Bari Weiss on (i.e., against) woke culture in the New York Post

February 1, 2021 • 1:30 pm

It’s kind of sad that Bari Weiss, who certainly had the chops and brains to be an op-ed columnist in the New York Times, is now writing at a conservative tabloid: the New York Post. Yes, she had the chops and brains, but not the correct ideology for the NYT, so she’s currently “looking for a job”, as she says in her Twitter header (click on screenshot):

Substack clearly isn’t her sole future in writing, though it’s a good place to put hard-to-publish thoughts. I hope she gets a good writing position at a decent paper or magazine. The Wall Street Journal is out, as she used to write there, but doesn’t The Atlantic want her? (There is no hope for any left-wing paper, even one that allows centrist columnists—or especially columnist that criticize wokeness). And when you criticize the Woke at the NY Post, or at any right-wing source, you’re largely preaching to the choir. The people who need to hear this stuff are those that read HuffPost, the Washington Post, and the more centrist readers of The Atlantic. But of course wokeness, being a religion, renders its adherents largely deaf.

At any rate, her column yesterday is a good one, and though her ten “tips” look like bromides when I list them below, they’re born of her experience and are deeper than the short headlines imply.

I wish her luck. Click on the screenshot. I’ll just give a list of the tips. The ones that involve standing up for your principles, and not caving in to the mob, or joining a mob, are the ones I find most compelling.

First, she worries about America developing a “social credit system” like the formal one used by the Chinese government. “That won’t happen here,” you say, but in fact it is—through social media. Think of how the “social credit” of people like Steve Pinker has been affected by online mobs.

How much does it cost me to log on to Twitter and accuse you, right now, of an -ism? America is fast developing its own informal social credit system, as the writer Rod Dreher has noted, in which people with the wrong politics or online persona are banned from social media sites and online financial networks.

When everything is recorded for eternity, when making mistakes and taking risks are transformed into capital offenses, when things that were common sense until two seconds ago become unsayable, people make the understandable decision to simply shut up.

Below: a cogent introduction of what we need to do. And she’s right:

Do not nod along when you hear the following: That Abraham Lincoln’s name on a public school or his likeness on a statue is white supremacy. (It is not; he is a hero.) That separating people into racial affinity groups is progressive. (It is a form of segregation.) That looting has no victims (untrue) and that small-business owners can cope anyway because they have insurance (nonsense). That any disparity of outcome is evidence of systemic oppression (false). That America is evil. (It is the last hope on Earth.). . . .  too many good people are sacrificing the common good, and therefore their long-term security, for the sake of short-term comfort.

The “disparity of outcome does not equal systemic oppression”, now something taken for granted with questioning prohibited, is just one of the things that Weiss says “were common sense until two seconds ago. . . [when] they became unsayable.”

Her ten tips (read the article to see what she means by them:

1. Remind yourself, right now, of the following truth: You are free.

2. Be honest.

3. Stick to your principles.

4. Set an example for your kids and your community.

5. If you don’t like it, leave it.

6. Become more self-reliant.

7. Worship God more than Yale.

8. Make like-minded friends.

9. Trust your own eyes and ears.

10. Use your capital to build original, interesting, and generative things right now. This minute.

Re #7, Weiss means “do not lose sight of what is essential”. She apparently sees God as more essential than Yale, though I worship neither. At least Yale exists, though. But I’m sure her comment is also directed at nonbelievers who have lost their perspective.

I’m not sure how religious Weiss really is. She’s clearly a cultural Jew like me, but she also keeps the Sabbath and the holidays, and may believe in some supernatural stuff, though that would disappoint me. I’d love to hear what she think about the “divine” aspects of Judaism.

All of her comments are directed at keeping you from joining the Woke, at helping you criticize the Woke, and helping you live your life without being obsessed with wokeness, race, and oppression.

13 thoughts on “Bari Weiss on (i.e., against) woke culture in the New York Post

  1. During the Fall of 2019 there were several weeks of horrendous attacks against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. There were clear videos and recordings of the attacks. The NYTimes said one degree next to nothing about it, especially given the gravity of what was happening. The attackers were rarely white.

    (On the other hand, you will recall the endless attention it gave to the story of the gay, black ornithologist who was out ornithologizing in the Ramble, Central Park-one of the most notorious gay cruise sites in the world–when a “Karen” attempted to report him to police as she was “afraid”/leashing of dog issue.)

    The New York Post covered those attacks against the Orthodox fully, without resorting to racial categories, as I remember.

    The Post has a great mix of the tabloid with good reporting….including mysterious laptops/briefcases which the mainstream media seemed very interested in knowing nothing about.

    Weiss will have a broad readership at the Post of precisely the types of people whose lives are affected by the mandates of the “woke”, especially those who have children of school age.

  2. I don’t have a lot to say about most of the arguments in her article, but one point stood out for me that certainly sounds jingoistic: “That America is evil. (It is the last hope on Earth.)”. The first part is correct: the USA is not evil. The second part is an example of American Exceptionalism that is at least partly responsible for some of your current problems. It is not the “last hope on Earth”. It is not even the second or third best hope. Being a liberal democracy, it is part of the solution, but it has defects that need to be corrected and a look at other liberal democracies that are more stable might point to solutions.
    Certainly, other liberal democracies have their own problems but, since the USA has such a huge military with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire planet, the current instability of the US federal government scares me.

    1. Yes, that one (and the God one) made me cringe. It’s this kind of thinking that allows our leaders to pretty much pretend that every other country has no good ideas and simply copy the US. It allows too many American voters to think that even though their system has problems, it is still better than anyone else’s. We in America need a good dose of humility so we can get back to trying to make things better.

    2. Yeah, that seemed to be a pretty hyperbolic statement. I’m certainly a fan of the principles on which America was founded, of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution as a “living” document without any religious test, the notions expressed in the Declaration of Independence and so on, but it’s absurd to think that America is the last hope on Earth. Enlightenment ideas, such as those on which the US is nominally based may well be the last or at least the best hope on earth, but they are not exclusively American. They are human.

  3. Do we have definitive evidence that Yale is real?

    The older (well, much older) campers may recall when the N.Y. Post was a Liberal newspaper in the old sense. Under the ownership of Dorothy Schiff from 1939 to 1976, and the editorship from 1949 of James Wechsler, it ran columns by such writers as Eleanor Roosevelt, Murray Kempton, and Max Lerner. Then it was purchased by a certain rich Australian media entrepreneur….

  4. Weiss certainly cares about her religion. I don’t know how much she actually believes it. I have jewish friends who view judaism as an important part of their identity, and are quite observant, despite the fact that they are agnostic about the existence of God. I believe they think of their religion merely as a set of traditions to be preserved.

    I wish Weiss could write for a paper or journal better than the execrable New York Post. It can’t do her career any good.

  5. Re #7, Weiss means “do not lose sight of what is essential”. She apparently sees God as more essential than Yale, though I worship neither.

    Seems like it might be a play on the title of William F. Buckley, Jr.’s first book, God & Man at Yale — though I’m not sure how many of today’s NYP readers would be familiar with it.

    If The Times is Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Post is Al D’Amato. The saying in NY back in the day was that if you wanted a treatise on good government, call Senator Moynihan; if you needed a pothole fixed, call D’Amato.

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