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The most dangerous act of defiance is the spread of objective truth beyond the censorship of the oppressors. For the gatekeepers of information, there is no greater sin than betraying a narrow view of society. Any dissent must be met with a full throated assault on free speech and individual liberty. The latest casualty of this war is Bari Weiss and to a greater extent the space in which America can debate ideas.
I think Ms. Weiss is a fair-minded, talented editor and writer who made a habit out of promoting people and debates that didn’t necessarily conform to any particular narrative or political agenda. More importantly, she isn’t afraid to express skepticism toward having a media social stratum who self-proclaim their worldview as the only morally acceptable one. Her acts of dissent – exercising her right to voice her opinions as the New York Times OPINION Editor, was met with ridicule, bullying, and smearing by her colleagues and peers. She refused to submit to the illiberal culture found in the media class and resigned. Her resignation letter is here.
The circumstances around Ms. Weiss’ resignation exposes the poisonous mix of naked sanctimony and close-mindedness rampant in those institutions that unwaveringly hold themselves out as champions of free speech and the arbiters of truth, even though the exact opposite is true.
The march to the conformity of thought was set in motion in university classrooms and on college campuses decades ago. And with time, the boundaries of allowable thought and ideas became increasingly narrowed and moved farther left. When it was decided that conservative ideas carried with them the power to morally offend, the risk of allowing them to exist in the public sphere was too great. Showing a complete lack of self-awareness, perceived ‘words-as-violence’ was such a threat to the New York Times’ woke safe space, employees bullied and threatened Ms. Weiss for the crime of allowing such free expression. They claimed Senator Tom Cotton’s Op-Ed put black Times staffers in danger, and the paper apologized for running it. But somehow slandering an editor, calling her a bigot and liar, and posting an ax emoji’s next to her name is met with silence. This is the product of a larger culture of mindless devotion to a political agenda from which there can be no dissent, no debate, and no apologies.
We have a front-row seat to the willful shutdown of institutional skepticism because the ideas held by leftist progressives are sacrosanct. Conservatives are more apt to engage in and promote a national discourse about the issues that arise through political, social, and cultural changes. We generally believe in an objective truth while welcoming debate on how to forge a path to a more perfect Union and the advancement of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We let the marketplace if ideas bring to the fore the best and most tangible ideas. Progressives on the other hand, adhere unbendingly to a political agenda centered on power and control. They retract from debate. Contrarian ideas are dangerous weapons; a threat to their power.
This monolithic thought is the enemy at the gates of liberty. The people who hold the keys to the dispersal of information see their one-sided views as morally superior, and take it upon themselves to ‘save’ us from what they see as problematic policies. In her resignation letter, Ms. Weiss states, “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.” It’s not that they have not been learned, but that those in the media and the progressive left didn’t think there was any lesson to learn. The 2016 election revealed just how much politics dictated morality, instead of the other way around. It’s how we get to a situation where Governor Cuomo achieves hero status even though he oversaw the deaths of tens of thousands on New Yorkers during the COVID crisis. It’s how we have a double standard in reporting and condemning violence against the Jewish community versus other minority groups. When Hillary Clinton lost it proved to the left the racism and bigotry and sexism of America generally and Trump voters specifically, while they also claimed to be the side of wokeness, women’s empowerment, and minority rights. They breathlessly claimed hate-filled Trump voters denied Hillary her coronation as the first woman President! But even as most doubled-down on Trump Derangement Syndrome, some like Van Jones, who after the election claimed there was a “white-lash” saw the opportunity to work with the administration to make forward strides – such as with prison reform. But for his bipartisanship, he was harshly criticized by those in his own party. I wonder if anyone will have the courage to make that ‘mistake’ again?
America is lacking a consequential conversation about honest public discourse, objective truth, and the free exchange of ideas. What we are getting from the media is fear-based sensationalism brought about by a stunning lack of courage from those who know better to stand against it. It’s a societal tragedy when one side of any conversation is painted with such broad strokes- that conservatives are morally reprehensible just because of the ideas they hold- it becomes an indictment. It opens the door to the tyranny of the mob. It stunts any conversation to enact change and it sows the seeds of resentment.
Courage to break free from the media cult won’t come from committed leftists. They carefully built a three-ring circus to indulge their radical views. We had the parade of clowns like Michael Avenatti, Omarosa, and Michael Wolff; promises of a Russiagate bombshell; and conspiracy theories about a President Trump’s mental abilities. The dishonest media only see themselves standing in the spotlight of moral superiority, and they control the light. They stand at the riverbank, throwing stones at conservatives in the rapids, falsely thinking the raging river won’t eventually sweep them away.
Bari Weiss is antithetical to the echo-chambered media culture. When they seek refuge in the faceless, unthinking gotcha mob – more intent on furthering a political agenda than the obvious pursuit of the truth, she defied them. The horde is at the mercy of its own riptide. I’m thankful she stood against it. The tagline of the Washington Post, another leftist-conforming, sanctimonious media outlet is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’
Will the last one out please turn off the light?Published in