On July 7th, 153 mostly left-leaning intellectuals wrote a letter to Harper’s Magazine, expressing their opposition to “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate.” The Harper’s letter prompted a discussion about the scale, and indeed the existence, of what has become known as “cancel culture” (though the signatories did not explicitly use that term).
While almost everyone on the Right is concerned about cancel culture, many left-wing commentators took issue with the letter, despite the palpable efforts the signatories made to show that they are really, really not right-wing. For example, they were at pains to remind readers that Donald Trump “represents a real threat to Democracy,” and—as both Tyler Cowen and Douglas Murray pointed out—their number were apparently hand-picked to ensure sufficient demographic diversity without including anyone too ideologically unpalatable.
On July 10th, a counter-letter, signed by 164 journalists, writers, and academics, was published in the Objective. (Although it should be noted that 25 of the “signatories” did not actually disclose their names, apparently due to fear of professional retaliation.) According to the counter-petitioners, the Harper’s letter was deficient on a number of counts.