Culture Wars/Current Controversies

That One Side Would Like to Utterly Destroy the Other Side Seems Significant, To Me

By Freddie DeBoer

Democratic messaging debates are bizarre because one group has been empowered to terrorize those they disagree with.

Ezra Klein interviews David Shor about his recent rise in visibility, his particular take on Democratic policy and messaging, and the debate over “popularism.” It also glancingly mentions Shor’s cancellation, for expressing limited and polite skepticism about the political outcomes of post-George Floyd riots.

Klein references this controversy, as he must, but it’s kept separate as a piece of flavoring for the larger argument, rather than central to the discussion that follows. (It’s framed as one of the media’s favorite “ironic” tales these days, that Shor was actually helped by being cancelled – which far from being a defense of canceling is as damning an indictment I can think of.) But I find Klein’s disposing of that story so quickly to be quite odd, as it seems totally germane to the topic of who will determine the future of the Democratic party. What could be more relevant to the conversation than pointing out that one slice of that conversation feels perfectly comfortable attempting to utterly destroy their opponents, and everyone else is too scared to condemn them for it?

If you’re unaware, Shor was canceled for accurately summarizing the contents of an academic paper. Shor made a point that he felt was important for the messaging of the Democrats. At the time the country was exploding in riots aligned with BlackLivesMatter and driven by anger over the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor. Shor linked to a paper that argued that riots have bad political consequences for Democrats. This would not seem to be particularly inflammatory; people indiscriminately burning and smashing shit has little obvious utility for the marginalized or anyone else. But Shor lost his job for tweeting that paper and agreeing with its thesis. Similarly, the Intercept’s Lee Fang was absolutely mobbed for the crime of recording an interview with a young Black man who was critical of the riots and the protest movement from which they sprang. He almost lost his job, as well.


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