Reviews | Cancel culture: are we overreacting?

Joel feigin
Goleta, California.
The writer is professor emeritus of musical composition at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

For the publisher:

Michelle Goldberg argues that older liberals who complain about culture cancellation are upset because they were cool young lefties and aren’t anymore. There is surely some truth to this. At least in universities, however, concerns about free speech are not confined to this one group.

For example, in a recent Harvard Science Division survey, only 52% of graduate students said they felt “comfortable disagreeing with the majority opinion,” the lowest percentage of all groups in the survey. This is deeply disturbing, because for scientists dissent is a core professional responsibility. If today’s scientists-in-training remain so reluctant to express unpopular views, tomorrow’s science leaders will be less honest and less effective.

It may not be a “political emergency”, but it is not just a company-wide midlife crisis either.

Colm P. Kelleher
Cambridge, Mass.
The author is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard.

For the publisher:

There are an alarming number of incidents of Jewish students, especially Jewish students who support Israel, being “canceled” – campaigns to harass, evict or prevent Jewish students from occupying positions in the government. within the student government. In addition, several thousand professors, administrators, students and alumni have signed letters essentially saying that Zionism has no place on their campus.

Canceling cultivation is toxic and alarming.

Beth levine
Rockville, Maryland

We’re introducing a new feature where our opinion writers will occasionally respond to letters from readers.

I was pleased with the number of people who responded to this column, but some of the responses made me realize that I had not communicated as accurately as I would have liked. To be clear: the middle-aged sadness I spoke of is definitely mine. I’m nostalgic for the freer intellectual culture I grew up in, though I think our culture’s increased sensitivity to racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination is unmixed good. I sympathize with Mary Emerson, who feels like she has to tiptoe around her own daughter. A lot of people I know also feel inhibited with people younger than them.


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