May 8Liked by Lisa Selin Davis

The far left and far right are becoming ever more extreme and polarized. As a center left person, I wish everyone would take two giant steps toward the middle, where every issue isn’t viewed through a limited black-and-white lens, where human complexity and diversity of opinion prevail.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

The sad thing is that I think most people are in the middle. But as soon as you get involved in any issue there’s pressure to align with either of the most extreme sides of it. A lot of people (myself included) find this alarming and overwhelming and withdraw from activism as a result. So the most extreme voices remain the ones contending the issue, while “centrists” are derided as ignorant people who don’t understand or care enough to take a side (because of course if they had “done their research” they would know what the right side is!).

Expand full comment

Beautiful words, Lisa. I love your last lines: “They don’t need a revolution. They just need a tiny bit of wiggle room.” So well said!

Expand full comment

Oh no, I never saw the one on the right!

This is awful.

Raising people to hate and see the world and other humans in terms of oppressors or oppressed, so all we have are grievances, outrage, and shame?

I hope most kids recover from what the schools have done and I wish I'd understood what was happening sooner, because this is no way to raise young people.

Expand full comment

It has really negatively affected my 18 yo and her peer group. The kids who seem unaffected have some really strong identity outside of what they are getting in school—they’re religious, or they have an extracurricular that takes up all their time. My daughter has neither so she and the kids she aligns with are low level depressed as they think of themselves in terms of their identities and believe the most nihilistic views of the world and their fellow human beings.

Expand full comment

You hit the nail on the head with this one. I remember arguing with someone while interning at Bronx Legal Services (a great organization that helped provide legal services for poor individuals), after my first year of law school. This guy was a former cop, now in law school, who had become (in my opinion) radicalized. He believed we needed to end all injustice at any cost, including through violence, if that was what it took to immediately fix any hint of oppression or discrimination in any form whatsoever. I, on the other hand, argued that MLK had the right idea - and he was dealing with blatant, horrific forms of discrimination and oppression that nobody could argue would "fix themselves." If there are problems, we need to fix them as peacefully as possible so as not to do more harm than good.

I think people who endorse the image on the right want a revolution, and don't really care about overall justice, fairness and a good life for anyone who is suffering from some form of oppression or discrimination. For example, those who want to get rid of all police don't actually care about people living in neighborhoods with rampant crime. Most law-abiding people in those neighborhoods want the police around!

Revolution for the sake of it doesn't actually help people, and usually causes a lot of harm. Instead, carefully considering (and, darn it, this takes some thought!) the issues that actually cause distress, and then carefully considering what might help alleviate those issues while causing the least backlash is the best way toward progress. For example, gay marriage helps ensure gay couples get the same rights as straight couples, and causes exactly no harm to anyone. By contrast, even if welcoming male criminal offenders who would like to see themselves as women into women's prisons may help make those men feel better (without getting into why they feel better), it is a radical act that causes danger to the vulnerable women in those prisons.

"Free to be you and me" (as in the image on the left) causes no harm to anyone, and allows people who are atypical in their presentation, interests, and proclivities to feel accepted and free to express themselves. Win-win.

The image on the right is hostile, and, frankly, seems to be seeking cures for non-existent problems, and, in some cases, causes serious problems. Was there ever a problem because 4-year-olds didn't see enough sexualized, over-made males play-acting as women? Who was being hurt by not having that? And is it a good idea? As noted, what transphobic laws are cops enforcing? Are cops coming and arresting people for being on cross-sex hormones or cross-dressing? Maybe back in the 60's and and 70's, but not anymore. Have children really been harmed by not hearing about the possibility that they were born in the wrong body? Obviously, this is doing more harm than good.

Expand full comment

On the subject of Title IX and schools, I have an action alert for those in NYC. The Council members in Community Education Council District 2 who voted for a very sensible resolution related to girls’ athletics are being vilified in all the ways we know too well and need our support. Here’s an article describing what is happening: https://nypost.com/2024/04/20/us-news/parent-volunteers-face-retaliation-following-gender-policy-vote/

If you are in NYC and want to show your support for the resolution and the Council members who voted for it, here is some info and sample text:

Community Education Council District 2 (the largest school district in Manhattan) passed a good resolution “Calling for a Comprehensive Review and Redrafting of NYCPS Guidelines on Gender with Regard to the Application and Impact on Female Athletes Participating in Physical Education, Intramural and Competitive Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Sports.” The vote was 8 in favor, 3 opposed, I believe. The resolution is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ygeLcQW4loVaAkXz7zKftye7HyspJzGe/view

As I understand it, 2 of the 3 opposing were Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine appointees. Levine himself sent out a statement in opposition which you can find here: https://twitter.com/MarkLevineNYC/status/1770765417088188582 Brad Hoylman, Debbie Glick, Tony Simone, and Eric Bottcher also put out a statement in opposition, which you can find here: https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2024/brad-hoylman-sigal/statement-regarding-community-education-council

I recommend the following:

>To all Manhattan residents to contact Levine’s office to state your view;

>To anyone residing in NYC to write CEC District 2 to show your support. The CEC email addresses are here: https://www.cecd2.net/our-members. I recommend including, in addition to the general email, emails to the resolution sponsors, who are Leonard Silverman, Allyson Bowen, Maud Maron, and Sabine Serinese;

>If your reps are any of Hoylman, Glick, Simone, or Bottcher, I recommend writing to them, too;

>Also, if you are not in CEC District 2, but reside in NYC, consider writing to New York City Public Schools (NYCPS) Chancellor David C. Banks to indicate your support for the resolution and asking the NYCPS to adopt it;

>If you are a Democrat, I recommend stating that, as, though this is a non-partisan issue, Levine and others of course paint this as MAGA.

Here is some of the text from what I wrote, if you want to use it as a starting point (though I strongly recommend individualizing what you write):

“This should be a non-partisan issue. That it is not has been particularly dismaying to me, as a lifelong Democrat. I share strongly the concerns contained in the resolution, and particularly that the voices of women and girls who share these concerns have not been properly included in the discussion about these issues. The resolution offers an excellent, worthy, and non-ideologically inflected path by which we can assure both fairness to women and girls and inclusion of all young people, however they identify, who wish to participate in school athletics, goals I am sure we all share.

“The resolution, if adopted by the NYCPS, would go a long way toward correcting the impasse in which we currently find ourselves. Nothing in the resolution prejudges the outcome: it merely requests that there be a full examination of the facts that includes all the relevant stakeholders and evidence, not merely a subset.”

Expand full comment

Thanks, Susan. I sent an email to Levine.

Expand full comment


Expand full comment

Thanks. I emailed Levine, too.

Expand full comment

I'm so disappointed in Levine--when I lived in Manhattan I voted for him. If I were still there, I would vote against him.

Expand full comment

Same here. I hope a decent person mounts a challenge to him.

Expand full comment
May 8·edited May 9

This news item from Australia points to some peaks and valleys in the support base for progressive politics that the flatteners could have trouble negotiating. See especially the second-last paragraph.


Expand full comment