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A month to Bari Weiss’s exit – it’s ‘woke’ vs. ‘liberal’

In the wake of Bari Weiss's resignation, a growing subculture defines 'wrongthink,' narrowing the bounds of what any of us can say
An illustration of social cancel culture. (iStock)
An illustration of social cancel culture. (iStock)

Bari Weiss’s bombshell resignation letter from The New York Times hit the news headlines like a ton of bricks, triggering a wild mainstream media (MSM) frenzy. The damning letter even prompted a sigh of vindication from President Trump, who has been bashing the “failing” record-paper for years.

Confirming The New York Times as an agenda-driven outlet, the letter cemented deeper the convictions of current MSM shunners and heightened the mistrust many already felt towards prominent news outlets. I would not be surprised to learn that, for some, it served as the red-pill moment when they turned their backs on mainstream media for good.

The letter’s impact cannot be denied, but many observers missed its most important message — the extent to which young wokes have infiltrated cultural institutions everywhere, not just at The New York Times.

According to Weiss, The New York Times, “much like the rest of today’s press, adheres to a consensus that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few.” Anyone expressing an opinion outside this consensus is rooted out.

The “enlightened few” are the young wokes — an army of graduates for whom universities and colleges are radical-left training camps. With little to no experience of real life, they emerge from their university campus, ready to take over institutions and newsrooms, leaving no cultural stone unturned.

Weiss’s own, somewhat prophetic past tweets about the raging campus-wars, ominously warned that individuals “who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them.”

Her most telling tweet came just weeks before her resignation, where she testified to a “civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes and the (mostly 40+) liberals, the same one raging inside other publications and companies across the country.” This was Weiss’s reaction to the paper giving in to the intellectual-mob’s unforgiving onslaught against NYT editor James Bennet, who ended up resigning his post. His “wrongthink” was airing Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed, which called for military force to be deployed against rioters.

The civil war Weiss refers to is nothing new, but it seems to be intensifying, claiming more non-conformist victims in its uncompromising path. The hostile work environment and intimidation she describes have been the unjust fate of academics, entertainers, and concerned citizens for years — all individuals whose crime is holding an opinion different from that of the politically-correct ideological consensus.

Instances are too numerous to list, but ones coming to mind are Patreon banning Sargon of Akkad’s account, famously leading to Sam Harris’s protest exit, Jordan Peterson facing trying battles at the Toronto university, Twitter suspending users’ accounts, guest speakers including Milo, Charles Murray, Candace Owens, and Charlie Kirk being harassed on university grounds and in some cases prevented from even reaching the podium, and more. We hear of frustrated parents in fear of expressing an opinion that falls outside the school’s PC grain and even schoolchildren themselves struggling to settle own family values with school’s “new-age” doctrine.

These cases, now emerging daily, expose the scrutiny that befalls the “thought-criminal.” Weiss speaks of “online venom,” which she and fellow “wrongthinkers” were subjected to — a relentless online onslaught, which is “excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.” This brought to mind cases where the very same system seems to treat members of a certain ideology different to others. One such example is Cambridge University, which chose to openly support academic Pryamvada Gopal, who declared that “white lives don’t matter,” but did not back its fellow, noted historian David Starkey, following a comment he made about slavery.

If any lesson should be learned from Weiss’s letter, it is that the “mostly young wokes” are succeeding at narrowing the bounds of acceptable speech. “Fear of their reprisal is such,” explains Weiss, that “if a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it.” The result is safer than safe Trump-bashing stories, “chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences.”

Weiss’s resignation letter’s legacy should be more individuals addressing issues instead of focusing on the often redundant Left-Wing or Right-Wing label attached to the speaker.

Looking beyond politics, we need to recognize the vital importance of dialogue. Jordan Peterson explains it best when asserting that freedom of speech is the ability to have combat with words, and “combat of ideas is far preferable to actual combat.”

About the Author
Hannah is a London based journalist covering culture and current affairs. She writes about photography, film and TV for outlets in the UK and US, and covers current affairs with particular interest in the Jewish world. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Her films were screened in festivals worldwide and parts of her documentary about Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman were screened on the BBC.
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