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Sarah Jeong Called For My Death

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I’ve followed Sarah Jeong on Twitter for a while. She’s a good writer, but she tweets a lot, and a lot of it is politics, so I eventually unfollowed her.

But I was around for #KillAllMen.

I don’t really like the idea of Kill All Men. Namely, I’m at odds with its main stated goal.

When someone suggested that she limit it to “Kill All Bad Men” she said fine, but that the end result of that policy would also just end up with the same result of killing all men.

Taken literally, Kill All Men is hateful, violent and sexist. The first time I read it, it was jarring.

After a while though, I acclimated. Jeong would regularly call for my death and those of my sex organ compatriots, and I’d just keep scrolling. After all, she did do some good reporting at Motherboard too.

Eventually, I began to notice a few things.

  1. Jeong seemed to lack follow through. If I recall correctly, she referred to having a boyfriend at the time.1 This seemed at odds with a genuine desire to actually kill all men.
  2. I personally didn’t find myself scared. I’ve been scared before when people have made threatening remarks, but at no point did I wonder if she was going to succeed in killing men or convincing others to kill men on her behalf.
  3. Jeong seemed to work for and with men with no fatalities sustained.

In other words, this sentiment fell flat:

Yes, she said it repeatedly. Yes, when asked if she was joking, she doubled down. Yes, when she was asked to moderate, she escalated. But no. She was doing a shtick. Part of me must have realized it was a shtick from the beginning because it’s not like when someone says something anti-Semitic I give them the benefit of the doubt to see what they meant by it.

But let’s say that we are so committed to anti-violence that even schticks about violence are unacceptable. How would we act then, if we commit ourselves to doing everything we can to prevent violence, assuming we’re weirdly going to use gender as the sole lens for our whole analysis?

If we were to do that, we’d probably look at what actual violence is occurring right now. We’d discover that women are far more likely to be the victims of men than the reverse. We’d work on that for a long time. We’d talk about it all the time and dedicate actual resources to combatting it.

Eventually, after we were confident everything that could be done had been done about real-life violence, maybe we’d hire an unpaid intern to look at what people on the internet are saying. And then maybe we would learn Jeong’s name.

Instead, what we see is the rhetoric of one tiny woman who by all accounts hasn’t even succeeded in killing one person elevated over the actual deaths of real people. And that was the whole point of saying “kill all men” in the first place. It was to demonstrate how nonsensical the reactions to these things can be depending on who feels attacked.

Kill All Men isn’t why people are mad at Jeong right now though. Instead, it’s for legions of presumably racist tweets. For example, Jeong has received a lot of criticism for this tweet calling for, um, white genocide:

Note that it is a reply to someone who obviously missed the point of her original tweet. Her original tweet, which people don’t seem to be upset about right now, is this:

Jeong is not genuinely proposing a study. Studies like that don’t get approved. In fact, she’s anticipating the criticism by ending with “jeez I’m just asking.”

What she is doing is mocking the idea of other studies that put the responsibility for avoiding violence on women. Studies that actually exist. And after doing some minimal search of what was going on that day I found she was tweeting in reference to this Washington Post article:

One way to end violence against women? Married dads. The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids.

The piece argues that marriage causes

men to behave better. That’s because men tend to settle down after they marry, to be more attentive to the expectations of friends and kin, to be more faithful, and to be more committed to their partners—factors that minimize the risk of violence.

Skeletons photoMarry him, and he’ll stop beating you. I can’t imagine why Jeong might have taken issue with that.

I am not a white person, so I don’t feel comfortable excusing attacks against them. That’s for our beautiful white readers to decide, none of whom I want to die.

I did, however, get over Kill All Men.

  1. Presumably living []

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Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1. ...more →

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79 thoughts on “Sarah Jeong Called For My Death

  1. Marry him, and he’ll stop beating you. I can’t imagine why Jeong might have taken issue with that.

    Except, that is not what the piece argues and you have to read in bad faith to draw that conclusion.

    Which is something she seems to do a lot.

    More importantly though, her hyperbolic comments on twitter are rarely funny and do not exactly inspire confidence that the NYT has a new columnist with nuance, rigour and insight.

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      • The study, like lots of Wilcox stuff, is basically garbage* because it ignores the massive selection bias and gets the most likely causal pathway backwards. Maybe women are more likely to marry guys that are less likely to abuse them? Nah, it is obviously the case that the wedding ring is what stops men from hitting.

        *here “garbage” is shorthand for “not something that should cause one to update their priors to any appreciable degree”

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    • More importantly though, her hyperbolic comments on twitter are rarely funny and do not exactly inspire confidence that the NYT has a new columnist with nuance, rigour and insight.

      So she’ll fit right in alongside Frank Bruni, Bret Stephens, and Thomas Friedman.

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    • More importantly though, her hyperbolic comments on twitter are rarely funny and do not exactly inspire confidence that the NYT has a new columnist with nuance, rigour and insight.

      I go the other way on that. I think they’re going to get nuanced and insightful essays, but a pretty piss-poor person. Or more generously, someone who plays a piss-poor person on Twitter. BUT! (serious question) to what extent is her notoriety attributable to her Twitter persona? (Millenials are clever at self-promotion…)

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  2. I get that Sarah Jeong is an accomplished writer but I really am not enthused by the whole mess.

    The only defense I’ve read regarding her various tweets that feels to me like it gets any traction is that she had to endure a lot of twitter idiocy herself and was merely tweeting back the idiocy with white or male shoved in instead of the original gender/race. That strikes me as, perhaps, plausible but I struggle to find it plausible for such a long period of tweeting.

    I mean if the left didn’t have its own avid brigades that declare that tweeting various disagreeable things disqualifies one automatically from any mainstream jounalist posting (or in extreme cases any employment at all) then I’d say the right wingers calling for Sarah Jeong’s ouster could be safely told to kick rocks. But the left does and the hypocrisy on this is really odorous.

    I’d also like to reiterate that twitter seems, more and more, to be an absolute cesspool and it puzzles me why anyone willingly gets into that mire. It sure seems like the whole world would be better off if opinion makers, corporations, celebrities and government all agreed that nothing said on twitter by anyone anywhere should ever be paid attention to by the aforementioned people and entities; but here we are.

    So it seems like either Sarah Jeong should probably not have her perch at the NYT or else future left wing caviling about things other people say on twitter should be disregarded in total (along with everything right wingers say of course).

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    • Twitter can be fun if you very carefully curate your feed. I also don’t tweet, i just read other peoples stuff which makes it a version of a feed reader. But yeah it can be like a thousand backed up toilets.

      I think lots of netzien types ( i haven’t heard that word in while) think that responding back to trolls/haters is fighting back. Those darn kids haven’t ever seen Wargames!? The only winning move against trolls is to ignore. If you engage, they win unless you are suuuuper cleaver.

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    • I’d also like to reiterate that twitter seems, more and more, to be an absolute cesspool and it puzzles me why anyone willingly gets into that mire.

      Well, part of it is that someone in Jeong’s position is supposed to be on Twitter building a “memorable brand” in order to get the sort of job that she just got.

      But I dunno, I’m mostly on it to interact with a circle of online friends and acquaintances, including many OT commenters and posters.

      Which isn’t to say it’s not a cesspool, and the cesspooliness doesn’t cause some problems. Including a sort of priming—I think I might be more open to the idea that Jeong’s Tweets are meaningfully bad if the first person I came across who was really mad about them was a legit Nazi who was raving about how they prove Jews hate white people.[1]

      By the time I saw decent people making good faith arguments that some of the stuff Jeong had Tweeted really was bad, the horse was out of the barn a bit.

      By the time I saw the President RTing something about how awful Jeong is, the horse was not only out of the barn, but beaten to death.

      [1] No, Jeong isn’t Jewish or anything, but in addition to being vile, most Nazis are also incredibly stupid people.

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  3. This little drama is the main event in today’s episode of the partisan culture wars. Specifically, a lot of Left twitter and Left pundits are arguing the Left usual about how white people can’t be victims of racism and the usual. And in this context, Sarah Jeong is a pretty clear example of the deeply corrupt racism consciousness that’s widely distributed among contemporary libs. Like somehow we have to play a stupid pin-the-tail-on-donkey song and dance to determine if Miss Jeong or her oeuvre is racist, which in this case is superfluous at best. We know immediately from the matter at hand that what she wrote is bad, in a way that’s conclusive in its own right, as is clear in the OP.

    I believe in redemption and satire and I’m against cherry picking, etc, etc, but her defenders are being disingenuous on that score. I’d be inclined to give her a pass if any of those rationalizations apply, but I don’t think they do. It’s at least reasonable to think that the nasty tweets and hashtags represent her real views, and at the very least there’s no real public reason to think otherwise.

    In a way, this is the end bookend of which Kevin Williamson was the beginning. I’m not making a point about hypocrisy and double standards, though I probably could. What’s more topical for me is that we’re seeing the increased prominence of a group of pundit/activists I call the ‘borderline bourgeois’ in my own mind for lack of a better word.

    That is, these are people who have positioned themselves politically somewhere between antifa and the establishment/mainstream Demos. And though they are published at least sporadically in recognizable lib organs (The Nation, Salon, The New Yorker, Slate, Vox, etc), they are still pretty obscure, to the point where even as a political junkie myself I had never heard of them until the Kevin Williamson thing. Suffice to say, it wasn’t Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, and/or Rachel Maddow.

    This raises an important consideration regarding Kevin Williamson. Operationally speaking, Kevin Williamson was fired by his inferior competitors. Obviously ideological considerations are very important, but this should be disconcerting even aside from that. It’s as though the purveyors of Milwaukee’s Best get to regulate brewing practices and beer distribution for brewers across the entire country. It doesn’t take much of a beer snob to appreciate the adverse consequences of that.

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  4. Let me mirror the arguments of people who fling poo and love it isn’t a style of communication that will leave you clean of poo. Ohh let me act like the people i hate and who hate me, that is surely the road to enlightenment and successful communication.

    I’m assuming i’m safe from the genocide of whites and all that. I’m not even worried if she got power. I would hope someone would help young people to explore the concept of not feeding the forking trolls and the wonders of the block feature.

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  5. “Racism is racism is racism. If you’re making the argument that racism is ok if it’s against people who were “historic oppressors” or whatever, you’re validating the core premise of racism, viz. that a person’s character, personality, identity, everything is determined first and foremost by their ethnic background. When you use the term “reverse racism” or say that it’s impossible to be racist against whites, you are making the same argument that every Klansman and Nazi made, just replacing “black” or “Jew” with “white”. This is something that should cause you deep shame.”

    – an internet commenter who goes by Naptown Bill.

    I couldn’t have said it better. Further, if you think that racism is the worst thing imaginable, why would you further it?

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    • I couldn’t have said it better.

      I’m curious when, if ever, you think a person can correctly describe a state of affairs or an action as “racist”? Surely Naptown believes racism is a real thing, right? Take slavey of blacks in the US as an example. Naptown seems to be suggesting that a correct description of that state of affairs – white people acting on racism towards blacks – is *itself* a racist comment. Is that even coherent?

      Adding: not to mention that he/she’s confusing several *types* of racism into a general analysis, one where saying the words “kill all white men” is equivalent to institutionalized slavery based on race. IDK. Seems pretty silly to me.

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      • Adding: not to mention that he/she’s confusing several *types* of racism into a general analysis, one where saying the words “kill all white men” is equivalent to institutionalizedslavery based on race. IDK. Seems pretty silly to me.

        S/he doesn’t. Saying that all forms of racism are bad doesn’t mean that all forms are equally bad or that all activities based on racism have equal outcomes.

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        • From the linked quote:

          If you’re making the argument that racism[1] is ok if it’s against people who were “historic oppressors”[2] or whatever, you’re validating the core premise of racism[3],…

          The writer uses the word “racism”, or refers to it, ambiguously in each of the three the numbered instances.

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          • Because RACISM IS RACISM IS RACISM. If racism is bad, as constantly pointed out by many here, along with NYT, then it is bad. If one excuses racism on one’s own team, they are validating racism as a worthy thing. Judging someone not of the content of there character but by the color of their skin is racism. I could care less if someone is a “historic” oppressor. That doesn’t excuse racism against them.

            If someone can say that X racism is bad, but Y racism is SUPERBAD! why cannot someone with opposing politics claim the opposite? How are we to differentiate the different levels of acceptable racism? What happens when we find the person who is telling us that one type of racism is OK, but another is NOTOK, morally reprehensive? What happens when the message comes across as “racism is OK?” How do you close Pandora’s Box at that time?

            All of that is why racism, in any form, is bad.

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            • Because RACISM IS RACISM IS RACISM.

              Sure, but that assumes some level of factual or argumentative agreement about the cases we’re comparing as well as a method for determining them. I’m talking about what constitutes racism, and in particular criticizing Naptown’s notion of racism’s core premise, which fails for all the reasons I said above.

              I admit that in this debate I’m *much* more frustrated by the racism deniers and obfuscationists than the ones running around indiscriminately accusing people of being racists. And that’s what Naptown’s analysis (the bit quoted) strikes me as trying to do.

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              • It seems to me that the sub-argument that focuses on the whole “it’s not racism! It’s merely bigotry!” this as a way to not address the fact that everybody knows it’s bigotry is something that, you’d think, the NYT would want to avoid having the appearance of in editorial.

                Getting bogged down into whether it’s fully bigoted with the possibility of racism or merely bigoted without the possibility of racism is something that, you’d think, the liberally slanted editors in charge of the editorial at the NYT would not want argued on a national stage 3 months before an election.

                They used to be good at this shit. Now look at them.

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        • Let’s go this way then. Naptown claims that the core premise of racism is “that a person’s character, personality, identity, everything is determined first and foremost by their ethnic background.”

          First off, that’s not the core premise of racism in either a technical (academic) sense or colloquial sense. Instead, the core premise goes the other direction: that individuals or groups of people are subjugated or discriminated against based on racial markers like skin color. But leaving that criticism aside and using it as the functional core principle, Naptown appears to think that the claim “white people enslaved black people because they thought blacks were inferior” is racist, but not against blacks. It’s racist against whites. And the argument, apparently, is it implies that white people’s decision to enslave blacks was based on racial properties of whites: their “character, personality, identity.” Which is a descriptively accurate and not racist claim. Hence my above comment.

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            • I made it up. Well, not really. I mean, I didn’t fabricate it or anything.

              Here’s another one: “White people enforced a policy of ensuring that black people were denied mortgages in white neighborhoods.” By Naptown’s reasoning that’s a racist statement. It attributes white people’s desire to redline blacks to their “character, personality, identity.” Which is nuts. (Not the part attributing the practice to white people’s character and identity.) It means that any accurate description or statement of racism is itself an expression of racism. That’s what’s nuts.

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              • Well, no. He didn’t say it, so anything along those lines attributed to him is BS. Wholely and simply a lie. And we only have to start there and go nowhere else. Because making up things like that negates your whole argument.

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                • Aaron, he didn’t say those things and I didn’t attribute them to him. Those are examples of claims widely believed and supported by overwhelming evidence which would be viewed as racist against whites if we use Naptown’s core principle of racism as our guide.

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                  • ‘Naptown appears to think that the claim “white people enslaved black people because they thought blacks were inferior” is racist, but not against blacks. It’s racist against whites.

                    While you used the word “appears”, you used quote marks, indicating that this is what he said. After which you implied a heuristic of “Naptown appears to think that the claim “white people enslaved black people because they thought blacks were inferior” is racist, but not against blacks. It’s racist against whites.” (emph added) where that comes from nowhere, and since I am quoting him, that I, by the transitive power, agree with this.

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                      • I generally don’t respond to tricknology, but here we go:

                        Making up a statement such as ‘“white people enslaved black people because they thought blacks were inferior” ” cannot be determined to be racist or not, as there are no context clues. Following that with “is racist, but not against blacks. It’s racist against whites.” likewise doesn’t follow, as there is nothing to base it on, as the first statement is made up. There is nothing, either stated by Bill or shown by you, that makes that second part of that ” It’s racist against whites” work.

                        To sum up, your initial statement doesn’t allow for the follow-up, as there are no context clues to make that work.

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                    • @aaron-david Stillwater is making an argument about the logical outcomes of the claim. It’s not shortering but rather what seems to me to be a sincere attempt to say “look, obviously this thing would be a terrible thing to believe that you don’t believe and one would hope Naptown doesn’t either, but it’s the logical outcome of the argument that’s being made,” to expose the weakness of the argument.

                      It only works to expose the weakness of the argument IF you are assumed to NOT be okay with those things being called racism against whites, NOT believe those things, etc.

                      He wasn’t implying that you believe them, he was saying that given that you don’t believe those (awful and nonsensical) claims, you shouldn’t believe this way of framing the situation either.

                      (I’m not explaining this to take his side on the argument because, quite frankly, I’m tired of having this argument, myself — but only because he wasn’t at all saying you thought that awful stuff, only that the argument itself leads to it in a way that makes it *appear as if* something that probably isn’t true (in Naptown’s case) is the case. It’s obvious to me that arguing in this way *presumes* you don’t think / claim the things you feel accused of thinking / claiming.

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                        • @aaron-david I assume he reckoned that once shown the conclusion, people would see the logic chain that gets one there?

                          I don’t have the time nor energy (about to leave the house for the evening) to spell out the logic chain, since it was immediately evident to me also. But not in words, in … kinetics. I’m not a verbal or a visual thinker at root.

                          @stillwater , maybe you could step by step it?

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                          • Yeah. Maybe the best way to tease this out is by going back to something I said earlier regaring Naptown’s core premise of racism, namely, that the “core premise goes the other direction: that individuals or groups of people are subjugated or discriminated against based on racial markers like skin color.” On that definition, white people who enslaved or discriminated against blacks because of properties of their skin satisfied the definition and are (correctly) called racists.

                            By contrast, Naptown wrote that the central premise is “that a person’s character, personality, identity, everything is determined first and foremost by their ethnic background.” So according to this premise, accusing someone of acting on beliefs derived from their ethnic background is itself an expression of racism. There’s a bunch of stuff wrong with this central premise, but the one I mentioned is that accepting it means that (correctly) attributing racist motives to whites during the slavery era is an expression of racism against whites since the accusation is that white people subjugated blacks due to white people’s ethnically determined character, personality, and identity. The correct claim that whites were racists has become a racist statement.

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    • The problem with this line of argument is that a lot of the stuff that Jeong was Tweeting [1] was clearly satirical responses to stuff that had the context stripped away. This reached a high point of hilarity when Andrew Sullivan decided that Jeong was irredeemably racist for… making fun of Andrew Sullivan’s racism.

      Satire and counter-trolling are both sharp knives, and maybe Jeong lopped off her own metaphorical thumb, and I think her decision to apologize for her Tweets made sense.[2]

      [1] Really everything I saw in the first tranche of screenshots. Someone who was, at best, alt-right adjacent came up with a big thread that was allegedly more damning, but I’m not gonna bother trawling through that after the first crop of “damning” Twitter content was such a damp squib.

      [2] Also too Williamson would probably have kept his job if he’d just been like, “Yeah that ‘hanging women who have abortions’ stuff was super dumb and I shouldn’t’ve said it.”

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      • Also, to paraphrase (IIRC) Yglesias, if Jeong had earnestly said that Asians are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent or have longer time horizons than white people, a lot of the people who are pissed off at her for saying white people don’t know how to cook rice would be praising her bold anti-PCness to the fucking skies.

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        • I never really understand what my takeaway from this point should be.

          “If she had changed what she had said, the people attacking her would be praising her instead!”

          Does this mean that they lack standing? They’re hypocrites and, therefore, shouldn’t be paid attention to? That their position is somehow significantly lessened from the presumably stronger position they’d have if they wouldn’t be praising her instead?

          If any of those, are there people who are defending her now who wouldn’t be if she had changed what she said? If so, do those people suffer from a lack of standing? If even asking these questions whataboutism that indicates that she was right to say what she said in the first place?

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          • That their position is somehow significantly lessened from the presumably stronger position they’d have if they wouldn’t be praising her instead?

            I mean, yes, their position is significantly weakened because they indulge in, or tolerate, the exact sort of racism that she was satirizing. Especially given how much of their complaint is about double standards and, “Well, you’d never get away with it if you said…” hypotheticals to begin with.

            Seriously, if the tactic of, “Can you imagine if she said something different?” is barred, then so is, “Can you imagine if she said that about people who weren’t white?” and the tempest evaporates entirely from its own teapot.

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            • Well, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with anybody who says “maybe we just shouldn’t say those sorts of things at all!”

              Can you even imagine if we did? I don’t even like to think about it. To the point where I’m *GLAD* that that’s the only question of mine that you answered.

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              • I’ll let you know when I encounter one.

                Slightly more seriously, the message of, “We shouldn’t have to deal with hyperbolic or even hamfisted criticism and satire of our more genteel forms of racism, or the extremely un-genteel forms of racism practiced by the folks who do the actual research to take down SJWs,” is not a very inspiring one.

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              • “we don’t have to deal with anybody who says “maybe we just shouldn’t say those sorts of things at all!””

                Part of the point of Vikram’s post (or maybe I’m over-asserting because I believe it) is that “we” (society) pretty much DON’T deal with anyone saying only that.

                I mean, I can think of a half-dozen writers of color – scholars and published authors – who say stuff like that all the time. None of them has ever gotten a tenth the press and attention from the white-dominated news cycle that Jeong has in the past two weeks.

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                • I suppose it’s good that they haven’t gotten the press or the attention. That way we wouldn’t have to deal with the issues.

                  As it stands, we can just point out that the most visible people who are supposably pissed off are engaging in performative outrage that doesn’t merit serious response.

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                • Also, I can’t imagine Jeong saying stuff like that about people who aren’t white, because she lives in America, and in America, whiteness is precisely about who gets to have power and be forgiven for their sins, not about skin color. Skin color is the excuse used. Sicilians used to be too dark-skinned to be considered white by racists. Anti-semites have all sorts of things to say about why no Jew is actually a white person. “Whiteness” is not a particular skin color against which one can be racist, but a cultural construct that claims a supposed absence of color as a shield.

                  Whiteness is not about cultural or ethnic similarities – in the way that being Irish-American or a Midwesterner or even of European descent is – it’s about power, and gaining access to some power that some other people cannot have.

                  I have a friend, an Indian/Pakistani-American Muslim Texan man, someone who has extensively studied the history of civil rights in this country, who writes movingly and startlingly about the need for everyone to give up on Whiteness (which is a little different than people who are treated as white denying the existence of places where being treated as white gives us special ease and decreased difficulty in the world). His writing has evolved somewhat from when he wrote this, a 2-part college magazine piece, but I believe it’s still well worth reading, and getting past any kneejerk reactions one might have to academic uses of particular terms: http://www.ciphermagazine.com/articles/2016/9/22/when-the-trumpet-sounds and http://www.ciphermagazine.com/articles/2016/9/23/the-call-is-heard .

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      • The problem with this line of argument is that a lot of the stuff that Jeong was Tweeting [1] was clearly satirical responses to stuff that had the context stripped away. This reached a high point of hilarity when Andrew Sullivan decided that Jeong was irredeemably racist for… making fun of Andrew Sullivan’s racism.

        Yeah, yeah, yeah……but no.

        “White men suck, what about about people of color?” That basically is the argument, right? In some situation, she could presumably get it together to the point of not saying it in way that’s quite as gratuitously nasty as some of her tweets, but either way that’s the point. There’s nothing else in the locker.

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        • No, the argument is, “People like Andrew Sullivan say people of color suck in particular ways that get widespread acceptance from the mainstream, and substituting white people in hyperbolically is a legitimate satirical approach.”

          A lot of the complaints I’ve been seeing take the form of, “Well, what if she said things like that about people who weren’t white?” as if it’s slam dunk obvious it would be career suicide. But that’s not remotely true.

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          • Because there are many people with stellar careers in mainstream journalism that criticise people of colour in the way Yeong did with white people?

            It might be a legitimate satirical approach, whether I care for it or not, but it is the approach that causes the uproar. Critical articles about masculinity, patriarchy, white supremacy, institutional racism and the like are not exactly uncommon within prestigious media outlets and while they draw criticisms, they don’t draw the kind of furore that these tweets did.

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            • Yes…?

              There’s a lot of room for pundits to justify and defend racism on the grounds of the “cultural pathologies” and even genetic inferiority of minorities. One of the pundits most outraged by Jeong, and a member of the group in good standing despite being an actual frigging Trig Palin Truther [1], is Andrew Sullivan, who built a lot of his career on doing exactly that.

              Shit, even if she hadn’t subbed in white people and just earnestly said Asians were genetically be predisposed to be smarter than whites, Sullivan would be kissing her ass about now.

              [1] Yes, Trig Palin Truthers are, or at least were, somehow a thing.

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              • If she had been speaking earnestly about why white people suck, instead of making over the top statements nobody would have cared. Coates does it all the time.

                That Sullivan was a wacko when it came to Palin is not exactly relevant. What is relevant is that his writing about race, iq and the like has always been in measured tone and backed up by research. He might have been wrong, but is is simply not comparable with Yeong her tweets.

                It is the tone that makes the music and anybody that used Yeong’s tone in writing about colored people would have been fired without any hesitation.

                Unless, again, you can point me to reputable white journalists that have made this kind of tweets about people of colour?

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                • Yes, the issue people have is entirely the tone of her Tweets, not the content. Which, I would say, really does a great deal to support Mr Bath’s argument.

                  What is relevant is that his writing about race, iq and the like has always been in measured tone and backed up by research.

                  Yup, the issue isn’t that she’s a racist. It’s that she was too mean to a racist who adhered to certain elite pundit conventions of argumentation and threw in a couple graphs.

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                  • Yes. Off course. Arguments, data, evidence, not being hysterical and such nonsense is something for pesky elites. Not for someone from the upper middle class who went to Berkeley, Harvard Law and just landed a job at the NYT.

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                    • “No, really, guys it’s OK to be a racist because racism is true, or at least something you don’t want to apply any real skepticism to lest it cost you edgy intellectual cred and undermine your preference for cutting social spending!” is not, perhaps, the crushing argument against Jeong you think it is.

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          • No, the argument is, “People like Andrew Sullivan say people of color suck in particular ways that get widespread acceptance from the mainstream, and substituting white people in hyperbolically is a legitimate satirical approach.”

            Even if that were so, it’s not enough. At best it’s a rationalization for a particularly nasty tweet or blogpost or what have you. “White men suck, what about people of color?” isn’t some kind of aberration, it’s the sine qua non of her work, as the OP in the other thread points out. So even if somehow we could take away the inflammatory tedious dead-end identity politics as somehow not representative, we’d still be left with tedious dead-end identity politics.

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  6. I know this is maybe just me, but the smack-talking/edgelordiness/being rude because you can gets really old really fast to me.

    It’s one thing to see injustices in the world that can be addressed, and point them out, and suggest solutions. It’s another think to make some kind of “edgy” joke that everyone around you kind of sucks their breath in through their teeth at, and then you go “Ha ha, j/k, did I TRIGGER you?” It’s juvenile. And it’s annoying to those of us out here who are just trying to do our best and commit as little collateral damage as possible in our wakes.

    Honestly, based on her tweets? I would be less inclined to pay for a personal NYT subscription. (I can read it for free, if I want to, at work – my uni has a subscription, I guess). It’s just……it’s like the comedian who relies on rude words for body parts and bodily functions instead of actually saying something of substance that makes you think as well as laugh. It’s easy to do but it’s dissatisfying to hear.

    The noise-to-signal ratio of such humor is far too high for my taste.

    And if we killed all the men, we’d go extinct as a species in a few decades. Then again, there are those who would see that more as a feature than a bug. Yes, it’s terrible that some men are abusive but I think most men – at least most I know – agree that being abusive to other people, especially your partner, is terrible.

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  7. For example, Jeong has received a lot of criticism for this tweet calling for, um, white genocide:

    Uh, no that tweet doesn’t. That tweet calls for a _study_ into whether or not a white genocide would accomplish a specific goal. It does not call for a white genocide itself in any manner.

    Now, I don’t know in what context #killallmen is used, but those specific tweets aren’t actually calling for genocide, even satirically. They’re calling for a study into that, satirically.

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  8. I tried Twitter in 2010, and lasted only a few months before giving it up.
    I haven’t seen anything since to convince me there is much benefit to its existence. It seems to turbocharge the worst human impulses to gossip, vicious ridicule and stupid blather.
    Is there anything about it that counterbalances this?

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    • FWIW I wasn’t on Twitter in 2010 and I am now, so it has that going for it…

      I enjoy the medium of Twitter but I see and understand the issues. I filter what I deal with, and I am picky who I interact with. I keep a tight reign on myself and pick my battles, and I’ve developed a wonderful little circle of folks on there. But I understand it isn’t for everyone.

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  9. Some of her Tweets are actual Tweets that somebody with no context could be offended at.

    Many of her Tweets are, stuff like this””The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing white people that folk music is good,” which is something I expect to hear on an episode of Martin from 1995, not somebody who hates white people.

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  10. Great piece. I really enjoyed it.

    I fundamentally agree in concept but in practice, I gotta wonder…is it (even back 2014, because all these seeds were already planted) really the best time for a journalist – ostensibly meant to be an unbiased observer and reporter of fact – to engage in this kind of satire? I would say no for any number of reasons, and given that Jeong is an expert in Internet culture, it makes it hard for me to give her a pass on this.

    When I read the tweets, it appeared she deliberately made her point less than clear as a gimmick, or like Vikram said, a schtick. “Does she really mean this, or not?” So I can’t help but conclude she had to know that what she was writing was at best confusing…even in context because not everyone – even smart people – get(s) stuff like that…and wide open for misinterpretation either at that time or in the future. And at worst, what she was saying was outright inflammatory. I believe that was her intent, if it hadn’t been, she would have made her point clearer. Even with 140 characters, she could have made all the same points without the potential for misinterpretation but she didn’t because she wanted to ruffle people’s feathers. Pissing people off was her intent. Not making people think, not sending some important message to all of humankind, deliberately pissing people off. She should have known better, and probably did because she is an expert on Internet culture, so I hope the point she was trying to make was worth it for her.

    And as for the NYT, it’s fine they hired her, their prerogative (I am beyond over this “let’s fire everyone over everything” movement and it’s clearly handed a lot of power to people with questionable motives) but it does make me cringe a little because of how it plays, politically. It just makes it that much harder for the people who really do want our country to heal. We’re all being so terribly stupid right now, it’s sickening.

    We should have a moratorium on satire till everything sorts itself out.

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    • “We should have a moratorium on satire till everything sorts itself out.”

      This worries me deeply even though I’ve felt the same way myself.

      I fear that my desire to endorse a moratorium on satire is a really dangerous urge. Moratoriums on satire being generally associated with ultra-authoritarianism.

      It’s the closest I can get to having empathy for the ultra-authoritarians, seeing this desire in myself to fishing *make* everyone be kind and sincere and upfront, in their anger as well as their hopes.

      Or were you being satirical when you said that?

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        • I’ve gone the other way, personally, and tend to assume anything I don’t like is satire and not possibly serious invective until I can convince myself that it is, in fact, serious invective.

          For example, in the thing you link to, my first thought was “hm. how do we know the person being called out wasn’t being satirical?”

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    • She was hired by the Editorial Board, for the Opinion section, so I think probably they didn’t think of not being biased as a requirement. Her colleagues certainly aren’t, and shouldn’t be.

      On the other hand I think the Times opinion shop is almost entirely godawful trash, with only Ross Douthat [1] and Michelle Goldberg having any real VORP [2]. What I’ve read of Jeong’s non-Twitter output has been several cuts above Maureen Dowd or Bari Weiss, to name two more of the seemingly endless line of hacks they employ. But then again, that isn’t really saying a hell of a lot.

      [1] Yes, really. He’s pretty cracked and has many opinions I find obnoxious, but he’s also interesting at least as often as not.

      [2] Value Over Replacement Pundit.

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  11. atomickristin could not have expressed my take on this affair more exactly if she knew what it was and was trying to do me the favor of writing it out in paragraphs for me.

    FWIW.

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  12. I really appreciated this post, I feel the same way about many of her tweets, and I think the way you read the situation is far closer to my own than any other take I’ve read.

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  13. Hi “Vikram”. Your help is needed.
    I understand that there is a fellow who is up for a big job opening at a large newspaper. He might be having some difficulty getting hired because of….er…. some ‘controversial’ comments he has put forth in the past. It was explained that these controversial comments were the result of a lot of people saying a lot of vile and nasty things to/about him……he was only responding in kind to them, of course. Actually, he was only being ‘sarcastic’ because of something vile that was said about him……. he didn’t REALLY mean what he had stated…… for goodness sakes.
    You seem to be quite adept at deciphering and interpreting the ACTUAL motives and reasons that some might have for…..er….. ‘controversial’ statements they have put forth previously ……even ones that call for killing people……or statements that disparage people of a certain race, or occupation. (such as law enforcement) Can you help ? Oh, btw, the man’s name is David Duke. Thanks a bunch, Vikram , you’re the greatest !

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  14. I wonder if what we’re seeing is some new kind of rhetoric that has developed from social media communication because I don’t know who this woman is, but of course I am highly familiar with the notion of tweeting things that are outrageous and incendiary, but also a little arch, and then claiming they were jokes that didn’t land right with people who are biased against you. That’s pretty much Trump’s shtick to a T.

    I think it’s also a product of an internet voice that uses hyperbole in an arch way that’s never quite serious, but where you can sort of triangulate to what they really think by figuring out who or what they’re playing off of. In real life, I think that communication style would come off as pretty neurotic, but it’s fairly normal online.

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      • That’s been the appeal of writing so much about Hamilton and gentrification. It’s an odd thing, but Hamiltonians do read the posts and, instead of commenting here, they talk to me about them in the bar, at little shops, or at work. My birth name isn’t Rufus, but everyone’s been calling me that since I was a teen, so it’s a bit more pressure to treat them like a letter I was sending to a friend about our current situation.

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        • That’s really great to hear, Rufus, that they’re reading them and then talking to you about them in person.

          For me, Maribou is likewise more “my name” than any other name I use, though only some people know that. But anyone who really knows me, knows that Maribou is my real name and the rest of them are just labels people are welcome to use, most (not all) of whom don’t know me as well as the people who’ve been calling me ‘bou for 20 years.

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  15. People seem intent on using social media to give voice to revenge fantasies. You have all these angry people that possess a genetic anger to different groups. These groups could be Jews, heterosexuals, white people, the LGBT community, immigrants, nerds, etc. Sometimes this anger is justified because your in a persecuted class in the real world and sometimes it’s just raw hate aimed at a margisnizled group. Regardless, people are using social media to enact their revenge fantasies through hash tags.

    I think that this type of #killallwhatever behavior existed before the Internet but it was limited to groups and places without much broadcast power. Radical feminism that took a harsh stance against men in general existed before the Internet but it lacked avenues for public display or discovery.

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  16. So. Satire. And total commitment to maintaining the voice, and not winking.

    It seems like it’s meant to humiliate those not in on the joke, but that’s often the way with satire. You know, “if you think I’m being serious, that means you are being made fun of”. I’ve seen that before. I didn’t like it then, either.

    So not necessarily racist or sexist, but still not a place I want to be.

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