From The Nation:
A year ago, I came across an article by Stephen Elliott, a writer I’d admired. There were plenty of disturbing things about the piece—a self-pitying attack on the MeToo movement by a man who’d recently been accused of abusing women—but what startled me was that he had chosen to publish it in an online magazine called Quillette.
Elliott had written a moving, tender book of fiction about kink, trauma, and consent that I’d enthusiastically reviewed in Salon, and he’d since become a star of the literary world, founding The Rumpus, an online publication that nurtured the careers of Roxane Gay and Cheryl Strayed. He’d also organized the Progressive Reading Series, which raised funds around the country for left candidates and issues like rent control. What was he doing in a magazine that publishes claims that black people are less smart than whites, feminism is harmful, and trans people are a threat to women and children?
But Elliott isn’t the only self-described liberal writing for Quillette. There, last May, was pro-gay legal scholar Cass Sunstein, Barack Obama’s regulatory czar, excerpting his new book, Conformity: The Power of Social Influence. He’d earlier praised the magazine on Twitter for its “independence of mind, concern with evidence, and (very important) wit & sense of humor.” Later, Sunstein said in a podcast interview that he’d “been admiring of” the magazine and how it tries “to be empirical.” (Sunstein declined a request for comment.) Also in Quillette, publishing a long piece on her anger at the women’s movement in June, was second-wave feminist Phyllis Chesler, the author of Women and Madness and a cofounder of the National Women’s Health Network. (Chesler, alas, has been writing Islamophobic works since the early 2000s.)
Even Meghan Daum, the feminist memoirist and opinion writer, told me that she had joined a Facebook group for Quillette fans and attended the group’s meetup as part of what she wrote was an “affair” she’d been having with the “intellectual dark web,” the far-right grouping for which Quillette serves as the house organ. Daum, who recently excerpted her book The Problem with Everything in Quillette and appeared in the magazine’s podcast, told me that she didn’t consider herself a “particular fan” of the publication, but that she had read some articles she really likes there.
So why are all these liberals stanning for Quillette, a magazine that normalizes the alt-right?
Image by mr__fox via Flickr (cc).