David Brooks published a column in the New York Times on Friday complaining about the manner in which “[s]tudents across the country,” having become obsessed with “group identity,” are engaged in “tribalism” and the oppression of dissenting viewpoints on campus.
Here’s selection of other recent work from the corner of the Times op-ed page occupied by Brooks and the other conservative writers who have either been hired for or jumped enthusiastically on board with (relatively) new op-ed editor James Bennet’s mission to challenge the presumed orthodoxy of the Times’ readership:
• “We’re All Fascists Now,” Bari Weiss, March 7—a complaint that “leftists,” particularly “on campuses,” are attacking the ideals of “free speech.”
• “Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort,” Bret Stephens, Feb. 22—a complaint, delivered originally as a speech at the University of Michigan, about intolerant behavior by the “progressive left.”
• “On Venezuela, Where Are Liberals?”, Bret Stephens, Feb. 15*—a complaint that “campus activists” on “the left” are too forgiving of political repression abroad.
• “The Rise of the Amphibians,” David Brooks, Feb. 15—a complaint, in part, about society’s tendency toward conceptions of “tribal identity” that cultivate “mistrust, division and emotional frozenness.”
• “The Retreat to Tribalism,” David Brooks, Jan. 1—a complaint that “identity politics” fomented on campus are “tear[ing] a diverse nation apart.”
• “What’s Wrong With Radicalism,” David Brooks, Dec. 11—a complaint, in part, about “woke activists” on “the left” who are fixated on “identity.”
• “Mugabe and Other Leftist Heroes,” Bret Stephens, Nov. 17—a complaint that academics and others on “the left” are too forgiving of political repression abroad.
• “The Siege Mentality Problem,” David Brooks, Nov. 13—a complaint about the politics of “collective victimhood” espoused by, among others, “campus social justice warriors.”
• “America’s Best University President,” Bret Stephens, Oct. 20—a complaint that “the left” is assaulting “free speech” and creating an atmosphere of “Orwellian double-think” on too many campuses.
• “When Progressives Embrace Hate,” Bari Weiss, Aug. 1—a complaint that the organizers of the January 2017 Women’s March are too forgiving of, among other things, political repression abroad.
Look: Most of the opinions held by college students, including many of those I held myself when I was in college, should be dumped into an abandoned coal shaft. Some people on the left can be snide, reductive, and needlessly aggressive in dismissing others’ viewpoints. It’s a thing.
I genuinely don’t think it’s helping anyone, though, to hear this point made endlessly and as if it is the most important, high-stakes subject in the entire world, by a certain segment of conservatives on the New York Times opinion page. (Not even all Times conservatives have been sucked into this particular black hole. It is a niche interest.)
When James Bennet and his defenders are asked why he keeps pumping this one type of take so relentlessly into the Discourse, they respond with answers in the vein of “It’s important to challenge readers with beliefs from ‘outside the bubble.’ ” So I’d like to say this, formally, on behalf of Times readers: Thank you for introducing the invigorating diversity of opinions about left/campus speech held by affluent Pennsylvania native and Columbia graduate Bari Weiss, affluent Pennsylvania native/University of Chicago graduate/Yale fellow David Brooks, Yale graduate James Bennet, and University of Chicago graduate Bret Stephens into our bubbles. Our bubbles have been popped. Now can we move on?
*Correction, March 9, 2018: This piece originally misstated the publication date of Bret Stephens’ piece about Venezuela. The piece was published on Feb. 15, not Feb. 18.