that hasn’t really happened. He’s still firmly on the left on any number of issues. However, he doesn’t receive many invitations to talk from groups on the left. They aren’t particularly interested in hearing from him. He doesn’t say this but I will: He’s a reminder of a problem the left has been eager to dismiss and not talk about.
In any case, Rubin points out that Weinstein joined him on stage for a recent comedy show and how, despite the audience being mostly conservative, the reaction to Weinstein is overwhelmingly positive.
“The thing that is so heartening is I can come into a room—and you’re right that room last night must have been 95% right-of-center—and first thing you tell them is ‘here’s a progressive,'” Weinstein said. He continued, “I tell them I’m a radical, right? It doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm one bit, in fact they’re thrilled to discover things are not so bleak and that there is somebody on the other side of this thing who is still talking reasonably and can hear them and can see them and that doesn’t think that they’re racist and out of control.
“And so, anyway, I know I take a lot of flak for interacting with the right and I’m not listening to that flak because it is the best thing we can do to engage. When you spot the humanity of the people on the other side then to the extent that we differ over something, we can talk about it.”
I’ll just add that this is exactly why I found Weinstein so refreshing last year when all the Evergreen news was breaking. He may be very far left and hold a lot of positions I disagree with and some I even feel are potentially dangerous. And yet, I can overlook all of that because when push came to shove (almost literally) he refused to join the left’s authoritarian social justice mob. He did so at the cost of his job, ultimately (and that of his wife). That’s an act of political defiance that is incredibly rare on the left and one even many people on the right hesitate to take it because the cost is so high.
Here’s the clip already cued up to this bit of the discussion, but again the whole thing is really worth watching. So if this is the sort of thing you find interesting, scroll back and start at the beginning: