Everybody is excited over this post by Chimamanda Adichie but I don’t like it. It begins with some utterly trivial, catty complaints about former fans who overstepped their bounds. You don’t even have to be all that famous to have a litany of stories like this to tell. Making a big deal out of them publicly is kind of pathetic. Yes, people will try to use you to advance themselves. Welcome to the human race.
The part that everybody is gushing over is not that great either. Chimamanda never says who these “people” she is criticizing are:
People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’ People who do not recognize that what they call a sophisticated take is really a simplistic mix of abstraction and orthodoxy – sophistication in this case being a showing-off of how au fait they are on the current version of ideological orthodoxy. People who wield the words ‘violence’ and ‘weaponize’ like tarnished pitchforks. People who depend on obfuscation, who have no compassion for anybody genuinely curious or confused. Ask them a question and you are told that the answer is to repeat a mantra. Ask again for clarity and be accused of violence.
Who are these “people”? What is the name of their ideological orthodoxy? Without any specificity in this description, the very “people” Chimamanda is trying to criticize are going to use her words to clobber their opponents.
This is not a both-sides issue. There is one side with the power and the license to destroy people for disagreeing. It’s the left, the Democrats, the “Democratic Socialists.” Let’s stop pretending that these are just some “people” that spontaneously sprout in the most unexpected places. There’s a very concrete political force that produces this behavior. And it counts on our terrified, embarrassed silence to stay in power.