These two writers and columnists have both left their positions, decrying what they claim is an atmosphere of intolerance for their views in their respective workplaces. Sullivan has quit New York magazine while Weiss has left the New York Times. Weiss was also one of the signatories to the ‘cancel culture’ letter. It should be noted that they both resigned and were not fired, but in leaving both wrote the kind of self-pitying ‘people are being mean to me’ screeds that prominent people say when they are criticized.
This article describes what led to their respective departures.
But on Friday, 56-year-old Andrew Sullivan resigned from New York Magazine, where he has worked for four years, claiming a “critical mass” of staff no longer wanted to associate with him due to his critiques of critical theory or woke culture.
Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic and writer on Time, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, said in a post that colleagues at the Pulitzer-winning publication “seem to believe … that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space.”
Sullivan’s departure comes amid increasing turmoil in US newsrooms and cultural institutions. This week, the columnist Bari Weiss resigned from the New York Times, speaking out against what she called an “illiberal environment” at the institution.
Weiss, who was hired as a centrist, also described constraints on dissenting opinions and claimed she had been bullied by co-workers who called her a “Nazi and a racist” because of her “own forays into wrongthink”.
“Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired,” Weiss wrote in her resignation letter.
Weiss was widely criticised and accused by one writer of “taking thin, anecdotal evidence and framing it in grandiose culture-war terms”.
So their complaint is that their co-workers didn’t like them and avoided them. People who have led pampered existences don’t seem to realize that huge numbers of people, especially those who are not part of the dominant establishment culture, work all the time in hostile environments. But only when it affects them do they start decrying the situation and get all self-pitying.
I have long found Sullivan to be one of the most smug and odious of commentators. His infamy began when, as editor of The New Republic, he gave a prominent platform to Charles Murray’s racist theories about intelligence. He was gung-ho for Bush-Cheney’s Iraq war, going to the extent of accusing those who opposed it of being fifth columnists, of being traitors. He now has the nerve to complain about being criticized for his views. He also conveniently changed sides when it suited him. After the Iraq war went deeply south, he switched and became a critic of it. He seems to think that just because he is now anti-Trump, we should welcome him with open arms, when he was part of the very process that provided sustenance to the Republican culture wars that nurtured Trump. If I worked at New York magazine, I too would have avoided him.
Weiss is one of those people who used to viciously hound those who spoke up for the rights of Palestinians, so her complaint about being criticized rings hollow. She cannot seem to accept that attitudes can change quite rapidly and that things that were once acceptable or even tolerable may no longer be so. There are many such cases. For example, two years ago, monuments to the confederacy seemed inviolate. Today, they are disappearing left and right and anyone who suggested putting up a statue honoring confederate generals would quickly get rebuffed.
Philip Weiss (no relation) writes about what Weiss’s departure means for the Zionist movement of which she was an ardent advocate.
It seems obvious to say that Bari Weiss’s departure takes place amidst a Zionist discursive collapse– Beinart’s apostasy, the downfall of Eliot Engel, the mutiny of 500 left-Zionist recruits at one Israel lobby group, and 1000 at J Street, the defection of even centrist Jewish donors over Israel, and the willingness of a few American politicians anyway to suggest that military aid to Israel be cut due to its endless expansionism. This is real progress. And in that sense Bari Weiss’s exit is good news for Palestinian news and opinion. A reliable Israel lobbyist is going to find some other venue that is less prominent in the making of mainstream opinion. There are going to be more Palestinians in the Times. Maybe the paper won’t run so many justifications of Israeli massacres.
Weiss will surely say that her departure is evidence of anti-semitism on the left. It is more accurate to say that anti-Zionism is now the spirit of left politics, and it is staking a claim on liberal institutions.
Jon Schwarz discusses what the right wing calls ‘political correctness’ really represents
There absolutely are examples of ugly political correctness from the U.S. “left,” whatever that means in a country that, by historical standards, doesn’t have a left. But the vast, vast majority of political correctness in America is conservative. Conservative PC is so powerful in the U.S. that much of it is adopted by both political parties and all of the corporate media. Indeed, right-wing political correctness is so dominant that it’s politically incorrect to refer to it as political correctness. Instead, we call it things like “patriotism,” or simply don’t notice its existence.
So don’t shed any tears for Sullivan and Weiss. People like that will always find a comfortable home in the vast right-wing media culture. Unfortunately they will be back with new patrons.