The “Dr.” will see you now

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Roger Kimball’s is the unmistakable voice of the January New Criterion editorial “The ‘Dr.’ will see you now.” Roger takes snapshots of the episode arising from Joesph Epstein’s Wall Street Journal column on Jill Biden, Ed.D., from a variety of perspectives. Roger arrives at the heart of the matter in his conclusion:

It was not an encouraging sign that Northwestern University, in addition to issuing its pronunciamentos about Epstein, should go full Orwell (or full Stalin) and erase him from their website listing emeriti faculty, despite those earnest declarations of support for “academic freedom and freedom of expression.” As Gigot warned in his column for TheWall Street Journal, “This is how cancel culture works.”

It is very rare that Gigot responds in print to criticism of what appears in his pages. Doubtless this is because he understands that criticism is a natural part of the metabolism of opinion journalism. In the normal course of our political life, it is not only expected but salutary. People have different points of view about contentious issues. A respectful airing of those differences is or should be part of the lifeblood of democracy. If Gigot stepped into print over this contretemps, it was not so much to defend Epstein or even to respond to the chihuahua-like yapping of his interlocutors. It was to sound an alarm against that “big gun of identity politics” he found operating in the background.

The governing strategy of identity politics is not to encourage free expression but to shutter it. In essence, it is a totalitarian enterprise, deploying the shibboleths of race, gender, and radical egalitarianism to enforce a stultifying conformity. It is heartening to see Gigot affirming that, at one of our nation’s most important newspapers, “these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe.” If, as we suspect, the preview we just witnessed was a sort of sighting shot, it suggests that Gigot is going to have his hands full dealing with ever more intolerant efforts to “turn the page” and enforce ghastly new modes of “healing” and “unity.”

Gigot’s column, cited by Roger, is “The Biden team strikes back.”

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