'We're raising a whole generation that's afraid to speak out'

Jewish-American columnist Daniella Greenbaum speaks about being at the heart of a national controversy over free speech.

Tzvi Lev,

Danielle Greenbaum
Danielle Greenbaum
Courtesy of Daniella Greenbaum

An actor’s craft lies in their ability to transform themselves into someone they are not. Yet somehow, defending an actress’ right to, well, act just about cost journalist Daniella Greenbaum her job.

In her Business Inside” column earlier this month, Greenbaum defended Scarlet Johannesson from criticism upon being cast as a transgender man in the feature film “Rub and Tug”.

“Scarlett Johansson is the latest target of the social-justice warrior mob,” wrote Greenbaum. “She has been cast in a movie in which she will play someone different than herself. For this great crime — which seems to essentially define the career path she has chosen — she is being castigated for being insufficiently sensitive to the transgender community.”

Greenbaum’s column set off a newsroom revolt. After numerous colleagues complained to “Business Insider” management, editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson pulled the article, claiming that her piece “did not meet our editorial standards”. Opinion writers were also informed that there would be an extra layer of editing for “culturally insensitive topics".

Greenbaum's subsequent resignation letter soon went viral.

“Unfortunately, what happened with my piece – the tarring of a commonsensical view as somehow bigoted or not thought out: the capitulation on the part of those who are supposed to be the adults to the mob – is a pattern happening all over the country within institutions that pride themselves on open-mindedness and liberalism,” she wrote.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Greenbaum described the larger phenomenon of uncomfortable opinions being silenced. “I think the problem is that it's so far beyond media,” she said. “Whether it's people getting invited to campus and then getting uninvited, or getting invited and then getting shouted down, or whether it's people who tweet something and it's totally well-meaning, and somehow it blows up and everything… everyone comes out against them.”

“I think we've reached a point where we are raising a generation of people who are going to think that if they have anything to say to slightly contradict leftist orthodoxy that they shouldn't say it, and that if they do say it that they should expect these crazy consequences,” Greenbaum added. “I think that's the bigger problem – we're raising a broader generation of people to think that this is normal, and it's not.”

Her resignation, and the powerful letter which accompanied it, has earned her an outpouring of support from people spanning the political spectrum. She has been interviewed by Tucker Carlson on his prime-time Fox News show, and has been backed by leading conservative thinkers such as columnist Jonah Goldberg. It’s not only conservatives who support her right to free speech, either.

“I have gotten so many letters from people who tell me [that] they agree with what I wrote and they can't believe this is happening, and they support me and hope I land on my feet,” she recalled.

“Some people who write me saying, ‘I'm really to the left, I didn't agree with your point, but I think it's so crazy how this was handled… and I think the point you're making about the shrinking of what's become acceptable and mainstream is really important.’”

Greenbaum advises writers going through similar experiences not to apologize for their positions. “If [your opinion] falls somewhere in the mainstream, or even if it doesn't, then don't let yourself be bullied into thinking you've done something wrong," she contended.

“ If you know what you said is reasonable, don't be afraid to say, I know that what I did was nothing more than express a reasonable opinion, and I'm staying true to that."