Race, identity and religion

posted on January 10, 2020

By Vancouver Sun |

In a western world progressively polarized by ideology rooted in identity, race and religion, five up-and-coming thinkers are offering perspectives that go beyond the monotonous truisms of the political left and right.

These British, American and Canadian intellectuals, from a range of backgrounds, volunteer refreshingly unpredictable ideas. Whether linguists or novelists, they’re authors gaining wide traction through outlets from The Guardian and The New Yorker to Real Time with Bill Maher and Comedy Central.

The politics of these intellectuals is hard to pin down, since they navigate complex theories on their own, refusing to conform for the sake of getting ahead. They inject new life into the term “heterodox,” which is the opposite of “orthodox.” They’re willing to be iconoclastic. Some are being called “radical centrists.”

Here are the takes of five leading intellects on some of today’s hot-button issues:

Reihan Salam

One of Reihan Salam’s most admired thinkers is the late Canadian Marxist Gerald Cohen. Salam, 40, is pro-gay marriage, in favour or legalizing prostitution, worries about “white flight” from core city neighbourhoods and thinks the Iraq War was a “disaster of world-historical proportions.”

Yet this son of Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh in 2019 was named head of the Manhattan Institute, a free-market think-tank. Salam believes non-parents should be taxed more than mothers and fathers, to support those who take the risks of parenting. He’s also against “birthright” citizenship, by which a few countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, issue passports to babies born on their soil to non-citizens.

Salam’s latest book is titled Melting Pot or Civil War: A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders. He authored a much-discussed piece in The Atlantic titled “The Utility of White Bashing,” in which he argued that liberal Caucasians and people of colour subconsciously jockey for status and advancement by casually criticizing whites.

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