It's impossible for me to estimate with anything close to accuracy how many thousands of words have now been written by liberal and conservative commentators about why the subject of those words — Atlantic magazine's hiring of Kevin Williamson — isn't worth writing about. I've already added my thousand (precisely, 908), and I'm about to add several hundred more. Why? Because a liberal magazine's hiring of a conservative writer is such a ho-hum subject which the reading public couldn't give two aphoristic shits about is a fertile subject we self-professed deep thinkers — i.e., said commentators — must plow, even though doing so is of almost mortifying irrelevance.
Merely this one, 2017 November entry by National Review's Williamson should have obviated commentators' soul-searching debate at the get-go. Mr. and Mrs. Treasury Secretary, the Mnuchins, wrote Williamson, "are genuinely awful people, of course, absolute national embarrassments whose comprehensive lack of taste or elementary self-awareness is really quite phenomenal to behold, but what is truly awful is that we have reached a point in the stultification and celebritization of our politics that the wife of the Treasury secretary is a public figure about whom one is obliged to have an opinion."
That, gentle reader, is superb style as well as a dead reckoning of truth, and as such has earned a national platform other than the National Review, which harbors no liberal writers. Nonetheless, conservatives such as NR's David French criticize liberal publications for wanting to "cleanse their pages of conservative voices," which, he says, would be an "immense" loss to "American intellectual life." French gives a defense of his hypocrisy short shrift, since he can't defend it. Still, as to his fundamental point, he's right: "Do you [progressives] want any serious intellectual media space where conservative and progressive ideas clash? If you do, then you just might have to endure life alongside immense talents like my friend Kevin Williamson."
Liberals and progressives have denounced Williamson's Atlantic hiring on three counts of merit: The writer once tweeted his agreement with the ultimate logic that if abortion is murder, then women who undergo an abortion should suffer the legal consequences of murder; he professed that gender "is a biological reality" and therefore not optional; and he once referred to a black, East St. Louis prepubescent youth as a "primate." Offensive? Sure. But as Williamson's ideological soulmate, Bret Stephens, preaches, "Let he who is without a bad tweet, a crap sentence or even a deplorable opinion cast the first stone."
Adds Stephens, "Weighed against these charges are hundreds of thousands of words of smart, stylish and often hilarious commentary, criticism and reportage…. The wiser test of acceptability is whether an argument is thoughtful, thought-provoking and offered in good faith."
The latter is something progressive writers brag about — as an item of exclusive possession — and yet progressive bad faith is easy to find. Take, please, HuffPost contributor Noah Berlatsky, who two days ago duped his progressive readers with a flagrant indifference to truth that is truly astonishing. "Trump’s narrow, fluke victory has convinced editors at The New York Times and The Atlantic that what America really wants and needs is more serious conservatism to challenge readers," wrote Berlatsky. As proof of the foolishness of all this, he claimed that the aforementioned Bret Stephens "kicked off his [NYT] tenure with an embarrassing column spouting climate change denial." Either Berlatsky can't read, or he has no trouble with lying. What Stephens actually wrote was that the climate is unquestionably warming and humans have contributed to that warming. "None of this [column]," wrote Stephens quite plainly, "is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences." (Stephens' column addressed the problem of scientific — and political — certainty, not climate change.)
As a socialist, I suffer no fear of confronting conservative policy arguments. Facts tend to scurry from their side, thus refuting their arguments is usually rather effortless. However, authentic conservatism claims not to be an ideology supported by factual evidence; it is, rather, more of a temperament — one of prudence. As such, this democratic socialist can also identify as a conservative, which FDR and Barack Obama implicitly did. And since Kevin Williamson is a conservative of explosive NeverTrump sentiment — reminder: conservatism is not Republicanism — I have no fear of Atlantic's hiring of him.
So there you go — 717 more words on a subject scarcely worth writing about; 735, counting this sentence.