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Thursday, January 12, 2023

That sleazy Harper's Letter, almost three years later, let's review


Basically, anywhere there is an obscenely wealthy plutocrat funding right-wing/Libertarian political causes, there you will likely find Bari Weiss


How bad was the infamous Harper's Letter?

Consider first, that it was created by Thomas Chatterton Williams who, I don't believe coincidentally, was put on wingnut welfare via the Koch-funded AEI a few months later.

I once admired Williams, but by the time of his embarrassing chateau incident (he declared on Twitter that he kicked a friend out of his home in France for criticizing Bari Weiss) I had realized he was in deep with the right-wing Libertarian ghouls in and around the Intellectual Dark Web. 

That was bad enough, and then the New Yorker's Ian Chotiner interviewed Williams and revealed what an extreme intellectual lightweight he is. 

Williams' friendship with Bari Weiss is key. She is a central figure in the Intellectual Dark Web, a member of the far-right leaning FAIR, an organization based on the cynical, sleazy right-wing campaign against "critical race theory" and more recently a supporter and defender of far-right homophobic treasonousstochastic terrorist Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok, funded by Babylon Bee's Seth Dillon, while aiding and abetting far-right goon Elon Musk.

Here is Weiss in June 2020, promoting her people: Thomas Chatterton Williams (@thomaschattwill); another Koch employee Kmele Foster (@kmele) a devotee of Ayn Randstochastic terrorist James Lindsay (@ConceptualJames), a Trump supporter and partner of far-right religious extremist Michael O'Fallon, Lindsay was banned from the old Twitter for being a neo-Nazi; and IDW founder and crackpot Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein), employee of scary weirdo Peter Thiel

Basically, anywhere there is an obscenely wealthy plutocrat funding right-wing/Libertarian political causes, there you will likely find Bari Weiss.


At the time of the Harper's Letter, Tom Scocca in Slate discussed how sleazy the stunt was:

What were the Harper’s signatories trying to accomplish? For a document announcing an emergency, their letter (addressed, as the writer Luppe Luppen pointed out, to no one) was studiously vague about exactly what it meant to warn the reader against. It presented a nonspecific and mostly pluralized litany of complaints:

Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.

At least one item—”a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed study”—did seem to have an identifiable antecedent: David Shor, a researcher at the consulting company Civis Analytics, tweeted out a study concluding that voter backlash against violent protest in 1968 had tipped the presidential election to Richard Nixon and was fired after people denounced the tweet. There seems to be fairly broad agreement, among people who would even know about this incident, that Civis was wrong to fire him, and the incident does look like a classic example of a company sacrificing an innocent for “panicked damage control.” But this pattern of targeted pressure and overreaction is not a new crisis. It has been established for years by now, in right-wing and left-wing outrage campaigns alike, and the fault lies with the institutions that still haven’t figured out how it works, not with the generalized, newly ascendant cultural revolution that the Harper’s letter or Trump wishes to raise the alarm about.   

Yet, rather than defending Shor and criticizing Civis by name, the letter anonymized his case and stuck it next to a complaint about powerful people losing their jobs “for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes”—a rickety construction that leaves the reader wondering if it’s supposed to cover the times that aren’t just clumsy mistakes, or how one is to decide which mistakes are more than just clumsy. Also, which “journalists are barred from writing on certain topics”? In June, two Black journalists were prohibited from covering the Black Lives Matter protests by the owner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the letter admonishes the reader that “resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion,” while the Post-Gazette is in the hands of a passionate Trumpist.

But it wasn't only sleazy in its hypocrisy, but also in the sense of using phony bipartisanship, a favorite Koch tactic, by recruiting well-known people on the left who should have known better: Katha Pollitt, Dahlia Lithwick, Jeet Heer and Gloria Steinem.

Here is a list of all the signers of the Harper's letter: the Quillette contributors, the transphobes, right-wingers, Koch employees and the feckless dummies of the center and left.
  1. Elliot Ackerman |  journalist
  2. Saladin Ambar |  academic
  3. Martin Amis | Islamophobe novelist
  4. Anne Applebaum | journalist and defender of Roman Polanski
  5. Marie Arana | author
  6. Margaret Atwood | sort-of-feminist novelist
  7. John Banville | author
  8. Mia Bay | historian
  9. Louis Begley | novelist
  10. Roger Berkowitz | Bard College and author at right-wing racist Quillette
  11. Paul Berman, writer | author at Quillette
  12. Sheri Berman | Barnard College
  13. Reginald Dwayne Betts | poet
  14. Neil Blair | agent of transphobic J.K. Rowling
  15. David W. Blight | Yale University historian - should have known better
  16. Jennifer Finney Boylan | transgender author - rescinded signature (although it's still listed at Harpers) when she realized what this stunt was really about, when she saw that J.K. Rowling had signed it. More recently she wrote a piece about Rowling.
  17. David Bromwich | Yale University
  18. David Brooks | annoying center-right columnist
  19. Ian Buruma  | Bard College
  20. Lea Carpenter | writer
  21. Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus) - should have known better
  22. Nicholas A. Christakis | Yale University, right-wing, defender of Razib Khan
  23. Roger Cohen | center-right journalist
  24. Ambassador Frances D. Cook | career politician
  25. Drucilla Cornell, Founder, uBuntu Project | should have known better
  26. Kamel Daoud | journalist
  27. Meghan Daum, writer | former liberal, current member of the IDW/Quillette gang
  28. Gerald Early, Washington University-St. Louis | should have known better
  29. Jeffrey Eugenides | writer
  30. Dexter Filkins | journalist
  31. Federico Finchelstein | The New School
  32. Caitlin Flanagan | anti-feminist
  33. Richard T. Ford | Stanford Law School
  34. Kmele Foster - Koch employee, Ayn Rand fan, promoted by Bari Weiss
  35. David Frum | former Bush speechwriter
  36. Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University | Quillette authorReason Magazine contributor
  37. Atul Gawande | Harvard University, Biden administration
  38. Todd Gitlin | Columbia University
  39. Kim Ghattas | journalist
  40. Malcolm Gladwell | Koch funded-Reason Magazine contributor
  41. Michelle Goldberg, columnist - should have known better
  42. Rebecca Goldstein | married to Steven Pinker
  43. Anthony Grafton | Princeton University
  44. David Greenberg | Rutgers University
  45. Linda Greenhouse - should have known better
  46. Rinne B. Groff | playwright
  47. Sarah Haider | Quillette cause
  48. Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern - long-time promoter of race pseudoscience
  49. Roya Hakakian | writer
  50. Shadi Hamid | Brookings Institution
  51. Jeet Heer, The Nation - should have known better
  52. Katie Herzog, podcast host |  defender of Andy Ngo, fan of QuilletteReason Magazine
  53. Susannah Heschel | Dartmouth College
  54. Adam Hochschild | author
  55. Arlie Russell Hochschild | author
  56. Eva Hoffman | writer
  57. Coleman Hughes | writer for (Koch-funded) Manhattan Institute, author at Quillette
  58. Hussein Ibish | Arab Gulf States Institute
  59. Michael Ignatieff | politician
  60. Zaid Jilani, journalist | member of the IDW/Quillette gang including FAIRforall, Quillette author
  61. Bill T. Jones | New York Live Arts
  62. Wendy Kaminer | advisory council member of Koch-funded FIREReason Magazine contributor
  63. Matthew Karp, Princeton University | far-left
  64. Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative | the chess guy
  65. Daniel Kehlmann  | writer
  66. Randall Kennedy | law professor
  67. Khaled Khalifa | writer
  68. Parag Khanna | author
  69. Laura Kipnis | Northwestern UniversityReason Magazine contributor
  70. Frances Kissling | Catholics for a Free Choice
  71. Enrique Krauze | historian
  72. Anthony Kronman | Yale University
  73. Joy Ladin | Yeshiva University
  74. Nicholas Lemann | Columbia University
  75. Mark Lilla | Columbia University
  76. Susie Linfield | New York University
  77. Damon Linker | works for Libertarian Niskanen center, dictator appeaser
  78. Dahlia Lithwick, Slate - should have known better
  79. Steven Lukes | New York University
  80. John R. MacArthur | Harper's publisher
  81. Susan Madrak | writer - should have known better
  82. Phoebe Maltz Bovy, writer for right-wing Unheard, friend of Quillette
  83. Greil Marcus | music journalist
  84. Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center - should have known better
  85. Kati Marton | author
  86. Debra Mashek worked for DonorsTrust -funded Heterodox Academy
  87. Deirdre McCloskey | LibertarianReason Magazine contributor
  88. John McWhorter | Reason Magazine contributor
  89. Uday Mehta | City University of New York
  90. Andrew Moravcsik | Princeton University
  91. Yascha Mounk |  Persuasion - appears to be another media outlet for the IDW, with several Harper's Letter signers including McWhorter, Yoffe, Haidt and Pinker.
  92. Samuel Moyn | Yale University
  93. Meera Nanda | writer and teacher
  94. Cary Nelson | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  95. Olivia Nuzzi | New York Magazine
  96. Mark Oppenheimer | Yale University
  97. Dael Orlandersmith, writer/performer - should have known better
  98. George Packer | writer
  99. Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University (emerita) - should have known better
  100. Greg Pardlo, Rutgers University – should have known better
  101. Orlando Patterson | Harvard University
  102. Steven Pinker - ugh
  103. Letty Cottin Pogrebin - should have known better
  104. Katha Pollitt, writer - should have known better
  105. Claire Bond Potter, The New School - should have known better
  106. Taufiq Rahim | New America
  107. Zia Haider Rahman | writer
  108. Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen | University of Wisconsin
  109. Jonathan Rauch | Brookings Institution/The AtlanticReason Magazine contributor
  110. Neil Roberts | political theorist
  111. Melvin Rogers | Brown University
  112. Kat Rosenfield | Reason Magazine contributor
  113. Loretta J. Ross | Smith College
  114. J.K. Rowling | children's book author, infamous transphobe
  115. Salman Rushdie, New York University
  116. Karim Sadjadpour | Carnegie Endowment
  117. Daryl Michael Scott | Howard University
  118. Diana Senechal | teacher and writer
  119. Jennifer Senior | columnist
  120. Judith Shulevitz | writer
  121. Jesse Singal, journalist | infamous transphobeReason Magazine contributor
  122. Anne-Marie Slaughter | lawyer
  123. Andrew Solomon | writer
  124. Deborah Solomon | critic and biographer
  125. Allison Stanger, Middlebury College | became a political cause of the race pseudoscience right for her support for infamous race pseudoscience racist Charles Murray
  126. Paul Starr | American Prospect/Princeton University
  127. Wendell Steavenson | writer
  128. Gloria Steinem - should have known better
  129. Nadine Strossen | defender of race pseudoscienceReason Magazine contributor
  130. Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., | Harvard Law School
  131. Kian Tajbakhsh | Columbia University
  132. Zephyr Teachout | Fordham University
  133. Cynthia Tucker | University of South Alabama
  134. Adaner Usmani | Harvard University
  135. Chloe Valdary - part of the Quillette/IDW world
  136. Helen Vendler | Harvard University
  137. Judy B. Walzer | academic
  138. Michael Walzer | academic
  139. Eric K. Washington | historian
  140. Caroline Weber | historian
  141. Randi Weingarten | American Federation of Teachers
  142. Bari Weiss - I would bet she was one of the instigators of this stunt
  143. Cornel West | public intellectual
  144. Sean Wilentz | Princeton University
  145. Garry Wills | historian
  146. Thomas Chatterton Williams | Koch employee, creator of the Harper's Letter stunt
  147. Robert F. Worth | journalist and author
  148. Molly Worthen | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  149. Matthew Yglesias | political operative at Libertarian think tank, friend of Razib Khan
  150. Emily Yoffe, journalist | right-leaning "cancel culture" hystericReason Magazine contributor
  151. Cathy Young, journalist | Koch-funded career, pioneer of stochastic terrorism IMO
  152. Fareed Zakaria | political commentator

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