The Kevin Williams firing by Atlantic has attracted an unusual reaction from several sources including mine in the previous post, the Borking of Kevin Williamson. Ben Shapiro observes in National Review, Kevin Williamson and the Twitter Mob:
Because this is a symptom of a broader leftist attempt to shrink the Overton window. “Overton window” is a term coined by Joseph Overton of the Mackinac Center for Public Police, meaning the range of acceptable public discourse. Typically, those of us in the political world accept that the Overton window extends beyond positions with which we agree. Take, for example, the thought of Louis Farrakhan, or Richard Spencer, or Ta-Nehisi Coates. All of their views are certainly covered by the First Amendment, but only some of them fall within the Overton window — those that advance rational, useful debate. Thus, I believe that Ta-Nehisi Coates is an overrated thinker who promotes a toxic politics, but there’s little doubt that his views fall within the range of acceptable discourse. The views of Louis Farrakhan about Jews and of Richard Spencer about blacks do not.
But the Left has boiled beliefs down to two categories: those with which they agree, and those that are outside the Overton window. The range of acceptable discourse extends from the identity politics of Coates to the socialist politics of Bernie Sanders. Anything outside that range — in any respect — immediately falls foul of the social-justice class.
This creates a serious problem for the country. That’s because people whose views are excluded from the Left’s new Overton window are cast into outer darkness with people whose views are truly execrable. And the new outcasts are presented with a three-pronged choice: Either embrace the politics of the Left, fight both those who label you a deplorable human being and those who are actually deplorable, or side with those who are deplorable against those who would cast you out. Many conservatives may explicitly make alliances of convenience with toxic people in order to fight the Left — which, after all, has already called mainstream conservatives toxic. It’s even more complicated than that: Because the Left has used the same label for Williamson and the white supremacist Richard Spencer, some conservatives may begin taking a second look at the toxic views of Spencer in the mistaken belief that anything the Left rejects is worth a second look.
Mislabeling matters. And labeling Williamson an unperson alongside people whose views are truly deleterious to the public debate merely extends the Left’s censorious regime. It drives people into the arms of those whom they would otherwise scorn. The backlash will come. And when it does, it will be strong and large and ugly.
The left thinks it wins when it silences dissent. This never works, even when it is forced by violence and tyranny. It only impoverishes their own understanding. When I am demonized I do not go away, even though I will no longer engage with you. As one political observer noted, the voting booth is the ultimate safe space.