On the November issue:

Courage and Cowardice

To the Editor:
In her article on combatting wokeness, Bari Weiss writes about racism as if it’s not real and hasn’t had horrible outsize effects on the lives of black people in the United States (“We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage,” November). Could she outline when things were so great in the past?

People who are horrified that a black man could be lynched in broad daylight are grappling with how to address the effects of past racist systems and trying to weed out these effects for the benefit of future generations. They often blunder in the process, but the problem is nonetheless real and shouldn’t be dismissed as a figment of anyone’s imagination.
Annette Wilcox
New York City

To the Editor:
Bari Weiss’s article is brilliant and deserves wide dissemination. As a senior university professor, I was able to hold my own against the woke nonsense promulgated by my department. Indeed, when my colleagues proposed to make our department a “sanctuary department,” I voted no. The tally was 16–1, mine being the only dissenting vote. I voted against the proposal not because I have no sympathy for illegal aliens, but because the arguments being made promoted a false narrative. Professors don’t know the legal status of their students—no one ever asks—so what’s the point? And if the police should come looking for an illegal alien in our classrooms (a highly unlikely event), how would we defend the student? Arm the professors? I am a specialist in 16th- and 17th-century Spanish literature and don’t know how to shoot a gun. Those in favor argued that our students were shaking in their boots because they were afraid of a police raid. If this is true, it’s because my colleagues have instilled fear in their hearts.

On the other hand, as a novelist, I have been less courageous. My publisher has bullied me into taking every word that might possibly offend someone out of my forthcoming book. In most cases, I have complied. I admit that I was afraid to lose my publishing contract. However, as the book’s action takes place in the 1930s, I have refused to take out words such as “Negro,” “homosexual,” and “Gypsy” and replace them with “Black,” “gay,” and “Romani” because these words were not in use with their current meanings until the last half of the 20th century. The editor has argued that the words I used are offensive and must go but has agreed to send the matter to the “sensitivity committee,” where I will not be able to defend my position.

I have long admired Bari Weiss for her courageous stance against the thought policing at the New York Times. Thank you for publishing her article.
Bárbara Mujica
Georgetown University
Bethesda, Maryland

To the Editor:

I greatly appreciated Bari Weiss’s article on courage. I’ve spent the past three months participating in school-board meetings, where I denounce the lies of the current moment, and it’s been hard. I’ve been harassed, lied about, and labeled a white supremacist. I am, in fact, an American of Mexican descent and in no way, shape, or form am I white. Despite the threats and slanders, it’s my duty to speak out. I will always do what’s right because my children are watching. We have been silent for too long.
Abigail Eckhart
Salem, Oregon

To the Editor:
Reading Bari Weiss’s opening paragraphs, I was reminded of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The litany of bizarre behaviors, the contradictions, the sheer wildness of it all. Howl was, in its time, shocking. For those who hadn’t seen the forest for the trees, I suspect that Weiss’s piece might’ve had the same effect.

Her article might be the most important cultural document of the past few years. Not because it repudiates much of what is a disturbing, illogical, and offensive ideology. But because it presents a remedy to our condition, a remedy that many recognize but refuse to embrace: courage (not strength, power, or coercion) to speak the truth and unmask the madness parading as reasoned social reordering.

If teachers in every school in America read this to their students tomorrow, we’d be well on our way to understanding one another better, celebrating one another more, and loving one another for our similarities and our differences, and that should be the wellspring of our strength as a nation.
West Valentine
Mission Hills, Kansas

To the Editor:
The cowardice that Bari Weiss writes about exists everywhere in this country and has been incubated by fear. Americans live in fear of losing their comfort, their health, their way of life, and their liberty. The fear paralyzes us and prevents us from fighting for our principles. The fear can be tamped down some by our going along with the majority, but we then relinquish our right to disagree.

So many younger Americans have been indoctrinated into ideologies full of falsehoods. And because they have lived only in this beautiful republic, they do not know how precious it is. Our precious republic is now under threat of destruction because so many lack courage.
Boanerges Rubalcava
Salt Lake City, Utah

To the Editor:
Bari Weiss’s essay might be one of the most important pieces of journalism published in the past five years. It is the “check engine light” alert of the American project.

As a conservative, I was shaken to my core to see someone from the other political side call out the devastating effects of the messaging of Woke America. I’ve read Weiss’s piece multiple times, and it leaves me speechless after each reading. I literally agreed with every sentence. What a fantastic declaration of truth and challenge to us all. David Price
Conway, Arkansas

To the Editor:
There are many older and retired Americans like me who are not threatened personally by the cancel culture that Bari Weiss describes. We don’t depend on wage income or career advancement, and we no longer care much about what people think of us. But because we don’t often face situations that could lead to cancellation, we have few opportunities to oppose it in ways that matter.

Many of us were fooled in the 1960s, and our generation bears a lot of responsibility for the present insanity. Something we thought was freedom turned out to be the progressive infantilization of our generation and a mode of serfdom for our descendants. Has experience taught us anything, and what can we do at this late date?

We have resources—knowledge, insight, perhaps even wisdom—that we can develop and weaponize. As individuals, we won’t be heard above the noise and rancor of the media, but at the person-to-person level we can still be “influencers” and “thought leaders” of a sort. It is important to learn the territory, starting with the irrational assertions of CRT. We can speak fearlessly from our hearts—without vulgarity—and show respect to others and ourselves. 

We’ve lost trust in what we need most: leadership and organization. But if those of us who are appalled by woke insanity can build a foundation of trust, then real leadership might emerge.
Gerald Quinn
Belle Haven, Virginia

Bari Weiss writes:

Annette Wilcox is right: People should be horrified by what happened to George Floyd on that day in May 2020. I am. And I regret that she has come away from my piece believing that I deny, in any way, this country’s dark history of racism—in our laws, in our culture, and in our politics. To deny it is not just to erase American history but also the accomplishment of those civil-rights heroes whose sacrifices went so far to mend our still-imperfect union.

What I take issue with—and what I hope my essay conveys—are those who deny Martin Luther King Jr.’s understanding of America’s promise. As he put it in his most famous speech: “When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.”

The Founders themselves planted the seeds of slavery’s destruction. And our second Founding Fathers—abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass—made it so. I am on the side of those who still believe that the solution to America’s maladies is to force America to live up to its own ideals, not to burn, tear down, and destroy.

To Abigail Eckhart: Thank you for your leadership. Parents like you are changing the tide.

And last: eternal gratitude to West Valentine for the Allen Ginsberg comparison that I didn’t know I needed.

Wokeness and the Jews

To the Editor:
Samuel J. Abrams and Jack Wertheimer present a compelling case for why American Jews should be very wary of the new progressive agenda (“The Woke Threat to America—and to American Jews,” November). Their plea for leadership to speak out against this is correct, but I fear it is too little and too late. The non-Orthodox Jewish movements in America have become aligned with liberal and progressive woke causes at the expense of Jewish particularism.

This was, very sadly, demonstrated at a wedding I recently attended. The ceremony was conducted by a Conservative rabbi. He ended with the breaking of a glass, and he reminded all present of the tragic losses during the pandemic. But, as our secular Israeli cousin noted, he neglected to say, Im eshkachech Yerushalayim—if I forget thee, Jerusalem.
Marc J. Yunis
Roslyn Heights, New York

Comedy Lives 

To the Editor:
Thanks to David Zucker for his article about the state of comedy in modern-day America (“Destroying Comedy,” November). It was, as the worthies say, pitch-perfect. Airplane, too, was pitch-perfect. Your movie has stood the test of time. I rewatched it recently and…laughed. Yes, I laughed. Surely, that makes me guilty of something. Kill me now for my illegal smile. I wear my sin proudly.

When the Red Guards attack, humor is the first victim. Same for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. But here I sit, out in the country, with my hoard of guns, toilet paper, meat, and mini-nukes, waiting for another laugh and the condemnation sure to follow. See if I care.

By the way, I recently rewatched Blazing Saddles. The best jokes were censored. Kill me now.
Charles Pluckhahn
Snowden, Washington

To the Editor:
David Zucker’s article makes  it clear that it’s time for the comedians to take comedy back. Zucker, Bill Maher, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, and others have cracked open the door.  Perhaps what we need is a politically incorrect TV special. Gather as many comedians together as possible who are willing to tell politically incorrect jokes, one after another, leaving no untouchable group or subject untouched.
Nancy O’Brien
Imlay City, Michigan

To the Editor:
I loved David Zucker’s article. If humanity loses its sense of humor, then it is no longer humanity. It is often hard, in many aspects of American life, to give voice to the minority while adhering to a majority rule. This goes for comedy, too. Add to that the difficulty of a joke being funny to a given person on a given occasion and offensive to another person at another time. I’m reminded of teens who thought dead-baby jokes were funny until they got older and knew the pain involved in such matters.

We must enter a comedy venue with respect for the craft. There’s a portion of the naysayers who feel it is sport to be offended, or that taking offence will gain them some reward. I say, full speed ahead. Those who are offended can go do or see something else.
Lori Monahan
Orlando, Florida

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