Anne Applebaum is an unusual establishment intellectual. She’s an American Jewish graduate of Yale married to the Polish nobleman and Oxford graduate Radek Sikorski, a Center Right politician who has been Foreign Minister and various other things in post-Soviet Free Poland.
Applebaum consequently is solidly in opposition to the Totalitarian tyranny and mass genocide of the last century in Central Europe, but her Jewish Liberal and American Ivy League Establishmentarian identities are equally strong. She writes for the enthusiastically radical leftist these days Atlantic. She has broken with many former conservative friends over their support for Nationalist Populism in Poland, Hungary, and the United States.
She loudly condemns Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump, but she generally gives the Revolutionary Left and their elite enablers a total pass.
So, it’s interesting to find her, in the Atlantic no less, taking a stand against the current Cancel Culture Reign of Terror.
Her critique is pretty good, though I did think her efforts to dissociate all this from Leftism generally constituted pure Denial in its saddest form, and her studied efforts to identify equivalent speech suppression originating from the Right (Project Veritas!) smelled just a bit of desperation. “In this (relatively trivial) incident (which I for one had never heard of), the storm came from the right, as it surely will in the future: The tools of social-media mob justice are available to partisans of all kinds.”
Except “partisans of all kind” do not control Hollywood, Disney, Amazon, Netflix, CNN, NBC, Time, Newsweek, ESPN, the NFL, the NBA, the New York Times, the Washington Post, all the rest of the Establishment Media. “Partisans of all kinds” do not make the policies or conduct the kangaroo courts at Harvard, Yale, and all the rest of the colleges and universities. “Partisans of all kinds” do not get to ban opponents on the Left from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Only the Puritan Left does.
Actually, she needs to be careful herself. The left-wing mob ran Matt Taibbi and Andrew Sullivan out of cushy Establishment positions. There is no reason to suppose that they will not go after her, too.
Students and professors, editorial assistants and editors in chief—all are aware of what kind of society they now inhabit. That’s why they censor themselves…”
“… why they steer clear of certain topics, why they avoid discussing anything too sensitive for fear of being mobbed or ostracized or fired without due process…. Many people have told me they want to change this atmosphere, but don’t know how. Some hope to ride it out, to wait for this moral panic to pass, or for an even younger generation to rebel against it….
Anonymous reports and Twitter mobs, not the reasoned judgments of peers, will shape the fate of individuals. Writers and journalists will fear publication. Universities will no longer be dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge but to the promotion of student comfort and the avoidance of social-media attacks. Worse, if we drive all of the difficult people, the demanding people, and the eccentric people away from the creative professions where they used to thrive, we will become a flatter, duller, less interesting society, a place where manuscripts sit in drawers for fear of arbitrary judgments. The arts, the humanities, and the media will become stiff, predictable, and mediocre….
There will be nothing to do but sit back and wait for the Hawthornes of the future to expose us.”
RTWT (Outline.com will fork if you get paywalled.)