Alla Nazimova in Salome (1923), via
Shorter David Brooks ("The Future of Nonconformity"):
The trouble right now is intellectual segregationism, where conservatives are excluded from academic life, working class voices are excluded from mainstream media, the Marxist left and theological right are marginalized, groupthink is practiced by all, and writers are expected to act as the representatives of a group, the left even more conformist than the right, and 62% of Americans are afraid to share their beliefs. Fortunately there's an obvious solution, in which the voices of nonconformity exclude everybody who doesn't want to subscribe to their SubStack or Patreon site and make lots of money from their self-selecting audiences.
Online writers don’t have to chase clicks by writing about whatever Trump tweeted 15 seconds ago. They can build deep relationships with the few rather than trying to affirm or titillate the many.
I started out in this because I really got interested in blogs. I like the work, the topic, the subjects, I like thinking about it. And when you have a newsroom that’s 40 people, it’s great because you can do so much stuff. But I found more and more of my time was not spent doing substantive work, but managing a 40-person organization, which as it turns out, having never done it before, is a lot of work.
Dunn: With some of them, there’s a political orientation built into the field itself, so that’s what excludes conservatives. If conservatism doesn’t line up with the orientation, then conservatives aren’t going to be welcome and are not going to be fit. But I don’t know that it’s the case that conservatives aren’t interested in sex and gender or race.
Shields: It’s good not to think of intellectual interests as static, that you’re born with and have this collection of intellectual interests. Our interests in different fields are cultivated within the university. To some degree, conservatives start marching down different paths early on: They’re much more likely to gravitate toward the natural sciences as undergraduates; they’re much more likely to gravitate toward economics. Maybe to some degree they’re more interested in those things, but they may also be alienated by the way other topics are presented. And there’s good evidence that’s the case: There’s a survey that was done at the University of Colorado which found Republicans much more likely to feel uncomfortable in the classroom in the social sciences.
The quality of my work does not appear to be the problem. I have a long essay in the coming print magazine on how plagues change societies, after all. I have written some of the most widely read essays in the history of the magazine, and my column has been popular with readers. And I have no complaints about my interaction with the wonderful editors and fact-checkers here — and, in fact, am deeply grateful for their extraordinary talent, skill, and compassion. I’ve been in the office maybe a handful of times over four years, and so there’s no question of anyone mistreating me or vice versa. In fact, I’ve been proud and happy to be a part of this venture.
What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and, in a time of ever tightening budgets, I’m a luxury item they don’t want to afford. And that’s entirely their prerogative. They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space.
The columnist reiterated thoughts he made years ago about how "we all live on campus now," noting the increasingly limited exchange of ideas on college campuses has spilled into everyday life and pointed to a survey that showed only 1.46 percent of the faculty at Harvard University identify as "conservative."