Journalist Zaid Jilani responds to controversy over letter warning of 'restriction of debate'

Journalist Zaid Jilani responded Monday to the controversy over the letter he signed that was published on the Harper’s Magazine website warning about the “restriction of debate” in society. 

In last week’s letter, Jilani joined more than 100 signatories, including cognitive scientist Naom Chomsky and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who cautioned that the “free exchange of information and ideas” is “daily becoming more constricted.” 

Jilani responded on Hill.TV to a post criticizing the original letter, saying it was “interesting” several people who signed did not include their names.

“I think when asked about why they said they feared retaliation, and I thought, to me, that kind of validated our letter,” he said.

“I don’t think you should face retaliation for disagreeing about this,” he added. “That’s kind of the point in why we signed that letter in the first place.” 

The counter-letter entitled “A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate” say the signatories of the Harper’s Magazine letter “miss the point: the irony of the piece is that nowhere in it do the signatories mention how marginalized voices have been silenced for generations in journalism, academia, and publishing.”