Journalist Bari Weiss on Fighting Anti-Semitism & the Cancel Culture

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike. She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture. Bari discusses her experiences on the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and her courageous decision to resign from the Times, as well as the public praise and criticism she’s encountered since her resignation. They also discuss the impact that cancel culture and wokeism are now having on higher education and the academic climate on campuses, which is often hostile to the free exchange of ideas. She discusses the urgent need to establish and lead new institutions, journalistic platforms, and schools to restore learning based on academic excellence and the enduring principles of liberal democracy, as well as her involvement on the advisory board of The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing civil liberties and promoting an intellectually healthy common culture. The interview concludes with a reading from her book on anti-Semitism.

Related: Watch a highlight clip of Bari’s keynote speech at Pioneer Institute’s 2021 Peters Lecture.

Stories of the Week: In Savannah, Georgia, a school bus driver shortage will leave potential thousands of students without public transportation – but only for students enrolled in the district’s “choice” zones. A US News story highlights lab schools, usually connected to higher education institutions, which promote innovative approaches, especially to teacher preparation – why aren’t more parents aware of these schools?

Guest:
Bari Weiss is a journalist and the author of How To Fight Anti-Semitism, which won a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. From 2017 until 2020, Bari was a staff writer and editor for the Opinion section of The New York Times. In 2020, Weiss courageously resigned her role as an editor at the Times, citing an “illiberal environment” in which “self-censorship has become the norm.” Before joining the Times, Bari was an op-ed editor at The Wall Street Journal and an associate book review editor there. For two years, she was a senior editor at Tablet, the online magazine of Jewish news, politics, and culture. She regularly appears on shows like The View, Morning Joe, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Bari is a proud Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Columbia University.

The next episode will air on Weds., January 12th, with guest, Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and the Founding Editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:
Savannah public schools bus driver shortage continues, affects choice school students

https://www.savannahnow.com/story/news/2022/01/03/savannah-ga-school-bus-driver-shortage-choice-school-students/6289057001/ 

Is a ‘Lab School’ Right for Your Child?

https://www.usnews.com/education/k12/articles/is-a-lab-school-right-for-your-child

Get new episodes of The Learning Curve in your inbox!

[00:00:00] Cara Candal: Hello, learning curve, family. This is Cara Candal coming at you. It is, 2022, which might feel surprising to some of us because I feel like I’ve got a little bit of a whip last year. We might be back in 20, 20, 20, 21. I’m not quite sure, but I’m hoping you all at least had. Uh, restful, somewhat healthy, new year holiday, , whatever you were celebrating.

[00:00:25] we’ve got my fearless in this time. I really mean it calling Gerard Robinson, coming to us from the car. Gerard, tell our listeners why on earth are you coming to us from the carpet? thank you for being here. First of all, and happy new year.

[00:00:40] Gerard Robinson: Happy new year to you, my friend, happy new year to our listeners.

[00:00:44] So I’m in Charlottesville, Virginia. I always say beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s still beautiful. But right now it is beautifully cold. And I am one of a quarter of a million people. And this part of Virginia who has been without power going on two days now [00:01:00] because of a snow storm that we had.

[00:01:01] So. To those who are in the similar position that I am either in Virginia or elsewhere, , wishing you good luck, stay warm. word of advice to people in Virginia who are used to snow storms. If you think it’s going to be more than five hours where you have no power book, a hotel, we didn’t do it. And there are absolutely no hotels in a 30 mile radius of where we are.

[00:01:22] So I am in the car. trooping it out, but always glad to be with you. And

[00:01:28] Cara: some days you just can’t win. Right? I mean, I’m glad you’re safe and I hope others are safe as well. It’s just like this just really proves shard your dedication to the show, to the learning curve, to the fact that we get together and chat once a week, even though it’s been a couple of weeks and I have to say, you heard a little buzz on my phone.

[00:01:45] That’s because I was irresponsible. Did not turn off all my devices before we started recording, but I want everybody to know it was from an alcohol delivery service. Not because I ordered something, but I’m starting to control.[00:02:00]

[00:02:00] GR: You’re cold. You need Brandy. Yeah.

[00:02:03] Cara: I mean, your car is not going anywhere.

[00:02:05] Is it just saying there’s a thing called drizzly? Her phone is working, not dry January in my house. Gosh, that sounds terrible. Anyway. No, , we are here. We are cognizant we are together. Gerard. listen, it’s probably not, the holiday season that many of us envisioned, whether it, because of our friend COVID or snow or whatever it is.

[00:02:29] but we’re here to talk about, , what’s going on in the world of education and. Like I got to say, we’re starting off the new year with a bang because we’ve got a fabulous guest. We’re going to be speaking to the sometimes controversial, always super provocative and interesting Barry Weiss. And I’m super excited for that.

[00:02:47] but we’re going to open with our stories of the week and I’ve got one Gerard that just. So appropriate. I will say there was a headline in the Boston globe just today that they’ve got a thousand teachers and staff out due to [00:03:00] COVID, even though they’re going ahead and starting the school year, I’m sure many, many schools are in similar situations.

[00:03:04] Another thing going on around the country. Everywhere is school bus shortages. So I’ve got, , an article coming from the Savannah morning news, Savannah public schools, bus driver shortage continues, affects choice school students. I am less focused on the second part of that. I’m usually very focused on the choice students, right when we talk, but this is just, I mean, a couple of things going on, right.

[00:03:28] teachers are affected. Students are affected. Families are affected and bus drivers have families and are affected by the pandemic too. So hard getting kids to school in this moment. I want to say I was talking to some of my wonderful colleagues at Excel in ed today, and they’re doing a deep dive into what we need to do, not just to modernize school transportation’s country, but to really think outside of the box, I wanted to highlight some states that are doing it, or the friends in Arizona have transportation.

[00:03:59] [00:04:00] To help, not just their school choice students, but public school students in their families find alternatives to getting to school. no shade on school buses. I rode a bus to school for most of my school career, but if we think about it, they’re pretty outdated. They don’t get through the snow.

[00:04:16] They can’t be nimble and they rely on, , school bus drivers. It’s hard to, If somebody is out sick, it’s sometimes hard to find back up. What if Gerard, we were able to put money for transportation in the hands of family, which could maybe help. Do what they need to do to get kids to school, even when parents are working and have other commitments during these difficult times.

[00:04:38] So as we say, , it’s been a tough year. There’s been a lot going on even just in the past couple of weeks. But I think that day by day, this pandemic is shedding light on new things and what we could do to be better, especially when it comes to schools, how we can innovate to get through.

[00:04:54] Where they need to be to learn the things they need to learn. All things that we should be thinking [00:05:00] about right now. And, , I know it doesn’t ease the pain for parents who are trying to figure out how they’re going to safely get their kids to school, but we’re working on it. Parents, if you can hear us, we are working on it.

[00:05:09] What do you think.

[00:05:10] GR: Cara. That’s a great point about bus drivers. We tend to overlook what they do every day to get our students to school, even doing COVID. When schools were out, it was bus drivers who were responsible for driving buses to certain neighborhoods, to make sure that it was connectivity between home.

[00:05:29] School and the hotspot, there were bus drivers, like for example, one of our colleagues who I work with, at the advanced studies and kosher foundation, she’s a driver for the Albemarle county public schools. She delivered food, to special needs students. So, they played an important role, but they also bring up something else is one thing games too.

[00:05:48] To school and ready, but yeah, what happens if parents were hosted reasons can’t drop students at school? So we’ve got to find, some unique ways of , , supporting our bus drivers right now. And so here are a couple [00:06:00] of things that come to mind. Number one, we already have driver’s services. whether it’s.

[00:06:06] Or Lyft. We also have, Amazon, who’s got buses, trucks, maybes, local school districts can find a way to partner with. In terms of transporting students where they need to go to get to school one way or round trip. Naturally, we had to go through , fingerprint checks, everything else, but I do think that two things are going to happen.

[00:06:27] Number one, I just don’t think when a fine, a million more bus drivers overnight. And so, number two, we’ve got to find willing adults who’ve been background checked, or can be soon who could start carpooling. We’ve got to just find another way of getting students to school is because you also had the New York city mayor and the chancellor say we’re going to get students back to school.

[00:06:49] Well, they’ve got subways. So in some ways, things kind of work for them, but we’ve got to find a way to do it. I don’t have a great answer, but I do at least have a couple of ideas of using the private sector,[00:07:00] , to come in and try to have. And I

[00:07:02] Cara: think you’re on, you’re hitting on something there, because there are, have been in our private sector initiatives, like an Uber for schools, Uber for kids.

[00:07:09] I used one here in Boston for a little bit of time before it folded because my children were going to a private school. , it was a little too fancy, probably as well folded Cheap. but yeah, all of the things you’re saying, the drivers were background checked. You could use an app on your phone to see your kids get to school safely.

[00:07:27] They took a breathalyzer every morning, all of the things that, you know, because your local bus drivers, somebody that kids know and trust and parents know and trust. So a lot to think through, but even just a little bit of cat. In the hands of parents too. , , some parents don’t have a car or to your point, , to put kids on the subway.

[00:07:45] If the school is not paying for it or on a city bus or a local transit line, all really, really good things to think about. Now, I know you’re cold in your car, Gerard. So I want to hear what your story of the week is so we can, get you inside and in the warmth, I [00:08:00] can assume it’s warm in there.

[00:08:01] GR: Well, actually, I’m getting warmed up by your response and tell him this, that you actually use one for , your own children. I wasn’t aware of any service because our kids, we dropped them off and they were in, so for all of our listeners, you know, we support entrepreneurs. And so I’m sure there’s someone who either knows of a company, like the one that care’s kids went to before it folded.

[00:08:21] If you know of one. Or your state, or if you know of a friend who’s using one, , send us an email, , epileptic learning curve and let us know so that we can actually post it to our website or at least make it somehow available to more families because there’s someone who’s doing this. And it’s just a matter of using our platform to make it happen.

[00:08:40] So that’s one way to use an innovative idea, which is a good lead into my story of the week, which comes from us news and it’s Bible. our McGill and the title is, is a lab school, right. For your child. So that title automatically caught my attention because I am a major supporter of lab schools [00:09:00] and have been for a number of years.

[00:09:02] So I’ll wait until you why I got too excited when I saw that. But for those of you who may not be familiar with the idea, lab schools are already a part of the American landscape and have been for more than More than a hundred years in many parts of the country, parents right now are looking for alternatives to their traditional school.

[00:09:22] This can also be an alternative to their private school on alternative to blended learning alternative to micro schools and an alternative public schools. And it’s called a lab school. Now, what exactly is the lab school, where there are different types, but for the most part, a school is usually.

[00:09:39] Affiliated with a college or university, whether it’s public or private. And there’s usually a theme based focus could be the arts and sciences. It could be stem alone, it could be manufacturing. And so when we think about the idea of the lab school, we’ve in fact, I’ve talked to people on our show. Who’ve talked about, John Dewey.

[00:09:57] Well, John Dewey, who we know is a [00:10:00] major education, reformer and philosopher. Well guess what? In 1890s, And Kara has a graduate of the university of Chicago. He actually created the university of Chicago lab school, which has been an operation for 125 years. And his goal was to prepare students, to quote, ask questions, develop paths for inquiry, and to challenge conventional thinking in the pursuit of original idea.

[00:10:24] someone, like an army Duncan, for example, our former secretary of education. He attended the last school. I have a friend, graduated from Howard university with me, who is a teacher at the last school, several, national figures who we know in government. And the academy also went to the university of Chicago lab school.

[00:10:41] But in fact, it’s not the only lab school in the United States and the lab school idea itself did not originate here. well, the concept of it goes back to the 17th century in Europe and both Japan, where they recalled attached schools. And so you fast forward from 1896 to the present. . We have newer lab schools. For [00:11:00] example, we have the Khan lab school established in California, Silicon valley in 2014, by Solomon Saul Khan, who many of you know is the founder of the Khan academy and it’s for grades K two. And, , it’s for students. So that’s one idea. We have the lab school in Washington, DC, which in fact is an independent school, that was established in 1967.

[00:11:23] And its affiliation is with American university. We have the Baltimore lab school, another city. We discussed on our show. It has an affiliation with Johns Hopkins university and we’ve had, , Ashley Berner from, at a university on our show. We also have , Missouri state universities, Greenwood laboratory school, which is a small niche school focus for students, who will particular focus they’re looking for.

[00:11:48] And so, again, they’re both public and they’re also private. Now when parents are exploring lab schools, we’ve gotta be very careful to mention. Some are public, which is usually free of charge, or [00:12:00] if there’s a cost, there is a minimal cost, but for private schools, there is a private school tuition. So if you look at the Khan academy lab school, for example, , the tuition is about $30,000 a year.

[00:12:12] and it gets a little high. 36,600 for the upper-level schools. , you also have lab schools that are public. We could support it. One example is, design tech high school and met with city, California. And it’s a public charter school that supported by philanthropic, donations. So when I talk about my excitement for lab schools, as many of you know, I’ve been involved in the charter school work, now going back 30 years, I had an opportunity, earlier in my life to, , create a charter boarding school, in Jersey.

[00:12:43] But in preparation for that work, I had an opportunity to reach out to professors and students who graduated from or taught at Alaska. I said, what a wonderful idea to try to basically get, aspiring teachers established here. University professors [00:13:00] school of education, for example, to partner with the local school system and try to get students interested in any particular art science or something else pretty early.

[00:13:09] Well, fast forward to 2010 and 11. When I was secretary of education in Virginia, one of the first bills that we had a chance to sign was the college laboratory school. And it would have provided the opportunity to do is for the university of Virginia school of education and its school of engineering, , to create the country’s first lab school focused on teaching middle school students, , manufacturing skills.

[00:13:36] And we were pretty excited about the opening of the school. , they have since then been able to do a lot of that. Things, but what really got me excited is to realize that in doing the research to sign the bill, I found out that aid the university, Virginia, in fact, at one point had a lab school. So this wasn’t new thing for UVA, but also that some of our historically black colleges in the country also had lab schools.

[00:13:58] In fact, Southern [00:14:00] university in Louisiana. They have a lab school now, Florida and M in Tallahassee. , there’s a lab school there. And w E B Dubois. Who’s been , , someone that we’ve discussed on our show, before he started his career at Atlanta university. In fact, , worked at a small high school that was connected with that university.

[00:14:18] So for those of you across the country who are listening to our show, take us to look at. Your local school system, at local universities to see if they have a lab school, they may, and you may not know about it. Take a look at it. If you are interested in existing lab schools, there are plenty of places to look at just providing you with a few examples, but I think it is something we can look into because it won’t only be.

[00:14:41] Local school systems and teachers, principals, and superintendents. But guess what? Where there were opportunities where we get aspiring teachers and professors to walk backward and start working with young students long before they arrive on campus. And so as a graduate of the university of Chicago, what are [00:15:00] your thoughts?

[00:15:01] Cara: Well, My own kids went to a lab preschool. So I got to spend time at the university of Chicago lab school long before I had children, when I was there doing some of my graduate work, but my own children, well, two out of three went to the Boston university, early childhood learning laboratory, which was an amazing place.

[00:15:22] It shuttered at stores this year. last year was the last year. Fully open, but there were, I mean, as to all of the points you’re making. Yes, yes, yes. And as a parent, not only was it a wonderful experience, but as somebody who cares deeply about teacher education, this lab school was focused on, I mean, the teachers who were in the early childhood learning program at BU whereas most teachers get what, like a semester of hands-on teaching experience.

[00:15:48] And not only did teachers, or, would be teachers, teachers. Rotate through the lab school to be evaluated on their teaching and to get feedback, et cetera. But these spent more than a [00:16:00] semester observing children and teachers interacting through a one-way mirror. And I have to say one of the best things about being a parent of the lab school is that as a parent, I could also sit and observe my child through a one-way mirror.

[00:16:13] So much stuff, especially when your kids are, preschool. So they’re, , anywhere between the ages of three and five and, it’s a place that’s near and dear to my heart. and as you pointed out, it was a private school, but the private preschool, but because it was affiliated with the. It was actually more affordable than the preschool program in our school district, which we would have had to pay for.

[00:16:34] So, it’s just an amazing place. Lat schools are such an incredible tool. I think we should have more of them. And like I said, as somebody who cares deeply about teacher training, I thought it was just, it did so much to help. , teachers in training, , to give them the tools that they really needed to be successful.

[00:16:50] And many of them weren’t and went on to very successful careers, after graduating from BU very strong program. Thanks for bringing us that story. Gerard was wonderful.[00:17:00] We’re going to make bit of a hard pivot here, because as I said at the outset, we’ve got, really phenomenal guest today. We are going to be speaking with award-winning author and yes, podcaster.

[00:17:12] I’ve been listening to her podcast. It is phenomenal. I highly recommend it. We’re going to be speaking with Bari Weiss coming up right after this. Listeners. We’re so lucky to have with us today, Bari Weiss, many of you will already know her work. She’s a journalist and the author of how to fight antisemitism, which won a 2019 national Jewish book award from 2017 until 2020. Bari was a staff writer and editor for the opinion section of the New York times in 2020.

[00:17:40] Resigned her role as an editor at the times, citing an illiberal environment in which self-censorship has become the norm. Very courageous thing to do before joining the times, Barry was an op-ed editor at the wall street journal and an associate book review editor there for two years. She was senior editor at tablet, the online magazine of Jewish news politics [00:18:00] and culture.

[00:18:00] She regularly appears on shows like the view morning, Joe, in real time with bill Merrick. Barry is a proud Pittsburgh, native and a graduate of Columbia university. Very wise. Thanks so much for being with us.

[00:18:12] Bari: Thanks so much for having me.

[00:18:14] Cara: Yeah. Well, we feel very privileged that you would spend this time with us.

[00:18:17] And I know our listeners are pretty excited, so let’s jump right in because, have to say I’m a fan of your podcast, but today this podcast is great. You did a great job. , but we are, here to learn a little bit more about you. , so I want to start with a quote. So in your book, how to fight antisemitism.

[00:18:36] You say that a Jew would see a storm threatening and right to warn of its gathering is not new. So talk to us about why you decided to write the book, how to fight antisemitism, the reception it’s received. And you know, this is an education focus show. , and I’m curious as a parent to. What are the key lessons that you hope educators and even students would take away [00:19:00] from your work?

[00:19:01] Bari: Sure. So let me try and take that in turn and you’ll tell me if I’ve left anything out. , the most immediate context for the reason that I wrote this book was what happened on the morning of October 28th in Pittsburgh, a few years ago. , it was on that morning, uh, , Saturday morning that a white supremacist Neo Nazi named Robert Bob.

[00:19:22] Walked into a tree of life, the synagogue, where I had become a bat mitzvah in 1997 and said, all Jews must die. And then tried to kill as many Jews as he could, who were gathered for Sabbath morning prayers. He ended up killing 11 people that morning. It was the most lethal attack on Jews in American history.

[00:19:41] I had grown up, down the street from that synagogue in quite literally the heart of Mr. Rogers neighborhood. He was just down the street from the synagogue and. Looking back. and even honestly, as I was experiencing it, to the extent that a kid can understand such things, it was really [00:20:00] idyllic. It was a Jewish community that was significantly smaller than places like Los Angeles and New York.

[00:20:06] And so we didn’t have the luxury of sort of staying in our political or religious lanes. We all knew each other. It was like a 21st century shtetl. If your listeners know the word, like a village where we looked out for one. And even though anti-Semitic things happen to me, they were, I remember, and I write about this in my book, you know, waiting to.

[00:20:30] We’re waiting, waiting for the bus to take me. And my sister did Jewish day school and the Catholic school bus driving by and the kids screaming out the window, , kikes and dirty Jews. And I had never heard those words before it. And I remember talking to my parents about it and the sense that I got from them.

[00:20:48] And this was so profound and so wrapped up looking back on the way that I was raised and the way that pretty much everyone I knew was raised was that. They were on American in [00:21:00] doing that, they were expressing vestiges from an uglier time in history that had no place. And no. In America and certainly not in Pittsburgh.

[00:21:12] And so when those things happened to me, they didn’t face me. They didn’t traumatize me. I barely remembered them until, the attack on tree of life happened. At which point I started looking back at my life and asking myself, Was the mythology. And I mean that in a beautiful way that I was raised on the idea that Jewish values are totally harmonious with American ones.

[00:21:36] And that the question that the Jews of Europe have always asked, especially after the Holocaust, which is kind of happened here again is one that American Jews never really asked ourselves that we felt that we were uniquely inoculated from the virus. Of antisemitism and what happened that morning and the reason that I wrote the book and the questions that sort of continue to echo in my [00:22:00] mind with, maybe increased intensity is.

[00:22:04] Whether or not I was wrong and whether or not the ideals that I had been raised in were still true. And whether an America that was moving away from the values and the virtues that had made it still continue to make it the best I asked for experienced the Jewish people has ever known.

[00:22:23] Well, if those were. Dismantled or discarded or degraded if the character of America was changing, then of course the position of Jews in America was changing as well. I wrote the book to ask myself those questions. You asked before about the sort of lesson to to teachers or to parents or to, to children.

[00:22:44] Is that. Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of times when people think about the question of antisemitism, they think about Jews as being the victim of it. And of course, Jews are the most immediate and proximate victim, but Jews, and this has become such a cliche [00:23:00] phrase, but it’s sort of true are the Canary in the coal mine, , If you want to understand how liberal and tolerant and respectful of difference in a sincere way that a society is, you really just need to look at the place of Jews in that society and societies where Jews are under siege or under threat is a society that is dead or dying.

[00:23:22] And. I think the really, really important thing that I wanted to emphasize in my book and that I try and emphasize. Whenever I talk about this subject is that the recent to fight against antisemitism is not simply to protect Jews or protect minorities because you’re a good person it’s fundamentally to protect yourself is to protect the democracy that we live in it’s to protect the ability of anyone to be safe, because if Jews are not safe, you can rest assured.

[00:23:52] Based on 2000 years of history that other minorities are soon not going to be safe as well.

[00:23:58] Cara: fascinating stuff. [00:24:00] So how then Barry, do we, one can sit, especially so many of us have been sitting in our homes and these past two years, and you cannot ignore, the radicalism of both the right and the left, and you can’t ignore the visits happening here, it’s happening other places.

[00:24:17] And you say that the way Jews are treated in antisemitism, it’s a Canary in a coal mine for, society, but can you. Talk a little bit about why the rise in anti-Semitism. , so he’s been there, but these tragic, disgusting acts like the one that inspired you to write this book seem to be much, perhaps they’re not, maybe I’m wrong, more frequent in front and center in the society.

[00:24:42] Can you talk about

[00:24:43] Bari: the, why. Yeah, I think the why is that, , the center is not holding, , , the moral guardrails that keep bigotry down have been thoroughly, , dismantled and thrown away. And I don’t [00:25:00] think it takes a rocket scientist or even someone with a college degree to see that, , a society where.

[00:25:07] Truth is up for grabs where there are cults of personality, where, , populism and extremism are carrying the day and identity politics, both from the right and the left that insists that some people are more American than others, where some people are less American than others by dent of their birth or on the other side of the spectrum that.

[00:25:30] Some people are born into an oppressor category and some people are born into an oppressed one. that is not a formula for a healthy body politic that is not a formula for a healthy society. And we can point fingers in lots of directions for what’s caused this part of it, of course, is the irresponsibility of our political leaders.

[00:25:52] Part of it is the irresponsibility of our media class, but part of it, frankly, is the technological revolution that we’re living through. That’s [00:26:00] upending everything and. don’t think the importance of that can be overstated and the importance of people who are sort of floundering and looking for a scapegoat.

[00:26:10] Well, oftentimes that turns out to be Jews.

[00:26:13] Cara: it’s hard not to, , draw a connection between us as you have. anti-Semitism and I guess the kids would call, cancel culture. Right. and. Cancel culture. I mean, this is something that’s infecting our schools. You don’t have to look at , every aspect of society help us understand, , whether there’s a relationship between these two things between cancel culture and this increase that rise in anti-Semitism.

[00:26:42] Bari: Well, it’s an interesting question. The most obvious answer to it. The one that comes to mind immediately is the fact that you can be canceled in American culture right now. And I’m speaking now of sort of the liberal mainstream culture, elite [00:27:00] culture for. The crime of mis-gendering someone for the crime of suggesting that there are fundamental differences between men and women or for any number of common sensical things that you would dare to say out loud.

[00:27:15] And yet there are people who utter out and out anti-Semitic. Smears and nothing happens to them. So can see that test, play out in lots of different ways. and of course it’s on the left and , I’m editing a column for tomorrow by, , the writer Douglas Murray, about the way it’s playing out on the right.

[00:27:38] You know, a fellow at the Lincoln fellow at the Claremont Institute who is on Twitter. Tweeting about Roth child . Physionomy goblin physionomy with pictures of prominent left-wing Jews and he still has his job. So, , what’s going on here guys is that this is no longer confined [00:28:00] to the lunatic fringe.

[00:28:02] It has made its way into the mainstream and it is being spread like a virus on social media. So I know I’m not quite answering your question about cancel culture. The way that I’ve experienced them is that somehow a society where people are getting canceled, left and right. And I think most listeners will know how I feel about that trend and the lack of second chances and lack of redemption and how bad I think it is.

[00:28:29] But I find it strange that, the smallest of mistakes and sins can ruin your career, ruin your reputation, even ruin your family. And yet somehow, , Jews don’t seem to count and attacks on Jews. Don’t seem to get.

[00:28:43] Cara: incredibly disturbing. And sometimes I think to your point about it, you keep calling it a virus, which I think is apt in the role of social media.

[00:28:50] It feels so, I mean, not so much the fact that Jews can be attacked and killed and. Nothing is said about it, but the idea that [00:29:00] there are no second chances, there’s no room for learning. And it’s so in the now and in the moment and becoming so normalized to a point where it’s, which quite frightening, very, you used , , the term in answering the question above the irresponsibility of the media class.

[00:29:14] And it’s saying that, you know, this plays a role in both the rise of antisemitism and, to some extent, cancel culture. hope you’ll correct me if I have misquoted you, but, , let’s talk for a minute about, bold and really courageous decision to resign from the New York times.

[00:29:32] So a lot of our listeners might have a sense of why. and I’d love for you to briefly tell us that, but also I want to talk about the after. So, praise and criticism and I’m sure everything in between what has that been.

[00:29:47] Bari: The aftermath, well, liberating in a word. the aftermath has been, I mean, getting to the door was extraordinarily hard and I’m sure anyone listening to this who, and there’s [00:30:00] so many people because I hear from them constantly.

[00:30:03] Who are facing a similar decision about whether or not to stay inside an institution that they feel is betraying their core values. and the trade-offs of that choice, it’s really, really hard. So getting to the door was really hard. And the end of my time there was looking back, I mean, it was so caught up in it, but in retrospect, I was pretty despondent since I’ve left, I feel.

[00:30:27] Better with each day. And at this point I would say not euphoric, but just really, really full of energy and optimism. And the reason for that is because I’m living by my values and that feels really great. And I’m, participating in what I think is the project of our lifetimes, the building of new institutions, new institutions that, Are deserving of our trust, that keep trust with their readers or their listeners or their audience.

[00:30:58] And so I’m doing that both in [00:31:00] my newsletter, which is called common sense. I’m doing that on my podcast, which is called honestly, and that feels awesome. not just in the work I’m doing, but frankly, in trying to elevate writers and stories, Right now just given the upside down quality of the world, are getting ignored or papered over, , in the mainstream.

[00:31:20] And so there’s a really wide open lane right now for journalism that is honest and truth seeking and transparent with readers. And that’s what I’m trying to.

[00:31:31] Cara: how do you do that? How do you in a world that’s so convoluted, especially in the way we consume media and what’s out there for us to consume.

[00:31:38] what are your principles? How do you establish trust? Whether it’s on your podcast or your newsletter, or in a venue like this? , how do you think about, honesty

[00:31:46] Bari: in your. It’s a really good question. I think one of the principals and my wife was suggesting that I should just put this on a post-it note on my desk is not to trade short-term gain for [00:32:00] long-term trust.

[00:32:00] So what do I mean by that? If I wanted to make myself a lot more money on my newsletter, I would run a story about cancel culture or elite university nonsense. Every single. ’cause I know readers love that, but in doing so, it wouldn’t be responsible to my readers because there are other stories in the world that deserve to be told.

[00:32:18] There are other items at the buffet. And so part of it is restraint and making sure that you’re not participating in the radicalization of your readers in any direction. , and that you’re not, Basically doing things to short-term enrich yourself. and I think that that requires a level of discipline.

[00:32:36] The question of, what has been called audience capture. that’s a question that no one problem really that no one has come up with a solution for it’s just as relevant for the individual journalist on sub stack, as it is for the New York times, who knows that their readers are overwhelmingly progressive and want to continue to give them.

[00:32:53] 10,000 piece about, Donald Trump. And so that’s something that I think is a question for [00:33:00] every journalist working right now, which is in an era where it’s not ads, but subscribers that ultimately foot the bill. how do you not become, , a slave to your audience? How do you have a respectful and generative relationship with your audience without simply feeding them political heroin?

[00:33:17] So it’s something I think about all the time. , the other thing I think about a lot is just, , why people are willing to pay, to subscribe to my newsletter. And I think the reason fundamentally is about the work. I mean, I was about to use the phrase doing the work, which I won’t use, but , I actually mean that like putting your head down.

[00:33:39] Doing journalism and getting scoops and writing an excellent story about a complicated subject in a way that is plain and accessible to everyone. That’s very valuable still. So I don’t know those are, some of the things that I really think about. also, and I think this is a really important thing to say in our current moment, [00:34:00] acting online exactly the way that you act in real life.

[00:34:04] Not having two personas. I found this like very disconcerting the first times that I was ever on a new show where people would be having one kind of conversation off camera and then the cameras would go on. It would be a totally different mask. And. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just, , a really bad actor or what, but I find that impossible, but I think that that can actually be a really beneficial and important thing.

[00:34:28] just being consistent in who you are and frankly, acting like a mensch. Yeah,

[00:34:35] Cara: this notion of theater, and news as theater theater is news as it’s quite fascinating because I think we’ve all, probably either heard stories where we’re been in the position that you just described dairy .

[00:34:45] I want to go back. , the former professor of meat wants to just touch a minute on this elite university nonsense that you talked about, or you could write about that every single day. Right. although I would say K to 12 schools have been getting a lot of attention [00:35:00] lately and controversy surrounding

[00:35:02] we don’t even need all sorts of things.

[00:35:04] Right. But, the level of higher education. and I would say this isn’t recent. It feels to me like it’s been going on for a very long time and getting attention for less time, right. That are, , universities are becoming more and more. I think hostel is probably the right way to put it, to just certain ways of thinking and the idea that you shouldn’t have to listen to folks that disagree with you, or have another opinion and in places that are supposed to be places of learning.

[00:35:31] So obviously my position on that is clear, but I want to hear about. what you see as how is this cancel culture on our college campuses, the places that are producing the people who are going to go off, and this next generation is going to be running the country. What are the stakes here?

[00:35:47] And, especially for, academic freedom and the ability to have honest learning conference.

[00:35:54] Bari: Oh my God. I mean, this is worth the whole hour, but of all the things that are broken in America, higher [00:36:00] education might be the most broken of all. I mean, it’s ostensibly places of higher learning.

[00:36:05] That’s supposed to be the most liberal in the truest sense, in the deepest sense of that word institutions in our society. But I mean, come on at this point, it’s not even worth going through all of the stories there. If you can’t see that at this point. I don’t know if you have eyes, so. The overtaking of the universities by, a political ideology that is fundamentally illiberal has been well and thoroughly documented.

[00:36:32] And that is why I’m involved in supporting things like, fire. And HeterodoxAcademy why I got involved in the founding of , fair, why I’m throwing my support behind the new university of Austin. at this point, I think it’s been made plain that we just need alternatives. and I think that amazingly, some of the most exciting, , and interesting.[00:37:00]

[00:37:00] I don’t even know what to call them. Academics, intellectuals, they couldn’t step foot on an American university right now. So what does that say about those universities? and. the question of CA I mean, it’s just, this is such a huge, enormous topic. I think I would commend to your listeners to check out those organizations.

[00:37:19] I mentioned, , because if you’re frustrated, trust me, you know, I’ve been trying to sound the alarm about this for more than a decade. I think the thing that. Come clear though, you ask about the stakes is you we’ve already started to see the sort of seeds that are planted in universities, bear fruit.

[00:37:36] Right. And what does it mean if. Young, future leaders of this country are spending the most formative years of their intellectual development in a completely homogenous intellectual environment, , where no one dares contradicted. Well, we see what it looks like because those are the people who just yesterday, , work at a publishing house and get Norman Mailer’s book of S.[00:38:00]

[00:38:00] Pulped before it’s published, and on and on and on and on. , we see the stakes of it. The stakes are not good.

[00:38:06] Cara: they’re not good. They’re quite frightening, but very wise, we’re so lucky to have your, what I would call a really clear and honest voice. I think you are, certainly fulfilling this mission that you’ve set for yourself.

[00:38:17] and I would say an elegant voice as well. It’s , really just lovely to listen to you. , , elevating. Or for the folks who listen to this podcast and your podcast and folks across the country. And we’d love to ask you to read an excerpt, whether it’s from your book or an upcoming column for our listeners, so that we can hear just a little bit more of your voice before we say

[00:38:37] Bari: goodbye.

[00:38:38] I think I’ll read from the end of my book in the end, the right way to fight this disease of antisemitism is by telling our story, the epic story of the history of the Jewish people and especially to the younger generations. What is the probability that the people of Israel driven as Moses put it out to the farthest parts under heaven.

[00:38:57] When in fact come back to their ancient land to [00:39:00] rejoin the remnant that remained there from the corners of the earth after 2000 years of exile of persecution, of destruction, of expulsion, and of near elimination, that a people so despised with survive and thrive. These are earthly miracles, just as amazing as the parting of the red sea.

[00:39:17] And we should be telling that story and we shouldn’t dumb it down. Big ideas changed my life and nothing has been more powerful in my own life than feeling like I am a part of the Jewish story, a tiny link in our history, in these trying times, our best strategies to build without shame Judaism and the Jewish people that are not only safe and resilient, but self-aware meaningful, generative, humane, joyful, and life affirming.

[00:39:43] There are many forces in the world insisting again, that all Jews must die, but there is a force far greater than. And that is the force of who we are. We are a people to send it from slaves who brought to the world ideas that changed the course of history. One God, human dignity, the [00:40:00] sanctity of life.

[00:40:00] Freedom. That is our inheritance. That is our legacy. And we are the people commanded to bring light into this world.

[00:40:07] Cara: Well, I think to one of the first questions I asked you that excerpt is perfect for the teachers in the lifelong learners among us. So thank you so much. Thank you for your time.

[00:40:17]

[00:40:18] Cara: And, I hope that at some point we can

[00:40:20] talk

[00:40:20] Bari: again. Thank you guys so much. Take care of you. , stay healthy.[00:41:00]

[00:41:07] Cara: Oh, he’s got to close it out with the tweet of Gerard. And this one comes from Sarah Quixotes, who is a recent. At MIT for whom I have so much respect, she’s done a lot of great, , really important research, especially on Boston area, charter schools. And she is speaking about somebody that we’ve spoken about on this show before Joshua Angrist, who just won the Nobel prize in economics and who mentored her in doing said charter school research.

[00:41:32] And she says, quote, when I am sitting at my day, Teasing out relationships in my data or trying to craft the perfect sentence to convey a point or deciding how to explain a tough concept to my students. I often think of my teacher and now colleague Josh Angrist. And I have to say, as somebody who’s read a lot of her work and his work, there are few people that can convey a point or explain a tough concept as simply and efficiently and clearly [00:42:00] as Sarah and Joshua Angrist.

[00:42:01] So thank you for your work friends. And, , wonderful tweet of the week to begin our new year.

[00:42:09] Bari: That’s a great tweet. And like you said, a great one to kick off the year. If my memory serves me correctly, we’ve tried to get them on our show or was it the Nobel winner or was it both?

[00:42:21] Cara: I think it was Joshua. , of course we tried to get him, you know, the day after he won the Nobel.

[00:42:25] So maybe we need to circle back. What did he say? Direct.

[00:42:27] Bari: Yeah, we should circle back, but also circle back , , with your colleague who you just mentioned, because we are now in a new year with a new set of politics. And unfortunately many of it, is focused on being anti-charter when you and I both know we support charter schools because we’re pro learning.

[00:42:43] We’re not anti anything is related to that. So maybe great to see if our listeners have kind of. Any one of those three, to help us out to get them on a future show sometime this year, because we have a great platform for them and we asked them great questions. That’s

[00:42:57] Cara: right. Maybe there.[00:43:00] We are going to be speaking with Clayborne Carson, founding editor of the MLK papers and professor emeritus of history at Stanford university until then Gerard. hope that the power’s back on soon, stay warm, , hug your family and, , we’ll be back together again next week. We’ll be a better one.

[00:43:21] I am sure. Take care.

[00:43:23] Bari: Great to join you again

Recent Episodes

AEI’s Ian Rowe on School Leadership, Civic Education, & Upward Mobility

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation, and adoption.

Stanford’s Prof. Clayborne Carson on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Civil Rights Vision & Legacy

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and the Founding Editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Journalist Bari Weiss on Fighting Anti-Semitism & the Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike. She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture.

Institute for Justice’s Michael Bindas on the SCOTUS Oral Arguments

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, who represents the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin.

Dr. Marc Seifer on Nikola Tesla, Pioneer of the Modern Electrical Age

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Marc Seifer, author of the acclaimed biography Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla. He reviews what teachers and students should know about the life of Nikola Tesla, the world-renowned engineer, physicist, and inventor who is more widely known nowadays for the electric car and clean energy companies named for him.

Urban Institute’s Dr. Matthew Chingos on the Year of School Choice & the Student Loan Debt Crisis

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Matthew Chingos, who directs the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. They discuss the “Year of School Choice,” the welcome 2021 trend of states across America expanding or establishing private school choice programs; as well as the student debt crisis in higher education.

Author Nicholas Basbanes on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & the Spirit of American Poetry

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Nicholas Basbanes, author of the 2020 literary biography, Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He shares why poetry - from the Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer to Dante, Shakespeare, Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes - may well be the most influential, enduring form of written human expression.

Rutgers Prof. Paul Israel on Thomas Edison, Inventions, & American Patents

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Prof. Paul Israel, Director & General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, and author of Edison: A Life of Invention, the definitive biography of America’s greatest inventor. Professor Israel describes Edison’s public and private life, as well as the impact of his world-changing inventions, such as the hot-filament light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion-picture camera.

RespectAbility’s Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi on Empowering People with Disabilities

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization advancing opportunities so 57 million Americans with a disability can fully participate in all aspects of community. She shares her personal story struggling with dyslexia and ADHD, and what drew her to this cause. She reviews the various kinds of disabilities that people live with, and the strides our society is making to integrate and accommodate disabled citizens into everyday life.

Lipan Apache Tribe’s Pastor Robert Soto on Native American Heritage Month & Religious Liberty

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Pastor Robert Soto, a Lipan Apache religious leader and award-winning feather dancer who has successfully upheld his Native American cultural heritage and religious liberties in federal courts. As the country celebrates Native American Heritage Month, Pastor Soto shares his personal journey as a religious leader and describes the Lipan Apache Tribe.