Kevin Williamson’s primal whine of a weekend essay in the Wall Street Journal reported that he was fired by the Atlantic magazine after serving an indecently short tenure—a matter of days in fact. He wants to explain how it all happened, but he’s too distraught to be coherent, so let me try to help.
Let’s start with why the Atlantic hired him in the first place. Williamson’s stock-in-trade is the vituperative insult. Firmly ensconced in the part of the conservative movement that prides itself in good manners, he was, nevertheless, the epitome of unbridled nastiness at National Review. But then his venom was chiefly directly at Trump and his supporters, and that’s just what the Atlantic wanted. On top of their very liberal Trump-haters, they’d have a conservative Trump-hater, their very own Jennifer Rubin.
But it didn’t work out. Three days after he was hired, the Atlantic let him go for having in the past suggested that women who have abortions are murderers who should be hanged. On the Right, Williamson’s defenders have argued that it was simply the exuberance of a known bomb-thrower, nothing more than a metaphor.
Some metaphor. Do you know any conservative, especially a religious one, who’d agree with Williamson? The great 18th century jurist, Sir William Blackstone, thought abortion a crime, but refused to call it homicide or manslaughter. He stopped at calling it “a very heinous misdemeanor” for the simple reason that he knew a jury would never send a woman to the gallows for abortion.
Williamson’s apparent desire to see women hanged came from something he had said years before. Had he remained at the Atlantic, I expect he would have tried a little harder to adapt to the thinking at that liberal magazine. That’s what he had begun to signal, in the few pieces he had written before the magazine left him swinging in the wind. His first article for the Atlantic, titled “The Passing of the Libertarian Moment,” set out to smear a prominent movement on the Right.
His next article was to be a defense of New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman against the “misrepresentations” of Williamson’s “fellow conservatives.” Krugman’s the one who blamed Trump for a “cholera outbreak” in Puerto Rico when, in fact, the Center for Disease Control stated that there was no cholera in Puerto Rico. I could go on and on, but you can read the rest of Krugman’s egregious misstatements and wrong predictions here.
Williamson aspires to be understood to be a tough guy, but in the Wall Street Journal, he sounds as whiny as James Comey. He wants you to know that it was Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, who had hired and fired him. What you might have missed, Williamson tells us, is that like the wrestler with the same name Goldberg is Jewish. And while Goldberg was right of center on issues such as the Islamic jihad, he was also a member in good standing of a liberal establishment.
Before assuming his seat “atop one of the most celebrated magazines in our country’s history” he was a “star” at the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker. Whereas poor Williamson was not a member of “the family.” And we’re supposed to feel sorry for him?
Williamson was very, very hurt by his firing. And he wants your sympathy. I would give him as much sympathy as he gave the blue-collar communities of America’s Rust Belt who lost their jobs to the myth of free trade, the benefits of which flow to Williamson’s class, to provide it with cheap nannies and gardeners. “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die,” Williamson wrote.
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