July 7, 2020
The below letter will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at email@example.com
Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial.
which…. the fuck … institutions are you referencing???
A cultural institution or cultural organization is an organization within a culture/subculture that works for the preservation or promotion of culture. The term is especially used of public and charitable organizations, but its range of meaning can be very broad. Examples of cultural institutions in modern society are museums, libraries and archives, churches, art galleries.
Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts.
So the cultural institution you’re actually referencing in the first line is really…. the cops? Are you fucking kidding me? or no, cultural institutions in this case are academia, a racist cesspit of sheltered and overgrown egos, journalism WHICH HAS BEEN BUTCHERED by right wing billionaires buying up every independent newsroom and news provider they can get their mitts on, philanthropy, the method by which billionaires deflect opprobrium, and the arts, which, fuck, I’m a creator and I know ‘zackly how bad shit is.
But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.
This is the FUCKING TONE ARGUMENT once again are you shitting me Cthulhu. And by cracky if you think the leftists I hang with on twitter are ideologically conforming to any gatdam thing – at all – BESIDES the notion that none of us have read enough – literally the only thing any of us agree on – you’re obviously someone grand and stupid enough to have signed this limewater screed.
As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second.
So marginalized voices pointing out exactly how, and by whom, they are being marginalized get to run their ideas past you now? IN WHAT FASHION IS THAT NOT CENSORSHIP.
The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy.
Okay, thissssss is the point at which the cheese and the cracker separate, to the peril of the cheese. Because instead of calling what Trump and his supporters enact ‘fascism’, which it fucking well is, look it up, they call it illiberalism, which is what you say WHEN YOU ARE TOO MUCH OF A FUCKIN’ COWARD TO CALL FASCISM BY ITS NAME.
But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting.
YEAH, why don’t you give an example for the folks in the back rather than doing the academic equivalent of the noted folk saying, “Everybody knows –––”
The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.
Now just a corn-poned second there, Sparky, there’s a BIG DIFFERENCE between the ‘intolerant climate’ for white Christians and Black Muslims; white Trump artistes and Indigenous moms, anybody who voted for Steven Harper and me. For a couple of examples. The lived experience of marginalized peoples is herein magically made equivalent to that of gun totin’, mask scoffin’ fuckwits of all races and genders. IT IS NOT. The discourse of American Black men, who have a 1 in 1000 chance of being shot to death by police over the course of their lives (and even higher odds of dying in custody, should they survive arrest) is not the same as the discourse of a young white rapist caught in the act and protected by a judge who says his whole life is in front of him. The intolerant climate has set in on ONE SIDE. That’s fascism, pushing the middle to the right and people who long for justice to the left WHETHER WE WANT THE SHOVE OR NOT.
The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.
Well, it’s a good fucking thing I’m not listening to people like this, because the free exchange of information and ideas is expanding in my universe; if it isn’t in yours it’s because you aren’t humbly seeking the wisdom of people who aren’t, uh, white. Perhaps you think your moral universe is sufficiently large. I have my doubts.
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, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.
I do not show intolerance to opposing views. I show hatred, scorn, contumely and my entire ass in all its jellied glory to any ratfucker who tells me that it’s an acceptable viewpoint to detest and wish to end, stop the existence of or kill trans women. That the Indigenous ‘got beat fair and square and it’s white land now LOL’. That Coulten Boushie asked to be shot by that asshole SK farmer. That Cindy Gladue asked to have her private parts paraded through court after she’d been murdered. That slavery was two hundred years ago, get over it. That cultural artefacts 40000 years old should be destroyed in international mining operations because who gives a shit what a bunch of blackfellas and their mob want.
What kind of blinding moral certainty are you talking about?
We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.
Let’s just pause for a moment and look at the signatories. Given that Steven Pinker is caught up in the whole Epstein-Maxwell-pedophile-Rape_Island mess, don’t you think it’s telling as hell how he raced to sign anything that tries to position THE LEGIT QUESTIONS OF PEOPLE WHO SURVIVED RAPE AND TRAUMA AT EPSTEIN’S HANDS AS ‘severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions’? ‘Perceived’ because they haven’t had their day in court I suppose. I prefer to believe survivors, which in this case means that I’m part of the retribution for perceived transgressions squad, la me.
More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.
Oh how sad for those being punished. They figured the good times would roll forever and then some 18 year old ‘bitch’ goes to the press about being repeatedly fondled by a prof at Uni. Can’t she take a joke? Can’t he get his day in court?
Editors are fired for running controversial pieces;
RACISM ISN’T CONTROVERSIAL. It’s a fact of life. Running a piece that says that Black people have it good in Amerikkka and they should quite whining and start working is racist, and you should get your ass fired.
books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity;
Cultural appropriation DOESN’T EVEN GET NAMED. So if you steal something but you’re soft and kind in your words to the people that you stole from that somehow makes it better. Every Indigenous person reading the above words is likely getting sour sour stomach.
journalists are barred from writing on certain topics;
Isn’t it funny that what really happens is that marginalized people ask TO BE CONSULTED when an article on, say, #CripTheVote or #BlackLivesMatter or #MMIW is commissioned and when they weren’t, they drop a twitterbomb on the writer and editor and given that they’re marginalized WHAT DID YOU EXPECT. They’re going to go for cheap and available.
professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class;
Yeah, he said the n-word seven times during a single lecture with such relish that even the white people in the class felt queasy, and do you really have to do that while teaching Twain.
a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study;
which has since been retracted because right wing assholes keep quoting it and misconstruing the conclusions and the data;
and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.
Hey, I didn’t find out until the last possible second that my leading light academic was a multiply accused rapist. Despite the mountain of complaints. Too busy drinkin’ at the Faculty Club, fuck all y’all.
Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.
If you’re going to be a public figure and support racism, misogyny, transphobia, Islamophobia, the right of white men to run Canadian academia in perpetuity because they are naturally better at it, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong you don’t need to fear the police’ constructions of public safety, and other little lapses in judgement, reprisal is coming, sorry chuckles.
We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.
YOU NEEDN’T BE RISK AVERSE IF YOU CONSULT THE PEOPLE YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT AND TAKE CRITICISM WITHOUT BEING A WHINY ASS CLOWNBAG.
This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time.
RIGHT, because Climate Justice really needs to take the feelings of the rich into consideration. and because justice for descendants of enslaved Africans really needs to take the needs of racists into consideration, and trans women need to take the feelings of JK Rowling into consideration, and Indigenous women need to take the feelings of serving RCMP officers into consideration. Because if they are stifled then ALL OF DISCOURSE OH MY GOD will be destroyed and ‘the most vital causes of our time’ will fail because angry, disenfranchised people aren’t being nice enough to the people oppressing them WHILE CLAIMING that that isn’t what is happening, nope, not at all.
an extension of the tone argument is still the fucking tone argument
The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society,
So when Tucker Carlson or Rex Murphy does it it’s okay, since he’s neither the government nor society? I AM SO CONFUZZLED.
invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.
You are too stupid to protest, let us do it. We can’t be trusted either, but at least we’ll sound prettier while we meep from our academic publications, twitter platforms and walled garden journals and newspapers.
The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.
I’m not wishing anything away. I’m pointing out that it’s bullshit, and not even bullshit fit to dress flowerbeds with.
We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.
I refuse to believe that a long list of famous rich people signing what is essentially a ‘white tears apologia redux’ (even though BIPOC signed) can make any real contribution to either justice or freedom. The false choice they’re asking me to make is to be a bad and mistaken and unjust and unfree person or agree with them, and they can **** ** ***** * ****.
As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes.
But when you signatories make mistakes, YOU DON’T OWN THEM! I’m looking at you Bari Weiss and JK Rowling but Noam Chomsky and Greil Marcus are also getting SIDEEYE
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.
It’s not good faith disagreement they are wanting to preserve. It’s freedom from consequences when they say something that limits the freedom of others and that, my chums, I will not abide.
a few notes about the signatories. They aren’t all white, they aren’t all men, they aren’t all conservatives. Some of them appear to have been pressured socially into signing. Some of them shouldn’t have done that since it doesn’t reflect their beliefs.
These are people who have money, respect, awards, positions, titles, and WIKIPEDIA PAGES. This is the ‘liberal establishment’ talking. And they are shootin’ poo.
Noted, decorated US Veteran and supporter of the draft dob April 12, 1980
Saladin Ambar, Rutgers University
Professional academic and Mario Cuomo biographer Married to the President of Oberlin College —-dob 60s-ish
Noted Islamophobe dob 25 aug 1949
Journo & Editor, possibly one of the least self absorbed of the signatories dob July 25 1964
Marie Arana, author
Noted self-hating Latinx editor and author of historical works
September 15 1949 (exactly same age as Paul)
Ah, Pegster, your treatment of Indigenous writers and your complete inability to take any criticism of your public utterances and work at all is legendary in its pettiness and cruelty
dob Nov 18 1939
I have no idea why an otherwise relatively blameless Irish writer got dragged into this bullshit
dob 8 Dec 1945
Mia Bay, historian
Black woman historian @ UPenn
dob in the 70s
Louis Begley, writer
dob Oct 6 1933. Avoided dying in the holocaust as a child with forged papers. So this Jew escaped fascism but wants you to mind your tone. Fuck …
Roger Berkowitz, Bard College
Director Hannah Arendt Centre. Into Heidegger. DOB not available
Paul Berman, writer
I have nothing to accuse this person of, except sheer folly in signing this. Was once sued by Michael Moore, who used the money to make Roger & Me, and I guess we all know how that turned out dob 1949
Sheri Berman, Barnard College
Classic small l liberal academician, refuses to give her dob
Reginald Dwayne Betts, poet
November 5 1980. Black, award winning poet. A talented gent, he will likely regret until his corpsification that he signed this screed
Neil Blair, agent
dob late 60s early 70s
heavily invested in supporting Rowling seeing as how she was responsible for most of his wealth
David W. Blight, Yale University
dob March 1949
Historian of Black lives including Douglass, multi award winning and whiter than I am
Jennifer Finney Boylan, author
dob June 22 1958 She is a trans woman… I don’t know how the trans community is going to deal with her being a cosignatory with Rowling, but hoooooo lassie I just checked on twitter and SCORCH AI YI
dob December 15 1951 He wants to be loved by conservatives but he mostly trends left in his public announcements, so this is hot garbage for his rep
David Brooks, columnist
out as a conservative commentator, he was born in Toronto but makes his bones in US media
dob August 11 1961
Ian Buruma, Bard College
dob december 28 1951
He’s the ratfondler who published Jian Ghomeshi’s sad little self defense in the NYRB (the one I got published in for yelling as hard as I could type about it) and as far as I’m concerned his meeping about how he was censored and fired for it is the reason this letter was published. WAH WAH WHITE TEARS
Epitome of well-connected well born white liberal woman who refuses to give her dob
Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus)
NOAM YOU ASSHOLE dob? God’s younger than he is
Nicholas A. Christakis, Yale University
dob may 7 1962
a mensch, how he got dragged into this bullshit is like ????
Roger Cohen, writer
dob 2 Aug 1955
supported the invasion of Iraq, enough said
Ambassador Frances D. Cook, ret
dob sept 7 1945
a trailblazer among women in the foreign service of the US she currently runs a merchant bank with evvvvvverything that implies
Drucilla Cornell, Founder, uBuntu Project
June 15 1950
she’s worked to undo the damage of apartheid and is a noted feminist scholar
June 17 1970 once had a fatwa out against him but the Algerian courts but the imam in jail for it How he feels about cosigning with Martin Amis? Mighst all Critey
Meghan Daum, writer
dob 1970 Essayist & Guggenheim ‘fellow’
Gerald Early, Washington University-St. Louis
april 21 1952 Black essayist, academic and culture critic
Jeffrey Eugenides, writer
Federico Finchelstein, The New School
Richard T. Ford, Stanford Law School
David Frum, journalist
Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
Atul Gawande, Harvard University
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
Michelle Goldberg, columnist
Rebecca Goldstein, writer
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
David Greenberg, Rutgers University
Kerri Greenidge, historian
Rinne B. Groff, playwright
Sarah Haider, activist
Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern
Roya Hakakian, writer
Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
Jeet Heer, The Nation
Katie Herzog, podcast host
Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Adam Hochschild, author
Arlie Russell Hochschild, author
Eva Hoffman, writer
Coleman Hughes, writer/Manhattan Institute
Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute
Zaid Jilani, journalist
Bill T. Jones, New York Live Arts
Wendy Kaminer, writer
Matthew Karp, Princeton University
Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative
Daniel Kehlmann, writer
Khaled Khalifa, writer
Parag Khanna, author
Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University
Frances Kissling, Center for Health, Ethics, Social Policy
Enrique Krauze, historian
Anthony Kronman, Yale University
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University
Nicholas Lemann, Columbia University
Mark Lilla, Columbia University
Susie Linfield, New York University
Damon Linker, writer
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
Steven Lukes, New York University
John R. MacArthur, publisher, writer
Susan Madrak, writer
Phoebe Maltz Bovy, writer
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Kati Marton, author
Debra Maschek, scholar
Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
John McWhorter, Columbia University
Uday Mehta, City University of New York
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
Yascha Mounk, Persuasion
Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Meera Nanda, writer and teacher
Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine
Mark Oppenheimer, Yale University
Dael Orlandersmith, writer/performer
Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University (emerita)
Greg Pardlo, Rutgers University – Camden
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Katha Pollitt, writer
Claire Bond Potter, The New School
Taufiq Rahim, New America Foundation
Zia Haider Rahman, writer
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin
Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institution/The Atlantic
Neil Roberts, political theorist
Melvin Rogers, Brown University
Kat Rosenfield, writer
Loretta J. Ross, Smith College
Salman Rushdie, New York University
Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment
Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University
Diana Senechal, teacher and writer
Jennifer Senior, columnist
Judith Shulevitz, writer
Jesse Singal, journalist
Andrew Solomon, writer
Deborah Solomon, critic and biographer
Allison Stanger, Middlebury College
Paul Starr, American Prospect/Princeton University
Wendell Steavenson, writer
Gloria Steinem, writer and activist
Older than my mother. nuff said
second wave feminist whose ongoing issues with racism need a more settled mind than mine to review and who only apologized for her bullshit views on trans women in 2013. Any modern feminist should be on guard against her, she’s always a day late and dollar short in 2020.
Nadine Strossen, New York Law School
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Harvard Law School
Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia University
Jan 25 1962
Spent years in jail in Iran so he knows from fascism…. and yet
Zephyr Teachout, Fordham University
Lawyer actor politician academic dob October 1971
Cynthia Tucker, University of South Alabama
March 13 1955
Adaner Usmani, Harvard University
Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Reed College
Helen Vendler, Harvard University
Judy B. Walzer
Eric K. Washington, historian
Caroline Weber, historian
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Thomas Chatterton Williams, writer
Robert F. Worth, journalist and author
Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Emily Yoffe, journalist
Cathy Young, journalist