Where's the Diversity in our Creative Class? | Opinion

National Geographic editor in chief Susan Goldberg raised eyebrows recently by adding the words, "white, privileged, with much to learn" to her email signature. The self-flagellating mass email was part of a "race card project" that encouraged readers to submit "six-word micro-essays about race."

Ms. Goldberg's signature line is not an outlier. I know because I've lived in this media environment for 13 years, covering travel, sports and a host of culture- and lifestyle-related beats for dozens of national and regional media outlets. I was never a Donald Trump fan, but my viewpoints are conservative enough to be considered heretical in this insular world of Brooklyn-dwelling, pronoun-declaring social justice warriors.

Even so, I didn't realize how pervasive liberal groupthink was until this year, when I researched hundreds of potential media targets to review a pair of travel-related books I had coming out. Though none of my prospective targets cover politics, it often took just seconds of scrolling through social media profiles to determine that the influencers I needed on my side are almost uniformly progressive Democrats. Their public pronouncements read like an interchangeable grab bag of virtue signals and buzz phrases about gay pride, BLM, the evils of Trumpism and other fashionable causes.

Diversity is like a cult for these people—but in terms of thoughts and values, diversity is not their strength. Dissidents and free thinkers were once lionized in America, but today oppressive conformity is the golden rule for our media class. In my research, I stumbled across just one writer with overtly conservative leanings. Of course, there are many other conservative writers and editors working for right-of-center publications. But those publications tend to cover books about politics. When was the last time you read a review of a travel-related book on Foxnews.com?

In North Korea, a person's songbun, or social class, determines their lot in life. There are 55 subclasses and three main classes: the core class—comprised of party loyalists—the wavering class and the hostile class. Our creative class is comprised almost exclusively of (Democratic) party loyalists. Those, like me, with bad songbun are part of the hostile class. We can exist and perhaps even thrive, but only inside conservative birdcages, where we're permitted to chirp to like-minded heretics.

It's impossible to calculate the impact of my bad songbun or of the fact that my books were published by Post Hill Press, which has a number of prominent conservatives in its stable of authors. After agreeing to publish a book by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, a police officer who was involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting, more than 200 Simon & Schuster employees signed a petition imploring the company to end its distribution agreement with Post Hill and cancel a book deal with former vice president Mike Pence.

Senate big tech hearing
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg appears on a monitor behind a stenographer as he testifies remotely during the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing 'Does Section 230's Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?', on Capitol Hill, October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey; CEO of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google LLC, Sundar Pichai; and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg all testified virtually at the hearing. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act guarantees that tech companies can not be sued for content on their platforms, but the Justice Department has suggested limiting this legislation. Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rather than rely upon the core media class to publicize my most recent book, Mad Travelers, I tried to go directly to readers with advertisements on Facebook and Instagram. But Facebook permanently suspended me from advertising on its platforms, even though my proposed ads featured little more than images of my book covers. A Facebook supervisor shared 13 "possible reasons" for my banishment, among them vague offenses like "community standards violations," "suspicious activity" and promoting websites or links that aren't "compliant" with Facebook's policies.

There isn't a hint of politics in any of my books and, in fact, I never comment on politics on social media or even post links to articles I write on politics. Perhaps there's a bureaucratic reason I can't advertise, but given Big Tech's censorship of conservatives, I can't help but wonder if I've landed on a hostile class blacklist.

Taking my story directly to bookstores was similarly frustrating. Bookstore owners tend to be just as liberal as their cousins in media. One bookstore where I was scheduled to give a book talk, which displays a BLM sign and has a decidedly left-leaning inventory, canceled my book launch event after my publisher was in the news for Sgt. Mattingly's book. A day later, it re-invited me, explaining that canceling me was a "heat of the moment" overreaction. I appreciated their change of heart, but it was clear that the apolitical nature of my books was the only reason I was spared the literary guillotine.

After Mad Travelers came out to little fanfare, my wife asked me if I perhaps should have remained in the (conservative) closet. I mulled the question over and even buried some potentially offending articles from my website. Perhaps I could be rehabilitated, maybe even someday transition into the core class, publicizing my pronouns, diligently condemning my own white privilege and parroting (Democratic) party talking points about voter suppression, reimagining police and helping immigrants come out of the shadows.

Thanks but no thanks. I'd rather be an outsider swimming against the tide, even if it means selling fewer books. Conformity stifles creativity. Liberals gleefully boycott those who violate their ideological safe spaces, but starved-for-choice conservatives are used to patronizing content creators regardless of their politics. There's a cost to being a conservative, but going woke is essentially free of charge.

Young people spend hours every day on screens, ingesting content produced and curated almost exclusively by liberals. They won't encounter conservative viewpoints unless they actively search for them, a task made more difficult thanks to Big Tech. A nation's culture defines its politics. The Right can't focus solely on policy, polls and elections. Conservatives are now essentially spectators, standing outside the arena watching our culture drift leftward, grumbling to each other while doing nothing about it. Like-minded members of the hostile class can disrupt the Left's cultural cartel and fight Big Tech censorship, but only if we stop censoring ourselves and make our voices heard.

Dave Seminara is the author of Mad Travelers: A Tale of Wanderlust, Greed & the Quest to Reach the Ends of the Earth and Footsteps of Federer: A Fan's Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.