Last week, 153 American cultural workers issued a call warning that the left would create an intolerant climate - at a time when the forces of illiberalism were picking up speed anyway. The signatories reacted to a phenomenon that they noticed more on social media after the death of George Floyd. Their finding: People who did not show sufficient solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement would be denounced on the social networks and would not infrequently be dismissed by their employer. The terms that have become natural for this phenomenon are cancel culture or deplatforming , the elimination of a public opinion platform.
David Shor is considered one of the victims of this movement. The data analyst was fired on May 30 after referring to a scientific study by black Princeton junior professor Omar Wasow on Twitter. Wasow had examined the impact of peaceful and uneasy demonstrations on public opinion after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., and found that unrestful demonstrations generated more rejection. That's why Republican candidate Richard Nixon won the presidential election. Some left disliked this. They accused Shor of persuading the reasons for the black anger. Shor, 28, and Democrat, publicly apologized. He was released just two weeks after his tweet; Customers and employees of Civis Analytics, Shor's employer, had also protested.
On June 7, New York Times commentator James Bennet resigned after massive protests in the newsroom. On Twitter and in the sheet's internal slack channel, many (mostly young) editors condemned a comment by Republican Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Cotton had called for the military to be used against Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The text endangers the lives of black Americans, the editors say, that its publication is wrong.
A third example: investigative journalist Lee Fang, who writes for the leftist magazine The Intercept , published his own interview in June in which an African American said: "I always wonder why a black life in public only counts if a white person takes it? " Colleagues found this position to be racist. Fang was able to defuse the conflict with an apology. In cases like these (and others), the signatories to the call see a movement whose political goal is actually the fight against police violence and more social justice - but whose victims are increasingly journalists and academics who do not adhere to the orthodoxy of the new left stopped. The call is signed by academics and authors such as Noam Chomsky, Malcolm Gladwell, Gloria Steinem and Salman Rushdie. Some critics consider it suspect that they have published their manifesto in the prestigious Harper’s magazine .
160 journalists from New York Magazine and Wired, among others, immediately published a kind of counter call in the online newsletter The Objective . Her argument: The 153 intellectuals in particular had nothing to fear because of their prominence - in contrast to the voices of the many minorities who would hardly be heard. With their call, the 153 signatories only protect institutions and standards from which they themselves benefited the most.
The fact that only well-known authors have signed the Harper's call can also be interpreted as an expression of the power that the new left now holds. Kathleen Kingsbury, the successor to the Times commentary page , has asked the editors to let them know when opinion articles have caused discomfort. It looks like more democracy. But can unease be rejected? Or is there always a threat of revolt, as with Bennet?
Bari Weiss, the conservative, pro-Israeli columnist, quit Tuesday's New York Times . Her articles and her person were constantly attacked internally, it says in her letter of termination. They called her a Nazi and a racist, and posted ax emojis next to her name. She learned to ignore remarks that she was writing about Jews again. Employees have asked to be released so that the Times can be inclusive.