Progressive intellectuals Try to Stop Censorship Monster They Created
In an open letter published at Harper's, a group of 153 prominent academics, writers, and intellectuals, mostly from the left, called for an end to cancel culture and restrictions on debate
Spanish – In an open letter, 153 prominent academics, writers, and intellectuals, mostly from the left, called for an end to the radicalization of censorship promoted by activists for “social justice” causes. They warn that the freedom to write, to express an opinion, is in danger.
“The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted,” the letter states, warning of “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
“We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other,” it continues. “As writers, we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk-taking, and even mistakes,” the letter adds.
Black Lives Matter has succeeded in creating a climate of “intersectionality.” The founders of the movement converge trans-feminism and racial justice. Intersectional movements have achieved everything from removing books to firing writers, and they have also conducted massive cancellation campaigns.
And it is not limited to the mockery of right-wing figures who question the collectivist ideology and identity politics; it also affects progressives, leftists, and even feminists.
For example, J. K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, has been accused of “transphobia” for saying that people who menstruate used to be called women.
In 2020, saying something so obvious and biologically demonstrable is tantamount to a hate crime and the outright accusation of “transphobia.” Reducing femininity to biology is seen as an attack on transsexual, transvestite, and transgender people who identify as women.
The need for a message of self-criticism from progressive intellectuals is exposed by the fact that one of the signatories of the letter has already had to apologize. Trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan highlighted the presence of socialist intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and feminists Gloria Steinem and Margaret Atwood. But she regretted that she was not aware of the presence of other signatories. Among them is the “transphobic” J. K. Rowling.
I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.
The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.
— Jennifer Finney Boylan 🐕 (@JennyBoylan) July 7, 2020
“The internet mob can be ruthless.”
A video by John Stossel for the libertarian platform Reason TV explained the extent of cancel culture and the restrictions on debate by far-left activists.
Campaigns by activists calling for the dismissal of professionals, censorship as the norm, and even the mass removal of books can be described as “internet mobs.”
Leftists incapable of living by neutral principles. The digital mob led by NYT columnist Paul Krugman arrived at the Univ of Chicago pressuring to remove Professor Harald Uhlig as editor of Journal of Political Economy, after criticizing Black Lives Matter https://t.co/x8GkbjdVk4
— Fernando Amandi Sr. 🇺🇸 (@FernandoAmandi) June 12, 2020
His “crime?” He said that the Black Lives Matter campaign was making a mistake by joining the campaign to defund the police.
“There was nothing racist or discriminatory in how he said it,” says Reason magazine’s senior editor, Robby Soave, who is covering the recent protests. “But because he has some different views from the protesters, he must be a racist,” he says.
Soave points out that the most worrisome aspect of these activists’ actions is that they advocate an ideology where different opinions are assumed to be dangerous to the extent that they justify censorship as an act of self-defense.
They even highlight how professionals have been fired because of the actions of their relatives, such as the case of a footballer who was fired because of what his wife said something against Black Lives Matter on Instagram.
“Artists and writers warn of an intolerant climate.”
Therefore, more than a hundred intellectuals, particularly writers, joined the call. Most of them are left-wing, progressives, including Mexican historian Enrique Krauze.
But they don’t have the backing of their co-conspirators. The New York Times published an article titled Artists and Writers Warn of an ‘Intolerant Climate.’ The reaction was quick. The NYT article compiled criticism of the authors, including accusations that they are afraid of losing their relevance.
The letter makes it very clear that it does not seek to delegitimize the actions of Black Lives Matter or any civil protest. They simply fear the persecutory nature it has taken.
Censorship strengthens Trump and the right
Being progressives, the letter’s signatories warn how the radicalization of the left benefits the right, particularly the U.S. president.
“The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump,” they exclaim. And they invite their co-conspirators to avoid letting their resistance become its own kind 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,” they say.
“The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty,” the letter adds.
The letter issued by these intellectuals takes us back to the poem by Niemöller, a religious Lutheran persecuted by Nazism in its final stage. The letter highlights how he remained silent when others were being persecuted and stresses the importance of calling out ideological persecution before it knocks on your door.
Otherwise, your own story will end like the poem: “When they came for me, it was already too late.”