Keep America Weird

A great bottom-up conversation between Reihan Salam and Chris Hayes:

The key parts:

Reihan Salam:That’s what I find most vivid and exciting, and it’s also what I find most important, because it also involves going beyond the nation state. It involves goes beyond these conventional categories of who matters, and whose narratives of suffering matter. When I look at inequality statistics, they mask the fact that boy, how many of these folks have middle-class families with one kid who is bipolar, or who is addicted to heroin, or any number of things. The real map of the world is actually a billion times more complicated than the wonkosphere map of the world. I think the poverty of that map, on the right and the left, is actually an urgent moral problem. And that’s why I want to encourage people to think outside of it.

Chris Hayes:This is something you encounter as a journalist all the time. You go out into the world and there are an infinite amount of facts. And when you write a feature piece, you say “I’m going to basically take this lasso and throw it out there, and pull in this set of facts.” That’s going to be the story about whatever–if I do a story about MoveOn, that’s the relevant set of facts. And that’s how you shape the world” …

Reihan Salam: What speaks to me is freako-weirdo-American individualists. I deeply want this to be a site of experimentation for the world. I’m not a big American exceptionalism guy, but I believe there needs to be a space. I think our relative prosperity and our relative weirdness–this sounds silly, and it sounds like I’m goofing off, but I really think it’s urgently important. That’s why any effort to rigidify and centralize, that’s what really worries me.

Chris Hayes: Your slogan then, if I had to boil down the very complicated, un-boil-downable core of Reihanism I think it would be “keep America weird.”

I would join Reihan’s “Keep America Weird” movement. So, I suspect, would Paul Graham.

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