The New Republic, with its punk owner Chris Hughes having locked the cockpit door, continues its rapid decompression and descent into the mountainside. This week TNR carries a piece saying that the Rolling Stone UVA rape hoax story is the fault of . . . conservatives.
The story (and “story” it is) by Elizabeth Stoker Brunig shows what an expensive college education in postmodern theory gets you these days:
Pinning an indictment of a system on the story of an individual is essentially a rightwing tactic with a dodgy success rate; it’s a way of using an individual as a metonym for systematic analysis that both overplays the role of individual heroism and effort and underplays the complicated nature of oppression as a feature of institutions, policies, traditions, and persons. There is room in left journalism for the individual story, but the positioning is important: Individual narratives can give glancing glimpses of the effects of oppressive systems, but they can’t reveal their sum total. . .
In balancing a systematic critique on a single person’s story, Erdely essentially used a rightwing strategy to make a leftist point. The trouble is only that the right is skilled at this game, and correctly deduced that undoing Jackie’s story would go a long way to endangering Erdely’s larger structural point. (Emphasis added.)
Yes, reporting the actual facts about individual cases is so 20th century. As Hegel is reported to have said, “If theory and facts disagree, so much the worse for the facts.”