Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Poor Jonathan Chait he wants so hard to take Liberalism back in time to some imaginary vision that he has of what is and in not politically correct in his world view. Poor Jon, he like all of us who are offended by racism and sexism and call it out, to STFU. We won’t. Get ready to be corrected, Jonathan, for being Politically Incorrect. First, the ladies:
When “political correctness” hurts: Understanding the micro-aggressions that trigger Jonathan Chait
By Joan Walsh, Salon
A new opus on progressive racial extremism features the liberal writer’s trademark mix of insight and overreaction
When New York magazine teased Jonathan Chait’s coming opus on race, politics and free speech last Friday – “Can a white liberal man critique a culture of political correctness?” – the hook alone was enough to send his Twitter haters into multiple ragegasms. I thought folks should save themselves some grief and at least wait until the story itself appeared before defaulting to fury. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.
But to anyone who hated that teaser, I’m sure, the story itself is just that bad. Chait continues to pick the scab of his suffering over the fact that the every musing of white liberal men (and women, to be fair) about race and politics is no longer welcomed for its contribution to the struggle. He no doubt finished his piece before the Twitter backlash against Nick Kristof for suggesting the police reform movement find a more “compelling face” than Mike Brown, because he doesn’t mention it, though it’s the kind of thing that sets him off.
This is not to say that there are no good points in Chait’s piece, only that his tone of grievance and self-importance, as though he’s warning us of a threat to our democracy that others either can’t see or are too intimidated to fight, makes it very hard to parse.
Chait is over the terms “mansplaining,” “whitesplaining” and “straightsplaining,” as he thinks they’ve become efforts to silence or subdue men, whites and straights. He hates the whole concept of “micro-aggressions,” and I will admit here, I have my own ambivalence about the term: There ought to be a better word for the myriad slights from white people that undermine people who aren’t white. The label mocks itself; if they’re really “micro,” shouldn’t we be spending our time on our bigger problems? Like so much rhetoric from the left, it’s best used preaching to the choir: I’m not sure anyone who isn’t already comfortable with the notion is going to have his or her mind opened by it.
‘PC culture’ isn’t about your freedom of speech. It’s about our freedom to be offended
By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian
If the worst thing ‘PCness’ does is make people occasionally feel uncomfortable when they do and say terrible things, we can all live with that
When a writer like New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait feels it necessary to whine in print about his and other (mostly well-remunerated) writers’ inability to write offensive tripe without consequence, I think: Boo-fucking-hoo. Get a real problem. [..]
If the worst thing that Chait’s version of “PCness” has wrought is that folks occasionally feel uncomfortable when they do and say terrible things, I can live with that and he should, too.
We are finally approaching a critical mass of interest in ending racism, misogyny and transphobia and the ways they are ingrained into our institutions. Instead of rolling our eyes at the intensity of the feelings people have over these issues, we should be grateful that they care so much, because racism, misogyny and transphobia can and do kill people. If the price we all pay for progress for the less privileged is that someone who is more privileged gets their feelings hurt sometimes – or that they might have to think twice before opening their mouths or putting their fingers to keyboards – that’s a small damn price to pay. That’s not stopping free speech; it’s making our speech better.
P.C. Policeman Jonathan Chait Can Dish It Out, But He Can’t Take It
By Amanda Marcotte, Talking Points Memo
While the article purports to be a lambasting of “the culture of taking offense” and censorious attitudes, it quickly becomes clear that the only speech Chait is interested in protecting is conservative or contrarian. When it comes to people saying uncomfortable or provocative things from the left, Chait comes across as just as censorious and silencing as any of the leftist prigs he attempts to criticize.
To be clear, Chait has plenty of examples of what has become a genuinely serious problem of liberals who react to uncomfortable ideas by turning to censorship: Harassment campaigns against conservatives, canceling plays or art shows because of political incorrectness, tearing down anti-choice posters.
But outside of those few examples, most of Chait’s article is not a defense of rowdy public discourse at all, but the opposite: Most of the piece is little more than demands that liberals silence certain forms of discourse that make Chait uncomfortable. For a piece that mocks the use of “trigger warnings” to alert people about disturbing content, it sure seems Chait has no problem trying to silence anyone who says something that might hurt his feelings.
Next, the guys:
Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet
By Alex Pareene, The Gawker
So, here is sad white man Jonathan Chait’s essay about the difficulty of being a white man in the second age of “political correctness.” In a neat bit of editorial trolling, New York teased the column with following question: “Can a white, liberal man critique a culture of political correctness?”
The answer, as anyone with internet access or a television or the ability to see a newsrack could tell you, is a resounding yes, they can and pretty much constantly do. But the second half of the question, and the real point of the column, was left unwritten: Can a straight, white man do this without having to deal with people criticizing him for doing so? The answer, in 2015, is no, and that is what has Chait’s dander up. [..]
A year ago, Jonathan Chait had an extended debate with The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates, an incredibly talented writer whose ongoing research and thinking on race and American politics and history have led him to become one of our foremost critics of American liberalism as a credo and philosophy. Chait, a strong believer in the righteousness of American liberalism, could not let it go, and he went on to embarrass himself. A broken Chait is now taking on the entire goddamn Internet, to prove that he’s still the important political thinker – and good liberal – he knows he is. [..]
Excessive speech-policing by overzealous campus activists certainly happens. But Chait is wildly exaggerating the threat it poses-calling it a “philosophical threat” to liberalism, instead of a minor annoyance people like Chait have to deal with in the brief period just before they officially assume their positions in America’s power elite. (This wouldn’t be the first time Chait has inflated a perceived threat to America to existential proportions.)
In reality, the single most notable example in the last 15 years of an academic being punished for his speech is probably former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who was fired not for offending feminists but for claiming that some victims of the September 11 attacks were complicit in the crimes of the American state that provoked the attacks. Just a few years ago, liberal Democratic members of Congress and other officials publicly demanded that Brooklyn College cancel a forum featuring academics who support a financial boycott of Israel. Lawmakers threatened to withhold funding from the school if the event took place. Just this month, Duke University announced that it would not allow a weekly Muslim call to prayer to happen at the campus chapel, following criticism and threats from Christians and evangelical leaders. This is what speech policing in America actually looks like: Like regular policing, it’s wielded primarily by people in power against marginalized groups and anti-mainstream opinions.
The Petulant Entitlement Syndrome of Journalists
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
When political blogs first emerged as a force in the early post-9/11 era, one of their primary targets was celebrity journalists. A whole slew of famous, multi-millionaire, prize-decorated TV hosts and newspaper reporters and columnists – Tom Friedman, Tim Russert, Maureen Dowd, John Burns, Chris Matthews – were frequently the subject of vocal and vituperative criticisms, read by tens of thousands of people.
It is hard to overstate what a major (and desperately needed) change this was for how journalists like them functioned. Prior to the advent of blogs, establishment journalists were largely immunized even from hearing criticisms. If a life-tenured New York Times columnist wrote something stupid or vapid, or a Sunday TV news host conducted a sycophantic interview with a government official, there was no real mechanism for the average non-journalist citizen to voice critiques. At best, aggrieved readers could write a Letter to the Editor, which few journalists cared about. Establishment journalists spoke only to one another, and careerist concerns combined with an incestuous chumminess ensured that the most influential among them heard little beyond flowery praise. [..]
There are definitely people – most of them unknown and powerless – whose ability to speak and participate in civic affairs are unfairly limited by these sorts of abusive tactics. But whatever else is true, Jon Chait of New York Magazine, long of The New Republic, is not one of them. Neither is his friend Hanna Rosin of Slate. Neither is Andrew Sullivan – published by Time, The Atlantic, The New York Times, major book publishing companies, and pretty much everyone else and featured on countless TV shows – despite his predictably giddy standing and cheering for Chait’s victimization manifesto. Nor is torture advocate Condoleezza Rice of Stanford or HBO host Bill Maher. Nor, despite attacks at least as serious and personal, am I. Nor are most of the prominent journalists and other influential luminaries who churn out self-pitying screeds about the terrible online masses and all the ways they are unfairly criticized and attacked.
Being aggressively, even unfairly, criticized isn’t remotely tantamount to being silenced. People with large and influential platforms have a particular need for aggressive scrutiny and vibrant critique. The world would be vastly improved if we were never again subjected to the self-victimizing whining of highly compensated and empowered journalists about how upset they are that people say mean things online about them and their lovely and talented friends.
Jonathan Chait Upset About Diversity In Media
By DSWright, FDL News Desk
New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait, best known for being one of the “good liberals” who promoted the Iraq War, is still mad that The New Republic will no longer be a bastion for his kind of liberalism (along with pseudo-scientific racism and fraud). So mad he decided to take out his frustrations on the the fact that people of color, especially women of color, are on the ascendency in American media. Chait knows he is going into the twilight of his relevance in political commentary but won’t go quietly and, like a deranged gunman with nothing to lose, wants to take as many people down with him as he possibly can.
As is typical, Chait’s piece is preening posing as discourse and seems a pretty obvious (if ham handed) attempt at rehabilitating his troubled reputation after he was exposed by Ta-Nehisi Coates as lacking basic understandings related to race in American history. Now he wants to let people who ignore him know that by ignoring and marginalizing him they are attacking democracy itself. [..]
Chait’s piece focuses heavily on his view of how modern feminism and anti-racism has gone too far and centers around the rehashing of an often ill-informed controversy over the concept of “political correctness” something that has not been an actual left wing doctrine of relevance since the 1950s and comes out of the post-World War 1 cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School. [..]
Of course, that’s Chait’s specialty – making useless points against strawman arguments in hopes of stoking a controversy and receiving the subsequent clicks. Aka trolling. And he’s done it again to great effect. Let this be the last time we fall for it and leave him to the darkness he so richly deserves.
Jonathan Chaits’s problem is that he and his pseudo-liberalism is no longer relevant and that is what needs to be exposed. Get a thicker skin, Jon, of find another hobby. This is the Internet.