If you’re in media, you’ve heard no end of groans and uproar over the past few weeks about the Atlantic’s new far-right hire, National Review veteran Kevin Williamson. Editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg’s logic, in line with post-election “give-him-a-chance” thinking, seems to be that a right-winger deserves redemption, liberal readers will hear him out, and, forced to face their own assumptions, evolve to a more enlightened place. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has described himself as “an admirer of Williamson’s writing, if not his ideas,” has shown it can be done. The National Review has argued that liberals are carelessly attacking because Williamson’s politics don’t align with theirs. It’s also been pointed out that Williamson thinks that Trump is an idiot, a deeply unifying belief.
But after reviewing some of Williamson’s positions, it’s hard to hear out a person whose platform is putting other groups in their place, telling people how much they’re worth, dictating their gender, what their rights are, what TV to watch, where to live–most famously, describing a black child like an animal and tweeting that women who get abortions should be hanged. Feministing founder Jessica Valenti wrote of his hiring:
How can you say that you want a workplace that values women when you hire someone who wants 25% of those women dead? How can you lead in a newsroom when your female subordinates now know that you consider their lives worth less than the clicks you’ll generate from a handful of articles?
From a purely pragmatic view, it’s simply difficult to imagine a starting-point for a productive debate on abortion with someone who takes a scorched-earth approach to common ground.
Goldberg has argued that it’s unfair to dismiss a writer’s entire ideology based on their most extreme statements from the Internet, and almost any writer who has ever hit the publish button would probably agree with that. Some have argued that the abortion tweet was provocative exaggeration. But Williamson doubled down. He clarified: “treating abortion as homicide means what it means.”
All of this is why pro-choice nonprofit NARAL, which focuses on policy, has started a petition to get him fired. They write:
The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief excuses Williamson’s grim history of misogyny, saying he’s merely “controversial” and that everybody deserves a “second chance.” We’re partnering with UltraViolet in the face of this injustice—we refuse to remain silent as a well-renowned publication gives a national platform to a racist, misogynist, right-wing extremist.
As of this writing, the petition has about 14,500 signatures.
In the meantime, buckle up for a ride, I guess! Get ready to have this fucking argument about why we deserve rights again, 90000000 times, rather than, say, ANYTHING productive. The world is ending, but hey, what does Kev have to say?