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Antebellum Reasoning

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This Eve Fairbanks piece pointing out that the “just asking questions” reactionaries of the INTELLECTUAL DARK WEB echo the rhetoric of the “reasonable” defenders of slavery is brilliant:

All of this is there in the reasonable right: The claim that they are the little people struggling against prevailing winds. The argument that they’re the ones championing reason and common sense. The allegation that their interlocutors aren’t so much wrong as excessive; they’re just trying to think freely and are being tormented. The reliance on hyperbole and slippery slopes to warn about their adversaries’ intentions and power. The depiction of their opponents as an “orthodoxy,” an epithet the antebellum South loved.

In Dave Rubin, who says that “if you have any spark of individualism in you, if you have anything about you that’s interesting or different, they” — the left — “will come to destroy that,” I hear the pro-Southern newspaper editor Duff Green: Abolitionists’ intent is “to drive the white man from the South.”

In Bari Weiss — who asserts that “the boundaries of public discourse have become so proscribed as to make impossible frank discussions of anything remotely controversial” and that “perfectly reasonable intellectuals [are] being regularly mislabeled … with every career-ending epithet” — I hear Josiah Nott: “Scientific men who have been bold enough to speak truth … have been persecuted.”

In Ben Shapiro — who ascribes right-wing anger to unwise left-wing provocation (“How do you think people are going to react?”) — I hear a letter printed in the Charleston Mercury, which warned that “if the mad career of the hot headed abolitionists should lead to acts of violence on the part of those whom they so vindictively assail, who shall be accountable? … Not the South.”

In Bret Easton Ellis — who complains that the left is “always” unreasonably “angry” about things, serves him “constant reminder[s] of my failings,” and expects total “silence and submission” — I hear the proslavery U.S. Telegraph, which warned that abolitionists plotted a “disruption of that fraternity of feeling” in America.

Is there truth to these complaints, such as the one from Amy Wax that America’s cultural cohesion “gets no attention, no discussion,” as she recently complained to The New Yorker? Are the boundaries of public discourse in America really so “proscribed” that no opinion outside of left-wing orthodoxy can be spoken?

Of course not. Over the past 10 years, Fox News has outstripped CNN as America’s most-watched cable news network. On the day special counsel Robert S. Mueller III released his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Fox News’s online articles racked up more reactions and shares on Facebook than all the stories by CBS, ABC and NPR combined. Conservatives control the presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court.

Is it true that it’s “career-ending” to be of the reasonable right? Shapiro’s recent “The Right Side of History” was a New York Times No. 1 bestseller. Rubin’s YouTube channel has more than 1 million subscribers, and last year, he was the subject of an admiring 4,000-word profile in Playboy. Peterson bragged that scalpers were charging more for a sold-out appearance of his than for tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game.

Worth reading the whole etc.

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