"These learned and famous people open their letter thus: “Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial.” Shades of the start of the Communist Manifesto."
Yes, just like "These are the times that try men's souls." 😖
" the real sin here is the universal use of the passive voice. There are no subjects to these verbs — implying that some mysterious force is on the loose."
Yes, we should eschew passive voice whenever possible, but this particular construction would be much clumsier in active voice, because the subjects are not specifiable in single words or short phrases. Moreover, the focus of the sentence is on the sin, not the sinner. Identifying the sinners wouldn't advance the intentions of the authors.
"how can anyone debate such a set of examples unsecured by solid facts?"
I recognized two of the instances cited, but yes, several of them puzzled me; a charge sheet would have helped with this problem, but it would have been better handled with footnotes.
"Note that the Letter speaks only of “cultural institutions,” thereby evading the question of the actually existing political situation we find ourselves in."
Not one of the actions decried by the letter is a political action; they are each violations of our cultural expectations. The authors chose to address a cultural issue; why do you demand that they address a different topic?
"In doing so they replicate Donald Trump’s current argument — we are in the midst of a “culture war.”"
And they oppose Mr. Trump's position on that culture war. Opposition is not replication.
"The key to the letter-writer’s argument is that “intolerance” exists on “all sides.” This is the liberal intellectual’s simply-flipped version of Trump’s comparing the white supremacists who murdered Heather Heyer with the anti-racists and anti-fascists who stood against the racist mob and saying that there were “good people on both sides.”"
Not at all. Mr. Trump PRAISED bad people. The authors of the letter CONDEMNED a bad practice--unless, of course, you propose to defend intolerance. Or is it your position that there is no intolerance on your side of this dispute?
"That the letter blithely equates Trump’s practice of assaulting daily all those who oppose his fascist regime, or simply do not like him, with the practice of aggressively protesting racist, sexist, trans-phobic practices as commensurate acts of intolerance is the very antithesis of working for justice."
You lie. The letter says no such thing. It specifies the actions it condemns. It does not condemn the actions you cite.
"The letter writers act as if the difference in the acts one is intolerant of is not a matter of concern."
Again, you mendaciously misrepresent the contents of the letter.
"in fact a few of those who signed the letter have used precisely that language."
Now you're resorting to an ad hominem argument.
"To argue for polite debate with a fascist regime seems at best illogical, and at worse reckless"
Is it your position that all of these actions were necessary and proper:
"Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes."
What do you propose as superior to reasoned debate? Verbal assaults? Would you change your mind if I were to call you a 'big fat poopyhead'? What if I fucking called you a bunch of fucking obscene names? Does the word 'fucking' convince people?
Or are you suggesting more aggressive approaches: attacking people on the street, beating people up, burning stores and homes, shooting people?
"...for it places the emphasis on the value of conversation for its own sake and not the harsh reality of the inhumane actions taking place, acts that demand to be curtailed and stopped by even “uncivil” means if “Justice” is going to have any real purchase. "
Go get 'em, hotshot! An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! Police kill blacks, so we should kill police? Violence begets violence. Two wrongs don't make a right. We have a concept called "law" that replaces your vicious notions of revenge with a measured, rational approach to the evils of human life.
"For example, we not only deplore the fact of concentration camps at the border, we wish to dismantle its operations..."
Then dismantle them! What are you doing WRITING about dismantling them? Just get yourself an AK-47, drive down to the facilities, and open fire. Put your money where your mouth is!
"One does not bring an etiquette book to a knife-fight. Sometimes one has to put one’s body against the gears of the machine, as Mario Savio put it."
Again, why don't you DO it? Talking about doing it without actually doing it is hypocrisy.
"Fascism is not an idea to be debated, it’s a set of actions to fight"
So form your own People's Liberation Front, or Fascist Opposition People, or whatever, start building bombs and amassing guns and ammo, and start blowing stuff up. I'll be the civilized person, and you can be the barbarian. Fair enough?