Bari Weiss has exactly one idea, one point, one overarching belief that informs everything she writes, says, or publishes: Conservatives are the real liberals, they are open-minded and accepting of diverse beliefs, while the Left is an intolerant mass of pitchfork-toting angry villagers ready to destroy the very lives of anyone who falls short of perfection in any way whatsoever. By criticizing them on Twitter. There is only one good liberal in the whole entire world — and that liberal, as far as Bari Weiss is concerned, is Bari Weiss.

Weiss has been making this point for at least five years now. She made it repeatedly at the New York Times, she makes it every time she appears on Bill Maher. She now makes it on her own Substack, where she continues to run the gamut of takes from A to B and frequently solicits other writers to also make this same point, over and over and over again.

On Monday, Weiss published one such essay, which she introduced on Twitter with the description "Why an Atlantic-reading, Jon Stewart-loving, Christopher Hitchens-worshiping liberal left Bryn Mawr for ... Hillsdale."

Eagle-eyed readers who have, you know, actually read Christopher Hitchens and The Atlantic before might contend that this is perhaps where things started to go wrong. The Atlantic is quite centrist and while Hitchens, author of the seminal Vanity Fair article "Why Women Aren't Funny," may have started out as a socialist, and while the book on Mother Theresa was good, by the time the Iraq War rolled around, was a full-on neocon. His politics were not too great before that, either. In 1992, Hitchens wrote a pro-Columbus article for The Nation, in which he claimed that those criticizing Christopher Columbus over a silly thing like genocide were "faintly sinister."

But I digress!

In this essay, Jane Kitchen — a newly minted student at the very rightwing, very Christian Hillsdale College in Michigan — tells the story of how she went from a liberal Bryn Mawr student to ... whatever it is that she is now. How after a lifetime of looking forward to being with "other liberals" at college, she was disappointed when she found out what they were really like. The tale, naturally, includes a description of the horrific wokeness she was forced to endure at Bryn Mawr.

Fair warning, this is not for the faint of heart:

I joined a sketch comedy group, which often started meetings by asking members to answer a question. One day, the question was “How is your semester going?” A few people answered directly, and then one girl said “I’m having a great semester, but I totally acknowledge that some students, especially BIPOC students, face a lot of challenges on campus.” Then, every person after her prefaced their answer by saying that students who aren’t white were probably having a worse semester than them.

Wow, that's really horrible. It is astounding that she even survived. Kitchen's other big complaint was that, supposedly, everyone on campus agreed with one another — as those of us on the Left are known to do — and that no one stayed up all night debating big ideas with her because they all assumed everyone agreed on everything.

One of Kitchen's primary "gotchas" in the essay was the fact that these students were liberals, but also very rich. Clearly, she has not met many rich people who are not trying in any way to have any empathy for other people or any self-awareness of the fact that they have things a little easier. If she had, she might be happy to take some slightly performative empathy from 18-year-olds who are just trying to figure out how not to be assholes over that. I myself have encountered many truly daft rich people (and not-so-rich people) who have never even attempted empathy for others — so if it is the hot trend for rich kids at these schools to overcorrect a little, I am here for it. If only for the sake of the service industry workers of America.

Kitchen then goes on to explain how things got really bad for her when COVID hit, as they did for pretty much everyone. She was upset that she had to do her schoolwork from home instead of living on campus and did not get to study abroad in Ireland as she had planned. She was upset when on campus learning returned and she felt there were too many restrictions.

Bryn Mawr’s Covid safety precautions for Fall 2020 were announced in July. They included, but were not limited to, isolating for 10 days prior to returning to campus and quarantining for two weeks upon arrival, living alone in a single dorm room, canceling all sporting events, weekly PCR testing, eating cafeteria take-out in our dorms, and wearing masks at all times, indoors and out. The masks could only be taken off with the door closed in our dorm room, or “outside in an area where you will not encounter others.”

If you did test positive, you were even further isolated to a dorm at the edge of campus, and food would be left at a drop-off point. I wanted to be at school, but why would I spend my days 1,600 miles away from my family, with no clubs or activities, eating alone in my dorm room, avoiding all social interaction?

I get it. 2020 was a bad time for everyone. It was a difficult time for everyone. It's not that everyone (or anyone!) actually enjoys wearing masks and social distancing and not being able to do stuff — but that they were willing to do it to keep other people from dying. Because of how they are human beings with empathy.

Kitchen then explains that she decided to go home and do school remotely, but that it didn't work for her and she ended up going from A's and B's to failing her classes. And that is when she found Hillsdale.

The big kicker, as one would expect from a Bari Weiss joint, is that just a few weeks into her classes at Hillsdale, she has discovered that conservatives are the truly open-minded ones after all.

In my admissions interview for Hillsdale, a small school of less than 1,500 students, founded by Baptists in Michigan, I praised Christopher Hitchens—a staunch and unapologetic atheist—as one of my intellectual heroes. I disclosed that I was not religious. I debated with my interviewer about whether math was invented or discovered.[...]

I went to office hours—in person—the other day for one of my new classes, a required course about classic literature and I got into an interesting debate with a professor. Upon sharing an idea that directly refuted his interpretation of a line from Genesis, which I had never read before, he said, “That’s a great point. Why didn’t you share that in class?” “I didn’t want to be argumentative,” I told him. “Be argumentative,” he said emphatically.


I am happy that Jane Kitchen is happy at her new school, and not making people sick at Bryn Mawr. However, there is a very big problem with this story — it's absolute horse shit.

First of all, the only non-anti-vaccine political stance she appears to have ever taken on her Twitter is a retweet of an extremely transphobic tweet from Bret Weinstein. One would imagine that such a dedicated liberal might have like, one opinion there that could conceivably be described as liberal. But no.

It's not possible to provide protections for women if a man can declare himself a women and access the same protections. That's not an opinion. That is a logical fact.  Evolution endowed the sexes differently. Protections for women are just and must be defended. #BidenErasedWomen

Jane Kitchen also did not decide to leave Bryn Mawr because the school was too woke and too restrictive about COVID. Rather, she was not allowed to come back because she refused to get vaccinated – a fact her mother, who just so happens to work for an organization opposing COVID restrictions, bragged about on Twitter less than a month ago.

Kitchen's mother told the same story in June, clearly stating, "My daughter is walking away from a $75K full-ride scholarship going into her junior year because she won’t get it, nor will she lie to get an exemption."

When several people pointed to this and other easily Google-able discrepancies with Kitchen's story, Weiss responded on Twitter that it was "[q]uite something to watch the rage that this vulnerable essay by a working-class girl raised by a single mom is stoking among our media class."

Clearly, that was the sentence Weiss was dying to publish about this story. That was the story she wanted to tell about this story. That this poor girl was tortured by wokeness, and that when she told her story, the cold and callous "media class" exploded with rage because of how we all hate vulnerable working-class girls raised by single mothers, I guess. In actuality, no one was full of rage, people just thought it was pretty shifty of her to present this story and leave out the most important part.

Jane Kitchen is a teenage girl who is being used by two adult women to push their own agendas, and who should be encouraged to be embarrassing and wrong in a much less public way — at least until she makes her own "caught Karen-ing in public on someone's camera phone" debut.

[Bari Weiss]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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