Friday, April 06, 2018

When Fear Goes Both Ways

Ten months ago, the New York Times' Amanda Hess wrote "talk of 'snowflakes'" is "tough-guy posturing" which

revives the idea of a culturewide wussification that must be fought with a return to aggression, physicality and ego. This is what the insult argues for — a rough-and-tumble world in which raw power reigns and nobody ever asks for help or complains of ill treatment. This pose isn’t merely aesthetic: There are those who truly believe that set free from etiquette, care and cooperation, they would prevail over others. The alt-right has even picked up the word “anti-fragile” and whipped it into a political strategy — embracing chaos and conflict because they think they’re better suited to thrive in those conditions than weaker people are.

However, she recognizes,  "making an entire alternate masculine identity is a lot of work. It’s always much easier to just call other people wimps and snowflakes — and hope they’ll be intimidated enough to melt away."

Identification of the term (to a lesser extent, the concept) with the alt-right should not preclude suspicion that this tendency has infected Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg now that he has, Politico reports, announced

the magazine was “parting ways” with newly hired conservative writer Kevin Williamson after fresh evidence emerged that he had endorsed hanging women who get abortions.

Goldberg had initially defended hiring Williamson from National Review despite complaints about his previous writing, some of which critics said was racially insensitive or offensive to transgender people. Much of the criticism involved a 2014 tweet that suggested women who had abortions “should face capital punishment, namely hanging.”

On Wednesday, the liberal research group Media Matters unearthed a podcast in which Williamson expressed the same position.

“The language he used in this podcast — and in my conversations with [Williamson] in recent days — made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered view,” Goldberg told staff in a Thursday memo.....

“We remain committed to grappling with complex moral issues in our journalism. Some of our colleagues are pro-life, and some are pro-choice; we have pro-death-penalty and anti-death-penalty writers; we have liberals and conservatives,” Goldberg wrote. “We obviously understood that Kevin himself is pro-life when we asked him to write for us. This is not about Kevin’s views on abortion.”

Williamson had in 2014 in both a tweet and a podcast suggested hanging as punishment for murder and

“The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post, as Kevin had explained it,” Goldberg continued. “Furthermore, the language used in the podcast was callous and violent. This runs contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.

Many conservatives and most libertarians (being libertarians) will misinterpret Goldberg's decision,. Pro-life libertarian (also, pacifistic army, meat-eating vegetarians) Katherine Mangu-Ward imagines "The Atlantic is essentially declaring that it cannot stomach real, mainstream conservatism as it actually exists in 21st century America."  Jim Geraghty, columnist at Williamson's former and probably future employer, claims at National Review "Goldberg completely underestimated the level of liberal rage about the presence of an outspoken conservative in its pages."

However, The Atlantic is not required to fulfill a quota for conservatives, which conservatives and libertarians would be expected to understand. thus, the decision would be more justifiable if  Williamson actually was dismissed because of his perspective on abortion. However, the Daily Beast suggested otherwise:

The top editor emphasized that Williamson’s firing was not a result of his being anti-abortion—a common position for deeply religious Americans of all political stripes—but because of how his especially violent belief conflicts with the “values of our workplace."

 One understated twitterer noted 

It appears Goldberg's concern that Kevin Williamson's abortion opinions would offend female staffers significantly motivated the firing. Possibly in a "workplace harassment" sense, which seems, uh, worrisome.

If there is any indication that any woman has been harrassed by Williamson in his professional career, Goldberg's presumed concern would be well-placed. Evidently, however, there is none, for none has emerged.

Williamson did not expect to be in on the hanging even if abortion is prohibited, execution is deemed the maximum penalty, one or more of the women illegally has an abortion, and he became aware of it.

If Williamson was dismissed because his presence on the staff merely would have discomfited the women, Goldberg is exhibiting what Hess recognizes in the many ultra-conservatives who are "hypersensitive to dissent or complication."  Exquisitely sensitive, he would be displaying attributes of a snowflake.

He also would be short-sighted. There is a reason that, in social and in conventional media, there has been nary a word of support among his supporters for Williamson's openness to execution.

It is a viewpoint that is embarrassing to pro-forced birth advocates, who do not want to be associated with any penalty, however slight, for what it nonetheless considers "murder."  Support for their position depends on maintaining the fiction that doctors scour the landscape for emotionally fragile women whom they can coerce into forking over money to them so that they may destroy human life.

The pro-life crowd considers women to be a delicate, emotionally weak form of the species.  If Kevin Williamson has been dismissed because of the fears of women who were his professional colleagues, the right has been given more cause for its troglodytic prejudices.

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