The other class war: technocrats vs plutocrats

After World War Two, the balance of wealth shifted dramatically: the super-rich lost so much capital during the two wars and the interwar period that their grip on power slipped, creating the space for a welfare state and other reforms. Read the rest

The Atlantic fires Kevin Williamson, who said that women who have abortions should be hanged

Once upon a time, The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson, a conservative columnist who likened a black child to a primate, wrote that transwomen were effigies, and tweeted that women who have abortions should be hanged. The Atlantic said this was OK, because that was just a bad tweet. Then it transpired it wasn't just a bad tweet after all. Then The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson. And everyone lived... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Atlantic EIC Jeffrey Goldberg:

"The language he used in this podcast—and in my conversations with him in recent days—made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views."

The real problem was never Williamson. It was the blithe, clueless, disinterested hiring of the first spicy Never-Trump conservative that came along without the slightest serious regard given to what he otherwise wrote, said and believed. In their rush to defend him, countless conservatives exposed a taste for political violence -- which is what hanging women means in a country where no-one has been hanged for decades -- that everyone would do well to remember. Read the rest

"Let’s make it violence": Listen to The Atlantic's Kevin Williamson explain why women who have abortions should be hanged

The Atlantic sparked anger by hiring columnist Kevin Williamson, who likened a black child to a primate and wrote that women who have abortions should be hanged. His hiring was defended by Atlantic chief Jeffrey Goldberg, and various conservative colleagues of his, who all agreed that it was just a bad tweet that didn't reflect his true beliefs. In a contemporaneous audio interview, however, Williamson reiterated and explained why he thinks women who have abortions should be hanged.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON (CO-HOST): And someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, “If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide.” And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging....

Later in the same episode of the podcast, Williamson continued that when it came to punishment for those who had abortions, he “would totally go with treating it like any other crime up to and including hanging” -- going so far as to say that he had “a soft spot for hanging as a form of capital punishment” because “if the state is going to do violence, let’s make it violence. Let’s not pretend like we’re doing something else.”

Listening to him smack his lips, after saying that, it struck me that no U.S. state hangs its killers. It's a legal execution method in two or three, but no one's been hanged here in decades.

Critics have been making a mistake about Williamson's self-described "very serious animus" concerning women who have abortions. Read the rest

The Atlantic explains why it hired a columnist who wants a quarter of American women put to death

Last week, The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson, a conservative famous for his flamboyant bigotry, a flair most famously exhibited when he wrote that women who have abortions should be hanged along with their nurses and doctors.

Online outrage was immediate, drawing attention to his other greatest hits: transgender women commit genital mutilation and are “effigies” of women; rape accusers should be publicly named; the poor are lazy and their communities should be abandoned; and a comically fabulated account of meeting a black child he compared to a primate and described as "three fifths" of a Snoop Dog. The Atlantic itself described him as "gratuitously nasty" way back in the mists of 2016.

"These are not views one would typically associate with the Atlantic," wrote Jordan Weissman at Slate. Sarah Jones, at The New Republic, wrote that it marks the mainstreaming of the reactionary right.

What I noticed, though, was the general assumption that The Atlantic's current brass simply didn't know about the things he'd written. Williamson deleted his Twitter account, after all, as if to hide his past from his new editors. (Compare to the New York Times, which recently hired a columnist only to fire her hours later over tweets it claimed it had never seen.)

But I had a hunch: I thought (and said as much) that Williamson was hired explicitly because of what he had written about women, black kids and the poor. To well-off center-leaning liberals, Williamson is the perfect post-Trump conservative: superficially literary, ostentatiously nasty, profoundly disgusted by the weak, yet (and this is super-duper important) opposed to the current president. Read the rest