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Use Caution When Opening

Naked beneath a thin paper smock, a nurse checked my vitals …

Celeste Marcus is a bad writer. Salmagundi, which published her, seems not to have noticed. (The journal used to have higher standards.) She is bad not merely on the level of usage; she writes the breathless, self-regarding, histrionic bahdebah one associates with Naomi Wolf.


None of this pertains to her recent rape accusation against Yascha Mounk, which, true or not, has already done professional damage: the Atlantic has suspended him as a contributor, as has Die Zeit. Hopkins, where he teaches, has announced an investigation.

I think you should approach this story with caution. Marcus did not report the rape; we will find out whether friends will confirm that she spoke about it. Far as I know, Mounk has no reputation as a predator, unlike the sexually notorious Leon Wieseltier, currently Marcus’s fellow editor/boss at a new journal.


As you see, UD indeed brings skepticism to Marcus’s charge. What Marcus says could well be true, in which case throw the book at Mounk. But approach with caution.

Margaret Soltan, February 8, 2024 9:23AM
Posted in: headline of the day

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4 Responses to “Use Caution When Opening”

  1. Rita Says:

    I hadn’t seen this essay (she posted a different one in Liberties about her post-rape brokenness, on which she based her accusation of Mounk) but it makes Modern Orthodoxy sound like an insular cult from which she alone escaped. The majority of Orthodox Jews go to secular colleges! It’s not like some perilous journey into the corrupt unknown which she alone braved. Then they go get normal professional jobs with their normal educations, like her own parents, who went to the very insular, hyper-religious institutions known as UChicago and Harvard Law, and then became successful lawyers. This is a typically trumped up tale of woe to accentuate her image of herself as a uniquely sensitive and tortured creature. Naomi Wolf is a good comparison.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: I’m no friend of Orthodoxy (but I tend to get worked up about the Ultra rather than Modern Orthodox), so in principle I’m receptive to attacks like Marcus’s. The problem is that every one of her paragraphs has the whiff of bs.

  3. Rita Says:

    I think she’s counting on this disposition towards religion in her readers to give it all the cover of plausibility. But yes, it’s all baloney; she’s just a woman from Philadelphia’s Main Line with highly educated, wealthy parents, who attended a nice private school and then the Ivy League. This caused her anorexia about as much as the knuckle-rapping nuns of mid-century American Catholic fiction caused all its authors to be sexual neurotics.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    It’s always tough disentangling early life experience from later trauma. Her writing makes the task somewhat easier than usual.

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