Cutting Corners

Science, technology, and life.
May 4 2010 9:44 AM

Cutting Corners

Kevin Williamson, the deputy managing editor of National Review , has written a curious blog post at NR 's " The Corner ." He says yesterday's Slate piece about partisan echo chambers ignored close-mindedness on the left. He calls me "a liberal guy" who "can find almost nothing to criticize other than the (tendentiously described, if not outright mischaracterized) intellectual shortcomings of those who hold opinions other than his own."

To prove the point, Williamson then quotes me—and carefully removes the parts where I criticized the left. Check it out:

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.


Williamson's clipped quote #1:

6. Conservatives who see the epistemic-closure conversation as a political threat describe politics as a " team " contest. ...

What Williamson clipped out after the ellipses:

I've seen the same dynamic on the left, where internal critics are dismissed as " concern trolls ."

Williamson's clipped quote #2:

7. Some writers have turned the epistemic-closure conversation into a debate over which party is more smug. Conor Friedersdorf, a blogger at the American Scene , aptly mocks their hypocrisy : "There may be a problem in our thinking, but the important thing to focus on is that the other guys are worse." [Jonah] Goldberg, a perpetrator of this blame-deflecting tactic ....

What Williamson clipped out after the ellipses:

is right about one thing: Epistemic closure isn't unique to any era or faction. It's a problem " for all human associations and movements ." Challenging your community's delusions is your responsibility, whether that community is CPAC or Jeremiah Wright's church .

Another line Williamson clipped out:

Then MSNBC booted guest host Donny Deutsch off the air after he used two MSNBC anchors to illustrate left-wing rage.

As a longtime fan of Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg, and other writers at NR , I'd like to believe that these omissions are just oversights or unavoidable casualties of excerpting a longer article. But I'm having trouble mustering that defense for Williamson. He clipped quote #2 in the middle of a sentence to hide from NR readers the fact that the next words were an endorsement of Goldberg's observation that close-mindedness is not just a conservative problem. In so doing, he also neatly removed my criticism of Jeremiah Wright's church. Having done this, he derisively and dishonestly titled his post, "Because Liberals By Definition Cannot Be Closed-Minded."

None of the ellipses in what I've written above are mine. They're all Williamson's.

I challenge Williamson or the editors of NR to defend his use of the ellipses.



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