Eve Peyser, a Socialist writer for Vice, and Bari Weiss, the liberal Editor of the New York Times opinion page recently got together and had a nice time. The two wrote about the experience in the latter’s publication: Can You Like the Person You Love to Hate? by Bari Weiss and Eve Peyser, New York Times, December 3, 2018.
Apparently, the two met at a conference, chatted, and got along. Why is it a big deal (or surprising) that two leftist Jewish women who write about politics and live in New York City met and found each other pleasant?
Because while Weiss is on the Left, Peyser is on the Left-of-the-Left (e.g. pro-Bernie Sanders, anti-Zionist, suspicious of if not outright hostile to capitalism), and that Left-of-the-Left hates the New York Times.
Strange as it might seem to readers of this website, America’s paper of record is viewed by many as a spineless center-right apologist for capitalism and bigotry. Furthermore, Weiss and her role at the NYT is viewed with particular loathing—if you are curious here is a good example of it written by a personal friend of Peyser’s (and longtime enemy of VDARE.com): If You Truly Care About Speech, You Will Invite Me to Your Office to Personally Call You a Dipshit, by Alex Pareene, Spinter News, March 8, 2018.
Peyser is one of the people who views the NYT and Weiss this way, and admits (addressing Weiss), to, “tsk-tsking various columns of yours, occasionally snarking about you on Twitter, and ascribing to the belief that The New York Times’s decision to hire you was most likely bad for America and the future of liberal democracy.”
Well, both women turned out to be human after all and got along swimmingly at whatever conference that finally put them together in the same physical room. The lesson of the essay is supposed to the generic, “social media makes us mean and myopic, we should all take a step back and strive for empathy, etc.” Aside from a throwaway line by Peyser, “We also connected over our Jewish upbringings, being women writers,” no great heft is assigned to the fact that the two have a ton in common: Jewish, Leftist, New York City-based, political writers.
The number of Americans who meet all four of those criteria is not particularly large. About 1.1 million Jews live in the Big Apple. Obviously, half of those are women, so 600,000 or so. Out of that number, how many do you figure work in political writing full time (thus excluding academics who sometimes write on politics and freelancers who have written about politics, but mostly tend bar)?
I would be blown away if the number was 1,000—it would not surprise me if the number was in the dozens. Yet, because they disagree about the extent to which the welfare state should reach, the two are supposed to be natural enemies…
Unsurprisingly, the many reactions to this piece on Twitter did not make much mention of this, with most of Peyser’s comrades on the Left-of-the-Left unironically taking to Twitter to deplore her willingness to talk to the enemy…
Jeet Heer of The New Republic was the only one to approach an inkling of understanding:
Imagine believing that the fraying of the social fabric (the consequence of growing inequality & regional disparities) can be repaired by having members of the elite be polite to each other.— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) December 3, 2018
Everyone else just condemned or mocked:
You know what's really cool though is befriending people whose work and political positions you respect and admire— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) December 3, 2018
Can You Like the Person You Love to Hate?— ⌜ 𝚖𝚊𝚝𝚝 ⌟ (@mpnrd) December 3, 2018
Bari Weiss and Eve Peyser were Twitter enemies. Then they met. pic.twitter.com/377sDRjp3S
I read something about this once pic.twitter.com/6xM86MW3SV— Tubular Empathy (@PeonFlux) December 3, 2018
Here’s what I will say: I spent a lot of time with a Bari Weiss-type figure I went to grad school with in Israel, and our personal interactions did not alter her racism against Palestinians, political extremism, or attempts to get left-wing professors fired— Dan O'Sullivan (@Bro_Pair) December 3, 2018
pay me to have dinner with someone I hate on here then write a piece that’s just “I was correct that bitch sucks!!”— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) December 3, 2018
My favorite was Sarah Jones’ take:
maybe i'm a fanatic, but i've never felt much obligation to befriend anyone whose political commitments would demonstrably increase human suffering if given the force of law— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) December 3, 2018
Will Wilkinson, who fancies himself the “reasonable libertarian liberals like,” tried to interject:
There's no obligation to befriend anyone in particular. Isn't the point just that the bonds of friendship needn't be based on political agreement? Disagreement exists in part because it's actually quite hard to *demonstrate* what does and does not increase human suffering.— Will Wilkinson 🌐 (@willwilkinson) December 3, 2018
But Jones was not having Wilkinson’s typical libertarian suspicion of assured outcomes:
i don't think it's very difficult to demonstrate that at all. i would also argue that the bonds of friendship are informed, at least in large part, by shared values— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) December 3, 2018
Wilkinson further protests:
Some things are easy to demonstrate, but many issues are really, really hard. I find that one of the fortifying things about cross-ideological friendship is the depth of understanding one gets about the extent of shared values beneath complex disagreements about facts.— Will Wilkinson 🌐 (@willwilkinson) December 3, 2018
To which Jones closes with:
i don't think there's any inherent value to befriending people who would take food out of the mouths of the poor or strip marriage rights from LGBT people— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) December 3, 2018
Is Jones suggesting Weiss takes food out of the mouths of the poor? Not sure, but I am sure that this is a hilarious example of Leftist self-cannibalism.