Will Bari Weiss And David Brooks Write Op-Eds About These Trumpers Threatening To Burn Down A Bookstore?
As you may have heard -- particularly if you read the op-ed section of the New York Times -- a great travesty occurred earlier this week, when some students dared to protest a talk given by Christina Hoff Sommers at Lewis & Clark University in Portland, Oregon. It was dreadful. There was bloodshed, children crying, lives lost, constitutions burned, all so some "social justice warriors" could murder the free speech rights of a woman. A woman described by Times columnist Bari Weiss as "self-identified feminist and registered Democrat with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a wicked sense of humor."
Now, sure she spends most of her time talking about how feminism is bad and scary and wrong, and we can find no known instances of her saying anything that could be described as "feminist" even in the most generous of readings. Sure, she hangs out with Milo. Sure, she spends a heck of a lot of time going on white supremacist YouTube shows, which said white supremacists hope will contribute to "normalizing" their ideas. But she says she's a feminist and a Democrat, so it is super weird and unfair that any of these students would want to protest her. Especially if they call her a fascist.
The Times dedicated not one but two op-eds to this tragic incident. One, as mentioned, by Bari Weiss, and another by David Brooks. This is in addition to the approximately 85,000 other op-eds they have published within the last few years about how college protesters are evil free speech murderers and liberals are not nice enough to conservatives. Conservatives who just want to have free discussion and debate without people thinking they are monsters, who simply want to feel free to say horrible and insulting things about poor people, women, people of color, feminists, gay people, trans people, activists, gun control advocates, people who live in cities, Jewish people, Muslim people, college professors and literally every other kind of person on earth who is not a white conservative Christian man living in a rural area, without all those people turning around and saying mean things about them.
Clearly, we all need to reexamine our ways, and maybe we need to start looking to conservatives to see how to do that. Given that there has yet to be a single op-ed in the New York Times or any other paper of note about their behavior, it is fair to assume that they are doing something right.
So let's take a look at how they're handling things, shall we? Last weekend, some Trump supporters decided to stop by Revolution Books, a leftist bookstore in Berkeley, California, in hopes of having a calm, rational discussion with the employees there, in which they respected their right to hold views different from their own.
The video shows a man, draped in an American flag and wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat, calling an employee of the bookstore "commie scum" and then calmly explaining "we're gonna burn down your bookstore, you know that, right?" The woman who was with him then explained politely that, although they wished to burn the bookstore down, the owners of said bookstore were the real book burners, because they were trying to rewrite history. The man then called them "judgmental pieces of shit" and then said "You can't tell us how to live, this is America, cunt!"
Shockingly, the bookstore owners asked them to leave the premises, and would not let them into the store so that they could burn it down. It was very uncivil of them! Their behavior would likely make David Brooks very sad.
What can we, as liberals who are ruining America with our protests and mean words on Twitter, learn from these people and their peaceful, reasonable ways? For one, rather than call people who go on white supremacist chat shows "racists" or "fascists," we should call them "cunts" and "pieces of shit." Surely, that would lead to more productive dialogue. Also, instead of protesting them when they give speeches on campus, we should politely offer to burn them down -- while wearing American flags so everyone can tell that we're the good guys. Perhaps we could even bring literal torches!
Going further, rather than discussing the ways in which conservative polices and Donald Trump's presidency hurt marginalized people -- which could really injure the delicate feelings of people who really like hurting marginalized people -- we could instead focus on honing our imaginative conspiracy theories about how those people are all literal child molesters. You know, because "civility."
Or maybe not? Maybe this kind of behavior is acceptable only for conservatives, but if we did it, it would be mean and bad? It is so hard to tell!
Maybe that is because while so many people on the Right (and even some on the "Left") are eager to tell liberals all about the ways they are murdering the First Amendment and being mean and unfair to conservatives, they never quite seem to counter that with ways in which the Right is doing better. I want them to watch this video, to go over to r/The_Donald, to go over to 4chan, to look at the Twitter feeds of the alt-right, to watch Tucker Carlson, to look at a hashtag like #LiberalismIsAMentalDisorder and to tell us all about how fabulously kind and civil and respectful of other viewpoints the Right is compared to us. Actually look at all of that, and then come back and tell us what they are doing right and how, in their perfect and civilized world, we would respond to what they are doing and saying.
But they won't, because these op-eds are not about freedom of speech, they are not about civility, they are about whose rage is more justified. For Weiss and Brooks, conservatives can do no wrong in this area, because they are good people and their feelings and their anger are justified. Even their delusions are justified. Anything we do, any response outside of patting these people on the head and telling them they are wonderful and special -- and more listening! we always must LISTEN! -- is not. Their goal is not civility or more freedom of speech for everyone, it is getting the Left to just shut up and take it.
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. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse