I thought the Right was supposed to be against political correctness and excessive sensitivity? But it seems they are quite happy to wax indignant about tone when it’s their skin being pricked. The latest incident is that the NY Times hired Sarah Jeong, a liberal leaning writer of Korean descent who has mocked the fragile fee-fees of white people. We’re supposed to set aside our concern about bigotry when a white writer uses the N-word, or when another white male writer announces that women who get an abortion deserve the death penalty, but poking fun at the privileged position of white people…oh my god, this is unforgivable racism.
Right now on the internet you can find lots of people clutching their pearls and quoting old tweets by Jeong — whole litanies of strung-together excerpts making a kind of poetry of laughter at white sensitivity. It’s entertaining because these articles are making Jeong’s point for her: that an awful lot of white people have achieved eminence while not actually earning it, and they’re terribly touchy about it.
Speaking of aggrieved privileged white men granted a voice far above their talent, of course Andrew Sullivan has contributed to the genre. Oh, Mr Sullivan, if only you weren’t quite so predictable and trite…
Is the newest member of the New York Times editorial board, Sarah Jeong, a racist?
From one perspective — that commonly held by people outside the confines of the political left — she obviously is. A series of tweets from 2013 to 2015 reveal a vicious hatred of an entire group of people based only on their skin color. If that sounds harsh, let’s review a few, shall we? “White men are bullshit,” is one. A succinct vent, at least. But notice she’s not in any way attacking specific white men for some particular failing, just all white men for, well, existing. Or this series of ruminations: “have you ever tried to figure out all the things that white people are allowed to do that aren’t cultural appropriation. there’s literally nothing. like skiing, maybe, and also golf. white people aren’t even allowed to have polo. did you know that. like don’t you just feel bad? why can’t we give white people a break. lacrosse isn’t for white people either. it must be so boring to be white.” Or this: “basically i’m just imagining waking up white every morning with a terrible existential dread that i have no culture.” I can’t say I’m offended by this — it’s even mildly amusing, if a little bonkers. (Has she read, say, any Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson?) But it does reveal a worldview in which white people — all of them — are cultural parasites and contemptibly dull.
A little more disturbing is what you might call “eliminationist” rhetoric — language that wishes an entire race could be wiped off the face of the earth: “#cancelwhitepeople.” Or: “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along.” One simple rule I have about describing groups of human beings is that I try not to use a term that equates them with animals. Jeong apparently has no problem doing so. Speaking of animals, here’s another gem: “Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants.” Or you could describe an entire race as subhuman: “Are white people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” And then there’s this simple expression of the pleasure that comes with hatred: “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” I love that completely meretricious “old” to demean them still further. And that actual feeling: joy at cruelty!
Poor Andrew, so innocent, so naive, so trusting. No, I wouldn’t call that “eliminationist” rhetoric. David Neiwert has a good working definition of the term, and has a great many horrifying examples. Jeong doesn’t even come close. Ribbing the people in power is a perfectly reasonable tactic, especially when it’s clear it’s not a serious proposal — and no, laughing at people who complain that other people are outbreeding them, or calling them groveling goblins who must live underground, isn’t eliminationist. It’s kind of rude, at worst, and as someone pale enough to burn beneath incandescent lights, that comment does sting a little bit, because it bears a bit of truth in it.
But Sullivan should have avoided quoting her, because this one is a little too harsh: “Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants.” It’s true of me, I’ll concede, but you know who it fits perfectly? Andrew Sullivan. And there he goes, pissing on the internet again.