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Ta-Nehisi Coates Vouches For The Atlantic’s New Conservative Hire: ‘He Can Write His A– Off!’

ta-nehisi coates

‘If you can write, I will read your stuff,’ Coates said of The Atlantic’s new conservative hire from the National Review.


Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic said he loves to read the outlet’s new conservative hire, Kevin D. Williamson, in a recent interview on Jamie Weinstein’s podcast hosted by National Review.

Weinstein asked the “Between the World and Me” author if there were a conservative writer who he finds interesting or compelling. Coates chuckled, then hesitated and chuckled again, saying he always reads Williamson’s work.

“H-ll, yeah,” Coates said at the one hour, 13-minute mark of the interview. “He can write his a– off! I don’t agree with sh-t he says, but –”

“If you can write, I will always look at what you’re doing, because at the very least I can study some sh-t and figure out, maybe there’s something for me, in this,” he added. “Even if I hate what you’re saying, or I think you’re dead wrong.”

Recently, Williamson moved from his longtime home at National Review to The Atlantic, a move that spurred outrage among woke media types. At Slate, Jordan Weissmann criticized Williamson’s proactive writing style and opinions, writing he didn’t think the newcomer should share column inches with Coates.

These are not views one would typically associate with the Atlantic, which has a long, unique history in American intellectual life that’s partly bound up with the advancement of civil rights — it was founded by abolitionists, published Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ and helped make Ta-Nehisi Coates a leading American voice on race … He reacted to Black Lives Matter with an O’Reilly-esque rant about ‘race-hustling professionals’ and black-on-black crime that I have a hard time picturing sharing space with a TNC essay.

The column sent professional feminist Jessica Valenti into hysterics over Williamson’s old tweets, in which he criticized women who’ve had abortions.

The New Republic’s Sarah Jones strung together some of Williamson’s controversial opinions and asserted his work wouldn’t fit in alongside Coates’s.

On race, Williamson was a natural fit for the magazine. But it’s hard to imagine the following passage published in The Atlantic, which recently released a special edition on the legacy of Martin Luther King and boasts Ta-Nehisi Coates on its masthead:

‘East St. Louis, Ill. — ‘Hey, hey craaaaaacka! Cracka! White devil! F*** you, white devil!’ The guy looks remarkably like Snoop Dogg: skinny enough for a Vogue advertisement, lean-faced with a wry expression, long braids …’

Is this provocation? Or is this … something else?

In their criticisms of Williamson, both Weissmann and Jones say the former National Review columnist wouldn’t fit in at a publication that also published Coates. I wonder if either of them asked the “Black Panther” writer what he thought about his new colleague before publishing pieces that implied Coates’s and Williamson’s work should not be published in the same magazine. Also, have any of them ever heard of publications featuring a wide range of voices?