Talking with the Star Wars actress about her cancellation and a meme.
God, it's really tough writing in this environment, especially historical fiction. Bari, you know my first book, What the Night Sings, which asked questions about how Germany got to where it did. No, America isn't comparable to 1930's Germany in many ways. But leaving aside the total exceptionalism of the Holocaust, the way a society gets to any level of demise—whether genocide, civil war, or the kind of impending social collapse we see in the US right now—it does always start with how we treat our neighbors. I point to Jan T. Gross' book, "Fear", about the conditions in Poland which allowed Jewish communities to be emptied in broad daylight while neighbors looked out of their apartment windows. Gina's point, while clumsy (look, she's an actress, not a researcher), gets at a core truth: when we lose sight of neighborly respect, we can find ourselves doing and saying things we could never have imagined. And that, truly, is where we find ourselves, right here, right now. How it goes from here is predictable but not inevitable. We can choose to gather and rehumanize each other, and that's what folks like you and I are aiming at. Grateful for your voice.
Not to mention the irony of the 'Trump is Hitler/Republicans are Nazis' crowd's false and selective moral outrage. They're just using Jews as props for their awful causes, to tear down opponents. Would love to see the overlap of those defending the firing and those defending BDS and other sick anti-Semitic groups that have gained public sympathy. Awful hypocrites, and this obviously diminishes real cases of antisemitism ("stop whining we already fired Gina C for you!") but this had nothing to do with me, or antisemitism...the cognitive dissonance is laughable. It's so disrespectful. And to use the Holocaust as a tool to make the world a more repressive place...this world is so broken
Thank you for this. The idea that she was and remains cast out for the presumption of guilt is astonishing. It is all moving so quickly. The fear and hysteria is palpable. Even though we look back at the Red Scare and the Salem Witch Trials with smug judgment of the false belief that we could never live through something like that -- here we are, living through something just like that.
What shocks me even more is that journalists like those at Frontline, for instance, aren't even touching this. Maybe in five years they will. You and I, Bari, god willing we're still around, will be there to remind them that they stayed silent.
True Jew haters have no problem admitting it. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf years before he rose to power. His feelings and plans were crystal clear and yet Germans stood by and agreed with his premise that the true Germans were oppressed by the Jews. My grandmother worked in NYC in the 1930s and had to change her name from Seiden to Sedden because as a Jew she could not work. Her boss somehow found out she was lying and he told her she could keep her job and it would be their secret. That was here in America. Carano should be given the benefit of the doubt. They know they can't give her that but they have no other purpose than to use their power to purge people from the ranks. Her Holocaust meme (agreed, should never use them, I never do or would) was to the point of dehumanization -they took the powerful image to mean she was comparing Trump supporters to the people in the photo. She did take it down and that too matters. Intent DOES matter. It has to. If Carano WAS an anti-semite who hid it, she would never have posted the meme. If she posted it while being an anti-semite she would freely admit it because why else would she have posted it?
Thank you Bari. I admire your courage to speak out in this environment of cancel culture. Completely agree with you and the commenters that holocaust analogies should be avoided by everyone. What i believe that Gina and others like her are seeing, is that conservatives are being discriminated against in getting jobs, expressing themselves at universities, publishing books and simply speaking their minds in person or on social media. On top of this, we have commenters on MSNBC saying conservatives should be sent to “reeducation camps”. The word “camps” was chosen quite intentionally. Then, when conservatives compare themselves to Jews, they are demonized for doing so. It is a classic “gotcha” set up.
I’m not sure that Germans in the late 1920s and early 1930s thought that the ideological, religious and economic persecution of the Jews would lead to something so horrible as concentration camps. So while analogies to the Holocaust are indeed not helpful, it is on the other hand naïve to think that something so terrible could not happen again when the wokesters are controlling social media, print media, television media, federal government, universities and schools.
Bari, as you have discussed before, Jews don't get a seat at the intersectionality table and are the most privileged of the privileged. And a sizable portion of "woke" statements are anti-Semitic as you reference above. Yet, when the woke/CRT believers want to use the Jews and Nazi antisemitism as a cudgel, suddenly Jews become a minority that needs to be protected. We can't win and honestly, as a Jew, this is frightening.
Thank you, from a conservative columnist canceled from a paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, that fired an editor who failed to bow down and use properly obsequious terms for civil justice movements, has a "race beat" and who employs another editor who told me she wanted to "strangle" me because of my pro life views. I have also been called a xenophobe (I'm an asylum attorney) and a misogynist (my pronouns are self evident.) So profound thanks for your courage and moral clarity
I wonder if there is a place for learning from history--including and perhaps especially from the Shoah? It seems that there is a difference between equivalences and lessons. An equivalence would be like "Here's a picture of concentration camp children behind a fence and here's a picture of illegal aliens behind a fence." with the implication that they are the same thing. A lesson on the other hand is saying here's something that happened before that led to bad things and we're seeing something similar now which is likely to lead (or has led) to bad things. Pascal was saying "We're already there--just like the Nazis." whereas Carano was saying "This is something that could get us to a bad place" without necessarily getting as bad as Nazi Germany.
So, is there a way to learn from history? Or can it simply not be allowed to be made explicit? Or is the Shoah something that is such a terrible one-off that no one is allowed to learn anything from it?
Kudos to you for supporting Gina Carano, Ben Shapiro and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It's hard to think of three people with more courage and moral clarity than these three (particularly Ms. Ali). And yet, despite this, I know of no other 'liberal' who has done so besides you. THAT is why I pay to read your columns, cheap though I may be. :-) Keep up the good (and courageous) work, Bari!
“ Living in this world is going to require a deep and generous ethic of forgiveness”
This simple string of words each of us should let sink in. Thank you for your voice and words!
Good article. Especially since many of us know how to draw distinctions, between intent, honest ignorance or worse. But your updated column may need yet another; Rather than issue a phony self-serving apology, Ice Cube met with his friend - his words - Mort Klein of the ZOA. I would no longer use him as an example of an anti-Semite getting away with it. He may even be a mensch. There have been several articles published claiming that Mel Gibson has quietly donated to a fund supporting impoverished Holocaust survivors. Could be true. A key element of Judaism is t'shuva, or making amends. The larger point being that with all of these increasingly common incidents we need to employ the System 2 reflective thinking described in Thinking Fast And Slow, rather than a mob-induced, anger driven knee-jerk System 1 running out of town. We will never agree on degrees of guilt or believability, but all accused are owed research and data gathering, rather than relying on who reaches our ears first.
Thanks Bari for writing about Gina. I'm a huge star wars fan but had to cancel my Disney + sub on principle. I've seen a few left leaning family and friends criticize her acting but otherwise didn't know of much about people trolling her. I was blown away when I first heard of her background in MMA. She should be celebrated not cancelled.
I am not looking to pick a fight or get flamed. I think the whole Gina Carano thing is ridiculous and speaks to the overreaction Bari points out. Like Bari I haven't seen a Star Wars movie since the original one 44 years ago, didn't know who Gina Carano was before this sad circumstance and probably never would have heard of her otherwise.
But I am having trouble understanding the problem with being "woke" in its original sense, not the pejorative its been turned into.
As a gay man who graduated from high school in 1971, I appreciated that many Americans "woke" up to the discrimination against homosexuals. While it may not have ended the loathing by many, it put a good deal of the hatred in the closet where it belongs and laws were changed or created to address the problem.
As the husband of a Black African immigrant, I am glad that more people are "waking up" to the injustice and discrimination foisted on citizens of color and non-white immigrants, many instances of which I have witnessed with my own eyes and ears. (It may seem trivial, but when my husband and I went into a high end restaurant last summer in a North Carolina town, the place went dead silent as everyone turned to stare at us. I won't even get into his run-ins with white law enforcement officers.)
Is it good "woke" or "bad woke" to be outraged at a Trumper wearing a shirt glorifying Auschwitz and stating "six million weren't enough" and wanting to cancel him and his ilk? Is it "good woke" or "bad woke" to recognize that in this day and age of social media and indiscriminate thought that there is a loud and dangerous segment of our population that believes in white supremacy and privilege?
All forms of political ideology or social consciousness (including wokeness) can be taken to unacceptable extremes. That doesn't make the core substance a bad thing.
The assumptions of the essay and the comments seem to be that if Carano were in fact an antisemite, or if the woke mob were sincere and consistent, there'd be nothing to see here. It's right and proper, perhaps even necessary, to ostracize, deplatform and punish those with truly hateful opinions.
I question that. We should consider that feeling a need to punish people for thought-crimes may be bad for us. It may make us bitter, suspicious, censorious, vengeful and cruel as individuals, angry, hostile, fearful and narrow-minded as a society.
Can someone show me the evidence that it makes people better, rather than just angrier? That it changes people's hateful opinions, rather than just driving them underground? That it reduces the incidence of hate-crimes?
It's true that if one believes people must be protected from the pain of hearing hateful things from strangers with bullhorns, then confiscating the bullhorns is a good move. But if, like me, you think it better for everyone if people are encouraged to exhibit more resilience, then that reason doesn't obtain either.
None of which is to say that I shouldn't be able to fire an employee I find despicable, but that's rather a high bar; and it's a private matter between me and my employee, not a crusade.
Again, provocative and cleanly thought out.
I think the point about the crucial role "intent" plays in words and deeds is all-important.
My recollection is that Stephens gave the example of someone who bumps into you through some kind of error, and someone who deliberately runs into you to injure you.
It's a good example to remember.
I know that nothing compares to the Nazis and the Holocaust. Unfortunately when there are things happening that have similarities, no matter how minor in comparison, it is hard to avoid doing so. But I will try. I have been a reader of the NY Times for almost 50 years. I always knew that the paper leaned left, but for the most part it was mostly objective and always challenged and enlarged my perspective on things. About seven years ago I started noticing usage of the terms "whiteness," "white supremacy" and "white priveledge" on a regular basis. I started reading articles which essentially would claim that things like philosophy and science were products of the white race and therefore not universal. This snowballed over the years and when Trump was elected all hell broke loose. Practically every article in the paper referenced white supremacy no matter what the topic...even recipes! The racial hatred and resentment spread throughout the left wing media to the point where anybody who did not agree was portrayed as a drooling, toothless, inbred animal. Fortunately the targets of this hatred are currently not a minority and I don't think their lives are in danger. But if this dehumanization were targeted at a minority we would have a moral catastrophe on our hands. So I have no problem with what Gina Carano said. Racial hatred and dehumanization is always wrong. And one last thing, if white people ever became a minority and were targeted by another majority group, don't think that Jews would not be at the top of the persecution list.
"Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other’s principles, nor experienced in each other’s talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
In Short - The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
–Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents 82-83 (1770) in: Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 1, p. 146 (Liberty Fund ed. 1999).