Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Anne Applebaum looks at how social media has create today's "Scarlet Letter"


Take a look at Anne Applebaum’s long article in “The Atlantic”, to be available in print Oct. 1, 2021, “The New Puritans”, illustrations by Nicholas Ortega. The byline, “Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift – and merciless.”   She starts her article with a discussion of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter", which we all read in high school junior English (and took tests on). 

The focus of her article is due process – and mob justice (and demands, like boycott threats) denies that.  The “social justice” mobs on social media impose a metastasizing fear on those who could question them – because of the power of organizing enough people.  But the same thinks have happened in Communist societies in the real world – no one could go against their comrades. 

She gives one particular example that really seems egregious, at Princeton, where a faculty member Joshua Katz criticized the university’s identarian-letter focused on blackness and whiteness, in a Quilette article, and was “relitigated.”  

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