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These posts reflect my original interest in American politics, history and political theory broadly cast. I’m interested in exploring the nexus between American Political Development (APD) and American Political Thought (APT) as well as American Studies and Africana Studies or all regional “studies,” including working with Gajo Petrovic a leader in Praxis published in the former Yugoslavia.

This was the reason I stayed in politics for my Ph.D. rather than leaving for law school, history, sociology or business school as faculty kept trying to convince me to do in undergraduate and graduate school after spending a gap year reading Heidegger’s Being and Time with University of Zagreb philosophy professor Gajo Petrovic, who spent time at IAS and working with the author of the former Yugoslavian Constitution, the one that stuck — written in the 1970s.  The latter scholar attended the Sorbonne in the 1930s and ended his career as the Dean of the best law school in Belgrade.  In the 1980s the Fulbright funded his scholarship on Jefferson at Claremont Graduate School.  I worked with him for my B.A. thesis on Marx, existentialism, phenomenology and Yugoslavian self-management supervised by Claremont Men’s College’s public law professor Winston Fisk.

Two Rights Make an Exhilarating Left – Showcasing a Leader Who Happens to Be a Woman

  Listen to this exchange, elevating and advancing the most significant postwar political thinker – Hannah Arendt — who happens to be a woman in the United States. Indeed, a newly vacant seat is named after her. This woman spoke truth to power in 1963 in The New Yorker, and took a lot of flak for it — so much so that she passed away tired at another venerable institution that hosts her name – Bard College.

What I’m talking about is that Chelsea and Corey got into it this weekend. Chelsea Clinton tweeted that the burning of an LGBT youth center in Phoenix reflects Hannah Arendt’s most famous and infamous phrase — “the banality of evil.” Corey Robin, my esteemed colleague, a full professor at the City University of New York, corrected Chelsea, saying that she had misunderstood and that Arendt was actually saying the exact opposite of what she thought.

Now, no one likes a correction, so Chelsea took Corey’s bait, and they went back and forth at some length, she maintaining that the Arendt phrase was apposite and he maintaining that it wasn’t.

This is, according to two more political scientists (Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler), an example of the “backfire effect” — which is fodder for another blog, so going back to the Chelsea/Corey brainy brawl, Chelsea repeatedly stood up and defended herself, only to be corrected by Corey again and again.

Corey has the better argument, though Chelsea (who initiated the discussion) is doing us a civil service, as Corey points out. Chelsea, as the author of a bestselling children’s book (She Persisted), is really setting the agenda to let women speak as leaders — really saying women are leaders.

How could Chelsea not be right in instigating and showcasing the most heretical political thinker who happens to be a woman in the United States? To top it all off, Hannah Arendt was an immigrant, a refugee, in exile – and she can no longer defend (i.e. correct) how understood and misunderstood is her political thought – though we have all benefited from it and a new book series is launching with other heretical thinkers, men and women alike.

Chelsea Clinton is right. Corey Robin is right. Chelsea is showcasing how women happen to lead. I’m going to get Chelsea’s book, and reread Corey’s analysis.