Defending Criticism (from Trump)

Poet and literary critic Adam Kirsch wrote this magnificent polemic recently in the Book Review section of The New York Times. It takes as its jumping off point some recent comments by President Donald Trump in which Trump essentially declares as worthless the contributions of critics to society and culture. In a powerful rebuke of that idea, Kirsch argues for the essential value of critical thought and shows that a disdain for it leads to dangerous outcomes. The whole thing is masterfully reasoned and you ought to read in its entirety, but I will excerpt some of the choicest bits here because I find it so invigoratingly effective.

First, starting with this typically bombastic quote from the man most of us didn’t vote for:

For many people, the ignorant hostility of that quote alone is perhaps all the advocacy for the worth of criticism that needs to be made. However, Kirsch reasons further that, in spite of the fact that criticism is often unwanted and unpleasant, it is the unavoidable consequence of human endeavors.


Criticism may be inevitable, but Kirsch contends that it is also inherently complementary to the principles of democracy.

And finally, Kirsch asserts our right—all of us in this country—to criticism.

I implore you to read the full article at