by Henry Oliner
The dismissal of Kevin Williamson by The Atlantic shortly after his first essay illuminates far more about the magazine and the state of intellectual intolerance than any moral shortcoming of Kevin.
The comment about hanging women who have had abortions was woefully out of context, but Williamson did not hide the fact that he was pro-life; so are 40% of Americans. Podcasts and Twitter posts sometimes engage in logical arguments taken to extremes to make a point. Very little of Kevin’s substantial output is on this subject, yet this is the only topic to be used to judge his work.
Jonah Goldberg comments on the double standards in Kevin Williamson, Thought Criminal:
Meanwhile, extreme views on the left are simply hot takes or even signs of genius. Take the philosopher Peter Singer. He has at least as extreme views on a host of issues, and he is feted and celebrated for them. He is the author of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on “Ethics.” He holds an endowed chair at Princeton. He writes regularly for leading publications. And he argues that sometimes it’s okay to kill babies, as in his essay “Killing Babies Isn’t Always Wrong.” “Newborn human babies,” he writes, “have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” He cutely asks whether people should cease to exist. (He ultimately and grudgingly answers “No.”) Oh, he also argues in favor of bestiality.
Marketing guru Roy Williams wrote, “The risk of offense is the price of clarity.” Clarity is to be avoided by the intellectually weak, because it removes your hiding place. To avoid clarity is to avoid commitment.
The left has become so illiberal that they not only reject ideas, but they reject the rights of free expression to those who hold those ideas. Their strategy to win an argument is to deny that the argument even exists. By demonizing the opposition as racists, misogynists, bigots or hate-speech, they can dismiss them as unworthy of debate and deny them any platform for expression. The accusations do not have to be true to be effective. They pretend to be tolerant if they replace demonization with pathologizing. Thus, Thomas Frank in What’s The Matter With Kansas created the arrogant and inane talking point that conservatives vote against their own self-interest. The argument was repeated by Joan Williams in White Working Class. And most recently Arlie Hochschild, a sociologist from Berkley, studies conservatives in Louisiana like lab rats, and follows the same path in Strangers in Their Own Land, drawing a self serving and juvenile conclusion to explain the other 49 states.
Our current rendition of populism is unusual because the populists may be more liberal than the elite they reject. College campuses reject Condoleezza Rice, an incredibly accomplished black woman, because of her conservative credentials and association with George Bush. Charles Murray is blocked from speaking, accused of racism by people who clearly have never read his work. This intolerance on our college campuses, the stifling of free speech in the name of being politically correct had as much to do with the populist reaction as economic policy and immigration. The voting booth became the ultimate ‘safe space’ for those denied a voice everywhere else.
The left began to embrace opposing viewpoints in the wake of Trump’s election and the realization that they were out of touch with much of America. Hillary’s pathetic accusations and excuse mongering aside, The New York Times hired Bret Stephens over considerable protest from the left, and The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson from National Review.
In nearly ten years of blogging I have excerpted more articles from Kevin Williamson than any other writer. His writing on economics rivals Henry Hazlitt. From Sneaky Inflation in The National Review:
The perverse fact is that government efforts to make politically important goods such as education and health care less expensive make them more expensive. This is because most government programs are designed as though supply and demand do not actually exist, or as though they are optional. Consider not only Obamacare but all of the other efforts we’ve made over the past several decades to make health care more affordable. None of those programs subtracts from the number of Americans needing or desiring medical services; none of them adds to the number of physicians, dentists, nurses, or pharmacists available to meet that demand, or to the number of hospital beds, clinics, or pharmaceutical factories. Demand is what it is, and supply is what it is, and the government simply dumps money into the equation. A larger quantity of money chasing an unchanged supply of goods is something close to the classical definition of inflation, so it is no surprise to see medical prices increasing far more rapidly than those of other consumer goods.
The physical economy — the world of actual goods and services — looks radically different from the symbolic economy. Measured by practically any physical metric, from the quality of the food we eat to the health care we receive to the cars we drive and the houses we live in, Americans are not only wildly rich, but radically richer than we were 30 years ago, to say nothing of 50 or 75 years ago. And so is much of the rest of the world. That such progress is largely invisible to us is part of the genius of capitalism — and it is intricately bound up with why, under the system based on selfishness, avarice, and greed, we do such a remarkably good job taking care of one another, while systems based on sharing and common property turn into miserable, hungry prison camps.
His writing on politics :
From Ritual to Bromance:
The fixation on “toughness” also speaks to a misunderstanding about the nature of the presidency and the nature of government in general. Trump is not alone in his belief that if we would only “get tough” with whomever needs it, then solving our national problems would be a relatively straightforward proposition: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren make essentially the same argument in favor of raising taxes and regulating businesses more heavily, as though government’s having been too soft on billionaires in Malibu is why people are poor in the Bronx. Politicians of this stripe talk as if there were a shoebox marked “solutions” sitting in a cupboard somewhere in Washington, and that these solutions have not been implemented simply because no one was willing to “get tough” enough to do the needful things. But there’s one big problem with that way of looking at things.
There is a contradiction within American progressivism, which seeks to make the political process more democratic while pushing the policymaking process in a less democratic direction. For a century, progressives have championed more open primary elections and open primaries, popular ballot measures, referendum and recall processes, and wider voter participation. At the same time, progressives, particularly those of a Wilsonian bent, have sought to remove the substance of policymaking from democratically accountable elected representatives and entrust it to unelected, unaccountable bureaucracies in the belief that panels of experts immune from ordinary democratic oversight could make hard decisions based on reason and evidence rather than on short-term political necessity and popular passions. They regarded the political parties and their infamous smoke-filled rooms as embodiments of corruption and old-fashioned wheeler-dealer politics at odds with the brave new centrally planned world they imagined themselves to be building.
You can go to the Archives page of this blog, enter ‘Kevin Williamson’ and read dozens of examples of excellent writing and analysis on economics and politics. You will not find one fucking article on abortion.
The Atlantic has chosen to deny this remarkable resource to a wider audience because he cannot check the politically correct boxes that the ‘woke’ censors demand. No one will be enlightened or protected by this action. The intellectual idiots of the left will have avoided another rational argument by isolating an opposing idea with virtue signaling and a false sense of moral supremacy.