So, there’s another open letter. FFS. I’m still scarred from the last one, which I signed for all of about one hour until I was swiftly and mercilessly educated on the context of the letter by Ms. Ninja. It was sent to me by a friend whose judgment I trusted, and seemed to present as a fairly reasonable argument about due diligence and poor decision making on the part of an institution, but I regret signing it, given all that I know about the situation now, and I take responsibility for the fact that it was my privileged position within society that let me gloss over all concerns but the academics of the argument. Then watching the letter divide and destroy the entire community as it became a political tool for those seeking to entrench an ideological stance that’s already entrenched, rather than effect real change…Well, it’s a moment of shame for me, as I imagine this new one will end up for some of the signatories already on the letter.
I read the letter last night and here is my takeaway: it sounds reasonable, once again. EXCEPT… EXCEPT… It’s so very vaguely written that it allows multiple interpretations and has so many problematic signatories whose very presence skew the letter toward a manifesto calling for freedom of bigotry instead of freedom of argument.
I find it difficult to separate the argument of this letter (as well as its timing) from the fact that some of the Western world’s most marginalized groups are in a state of outright rebellion, fighting on the streets in some cases for their lives and rights to exist without prejudice.
What is your take on this?
Published in Harper’s Magazine, the letter is signed by more than 150 writers, academics and artists, also including major names such as Martin Amis, Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Malcolm Gladwell and Gloria Steinem.
Acknowledging that “powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society”, the letter goes on to decry what it calls “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity”.