Monday, March 19, 2018

Quillette, home of right-wing kooks & grifters

I'm pleased to see that respectable journalists and not just scruffy bloggers like me are recognizing how right-wing and awful Quillette and its gang of sleazeballs are.

In the lead-up to (James) Damore’s appearance, (Andy) Ngo penned an article for the Wall Street Journal alleging that the event had been threatened, writing that that “we expected controversy. But we also got danger.” The evidence of danger, as reported in Willamette Week, was “two violent threats on Facebook, three diversity events held on campus as counter-programming, and a scornful blog post”. 
This was more than enough for Fox News, who ran an item under the headline “Antifa targets ‘Google memo’ author James Damore’s talk at Portland State”.
Despite the headline, Portland’s Rose City Antifa told the Guardian ahead of time that no antifascist counterprotest was ever planned, and none materialized. There was only a small audience walkout.
Nevertheless, along with spreading the video, Ngo wrung from the evening an article for Quillette, a website obsessed with the alleged war on free speech on campus. The event was also given lavish attention by the YouTube star Tim Pool, who insists that he is not “alt-right”, despite his apparent chumminess with the movement’s leading lights.
 According to FIRE, an individual-rights organization, in 2017 there were just 29 attempts to disinvite speakers, out of 4,700 universities, and the majority of those that were successful came from the right, not the left. Still, libertarian website Quillette summarized these outbursts as "the psychology of progressive hostility." Pundits like to characterize online outrage and an aversion to idea diversity as a phenomenon unique to the left, largely ignoring the death threats directed at the teen Parkland survivors for speaking out against a powerful gun lobby or the conservative dictates of Sinclair Broadcasting and Fox News. Given the myopic focus on liberals, it would seem that Free Speech Grifters are not actually interested in the free exchange of ideas, per se; they are interested in liberal caricature for clicks, social-media followings, and monetization. 
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor turned conservative provocateur, said he's figured out "how to monetize social justice warriors." Ben Shapiro, who rose to fame "owning" liberals on college campuses, sells "Leftist Tears" mugs and a book entitled How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them. Andy Ngo, a conservative activist who followed Sommers around to her Portland engagements, asked for donations after he published a video of the Lewis & Clark episode, notably edited down to just the protesting rather than including Sommers's ideas. Sommers vouched for Ngo's plea for money, tweeting that "he works tirelessly promoting free expression in Portland area. Often for no compensation. Help him out if you can."

Speaking of Jordan Peterson, Quillette's favorite cult leader, the New York Review of Books has a nice piece about him: Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism:
Peterson may seem the latest in a long line of eggheads pretentiously but harmlessly romancing the noble savage. But it is worth remembering that Jung recklessly generalized about the superior “Aryan soul” and the inferior “Jewish psyche” and was initially sympathetic to the Nazis. Mircea Eliade was a devotee of Romania’s fascistic Iron Guard. Campbell’s loathing of “Marxist” academics at his college concealed a virulent loathing of Jews and blacks. Solzhenitsyn, Peterson’s revered mentor, was a zealous Russian expansionist, who denounced Ukraine’s independence and hailed Vladimir Putin as the right man to lead Russia’s overdue regeneration. 
Nowhere in his published writings does Peterson reckon with the moral fiascos of his gurus and their political ramifications; he seems unbothered by the fact that thinking of human relations in such terms as dominance and hierarchy connects too easily with such nascent viciousness such as misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. He might argue that his maps of meaning aim at helping lost individuals rather than racists, ultra-nationalists, or imperialists. But he can’t plausibly claim, given his oft-expressed hostility to the “murderous equity doctrine” of feminists, and other progressive ideas, that he is above the fray of our ideological and culture wars.