Columnist Andrew Sullivan, who identifies conservative, announced on July 14 that he would be parting ways with New York magazine, citing what a divorcing couple might describe as irreconcilable differences. Put simply, Sullivan has consistently refused to conform to the more ridiculous extremes of leftist dogma and, as a result, has become an undesirable. On that same day, New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss walked away from a once-great newspaper that has devolved into a third-rate publisher of half-truths, fantasies, and quasi-socialist rantings, in which there is no place for independent thought.
Sullivan is a smart guy and a talented writer, though he seems to have a strange idea of what it means to be a conservative – perhaps because he has spent far too many years working with and for left-wing extremists. He considers himself a conservative yet admits that he believes in “more redistribution of wealth,” thinks climate change requires “aggressive action,” and voted for Barack Obama. He also plans to vote for Joe Biden in November.
Sullivan’s Comparative Conservatism
These are, of course, not the traits of a conservative. Sullivan is a liberal, perhaps, in the classical sense, but he occupies no space whatsoever on the right side of the modern political spectrum.
The lesson here could be that people like Sullivan – who lean left but cannot wrap their heads around progressive ideology – feel so out of touch with most of their professional colleagues in the media that, by comparison, they imagine themselves to be conservatives.
Describing the reason for his departure – or ousting – in simple terms, Sullivan writes: “A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me … ” He goes on to impart:
“They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space.”
The Left’s Purity Test
It’s not that Sullivan was cast out because he is a conservative; he simply wasn’t left-wing enough for his former employer and colleagues. There is a purity test on the political left now, and only those fully committed to the nonsense that passes for “critical theory” can stay in the charmed circle.
To be a moderate is to be a heretic. One cannot merely support transgender rights, for example – that is not enough; one must now subscribe to the notion that being wholly male or completely female is an abomination. It is not sufficient to advocate for racial justice these days; one must believe that being white is, in itself, an offense against humanity. To pass the purity test, you must not say you love your country, but you want to change it, oh no. Instead, you must recognize that your country is the wellspring of everything evil and unjust and that even the faintest patriotic sentiment marks you as a monster.
Sullivan plans to pursue his own projects, and he will likely be successful. He joins the growing ranks of left-wingers who have been ostracized because they are not far enough left. There is an adage – the attribution of which is debatable – that a revolution devours its children. The political left is currently going through its own revolution, and Sullivan, like Weiss, has been devoured along the path to insanity.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.