J.K. Rowling, Bari Weiss, Noam Chomsky, and more than 100 other writers, scholars, and academics signed a letter in Harper’s Magazine calling for “open debate” and an end to cancel culture, sparking backlash from both liberal and conservative pundits.
The letter addressed the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and calls to defund the police — acknowledging that the demands are over due while warning against cancel culture and being intolerant of differences.
“But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity,” the letter read. “The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.”
The letter warned that liberals are forming their own version of censorship, one that President Donald Trump and “right-wing demagogues” thrive off of.
“This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time,” the letter added. “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
Pundits and journalists from both sides took to Twitter to call out the letter’s hypocrisy, some highlighting that Harper’s has fired writers for controversial opinions, and others noting that those who signed took no issue when “cancel culture” came after conservatives.
Apparently targeting someone for harassment isn’t bad if that person is making men feel a sad
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) July 7, 2020
ANYWAY remember that time Bari Weiss tried to get me fired from my freelance gigs because I swear on twitter and then she signed an open letter in Harper’s saying she was deeply concerned about the trend of people getting fired for saying things people don’t like on the internet?
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) July 7, 2020
Not only does this letter fail to provide any evidence for its dire warnings implying the left is intolerant, but it echoes Trump’s Mt Rushmore speech, which warned that “cancel culture” is one of the biggest threats to the country. A shame to see some good people sign this crap. https://t.co/AiGPSQ4DyB
— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) July 7, 2020
Hilariously ridiculous. And several people on there who have tried to cancel me personally. The weakness of liberalism is totally out in the open.
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) July 7, 2020
So I guess this means that Harper’s won’t fire people for forming a union now? https://t.co/ljiC1jxQze
— Alex Shephard (@alex_shephard) July 7, 2020
Some pointed out that those who signed the letter are reacting to disagreement and debate sparked by their own words and opinions, calling it “self-pitying.”
Look at who signed this letter, you can tell this is more about wealthy elites in the industry not wanting to face consequences for their past (and current) work as war criminal propagandists, plagiarists, transphobes, and associates of Epstein.https://t.co/4oApREZzpA
— Sam Sacks (@SamSacks) July 7, 2020
“We are brave,” they agree, “we are the brave ones for doing this letter”
— Erin STRENGTH! Ryan (@morninggloria) July 7, 2020
Something I would read: how that self-pitying Harper’s letter came to exist in the first place
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) July 7, 2020
Imagine having access to an outlet like this and the audience they all have – the enormity of that collective platform – and they use it to…….whine that the internet holds them accountable for their own words.
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) July 7, 2020
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