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« WSMD? JA!: Curiosity, age, and political polarization | Main | Culture vs. Cognition: a false dichotomy? Amen! »
Thursday
Aug032017

Mystery solved? Age, political knowledge, and political polarization

What's going on here? Older partisans are more extreme than younger ones1. Age and polarization. “Yesterday,”tm I reported an intriguing finding on the interaction between age and political polarization.  The finding was that partisan polarization increases with age.

This is not the same thing as saying that older citizens are “more conservative.”   That effect is already familiar to political scientists, who debate whether it is a consequence of the personality-shaping effects of aging (the “personality theory” or “PT”) or instead a lasting effect of exposure to the political climate that prevailed at some earlier, more impressionable point in older people’s lives (the “cohort theory” or “CT”).

The effect I reported had to do with the increased intensity of partisanship conditional on age. There may be (or may not be) “more” conservatives in absolute terms among the oldest cohort of citizens. But the data  posted suggested that as people age they became more intensely (or reliably?) partisan compared to younger citizens with the same partisan identity (“conservative Republican,” “liberal Democrat,” etc.).

I was surprised by this result and not sure what to make of it, so I invited feedback.

2. Political knowledge, age, polarization. One explanation, advanced on Twitter and seconded by others off-line, was that “political knowledge” might be correlated with age. 

It’s a well established finding that citizens with greater political knowledge (or sophistication) express political preferences that are more in line with their self-identified political ideology. Older citizens have (necessarily) been around longer and thus had more time to work through the relationship between their political outlooks in general and their stances on particular issues such as climate change and gun control.  This age-dependent coherence between self-reported political outlooks and policy preferences can be expected to manifest itself in the pattern I reported between age and intensity of partisan policy stances.

This explanation—let’s call it the “Kalmoe conjecture”—struck me as interesting but not particularly plausible. To test it, I rummaged around in old CCP datasets until I found one that had both a policy preference battery and a “political knowledge” one.

The latter is conventionally measured with a set of basic civic literacy items, which are well known to predict ideology/policy preference coherence.

The analysis revealed, first, that there is indeed a correlation between age and political knowledge.

Second, like the relationship of age to policy preferences, the relationship between age and political knowledge (measured with 9-item scale) features more intense political preferences among older than among younger citizens.

Third, when one regresses policy positions on age and political knowledge (as well as the interaction between these two), the relationship between age and intensity of policy positions disappears.  So if one considers, e.g., a young “conservative Republican” and an older one, there is no meaningful difference in the strength and coherence of their opposition to gun control and to mitigation of climate change by restricting carbon emissions. Of course, consistent with zillions of studies, study subjects "high" in political knowledge are more polarized than subjects who are "low"--but that is true irrespective of the subjects' ages.

This is exactly what one would expect under the Kalmoe conjecture.  In effect, once one partials out the covariance of age and political knowledge, age no longer is associated with higher degrees of polarization.  This finding supports the inference that the relationship between age and policy-preference intensity was just a statistical echo of the impact of the greater acquisition of political knowledge as people age.

3. Huh?

Wow.

I’m no longer as skeptical of the claim that greater political knowledge accounts for the relationship between age and intensity of policy-preferences.

But I still can’t shake the feeling that there is something wrong with that position.

I think my hesitation is grounded in the highly linear relationship between age and political knowledge. 

I have a hard enough time believing that a 75-year-old person , as a result of greater life experience and reflection thereupon, is more politically sophisticated than a 35-year-old one.  But the idea that the former, for exactly the same reasons, is more sophisticated than a 65-year-old seems absurd to me. 

It also seems absurd to think that the advantage the 75-year-old has over 65-year-old one is identical to the advantage that the 65-year-old one has over the 55-year-old one, the 55 over the 45, the 45 over the 35 etc.  If political knowledge relentlessly expands over the course of a person’s life, it still must be the case that the marginal growth diminishes over time.

Right?

4. Back to PT vs. CT.

Another thing has happened to me over the course of this foray into age and political polarization: I’m now definitely less skeptical about PT (the “personality thesis”) in relation to CT (the “cohort thesis”).

This shift also is rooted in the seeming linearity of the effect of age on partisanship.  (This linearity, it is important to point out, is observable in the raw data, not simply in the regression models, which constrain the effect of age to be linear.)

Again, the cohort theory attributes the greater conservatism of older citizens not to the experience of aging on their preferences but rather to the imprinting of the political spirit of the time in which those citizens came of age (presumably in their 20’s).

If that’s right, the impact of age shouldn’t be so damn linear.  The relative strength of conservative and liberal sensibilities in the general population presumably ebbs and flows.  If CT is right, then, any trends toward conservatism should be punctuated with trends toward liberalism.  We should see a ragged line, not a straight one, when we plot conservatism in relation to age.

The linearity of the march toward conservatism with age is much more consistent with PT, which before now struck me as more of a just-so story than a plausible account of how political sensibilities change as people grow older.

Or at least that is what I think for now.

What do you make of all this? 

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Reader Comments (22)

Dan,

Why PT and not a modified knowledge thesis - that knowledge takes time to get incorporated into preferences - so that very non-linear knowledge acquisition could still get massaged into very linear preference changes?

In other words, it's got to be more than just the severe linearity here that's made you less of a PT skeptic.


BTW:
The left "Stricter Gun Control Laws" graph should be labelled "Liberal Democrat low PK", correct?

August 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan-- I'm not sure I get the massage point, but in any case it sounds to me like a less likely explanation for the observed patterns. But the more interesting question is how would you set up an empirical test to help adjudicate between the process you are suggesting and a process in which people become progresssively more anxopis about change-- and hence more conservative -- as they get older.

Fixed the glitch-- thanks

August 5, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

But the data posted suggested that as people age they became more intensely (or reliably?) partisan compared to younger citizens with the same partisan identity (“conservative Republican,” “liberal Democrat,” etc.).

I figured you might look for an interaction effect with "curiosity," given that some researchers seem tot think that older people are less curious and you seem to think that scientific curiosity largely explains polarization on science-related issues? Or did I get that wrong?

August 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan,

I was just wondering why this particular linear effect has you reconsidering PT. Because there are other non-far-fetched ways to explain a linear impact on preferences despite non-linear knowledge acquisition, whether or not those other ways are easily testable.

August 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Interesting, there is also the "Paradox of Aging." So, more polarized, less healthy, reduced cognitive abilities, less curious - yet happier?

August 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"But the idea that the former, for exactly the same reasons, is more sophisticated than a 65-year-old seems absurd to me."

Argument from "it seems absurd to me"?

Presumably the difference is that one of them lived through the late 1940s and the other didn't. Are there no political lessons to be learned from having lived through the 1942-1952 period? Could that give people a different perspective?

" The relative strength of conservative and liberal sensibilities in the general population presumably ebbs and flows. If CT is right, then, any trends toward conservatism should be punctuated with trends toward liberalism."

As I understand it, I think the hypothesis is not about the imprinting of conservatism or liberalism, but the imprinting of the social norms that people form conservative or liberal opinions about. People raised in the late 1940s learned a particular set of acceptable standards of behaviour, that has changed gradually but continuously since then. The longer they have lived, the more changes there are between now and then. And people with particularly rigid and inflexible moral standards are more likely to be uncomfortable, the further away modern society is from their learned morality.

A lot of political knowledge is about the knowledge of history - knowledge of all the policies that have been tried before and why they failed, knowledge of the many political creeds that have risen and fallen, the arguments used for and against them, and which ones worked. Ideas recur again and again.

So not only are older conservatives more motivated, they also have an additional decade of political arguments and history to draw on. It's not a simple fixed body of knowledge that you can learn in a few years and then you're done. Society constantly changes, the political arguments change, and it's the breadth of experience and examples expands linearly with time. The 1940s was a period of radical social change. So was the 1950s. So was the 1960s. So was the 1970s. and so on. Each is a whole new set of arguments, a whole new subject to learn.

It's not simply the quantity, it's the content.

"But the more interesting question is how would you set up an empirical test to help adjudicate between the process you are suggesting and a process in which people become progresssively more [anxious] about change-- and hence more conservative -- as they get older."

Extrapolate radical changes to society that might occur in future, violating existing norms of morality, and see if young conservatives are as concerned about them as older conservatives are about present-day social changes.

August 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Dan -

(or anyone else)

It’s a well established finding that citizens with greater political knowledge (or sophistication) express political preferences that are more in line with their self-identified political ideology.

How is direction of causality explained there. IOW, how do we know that it isn't that people prefer to express strong ideological idemtification are those who seek out and obtain greater political knowledge?

August 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"IOW, how do we know that it isn't that people prefer to express strong ideological idemtification are those who seek out and obtain greater political knowledge?"

Presumably it's both.

Does global warming cause water vapour to increase, or does water vapour cause global warming?

August 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

1) The issues we consider politically important (e.g. gay marriage, global warming) change slowly, but they do change over the decades (as other issues, like interracial marriage, become non-issues). If older people just keep their existing positions (mostly), but adopt ideologically-consistent positions on all new issues that come up, they would have the slow increase in ideological consistency/polarization you see, yes?

2) Nonetheless, I think it is a finding in most countries, that the Left is always convinced that the future belongs to them, because the younger folks are mostly progressive, and then ten or twenty years later they are lamenting the fact that this generation got more conservative as they aged. But, the NEXT generation is very progressive, so the future belongs to us! This does not speak well for the Cohort Theory, which should cause different shifts in different countries, I think.

August 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoss Hartshorn

@Joshua--

political identity ~curiosity + age is on deck.

On causation of political identity ~ political knowledgte, there are theories both ways. One is that politial knowledge indicates more sophistication in recognizing the implications of their political outlooks. Anbother is that political knowledge is merely an indicator of intensity of partisanship. I think #2 makes more sense.

August 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Jonathan--

The Cohort Theory says that individuals' political identties are imprinted on their minds by the political climate that existed as they came of age. The political climate bounces around a lot. So if CT is right, the political outlooks of distinct cohorts should bounce around too. But the linearity of the age -> conservatism association belies that.

There is still another theory, one that suggests that political sophistication grows w/ age. But I can't believe that there'd be linearity under that theory either. It's not plausible to me that the amont of sophistication would be continuous & not tail off well before people become senior citizens. You seem to have a theory that challenges that but you'll have to say more & give me some examples.

Then tehre is PT, which posits that personality traits shift to more defensive posutre as people age, thereby increasing their conservatism. That theory probably can account for linearity that we see.

August 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

There is still another theory, one that suggests that political sophistication grows w/ age. But I can't believe that there'd be linearity under that theory either. It's not plausible to me that the amont of sophistication would be continuous & not tail off well before people become senior citizens. You seem to have a theory that challenges that but you'll have to say more & give me some examples.

What if people have a limited tolerance for change in preferences, as a way to maintain self consistency. This limited tolerance acts as a force of friction against accumulated political knowledge. Or, maybe a better metaphor is a bucket of water with a small hole in the bottom - the water exiting the small hole is change in preference, while the water being added to the bucket in large discontinuous amounts is the accumulated knowledge. Nobody wants to move far from their current position quickly, despite how much knowledge they have accumulated in a short period of time.

I'm not personally advocating for this theory. I'm just pointing out that PT isn't the only way to explain the linearity. Also, with PT, you still have to explain why personality trait shift is so linear. I think you may still need to posit some friction on preference change even here - because it seems more likely that a goal of self consistency can be enforced at the preference level than at the trait level (there is better memory of past preferences than of past traits). Why, for example, don't you see some kind of nonlinearity around retirement age? That's big in terms of what one is defensive about and how much (immigrants can't steal a job you no longer have, Medicare is suddenly a nice idea, and interest rates should go up instead of down), hence with PT you'd expect to see something that isn't smooth going on about 65 or so.

August 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

After having taken a 3-day roadtrip with my father, a naturalized US citizen who watches no English TV and reads no US political commentary on the Internet, I think it's worth asking where "political knowledge" comes from. He's a rather politically opinionated person, nearly 70 years old, and yet hardly partisan at all in US politics, a rare breed in this day and age. Talk to him about Taiwanese politics and it's another matter. I wonder where that comes from.

Here's a rather uncharitable hypothesis, but one I seriously advance. Consuming political media instead of talking to people around you is responsible for hyper-partisanship.

This theory explains the collinearity of age/political knowledge thus: there's no single personal epiphany, or set of personal epiphanies even, that drive you towards the extreme positions. Rather, there is toxicity in the discourse you expose yourself to, and your partisanship is dosage-dependent. Does the 55-year old really know more than the 45-year old? No. But there's a group of 55-year-olds that started watching their media at the same age as the 45-year-olds did, and those 45-year-olds will turn into those 55-year-olds in 10 years.

Have any CCP data sets looked at media consumption by source and/or length of time?

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

dypoon -

<>Rather, there is toxicity in the discourse you expose yourself to, and your partisanship is dosage-dependent.

Why does one person choose to be exposed to more toxicity than another?

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

" The political climate bounces around a lot. So if CT is right, the political outlooks of distinct cohorts should bounce around too."

That doesn't follow.

As I suggested above, if the political outlook depends of the difference between the values of present-day society and those of the times one grew up in, then the bouncing is averaged out.

"It's not plausible to me that the amount of sophistication would be continuous & not tail off well before people become senior citizens."

Why? What's your model of the growth of sophistication?

"You seem to have a theory that challenges that but you'll have to say more & give me some examples."

Political knowledge consists in large part of the experience of major historical events, which does increase linearly.

"According to Mannheim, social consciousness and perspective of youth reaching maturity in a particular time and place (what he termed "generational location") is significantly influenced by the major historical events of that era (thus becoming a "generation in actuality")" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_generations

--

Celui qui n’est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère, fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit.

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Just read Gastil et al. I think there is a mistake in Figure 1: "Eliminating the estate tax (favored by Liberals, Egalitarian-Collectivists)". Maybe favored by neoliberals and regalitarians.

August 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

IMO, Kevin Arceneaux sort of admits the reason why he doesn't see what I'm seeing; he wasn't looking for it. He explained in his piece that his group's studies were designed to evaluate the -direct- effects of watching polarizing news. In his words, the relevant counterfactual is, "What would Fox News viewers know and believe about politics if we lived in a world without Fox News?"

He seems to be discounting, or at least not addressing, the possibility that what drives polarization is not people watching polarized sources they agree with, but people knowing that there are other people watching polarized sources they disagree with. I think the real relevant question is, "What would MSNBC watchers know and believe about politics if we lived in a world without Fox News?" Thinking that there are hateful and wrong people on the other side makes you self-righteous even when you yourself are being hateful and wrong. People seek out their own safe spaces and there foment hatred.

In my view, it doesn't matter what the MSNBC anchors say - what matters to their watchers is that they're not Fox. This point of view explains the lack of demand for investigative reporting and the satisfaction with the reactive style of reporting that I've seen a lot of lately. It explains the recent, strange hatred for former Fox News anchors who sought and accepted MSNBC contracts; those ronin anchors are from the other team and can't be trusted.

I'm also disinclined to trust Arceneaux very much because his analysis of his data look really flawed to me. For example, take Figure 4.4, reproduced in his guest post: people who prefer modern entertainment programs can be further polarized by agreement with arguments for their own side, but people who prefer modern news programs can only be further polarized by disagreement with arguments for the other side. There appear to be no significantly depolarizing effects. Arceneaux writes:

"Note that the proattitudinal program had almost no effect on news-seekers, while the counterattitudinal show did. If people tend to gravitate toward likeminded news programming and entertainment seekers tend to tune out news, then these findings suggest that the direct effects of partisan news should be minimal."

Let me get this straight: He measured the effect of a proattitudinal program in news-seekers (i.e., people who by his own assumption have already sought out like stimulus, and likely habitually expose themselves to it) and expected to see a -greater- response in those people. I ask: why this expectation? Why in God's name would he expect to see a -greater- signal associated with a null intervention?! I would take figure 4.4 as strong evidence that polarizing news directly polarizes its audience, by virtue of the differences in polarization response between the people who aren't in the habit of watching news and the people who are. Not only do proattitudinal stimuli show evidence of a saturation response, but exposure to proattitudinal, polarizing news also decreases sensitivity to counterattitudinal news! My modus ponens is his modus tollens, and I think I'm actually right this time...

August 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"What would MSNBC watchers know and believe about politics if we lived in a world without Fox News?" Thinking that there are hateful and wrong people on the other side makes you self-righteous even when you yourself are being hateful and wrong. People seek out their own safe spaces and there foment hatred.

In my view, it doesn't matter what the MSNBC anchors say - what matters to their watchers is that they're not Fox.

???

Are you suggesting that MSNBC viewers would believe differently absent Fox News, or are you suggesting that there would be no difference in their beliefs? For example, do you think that MSNBC viewers would have significantly different beliefs about Trump (e.g.., hate him significantly less, or like him significantly more) , absent Fox? That seems a bit implausible to me.

I'm confused because it seems to me that if the MSNBC anchors said that Trump et al (or Bill O'Reilly) were fine and upstanding citizens of complete integrity, and that Donald Trump is going to make America great again, then the viewers wouldn't be watching MSNBC. MSNBC viewers watch MSNBC because they want their beliefs to be validated - but it seems to me that it does matter what the MSNBC anchors say - as depending on what they said, the viewers would/wouldn't fee validated. MSNBC viewers' beliefs are not a function of what the MSNBC anchors say, and what the anchors say doesn't determine their beliefs, but that isn't the same as saying that what MSNBC anchors say "doesn't matter."


This point of view explains the lack of demand for investigative reporting and the satisfaction with the reactive style of reporting that I've seen a lot of lately. I

First, I am a bit skeptical about the putative decline in investigative reporting (with the Internet, there are a lot of outlets for investigative reporting than ever existed before, even if it takes a different form than it has in the past) - and I am a bit dubious about how that might be measured over time...although this link supplies an interesting metric:

http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/01/30/how-the-decline-in-investigative-journalism-is-making-congress-dumb/

My guess, however, is that (1) there has long been a lot of "reactive style reporting and that (2) the causality behind a decline, such that it is, is probably pretty complex and not simply "explained" by a lack of demand from the derivation you suggest. From that article I just linked:

Hamilton attributes the near disappearance of journalist witnesses to “declining revenues and staff at newspapers translating into less investigative activity.” Local and regional investigative reporting were particularly hard hit.

Methinks that changes in the economics of journalism is relevant, and that those changes are not simply due to the factors you describe.

This point of view explains the lack of demand for investigative reporting and the satisfaction with the reactive style of reporting that I've seen a lot of lately. It explains the recent, strange hatred for former Fox News anchors who sought and accepted MSNBC contracts; those ronin anchors are from the other team and can't be trusted.

First, why is that hatred strange? What evidence do you use to determine its oddness?

Second, is there a different brand of hatred for the former FOX News anchors as compared to the current Fox News anchors?

August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Are you suggesting that MSNBC viewers would believe differently absent Fox News?

Yes, this is my position. I believe that MSNBC viewers by and large think that Fox is inciting the disagreeable passions of the other side's people; that Fox News is radicalizing people who would otherwise just be susceptible to such messaging. In the absence of Fox News, I think MSNBC viewers would be content to let "the worst Fox viewers" hold their views privately, but not discuss them or transmit them. The fact there is a mass-market platform for those positions to be discussed affords them a dangerous air of legitimacy, and makes those people, who would otherwise just be susceptible, leaderless sheep, into an enemy worth reckoning. I suspect the same is true of Fox viewers, but I don't know as many of them so I don't speak with as much certainty.

Basically, all I'm saying is that the culture wars are real. Each side is more scared of the other side's mobilization than they are enthused about their own.

I meant that it explains why the viewership doesn't demand it. I agree with you that the economics inside journalism are responsible - investigative journalism has to compete for attention with the new bottom of the barrel, the Youtube celebrity going on an inflammatory rant. These are programs that seek different audiences. So if you don't have the audience to support investigative journalism, then you don't get it. For a few years, Al Jazeera America was dumping their money into investigative journalism when everybody else was creeping towards the bottom of the barrel. AJA's viewership was in the tens of thousands only - not enough to sustain their own programming. The American audience rejected them resoundingly, and so AJA stopped existing. The American audience would rather listen to people saying the other people are wrong than to people taking good, close looks at issues.

My evidence is from comments made by a friend who was at the time offended that MSNBC chose to "harbor" those anchors because they thought of MSNBC as their "safe space for real news". I'm quoting them. This is from a person who, as far as I can tell, is partisan to the extent that they feel that the other side's core audience hates them for being queer, female, and fun-seeking. Several weeks later they stopped watching MSNBC because they felt the only good show left (Rachel Maddow) had become so obsessed with "Russia Russia Russia" that they'd lost the big picture of what was newsworthy.

So I suppose I was wrong, then. It does matter what they say. Still have to keep peoples' attention.

Gotta run...

August 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

dypoon -

Thanks.

I believe that MSNBC viewers by and large think that Fox is inciting the disagreeable passions of the other side's people; that Fox News is radicalizing people who would otherwise just be susceptible to such messaging.

I don't disagree that many MSNBC viewers viewers have such an opinion. Nor an I convinced that the view is entirely wrong (if you include the entire rightwing branch of the mainstream media, i.e., Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, Savage, Ingraham, etc. on the radio, Drudge and Breitbart, etc.) I would guess that some of the hard right wing audience watches and listens to get preexisting identity orientation reinforced, but I would also think that some portion are pulled towards a more radicalized viewpoint by the virtue signalling, hate-mongering, and fabricated reporting that wouldn't otherwise exist (e.g., Seth Rich).

In the absence of Fox News, I think MSNBC viewers would be content to let "the worst Fox viewers" hold their views privately, but not discuss them or transmit them.

I'm confused by that. We seem to have seen a growth in the polarization contemporaneously with the advent and growth of Fox News. But certainly polarization existed before Fox News. And MSNBC viewer types of people were not nearly uniformly content in the manner you describe prior to the existence of Fox News.

The fact there is a mass-market platform for those positions to be discussed affords them a dangerous air of legitimacy, and makes those people, who would otherwise just be susceptible, leaderless sheep, into an enemy worth reckoning.

The "You are just repeating what your overlords at Fox News/MSNBC tells you to think." meme is certainly ubiquitous, but I don't think that it represents a new brand of polarization.

I suspect the same is true of Fox viewers, but I don't know as many of them so I don't speak with as much certainty.

You certainly can read those arguments (as I described) frequently on both sides.

Basically, all I'm saying is that the culture wars are real. Each side is more scared of the other side's mobilization than they are enthused about their own.

I half agree. I'm not sure about exact relative prevalence, but being a victim seems to me to be a primary driver. Relatedly, Google 'Sykes anti-anti-trump."

My evidence is from comments made by a friend who was at the time offended that MSNBC chose to "harbor" those anchors because they thought of MSNBC as their "safe space for real news". I'm quoting them. This is from a person who, as far as I can tell, is partisan to the extent that they feel that the other side's core audience hates them for being queer, female, and fun-seeking. Several weeks later they stopped watching MSNBC because they felt the only good show left (Rachel Maddow) had become so obsessed with "Russia Russia Russia" that they'd lost the big picture of what was newsworthy.

To that, I would just say beware generalizing from sampling that hasn't been tested for representativeness

August 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

dypoon -

This thread is probably dead, but...

An interesting factoid when considering the impact of media (right-wing or otherwise).

Last May, after a video of a commencement address I delivered at Hampshire College circulated on the internet, Fox News created a segment out of the 30 seconds or so in which I called President Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac.” The network ran the clip repeatedly over four days with the headline “Princeton professor goes on anti-Potus tirade.”

That a junior faculty member of Princeton was critical of Mr. Trump in a speech at a small liberal arts college should not be surprising. Nor was it newsworthy in any meaningful sense of the term. But it did incite Fox viewers.

Within hours, invective filled my inbox. I received emails that promised I would be lynched, shot and raped, and Princeton’s department of African-American studies, of which I am a member, was so flooded with hate that the locks on the doors had to be changed.


Before all of this, I had been touring colleges to speak about my book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” for a year and a half, without any problems. But after the media onslaught, and a frank conversation with a campus police officer who read through my emails, I canceled a West Coast portion of my tour. I had begun to imagine myself speaking on stage, looking out at a sea of strangers, not knowing if someone might be there to make good on one of the violent and twisted threats I received.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/opinion/the-free-speech-hypocrisy-of-right-wing-media.html?_r=0&referer=https://www.themaven.net/roamingmillennial/politics/httpswwwnytimescom20170814opinionthe-free-speech-hypocrisy-of-right-wing-mediahtml-FGHpXP8h9kKKqhQREcR6Xg

August 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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