Paragraph 4 of "The last thing on ‘privilege’ you’ll ever need to read/A new book argues that accusing people of unearned advantages does nothing to address inequality — and may only make things worse," a review by Carlos Lozada (in WaPo) of the book "The Perils of 'Privilege': Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage," by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, who, according to Lozada seems to have "scoured the Internet for every overwrought think piece and self-indulgent personal essay about privilege" and "read all of them." She's even "read the comments sections, those swamps of vitriol and condescension that no one is ever supposed to even contemplate or speak of, let alone wade into."
I know you may never click through, since it's in WaPo, and there's a paywall, so let me tell you that there's a lot more of Lozada displaying his exasperation that anyone would do research into understanding what people are talking about on the internet. Bovy herself worried that there might be a problem with a "microhistory" of some phenomenon as it played out on the internet,* and Lozada — noting Bovy's interest in seeing more variety in what's written about economics and inequality — gives her the send-off:
We could, of course, just start reading something else, too. Not all the waters out there are so swampy.Yeah, stick to mainstream media like The Washington Post where we keep the opinion tidied up and presentable. Speaking of privilege! It seems to me that Lozada is the privileged party... blissfully unaware or... somewhat defensive. Why is anyone wading the swamps of vitriol and condescension, when we've got these nice, clean newspapers with everything laid out for you?
* But I think there's an excellent chance that this is exactly the kind of research historians will need to be doing. This is public discourse preserved. It will not be enough to study what the big newspapers were saying at the time. People were talking and leaving their discussions in writing. Lozado would like to reject all this discussion as illegitimate — a swamp. He'd like to say: That's not the real public discussion. The people who actually matter were somewhere else, and they did not put their thoughts in writing. These are not real people in here talking. Ignore them. They don't matter.
It's a bit like the way Trump voters are portrayed as people whose ideas and opinions can't possibly matter. We've seen that they matter, whether the coastal elites in mainstream media like it or not. And historians can act aloof and swampophobic, but I don't think that will play out any better than the "Great Man" approach that once kept historians above lowly things.