Quillette Editors' Choice of 2021

Quillette Editors' Choice of 2021

5 min read

As we approach the end of another pandemic year, we would like to thank you all for putting your trust in Quillette’s long-form commentary.

In 2021, your support enabled analysis of a range of pertinent issues including the continued stifling of inquiry in academia, China’s challenge to the global order, false media narratives about racial gaps in the United States, the mental health impact of social media, flaws in the affirmative care model for children with gender dysphoria, the rise of coronavirus cranks, fairness in female sports, as well as dozens of in depth book reviews, classic film retrospectives, and much more.

As we look ahead to 2022, there is much for us to focus on, from the ongoing struggle to defend free inquiry, to continued analysis of far-reaching cultural and political events. Quillette’s editorial team remains independent. With no corporate owner, no major advertising sponsors, and without deference to social media pressure, we are free to edit and produce intellectually honest content that’s free from commercial and political influence. We eschew pageviews as a meaningful metric of success, and have thus far resisted the race to the bottom that has afflicted so many other online publications and pundits.

We also do not want to put Quillette behind a paywall. We do this because we want students to be able to read us, and we believe that everybody, no matter their income level, should be able to participate in our mission.

So if there were ever a time to support us financially, it is now. Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference. Support Quillette now for $US5 per month.

Claire Lehmann's Favourite Articles of 2021:

Rise of the Coronavirus Cranks | Christopher J. Snowdon

“Of course lockdowns don’t make the epidemic disappear and of course there are less restrictive policies that can reduce the caseload, but the claim that they don’t work at all is, to put it charitably, disingenuous.”

Vaccine Rejectionism and the Left | Jon Entine and Patrick Whittle

“Before the Left allows itself to become too smug about right-wing vaccine rejectionism, a little history is in order. Seldom discussed, let alone acknowledged, is that it has its roots in mainstream left-wing doctrines.”

As US Schools Prioritize Diversity Over Merit, China Is Becoming the World’s STEM Leader | Percy Deift, Svetlana Jitomirskaya, and Sergui Klainerman

“Instead of implementing divisive policies based on the premise of rooting out invisible forms of racism, or seeking to deconstruct the idea of merit in spurious ways, organizations should redirect their (by now substantial) DEI budgets toward more constructive goals, such as funding outreach programs, and even starting innovative new charter schools for underprivileged K-12 students.”

Jamie Palmer's Favourites:

James Baldwin and the Trouble with Protest Literature | Samuel Kronen

“Books should be about the people you know, that you love and hate, not about the people you study up about. If you write them truly they will have all the economic implications a book can hold.”

Mailer and the Second Wavers | Charlotte Allen

“There is something ironic about the fact that a long-term consequence of women’s liberation has been the erasure of ‘woman’ as a definable category.”

Rocker Crocked. Pistol Shot. | Simon Evans

“There was a time when listening to a great Genesis song ... was like exploring a sumptuous garden, replete with fountains and sundials and cucumber vines, caught in unexpected shafts of sunlight that you had forgotten since last you wandered in.”

Jonathan Kay's Picks:

Life as a Stand-Up Comic Can Be Brutal. ‘Safe Space’ Call-out Culture Is Making it Unbearable | Jessica Pigeau

“The [Social Justice] movement has been weaponized by small, cynical cliques in many fields—including my own, Canadian comedy, wherein certain producers and performers have appointed themselves judge and jury.”

When Sons Become Daughters Series | Angus Fox

“Parents have been complaining about their kids’ lifestyle choices and political convictions since the dawn of time, of course. But rarely have such choices involved committing oneself to the possibility of sterility and a lifetime of medical therapies.”

The Campaign to Thwart Paleogenetic Research Into North America's Indigenous Peoples | Bruce Bourque

“The application of the law became more expansive over time—as the demands of Indigenous communities typically are seen as more morally compelling (especially to academics) than those of the researchers who populate this field of scientific inquiry.”

Scott Newman's Choice:

When Will Activists (and the Media) Get Honest About Police Shootings? | Arthur Jeon

“America urgently needs an honest conversation about crime and accountability, for both citizens and the police, or the topic will be monopolized by race-baiting demagogues on the Left and the Right.”

Watching America’s Crack-Up | Benjamin Kerstein

“There is still a solid majority of Americans who have remained sane in spite of everything. Unfortunately, unlike activist zealots, they are not organized and are preoccupied with their own lives. Work and children take up most of their time.”

A Peculiarly Australian Kind of Hell—Revisiting ‘Wake in Fright’ | Ryan Anderson

“The story is not only semi-autobiographical, but also highly symbolic—the Yabba is a synecdoche for the untamed wilderness in which Grant, a naive but arrogant representative of modern civilisation, finds he must adapt or perish.”

Colin Wright's Picks:

Mate Selection for Modernity | Vincent Harinam

“There's a disconnect between what women want and what is actually available to them. Whereas greater male attainment increases the number of romantic options a man has, greater female attainment reduces the number of options a woman has.”

The Moral Panic about Eugenics Poses a Threat to Abortion Rights | Diana Fleischman

“The Left has become entangled in a contradiction of its own making. It created a moral panic and used denunciation to shut down discussion of what forms of eugenics may or may not be permissible.”

Historical Racism Is Not the Singular Cause of Racial Disparity | Samuel Kronen

“The complex tangle of historical, demographic, socio-economic, geographic, and cultural forces behind white-black disparities can’t be captured by a moral melodrama of collective guilt and victimization.”


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