a dark-haired woman in glasses smiles, sitting at a desk
Bari Weiss at her desk in The New York Times offices. (Photo/JTA-Josefin Dolsten)

Where is the tolerance for conservative views?

A few days after the New York Times opened its opinion page to the infamous screed of Peter Beinart that advocated for the dismemberment, dissolution and disappearance of the Jewish state of Israel, Bari Weiss, an editor and writer at the Times, publicly announced her resignation in a letter to the publisher, A. G. Sulzberger.

Beinart’s appalling idea received a favorable response from perennial Israel hater Linda Sarsour, while Ben Rhodes and Robert Malley, who both served in the Obama administration and may well serve again if Joe Biden wins the presidency, tweeted their support for Beinart’s “thoughtfulness and bravery.”

In her letter of resignation, Weiss wrote of “the unlawful discrimination and hostile work environment” and said she had become “the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.” She also noted, “I have learned to brush off comments about how I am writing about the Jews again.”

Weiss, a graduate of Columbia University, wrote poignant columns and articles about the murder of congregants at Tree of Life synagogue, her childhood place of worship in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. In 2019, she authored “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.” She has been described as a Zionist, a Never Trumper, a conservative and a pro-choice advocate.

Weiss’ July 14 resignation followed closely on the heels of a fracas involving James Bennet, the editorial page editor and a 31-year-veteran of the Times who resigned on June 7. Bennett was held responsible for allowing the publication of an opinion piece written by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who had been invited by the Times to submit an op-ed. In his piece, headlined “Send In the Troops,” Cotton proposed sending federal troops into major U.S. cities to quell the looting, wanton destruction of property and violent rioting. Many staff writers strongly objected to the Times allowing the senator to express his opinion, and Bennet’s resignation resulted.

The days when newspapers were a forum for a healthy exchange of ideas and thoughts, whether the subject be politics or any other contentious topic, appear to belong to the past.

These two notable examples attest to that and to the ideological intolerance of the left. No more is the Times’ motto “All the news that’s fit to print,” but, rather, fit to print as long as it comports to a certain ideology.

The mainstream media — best illustrated by the New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and NPR — have become mouthpieces for the left and the hard left.

Ideological intolerance also has a home in academia. U.S. universities, especially at the elite Ivy League level, are predominantly staffed by professors and lecturers who embrace the entire range of leftist ideology from Marxists/Trotskyites to the woke left. Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are at the forefront of the left’s arsenal of bigotry. Impressionable young students are fair game for their extremist ideology and viewpoint.

We have heard countless times of blatant discrimination against students who oppose such ideologies and are brave enough to argue against it.

Guest speakers on university campuses of a more conservative bent are vilified, prevented from speaking and drummed out of town. Their opinions, we are told, make the woke generation feel “unsafe.” There is no tolerance for such conservative views and such individuals. Freedom of speech is distinctly absent.

So universities, once the bastion and home of a diverse and vibrant range of thoughts and ideas, have now become anything but. Thoughts contrary to the ruling ideology are suppressed and forbidden.

And we know all too well of the abject hostility on campus toward Jewish students who are proud of their pro-Israel stance and brave enough to express openly such pride.

And let’s give full credit to J. for publishing this opinion piece and others that are at variance with the political views of the bulk of its readership. In allowing them, J. stands out as a very welcome forum for all points of view!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.

Mervyn Danker
Mervyn Danker

Mervyn Danker is the past regional director of AJC and served as head of school for Jewish schools in South Africa, Australia and the U.S., including at the Ronald C. Wornick School in Foster City. He lives in San Mateo.