Kevin Williamson’s short-lived tenure at The Atlantic is instructive, not so much for what he had to say (and the targets he picked), as for the response to his dismissal. Taken in isolation, the story doesn’t amount to much. Mainstream publications have hired (irony alert) and quickly fired controversial writers before. Add the erstwhile National Review writer and anti-Trump conservative to an ever-growing list.
Now, the story is that Williamson was fired because he tweeted and later repeated something intemperate about women who have abortions. That might have been his most incendiary and controversial public utterance, but the Left’s indictment against Williamson was much, much longer than just that. Here’s what the far-Left Media Matters for America put out earlier today. If it wasn’t abortion, they would have howled for his ouster for some other reason. Williamson was unacceptable to the Left, period.
Let the handwringing commence!
Kevin Williamson: hired for his talent, fired for his views. This is chilling.
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) April 5, 2018
I’ve publicly argued with Kevin Williamson (who’s a friend) over harsh things he’s written, but he is one of the bravest and most talented writers I know. The Atlantic’s cutting him loose under left-wing fire is deplorable. But clarifying. Definitely clarifying.
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) April 5, 2018
The Atlantic’s firing of Kevin Williamson is a disgusting and shameful cave to the pressure of fanatics who seek to live in silos that contain no views counter to their own. This only furthers the partisan divide and is to the detriment of all.
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) April 5, 2018
I’ve grown up in the midst of an elite media/academic world that positively delights in shocking the conservative and Christian conscience. Yet the same elite can’t coexist with a talented, provocative conservative? Contemptible: https://t.co/F8E6ldnEEZ
— David French (@DavidAFrench) April 6, 2018
Report: @TheAtlantic has already fired Kevin Williamson. This strikes me as a terrible, respect-losing move on the editor’s part.
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) April 5, 2018
At this point, however, laments about Jeffrey Goldberg’s hypocrisy or the slow death of civilized discourse are wastes of breath (or pixels). (And to Noah Rothman: “Chilling”? Where have you been, man?) Better to heed Ace, or Kurt Schlichter:
Never Trump, the public humiliation of Kevin Williamson demonstrates the indisputable fact…
You can side with the left and hope to be allowed to exist as a domesticates lap dog like David Brooks or Bret Stephens…
Or you can accept this is an existential fight and join us.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) April 5, 2018
This is the direction we’re headed: Kevin Williamson must be banished from respectable discourse. Christina Hoff Sommers is a fascist. Victor Davis Hanson is a white supremacist. James Damore cannot work at Google anymore. Brandon Eich was purged from the company he built. On and on. Notice, those stories—and many more just like them—span years. This has been happening for a good, long while. It won’t stop anytime soon. It’s going to get worse. Much worse.
Senior contributor Julie Kelly is at work on a follow-up to her Thursday article, which was only partially a response to Williamson’s initial (and final) salvo at The Atlantic. But here’s a hint of what she’s up to:
The replies to his tweet are a warning to anyone who defends Williamson that-if you do-you also support hanging women who had abortions. Because that’s how the Left operates. https://t.co/ktV54bPvc1
— Julie Kelly (@julie_kelly2) April 5, 2018
Most Americans just want to live peacefully. But some of us, anyway, will not be told what and how to think. Then it’s just a power exercise. It’s hard to imagine how that ends well.