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The Atlantic has bent the knee to #MeToo

The summary dismissal of Yascha Mounk over untested rape allegations makes a mockery of due process.

Wendy Kaminer
columnist

Topics Free Speech Politics USA

Confronted with a sketchy allegation of rape against a valuable contributor, the Atlantic has succumbed to the furies of #MeToo.

Yascha Mounk, a highly regarded scholar of democracy and critic of cancel culture, has been dropped as an Atlantic contributor. This comes after writer Celeste Marcus accused him of rape during a reportedly consensual sleepover, two-and-a-half years ago. (I’ve relied on accounts of her accusations reported in the Washington Post and by defence attorney Scott Greenfield.)

She wrote about her alleged rape last month in Liberties, a literary journal she edits. She also privately informed Atlantic editors Jeffrey Goldberg and Adrienne LaFrance that her ‘rapist’ worked at their magazine. Goldberg replied that ‘we are taking this allegation extremely seriously’.

Marcus recently followed this up with a post on X, in which she named Mounk and declared: ‘I will not be raped with impunity.’ She complained that she had received no updates from Goldberg, whom she had apparently appointed as her avenging angel. He obliged by announcing that the Atlantic had ‘suspended our relationship’ with Mounk after being informed of the accusation. This is a loss for the magazine and its readers.

Put aside questions about the relevance of her accusation to the value of Mounk’s work. What is her evidence of rape, which Mounk has vehemently denied? ‘Believe me, this is not a wild or mischievous allegation’, Marcus told Goldberg, invoking the damning evidentiary rule of #MeToo that equates a woman’s untested accusations with facts. ‘Believe me’, Mounk might reply, to no avail.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if the Atlantic editors do, in fact, believe Marcus. Maybe they do. Maybe they have reason to find Mounk’s denial less than entirely credible. Or maybe they have cravenly decided that associating with an alleged rapist is not a good look, no matter how tenuous the allegation.

I don’t claim to know what occurred between Marcus and Mounk. I don’t even have a reliable basis for suspecting what did or did not occur. Neither does Goldberg, I would be willing to bet. In any case, mere suspicion is not grounds for punishing and demonising Mounk. If Marcus has a credible claim of rape she should either report it to police or sue Mounk in the civil courts. Instead, she has relied on the lamentable vigilantism of #MeToo, in collaboration with the Atlantic.

The #MeToo movement seemed to have peaked a few years ago, but it is resilient, as is woke culture generally. Free-speech advocates have had a little success recently in critiquing if not curbing its reign on America’s campuses, some of which are beginning to recognise the virtues of dissent and debate. But ‘progressive’ hostility to free speech and due process for people accused of discrimination or sexual misconduct took decades to inculcate in successive generations. It will not be exorcised easily.

Indeed, #MeToo may be on the verge of a comeback on campus, as the Biden administration threatens to resurrect the kangaroo courts established during the Obama years that summarily convicted students accused of sexual misconduct. The Trump administration modified Obama-era regulations to provide accused students with some due process (his administration’s one contribution to liberty).

Clearly, the #MeToo movement has retained its hold on the Democratic establishment, if not its rank-and-file voters. Now even the Atlantic, hardly a dogmatically progressive publication, is on bended knee before its preachings.

Wendy Kaminer is an author, a lawyer and a former national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Her books include A Fearful Freedom: Women’s Flight from Equality.

Picture by: X.

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Topics Free Speech Politics USA

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