Chris Roberts, American Renaissance, April 25, 2018
After Donald Trump won in 2016, I thought one of the many, many benefits would be more options in editorial and journalistic opinion. I now know I was naïve, but I figured every major news and opinion outlet would feel compelled, for the sake of fairness, to bring on a few columnists who supported the President. A year and a half later, it is safe to say the opposite has happened. The range of acceptable opinion in major newspapers and magazines has narrowed — and the recent firing of Kevin Williamson at The Atlantic confirms it.
For those who missed the story: On March 22nd, The Atlantic announced it was hiring Kevin Williamson — a longstanding conservative pundit and National Review mainstay — to write for them full time. The Left was outraged that a mainstream publication would implicitly endorse Mr. Williamson’s views by giving him a job. Like most conservatives, Mr. Williamson has criticized feminism and Black Lives Matter — both of which are sacrosanct to the Left. But what got him in the most trouble was toying with the idea that abortion should not only be illegal, but that women who get abortions should be punished — perhaps even get the death penalty. Leftists wrote dozens of outraged articles and created something of a Twitter firestorm. On April 2, Mr. Williamson wrote his first column for The Atlantic (about libertarianism in the age of Trump — not a touchy subject). On April 5, the magazine buckled under the Left’s pressure and fired him. It’s no clear whether he has a job now, but his account of what happened can be read in the Wall Street Journal.
While Mr. Williamson’s views on abortion may be radical in the media world of Washington and New York City, they are not radical to the population at large. About 40 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Polls on what the punishment for abortion should be if it were illegal are not very common, but the limited data we have suggest around one-fifth of voters believe women should be punished in some way. In other words, Mr. Williamson’s stance on abortion, while not common, is not “radical” either. Indeed, the leftist website Vox sadly noted this shortly after he was fired. A view that does set Mr. Williamson at odds with the vast majority of Americans, however, can be found in a column he wrote in early 2016 about the white working class:
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. . . . The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.
There are no opinion polls that ask, “Do you think white working-class communities deserve to die?” because no pollster thinks anyone believes anything so repulsive. Aside from some particularly hateful black nationalists and ferociously anti-white ideologues, who would agree? As I noted in 2016, even literal Marxists thought the essay was disgusting. But that is not what got Mr. Williamson fired from The Atlantic — it didn’t even get him fired from the ostensibly conservative National Review when he first wrote it.
This contrast is striking. In our current media landscape, condemning the white working class in the harshest possible language and recommending their communities “die” is permissible — but agreeing with about 20 percent of the voting public that women who get abortions should be punished is not. This is yet another example of how different the opinions of our media elite are from those of average citizens.
How and when this contrast came to be is subject to much debate, but its purpose is clear. The media seek to reshape public opinion. By not firing Mr. Williamson for his disgusting column, National Review sought to, as leftists like to say, “normalize” that view. By firing Mr. Williamson for his views on abortion, The Atlantic sought to make Americans who agree with him feel like more of a minority than they already are. This is the intent of the media’s hiring and firing decisions: to tell Americans what is and is not okay to think.
This happens most on matters of race. Anyone who says something sensible about race will be fired: whether it is John Derbyshire for telling his children to avoid black neighborhoods, Naomi Schaefer Riley (who has a black husband and three children by him) for suggesting that degrees in Black Studies are useless, or Jason Richwine for noting that immigration policy should not ignore racial differences in average IQ.
Unfortunately, this situation is not likely to change soon. As Richard Spencer and Paul Gottfried show in The Great Purge, the confines of acceptable opinion continue to shrink. Furthermore, if the election of Donald Trump cannot force the people running the media to believe they need writers and staff with more diverse viewpoints, it is hard to see what will. Not even Kevin Williamson, a mainstream conservative and a #NeverTrumper, could last more than two weeks at the “centrist” Atlantic. It seems that a slow takeover of mainstream publications and institutions — like the “long march” advocated by many leftists and then adopted by Sam Francis — is not realistic. If Kevin Williamson can’t make it in the mainstream, no one can. That means the only option for dissidents is to create our own media, and to make them of the highest possible quality.
And if that isn’t a good enough reason to donate to American Renaissance, I don’t know what is.