Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Federalist hires off-off Broadway playwright to opine on the IDW

Unfortunately Pinkerite has traveled in the same off-off Broadway theater circles as Quillette author Libby Emmons, seen here defending the IDW for the far right-wing Federalist. As her Federalist bio says:
Libby Emmons is a writer and theatre maker in Brooklyn, New York. She is co-founder of the Sticky short play series, and blogs the story of her life at li88yinc.com.
You don't have to have an impressive resume if you are willing to go to bat for the right. But something good came out of finding the article - Emmons gave me a heads-up on genuinely good work when she presumed to criticize an article about the IDW written by Justin Charity at The Ringer. Charity is a far superior writer to Emmons and with a far more impressive writerly resume too. I think his description of a recent Jesse Singal kerfuffle contains a perfect illustration of Singal's weaseliness, which seems to be a trait generally shared by the IDW and IDW-adjacent.

On Twitter, Singal spent the past weekend challenging a perceived resistance among marginalized people to argue with conservatives. Arguing against such reluctance, Singal cited Frederick Douglass as a counterexample. He expressed one conception of Douglass—as a black genius who debated his people to freedom—and then several black journalists, disagreeing quite strongly with Singal’s characterization, expressed alternative conceptions of Douglass, abolitionism, and activism in general. Vann R. Newkirk II, an Atlantic staff writer who has, unlike Singal, actually written about Douglass and other black liberation figures, stressed the general aversion among abolitionists to debating slaveholders and other “unpersuadables.”
 
Singal, a proud rationalist, had an interesting debate on his hands. He might have directly engaged with black journalists at The Atlantic and The New York Times who might have had some worthwhile thoughts about Frederick Douglass, but instead he retreated from the debate, which he himself had launched in a live forum, only to reconfigure himself in the comfort of his own newsletter. It was all very meta and pathetic, and so poignantly counterproductive in demonstrating the power of rationalist confidence. “Be braver,” Singal had tweeted at one point. It was a fun debate while it lasted. 
No one is scared to debate Singal, Shapiro, or Sullivan; they are, in most cases, simply annoyed. No journalist, no activist, no person of any persuasion wants to argue with a bad listener; no one wants to match against yet another rationalist champion only to find him retreating immediately to backchannels, whining about how many people are retweeting his opponents when they could be celebrating him...