We have dealt with James Kirchick before. Twice, actually. So you’re probably wondering why would ever want to deal with him again. But as you know, I’m the blogger you deserve, but not the blogger you need right now. Because I can take it, because I’m not a hero. I’m a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a Dark Knight.
Who’s with me?
As is often the case with this kind of lengthy essay, Kirchick starts of kind of lame but kind of reasonable: He describes personal experience and leads over from there to the fact that some people are threatened with violence and some have even been killed because they said certain things Islam. He continues to talk about blasphemy laws in European countries and people having been sentenced for violating them.
Now, we can all agree this is a bad thing. And because this is a bad thing, I would honestly wish that newspapers like the Washington Examiner or the FAZ would let someone write about this topic who can do it without making a complete fool of himself and the people who paid him for it.
But they don’t. So here I am, Dark Knighting away to the best of my ability.
Things start to get obviously disgusting right around here:
Only one religion, huh? Well, James Kirchick, sugar muffin, bless your innocent soul. I hope you never find out about all these things you appear to have been spared through all your life.
Yes, the appalling lack of anti-Islamic sentiment is indeed probably one of the most severe impoverishments our cultural landscape has ever had to endure, no one can doubt that.
Now, one could still argue that he has a point, because not every problem one complains about has to be the biggest problem in the world, so Kirchick’s essay might still earn something like a undecided, if frustrated reaction up to this point.
But you know guys like him. They can’t ever be satisfied with almost behaving like an ass. They have to go all the way, so the following paragraph might have been surprising, but isn’t:
It’s a mystery how this could ever have happened. A mystery which Mr. Kirchick is about to explain to us, by example.
I don’t need to quote the whole sentence, do I? You can see what’s going on here.
When New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma deigned to publish an essay by a Canadian radio DJ accused of various sexual offenses against women, a Twitter mob arose and demanded Buruma, one of our greatest public intellectuals, be fired
And so, it has happened. Our fearless guide through „the self-muzzling of the free world“ has gone from calling out people who murder other people for things they said to calling out people who criticise men who assault women. They’re both examples of basically the same phenomenon to him, and is it unfair to wonder what might be going on in his head, and if it’s all going on without any extra chemicals inserted?
The impulse to censor, whether it comes in the extreme form of literary criticism by the ayatollah or that of students at the College of William & Mary who shouted down a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union with cries of “liberalism is white supremacy,”
It’s all the same to Mr. Kirchick. Whether one issues a fatwah for the murder of a writer or calls for not publishing a book or shouts while someone wants to talk, who cares about the difference? It’s all censorship, right? Well, it isn’t, but that’s not important right now because FREE SPEECH! Or something.
The idea that publishing houses, magazines or anyone might have standards and prefer to give their money to people who actually have something sensible to say that contributes to a better society seems inconceivable to him.
Story time again!
Censorship inhibits the ability to persuade. Progressives used to understand this. In 1963, the Yale Political Union invited segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace to a debate on campus. […] Kingman Brewster, the legendary liberal president of Yale, asked the political union to withdraw its invitation, and the mayor of New Haven announced that Wallace would be “officially unwelcome” in his city. Pauli Murray, an African-American civil rights activist, disagreed. […] “the possibility of violence is not sufficient reason in law to prevent an individual from exercising his constitutional right.”
Did you notice? It’s the same sleight of hand again. There is no constitutional right to be invited to a debate. None. There never was. It would be patently ridiculous. And it’s not censorship to say „Maybe we don’t want a debate about whether People of Coulor are people, you know? Maybe that’s an idea we don’t need to question because the question has already been answered.“
And of course, Kirchick doesn’t stop with complaining about what he calls censorship. He has
completely lost his marbles by this point already made out another danger.
People are constantly writing and saying things of highly dubious merit — “Hannah Gadsby is funny,” “Islam is the religion of peace,” “Trans Women are Women,” “’Black Panther‘ deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Picture” — as if they were religious incantations.
The latter in the usual sense for these thinkpieces of „People might disagree with you.“ You can hear his breathless indignation in sentences like
I mean, imagine, people displaying personal pronouns!
At least he ends on something about which we can agree again.