As many of you know, I’m in the midst of writing a memoir. I’m now calling it The Enemy Within, but its earlier title was Changing My Mind, an allusion both to my intellectual development and to my shifting political orientations. In the course of thinking through my past, I’ve wondered how much the new, more conservative Glenn would have to say to the more liberal Glenn of the ‘90s and ‘00s.
So I decided to stage a little “debate” between us. Mark Sussman, my editor here at the newsletter, went through a lecture I delivered at Baruch College in 2000 where I laid out the argument that would become The Anatomy of Racial Inequality. He picked a few clips emblematic of the Old Glenn’s positions, where he thought there might be room for some interesting agreement and disagreement (you can watch the whole lecture here). We then recorded my reactions, with Mark “moderating” between me and my prior self.
It turns out that the Old Glenn and the New Glenn agree about a lot of things (though not, of course, everything). If present-day progressives approached problems of racial inequality in the way I recommended then, I still might not sign onto their program today, but there would be much more shared ground where compromise between opposing sides could be reached. Certainly the Old and New Glenns agree about a great deal. It all makes me wonder: Is it too late to abandon the hectoring tone of racial discourse today and have a serious discussion about history, outcomes, and incentives? Despite my own pessimism, I have to hope that it isn’t, and that, at the very least, the Old Glenn still has some allies out there.