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‘The antiracist movement argues for quite racist things’

‘The antiracist movement argues for quite racist things’
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Ask the writer to pinpoint the exact moment her once beloved liberals lost their way, jumped the shark, veered off into a collective psychosis, and she “finds it hard”, she admits. And it’s not just that it’s 8am in the morning in LA, where Bowles lives with her wife of three-years, Bari Weiss (a writer and co-founder of the LA-based multimedia company Free Press). And it’s not brain fog (she tips the camera down to show me that she’s seven-months pregnant with her second child). No, it’s because for Bowles, there was more of a slow dawning over two years – 2020 and 2021 – than an epiphany. A dawning she documents in hilarious detail in Morning After The Revolution.

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First, there were the acronyms, she writes. The ones that “dropped and then had to be understood quickly or else”. The ones that started simple enough – by adding the letter X “to gender-neutral words to indicate extra gender-neutralness, extra pro-trans” – but then “homophobia, biphobia, interphobia and transphobia” became “IDAHOBIT”, and a still more baffling newcomer arrived on the scene: “2SLGBTQQIA+”.

At various points over that same period, she recounts how “fellow reporters at major news organisations told me roads and birds are racist. Voting is racist. Exercise is super racist. Worrying about plastics in the water is transphobic.” Because no consumer brand worth its progressive salt felt it could stay out of this particular “revolution”, “the Muppet Show got a warning label and the sexy M&M was butched up a bit. Some Dr Seuss books were banned and the Jane Austen House Museum added details about her family’s role in the slave trade.”

It’s hard to ignore this frenzied pile-up of wrong-righting, particularly when you’re a journalist charting sociological change. And impossible to ignore the traction of movements like #defundthepolice and Antifa – a decentralized network of far-Left militants – who had started occupying “autonomous zones” across the country. Yet this, Bowles writes in the book, is precisely what her New York Times colleagues told her to do.

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By this point, Bowles’ bosses had already clocked her “as a problem”. And it didn’t help that she had just started dating Weiss, a well-known “dissident” who was once a star opinion writer at The New York Times, but claimed she’d been bullied out by colleagues who disagreed with her (Right of woke) views. The paper sent in their “in-house Narrative Enforcers” (officially called “Disinformation Experts”) to deal with Bowles and explain how to “incorporate disinformation analysis” into a piece she was writing – in other words: toe the party line.

I tell her how astonished I was by this part of the book and Bowles laughs. “I know! It’s so crazy. At the time, I honestly didn’t know what to say. I was baffled. Obviously, there is disinformation in the world. Obviously, there’s fake news in the world, and I get why the arrival of Trump on the scene with his rhetoric would make people worried and why the disinformation topic became a major concern, but…” But this was about them setting their wayward employee back on track? Bowles shrugs. “Like a lot of things, once that group had power, they went a little crazy with it. They couldn’t stop themselves with the tools they had.”

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Despite all this, when Bowles effected a sort of pre-emptive self-cancellation and quit in 2021, she hadn’t expected to get such a strong reaction from her former colleagues. “I was really shocked by it,” she tells me, eyes wide. “Shocked by the purity tests. Shocked by how doctrinaire everyone expected me to be. People I had thought were my friends, normal seeming people, were suddenly posting very cruel things about me online. And that had been my whole world – I didn’t have another one.”



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