Attacks on the legitimacy of American presidents are not new — but what Trump is doing now is unprecedented and destructive

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Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for Donald Trump, at RNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nov. 19, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger, Washington Post via Getty)

Two weeks after Joe Biden gave his acceptance speech as President-elect of the United States — recognized by all major media organizations, most foreign leaders, all American Democratic politicians and several prominent Republicans — current President Donald Trump, the loser of the 2020 election, refuses to concede, continues to block the transition, and is still (along with most of his supporters) claiming that he has a path to victory by challenging the results.

Those of us who see this as a destructive course of action and a vindication of all the warnings about Trump’s danger to American democracy — which is a lot of us — are often met with ripostes along the lines of, “So it’s just like when the Democrats claimed Trump was an illegitimate president” or “How is that different from Democrats claiming George W. Bush stole the 2000 election?” …


The case for booting Trump if you’re concerned about “social justice” radicalism is strong

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(Mandel Ngan/Getty)

The corner of the internet sometimes known as “anti-wokeness,” “anti-SJW” (“social justice warrior”), or the IDW (Intellectual Dark Web) has been in a state of war over today’s presidential election.

Some notable critics of the “woke left” (associated with identity politics and “cancel culture”) are embracing Donald Trump as a fighter against the blight of wokeness. …


Are the Jeffrey Toobin and Rudy Giuliani scandals about men behaving badly — or disproportionately vindictive response to minor sins?

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(L) Rudy Giuliani; (R) Jeffrey Toobin (Alex Wong/Paul Marotta/Getty)

The news that legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended by The New Yorker and CNN for (apparently) masturbating in a Zoom conference has been received with the hilarity one might expect. But when some commentators expressed the view that Toobin was being treated too harshly, the story quickly turned into an outrage moment that brought together feminists (who felt that Toobin was the recipient of unwarranted “himpathy,” to use Kate Manne’s coinage) and conservatives (who felt he was the recipient of partisan wagon-circling by the liberal media).

Toobin’s suspension was entirely appropriate. But the outrage is a reminder that our post-#MeToo age is not only the age of accountability but also the age of the sexual witch-hunt — and the Toobin outrage is not the only one going on at the moment. …


Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination raises difficult questions of faith, justice, and gender

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Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett holds up a blank notepad in Senate confirmation hearings, October 13, 2020. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty)

As the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation for the Supreme Court got underway yesterday, writer Lauren Hough tweeted to her 55K followers:

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“Clown car vagina,” in case you’re mystified, refers to Barrett’s status as a mother of seven (including five biological children), while “handmaid” is a dig at a title Barrett once had in a religious group to which she belongs — and, obviously, a callback to The Handmaid’s Tale as the ultimate symbol of patriarchal theocracy.

Hough’s tweet was unusually nasty — and sexist, surely — but not that different from many other reactions to Barrett on the left. …


The “sensitivity training” Trump wants to ban is terrible. But Trump’s crusade against it risks making the problem worse.

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Donald Trump is fighting a new battle — one against “critical race theory” infiltrating federal agencies in the form of diversity or sensitivity training.

Last week, Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought sent a memo to the heads of all federal departments and agencies informing them of the president’s directive to stop using tax dollars for employee training programs described as “divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.” Specifically, agencies were directed to identify and find ways to discontinue

all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory/“white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. …


The new fad on the far left is not cool or funny. Here’s the real story of what it celebrates.

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Execution by guillotine of Robespierre (1758–1794) and his conspirators. Robespierre mounts scaffold. In cart left of scaffold are Hanriot, Robespieree, Dumas, and Saint-Just. Behind them are are 14 conspirators in two carts. Contemporary hand-colored lithograph by de Vinck. (Universal History Archive/Getty)

I n recent weeks, a new prop has been turning up in the street theater of protest: the guillotine.

It’s showed up outside the White House with an effigy of Donald Trump.

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It’s been installed outside the mansion of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (In this case, Trump might approve.)

It’s also been paraded through the streets of Portland, with a teddy bear as the victim.

This is not new. The guillotine has been a popular symbol on left-wing Twitter for a while (see hashtag #Guillotine2020). But now it has migrated into physical space. The left-wing magazine Jacobin — named, of course, after the faction that wielded the guillotine during the French Revolution — has been selling a guillotine poster with the words “some assembly required,” based on one of its 2012 covers. …


Accounts of police brutality and protest-related violence are rife with political bias, right and left. It may help the right.

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A sign in the rubble of a building that was recently burned down Kenosha, Wisconsin, August 28, 2020 (Scott Olson/Getty)

After two months of relative quiet, violent protests have exploded again in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparked by the police shooting of a 29-year-old black man, Jacob Blake. The timing — the week of the Republican National Convention — could not have been better for the GOP: the chaos and destruction awaiting America if the Democrats win the White House was the dominant theme in Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.

It’s a specious argument, considering that the chaos is currently happening on Trump’s watch and that both people on the Democratic ticket, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, have condemned the rioting and looting. …


The culture wars come to math and reach a new low

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A Soviet propaganda poster (Wikimedia commons)

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any stupider or weirder: for over a month now, a battle has raged in some corners of the internet over the question of whether “2+2=4” is always true.

The combatants, broadly speaking, are “woke” progressives (a.k.a. “social justice warriors,” a hackneyed but somewhat useful label) vs.anti-SJWs,” sometimes linked to the Intellectual Dark Web. Neither side has covered itself in glory. But while some “anti-SJWs” have acted childishly and obnoxiously, I believe this absurd dust-up shows more serious problems on the progressive side.

Sorting out when the quarrel started is confusing, but it’s traceable to early June when James Lindsay, a fierce critic of social justice discourse (and co-author of the new book, Cynical Theories), posted a series of “Woke Minis” — graphics mocking “wokeness” (e.g., “Listening: Agreeing completely without argument”). …


Some critics of the Harper’s letter on open debate boost its case

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(Getty)

There’s a longtime saying in online feminism, originally coined by Helen Lewis, that the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism (by demonstrating how bad a problem misogyny is). …


The chilly climate for dissent is real

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When I was asked to sign an open letter in support of both racial equity and free exchange of ideas to be published in Harper’s, I figured it would land with a fairly big impact, considering some of the names attached: Salman Rushdie, Gloria Steinem, Wynton Marsalis, Margaret Atwood.

To be honest, I had no idea how big. Turns out it was big enough to be on the front page of The New York Times and to kick off a debate that is still going more than a week later.

Predictably, the letter, which notes right-wing threats to democracy but focuses on the rise of left-wing illiberalism, has been met with a storm of criticism — from a counter-letter signed by dozens of progressive pundits to numerous articles (including one by Elizabeth Picciuto in Arc Digital) to innumerable tweets. Even progressive political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman from New York, weighed in with her own Twitter thread. …

About

Cathy Young

Russian-Jewish-American writer. Associate editor, Arc Digital; contributor, Reason, Newsday, The Forward etc. https://www.patreon.com/CathyYoung

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