Days ago, Harper’s Magazine published a now-toxic letter signed by more than 150 self-proclaimed liberal writers, professors, and activists sounding an alarm bell on the state of open discourse in America and the prevalence of cancel-culture bullying employed by far-left Democrats. The letter stated:
“The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted … While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism …”
It was a brave stance: telling folks to shut up and allow the First Amendment a bit of breathing room. Then the wailing radical leftists got their knickers in a wad and turned the cancel culture on their own offspring. Oh, the horror.
Right out of the gate, after reeling from what she endorsed, historian and Tufts University academic Kerri Greenidge took to Twitter: “I do not endorse this @Harpers letter. I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.”
Author and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan mea culpa’d her way to forgiveness: “I thought I was endorsing a well-meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company. The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”
For edification, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Atwood: heavy hitters in liberal lore.
Even radical left Vox felt the collateral damage as one of its own signed the missive, and another felt victimized. Emily VanDerWerff, a trans woman at the publication, now felt “unsafe” in her “slightly more difficult” job. Oy vey. Emily did allow that the traitor was entitled to his own opinion, but that appears lost in the overall triggered letter to her employers.
And one wonders where all the moderate Democrats have gone.
When They Feast on Their Own
The immediate assault was so spectacular Bill Maher invited two signatories — former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss and Harper’s Magazine columnist Thomas Chatterton Williams — to chew the fat on becoming the latest casualties of cancel culture.
Weiss, who left the NYT stating, “Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions,” braved what was sure to be a backlash for thinking for herself. Maher was incredulous:
“Bari, the fact that you — they call you a centrist or right-winger! I mean, if a hip, millennial, Jewish bisexual girl living in San Francisco is not a liberal … who is these days?”
Who, indeed? You can be sure that any liberals or progressives who happen to practice free thinking will most surely bear the brunt of the elite few. Liberty Nation‘s own Pennel Bird penned a brilliant analysis of the courageous who have come forward to disavow the nonsense encouraged by narrative-driven talking heads and to embrace these regular Democrats as undrafted soldiers for a free society:
“Admittedly, this is a modest shortlist of sometime political adversaries with whom conservatives might potentially break bread on topics important to America, such as corporate de-platforming and the metastasizing attacks on free speech.”
Weiss spoke freely on the “social murder” taking the place of social and political discourse and suggested that politics has become a “religious identity” and “to be anything less than ‘Defund the police’… makes you something like a heretic.”
Williams, the publisher of the letter, who opened this swollen, expired can of blowback, stressed:
“We’re in danger of making people living today — we’re creating a world where everyone alive today is a representative of thoughts and misdeed and circumstances of their ancestors. And that’s not a world that I want to create.”
Yes, you can imagine how popular he is at the progressive-issue buffet.
The letter did not single out the radical left but swiftly rebuked the extreme right — and critical thinkers of all ilk would tend to agree. Cancel culture must have a short shelf life, and the ability to disagree, speak freely, and live openly without fear of repercussions is an American tenet. The foremost of rights. As such, the historically infamous letter will stand as a fair warning:
“We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.”
Can I get an Amen? And someone forward the Harper’s letter to CNN, please.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.