Letter to the Editor: Fallacies of Irrelevance

I wrote this letter to the editor below after reading a negative book review in The New York Times.

As a parent of two children, I read Ms. Szalai’s review of Senator Ben Sasse’s book The Vanishing American Adult because I want to raise my kids to become responsible, self-reliant adults. I did not expect a condescending, political diatribe.

This review is filled with fallacies of irrelevance. Her criticism of Betsy DeVos, Trump voters, and what she calls the “hyperindividualistic ideology“ of the Republican Party is irrelevant to Sasse’s argument that the future of America depends on raising kids to become self-reliant adults. She doesn’t explain why Sasse’s criticism of John Dewey is “a rather creative interpretation of Dewey’s work.” She complains Sasse has “curiously little to say about the new president” even though the Publishers Weekly announcement of the book’s publication was on October 11th, 2016, one month before Trump was elected president.

An editor should not write a scathing book review simply because she finds the author’s political views infuriating. If the book leaves out politics, the review should too.

Lisa Marie Hagerman

May 24, 2017

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