The much-discussed Harper’s open letter opposing cancel culture has provoked, you guessed it, another open letter. This one accuses the original of being elite and racist, but many Twitter users aren’t buying the argument.
The writers of the fresh missive attacked the letter, which appeared on the website of Harper’s Magazine earlier this week, under six sub-headings, including ‘Editors are fired for running controversial pieces?’ and ‘A researcher fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study?’.
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They laid out who they believed the original letter writers were referring to and made their case as to why they were wrong, despite not actually knowing who the original writers were referring to.
The original letter’s failure to mention the wave of anti-police protests in the United States is blasted as “at best obtuse and at worst actively racist”. A significant chunk of the new letter is also devoted to trans issues, accusing several of the Harper’s signees of being anti-trans, despite the original letter not mentioning trans issues.
The new letter appears to have gone down like a cup of cold sick, with many taking to Twitter to roast its content and writers. Prominent conservative commenter Ben Shapiro dismissed it as an “idiotic take,” but did note that it was useful for revealing who will be “operating the cancel culture guillotines.”
I am dumber for having read that letter. To find a bigger strawmen I'd have to investigate Celtic paganism in the Hebrides.
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) July 10, 2020
These dueling Letters and Counter-Letters are all about inter-elite warfare. So if you enjoy watching media and cultural elites tear each other to shreds, develop feuds and grudges that will last for decades, and just generally make each others' lives miserable, it's great stuff!
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 10, 2020
The Harper’s letter was signed by dozens of high-profile names from the worlds of academia, literature and media, including Noam Chomsky, JK Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell.
The signees of the riposte released on Friday have a significantly lower profile. Indeed, 23 of the “signatories” didn’t actually sign the letter, instead choosing to note only their place of work or the industry they worked in.
The letter explained: “Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.” This prompted many to note the irony of claiming that cancel culture doesn’t exist while also deciding to remain anonymous.
"cancel culture is not real.”
— tsar becket adams (@BecketAdams) July 10, 2020
Who knew there were so many people I've never heard of?
— Geoffrey Miller (@primalpoly) July 10, 2020
Amid the swirl of social media reaction, jokes from jilted journalists who were never asked to sign either of the letters became notably overworked while many also noted that it was past time for everyone to move on.
A letter for all the people who no one asked to sign letters?
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) July 10, 2020
OK. We’ve had The Letter and The Response. Can everyone now get off their high damn horses and go back to fcking work?
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) July 10, 2020
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