Bari Weiss is defending her magnum derpus on Twitter, with roughly the expected results:
So conservatives, classical liberals and/or libertarians are SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES who need a SAFE SPACE from criticism or they’ll become white supremacists out of spite? And when they do, it’s the fault of the people criticizing them? OK. Now listen to this Jordan Peterson lecture about how people need to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and also how Jungian archetypes provide irrefutable scientific evidence that boys are better than girls.
Anyway, Weiss has done conservative public intellectuals a favor because people are so busy dunking on her that they haven’t noticed that Sully made another boo-boo. We can start with crossing the streams:
…Bari Weiss deploys the phrase “Intellectual Dark Web” to describe a variety of non-tribal thinkers who have certainly not been silenced, but have definitely been morally anathematized, in the precincts of elite opinion.
OK, the views Weiss says are being silenced aren’t actually being “silenced,” they’re being “morally anathematized” (i.e. people strongly disagree with them), whereas in a truly free and open discourse people would suppress their disagreement with views they find immoral or pernicious. Like, just to pick a random example, the idea that immigration is destroying England in general and its traditionally provincial and culturally homogeneous capital in particular — you shouldn’t be allowed to criticize this argument in strong terms because that would be tribalist and contrary to the principles of open discourse. I see no holes in this logic.
The dynamic here is deeply tribal. It’s an atmosphere in which the individual is always subordinate to the group, in which the “I” is allowed only when licensed by the “we.” Hence the somewhat hysterical reaction, for example, to Kanye West’s recent rhetorical antics. I’m not here to defend West. He may be a musical genius (I’m in no way qualified to judge) but he is certainly a jackass, and saying something like “slavery was a choice” is so foul and absurd it’s self-negating. I don’t blame anyone for taking him down a few notches, as Ta-Nehisi Coates just did in memorable fashion in The Atlantic. He had it coming. You could almost say he asked for it.
But still. And yet. There was something about the reaction that just didn’t sit right with me, something too easy, too dismissive of an individual artist’s right to say whatever he wants, to be accountable to no one but himself.
“Can an extraordinarily wealthy and popular recording artist *really* be free if people say mean things about him when he writes incoherent tweets supporting Donald Trump? I have concluded the answer is ‘no.'”
Seriously, what the fuck kind of argument is this? Nobody disputes that Kanye has the right to say whatever he wants, which is utterly different from the ludicrously indefensible and self-refuting premise that an artist (and, implicitly, a conservative columnist) is “accountable to no one but himself.” When you have a big public platform, people will criticize you, sometimes in harsh terms. Suck it up or find something else to do for a living. And really don’t talk about how criticism is tantamount to suppression and then yammer on and on about “cloistered, neo-Marxist safe spaces.”
I think Josh’s dunk covers both arguments:
This is a stupid non-point, factually flawed, morally risible. https://t.co/8wyBc2styD
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 11, 2018
UPDATE! Uniting our themes:
After 9/11, Andrew Sullivan warned that decadent liberals in their coastal enclaves might mount a fifth column against America so I went and joined al-Qaeda.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) May 12, 2018