Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 18, 2020

Signees Of Letter Against 'Cancel Culture' Exposed As Frauds

On July 7 Harpers published a letter which condemned the 'cancel culture'. In the 'cancel culture' online masses seek to censor controversial speakers with whom they do not agree. Some 150 prominent writers and academics had signed the A Letter on Justice and Open Debate:

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. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.
...

Said shorter: "Don't cancel the Fascist but, more importantly, DON'T CANCEL US!"

The people who signed the letter, all in influential positions, seemed more concerned with being criticized themselves for the nonsense they write.

Next to Noam Chomsky there were quite a lot of warmongers and false 'liberuls' amongst the names, for example David Frum and J.K. Rowling. These are people who are themselves prone to practice 'cancel culture' when they disagree with others.

Counter letters were written and published:

The signatories, many of them white, wealthy, and endowed with massive platforms, argue that they are afraid of being silenced, that so-called cancel culture is out of control, and that they fear for their jobs and free exchange of ideas, even as they speak from one of the most prestigious magazines in the country.
...
[T]he irony of the piece is that nowhere in it do the signatories mention how marginalized voices have been silenced for generations in journalism, academia, and publishing.

That the original letter and its signers can not be taken seriously was emphatically proven with this:

Jeremy Repanich @racefortheprize - 23:14 UTC · Jul 17, 2020

LOL. Thomas Chatterton Williams, who wrote the Harper's letter, admitted today that Glenn Greenwald was kept off the letter b/c other signees didn't like his views.

The signers of the letter against the 'cancel culture' had cancelled Glenn Greenwald from signing it.

I am not sure who should be more embarrassed about this - Greenwald or the other signers.

Posted by b on July 18, 2020 at 17:30 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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Posted by: vk | Jul 19 2020 2:58 utc | 91 By my interpretation, they meant that "counter-speech", when massified, becomes "swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought". That is: quantity changes quality; it is only counter-speech when it is an intellectual doing it.

I suppose that's one interpretation of the two sentences. If so, they didn't express it well. It might have been better if they had specified that not just "speech" but actual *actions* constitute "retribution." But then that's something they probably don't believe, but rather they believe as you've said. Certainly the list of people mentioned suggest that, as others have noted.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jul 19 2020 5:43 utc | 101

@ Peter AU1 88

Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged Muslim marriage where she then studied and made it even to member of parliament. There she stood with Theo van Gogh against slow Islamisation, till the latter got assassinated in broad day light in 2004 with a death threat pinned on him against her. She had to live with permanent bodyguards, just like Geert Wilders. Still a lot of native middle class resented her for not joining them in self-flagellation for the wrongs done by their white forefathers and not taking the knee for the Saudi royals supplying the oil life blood. disappointed she left for the US as a place that offered more physical protection from Islamic assassins. As an academic she avoided Left leaning institutions for the same reasons she experienced in Holland.

Posted by: Antonym | Jul 19 2020 6:12 utc | 102

That didn't take long.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-18/indigenous-theatre-black-lives-matter-australian-representation/12461396
"Meanwhile, all parts of arts and media are going through a reckoning with racism, representation and inequality.

At the National Institute for Dramatic Arts, in Sydney, over 100 alumni, students and former staff signed a letter accusing the school of "systemic and institutionalised racism"."

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jul 19 2020 6:22 utc | 103

This is like getting Heinrich Himmler to sign a statement that he's against killing jews, and as window dressing having one or two holocaust survivors also sign it. Ironically, only Zionists could contemplate and tolerate such a contradiction, and this does look suspiciously like a pro-Zionist exercise to refurbish the tattered image of 'democratic' free speech preachers who are master anti-free speech practitioners. Chatterton Williams is their patsy.

Posted by: Stephen Morrell | Jul 19 2020 6:26 utc | 104

Posted by: willow | Jul 19 2020 4:15 utc | 101 Just because they're hypocrites doesn't make their message untrue.

It's not that simple. There's the "medium is the message", or perhaps better said, "the hypocrites are the message."

OK, I just broke down and read the letter - which is remarkably short. I was expected a two pager or something.

It's also frickin' obvious that - *absent the persons promoting it* - it's all stuff that anyone who is not a fascist can agree with. "Free speech" - fine. Who has a problem with that?" Answer: Pretty much everyone, depending on their emotional reactions to what is said. "The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away." Fine - who has a problem with that? Again, pretty much everyone. "We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other." Yawn... talk about a platitude.

Utterly unimpressive. This line: "More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms." First of all, again, it depends on the fact that there *is* such a thing as "institutional leaders" who have the *authority* to "deliver punishments" as a result of someone's speech. I addressed that in my earlier post.

Second, when they mention "considered reforms", that implies to me that if someone says something said "leaders" don't like that they still want to suppress it - but quietly, without public exposure. The problem, as I said before, is the fact that people who *have* power are going to *use* that power if they are *allowed* to use that power by the people over whom they have the power.

The problem is a lot of these people, and I admit to not recognizing many of the names, but the ones I do recognize do not impress me as proponents of "freedom", unless it is "freedom" of the *state* (or society) to do whatever it wants - or preferably, whatever *they* like.

A lot of these same people would probably support legislature to restrict "hate speech". That's a "hot button" issue for a lot of these types. Look at how 8chan got chased from pillar to post. I didn't hear any of these people coming to their defense. How many of these people would come to the defense of, say, the American Nazi Party, or the Ku Klux Klan. How many of them would support anarchists like myself taking part in the national policy conversation?

I got banned from Josh Marshall's "Talking Points Memo" blog years ago. I argued for the Palestinian cause. Marshall is a (not so) closet Zionist. He established a set of rules intended to reduce argumentation on his site. No one was supposed to be banned without being warned several times, etc. Over the weekend *the same week* after he established those rules, I and some pro-Zionists got into a heated argument. I was *immediately* banned by Marshall - with no warning - and all the pro-Zionists accounts remained.

This is what someone described as a "liberal" does when *his* hot buttons are pushed.

I stated my solutions to this issue in a previous post in this thread: Remove the *power* to censor and you won't have censors. For large-scale social media, remove the legal recourse to sue them for user content, and remove their authority to censor user content. For small-scale social media, like this blog, the owners can do what they want. If you don't like it, run your own blog. If I ran a blog, I wouldn't even allow comments - anyone who wants to comment on something I wrote could do so on his blog or other social media and send me the link. If I wanted to respond, I would. If not, I wouldn't.

Trolling is something that happens if you allow it. Censorship is something that happens if you allow it. Repression and ostracism is something that happens if you allow the state and society to exist that allow it. In the end, all of this is something that happens if you allow it.

The only reason this letter stirred up any notice is because a bunch of "celebrities" in the social space got recruited to sign it. The question is: what was the *real* underlying agenda for producing it? Prelude to new attempts to "regulate the Internet"?

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jul 19 2020 6:31 utc | 105

1# BM

I heard about Chomsky for the first time when I was a language student in the Netherlands in the early seventies.There was a discipline that students in all languages had to follow,which was called "Algemene Taal Wetenschap"(General Language Science),that was mainly based on the works of Noam Chomsky,and I hated it,even then I found it utterly brainless nonsense and very unspiritual approach of language.The idea was that all languages have a common intrinsic structure that originates in the human brain.So Chomsky (and others) was forced upon us students (by whom?).The way this new "science" was presented made me hate it in its form,although the idea behind it was interesting.

It was only later that one heard from Chomsky,taking leftist anti-war positions,and I don't think his defending of the Palestines made him to be diabolized at the time,like it usually is today.But even when I agreed on this with him,I never got rid of the very bad new-world-orderly-like image that I had of his.

Posted by: willie | Jul 19 2020 7:16 utc | 106

VK said 'Google, as is the case of any foreign company that wants to enter the Chinese market, had to petition to the CCP in order to get a license to operate in China. The problem emerged when Google wanted free and unrestricted access, while China (at the time), wanted only restricted access.'

You could put it this way but what actually happened is that Google was unwilling to operate in China in accordance with Chinese law. If you want to operate in China or indeed in any other country you should respect its law. Google considered that it should not be subject to Chinese law in China as it did not accord with its 'values'. Google therefore left. Good riddance. In China Chinese companies filled the gap and as a result anyone who lives there does not have to subject themselves to Google and its masters.

Posted by: md | Jul 19 2020 7:27 utc | 107

Posted by: willow | Jul 19 2020 4:15 utc | 101

I had a long response to that. Unfortunately the system (or my browser, stinking' Firefox crap, I don't know which) ate it when I posted it, as happens occasionally. And I'm too lazy to repeat it. I need to get in the habit of backing up my longer posts before posting them, so I can repost when this happens.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jul 19 2020 7:40 utc | 108

88#
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was one of the first african refugees coming to celebrity and media power in the Netherlands,in the late eighties,IIRC.I think she ran for a parliament seat.Somehow she preferred the United States,and provided a kind of third world acclaim of the american fascist rule of law,whenever it was needed.

Posted by: willie | Jul 19 2020 7:43 utc | 109

The best thing I can say about Chomsky's work is that it introduced me to The Great Michael Parenti - a man who has been boycotted and prevented from practising his profession as a Marxist academic basically throughout his whole adult life.
Still the best analysis of anti-communist leftist like Chomsky is here to find.

Posted by: vato | Jul 19 2020 7:49 utc | 110

@ willie | Jul 19 2020 7:43 utc | 111

Ayaan Hirsi Ali actually was a member of parliament in the Netherlands. Originally born in Somalia, she became a naturalized dutch citizen. She is and has been the center of many controversies, one being that her dutch citizenship was nearly revoked while seated as a member of parliament.

She is mainly known as a high-profile apostate and critic of islam. This made her subject to threats and she eventually took refuge in the USA, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen of the USA.

She has an extensive wiki page

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 19 2020 9:52 utc | 111

willie 111

Read deeper. She comes from an upper class family. Who does she consort with or what types.

Being a shit kicker I had to lookup the definition to make sure I had the right word. "Consort with definition is - to spend time with"

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jul 19 2020 10:12 utc | 112

J.K. Rowlings and Frum are deservedly singled out.

Posted by: Steve | Jul 19 2020 10:38 utc | 113

Copeland @ 103:

The issue with the open letter in Harper's Magazine is not one of freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech in most legislatures means people having the freedom to voice their opinions on issues without fear of being arrested and punished, especially for voicing opinions critical of government or of those abusing their powers in a way that affects other people and denies them their rights.

The Harper's Magazine letter instead focuses on a perceived trend in Western culture critical of those individuals who call themselves journalists, intellectuals or academics, or who regard themselves as intermediaries between the powerful and the rest of society, interpreting what governments and power elites desire, and relaying that down to the Great Unwashed; and complains about that trend. Those intermediaries who assume they are the gatekeepers of what is fit to say openly and what is not fit to say openly, they are the ones who believe they are being besieged by the public who should sit and take their advice or their writing as gospel, and in the main, they are the people who dominate the signatories to the open letter.

Noam Chomsky may have signed the letter now but one wonders if the open letter had appeared 30 years ago, would he have signed it then? That others like Matt Taibbi would have signed the letter if they had been asked is neither here nor there: it is possible Taibbi himself and others who otherwise do good work as reporters also see their roles as journalists as being to interpret what the powerful do for the benefit of us simpletons.

That's really what the kerfuffle behind the open letter is about: the presumption of a privileged layer to speak down to others, and the petulant upset that that layer demonstrates when we decide we won't be spoken down to anymore.

Posted by: Hor, Jennifer | Jul 19 2020 10:54 utc | 114

Rather OT I suspect but in response to

time2wakeupnow | Jul 18 2020 18:59 utc | 13

"... I believe that corporate influence over our political process is easily one of the top sicknesses afflicting our political culture. But there are also very real First Amendment interests implicated by laws which bar entities from spending money to express political viewpoints." Glenn Greenwald on Citizens United

The thing for me about folks who delve into the minutiae of law concepts as acolytes and priests of the discipline is that, all too often, they tend to be too immersed to be sensical.

It seems to me to be a giant blind spot when you talk of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in reference to artificial entities as though anything about Rights in the Constitution has anything at all to do with creations of the Courts.

Artificial entities exist under Grants of Privilege and have no claim to Rights what-so-ever!

You, as a citizen, may and do have the right to act in concert with others, BUT when the form of the group becomes a "legal creation" your individual rights do not accrue to your possession.

Our Courts exist within express limits. None of those limits include the power to create rights. Isn't it stated in the founding documents that those things, RIGHTS, are the outgrowth of being human and naturally endowed??? And that the Government, in all of its forms (including the courts), are only empowered in a LIMITED fashion???


Neither the People nor the Constitution granted the Courts power to declare that their Artificial Entities are anything but ARTIFICIAL and ONLY exist through PRIVILEGES (things which are not supposed to infringe in anyway on the Rights of the People)!

The Artificial Entities are NOT endowed through that process with RIGHTS of any kind at all.

Usurpation of natural rights is what we have, and THAT is what must be corrected. Correct that usurpation and a whole lot of other problems will be addressed as well.

Primarily a Lurker

Posted by: Primarily a Lurker | Jul 19 2020 11:00 utc | 115

Willie @ 111, Lurk @ 113:

I did read online reports many years ago hinting that Ayaan Hirsi Ali lied about fleeing danger in Somalia in order to apply for refugee status in the Netherlands. What Peter AU 1 @ 88 suggests in quoting that part of the Wikipedia article that refers to her father settling the family in a comfortable part of Nairobi is that those reports may be correct.

If AHA had indeed lied, then she should never have been accepted as a refugee in the Netherlands and her subsequent career there as a politician and everything else that has flowed from that would never have occurred.

Posted by: Jen | Jul 19 2020 11:13 utc | 116

Well, Chomsky and even more Margaret Atwood can't be put aside that easily.
But then, I'm a pragmatic man. Anything that can hasten the demise of the US is welcome; I just hope it'll be fast enough for the current US lunacies not to metastasize across the rest of the world.

That said, what amuses me to no end is to see "enlightened" men going after a woman (even though it's J K Rowlings) and tell her she has no business deciding what being a woman is, who is a woman, who is part of her group, and that it's them enlightened *men* who should have this privilege. Always funny to see how the alleged "progressive" clique, so-called (and definitely fake) leftists, can shoot themselves in the foot by going into full internal contradiction mode; Marx would've been a field day with these bozos.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jul 19 2020 11:51 utc | 117

#25 Copeland. You ask an excellent question: why not focus on the letter, rather than the people who signed it? Your assessment is correct, that it just personalizes the whole discussion. Which is a self defeating way to approach any intellectual discussion. But this is the 21st century West. The Cult of Celebrity is alive and well!

What's also alive and well is the comment section endlessly referring to Left-Right labels. If readers at a site like this cannot move beyond the old narrative and recognize it is the 1% against the 99% then there really is no hope. "Divide and conquer" has been an overwhelming success. The current ongoing social experiment of "Divide and Control" is also doing quite well.

Perhaps all the recent extremism can be blamed on Trump Derangement Syndrome. Yet I can't help but wonder if the economic collapse is so advanced that it's necessary for the 1% to encourage such extremism. Time will tell.

Posted by: EoinW | Jul 19 2020 12:07 utc | 118

vato @112

Thanks for the link. That is quite a good contemporary examination of left wing anti-communism. Sadly, that disorder is a virulent as the covid, particularly in academic and professional environments.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jul 19 2020 12:18 utc | 119

#119 Clueless Joe. We may be at the "careful what you wish for moment". We share the belief that ending the Amerikaner Reich would be the best thing for world peace. It gets tricky, however, when it comes to the demise of the USA. I suspect fallout throughout the empire is inevitable. Why? Simply look at economic sanctions. 60 years ago America began the embargo against Cuba. None of the US's allies joined in. Today you have sanctions against Iran and Venezuela and everyone is on board. I guess this is the advantage of having the reserve currency. America has bought the leadership of all it's allies. Consequently, today the allies are tied closer to America than they've ever been. Instead of abandoning the sinking ship, the rats are coming onboard.

Regarding the Left shooting themselves in the foot, it's all predictable. The Left is made up of special interest groups which may temporarily find common cause, like in their anti-Trump position, but will quickly be at each others throats when there is no common enemy. Throw in how outsiders, like the Democratic party and Soros types, are trying to use what they see as "useful idiots" and things can get ugly pretty quickly. If America breaks in two then the Left will have real problems trying to govern its own half. The pie won't be big enough to divide it up to the satisfaction of any of these groups. Imagine a bunch of cats tied together by their tails.

Posted by: EoinW | Jul 19 2020 12:27 utc | 120

I'd bet half the people on the list would never have signed the clown letter if Jordan Peterson was one of the signatories.

Now admittedly Jordan Peterson does have viewpoints that would give someone like Gloria Steinem or Margaret Atwood a severe case of heartburn:

"The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence."

On the other hand, David Frum... he would have signed it.

Posted by: krypton | Jul 19 2020 12:29 utc | 121

political establishment:

toppling supremacist statues threatens Western civilization !!

intellectual establishment:

canceling supremacist thinking threatens our jobs !!

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 19 2020 13:22 utc | 122

Even in https://theobjective.substack.com/p/a-more-specific-letter-on-justice the breathtaking cancelling of views that support Palestinian causes come up too short. The greatest cancel culture of our time has been, and continues to been, Palestinian views.

Posted by: Nathan Mulcahy | Jul 18 2020 19:09 utc | 16
+++++++++++++

Absolutely, and this is the basis on which Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton take apart Bari Weiss's signing of the letter in a piece published at Consortium News. She is a ruthless canceler herself of everything Palestinian, starting when she was still in college.
Really the letter signers seem to be seeing some writing on the wall and thinking, "Oops . . ."
Re Chomsky my view is substantially the same as William Gruff's.

Chomsky has made major contributions to our understanding of "manufacturing consent," justice for East Timor, etc.

But his blind spots do seem to be expanding in direct relation to challenges to Zionism and the Zionist state. When push comes to shove Chomsky is a Jewish patriot. It is very interesting to note that Chomsky has recently been cited as a co-supporter for the most egregious positions, such as "boycotting" and banning BDS, by such as the arch-Zionist Fred Lazin sitting in NYC. Per Lazin Chomsky has signed a letter condemning BDS and has also condemned Norman Finkelstein. I think Bari Weiss also may have cited Chomsky as an ideological pal; I'm sure she was thrilled get the reflected glory from being in the company of Chomsky as a signatory to the letter.

Chomsky has also stuck with the official narrative regarding 9/11. Since Chomsky is anything but stupid; hence I can't help wondering whether he clings to this position because he fears that somehow the Israelis were involved, and is doing all he can to prevent any 9/11 can of worms from being opened.

Posted by: Really?? | Jul 19 2020 14:32 utc | 123

@Lbanu (93). “Chomsky lit up and burned out long ago. Go for his earlier stuff.”

Chomsky is 91 years old. I wonder if your mind will be as sharp as his, should you ever make it to that age.

Posted by: Rob | Jul 19 2020 15:18 utc | 124

Chomsky is a linguist. If I face a Linguistics problem, then I'll ask for his guidance. Otherwise, his opinions are as worth as anybody else's.

It's funny seeing people here fighting over the legacy of a linguist.

Posted by: vk | Jul 19 2020 15:30 utc | 125

@vk (127). Evidently you are unaware of the long post-enlightenment history of broad-minded intellectuals whose thinking ranged from science to politics to philosophy and so on. In our present era of hyper-specialization, Chomsky belongs to that noble tradition. To label him as just a “linguist” is narrow-minded and arrogant.

Posted by: Rob | Jul 19 2020 16:17 utc | 126

@ Posted by: Rob | Jul 19 2020 16:17 utc | 129

Intellectual = a highly educated specialist who engages in the public sphere with a defined political/ideological position.

Specialist = a highly skilled worker; provider of highly specialized (and expensive) labor power; a technician; an academic.

Every intellectual has a political opinion and does political activism by definition. This has nothing to do with specialization.

Posted by: vk | Jul 19 2020 16:40 utc | 127

@ 117 Hor, Jennifer.. thanks for your comments... the way i see it this is like a turf war between mainstream media and the internet - social media.... the mainstream media doesn't want it's power usurped... it is threatened by how anyone can write an article and gain traction via social media... it didn't used to be this way.... take b as an example... many people come here who values b's insights... same deal with people like glenn greenwald and matt taibbi... these people can't be silenced, or cancelled.... the mainstream is in a tizzy over this fact and are hoping to continue to control the conversation, be it on palestine, bds, transgender, or what have you... they can't.... ironically it is the mainstream media that have tried to dictate what can be talked about and what can't.... the gig is up!!!

Posted by: james | Jul 19 2020 16:42 utc | 128

@vk (130). You’re the one who suggested that Chomsky’s views on anything other than linguistics should carry no special weight. In so doing, you are clearly ignoring his many books and thousands of talks and interviews in which he has demonstrated a commanding knowledge and understanding of other topics. He is indeed an expert in disciplines beyond his academic specialty, whether or not you recognize it. If you disagree with his opinions, then say so, but show the man some respect.

Posted by: Rob | Jul 19 2020 17:17 utc | 129

Posted by: Primarily a Lurker @118:

I fundamentally agree with everything you wrote concerning the supposedly sacred "rights" of all things corporate - as it is applied to the first amendment (free speech). All I was trying to emphasis in my earlier post here was that Greenwald, even at that earlier time, when he wrote his Citizens United opinion in Salon, was not a "totally" pro corporate "free speech" advocate, as lizard posited, but was in fact highly 'ambivalent about the issue - for the reasons he then goes on to explain.

And as another poster here correctly pointed out, Greenwald has quite noticeably "evolved" from these earlier, more centrist positions - especially ones involving for-profit corporate structures.

Posted by: time2wakeupnow | Jul 19 2020 20:51 utc | 130

vk 128
++
Chomsky is not a "linguist." That is someone who speaks many languages.
Chomsky is a scholar/theoretician of the science of linguistics.
Different animal.

Posted by: Jane | Jul 19 2020 20:59 utc | 131

@BM

Chomsky is continuing to stand where he's stood for fifty years or more: he genuinely believes in free-speech. There's nothing curious or contradictory about him signing this letter.

@vk

There's literally nothing wrong with the letter. It's about as bland and generic an appeal to free-speech and allowing genuine discourse and debate as you can get. That a bunch of the people who signed it are shitbags and hypocrites changes nothing about the validity of its substance.

Cancel culture and de-platforming are real things. They've been real things for years, and people have been debating them for years. Watching the (Vichy?) Left suddenly turn on a dime and pretend that cancel culture isn't a real thing is sobering.

Posted by: Benjamin | Jul 19 2020 22:04 utc | 132

@Jen 119

The view you expressed on Ayaan Hirsi Ali is 100% formalist middle class bourgeoisie. It makes quite clear which woman is a fraud.

* In case of doubt tally the number of death threats against both.

Posted by: Antonym | Jul 20 2020 2:45 utc | 133

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jul 19 2020 7:40 utc | 111 I had a long response to that. Unfortunately the system (or my browser, stinking' Firefox crap, I don't know which) ate it when I posted it, as happens occasionally.

Heh, it turned up at 108. b must have found it and restored it. Nice work, b.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jul 20 2020 3:08 utc | 134

Peter AU1 #98

Krypton @94 points out quite clearly what Laguerre tried to pull on me. With his constant backing of MSM positions, I doubt he is anything more than an upmarket troll.

Absolutely correct and thanks Krypton, "The war" is predictable that way, like a programmed writing tool with a great AI library to draw on.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jul 20 2020 9:56 utc | 135

willow #83

The criticism of the signees of the letter rather than the content of the letter itself is a perfect example and proof of cancel culture at work.

Not so willow. The criticism of the authors of the letter is that many of them are well practised cancellers in their own right. Bari Weiss is a vulgar and hateful canceller who has built her 'fame' by destroying people and her signature is accompanied by many detestable practitioners of that attacking class.

The content is what it is. BUT when hypocrites share being author then they are worth considering as to their integrity, if any.

IMO man are just plain ordinary scum bags.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jul 20 2020 10:08 utc | 136

lizard #54

by making things personal and consequential in real life, cancel culture is fanning divisive flames that could one day turn into a real civil conflagration.

Yep, ask any Palestinian what it feels like. Those that haven't been shot in the knees are still crawling around on them before their master.

Bari Weiss has done in many of them because of her unrelenting spite and cancel mania.

It is a disgusting yet well practised black art. Ask Jeremy Corbyn.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jul 20 2020 10:15 utc | 137

On Chomsky: as Lbanu (93) (somewhat) pointed out his early writings seem to have been good and genuine pro-people activism, whatever the label may be. The last quite a few years seem to have been something entirely different. At some point he seems to have been turned.

Posted by: BM | Jul 20 2020 14:56 utc | 138

@ Posted by: Rob | Jul 19 2020 17:17 utc | 132

It's irrelevant to discuss here the existence (or not) of "Chomskyianism". Apart from the hypocrisy (as the source of legitimacy of the signees lie precisely on the fact they are formally educated, so they shouldn't step out of their areas of expertise), what matters is that we need to have in mind Chomsky is a representative of a phase of decline of Western intelligentsia, in the sense there's nothing Chomsky can offer us that the greats of the 19th Century can't offer, while the reverse is not truth.

It's legitimate to use Chomsky in the absence of the best of the West of the 19th Century (say, if we were in a dark age), but, them being available, using Chomsky is merely inducing a process of imbecilization. Specially when you have the complete works of the likes of Marx and Lenin freely available in English on the internet.

If we ignore what we already have, then we'll be condemned to be relearning what we already knew forever. Like a colony of ants.

Posted by: vk | Jul 20 2020 15:21 utc | 139

This is strange. For years I've been hearing that freedom of speech/expression/assembly is a Western bourgeois individualist hoax of no value to the masses, who are quite content to be educated by the Party; and that the Bill of Rights is merely a hypocritical piece of paper written by white male slaveowners to protect themselves, and therefore useless for everyone else. That would seem to dispose of The Letter, don't you think?

Posted by: The Promiscuous Read | Jul 21 2020 3:03 utc | 140

"Like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children". We are seeing exactly that: once the great struggle for social/racial/gender/etc. justice has started somewhen in the late nineties (or about that time), it only went further and further, accelerating... and the progressive writers of the yesterday suddenly find out that they're not quite progressive (and radical) enough for today and so must suffer the consequences. Now they're trying to stop that but I doubt they'll accomplish much. As an old Soviet song goes, "The revolution has the start, the revolution has no end"... so I predict in ten-twenty years the culture and the public discource will resemble scorched earth, unless the powerful enough "reaction" arises, and if it does, it'll probably throw the culture all the way back into the 50ies or 60ies. I highly doubt that we'll be settled for a middle ground between these two extreme possibilites.

Posted by: Joker_vD | Jul 21 2020 19:25 utc | 141

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