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Friday, June 26, 2020

How conservative and white supremacist is Quillette? Part 1

Weren't we just talking about Claire Lehmann and her threats to sue people because she doesn't like their flagrant use of free speech?

She did it again.

Lehmann's threat is over an opinion piece, clearly marked "opinion," by Sean Kelly in Australia's Sunday Morning Herald called Australian politics is becoming a sick, inside joke.

Kelly makes a passing reference to Quillette in this sentence:
...That video was retweeted by the editor of Quillette, a conservative website which has been happy to publish authors known for promoting theories of white supremacy. My point is not any direct connection. It is that non-crazy senior members of the Liberal Party, in the midst of a global pandemic, feel the need to pander to the same audience as these publications
So there are two claims for which Lehmann might want to cry defamation, probably both:
  • Quillette is a conservative website 
  • Quillette has been happy to publish authors known for promoting theories of white supremacy

The Australian magazine Crikey responded by including a link to a Nation article by Donna Minkowitz.
Freedom Fighters You can set your watch to it. Yesterday columnist Sean Kelly briefly observed that Quillette “has been happy to publish authors known for promoting theories of white supremacy”. (He hasn’t been the only one to make such an observation.) 
Quillette founder Claire Lehmann, doing her bit for free speech and “broadening the Overton Window“, responded with a loaded reference to Australia’s complainant- friendly defamation laws.

“This is going to be fun” she tweeted, presumably referring to the ability of people with money to shut down debate in Australia using the court system. And while we’d never dare quibble with the leader of the… sigh… “intellectual dark web”, we’re not sure what her being born in Australia has to do with defamation law.
Minkowitz wrote:
Meghan Daum, the feminist memoirist and opinion writer, told me that she had joined a Facebook group for Quillette fans and attended the group’s meetup as part of what she wrote was an “affair” she’d been having with the “intellectual dark web,” the far-right grouping for which Quillette serves as the house organ.
As an aside, Meghan Daum is friendly with professional misogynist Christina Hoff Sommers, which I wrote about. I don't think Daum is much of a feminist these days.

In any case, plenty of other established publications have described Quillette as conservative or right-wing. Inside Higher Education describes Quillette as "the conservative academic publication Quillette."

The Daily Beast wrote:
Quillette, a site that fancies itself intellectually contrarian but mostly publishes right-wing talking points couched in grievance politics...
The New Republic:
This should all be abundantly clear—as should Quillette’s real role in the conservative media ecosystem.
The Ringer:
It’s easy to read Quillette and detect a classic conservative magazine; it’s more like National Review, or even Taki’s Magazine, than the old libertartian standard-bearer, Reason. Quillette channels the key right-wing anxieties: the fussiness about modernity, the antipathy against civil rights activism and college students, the general hysteria about various “hysterias.” The publication’s writers have the knee-jerk tendency to describe any left-wing articulation about anything as “ahistorical,” with vague but nonetheless vigorous gestures toward Plato and glib but nonetheless fearful reassessments of Marx. And they agonize about all the same watchwords: “political correctness,” “cancel culture,” “wokeness,” “wrongthink,” etc. In fact, the distinctions among so many figures and forums—Quillette and Reason, National Review and Breitbart, 4chan and 8chan, the Intellectual Dark Web and Gamergate, Shapiro and Milo Yiannopolous, Jordan Peterson and Alex Jones—have spent the Trump years delivering one long, unpunctuated screed in defense of “wrongthink.”
And it isn't only Claire Lehmann's ideological enemies who call Quillette conservative. Lehmann's right-wing admirers, the Koch-funded "Independent Women's Forum" agreed with a characterization of Quillette as "a conservative niche publication."

I know nothing about Australian defamation laws, but it seems very unlikely that any court would agree that Quillette has been smeared by Sean Kelly for calling it a conservative website.

The "happy to publish authors known for promoting theories of white supremacy" charge is a little less of a slam-dunk than "Quillette is a conservative web site," but there is certainly evidence for the claim, which I will get into in How conservative and white supremcist is Quillette? Part 2.

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