I don’t think it’s a coincidence that during a global racial justice movement, mostly white intellectuals are complaining about “cancel culture” and whether or not they’re still the gatekeepers to political and social thought. Bari Weiss signed that awful “there should be no consequences to free speech” open letter, the same as JK Rowling and more than 100 other writers, journalists, artists and political thinkers. Bari Weiss was one of the columnists hired by the NY Times as part of the Times’ post-2016 effort to diversify their opinion section with different kinds of thinkers. Turns out, Weiss was just the same kind of contrarian hack seen on Opinion pages before. Her hilariously bad thought experiments included stuff like (and I’m barely satirizing) “what if all Muslims are bad” and “what if Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be accountable for hurting girls and women” and “what if cultural appropriation is good.”
She was called a “provocateur.” She was a hack. And now she’s resigned from the Times. She posted a lengthy, self-aggrandizing, whiny open letter about how her coworkers thought she was a hack, therefore they were infringing on her free speech! I wish I was joking. You can read the full letter here. Some highlights:
But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.
Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space….
My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are. There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.
Imagine being this coddled from real life, that coworkers tweeting that you’re a liar (when you’re lying) is somehow “unlawful discrimination.” This is the same thing I felt when I covered that asinine open letter about cancel culture too – how out of touch are these people? Are they really THIS mad about black, brown, trans and queer voices being elevated, amplified and listened to?
Also: the idea that the Times is out of touch with everyday Americans is not a new concept, and it’s Peak NYT to hire a contrarian hack like Weiss to somehow reach out to “flyover states.” This goes along with all of those Times articles humanizing actual Nazis, treating MAGA people like “independent voters” and soft-pedaling the naming and coverage of violent white supremacy in the White House.
Screencaps courtesy of Real Time with Bill Maher.
Yes but literally none of these people had been canceled. They still are rich and powerful and have huge platforms. They complain about being canceled when they haven’t been, and they’re silent about the people who actually DO get canceled when it’s people of color or poor or marginalized people. Cancel culture is fake in the way they’re using it.
If after reading something I decide I disagree with their argument and won’t waste more of my life on it… that’s just common sense! If I disagree with Nazism, reading more of it isn’t going to change my mind and in fact, we should NOT be spreading ideologies that dehumanize and kill. I don’t really think it makes it “cancel culture” like do you really miss Milo whatshisname?
To be an intellectual you don’t need to waste time re-reading modern Nazis and idiots. Maybe you should be focusing on reading (and listening to) Angela Davis. Now there’s a woman who should be a *HERO* of those who protest cancel culture and yet? Crickets because she threatens the dominant oppressive structure that they perpetuate.
All ideas are not equal! We live in an age of massive propaganda. You don’t have to treat Nazi propaganda like it’s some sacred text. You can say, wow that’s obviously neo-Nazi propaganda and I certainly disagree with it on the basis of IT KILLS PEOPLE specifically Black people and I strongly oppose it. That’s not cancel culture it’s just being a decent human being. Or any thought experiments about defending rapists can MISS ME because that’s just criminal and dehumanizes women. I’ve BEEN raped and I don’t need to hear about my poor rapist! He is fine! I’m the one who was attacked and brutalized!
Elizabeth – I couldn’t agree with you more!
Love this: not all ideas are equal. Not all ideas need equal treatment or equal time.
Thank you. Very well said and I 100% agree.
“All ideas are not equal!”
THIS. and I’d like to add that NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO GIVE YOU A PLATFORM TO SPEW YOUR BS. people get fired from jobs all the time for things they say, and when it happens to be a journalist or a talking head, so F*CKING WHAT?! they are NOT guaranteed a column or a prime-time show for their ideas.
go ahead, write about how “all lives matter” or that “trans women aren’t really women”, but be prepared to have your large audience taken away. you can stand on the corner and write that sh*t, or put it on your blog, but you don’t get to have a NY Times column or a show on Fox just because you want one. free speech is law, but publicity is NOT.
All of this, especially: “…we should NOT be spreading ideologies that dehumanize and kill.” Those on either side who can’t handle that basic level of caring about other people, and who become raging assholes about protecting dehumanization and violence from criticism, really aren’t all that different from the anti-lockdown protesters and individuals who get aggressive when asked to wear masks in public spaces.
Elizabeth if we could reply in gifs here I would be posting every applause gif I could find. So well said!!
The NYT should print this! Well said.
This 👆👆. So well put
Elizabeth, this reasoned rebuttal to Bari’s nonsense argument should be submitted as a letter to the Editor at the NY Times. You have articulated, so deftly, WHY her words are so infuriating. And ultimately, so very wrong.
One more here for Elizabeth.
Good riddance and please take Brett Stephens with you.
Yes, the day he leaves we should all have a giant toast! He is truly awful
And don’t forget to take Maggie Haberman, too, one of Trump’s biggest fangirls and “interpreters” (she’s made her career at the New York Times all about normalising and excusing Trump’s crazier BS).
The ability to “cancel” someone is inherent in the right to freedom of speech AND a capitalist society. the right/conservatives are such big proponents of capitalism – this is one area where it works against them. (not the only one.)
Bari Weiss is free to say what she wants. I do not have to listen to her or read her columns. She can write what she wants. the NYT does not have to publish her pieces.
I think its problematic to say that “canceling” someone is infringing on their freedom of speech. Freedom of speech means the government cant tell you what you can and cannot say. It does not mean that one of the most prominent papers in the country has to give you a platform. It does not mean that your colleagues cant push back on your views.
I also want to point out that when people are “canceled” it rarely lasts or honestly, rarely has an impact on their career. People are still reading and buying Harry Potter. And for Bari – the ONLY reason she is able to quit one of the top gigs in print journalism is because the right wing media will be there to catch her. She knows that.
And honestly, any outcry from conservatives over “cancel culture” just makes me laugh. remember the Dixie Chicks? That was such an effective cancellation that we still talk about it, 16 years later.
Everything you said, Becks. Thanks for spelling it out.
Excellent comment as usual.
yes yes yes. I said similar above, but you got it right!
Becks- spot on. The absurdity of being lectured to on the evils of cancel culture/boycotts by those who canceled Nike and boycotted the NFL over Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, encouraged folks to stop shopping at Target cause it wanted trans people to be able to use the bathroom, and pitched a fit over the design of Starbucks holiday cups…is laughable.
re: Starbucks…I just saw a meme that was “Starbucks wants to defund the police. Let’s defund Starbucks. Tell all your friends and family not to buy their coffee.”
and I was like “b*tch aren’t you already NOT buying Starbucks because of the Christmas cup?”
and then it was them going to Starbucks and telling the barista that their name is “Trump”?
who can keep up with these MAGAts? they don’t know whether they’re coming or going. dumbasses.
“and I was like “b*tch aren’t you already NOT buying Starbucks because of the Christmas cup?””
I’m dying!!!!! Loooooool!!!
Bari worked real hard to cancel a professor who supported Palestine so she needs to shut up on cancel culture because she is a massive hypocrite on this issue of cancelling.
Yep, that’s right, thank you for mentioning. I just wonder – what exactly were her qualifications for getting this job with this powerful platform? Never mind her actual opinions, it was her writing that was seriously atrocious and juvenile. How can such a bad writer get a job like this?
Apparently her dad is a lobbiest and property investor so there ya go lol
I only know of BW from her multiple appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher, having never actually read any of her work. She always seemed very knowledgeable and intelligent, if not a bit of a know-it-all, or at least sticks to her guns and doesn’t rethink her position when opposed (which isn’t always a bad thing, really). I guess when she’s left to choose the topics she wants to get into (as opposed to pre-selected topics on the show) she’s more controversial? On a superficial note I remember how “plain” she looked during her first appearance on RT but when she returned for her next appearance had obviously gotten a glam makeover (no glasses, wearing makeup & jewelry, hair salon-styled, and more fashionable attire). It was such a dramatic difference that I found myself thinking how quickly she conformed to being “TV-ready” and that maybe being in the spotlight was actually a goal of hers. She did wind up being “elevated” to an interview guest and not just part of the panel, so there’s that. I guess what my rambling comment is trying to say is that I didn’t realize her writing was so problematic because I got a kind of different vibe from her RT appearances. I guarantee Bill will have her on soon to discuss her resignation.
Bill Maher is very obsessed with cancel culture on campuses and I don’t understand why. He doesn’t work there other than comedy shows which won’t be happening for a while.
While I understand that he is sensitive to being cancelled, since his show Politically Incorrect was actually cancelled for comments he made shortly after 9/11, which really weren’t bad but poked at the america rah rah rah vibe that was happening right after then, he seems to think any challenge to bad opinions is “going too far”.
What’s odd is that on some level he understands that you can’t “both sides” many issues and that one side, the current GOP is way worse, he then gets tied up with people like Bari or Andrew Sullivan, who are elites who obsess over twitter criticism.
Anyway that’s where I first saw Bari and outside of her book on anti semitism, she’s been freaking annoying and it a privileged elite who doesn’t like clap backs. Some people have literally died because of their thoughts and opinions, so get back to me when twitter cancel culture reaches that level
She was also constantly on Bill Maher’s show. And that show is a manosphere of toxic proportions. I say let these birds of the same feather flock together and throw them TH out of mainstream media.
People who are truly “canceled” do not have the power to command large platforms and publish signed letters in major magazines. Let’s take a moment to think about all the people of color and trans voices that have been silenced for real, shall we? This letter trivializes them.
As for JKR: expecting trans people to treat their very existence and validity as human beings as a debatable topic that reasonable people can disagree on is not reasonable. I have read her screed btw, and there are many many people who have taken in apart point by point to show why is so toxic and extreme.
People do have the right to speak up, criticize, expose, vote with their feet, and to promote other voices. This *is* free speech.
No need to worry about her. She’ll be on the next episode of Bill Maher commiserating with him about snowflakes and pc culture. I can’t stand her “my childhood synagogue was attacked so any criticism of Israel is antisemitism” reasoning. She fits in with Maher’s anti Muslim vibe perfectly.
I was just going to post about that episode where she talked about her childhood synagogue because I actually saw that episode and was gobsmacked at how emotionally and intellectually stunted she was. She was rightfully upset that it had suffered that horrible attack, but basically said, “before this incident I was all for Trump’s hateful rhetoric but now that it affected something *I* cared about, I’m against it.” Just another example of conservatives being incapable of empathy. Nothing matters unless and until it affects them.
For someone who spent her college years trying to get professors fired for voicing anything but the extreme pro-Israel/anti-Muslim line that *she* subscribed to, she has no credibility on “canceling” people.
I can’t get over the fact that she was a “gay until graduation” lesbian and dated Kate McKinnon in college. What the wha….
People can be bisexual, you know.
OMG she dated Kate?????
The problem that Bari experienced is not “OH NO SHE IS DEVIATING FROM ACCEPTABLE ORTHODOXY.” It’s that her ideas and writing are bad. Like, any middling college freshman can cherry pick data points to support a weak sauce thesis and ignore any inconvenient data that undercuts it. The problem is that in Bari’s case, it was a middling college freshman who went on to become the Opinion Editor at The New York Times. So as someone who is literally in the ideas business, everyone had ample opportunity to point out every instance of lazy hackery that she tried to pass off as a serious intellectual contribution to public discourse. It’s the same thing with David Brooks and Bret Stephens. Weirdly doesn’t happen with Ross Douthat who is arguably further to the right than any of the three other people I’ve mentioned yet doesn’t get dragged half as much because he is actually a decent writer and thinker. Disagree with him? Sure. But I can appreciate the time and care he puts into constructing his arguments.
I disagree with Ross Douthat on almost all topics, but I always read his column. He’s a good writer and thinker and does question and challenge himself. I have to hand him that.
I’m fine with conservative thinkers and writers. I don’t expect everyone to agree. I draw the line at hackery, wingnuttery, propaganda, and hate and reserve my right to turn my back on that.
Great summation! I was beginning to suspect yesterday, that she and Andrew Sullivan are planning to launch something together.
Bari’s first brush with notoriety was when she tried to get an Arab professor at her college (Columbia) fired because she didn’t like his views on Israel. When someone declines to meet with her, she calls their boss to complain. She didn’t like something a freelance writer posted on Twitter so she wrote to every publication that woman had a bi-line in essentially asking them to ‘cancel’ her.
Bari Weiss is an entitled, self-important hypocrite of the worst sort.
Like a few others who’ve posted, my first introduction to Bari was when she initially appeared on Bill Maher’s show. It was when #metoo began to pick up steam and Bill was on a kick about how men who “may have made lewd comments or passes at women” didn’t deserve to be lumped into the same category as predators like Harvey Weinstein. Bari was a guest and essentially asserted the same viewpoint. After that, Bari would be a frequent guest on the show to discuss this issue as well as commiserate with Bill over snowflake millennials and “cancel culture”.
It made me think Bill had his own #metoo allegations that were about to come out.
Good riddance. I like that the NY Times highlights these crazies in the Opinions columns once in a while though. Every couple of months there is a big freakout over crazy conservatives in the NY Times Opinion section but I think they do more damage to themselves in those columns than anything. Let’s keep it.
I find the myopia of her resignation so hilarious. On the one hand, she complains about orthodoxy at the NYT and the inability of different ideas to flourish and on the other hand, she complains that people who have different ideas to her and express them aren’t “met with appropriate action”!
Ms. Weiss is an Islamophob. Simple as that. She’s also a fake “centrist” with zero self-awareness. She writes about cancel culture and why identity politics are bad while also making it known at all times that she is Jewish. And you can’t ever criticize Israel or it is YOU that is the bigot, not Bari. It’s never Bari. She’s the real free thinker and those of us who find her offensive when she is being offensive are just victims of the left’s war on free speech. I could write an essay on how much I loath this woman. She’ll fit right in at fox.
I enjoyed reading replies to her cry fest from other journalists. Peak privilege is quitting a lucrative, prestigious position in the middle of a collapsing economy and pandemic says everything. Those over 40 infidels long for the days when they could criticise and call each other out, by name, in their bylines without sending their subjects into corners of very white rooms, sobbing and sucking thumbs.
Nobody thinks non whites voices should be silenced. The problem is with a cancel culture. At race can smear whites and that’s great. Down with white peole. They should not have a voice about anything and if they so they are racist! Does that fit your narrative? Am I soaking your truth?
Troll? Or failed satire?
@Jane’s wasted talent:
I’m pretty sure this is a foreign troll based on “her” tortured syntax and bad grammar.
“The problem is with a cancel culture. At race can smear whites and that’s great.” Yeah. Somebody’s using Google translate to post dumb messages like these in comments sections.
Yeah, anon, it’s a shitty comment from a shitty or stupid person, or a troll (same thing), but can we not use EFL efforts as an attack? Bit too colonial and anglocentric, and touches on white/western supremacy when we go there. Someone not speaking EN as their native language/using translation software to communicate has nothing to do with anything, and this knee-jerk “they don’t have EN so they must be a Russian bot” is shitty af for EFL writers online.
I agree, language shouldn’t be stigmatized, but I didn’t understand anon’s comment to mean that. (We have many posters here for whom English is their second, third, etc language, and their contributions have been extremely valuable.) I did think this person was a troll- I questioned rather than reporting them at once only *because* they seem to be ESL.
But anon, I think you’re right, and I think language is relevant here, if only for the reason than that if I’m not fluent in a language, I’m not going to attempt the more sophisticated forms of humor that would depend on my facility with tone, phrasing, etc to convey amusement to my readers. Especially not if posting on a new site, where people wouldn’t be familiar with me.
Can we stop with the stupid right wing lie that mainstream media is leftist? It is not. Most mainstream media is owned by rich, white conservatives. They are not biased against
the right. In fact, if you examine mainstream media closely, it’s clearly biased against the left. Leftist mainstream media is just a stupid lie the right uses to get people distrustful of facts so it can peddle its dumb conspiracy theories and falsehoods to the gullible masses.
Let’s look at how much Rupert Murdoch owns for a start. He’s made Fox a propaganda channel that has fooled a percentage of Americans into rejecting objective facts. That is the real danger. Not a few progressive voicing their anger at racist, sexist or homophobic comments.
Amen, Rapunzel! I like to say that the backlash against cancel culture is really the gatekeepers getting mad that they can’t keep the gates locked against people who don’t look like them.
THANK YOU. Finally, somebody nailed it.
She’s the worst
Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, Bari!
She is a terrible writer and for that reason alone should have been fired. Honestly most op-eds are kind of boring. I would prefer to read opeds from people who are actually an expert in something like social science or engineering or public health, who work with lay people, rather than these so-called culture experts like Bari and David Brooks and Ross Douthat who speak for a very small and rich segment of the population. Seriously opeds are dumb! why have them.
Do you remember that problematic letter the WSJ published In 2013? By a disgruntled HS senior complaining she was rejected by elite colleges for not being “diverse” enough? That was Bari Weiss’ little sister. She showed her letter to Bari, who worked at the WSJ at the time, and Bari thought it was so clever and funny that she got it published there. The two of them were baffled at the backlash. That was my introduction to Bari Weiss. She’s done nothing to improve my opinion of her since.
Thank you for that interesting backstory. Someone said Bari has a book about ‘cancel culture’ coming out soon, too.
Same. Bari Weiss is a no-talent hack who rode her privilege all the way to the New York Times – and flamed out on the scale of the Hindenberg: All you can do is watch it crash in a hail of flames and bitter recriminations.
I completely agree. Her writing is vapid and untalented. I also think she’s staged her flameout for maximum publicity- she published her ‘resignation letter,’ supposedly has a book coming out on this very subject, and the comments on the NYT article looked awfully astroturfed in her favor (already hired by a rightwing media outlet?).
OMFG no way. That’s hilarious and… it tracks.
Ugh. I’m glad she’s gone and some people (like Jessica Valenti, Helen Rosner, and Parker Molloy) on Twitter have done a great job of calling out why Bari’s victimization is so bogus. There’ve been some great pieces, too, on why the backlash against cancel culture is BS. But I just spent my lunch hour text arguing with my two best friends from law school, who both “hate cancel culture.” I’m definitely to the left of them – one is an old school Dem whose always liked Biden (ack – I’ll vote for him but not be too thrilled) and feels like cancel culture doesn’t permit room for empathy. The other is a rich white lady now who I fear could veer into Karen territory. She hates Trump but also complains about having to worry about everything she says in the office. I tried to explain why the backlash is BS but they still hate cancel culture. I guess too many privileged people will and we have to keep calling out nonsense like that spewed by Bari, or Bedbug Bret, or JK, and not worry about the backlash.
I really think a lot of the tantrums and absolute sh-tfits by authors like JK Rowling (and others) has a lot to do with their inability to deal with Twitter as a platform, especially the immediacy of the criticism offered on Twitter.
It used to be that, if you were a successful, published author, you’d get your reviews in a staid column somewhere, and that would be that. This is not to say that people who didn’t have access to those platforms didn’t express their opinions, especially their negative opinions. But if you were someone expressing a moderate dislike or dissatisfaction with a particular author’s work, it was just much easier to ignore what you had to say a lot of the time.
That is not the case with Twitter. And it’s easy to see why people mistake even the mildest criticism for mob rule or whatever it was that JKR said was the problem. Authors like JKR and Margaret Atwood are used to adulation. They are not used to criticism and such public and immediate pushback of their views. And most authors throughout history never got such public platforms for their views either. How long did it take, for example, for people to really understand that HP Lovecraft was a racist and to stop making excuses for his racism? You could hide your dumb thoughts a lot easier back in the day, but Twitter just makes the temptation to spew all your worthless 3 am thoughts out into the open unedited.
Anyway, on the topic of Bari Weiss, I find her rage quitting to be hilarious. I suppose now that we can all expect a heartfelt, written apology to all the Palestinian and Arab professors and academics she tried to have hounded out of Columbia University then? Or is that sort of consideration only supposed to be held for snowflakes like Bari Weiss and no one else. The selfishness of her stupid views is just outrageous tbh.
This is basically what happened with Jessica mulroney! White privilege has allowed these people to get away with alot of things in life and even get praised for attacking minorities in the case of Bari. I remember reading her islamophobic remarks years ago and its astonishing to see the lack of accountability when it comes to certain issues.
It’s very disappointing to hear that noam chomsky signed that tone deaf open letter which is now being used by right wing idiots to protect their own ex:tucker Carlson.
As far as I’m concerned, she’s just another entitled white woman Karening (my new verb) about how bad she has it. Her privilege is so extra that I’m sure she’ll parlay her “discrimination,” (lololol, yeah right) into some self-aggrandizing podcast. Or something.
I have never understood people who say free speech shouldn’t have consequences. It doesn’t have legal consequences. That’s not the same thing as “no consequences.”
You say what you want, and that means people get to say what they want right back.
They can choose to consider you an immoral jerk.
They can choose not to buy things from your brand.
They can tell all their friends how awful they think you are.
They can choose not to invite you to private engagements/conventions/employment opportunities based on their opinion of your speech.
These are the consequences of free speech. It means they can’t put you in jail for having an unpopular opinion or raise your taxes for saying something negative about the government. It does NOT mean that your neighbors have to like you, play with you, work with you, or pretend you’re not repugnant to them.
You know, I have to say, whatever you think of her opinions/talent/qualifications/whatever, that scenario outlined in her letter actually does sound like a genuinely hostile work environment.
If you trust her take on things. I don’t.
But if I did, it sounds like a climate she’s been arguing to protect under “free speech” for years now. When it was women telling workplace sexual harassment and assault stories during Me Too, her response to them was, “Whatever happened to romance?” and lamenting that men were now afraid to talk to women.
The Barri Weisses of the world are fine with others being unjustly harmed and telling people to get over it. But if they feel a little discomfort as a direct consequence of their actions (being racist, sexist, xenophobic. dishonest, etc), they go full white tears. There is no greater snowflake than those who constantly accuse others of being such.