The National Review, founded by William F. Buckley and in publication since 1955, is a semi-monthly conservative editorial magazine focusing on news and commentary pieces on political, social, and cultural affairs. Since its founding, the magazine has played a significant role in the development of conservatism in the United States, helping to define its boundaries, while establishing itself as a leading voice on the American right. Though I disagree with most of its ideas, I have respect for a number of the contributors to the National Review, such as George Will, Jonah Goldberg, and Charles Krauthammer. One contributor for whom I have absolutely no respect is Kevin Williamson.
The Atlantic, formerly The Atlantic Monthly, has a good reputation. While its focus was once on literary and cultural commentary, it has shifted focus towards political commentary and reporting in the 21st century. It has been around since 1857 and, as I mentioned, has a very good reputation for quality reporting and for presenting opposing points of view in a relatively unbiased manner. “We reach thinking people — and make them think harder” is their motto. The Atlantic just hired the aforementioned Kevin Williamson from the National Review.
Who is Kevin Williamson? He is either one of the biggest jerks in the world, or else he is playing at being one of the biggest jerks in the world. Either way. Interestingly, while Williamson is a virulent racist, a bigot, and an uber-conservative, he is an anti-Trumpeter. But let us look at some of the things he has said over the years, for his words speak volumes.
- In 2014, Williamson tweeted that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and “women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging.”
- “The fictitious rape epidemic is necessary to support the fiction of “rape culture,” by which feminists mean anything other than an actual rape culture … ‘Rape culture’ simply means speech or thought that feminists disapprove of and wish to suppress.”
- He said that that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a “desire to see as many poor children killed” as possible through abortion.
- “From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote,” including “Michelle Obama’s vote,” because “the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs.”
- “As every female police officer knows, there is something maddeningly sexy about a woman enforcing rules, and something sexually repugnant about a woman without any rules at all. Miss Manners is sexy for the same reason that librarians and teachers and nurses can be sexy: she is an authority — it’s fun to play with authority.”
- Williamson attacked transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox, writing that she was “not a woman, but an effigy of a woman,” because transgender identity is a “delusional tendency.”
- “The left always needs an emergency because they can’t get this stuff done through normal democratic means.”
- Williamson compared Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to a Nazi.
- Williamson declared that the epidemic of campus sexual assault “is a fiction” and compared efforts to curb the crime to “mass hysteria” during the Salem Witch Trials. “There is no epidemic of rapes on American college campuses. The campus-rape epidemic is a fiction.”
In the words of Slate’s Jordan Weissmann …
“These are not views one would typically associate with The Atlantic, which has a long, unique history in American intellectual life that’s partly bound up with the advancement of civil rights — it was founded by abolitionists, published Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ and helped make Ta-Nehisi Coates a leading American voice on race … He reacted to Black Lives Matter with an O’Reilly-esque rant about ‘race-hustling professionals’ and black-on-black crime that I have a hard time picturing sharing space with a TNC essay.”
“Hey, hey craaaaaacka! Cracka! White devil! F*** you, white devil!” The guy looks remarkably like Snoop Dogg … raising his palms to his clavicles, elbows akimbo, in the universal gesture of primate territorial challenge. Luckily for me, he’s more like a three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg, a few inches shy of four feet high, probably about nine years old …”
So why would a 161-year-old, well-respected publication hire such a jerk? According to The Atlantic editor, Jeffrey Goldberg …
“The larger question is this: What am I trying to accomplish by having Kevin write for us? The first answer is this: He’s an excellent reporter who covers parts of the country, and aspects of American life, that we don’t yet cover comprehensively. I happen to think that conservatives made ideologically homeless by the rise of Trump are some of the most interesting people in America, and I want to read them whenever I can.
As our staff knows, because I go on about this ad nauseam, I take very seriously the idea that The Atlantic should be a big tent for ideas and argument. It is my mission to make sure that we outdo our industry in achieving gender equality and racial diversity. It is also my job is to make sure that we are ideologically diverse. Diversity in all its forms makes us better journalists; it also opens us up to new audiences. I would love to have an Ideas section filled with libertarians, socialists, anarcho-pacifists and theocons, in addition to mainstream liberals and conservatives, all arguing with each other.”
Diversity, an exchange of opposing views … I am all for those. But Williamson is a first-class jerk, plain and simple … a racist, a bigot and a man with no moral filter for his words. Many have already criticized Goldberg’s decision to hire Williamson, to which he responds:
“I don’t think that taking a person’s worst tweets, or assertions, in isolation is the best journalistic practice. I have read most, or much, of what he has written; some of his critics have not done the same. I would also prefer, all things being equal, to give people second chances and the opportunity to change. I’ve done this before in reference to extreme tweeting (third chances, too, on occasion), and I hope to continue this practice.”
Thing is, Williamson has absolutely no intention of ‘changing’, for in his farewell letter to the staff at the National Review, he commented that …
“… I will be an apostle to the Gentiles. I am very much looking forward to raising a brand new kind of hell.”
I wish The Atlantic luck with this one … personally, I will not be reading his columns.