I’m beginning to wonder if I’m doing PR wrong (no, I know am). This article by Aaron Rabinowitz on the scourge of anti-“Woke” activism had me wondering if I’ve really missed an angle.
Our story begins on January 24th of 2021, with the formal launch of the UK based Counterweight website, billed as “the home of scholarship and advice on Critical Social Justice ideology”, and committed to “individualism, universalism, viewpoint diversity and the free exchange of ideas”. Counterweight is one of many anti-woke activist organisations that has popped up in the past year to provide resources for organising against wokeness. Despite providing scant evidence that there was a substantive problem their organisation would address, Counterweight’s debut was uncritically covered by several news outlets, including The Daily Mail, Russia Today, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times – the latter two of whom felt Counterweight’s launch warranted front-page coverage. Counterweight’s founder, Helen Pluckrose, was invited to give numerous interviews in the mainstream media.
So I took a look at this Counterweight bullshit, looking at it for content and structure. Content: it has a small stable of contributors who write essays on an irregular schedule. It looks like they get a new post every few days. It’s basically nothing but a multi-author blog — it’s not even as active as Freethoughtblogs, and is kind of the inverse of our goals. Structure: here’s a big difference, with the front end loaded with all kinds of explicit material defending their anti-“Woke” agenda — basically, their ideology is made primary and loud. The Freethoughtblogs entry page is just a table of our authors and their most recent articles. One other content difference is that they must have some minimal essay length, while we don’t, so often here you’ll get a short blurb, while there you can reliably get a solid couple of paragraphs of hatred and ignorance.
And yet, somehow, Helen Pluckrose starting a gussied-up blog site gets write-ups from various well-known, if conservative, newspapers? We didn’t do good PR, I guess, because here you’ll find more and better essays written by genuinely individualistic people who are not hog-tied by the status quo. We also don’t have to struggle to hide our hideous opinions.
That’s what Aaron’s article is mostly about: the Counterweight started up with James Lindsay on board, and then Lindsay tweeted out a bunch of grossly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, like this.
Oops! Quick! Get his name off the masthead! But let’s keep all the links to his New Discourses website, and continue to encourage people to read Lindsay, just with a little implausible denial. They don’t mind a little anti-Semitism and racism at the Counterweight, they just want it slightly less prominently labeled. While Freethoughtblogs would explode with anger if someone here favored anti-Semitism, and they wouldn’t be quietly tucked away, we’d do a lot of brutal self-examination, and carry out a public execution, so I guess that’s another difference.
OK, if we had a lot of money (we don’t, we dribble on month to month), I guess I’d do a major makeover, call this place Freethought Magazine or some such (“The Journal of Social Justice Studies”?), and turn the main page into a menu-driven summary of freethought and social justice, but keep all the same writers and list their contributions even more prominently, and catch the eye of the NY and LA Times, maybe a few other major liberal publications. It’s kind of obvious that calling it a blog network made it more easily dismissable.