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Pierce writes: "This shebeen largely has stayed out of the tiresome troll-war concerning the unruly reception that some speakers have received on various college campuses."

The New York Times Building. (photo: ERCO)
The New York Times Building. (photo: ERCO)

Requiem for The New York Times Opinion Page

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

10 March 18

Throwaway paragraphs can throw away a whole piece.

his shebeen largely has stayed out of the tiresome troll-war concerning the unruly reception that some speakers have received on various college campuses. I wish folks could be more civil and welcoming, because I am a gentle fellow with a fairly well-known taste for temperate rhetoric, but I also wish that there weren’t so many people making nice bank on insulting people and then driving nails into their own palms when the people they deliberately have offended talk back to them.

Professional martyrdom of this kind is not impressive when it comes with book deals. And with genuine Nazis assaulting people with automobiles on the campus of Mr. Jefferson’s university—and, I would add, with other weapons elsewhere—I choose not to accept as a national crisis the fact that some 20-year-olds throw the word “fascist” around too loosely. But, then again, I am not an “opinion editor” at The New York Times the way that Bari Weiss is.

Tout les ‘Toobz are buzzing over Ms. Weiss' latest effort in this regard. I’m not going to spend a lot of time relitigating what happened to professional troll Christina Hoff Sommers at the law school at Lewis and Clark University. (It is of historical note that L&C’s previous appearance in our national politics was as the alma mater of Monica Lewinsky.) Or the self-evident fact that, as uncomfortable and inartful as it is, heckling is free speech, too. I do not intend to dwell on the fact that Ms. Hoff Sommers does regular gigs with the unspeakable Milo Yiannopoulos, which prima facie defines her as a traveling political carny act. And I am not going to squander pixels on the fact that people were mean to Ms. Weiss on the electric Twitter machine, or that an opinion editor at The New York Times apparently needs someone to keep her from falling for Intertoobz trickeration.

Rather, I’d like to concentrate on what appears to be a throwaway paragraph toward the end of the piece, at the point where Weiss is arguing that loosely tossing around the word “fascist” on a woodsy campus in Oregon will work to blind us to the genuine peril presented by Bashar al-Assad. There’s a bit of filler that’s worth a look.

For a case study in how this numbing of the political senses works, look no further than Mitt Romney and John McCain. They were roundly denounced as right-wing extremists. Then Donald Trump came along and the words meant to warn us against him had already been rendered hollow.

This is all bollocks. By and large, both Romney and McCain were denounced not as extremists themselves, but for the unprincipled gymnastics they were required to do in order to appeal to a conservative Republican base that has been extremist for at least two decades. Romney ran away from health-care reform, his only significant political achievement as governor of Massachusetts, the only elective office he’s ever held.

In 2000, McCain gave a great speech calling out the religious extremists in his party as “agents of intolerance.” By 2008, he was giving speeches at Liberty University and, by 2010, he was running away—“Complete the dang fence!”—from his relatively moderate stance on immigration reform.

The fact that these fandangos were necessary gives the lie to Weiss’ contention that it was easy invective against Romney and McCain that hollowed out the country’s ability to judge the threat presented by Donald Trump. As is obvious to anyone who’s been alive since 1980, the ground had been prepared for the advent of a Trumpish figure since 1980, and it wasn’t prepared by liberals. What the hell, everybody’s got to do something for a living, I guess. your social media marketing partner


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-15 # ddd-rrr 2018-03-10 10:24
8^)...? Mebbe...!
-9 # Rational Voice 2018-03-10 10:48
Dear Mr. Pierce:

Sometimes you have interesting things to say and it would be nice if you stated them more directly instead of pumping up your
text unnecessary cleverness.
+51 # BetaTheta 2018-03-10 11:51
Sometime three decades or so ago, outrageousness became a lucrative profession. Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and now Yiannopoulos and Hoff Sommers. Throw in Alex Jones. There are millions to be made in those carny acts. Now we have Hannity feeling he has to compete for ears and eyeballs with Jones. Can the absurdity meter ever be pegged?
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-12 11:12
Beta -- you have it exactly right. The ratings of CNN and MSNBC have skyrocketed since they began beating the Russiagate dog night and day. The Wapo and NYT are right up there too, but they keep the tone down at a lower level. But it is the same Fake News as you find on all the freak shows.
+8 # PeacefulGarden 2018-03-10 11:59
Nails into the palms:

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Translates to:

We sell guns to bad guys.

These speeches, are simple rhetoric for chopping up the nation into good and bad guys. It has been going on since I was a child, the 1960s.

These utterances of animals in the base parts of our collective psychosis brain are hoped to be evolved away? Who knows? My personal feeling is we are stuck with this fear and comfort, black and white, goody and baddy --without any intellectual development mindset people-- who somehow plop their way into government gigs. Democracy is not working, obviously. So, bad and good guys it is, or does democracy actually create the fascist against good guy thing...
+13 # sherryg 2018-03-10 12:16
While I agree with much of what you say, I'm puzzled at the unnecessary swipe at Monica Lewinsky. She was a 22 year old "child" flirting with a predator. It's decades past the incident and yet you think its still
appropriate to mention her name as a joke. She's actually a human being.
0 # RLF 2018-03-11 10:09
Sorry but at 22 years old you are responsible for your actions. Not 30, not 45 , not 21...that is the Lewinsky has no room to cry crocodile tears!
+27 # Texas Aggie 2018-03-10 12:23
humor is the best weapon against these monsters, and Mr. Pierce uses it admirably. That is the reason that he is such an integral part of the resistance against these jerks.
+16 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-03-10 18:53
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming/W. B. Yeats/1919.
+16 # librarian1984 2018-03-10 19:51
Apparently Bari Weiss is a very woke journalist who nevertheless tweeted something that many other lefties took offence at and now she is touring around lamenting the holier-than-tho u lefties who nitpick each other to pieces. She feels she should have been given the benefit of the doubt because she is 'obviously' not a racist.

She was on Bill Maher last night and the two of them whined about being the victims of purists who demand absolute orthodoxy.

The irony is that Maher (I don't know about Weiss) has an irrational and undying devotion to HRC -- when she and her minions are the single worst perpetrators of these methods. Hillary and Bill are adept at such attacks and they passed it on to Chelsea, who told us Sen. Sanders is a misogynist. He's also apparently a gun lover, anti-pragmatic and even a (Jewish) anti-Semite.

Maher and Weiss also conveniently don't notice how often THEY don't give others the benefit of the doubt, like Muslims and 'deplorables'.

I actually agree with them that this is destructive behavior that's keeping the left from working together but it's hard to stomach the self-righteous victimhood when they're as guilty as anyone. We've seen this blamed on Putin but an awful lot of discord is already in evidence from journalists and comedians and posters here too.

I like Weiss. I used to appreciate Maher. I hope they will get woke a bit more.

If discord is what our enemies want, then shouldn't we embrace?
+9 # lfeuille 2018-03-10 20:06
Apparently Weiss can only recognize intolerance when Israel is not involved.

NYT’s Bari Weiss Falsely Denies Her Years of Attacks on the Academic Freedom of Arab Scholars Who Criticize Israel
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-03-12 11:19
"Weiss is arguing that loosely tossing around the word “fascist” on a woodsy campus in Oregon will work to blind us to the genuine peril"

I actually agree with this. Fascism and Nazism are real facts and they have complex historical dimensions. Just because someone, as in the case of the Charlottesville gang, has a swastick tatooed on his neck does not mean he is a Nazi. Lots of loser and punks pick up on banned symbols and present them just to piss off people like Pierce. It is same as using semi-forbidden language like "fuck" or "rat fucker" as Pierce often does.

There are real Nazis and Fascists in our world. It is well to remember that much of Wall Street supported Hitler in the 1930s and the the CIA was created out of cooperation with Nazis. They did this for political and economic reasons that they understood very well.

The punks in Charlottesville don't understand any of this. They just want to make us hate them so they can, in turn, hate us. They are about as smart as cornered dogs.

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