Category Archive 'New York Review of Books'

22 Sep 2018

NYRB Editor Forced Out By Social Media Mob

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Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma, the 66-year-old Dutch-born writer and only the third editor in the history of the New York Review of Books, was forced to resign this week.

His crime? Buruma published a self-pitying essay by Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian musician, writer, and talk show host of Iranian descent, who lost his job in 2014 when an ex-girlfriend accused him of non-consensual rough sex.

Buruma was quickly mobbed on social media where critics complained about the absence of fact-checking (NYRB employs no fact checkers), pointing out that, even though Ghomeshi was acquitted in court, a large number of women had come forward to accuse him of similar bad behavior and that one case was dropped on the condition that he apologize and post a peace bond promising to avoid future misbehavior.

Buruma told Slate:

    I’m no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation. How can I be? All I know is that in a court of law he was acquitted, and there is no proof he committed a crime. The exact nature of his behaviour — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern. My concern is what happens to somebody who has not been found guilty in any criminal sense but who perhaps deserves social opprobrium, but how long should that last, what form it should take, etc.

In the end, Buruma chose to fall upon his sword for the good of the publication when university publishers, whose advertising was vital to NYRB, began talking about a boycott.

Toby Young, at Spectator USA, notes the left’s insanity, but seems to blame it on their 2016 defeat.

My own theory is that a small minority on the identitarian Left have used various Maoist tactics, including public shaming on social media, to persuade people that their doctrinaire positions on #MeToo allegations and a range of other issues … are much more ubiquitous than they really are, thereby stifling dissent. …

Who knows how long this paranoid atmosphere will continue. America seems to go through periodic bouts of hysterical puritanism, which partly accounts for the enduring appeal of The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem Witch Trials. I think it largely depends on what happens in the mid-terms. If the Democrats emerge the victors, Trump Derangement Syndrome will start to fade and reason may creep back into America’s liberal institutions. But if the Republicans win the day, the Democrats will likely descend into civil war and the identitarian Left may capture the Party, just as it’s captured the UK’s Labour Party. If that happens, don’t expect this hysteria to die down any time soon.

I don’t think the left’s appetite for blood is the result of losing. I think it comes from too much winning. The radical left flagrantly abuses the power it enjoys due to the cowardly spinelessness of the liberal establishment because it can. The more the American institutional establishment grovels to its demands the more extravagant those demands are going to get. Leftist Reigns of Terror do not stop because the Left side won an election. They only stop after the Revolution is done devouring its own.


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