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Jul 09 2020

Liberal Establishmentarians Back Away From Defending Free Speech

A handful of liberal establishmentarians attempted to demonstrate their courage and high principles by signing an open letter that appeared in Harper’s Magazine. The letter criticizes the ongoing soft Reign of Terror, during which repressively tolerant liberals have been destroying people’s careers over even the slightest perceived infractions against political correctness. The results were predictable: when their fellow moonbats threatened to cancel them for drawing attention to cancel culture, some whimperingly disavowed the letter.

New York Times op-ed writer Jennifer Finney Boylan says she only signed it because high-profile ultramoonbats Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Atwood had done so. She didn’t realize it would anger the mob. Snivels Boylan, “The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”

Rather than apologize, historian Kerri Greenidge proclaimed on Twitter, “I do not endorse this @Harpers letter. I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.” Harper’s says she agreed to be included, but since now she doesn’t, her name has been removed.

Here’s the crux of the letter, once it gets past the de rigueur praise of Black Lives Matter riots and denunciations of Donald Trump, “right-wing demagogues,” and the “radical right”:

[I]t is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. 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. 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. …

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.

You can see why Boylan and Greenidge regret angering the mob by signing such an inflammatory statement.

Imagine if the signers of the Declaration of Independence where made of the same soggy substance. At the first sound of gunfire, they would have scrambled to disavow the document.

At least J.K. Rowling, who has already taken heat for not being willing to pretend that men literally become women by “identifying” as women, is showing a little spine:

In the end, the Constitution cannot save us from totalitarianism. Neither can a safe full of guns. Only guts can save us. Considering how few people speak out against the Marxist black supremacist terror cult Black Lives Matter, guts are in alarmingly short supply.

On tips from Rapinhoe and Lyle.

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