A leading “culture cancellation” critic is accused of canceling one of his own – for speaking too loudly and too often against President Donald Trump.
Throughout the Trump era, Reason The magazine, a digital and print publication published by the libertarian nonprofit Reason Foundation, has regularly sounded the alarm over the perceived threat posed by ‘cancel culture’, the modern phenomenon in which people are publicly and professionally ostracized for heterodox beliefs or remarks. The magazine lambasted other media like Atlantic, The New York Times, and Interception for dismissing or expelling key staff members whose opinions or actions were deemed contrary to their respective editorial duties.
And yet, for a long time Reason The columnist and political analyst alleges the libertarian magazine ditched her over her fiercely anti-Trump views.
“After 15 years, the curtains have fallen for me at Reason today. My point of view, I was told, had become too out of step with that of the organization, ”Shikha Dalmia announced Tuesday evening in a Facebook message.
“Reason has amazing writers who do a great job on a whole host [of] issues that I will continue to read and share. And it was an honor and a pleasure to work with them, ”she added. “However, I had a resolute and uncompromising anti-Trump voice, unambiguously appealing to his authoritarian tendencies. The fact that this made many libertarians uncomfortable raises all kinds of interesting questions about the state of the freedom movement.
the Reason veteran further suggested his disappearance was the result of complaints from donors to the Reason Foundation – many of whom are also big donors to Republicans and conservative think tanks. “Defending my work with donors and stakeholders had obviously given me too much responsibility,” she wrote.
Reason Editor-in-Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward commented publicly on Dalmia’s post, replying, “I don’t agree with your description of our split, but I’m definitely not going to talk about it here on your page.” And in an internal memo sent to staff members, obtained and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Mangu-Ward announced Dalmia’s departure on Tuesday evening: “Today is Shikha’s last day, after 15 years in Reason. It was an honor to work with a person of such formidable journalistic talent and a deep libertarian conviction. His contributions to Reason have been huge, especially in the area of immigration policy. This change has been going on for quite some time and I wish him luck in his next phase.
Virginie Postrel, ReasonEditor-in-chief from 1989 to 2000 reacted to Dalmia’s ouster on Tuesday night and his allegations of donor pressure by tweeting: “When I was @reason, it was INCREDIBLY poor but it was honest. [Co-founder] Bob Poole had extremely uncomfortable conversations with donors, but always defended the magazine’s independence and never even read it until its release. Now it’s big and rich but I could never work there.
Mangu-Ward responded to Postrel and another libertarian critic with repeat in several tweets: “I totally disagree with this characterization of our separation, but I wish him the best in what follows.”
When reached by The Daily Beast, Dalmia said, “I stand by my statement on Facebook,” but declined to comment for this story. And in a statement to the Daily Beast, Mangu-Ward wrote: “The departure of Shikha Dalmia Reason is a personnel issue so I will not discuss the details.
The main editor added: “Reason is editorially independent and publishes an extremely wide range of content in a libertarian setting. This “big tent libertarianism” has included and continues to include sharp critiques of authoritarianism in all its forms. Reason considers the accountability of the powerful to be at the heart of our mission and believes that we have done it this presidency – and plan to do so in the next. I invite your readers to take a look at the voluminous content posted on our website over the past four years – and the past half century for that matter – and see for themselves. Nowhere else in opinion journalism will you find content that systematically criticizes left and right, Republicans and Democrats, when they advance policies and ideas hostile to freedom.
Like a Reason employee, Dalmia regularly wrote columns for the magazine which also appeared often in The week, apparently as part of the libertarian organization’s efforts to advance its ideas through outside publications. (Dalmia has previously published articles on Bloomberg View, Washington Examinerand The Daily Beast.)
Oddly enough, however, in recent months several Dalmia columns have been published in The week but never appeared on her base at Reason, including a column suggesting that Trump is, in fact, a greater statist than Joe Biden; a column describing the libertarian case for voting for Biden; and a column criticizing the hypocrisy of conservative “cancellation culture” alarmists “forgetting that the right itself has been its main practitioner for most of American history.
The columnist’s ousting comes as the magazine has taken the heat from some libertarians and former employees, including Washington post columnist and journalist Radley Balko, for what they perceive to be the magazine’s peculiar positioning during Trump’s day: not overtly pro-Trump at all, but apparently more focused on belittling, rejecting, or ignoring the left’s concerns about impulses the president’s autocratic only on the active repudiation of his abusive governance – instead of appearing to reserve his most unequivocal condemnations for the campus PC and criticism of the cancellation culture.
(In recent weeks, the outlet has criticized Trump’s attempts to reverse his electoral loss by pushing baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud. Elsewhere, Reason denounced the president’s trade wars, scorned his calls to crack down on social media for “censoring” his blunt missives, and denounced his nativist immigration policies, including family separations.
“There are still many employees at Reason who do a great job and whose journalism I really admire. But I think a lot of libertarians were intrigued by the general editorial direction of the magazine in the Trump era, ”Balko said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “Libertarians are supposed to be the ones sounding the alarm on government threats. Yet with Trump it was as if Reason spent an inordinate amount of time and energy making fun of people who felt threatened.
He continued: “This is a magazine whose staff took a firm line against the dismissal of James Bennet, Kevin Williamson, and sympathized with Glenn Greenwald’s claim that he had been censored by Interception. It’s all hard to reconcile with the firing of one of their own writers for being overly critical of the most powerful man on the planet.
Indeed, Reason devoted more than a few articles to denigrate “the awakened rumblings” to The New York Times for the dismissal of Bennet, the newspaper’s opinion editor, following the publication of Senator Tom Cotton’s screed on the Black Lives Matter protests, titled “Send the Troops.”
And when Atlantic sacked Conservative writer Kevin Williamson in 2018 shortly after his hiring was announced and past inflammatory comments – including a call for abortion patients to be hanged – have come to light, Reason Editor-in-chief Mangu-Ward lamented its release as proof that the historic magazine does not tolerate ideological diversity.
“Reason the staff members are all libertarians, under a great understanding of the term (not to brag, but we are taking the pro-life point of view), ”she wrote at the time, praising her magazine’s tolerance to the with regard to potentially heterodox views within libertarianism. “It’s part of our mission as a magazine.”
It is not known how Dalmia’s expressly anti-Trump views would have fallen apart ReasonThe “large-scale understanding” of libertarianism.
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