I've sensed for some time that political leftists are no longer interested in a free exchange of ideas, rather they want to quash conservative thought altogether. Whether it's rioting on college campuses in response to a right-leaning personality scheduled to give a speech or demands that non-leftist op eds in major newspapers be met with retribution (see the NY Times' Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss), leftists are not even trying to hide their efforts to squelch viewpoints which fly in the face of their own.
The latest kowtowing to the mob had to do with a left-leaning publication's change of plans in its hiring of a prominent conservative voice.
The Atlantic magazine on Thursday terminated its relationship with Kevin D. Williamson, the conservative writer whose hiring last month angered liberals and sparked an online debate about what views are considered acceptable in mainstream publications.
It was Mr. Williamson’s hard-line stance on abortion — namely, that it should be treated as premeditated homicide and punished accordingly, perhaps by hanging — that generated the initial controversy over his hiring.
It was that same viewpoint that led to his abrupt departure.
Mr. Williamson expressed it during a Twitter exchange in September 2014. After hiring him in late March, Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor in chief, defended Mr. Williamson, saying that he did not want to judge people for their “worst tweets, or assertions, in isolation.”
But on Thursday, Mr. Goldberg wrote in a memo to his staff that he had come to see the writer’s remarks on Twitter as something more than merely trollish. The editor cited a podcast episode from the same month in which Mr. Williamson elaborated on his anti-abortion views — which seemed in keeping with how he had described them on Twitter.
“The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it,” Mr. Goldberg wrote. “Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent. This runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”
“I have come to the conclusion,” Mr. Goldberg added, “that The Atlantic is not the best fit for his talents, and so we are parting ways.”
David French, who was a colleague of Williamson's at NR, could not hide his disgust.
After Kevin was fired, Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti tweeted that she was “very relieved for the women” who work at The Atlantic. Why? What was Kevin going to do to them? Write things that made them angry? God forbid! His ideas might hurt? Have mercy!
And so it goes, the steady, inexorable division of America into the tolerable and the intolerable — with the range of tolerable people narrowing ever-so-rapidly. There’s no grace in this brave new world. There’s no charity. It’s not enough to disagree. Now we must ruin. Now we must humiliate. Saying “you’re wrong” is no longer enough. The argument isn’t sufficient.
One final note, The Atlantic was attracted to Kevin in part because of his independence, because he was willing to say what he thought even if he infuriated members of his own ideological tribe. And he often did. In return, he didn’t face a mere news cycle of fury. He faced it for weeks that stretched into months and have now stretched into years. The Atlantic couldn’t face friendly fire for a few days. Its cowardice hurts us all.
If what Williamson has written and said is so objectionable and so far out of the mainstream, then it should be easy to refute, correct? Isn't that how you prevail in the proverbial arena of ideas, by showing what you believe is your ideological opposite's flawed thinking and then further combating it with your own intellectual prowess? Instead, leftists' modus operandi is to completely stifle dissent in the hopes it never reaches their readers, lest new and different ideas result in critical thinking.
If I didn't know better, I would guess that many proggies are woefully insecure when it comes to defending their worldview.