Bari Weiss was too hon­est for the Times

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - MONA CHAREN @monacharen­EPPC Mona Charen is a Se­nior Fel­low at the Ethics and Public Pol­icy Cen­ter.

Bari Weiss brought keen in­tel­li­gence and broad-minded lib­er­al­ism to the ed­i­to­rial pages of The New York Times. So, nat­u­rally, she had to go.

The right will cackle that this proves how dan­ger­ous the left is. They’re not to­tally wrong, but they need to look in the mir­ror.

Many Twit­ter denizens first be­came aware of for­mer New York Times writer and edi­tor Weiss, who re­signed on July 14, when she was dragged for tweet­ing about an ice skater.

It was dur­ing the Olympics, in Fe­bru­ary of 2018. An Amer­i­can skater named Mi­rai Na­gasu be­came the first fe­male Amer­i­can to land a triple axel at the Olympics. Weiss tweeted an im­age of her whirling body and jaun­tily retweeted an NBC Sports tweet: “‘HOLY COW!’ You just wit­nessed a his­toric triple axel from Mi­rai Na­gasu. #Win­terO­lympics.” Weiss added a line from “Hamil­ton,” the mu­si­cal, “Im­mi­grants: They get the job done.”

Landmine. Her col­leagues at the Times were out­raged. It turns out that Na­gasu is not an im­mi­grant her­self but is the daugh­ter of two im­mi­grants from Ja­pan. When some­one re­sponded with “she was born in Cal­i­for­nia,” Weiss tweeted “Yes, yes, I re­al­ize. Felt the po­etic li­cense was kosher.”

It wasn’t. At least not ac­cord­ing to the many in­dig­nant Times staffers who aired their dis­sat­is­fac­tion on the pa­per’s Slack chan­nel. Weiss was la­beled a racist for “oth­er­ing” Na­gasu. A leaked tran­script of the Slack con­ver­sa­tion fea­tured com­plaints that Weiss was “dou­bling down” when she de­nied ill-in­tent. One wrote, “I guess it’s too much to even ex­pect a ‘we’re sorry you’re of­fended’ apol­ogy since asians don’t mat­ter.”

They nit­picked at her be­cause, in a fol­lowup tweet, she had mis­quoted her­self quot­ing “Hamil­ton,” ren­der­ing the line as “Im­mi­grants: We get the job done!” in­stead of “they get the job done” as the orig­i­nal tweet was worded. Sheesh. The per­son who said “asians don’t mat­ter” con­tin­ued, post­ing “sorry, but I felt that tweet de­nied Mi­rai her full cit­i­zen­ship just as the in­tern­ment did. and noth­ing will be done be­cause no one was of­fended! (since we don’t count)”

To which the only proper re­sponse is: Get a grip! Weiss was ob­vi­ously cel­e­brat­ing Na­gasu, cheer­ing her on and tak­ing pride in im­mi­grants’ con­tri­bu­tions to Amer­ica. The lyric from “Hamil­ton,” orig­i­nally sung by the Hamil­ton and Lafayette char­ac­ters in a scene about the Bat­tle of York­town for God’s sake, was also made into a mu­sic video about im­mi­grants.

Weiss might seem an un­likely tar­get of wrath. She left The Wall Street Jour­nal ed­i­to­rial page in protest of its grad­ual sur­ren­der to Don­ald Trump. One of her early pieces for the Times traced the (limp) re­sponse of many

THE STORY OF WEISS’ TENSE PART­ING WITH THE TIMES WILL DOUBT­LESS PRO­VIDE SEV­ERAL DAYS’ WORTH OF FODDER FOR THE RIGHT. BUT THE RIGHT HAS LOST CRED­I­BIL­ITY ON THIS. IF THE LEFT IS WOKE, THE RIGHT IS BE­SPOKE; IT HAS BE­COME TAI­LORED AROUND ONE PER­SON.

con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing think tanks to the Trump phe­nom­e­non. “Will the Trump­ists cap­ture the prin­ci­pled con­ser­va­tive in­tel­lec­tual es­tab­lish­ment in 2017 as eas­ily as they cap­tured the Repub­li­can Party in 2016?” she asked.

She also con­trib­uted a deeply re­searched piece on the Women’s March that took aim at fig­ures like Linda Sar­sour and Tamika Mal­lory, cit­ing their fond­ness for Fidel Cas­tro and Louis Far­rakhan.

In re­sponse to the #MeToo move­ment, Weiss demon­strated bal­ance and per­spec­tive. Nei­ther a tra­di­tional con­ser­va­tive like me, nor a woke ac­tivist like Alyssa Mi­lano, she sounded a note of cau­tion. Rec­og­niz­ing that the phrase “be­lieve all women” was em­pow­er­ing, she none­the­less wor­ried about it be­ing abused:

“The huntresses’ war cry — ‘be­lieve all women’ — has felt like a brac­ing cor­rec­tive to a his­toric in­jus­tice . ... In less than two months we’ve moved from un­cov­er­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of crim­i­nal be­hav­ior (Har­vey We­in­stein) to crim­i­nal­iz­ing be­hav­ior that we pre­vi­ously re­garded as pre­sump­tu­ous and boor­ish (Glenn Thrush).”

Three years later, when Tara Reade de­manded un­crit­i­cal trust, many fem­i­nists found new wis­dom in Weiss’ hes­i­tancy.

Weiss’ Twit­ter feed is char­ac­ter­ized by con­cern for hu­man rights; there are many ref­er­ences to the Uighurs, Hong Kong and other op­pressed peo­ple.

The story of Weiss’ tense part­ing with the Times will doubt­less pro­vide sev­eral days’ worth of fodder for the right. Weiss will be­come, for a while, a right-wing pin-up — a sym­bol of the dan­ger­ous can­cel cul­ture that Democrats want to im­pose on the whole na­tion.

But the right has lost cred­i­bil­ity on this. If the left is woke, the right is be­spoke; it has be­come tai­lored around one per­son. Look at con­ser­va­tive pub­li­ca­tions and search for Trump crit­ics. They are thin on the ground.

Na­tional Re­view parted ways with David French and Jonah Goldberg. The Wall Street Jour­nal lost Bret Stephens and Weiss. Fox News staffed up with ful­some Trump en­thu­si­asts but dis­pensed with Ge­orge Will’s ser­vices.

This nar­row­ing of the Amer­i­can mind is mak­ing ev­ery­one dumber and nas­tier. Bari Weiss stands for dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis in a world that in­creas­ingly fa­vors zealotry and in­tol­er­ance. That’s why her fate mat­ters.

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