On Thursday, The New York Times ran a letter tearing into Bari Weiss’ excellent column about the so-called Intellectual Dark Web. That letter, from Berkeley engineer Susan Fowler, suggested that the reason so many members of the IDW have been excised from open discussion is because their ideas are so toxic. First, she attacked Sam Harris, suggesting — without even bothering to quote him — that he’s in favor of racial profiling. Then she goes after me:
[O]ne of the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s “dangerous” ideas is that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” This idea is not discussed because we collectively agree that it is wrong — and not merely wrong insofar as it is not factual but insofar as it is unapologetically racist.
This particular tweet has been floating around on the internet for some eight years. It’s also taken completely out of context. I’ve explained this ad nauseum, including here, at Creighton, just a few weeks ago:
I haven’t deleted the tweet because to do so would be to suggest that I agree with the Left’s framing of the tweet — which I do not. I was specifically tweeting about Arab leadership in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the same way those on the Left say “Russians hacked the election” when referring to the Russian government, I said “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage” while referring to the Palestinian terrorist governments of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and their political supporters, who have shifted tens of millions of dollars from building up the lives of their citizens toward terrorism and bloodshed.
It’s not just that I’m saying that now. I said it then. Here is the original tweet, plus the follow-up tweets clarifying:
Now, notice the number of RTs on these various tweets. The original, taken out of context, has nearly 900 RTs. The others have one or two a piece. That’s because the Left has a nasty habit of taking people out of context in order to slander them.
Here’s the reality: the Palestinians have elected terrorists to lead their government in every election in which they have participated, and those terrorist governments have eschewed peace and infrastructure building in favor of pursuing terrorism. Here’s another reality: I opposed President Trump’s Muslim ban when he proposed it as such, I’ve spoken out against discrimination against Muslims on the basis of religion (I, after all, wear a funny hat for religious reasons), I’ve spoken out against attempts to use the Koran as an excuse to label all Muslims terrorists (I do encourage people to assess the expressed political viewpoints of Muslims themselves, since all religions contain root texts that are troublesome on their face, and I care much more about what people actually believe).
Like everyone else in public life, I’ve written stuff I regret — and I’ve attempted to apologize and explain why I was wrong when I see it (see, for example, here and here). But the goal here for the Left is always to take things out of context, deliberately and dishonestly. By digging up one tweet out of a long tweetstorm nearly a decade ago, the Left hopes to rule out those who disagree on fundamental political issues. That’s nasty. But I’d expect nothing less. That’s why people don’t trust the Left to play gatekeeper, and it’s why they don’t trust the mainstream media to cover the whole story. It’s why the IDW exists in the first place.