Former New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss and Harper’s Magazine columnist Thomas Chatterton Williams appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday to explain the open letter they wrote denouncing ” the culture of cancellation ”.
Earlier this month, Chatterton spearheaded a letter signed by prominent liberals including ‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling, political activist Noam Chomsky and feminist icon Gloria Steinem , all defending open debate without fear of repercussions for expressing a point of view.
As Bill Maher noted, the letter came under heavy criticism from the left.
“What strikes me is that the rejection comes from the Liberals and almost everyone who signs this letter… is Liberals! Maher exclaimed. “Bari, the fact that you – they call you a centrist or a right winger!” I mean, if a hip, millennial Jewish bisexual girl living in San Francisco isn’t a liberal… who is she? ”
Weiss called the open letter a “warning cry from within institutions” and linked the culture of cancellation to “social murder.”
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“What we’re trying to say with the letter – and what Thomas did in shaping it – was to say that what’s happening now with this growing culture of illiberalism is different from criticism,” Weiss explained. “Thomas and I, you, Bill, are used to criticism. The criticism is kosher in the work we do. The review is great. It is not criticism that cancels culture. It is about punishment. This is to make a person radioactive. It is about taking away their jobs. ”
“Canceling culture… is a question of punishment. It is about making a person radioactive. It is about taking away his job. ”
“It’s not just about punishing the sinner, it’s not just about punishing the person for being insufficiently pure. This is that kind of secondary boycott of people who would deign to talk to that person or appear on a platform with that person. And we just very obviously see where this kind of politics is taking us. If conversation with people we disagree with becomes impossible, how can we resolve conflicts? … This is violence. ”
“If it becomes impossible to converse with people with whom we disagree, how do we resolve the conflicts? … This is violence. ”
Weiss went on to say that politics has become a “religious identity” for many Americans, pointing out the “cult” of those who support President Trump and how on the left “to be something other than” Defund the police “… do you something. thing like a heretic. ”
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“It’s a huge problem because it means the collapse of the moderates. It meant the collapse of the center and retribalization of this country and the whole deal with this country, the reason it is exceptional with all its flaws is that we are starting from history, ”Weiss told Maher . “We say that clanism, tribalism, that we can overcome that, that there is something bigger than the lineage or the kinship or the political tribe that we belong to. And I think what we’re seeing right now, and it’s a very scary moment, is kind of a return to the sense of history. And I think it’s up to us to defend the ideas that made this country unique and a start in history. ”
Chatterton pointed out that the “cancellation” is not about “bringing the elites back to earth” but what he describes as a “spectator effect” that stifles open discussion.
He then sacked the so-called anti-racism books by Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X Kendi, which he said would only deepen the racial divide.
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“We risk really reinvesting in the idea that race is real and can’t be escaped, that it’s a fundamental category that defines us, that whites are essentially different from blacks,” Chatterton said. “And we are in danger of sustaining people today – we are creating a world where everyone living today is a representative of the thoughts, misdeeds and circumstances of their ancestors. And it’s not a world that I want to create.
Weiss later praised Trader Joe’s, which recently responded to a petition calling for renaming products deemed offensive by flatly rejecting the requests, calling the company’s response a “courageous profile.”
” You are right. This is what we need the most, ”agreed Maher. “Being able to speak freely is the cornerstone not only of democracy, of really just our way of life. “