@nytimes has a piece today explaining "honor culture." It is amazing, and telling, that in the year 2020 the newspaper of America's literati apparently haven't absorbed the basics of the culture that a ton of Americas were raised in, including me. 1/
nytimes.com/2020/09/16/opi…
@nytimes The piece is framed as an exploration of why so many working class voters aren't put off by things that Biden says and does that the chattering classes perceived as "gaffes." Like that time he yelled at some guy for calling him old, and challenged him to a pushup contest. 2/
The piece says (correctly) that while Volvo-driving faculty lounge habitués may sniff at this sort of old-style machismo, a lot of working class voters like it. And the authors offer this explanation: 3/
"Honor cultures provide clear rules for deterring aggression and determining social status. A citizen, especially a man, must not tolerate insults and must show his readiness to respond with violence if necessary." 4/
"He may dislike the expectations of honor culture, but he is not free to ignore them." 5/
"In a context where ignoring a challenge is always interpreted as cowardice rather than magnanimity, to protect oneself, a person must respond in the prescribed way. A social reputation for toughness is everything. It must always be defended and maintained." 6/
Reading this, I had two reactions. First, that is basically the story of my childhood, which was spent in the honor culture of Smithtown, NY, a town physically about 50 miles from where I live now in Brooklyn but psychologically about ten times that distance. 7/
Second, is it possible that the readers of the @nytimes don't understand what honor culture is? Or that it's very much the dominant culture in exurban and rural America? The answer is yes, basically. 8/
@nytimes I see this in my own life. I grew up in a military family (USMC father and younger brother). We were not politically conservative, but we were in, and of, an honor culture. My brother and I were taught to brook *no* disrespect. And ... 9/
@nytimes we were taught, quite deliberately, and by a guy who had skills, how to fight. 10/
@nytimes These skills were useful to me as a kid. They are utterly useless to me now, and have been for many years. But I will admit that the honor culture is alive in me. I am more sensitive to disrespect than the men I work with as a law professor. I have to work harder to ... 11/
@nytimes ... comply with the rules of the guilt culture in which I now live. Rules that discourage open displays of anger or explicit confrontation. 12/
@nytimes That America's elites don't understand honor culture has political implications. The article gives the example of Michelle Obama's "when they go low, we go high." My friends mostly heard that as admirable high-roadism. But ... 13/
@nytimes I heard that as a statement that the Democrats were too weak to defend themselves. 14/
@nytimes Which, by the way, they often are! /end

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More from @CJSprigman

10 Aug
I have a new article, forthcoming in December in the NYU Law Review, arguing that the Constitution gives Congress wide power to strip the jurisdiction of courts: a power, I argue, that can be employed to change the Constitution without amending it. 1/ papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
Jurisdiction stripping is very much in the air. You may have read @rddoerfler and @samuelmoyn arguing in the Atlantic for structural reform to the federal courts. 2/ theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
@rddoerfler @samuelmoyn Ryan and Sam argue against court-packing and in favor of a supermajority rule for striking down statutes. My article considers the other side of the Moyn/Doerfler coin - jurisdiction stripping - and describes its constitutionality, as well as ... 3/
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