Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Puff piece for rightwing intellectuals

Charlie Pierce harshs on the New York Times today:

The article in question is Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web by Bari Weiss 05/08/2018. To put in generously, it's a puff piece about various people who count as conservative intellectuals because they can regularly string together two grammatically correct sentences in a row.

In an earlier long-read opinion piece (We’re All Fascists Now New York Times 03/08/2018), she also mentioned two of the characters discussed in the new one, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christian Hoff Sommers. So it's not like she's a novice encountering rightwing ideologues for the first time in the new piece.

Pierce commented on the March article (Charlie Pierce, Requiem for The New York Times Opinion Page Esquire Politics Blog 03/08/2018):
This shebeen largely has stayed out of the tiresome troll-war concerning the unruly reception that some speakers have received on various college campuses. I wish folks could be more civil and welcoming, because I am a gentle fellow with a fairly well-known taste for temperate rhetoric, but I also wish that there weren’t so many people making nice bank on insulting people and then driving nails into their own palms when the people they deliberately have offended talk back to them.

Professional martyrdom of this kind is not impressive when it comes with book deals. And with genuine Nazis assaulting people with automobiles on the campus of Mr. Jefferson’s university—and, I would add, with other weapons elsewhere—I choose not to accept as a national crisis the fact that some 20-year-olds throw the word “fascist” around too loosely. But, then again, I am not an “opinion editor” at The New York Times the way that Bari Weiss is.
In this latest one, Bari quotes one after another of these self-style conservative rebels recounting their road-to-Damascus conversion where they suddenly realized the horrible nature of the "left," in which we can safely assume anyone to the left of Joe Manchin is included. And they whine about how the Mean Libruls are pickin' on them. Mostly by criticizing the Social Darwinist and misogynist crap they regular generate, albeit in a more highbrow manner than we normally hear on Republican hate radio.

A couple of things that this sort of profile really should include in the way of research and fact-checking. One is to look at whether, say, Social Darwinism, is a fresh new perspective. Or check out whether trash-talking Muslims can reasonably be described as bold innovative thinking. Or take into account the fact that rightwingers have been suspicious of colleges since, well, since colleges and rightwingers first started co-existing. Ask the Rev. Ezekiel Bittery.

Secondly, it's a common marketing device for some rightwingers to talk about all the death threats they are supposedly getting. That also deserves a bit more probling in cases like this, i.e., whether they have had occasion to file police or FBI reports over those.

A number of piece commenting on Bari's work came out around that time.

Bari Weiss Digs Into Campus Free Speech Debate Morning Joe/MSNBC 03/08/2018

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