Andrew Sullivan Is Mad Again

The New York Times hired Sarah Jeong last week. She is a writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The VergeForbes, and The Guardian. She has also, perhaps presciently, written a book about internet harassment. Her appointment to the New York Times Editorial Board brought thrilled reactions from some corners of the internet…

…but, because the internet was involved, it also produced incredulous hyperventilating outrage from disingenuous conservatives convinced that Jeong’s old tweets proved that she was unconscionably racist against the one group of American citizens that has, arguably, suffered the most throughout the entirety of the American experiment: white people.

Although there were plenty of critics angling to lead the charge – it would take more time to list the prominent conservative thinkers who did not immediately retire to their fainting couches upon discovering that somebody, somewhere was not spending absolutely all of her time worshipping white people – the most amusing might have been Andrew Sullivan, who gallantly rode his extremely white steed square into the middle of Jeong’s appointment. And as with all other things Sullivan, he was mad. It is exceedingly difficult to pick a particular paragraph from the rhetorical home runs Sullivan kept hitting. Here is one that is at least as good as all of the others; in it, Sullivan hulks out  about what he describes as Jeong’s advocacy for a white genocide:

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!

Jeong had the unmitigated temerity to make what appeared to be sweeping comments about white people, and if there is one thing that Andrew Sullivan absolutely does not approve of, it is sweeping comments to be made about white people.

Sweeping comments being made about other people though? Well, that’s certainly more negotiable. For example, here is Sullivan declaring that it is absolutely hilarious whenever Asian people talk:

For another example, here is Sullivan insisting that those opposed to immigration are obviously not racist, because they are simply opposed to “massive demographic change” which is, duh, not about race at all, but rather, the extremely not-at-all-about-race idea that demographics are fine just the way they are:

Among Sullivan’s many claims to fame – and goodness knows there have been so many, from being catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War to hyping a bonkers conspiracy regarding the birth of Sarah Palin’s son Trig – is championing Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, an allegedly objective investigation into, among other things, genetic differences between the races, including the not-at-all controversial conclusion that maybe certain people are genetically inferior to certain other people (who happen, and this is definitely the merest imaginable coincidence, to look like both the study’s authors and Sullivan himself). Sullivan has repeatedly, and at every imaginable opportunity, championed the book, its findings, and Murray himself. And of course, Sullivan savages The Bell Curve‘s critics at every conceivable opportunity, as he does here, writing about Ezra Klein:

Klein cannot seem to hold the following two thoughts in his brain at the same time: that past racism and sexism are foul, disgusting, and have wrought enormous damage and pain and that unavoidable natural differences between races and genders can still exist.

Sullivan angrily wants it both ways. He wants us to understand that he finds racism to be foul, disgusting, and damaging, but also that he believes that certain people are genetically inferior. Sullivan continues to assume that as long as he prefaces all of his comments with half-hearted disclaimers of racism – as if the point of proving the genetic inferiority of certain people has ever been about anything more complicated than justifying the kind of “foul, disgusting” racism that Sullivan claims, extremely unconvincingly, to abhor – then not only is he in the clear to advocate for the race science that he deeply believes in, but that those opposed to him are the truly illiberal actors.

Amusingly, Sarah Jeong knew about this history. Let us revisit one of the tweets that Sullivan sought to furiously highlight, the one that read:

“Are white people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”

That was one of the ones Sullivan highlighted in his paragraph frothing about “eliminationist rhetoric.” Sullivan was apoplectic about this one. How dare somebody imply the subhumanity of a race that Sullivan happens to be a part of? Implying the subhumanity of another race is Sullivan’s job, after all. Speaking of precisely that responsibility, another, and considerably better, question is to ask when it was exactly that Jeong tweeted out that particular message. It was, as it turns out, on December 23, 2014, yet another day which saw Sullivan returning to race science, and several hours after Sullivan had written, in a long defense of The New Republic‘s handling of racial issues, this:

And Dish readers know how comfortable I found myself in that liberal tradition. Airing taboo stuff and examining and critiquing it has been a running feature of this blog from its beginnings. It is an axiom of mine that anything can be examined and debated – and that the role of journalism is not to police the culture but to engage in it forthrightly and honestly. Again: I respect those who believe the role of a magazine is to bless certain opinions and to stigmatize others, to indicate what is a socially acceptable opinion and what is not. It’s just not the way I have ever rolled on anything. So I responded to the race and IQ controversy exactly as I would any other: put it all on the table and let the facts and arguments take us where they may. In fact, I couldn’t understand why those who loathed the book didn’t leap at the chance to debunk it. If it were so transparently dreck, why not go in for the kill?

A few hours later, Jeong tweeted this:

Andrew Sullivan Is Mad Again

It would certainly seem that not only was Jeong criticizing Sullivan’s approach to debate, but that four years later, Sullivan did not see himself in Jeong’s tweet. It simply did not occur to him that he was her target; or, more troublingly, perhaps it did, and he chose to mislead his readers anyway. That would be a hell of an accusation, but as we have established previously, Sullivan has never been wrong about anything, and certainly not in absurdly over-the-top ways, so surely something else happened here.

So very briefly, to recap:

Sullivan, for his part, has not acknowledged any of this. Why? Because as soon as he was done complaining that Jeong was the real racist, he returned to his true passion: championing…*checks notes*…more of the aforementioned race science that he loves so desperately and so pathetically.

Regarding Jeong

Of course, Sullivan’s stunning inability to see himself in Jeong’s absurdity does not absolve her of the other things she wrote. There is a price to be paid for criticizing white people after all, and we can all agree that Jeong finds herself deeply in debt that she must immediately endeavor to repa…oh, wait, she apologized.

Oh.

Right.

Actual, genuine racism. That is what that looks like. It was so easy to forget, what with people like Sullivan lending what is left of their shredded credibility to the sorts of people who disingenuously claim to be offended about racism in only the most specific situations.

It is a hell of a thing to see a group of white people falling absolutely to pieces about literally nothing at all, and then to see them excoriate Jeong for having responded to so much more in a manner that they did not personally approve of. It is almost as if even the faintest whiff of what so many others endure so often and so regularly reduces them to ash. But rather than empathizing in any meaningful way, these folks then demand wildly more for themselves than they allow for anybody else.

Is there a word for that?


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204 thoughts on “Andrew Sullivan Is Mad Again

  1. “…that she was unconscionably racist against the one group of American citizens that has, arguably, suffered the most throughout the entirety of the American experiment: white people”

    Are you implying that racism toward white people is in fact conscionable?

    “to recap…advocating for a closed-borders immigration policy designed to maintain white numerical superiority is not racist.”

    I don’t see anywhere that Sullivan advocated for a closed-border immigration policy designed to maintain white numerical superiority. He did not advocate for our current immigration policy; he called for it to be reformed, while maintaining an immigration policy. Is any immigration policy by its nature racist?

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    • Pinky: Are you implying that racism toward white people is in fact conscionable?

      Do you really read what Jeong tweeted and see racism?

      I mean, some of the tweets are clumsy, such that if you were already inclined to
      (1) read lazily and without attention to
      (1a) how obviously off-the-wall the literal meanings are, and
      (1b) where else one tends to encounter this sort of tone but with respect to arguments that get made in all seriousness, about other races than white people, and also
      (2) jump straight to the least charitable reading, and
      (3) reject the framing of racism as prejudice plus structural power

      … then yes, you could conclude that Jeong’s tweets are racist.

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      • As for #1 and #2, this only isn’t a problem if they don’t go hand in hand 90% of the time. They do.

        On top of that, #3 is pretty easily rejectable, for the record. (And this shouldn’t be read as me saying “I REJECT IT!” as much as me saying “have you looked outside?”)

        I suppose if you want to have the “I’m using *THIS* definition of ‘racist’, not *THAT* definition of ‘racist’!” argument, I’d be willing to have it. Might be good to hammer out that there are multiple different definitions that people jump between without making explicit which definition they’re using in any given sentence.

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        • OK, so let’s leave #3 aside for the moment.

          Do you still concede #1 and #2 are errors, and that these errors are necessary to read Jeong’s comments as racist? I.e. that it is in fact a misreading – even if it’s clearly a common misreading? I.e. that while the incredulously hyperventilating conservatives of the OP might not actually be disingenuous, they remain wrong?

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          • If we just want to hammer out that it’s an error to make errors, then allow me to say that I agree that it’s an error to make an error and that people shouldn’t make errors.

            Sure.

            But if conservatives weren’t inclined to be wrong, they’d agree with me on a lot more stuff.

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            • OK. So stipulated that whatever Jeong’s tweets were, they were not in fact instances of racism against white people?

              I’m pretty confident on the basis of the essay I just read that also does not see the tweets as instances of racism against white people. As such, I think we can reasonably dismiss the idea that he was “implying that racism toward white people is in fact conscionable”.

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              • What they *WERE*? Sure. Absolutely.

                Lemme know when we get to the issue of how they *APPEAR* to the people who are making errors.

                I’m more than happy enough to agree that Jeong is not *REALLY* racist in her heart of hearts. I’ve no doubt that some of her best friends are White People. She went to Harvard, after all.

                For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the problem is the whole Ding an Sich of Sarah Jeong.

                But if we want to narrow it down to whether she’s racist, eh, sure. She’s not.

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      • My question rather specifically avoided the matter of whether her tweets are racist. If I said that her tweets promoted false ideas like the Holocaust, you wouldn’t ask me to support my position about her tweets, you’d ask me about the way I just more-than-implied that the Holocaust didn’t happen. I’m not asking Sam if her tweets were “unconscionably” racist against white people; I’m asking if he really believes that racism against white people is conscionable.

        Of course I reject #3. Everyone has different kinds of power, and as I think about the reach of the words I’m typing here versus the reach of this new NYT employee, I’ve got nowhere near the power she does. I’m not sure how you’d define “structural” power, but it’d have to include something other than legal power and practical power, because neither of those fit the situation we’re describing here (but perhaps I’m focusing too much on the specific rather than the general). If you’d rather ditch the word “racist” entirely, I’d be fine with that, and we can say “prejudicial based on race”. Nevertheless, Sam used the term “racist”, so I followed in kind.

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        • It doesn’t matter if her tweets were racist.
          They show incredibly poor judgment.

          The decision only shows a taste for trash gaining prominence among respectable outlets.
          Here, the NYT has hired what amounts to someone who scrawls prolifically on bathroom walls to assist in directing their content.
          The Old Grey Lady is losing her lustre.

          Sullivan has every right to be upset, as do others, because of the expectations set when he took the job.

          Not yet have I heard one person suggest the NYT will now be a much better publication with Jeong on the board.
          Their trajectory is already chosen.

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          • “Took the job?” He doesn’t work for the NYT, he wrote an essay for New York Magazine though. Two completely different entities, not financially dependent on each other, to the best of my knowledge. Pretty sure they’re in competition and formally (if not in the bar after work) disdain each other? I don’t follow the NY publishing scene that closely though.

            Or did you mean something else by that or am I wrong about Sullivan?

            (FWIW I agree they shouldn’t have hired her, I just dont’ agree that we should care. That ship sailed long ago.)

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            • I see.
              I neither know these people, nor keep up with them, and I rely on what little ‘net perusal I do to provide usable information I can assimilate.
              And frankly, I find Marcus Aurelius just as timely, if not more so.
              But thank you for this information. I do appreciate the directness of it.

              I don’t think this matters so much, that the two are financially independent.
              It’s still shifting the landscape beneath him, as the NYT is, without question, a leader in the field.

              I really don’t see an established journalist in competition with a tweet-artist, much the same as I see no overlap between toilet paper and P-gravel.
              Sure, they can be used in much the same way, but why?

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              • “I really don’t see an established journalist in competition with a tweet-artist’

                Were she only a tweet-artist, I’d agree with you. But she’s been writing and getting paid for it by major online publications for years, and has a published book under her belt with a major publisher. Been a long time since Sullivan wrote a book.

                Her non-tweet-form essays, fwiw, are less p-gravelly than Sullivan’s, at least if you look at the last 5 years.

                I think she’s a crappy person and an awful (read effectively unconscionable) lawyer, but I still find his motives suspect.

                That said I agree with you about Marcus Aurelius, which I’ve read his Meditations all the way through once and return to all the time, and I only really keep track of people like Sullivan because of my attachment to this here website, where people are interested in him. I’m interested in *them*, and that requires me to keep some baseline knowledge of him. Plus Virtually Normal was extremely interesting when it came out, in the context of its time, and helped me shift a lot of straight people’s thinking. He lost the thread somewhere.

                Jeong I was only aware of in the context of her book before now (because it’s my job), and a little bit from coming across a few of her essays which were well-written enough, above the standard of most opinion journalism these days (including at the NYT).

                *shrug* I concur that it’s better to spend one’s time in books, but that’s not the culture we’re in…. Jason K had a post on FB talking about how much better off we’d be if everyone stopped watching TV news/following the rapid response cycle, and spent that time learning about history, cultural affairs, and politics through longer-form/longer-distillation efforts instead. I feel like he’s not *wrong*, necessarily, but it’s also a daydream to think about that happening instantly, and more effective to think about what the next step is, one step at a time.

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                • :
                  I gave up television over ten years ago, and I don’t miss it.
                  I never seem to get as much done in a day as I would like, and I can only believe that having a television in the house would make that worse.

                  Did I ever mention I love librarians?

                  FTR, I love librarians.
                  They always have so many books.

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    • 1. “racism toward white people” is laughably ridiculous nonsense, especially if the racism being hyperventilated about amounts to standard standup comedy tropes.

      2. He advocated for an immigration policy that slows “massive demographic change” which is, of course, referencing the idea that white people should always be in the nation’s numerical majority.

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      • 1. Are you taking the position that Dragonfrog referred to, that racism equals prejudice plus power?

        2. That’s simply false. There are lots of reasons that a person could oppose massive demographic change other than what you said.

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          • There are lots of reasons that a person could oppose massive demographic change other than what you said.

            Like what?

            I, personally, oppose the entire country suddenly aging by twenty years. I suspect this would cause massive disruptions to basically all aspects of life. ;)

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              • I dunno, it sorta depends on what you mean by ’20 years younger’…do people under 20 disappear or what?

                If they do, all you’ve really done is shifted everything back 20 years, and…we could function 20 years ago. We can function now with basically the same people…in fact, we’ve lost a bunch of unhealthy people off the end since then, so we’d have a lot less health care costs. Everyone still alive is going to naturally live another 20 years.

                If people under 20 don’t disappear, and you end up with 20 years worth of newborns, yeah, that’s a pretty massive problem.

                Meanwhile, shifting everyone forward 20 years means…a lot of people physically can’t do their job anymore, and the people who can physically do the job are, mentally, children. Pretty much every age range has become less productive, and we have a much large amount of the elderly to care for.

                Another massive demographics change we probably don’t want: Everyone becomes the same sex.

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        • 1. I’m taking the position that white people are perfectly fine, regardless of what Jeong jokingly tweeted about them.

          2. There are lots of reasons that people could want to make sure that the population stays whiter without being motivated by race? Let’s hear ’em.

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            • Regardless of Sam’s opinion – yeah, I’m fine with that. I’m not a utilitarian about everything, but about that, I am.

              The alternative is to get stressed out about whether every single person likes me, including people who have no way of actually affecting me on the basis of their dislike. I was not terribly happy when I was fourteen, and I don’t need to do that all over again.

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              • There can be wrongs without harms right?

                For instance, suppose that I coerce you paternalistically (maybe I brainwashed you into following the one true religion whatever that is) and suppose that my motives are good and that my coercion of you does indeed benefit you (now you get to go to heaven) way more than any harm that came from issuing that threat, I still fail to respect you as an equal moral agent. That seems to be a serious wrong.

                So in principle, you can wrong people without harming them. There is nothing obviously incoherent about the notion.

                In fact a lot of the wrongs involved in racism are about failures to respect people as equals. For instance, suppose a town institutes a policy where there are separate drinking fountains for whites and everyone else. These fountains draw from different water sources. Somehow, the water supply for the whites’ drinking fountain gets contaminated and all white people get sick and die. Just because non-whites were not harmed doesn’t mean that instituting separate drinking fountains wasnt wrong

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              • Yeah, I’m pretty okay with that too, and from what I’ve seen countries where racism is a lot more violent more often (eg Malaysia) have to accept that as a standard when they actually want to improve things.

                Maybe it’s not ideal in the long term, or morally *preferable*, but as a “enh, this is where I stop caring or putting my limited energies into fixing something” it’s a pretty good line, IMO.

                The problem, I’m sure, with universalizing it, is that different people define harm quite differently (and almost all of us define harm to self/loved ones rather differently than harm to outsiders, unless we strive mightily not to do so).

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            • I’ll gladly spell it out, but I hope that you’ll also spell out the answer to what I’ve been asking you about the object of racial prejudice.

              The US has a culture influenced by the Enlightenment. Cultures that weren’t influenced by the Enlightenment typically have a frame of reference that doesn’t easily co-exist with ours. We have certain expectations about people’s beliefs toward faith, reason, equality, justice, et cetera, at least on a continuum, that may not be shared by everyone entering the US. To the extent that members of a non-American culture are increasing their numbers in the US, it is going to affect our commonality. There are three possible ways to ease the tension that that would cause. One, slowing down the speed of migration. Two, weighting migration toward people who are more likely to share our values (either by favoring people by cultural origin or by favoring the more highly educated). Three, by encouraging assimilation.

              That’s not a perfect explanation of what I’m thinking about, but I hope it’s sufficient.

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              • @pinky

                I think you accurately describe the dynamic. Look at the hostility towards
                Catholicism during the 19th century and how that affected attitudes towards incoming immigrants. I would prescribe assimilation as the ultimate cure, however the classical conservative approach towards any cultural change should not be to stop but merely to slow down while society has a chance to catch up.

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                • In practice, assimilation usually involves racialized violence as its spur, either culturally or institutionally enforced. It has involved exactly that over and over in US history.

                  Much like “in theory, communism works,” assimilation by policy has proven to be a dangerous guiding principle.

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                  • “In practice, assimilation usually involves racialized violence as its spur, either culturally or institutionally enforced. It has involved exactly that over and over in US history.”

                    Respectfully, that is a grossly inaccurate statement. A lot of my undergrad work was based on studying the cultural effects of immigration in the second half of the 19th century (I was interested because all of my relatives came to the U.S. during that time). The ‘assimilation’ process was often very benign and in fact immigrant communities often put as much pressure on themselves to assimilate as from outside forces. I would also argue that assimilation is in fact a dynamic which flows in both direction. Both the existing group and the new group take items from each other and ultimately the end result is something new. When looking at world history, assimilation is in fact, usually a net good. That process may take centuries to play out and yes, it is sometimes violent, but just as often it is a peaceful and mutually beneficial process.

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                    • Did you include missionary expansionism and manifest destiny, Indian schools, violent harassment of Sikhs for wearing turbans, etc., in your studies? Because all of that is *part* of assimiliation, was already happening in the 19th century, and it’s not fair to split this shadow side away from happy fun Norwegian immigration to Minnesota (which, agreed, way less violent and difficult) as traditional academic history usually does.
                      (NYC is my middle case, I’d say it’s about 60/40 a problem / a benefit if you look at it without the assumption that Anglo culture is best and should absorb only what it judges as the best of the rest.)

                      I really don’t think the assimilation of the Irish and Scots and the people living in what became the Raj to the British empire was a net good, either, even though I wouldn’t exist without it, and I don’t trust or accept the worldview that claims otherwise.

                      I come from a country that *explicitly* doesn’t aim for assimilation, and it’s far kinder, and more welcoming, and better at dealing with its past sins, on the whole. Except when dealing with First Nations folk, who it’s only just barely stopped trying to assimilate.

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                      • PS “social pressure to assimilate” and “policy to assimilate” are two different beasts, perhaps? My problems are with the latter as long as the former does not become hateful. Welcoming pressure – hi, hello, glad you’re here, get to know your neighbors (writ large or small), learn from them, they learn from you – is a good thing, so different that in Canada we don’t even use the same names for it anymore.

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                      • I acknowledged in my comment that sometimes assimilation can be violent and ugly, however I think you are focusing more on systemic assimilation rather than organic assimilation. Mission schools, for example, were an organized effort to make American Indians more like Europeans. Mostly though, there are unseen pressures that come from ‘society’ including both outside and inside a community. There’s also the time-honored process of assimilation through marriage. As an example, within 4 generations my family intermarried Irish, Swiss, French and German within one direct line of descendents.

                        And yes, we know Canadians are very nice people. ;)

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                        • “I think you are focusing more on systemic assimilation rather than organic assimilation”

                          Well, yeah. My point is (in part) that if you don’t qualify it, you’re giving systemic assimilation, and xenophobic behavior assimilation, a pass, because they’re assimilation too. because there’s no separate word for “systemic assimilation” because *to the systemic assimilators*, they’re all part of the same (Enlightenment-entangled, btw, @pinky) project to bring everyone “up to the standard” of an aggressively dominating, expanding culture. Me, I don’t think just because that’s how we did it, it’s the best way to do it or have done it. And if we want to keep the “welcoming” part, we maybe need to stop calling it by the same names as the crappy part.

                          See my other comment after I tried to actually figure out why you would think that.

                          In Canada we call the good stuff “multiculturalism,” (granted, then people who are xenophobic (or misled) get up in arms about silos, supposed reverse racism that has even less substance than Sully was running with as referenced in the OP, and Shariah law). But most Canadians are very on board with that use most of the time. Honestly, I don’t think it’s *because* we’re nice, I think it’s because we changed how we thought about things like this, and that change in thinking *made* us nice. 1950s Canadians were just as nasty as anyone else…

                          Words, man.

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                          • I guess I made the academic mistake here of assuming everyone understood there are different types of assimilation. With that said, Canadian multiculturalism is pretty commendable but I’m not a fan of it in places like Europe. It leads to ghettos, insular communities and often times, radicalization. Granted, they have a lot of other factors at play, but it’s been pretty well proven IMO that putting no pressure on groups to assimilate creates its own problems.

                            Perhaps a better term to use would be ‘fusion’. Neither side necessarily becomes less than they were. They fuse together to become something better. That’s what ultimately happened with European immigrants to the US in the 19th century and something I think we’re still capable of, hoping the current occupant of the White House is an anomaly.

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                            • It’s not that I don’t know there are different types, it’s that if you look at history I’m pretty sure most of the people endorsing/enacting the unwanted types don’t know there are different types.

                              “Europe” is a bit of a hard sell for me given that the hijab, niqab, etc, were banned in France specifically on assimilationist lines… I’d have to know which countries you are talking about to know what I thought there.

                              Fusion is a really good term and a good goal (imo) – what Canadians mean by multiculturalism over time, and I think it’s relevant that both the melting pot and stirfry models (US and Canada) use food terms :D.

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                        • PS My lineage of assimilation through marriage includes a 13-year-old Kolkatan orphan trained up to be a “proper European” by a Dutch shopkeeper lady and then more or less purchased by an 18-year-old Irish army clerk, in Kolkata. I’d like to *think* that was all perfectly benign, kind, and happy, and worked out for the best (I even have some textual evidence that lets me cling to that belief, at least emotionally if not intellectually; they stayed married, they had 8 kids, she was a country squire’s wife which seems to me far more appealing than being a street orphan, but then again *how* was she orphaned in that place and time….)… but really whatever the true answers are to that question, they’re darn complicated, morally suspect at least from some angles, and quite possibly far more awful than I’m willing to countenance. And laden with both social and systemic assimilation in ways that it seems impossible to untangle…

                          I mean, we’re here, now, I dont’ think it’s all THAT instructive to dwell or wallow as Dr. Jay says elsewhere today, but when I hear people saying “it worked in the past, that’s what we should keep doing,” that seems very …. flattening to me. And a mere acknowledgment that there was *some* moral problem, but worth it overall, doesn’t make me less wary of the project of assimilation, or less insistent that we really need to carefully carve the good part away from the awful parts if that’s how we’re going to proceed.

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                  • I second Mike’s comment. My grandparents stopped speaking blank when they moved here from Blankland. They lived in a blankie community, built a business, and here I am barely able to sound out the blank alphabet, but I’m fully an American.

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                    • Which is itself interesting.
                      Didn’t your ancestors, like mine, make a radical change to American culture?

                      Whose culture is the one to be shed, which religion should be discarded, what language is to be forgotten?

                      Should we demand that all immigrants become secular, and adopt the correct attitudes towards transgender and gay folk?
                      Should we encourage children to stop attending church/temple/mosque and blend in with secular agnostics?

                      Isn’t most of the fear and rage in the conservative world coming from a resistance to assimilation into the emerging world of multiculturalism and secularism?

                      Isn’t the conservative ethos of standing athwart history yelling “STOP” an implicit rejection of the Enlightenment?

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                      • Random fact: Every major immigrant group to America has followed a simple pattern.

                        1. Move here in a fairly sizable wave.
                        2. Group together and continue speaking their native tongue, with little English skills.
                        3. Raise fully bilingual kids who don’t segregate as much, spreading out of the tight community.
                        4. Those kids raise kids who, by and large, speak only English and whose connection to their native heritage is basically “Stuff I do at Grandma’s house”.

                        Of course, the hysteria is always the same about how they’re not assimilating, how they’ll ruin America’s preciousness or whatnot.

                        Three generations, and what you get is a nice neighborhood or town with delicious food.

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                        • With a few exceptions, well said. The immigrant group that assimilated that took the longest time to assimilate were the Germans. They were were the most serious about maintaining a distinct German identity and ensuring that the kiddies spoke Deutsch. It took two World Wars to really get Germans to see themselves as basic Whites.

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                          • I’m not sure Morat’s use of “immigrant group” would include something as broad as “Africans” as a unified “immigrant group” considering the wide diversity of cultures, languages, etc., represented by that word.

                            I mean, if you’re talking about the African American descendants of slaves, yeah, the whole being dragged here, enslaved, constantly at risk of murder, and often raped by their non-African owners, kinda put a dent in things….

                            Or were you speaking of modern African immigrants? Because as far as I can see, most of those folks are, in fact, assimilating more or less as described. (I think “stuff we do at grandma’s house” strongly underestimates the effect of immigration on the 3rd generation’s most important connections to their ethnicity, but by 5th or 6th, accurate enough for most folks, mostly due to intermarriage and picking and choosing traditions to carry on or mashup – which I think is a good thing!)

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                          • Yeah, because the major and largest wave of African immigrants were brought over forcibly, and systemically and deliberately stripped of their culture and heritage.

                            So perhaps I should have said “willing immigrants” for the pedantic.

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              • Question Pinky: is there evidence supporting the view that people who come to the US from non-western countries are corrupting our Enlightenment-based ideals? Eg, is there evidence that people India don’t support democracy, or that people from Nigeria reject private property rights?

                Add: I like your short summary of the view. Nicely stated.

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              • Literally all of that – from the very first word – is completely and entirely bogus. The idea that this nation is built upon “faith, reason, equality, justice” is entirely ludicrous, especially those last two claims, as any even casual understanding of American history will reveal. We have a nation built upon delivering outcomes to conservative white people, at the expense of everybody else, and we have a political history of people fighting for access to those same outcomes.

                As for those ideas about who should and should not be let into the country, I wonder who exactly you mean. I see great big descriptors like “people who share our values” without it being clear who exactly that might be, especially in regard to your aforementioned cultural touchstones.

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                • I didn’t say that the country was founded on those things. I said that the Enlightenment affected the general thinking about things such as those, and that affected our founding.

                  I await the summation of your views on racial prejudice.

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                • “We have a nation built upon delivering outcomes to conservative white people, at the expense of everybody else…”

                  You almost had me convinced of your argument until this line. If you think your political persuasions somehow put you on the outside of that equation, then think again. Liberals benefit from and rig the system in their favor just as much as the other side of the aisle.

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                    • I think he was saying that if you take the word ‘conservative’ out of that sentence, it’s more convincing?

                      And I actually think he’s right about that. The nation isn’t built on delivering outcomes to conservative white people, it’s built on delivering outcomes to (some other descriptor or maybe “those who can become,” speaking of assimilation) white people.

                      Me, I’d say “rich white people” as my descriptor but we all know I’m a godless Commie and far too sensitive to any evidence of class warfare whatsoever. (To be clear, in the context of an OP about people upset about satirical language, I am neither Godless, nor a Commie, nor do I think the language of warfare is the best way to discuss class antagonism.)

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                        • Working at an elite liberal-biased liberal arts college for a decade has given me a wholllllllllle new perspective on who is raking in the cash and privilege at the tippy top of the kyriarchy.

                          Whole lotta rich white liberals with rich white liberal speeches but horrified that their kids might have to brush elbows with ‘those people” nonetheless, and reluctant to fund anything that might give poorer kids a leg up to catch up with their own, even the ones making their school look good with their brilliance and impact on the world. Whole lotta their kids treating the identifiably working class of every race (but especially non-white ones, non-straight ones, non-able-bodied ones) like utter crap when the pedal hits the medal, while continuing to loudly espouse liberal ideals.

                          And the benefits they receive are endless.

                          (Not that everyone is like that, obviously, and not that being like that actually means they might not be contributing to outcomes they don’t personally embrace…. but it sure gave me a big new window into the habits of the liberal rich.)

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                          • I think I may have just found the one issue for which I truly believe BSDI …. extremely rich white people are on average very very good at, and dedicated to, maintaining the status quo, whether liberal or conservative in their voting.

                            I mean, I guess there’s a way in which “dedicated to maintaining the status quo” *is* conservative, but that ship is … halfway around the world by now.

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                          • I think this interacts with the current topic, especially the “performative anti-white shit-talking in the UMC Blue Tribe world”, in an interesting and unsettling way [1], but I keep getting kind of derailed in my attempts to lay it out.

                            It’s been a long day of coding. I was inventing new curse words by the end of it. One of my coworkers was quite puzzled when I exclaimed, “I just completely schnerkled it all up.”

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                    • You don’t have to agree with it, but there’s a commonly-held belief that liberals create government dependency, on purpose, through pushing social programs more than is necessary.

                      But hey, if you want to lump yourself in with all those other groups because you are an oppressed white liberal, go for it.

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              • “Cultures that weren’t influenced by the Enlightenment”
                So, not to pile on, but what do you mean by that?

                Like, I’m really struggling to think of cultures that weren’t influenced (for better or worse) by the Enlightenment, and I’m having a hard time coming up with any that don’t also involve being super-isolated in some remote place somewhere and basically never interacting with the West, ie migration is therefore not a factor.

                So it seems like a non-qualifier to me, or at least a misunderstanding of global history over the last few hundred years.

                Counterexamples??

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                • Offhand, I’d say that India has adopted principles of Western democracy more successfully than Pakistan, and thus I’d be inclined to think that Indian migration would have less of an impact than Pakistani migration.

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                  • Do you really think Pakistan hasn’t been impacted by the Enlightenment though? Jinnah was as much an enlightenment-guided thinker as anyone (hagiography very much to one side).

                    Ie, when you move the goalposts from “influenced by the Enlightenment,” to “adopted principles of Western democracy” you’ve nearly crossed the playing field, they’re so far from where they were originally planted …

                    (Plus every person I know from supposedly anti-Western-democracy states like Pakistan, Iran, etc., moved here to *get away from them* because their enlightenment-similar ideals were putting their lives in danger. I’m not saying that’s generally true, I’m saying it makes it damn hard for me to listen to someone make those assumptions about immigrants from a particular country as a generalization.)

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                    • It was not my intention to move the goalposts; they’re right where I thought they were at the beginning, but maybe I didn’t explain it well enough at first.

                      There are cultures that were influenced by the Enlightenment in the same way that I’ve been influenced by second-hand smoke, but a look at my lungs would show that my insides are very different from a two-packs-a-day addict.

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                      • Ok, well, thank you for explaining your perspective. The idea that Pakistan isn’t about 60 percent as Enlightenment-impacted (albeit sometimes in much more negative ways) as America, if not even closer, runs extremely contrary to what I’ve learned about the two countries, the history of the British empire, the effect of the Empire on its various colonies and subjects, etc… and of course about the actual French and general European Enlightenment itself….

                        To the point where all of that adds up so obviously to me that if you think it’s “second-hand smoke” vs a 2 pack a day addict, I’m probably not going to be able to successfully grasp your perspective about these matters. Nor to figure out how to tease out the parts of what I’ve learned that might be useful to you (if they would be).

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                        • I short-handed away too much in that statement, I realize. I should spell this out better, but to be honest I’m really busy today. So let me just say the following: that the changes brought on by the Enlightenment were not necessarily or universally positive; that the American experience generally took the best aspects of the Enlightenment and encoded them into a system of governance; that attempts to apply the details of the American system of governance to other cultures are not assured to be successful; and that, I don’t know, a bunch of other stuff but I’m too busy right now, sorry.

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                          • Totally fair. I find that a lot easier to understand than your previous statements, even though I think we still disagree. And I appreciate the effort and understand the busy-ness. (I’m not so much not busy as exceptionally sleep-deprived, completely out of extrovert but not allowed to be alone any time soon (which shows itself in my lack of filters, not in withdrawal like a sensible introvert would do), and thus in hyper-caffeinated-hyper-multitasking-hyper-verbose-hyper-connective mode, so I apologize if that’s making me overly intense.)

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              • This hostility to cultural change is itself hostile to the Enlightenment.

                It turns the ideas of liberty into a fixed creed, eternal and unchanging. It assumes there is a truth outside of us that can’t be changed and to which the laws must always be bent.

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                • That was the sort of thing I liked you for, back when you were Lolligag ’72, or whatever it was.
                  You had an independence of thought that could be fairly described as “daring,” and a level of rigor above most.
                  Much better than the partisan hack spewing talking points.

                  Good to see you back.

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                • This hostility to cultural change is itself hostile to the Enlightenment.

                  True

                  It turns the ideas of liberty into a fixed creed, eternal and unchanging.

                  That’s neither here nor there

                  It assumes there is a truth outside of us that can’t be changed and to which the laws must always be bent.

                  The enlightenment is perfectly consistent with this. The ethos of the enlightenment is that there is an objective truth out there and that we can figure it out with evidence and reason.

                  It is the counter-enlightenment and the post-modernists who are the heirs of the counter-enlightenment who are more inclined to deny this claim.

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                  • :
                    #3: Quite so.
                    I believe this is the origin of the criticism stated in #2, that the position would render truth no longer subjective; i.e., a discrete occurrence would exist.
                    Abhorrence of discrete occurrences is a cornerstone of our political left.

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              • The US has a culture influenced by the Enlightenment. Cultures that weren’t influenced by the Enlightenment typically have a frame of reference that doesn’t easily co-exist with ours.

                I kinda want to ask ‘s question, but the other way around: The objection to ‘demographic change’ never seems to map how ‘enlightened’ a civilization people are coming from.

                The largest ‘demographic change’, in fact, is Hispanics. Last I checked, they tend to be from countries that, basically, have a culture from Europe. (Or, rather, had a native culture and then a European culture that sorta took over.) Actually, right now, they tend to be from the US, but whatever.

                The next biggest demographic change is from African-Americans, but, uh, that’s not an outside culture at all.

                Meanwhile, no one seems to notice that the second largest provider of immigrants to the US is…China, which last I checked sorta did avoid the Enlightenment and does have a pretty different culture and expectation of democratic and governmental norms. You’d think they’d be relevant. Apparently not.

                And that, right there, is the interesting question…why is the word demographics being used at all? We have a word to describe culture…it’s culture.

                Demographics doesn’t mean culture, it doesn’t even include culture in the technical sense. Demographics is facts, like race and age and educational level. There are things that are proxies for culture in demographics, like country of origin and languages and whatnot, but ‘culture’ is not collectible demographic, it’s way too slippery. ‘Ethnicity’ is the closest demographics gets to ‘culture’.

                The reason the word ‘demographics’ is being used by people like Sullivan is that the people using it mean that word. Specifically, they mean ‘race’.

                They just backpeddle to ‘culture’ when that’s pointed out.

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                • “which last I checked sorta did avoid the Enlightenment”
                  That’s a better example than most, but if you think Admiral Perry opening Japan, and the Opium Wars, and the Boxer Rebellion, and The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the freaking rise of Communism and ascendancy of Mao (who was not the right kind of meritocratic for the old Chinese imperial system which is why he was a backwater librarian before he became a politician), aren’t intertwined with the Enlightenment… and that those things didn’t majorly influence China’s culture in the modern era…

                  One cannot simply untangle European imperialism, nor any country which had significant dealings with the United States trying to helpfully “intervene” on the ground during and post-WW2, from the Enlightenment, regardless of how one might try.

                  (Not saying this affects the rest of your comment one way or t’other, just quibbling with your example. Which, as I said, was still better than the one we were using before.)

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                  • and that those things didn’t majorly influence China’s culture in the modern era…

                    Yeah, ‘avoid’ was silly word, I meant more…’tried to fight and was moderately successful’.

                    Or, to rephrase, if you want an example of a culture that isn’t Enlightenment-based, China is one of the best examples you can find currently…or at least, is the best example of such a culture that has a large number of people migrating to the US. A lot of the impact of the Enlightenment on China was in how it was fought again it. No existing culture is ever going to ‘beat’ the Enlightenment, but China probably came closest, for the longest, shaping it how it wanted. It even reshaped communism into something pretty different.

                    China is different culturally is not only in the historical sense, but in the exact way that people concerned about ‘demographics no wait I’m not racist I really meant culture’ supposedly care about, like ‘respect for democratic institutions’ and ‘respect for the free market’ and ‘belief in civil rights and personal freedoms’ and ‘religion’.

                    And, yet…somehow…China, the second most popular country for US immigrants to come from, is not ever mentioned in any of this anti-immigration rhetoric. Whereas Mexico is, a country that is…majority Christian and an actual (if corrupt) capitalistic democracy. Yeah, their civil rights record is horribly bad at this point, but, objectively, they seem a lot closer to American culture than China does.

                    Of course, I’m not saying anti-immigration rhetoric should start including China, just that never mentioning China at all makes the ‘cultural change’ excuses of it transparently bogus.

                    Now, a question arises: Why are they not mentioning China? I mean, my argument is this is actually racism, not ‘culturalism’, but…Chinese immigrants tend to be non-white, obviously. And we’ve been racist against them in the past. Like, explicitly racist against Chinese people. Why are they not included in anti-immigration rhetoric?

                    Maybe because it’s easier to be racist against Hispanics, but I suspect most of it is it because a significant fraction of Chinese immigrants are very wealthy, and a significant part of the American wealthy do business with China in some manner.

                    I.e., racism, as always, is not some sort of organic thing bubbling up, but is in fact the wealthy playing the poor off each other…and the wealthy Chinese presumably get annoyed when it’s done to them, and wealthy Americans do not want to see their business interests threatened.

                    So…magically, racism against that specific group goes away, or at least the racist rhetoric sprayed by the, uh, ‘mainstream fringe news media’ goes away, there’s always fringer-fringes.

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                • The reason the word ‘demographics’ is being used by people like Sullivan is that the people using it mean that word. Specifically, they mean ‘race’.

                  One of the things that is weird and frustrating about discussions involving Sullivan is that I feel like there’s a very strong presumption that he isn’t extremely racist despite the fact that he thinks that some races are genetically superior to others, and that he thinks that preventing or deterring members of some races from entering your is a legitimate public policy goal, and he thinks that racial disparities that aren’t (JFC) explained by the genetic inferiority are explained by cultural pathology, and….

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                • Historically, everyone I’ve pinned down about “Cultures not influenced by the Enlightenment” meant Muslims.

                  Every single one.

                  Not Hindus, oddly. Or Buddhists. Or Shinto. Not Japanese, Chinese, Jewish.

                  Very specifically Muslim. It’s a dog-whistle, or code word, to quite a few people. I’m sure some people mean it otherwise….but it’s a very specific buzzword for a very specific set of people, and it really should be pushed on when it pops into polite conversation with people who are, quite presumably, unaware of the context that phrase has come to take.

                  (So to be clear: I’m not accusing Pinky of anything at all, least of all using coded racial or anti-religious language. I sincerely and utterly doubt he had that in mind at all, but he should probably be aware of how often that particular description is used by people he’d undoubtedly disagree with quite strenuously).

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    • I don’t see why we can’t explore, in a scientific fashion, whether white people suck. Forbidding that is simply unwillingness to learn unpleasant truths. While it might be pretty to assume that suckitude is equally distributed among people of different races, this utopian fiction is in danger of collapse because it is not true and because genetic research is increasingly proving it untrue.

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  2. “…that she was unconscionably racist against the one group of American citizens that has, arguably, suffered the most throughout the entirety of the American experiment: white people”

    Are you implying that racism toward white people is in fact conscionable?

    “to recap…Advocating for a closed-borders immigration policy designed to maintain white numerical superiority is not racist.

    I don’t see anywhere that Sullivan advocated for a closed-border immigration policy designed to maintain white numerical superiority. He did not advocate for our current immigration policy; he called for it to be reformed, while maintaining an immigration policy. Is any immigration policy by its nature racist?

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  3. It is amazing the self confession here.
    Sullivan stating that conservatism is opposition to cultural change.

    Conservatism is not free wheeling iconoclastic inquiry, or robust freedom of thought and speech, not win-win engagements of heterodox ideas, or any of the other blather and gibber that gets trotted out by the Federalist/ NRO crowd.

    He has this vision of society and culture that is the epitome of Corey Robin’s thesis that conservatism is merely the preservation of a fixed structure of hierarchy and privilege.

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  4. I think there’s two dynamics going on here. Jeong is obviously very intelligent and (in my view) fully understood what she was doing, or attempting to do, while firing off those tweets. Seems to me she was she was trying to highlight that what passes for morally neutral rhetoric expressed by whites is actually extreme when heard by minorities, and did so by making extreme comments *on analogy to* them. That’s a dangerous and dicey game, only successful if the receiver of the communication understands your intent and method, which a single tweet almost necessarily will fail to convey. It also opens up a person to purely political attacks. And that’s where we’re at right now.

    The other dynamic is a little more subtle, having to do with the end goal of feminism and anti-racism (and so on) generally. Whether she agrees with the criticism or not, in the relevant tweets Jeong was modeling her behavior on the type of oppression she apparently* wants to eliminate from society. She adopted, even if only rhetorically, the tools of power and oppression she presumably rejects. Ending racism doesn’t mean empowering (say) black or Asian minority groups to subjugate or oppress whites, it means eliminating all the power structures which allow race-based discrimination to sustain itself. So she gets dinged for that.

    All that said, Andrew Sullivan has lost his damn mind.

    *I say that charitably, but with some degree of confidence.

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    • My first thought is that on your first point, her intended receivers were her friends and fellow travelers (no slight intended) who were far more familiar with what she was savaging, and had received much more direct hate along the lines of the tweets she selected as examples in her apology, than the average internet person who is now paying attention is.

      And I agree with you about the second one.

      And ad infinitum agree with you about the third.

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      • M,

        Re: 1, I’m not sure that exonerates her*. Twitter is for everyone. One retweet and she’s communicating to potentially millions of people, and she – being a tech writer – was aware of that.

        *Not sure it doesn’t.

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        • Enh, I wasn’t really trying to exonerate her – I think I’ve been pretty clear on all these threads that that isn’t what I’m going for – just pushing back against the fairly widespread assumption that Jeong’s relevant audience was the people who are upset at what she’s been writing, now that they’ve noticed it, and not the people who were already paying attention to her, and found what she had to say bolstering, comforting, invigorating, or what have you.

          I mean, for *those* people, do you think they feel better or worse about her and her tweeting style now? More or less bonded to their tribe of people who “get” Sarah Jeong? More or less interested in reading the Times OpEd stuff?

          Even if you look at it as if she was performing a calculated evil (which I also don’t, to also be clear), if you’re going to go to communications theory, who the intended receiver is matters.

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            • They were commentary / critique on those views for her own audience though. A Twitter “reply” is at least 50 percent of the time not really a reply, but more of a forward / a step into the ring. Your followers / retweeters / people who see your retweeted stuff and subscribe to you are who you are *talking* to, the person you’re replying to is incidental. And what I’m interested in here is who the receivers she was aiming at were, not who else heard.

              (I find that dynamic, the not-really-replying-to-whom-you-reply-to really uncomfortable even at a distance, which is why I mostly avoid Twitter most of the time and why I used to get really annoyed when people here would grandstand for the lurkers without really engaging with the person they’re talking to (we mostly don’t do that much anymore, thank goodness, she said self-consciously.)

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              • It’s not that I don’t understand what you’re saying, Maribou, it’s that I disagree it exonerates her.* Lots of famous racist groups communicated their racist views only to closed social circles. She communicated openly on a broadcast platform.

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                • Why do you keep disagreeing that it exonerates her when I am *making no effort to claim it exonerates her and have in fact explicitly stated that that isn’t my point and I have no interest in doing so*?

                  It makes it hard to believe you understand what I’m saying when you keep treating what I’m saying as something I’m emphatically NOT saying, and then not engaging with what I am saying at all…

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                  • Because you won’t let go of the idea that when writing her offensive tweets she was communicating to her in group.

                    I mean, maybe you think you’re educating me about how Twitter works and that’s the source of the disagreement? Or more broadly about communication theory? I don’t think any of that matters, at least regarding what I wrote upthread.

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                    • I’m saying that when you say it’s dangerous, it’s dicey, etc, you’re not adequately accounting for how it actually affects her own life.

                      In terms of that, it actually improves her life, it seems to me today, and it does that because of how it affects the people who want what she’s serviing up. And also because “political attacks” don’t decrease *those people*’s loyalty to her, her value on the marketplace, etc, they increase them. So it’s not dangerous or dicey for her to do it, it’s useful to her to do it. It’s making her safer and more supported, not less safe. I was making a point about her safety levels in response to your assumptions that she was making her position more precarious, not anything about who could or couldn’t hear her and what she should or shouldn’t be excused for because of it**.

                      ** Though I must say, the longer people are really interested in disparaging her, the more I think of this Margaret Atwood quote that I don’t even *agree* with, that makes me superbly uncomfortable – and I think the real outcomes of this situation looked at in light of this quote are reassuring on some angles, albeit not on the class one …and yet it keeps coming to mind:
                      “But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.
                      Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”

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    • I think hits the nail on the head here. Whether it was satire or not, she was playing a dangerous game and it seems to have backfired on her. Sam’s claims to the contrary, it’s not about her daring to criticize white people. It’s about the climate we are in today. No one gets a pass anymore. That’s what actual equality is supposed to look like.

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  5. “Jeong had the unmitigated temerity to make what appeared to be sweeping comments about white people…”
    “There is a price to be paid for criticizing white people after all…”
    “It is a hell of a thing to see a group of white people falling absolutely to pieces about literally nothing at all…”
    Oh, if only I was a(n academic psychologist – amended – maribou – see below). I would love to unpack all of this…

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    • I can save you the time: conservative white people complaining about racism – the same people who deny actual racism every time it actually occurs – should be ignored when they go whining about how unfairly they have been treated.

      But have at it.

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    • Not alluding to other people’s mental health being bad based on their non-related comments is a very strong norm around here as you well know.

      I can’t actually make a “Mike and Sam want to break norms when interacting with each other” exception and just ignore both of you any time you interact with each other, as tempting as that is…

      But I continue to not understand why you do it.

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      • @maribou

        I’m not suggesting anyone’s mental health is ‘bad’. What I mean is, I would love to figure out what makes Sam tick with regards to the subject matter he chooses to write about.

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              • I was raised Catholic and very much believe in social justice, even if you and I have very different priorities. With that said, I think it’s the racial tilt of your writing, especially given your own race, that perplexes me. However, given that you believe society is only geared to help conservative whites, I guess you feel a kinship there.

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                    • Minority groups tend to be the ones who face actual injustice. But, by all means, point me toward some of the systemic injustice that…*checks notes*…conservative white people are facing.

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                      • I can’t believe I’m even doing this but I think Mike was partly talking about how you focus purely on *racial* minorities in your posts. (That’s not even true! I can think of plenty of other posts,, but I think that’s what he’s getting at.)

                        Ie, where are the posts about sexism, about ableism, about classism, about homophobia, etc etc? (Again, I remember you writing such posts, even if Mike doesn’t.)

                        I don’t think that’s a fair or reasonable thing to get hung up on about you, but maybe if explaining stuff that seems obvious to me from a reading comprehension standpoint, makes it so you even know what each other are talking about, you’ll be more able to either act like two writers on the same team, or ignore each other.

                        Phew.

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                        • Oh geez I hate to be the one to point this out, but this isn’t a team. I’m sorry if you feel like you need to help two quarelling cousins find common ground, but it’s not necessary. Sam likes to be provocative, I like to point it out. I seriously doubt the editors at any large publication would have so much trouble with two writers disliking each other’s opinion.

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                          • It’s not the disliking each other’s opinion, that happens with lots of writers here all the time. It’s the constant mutual misconstrual and misreading of each other right up to the line of attack mode in the comments. It’s not the kind of behavior we expect from long time head butting commenters, let alone folks with some more skin in the game than that.

                            *shrug* If it were me, I’d want to be reading people accurately and focusing on the arguments rather than trying to get under each other’s skin.

                            And someone the other day complained that it wasn’t fair for the writers to be allowed to play American football with each other while the commenters were stuck playing by soccer rules, that has stuck in my mind as well.

                            If you want to talk more about whether this is or isn’t a team, and I meant more “writers who’ve been involved or are involved with the editorial team” than any writers per se, for the record, although I do think of our writers as a team (which I don’t think has to involve everyone liking each other’s opinions), I suspect that should be taken to email, and Will should be involved. We’re not (thank whatever is holy) the freaking NYT Op Ed section.

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                            • Sam wrote a piece about how it was okay for a writer to mimic the language of the people that were harassing her, but it’s not okay to fire back at our most intentionally-provocative writer? C’mon… Publishing his stuff and then chiding commenters for firing back at him is practically gaslighting IMO.

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                              • Nothing he said in that post, or any of his other posts, was about you as an individual. You, on the other hand, talked about wishing you were a *psychiatrist* so you could figure him out and then claimed innocence of *what that word means*. You have a freaking college degree and the substitutes you offered didn’t actually fix the problem of you speculating on his mental health.

                                If you want to accuse me of gaslighting, look at the beam in your own eye first, please, and quit treating my frustration like it needs to be condescended to.

                                And if you don’t find our editorial choices of what to publish or not publish reasonable, *talk to Will* (feel free to CC me) or get over it, don’t take it out on rules-lawyering the comment section.

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                                • (And elsewhere you’re speculating about his mental health *again* with the white knight stuff. It’s like I say, “Hey, remember we have this norm,” and you freaking bat your eyelashes while protesting you have no idea why I’m saying you’re doing this.)

                                  You’re not like this, generally, Mike, and you *are* like this about Sam. It’s tiresome and it doesn’t contribute to the conversation, unlike almost everything else you say (including other things you say TO Sam!). That’s what bothers me, more than anything.

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                                  • Literally YEARS of posts covering a very specific topic is a pattern. Patterns equal bias. Bias should be questioned…right? If someone suggested I had some personal bias that made me ignore problems with guns, based on my frequent posts on that topic, or even said they would like to get inside my head to understand it, I’d have no issues with their logic. I’m not sure why you believe it’s unfair or too personal to point that out.

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                                    • The daylight between what you say in this comment you’ve said to/about Sam in this comments section, and what you’ve *actually* said, is significant. I reckon you would react much more poorly to being treated in the way you are treating him, than in the way you explain you are treating him. (I reckon that based partly on years of watching you react to him in your comment threads, to be completely fair.)

                                      If you can’t see that, I’m sure it’s very puzzling as to why I’m being so interactive and cranky.

                                      But I’m not the one rewriting the story here.

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                      • You could simply focus on poverty, for example. Also, your obsession with minorities is also a bit skewed consisering this very post. I get the desire to address things like police shootings of black men. Going out of your way to defend a harvard-educated journalist, just because she is a minority, is quite another.

                        Also, doubling down on the conservative white thing is really starting to be a bad look for you. If you’re loving yourself in with minorities as an oppressed group, perhaps you should state that clearly. Otherwise how about dropping the political descriptor?

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                        • Mike Dwyer: You could simply focus on poverty, for example.

                          He could, yes. He could focus on any number of interesting topics – developments in materials science, urban planning, the history of baseball, privacy legislation. All those topics are fine also, but they are not the ones he chooses to focus on, which is also fine.

                          If we’re going to play the armchair analyst trying to psych the other person out, I could ask you – why does it make you so uncomfortable that Sam chooses to focus largely on racial injustice, rather than other forms of injustice you would be more comfortable considering? Who are you trying to suck up to by keeping the racial injustice conversation muted? Or is it something in your own life you end up thinking about whenever the topic comes up, and you’d rather not examine it?

                          But that would be pretty rude of me, and I do not have any particular reason to believe the insinuations embedded in those questions to be true of you. So rather than answer the question, why not consider what makes it such an unproductive line of questioning?

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                        • He also excluded the middle when he took Sullivan’s defense of a more restrictive immigration policy to mean support for the most extreme immigration policy. He also excluded the middle when he said that slower immigration rates are equivalent to white dominance. He also excluded the middle when he equated assimilation with forced assimilation.

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                          • I don’t care about him excluding the middle about any of those things (if he did which I honestly don’t really care about right now), but I care a great deal about the community here being *reasonably* civil to each other, which includes not unfairly characterizing each other.

                            One thing that would help is if I’m trying to get people to be more civil to each other, people didn’t seize on my attempts at intervention as something they can employ to continue to criticize each other. I mean, I’m not saying don’t criticize each other (short of attack) but for pete’s sake don’t use my attempts to get y’all to quit being jerks to each other in that effort.

                            Jeez. I’m a person trying to do a hard job, not a rhetorical tool.

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                          • Sullivan made it clear that he believes in slowing “massive demographic change” and he did so voluntarily. The only way to interpret that is that he is opposed to demographics changing significantly from where they are now. There is no other interpretation, and that is before accounting for the rest of Sullivan’s work, which has repeatedly focused on his belief that some groups are less equal than others.

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              • I’d like to address this, and I hope it doesn’t get lost among all the sub-threads.

                The term “social justice” is typically used to refer to acts which promote justice at a group level. Is everyone here ok with that as a working definition?

                Social justice in that sense could be contrasted to individual justice. Both seek justice, but one is focused on giving to each person that which he deserves, and the other on giving to groups that which they deserve. Ideally, we should do both, addressing big and small injustices as we find them.

                The danger with pursuing justice on an individual basis is thinking small, and failing to address (or even failing to train yourself to see) patterns of injustice. The danger with pursuing social justice is thinking too much in terms of patterns, which can lead to prejudice. On this thread I’ve seen a casualness with regard to the idea of racial prejudice against whites, and that strikes me as a classic first or second step toward something really ugly. All prejudice starts out with some justification.

                I oppose all prejudice against groups. The complication comes at those junctures when we have no choice but to view people as groups, such as when we’re trying to detect discrimination, or when we’re establishing immigration policy. This is a rich topic that I don’t have time to treat properly, but as a general rule we have to be very careful that we don’t fall into stereotyping.

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                • It is a rich topic, and I don’t have time either, but one major problem is that “whites” as a group is constructed differently than other groups, as the superior group, as the group to “buy in” to, to gain admittance to or be barred from gaining admittance to, and that construction is at minimum 400 years old. (Really it goes back further, at least to the time of the Roman empire when some people were citizens, and some definitely NOT.)

                  Us wanting to just be neutral all of a sudden doesn’t countervail that pre-existing bias in the system.

                  tl;dr being prejudiced against whites is a difference in kind from being prejudiced against “Arabs” or “the Irish”, not just a difference in degree.

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                    • My point is, precisely, that “white” is not a “racial group” in the same way any other racial group is.

                      It’s *meant* to be and for a long time – millennia or 500 years depending on how you look at it, growing into near-solidity in the late 18th century – has functioned as “beyond a racial group, explicitly superior to a racial group, and above criticism while other racial groups are most decidedly not.”

                      Prejudice against *that* started as slaves having no other way to resist their masters except with how they thought about them, people whose families and towns and whole countries were laid waste to having no other way to resist the invaders who did it and then colonized their very bodies by raping them and leaving half-“white” children behind (yeah, yeah, the Romans didn’t use the word white. it’s the same *concept* though.)

                      If anything a lot of what we see now comes from the beginnings of the *dismantling* of that as an ideal (which I think is good, because it’s a cruddy ideal). Nazism, etc, are a reaction to that dismantling, a vicious backlash.

                      Of course that leaves us with a messy state where some people who are very classically white with all the privileges and power pertaining thereto get to be complete asshats without consequence, other people who are not classically white try to convince themselves they are and make explicit White Supremacy into a friggin’ going concern even today, and people who self-identify as white but are not privy to much power or much privilege who get lied to by the first group about whether they’re in or out, and meanwhile treated just as poorly as any other group *except* with the possibility of still, lottery-level-probability sneaking into the first group, or, more likely, joining the second and become terrorizers on behalf of the first.

                      It’s a mess, a hot mess, and has led to all kinds of horrors. But the problem with all that is neither the dismantling of the concept of whiteness (which I really hope we don’t even have in 100 years) nor the anger directed at the people in the first and second groups.

                      If you fix the system, the prejudice will go away.

                      In the meantime, sure, I try not to inflame matters with harsh language that hits too many targets, I don’t think it’s all that wise to inflame matters in that way, and I generally (not always) stay far away from anyone who mostly talks about people in terms of Those People Over There and isn’t willing to reach out. Even if they’re talking about people I myself lean toward calling Those People Over There (eg the ultrarich).

                      But to equate anti-white prejudice *simply* with other kinds of racial prejudice, as if they all go in one bag, is a category error.

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                        • I already addressed that in my comment, see the paragraph that lists different ways of engaging with “whiteness” — and snark like this makes me think it’s not worth engaging in this discussion at length with you.

                          I don’t think *people* in any category are categorically different except perhaps that when one gets accustomed to being treated with deference, one comes to expect it, which can be toxic and irritating, but is not, in fact, in and of itself dangerous.

                          People of any range of most-common skin colors and other physical traits *could* become terrible and tyrannical, a system could be in place to make people of any skin color the top of the heap, etc. (Jeez, you’d think you believe I’ve never read a science fiction novel, or heard of the history and existing racial problems in Japan – the people in power in Japan, btw, once Perry forced the issue, were eager to sign on to whiteness in the 19th century, as long as no other Asians including the pale-skinned ethnic Ainu, got the nod, and they were flummoxed that Europeans didn’t see it as obvious.)

                          But this system is what we have, white is an empty-on-its-own signifier that points to who *we’ve* decided count as white, mostly without any recourse to the thing it’s supposedly about. There’s no history of a “one drop” rule that excludes people from races other than white in this country, no history of a rule that sends “Aryan” people to camps in Europe. (And if you can’t read the scathingness with which I say the word Aryan you haven’t been paying attention.)

                          I’m all for objecting to anti-Irish prejudice, anti-Western-European prejudice, anti-Appalachian-white-people prejudice, anti-mixed-blood-pale-skinned-American prejudice or whatever other *precise* ethnic category you want me to stump for.

                          But “white people” writ large, is *not a real thing* in the same way that other ethnic categories are. It’s not “a categorically different race”, the category error is putting it in the category of “a race” in *ANY* healthy sense of the term. It’s only a thing in the first place because we’ve collectively made it into a “good” and made “not white” bad [or, more precisely, we’ve taken a thing we had called “Roman citizen” that used to be a different, equally unjust albeit in different ways, thing, and transformed it into whiteness over centuries via the Crusades, European imperialism, etc]. That’s why it’s a thing at all!! Countering that false, centuries-long, still near-omnipresent dichotomy is what most “anti-white” prejudice comes from, whether or not it sometimes spills into actual animosity toward actual people based on actual experiences of many many white people seeing whiteness, as you do, as most people of all races still do because *it has been ground into us very painfully to do so* as a racial category, and then using their utterly constructed whiteness as an excuse to act horribly to nonwhites. But there is no shared experience among all / the vast majority of white people other than the experience of being treated as a superior class. That’s not a *there* there and it’s the opposite of what the people who signed the manifesto you accused me of signing believe.

                          Same thing goes for “The West”, or for that matter “Europe” or “Enlightment thinking” in the stupid, special ways that Nazis and their latter-day descendents use it (NB I am not saying you use them that way.)

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                          • Not intended as snark at all. The Germans had every reason to be angry at Rome (which wasn’t a race, after all), but a few hundred years later they were sacking the place. The Japanese were reasonably frightened by the sudden presence of the Westerners, and within a few generations they were treating them as sub-humans. Everyone has a valid reason to start distrusting the Other, and a couple of generations later it’s turned to hatred and violence. A couple of generations after that (if both sides survive), the other side’s fear has turned to hatred and violence.

                            It’s precisely that race is a fluid thing that we’re able to categorize the Other in a way that seems defensible, despite millennia of history telling us that every prior discrimination was equally justified and led to horrors. I refuse to participate.

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                            • By complaining about Asian-Americans and other people doing it, but rarely getting upset (at least here) about white people doing it, are you really refusing to participate? Or are you engaging in Othering of Othering Othering? I know that sounds absurd, but I think it’s as convincing a point as yours is. (which is why I wasn’t taking that line in the first place.)

                              And Rome wasn’t a race, or even the city *called* Rome at the time that city was sacked, it was an empire with a particular, extremely restrictive set of requirements for full belonging and participation. An empire that ended up co-opting its sackers, adjusting its rules a bit, equally narrow, but a bit adjusted, and then rolling onward. Much as, skipping over a few hundred years, in the wake of WW2, America co-opted the competing empire of Japan (there’s a reason why Eisenhower, who was fairly conservative, put a Jewish radical feminist half-in-charge of making the Japanese constitution, and it wasn’t that he thought that her kind of radical equality being baked in would make Japan *stronger*. I think he underestimated both the need for military might and the length of time it would take for Japanese society to actually change…. but be that as his may, he was clear about his intentions in non-public-at-the-time documents). The thing-that-is-not-the-Other-whatever-That-is just keeps growing and growing and growing (it’s called whiteness now, it could be called something else later), and treating every anti-Othering voice as if it is *indistiguishable* from Othering voices, rather than bad, but not as bad, is part of that process.

                              *Because* when we put all our heat and light on those anti-Othering voices, rather than on voices that are trying to do something different and step to the side of Othering all the time (and give those step-to-the-side people the same grace and understanding we give ourselves when it’s hard to step outside of a language built on Othering and do that)….. we give them power and strength and future opportunity.

                              That’s what not participating would look like – seeking out voices that have the same desire to build and grow you have, and amplifying them, and *particularly* among those who are otherwise Othered (but not only, and not as a rejection, just as a ‘making sure you don’t miss them because they’re hidden’ thing), and simply ignoring any of what bothers you among the anti-Otherers.

                              I mean, obviously I’m not especially good at it myself.

                              It’s not easy.

                              But if there *is* a way to step out of that process you’re talking about (and thank you for clarifying), I think that is the way to do it.

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                              • I’m refusing to participate in the lumping of people into groups (and I’m always trying to be cautious about making assumptions about people’s character on the basis of a portion of their beliefs). But I’m always going to call people out for this kind of prejudice. That’s why I’m going to oppose things like Sam’s article, with the same level of passion that he wrote it, and for the exact same reason that he wrote it.

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                                • “But I’m always going to call people out for this kind of prejudice. ”

                                  You just said when it comes to people who have this kind of prejudice in places like modern Naziism, you “don’t listen to” them and don’t know what they’re saying.

                                  So how are you always calling people out for this kind of prejudice? Where the most virulent “this kind of prejudice” is, you’ve completely disengaged….

                                  Unless I’m misunderstanding.

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                                  • To put this as clearly as possible: I think that this article represents a more virulent kind of racism than modern Nazism. I’m not saying that hyperbolically. I believe that the sum total hate and violence caused by Nazism over the next 50 years will be trivial compared to the sum total caused by Sam’s way of thinking. Your virus analogy is apt. We have an immunity to Nazism that we don’t have to modern racial preoccupation. So it’s spreading much faster, and few people even recognize it as a disease.

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                                    • It must be nice as hell to look at the virulently racist violence occurring all over America – violence often encouraged and cheered on by conservative commentators – and conclude, “You know what? The REAL problem here is somebody else.”

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                                    • Oh. Okay.

                                      To be really clear myself, all you were doing is honestly answering the question I not only asked, but that I kinda pushed at by pursuing the conversation beyond what I would normally deem appropriate (because I was mostly enjoying it up to that point and thought I wanted to hear what you would have to say), and I deeply appreciate that and am not, at all, condemning or cautioning you for doing so.

                                      But at the point where we start talking about what is worse than Nazis – even modern Nazis – threads don’t usually end up going anywhere good, and I think when one of our community members here, and their way of thinking, is being directly so compared, that is even less likely to turn out okay. I mean, I cannot imagine it doing so.

                                      Like I said, I recognize that I’m the one who unwittingly brought that into play and I, for my own sake, appreciate you being very honest, as well as why it matters to you, and all of that, so none of the reactions I might have in another context are relevant here.

                                      But I think this thread should stop where it is, and I’m going to ask that we *not* explore this further.

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                          • And also, I don’t listen to Nazis, so I don’t know what they’re saying these days, but they’ve historically never presented themselves as hallmarks of Enlightenment thinking. Usually there’s a focus on pre-Christian history/mythology. Certainly the core alt-right considers itself anti-Enlightenment. So I’m going to assume that you didn’t connect the phrase “Enlightenment thinking” to Nazism as a personal attack on me, but for the life of me, I can’t think of a reason to do so.

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                            • “Europe” was what the Nazis used, “Enlightenment thinking” is what some of their more well-adapted descendents use to cover their positions. That wasn’t a clear sentence. Folks learned some things from the utter failure of Mosley in Britain, for eg.

                              But, also, many of the original Nazis — especially their more propaganda-focused members — were every bit as adaptable as (say, to pick a random example) Trump is, telling different groups what they wanted to hear without a consistent message other than their own superiority and how much people should want to be part of *them* and not the Other.

                              They had plenty of theologians on their side, and philosophers, etc., whose job was functionally to justify Nazi-ism to those who would otherwise be repelled by its anti-Enlightenment, occult aspects. The pre-Christian occult aspect of Naziism remained mostly esoteric, an upper-circle sort of thing, for a long time. (I can’t pretend to know WHY those folks were willing to justify it, because they believed it was true or because they were afraid or because they were cynics who wanted to win, or whatever, but it’s fact that they did.)

                              It had lasting effects, also. For example, the theologians who drew up the documents and policies that supported the official adoption of Apartheid in South Africa in 1948, by making the main Afrikaans church there staunchly pro-Apartheid, and who were extremely well-versed in appearing to reconcile folk belief and Enlightenment thought, were trained — — *literally* as in sitting in classrooms being taught by during seminary — either by being sent away to study or by being German immigrants themselves, by the same theological schools – and in many cases the *exact same theologians* who provided the so-called Christian, “rational”, “enlightened,” excuses for Nazi-ism.

                              Sorry I didn’t clarify all that, I never know how much people know or don’t know about immediately pre- and post-WW2. I didn’t mean to oversimplify,and I put “Enlightenment thinking” in air quotes for a reason. I don’t believe that true Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, Diderot, Lamarck, etc., while of course affected by the times they lived in, were proto-Nazis. Though they did mostly (not all, by any means!!!!) believe in the superiority of white people, even when you would *think* their own philosophy would lead them to dismantle that, because that’s where the idea of empire had lodged by then.

                              As for the alt-right, yes, the core folks who were calling themselves that years and years ago consider themselves anti-Enlightenment. I know about the “Dark Enlightenment” and I realize many of those folks are still active.

                              But that doesn’t mean that plenty of folks aren’t claiming that they’re in the tradition of the Enlightenment, and using that as a mask for viciously prejudiced approaches. If you look at the anti-Muslim movement more broadly, it’s all over the place.

                              But I absolutely wasn’t calling you a Nazi.

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                        • “Race” isn’t a thing.

                          Well, it’s not that kind of thing. It’s a set of culturally determined categories that line up with some superficial physiological features and geographical ancestry in a really imprecise way.

                          And the way the category of “white” is constructed and defined is pretty different from the way the other categories are constructed and defined, at least in the United States.

                          White people are people pretty much like everybody else. Some different (and ceteris paribus better) experiences on account of being white, but that’s just a consequence of living in a society where race is a thing.

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                          • I know I already went on a long time, but I would add that although “white” is not a useful, society-improving thing, it is a thing that people have to deal with. So it isn’t a nonsensical word. Just one that doesn’t need to be protected, defended, etc. Other races, equally constructed, have been constructed much more from real ties to culture and shared experience (often, sadly enough, of being treated terribly by white people), so they have more guts to them.

                            There are very valuable cultural things that currently get ascribed to ‘whiteness’ in defiance of all logic and historical facts, that are certainly worth cherishing and preserving. I’m not against cherishing and preserving those things. I’m just against lying about them (or more charitably, making mistakes about them – not everyone who does this is deliberately lying or malicious, obviously) and claiming them as one central, common thing that so-called “white” people own, and other people don’t and should aspire to, or mayn’t have. That’s not really what happened, and it’s perniciously and toxicly bad for how we treat each other.

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        • then don’t talk about psychiatrists, whose specific job is to figure out pathologies and find drugs (mostly, talk therapy in psychiatry is almost extinct / shoved off to other professionals) to fix those pathologies.

          I appreciate the clarification, but you know what a psychiatrist does, and did when you wrote that comment.

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  6. Jeong drank drank a very specific flavor of kool-ade only sold in universities and certain corners of Twitter and Tumblr. She’s a hack, a Harvard grad with a huge megaphone who pulled the racial equivalent of poormouthing when she got called out for, at the very least, Tweets unbecoming anyone who actually has anything worthwhile to say.

    It’s not exactly a towering achievement of moral philosophy to subscribe to the notion that whatever I do is OK because of who I am, but everybody else must adhere to basic standards of behavior.

    Sullivan, who has quite a checkered history of his own, is right in this case. Impugning him with accusations of “hyperventilating outrage” not really evident in the text calls up antiquated notions of gay men as “queeny” and feminine in order to serve up the old trope of the safely-ignored hysterical woman. What a weird way to defend Jeong’s Oppression Olympics excuse!

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          • :
            Obviously, you have never worked as a musician in a musical theatre production.*

            It’s in vogue among pseudo-intellectuals to deny the existence of real-world experience.

            * Guys and Dolls, if you must know.

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            • I’ve seenhyperventilating outrage from male-identified people in many many forms, only a couple of them particularly related to the stereotypical gay theater queen. Most of them very stereotypically masculine indeed. (Picture a red-faced guy in a suit, or a construction foreman, or a chef … any of them yelling at their direct reports… or maybe the entire staff…. just to get started.) Heck, I’ve seen Trump speeches where I’d qualify what he was doing as hyperventilating outrage, though that isn’t his usual outrage style.

              The first place my brain went with that image was very different than LTL_FTC’s.

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              • I’ve seen a lot of that myself.
                In fact, as a fitter, my punishment for being so easy-going was often to work with the most irascible person on the crew that no one wanted to work with.
                However, with persons of this stripe, the connotation is more toward one of a child that anything womanish.
                With gays, the tendency is more toward the womanish, and this is more commitment bias than anything else.
                Those who top exclusively tend to be bi rather than gay.

                While there are things I would disagree with concerning predominant views of sexuality (and the greatest of these is the assumption that the biological aspect is the single, or most lofty, aspect of man), I do maintain that there is a standard ordering of the parts, that function for which they were made.
                Whatever variations there are, those are deviations from that standard.

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                • My point is that hyperventilating outrage is not, as LTL_FTC accused it of being when Sam used it, a “gay” thing, it’s a person thing, and TBH in my experience *vastly* a male thing. (Not that all men do it, far from, but that the people doing it are almost always male-identified.) It’s not fair to Sam to jump to that conclusion about its usage, IMO.

                  The rest of your thoughts are…. not borne out by science or my own fairly extensive relevant friend circles, and kind of off topic. I mean, I can get to a place where I see what you’re saying whether or not I agree, but issuing those kinds of generalizations in the first place isn’t so great.

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                  • issuing those kinds of generalizations in the first place isn’t so great.

                    You are dreadfully mistaken in this, or else I have not made myself adequately understood.
                    Here’s the weed lot:

                    This notion that everything boils down to some biological function geared toward survival, whether of the individual or the species, is specious at best. I consider it an open admission of researcher bias.
                    Specifically, there are emotional, social, intellectual, and other aspects of man which are open to observation. To decree each of these as subservient at all times to some biological function is sheer nonsense.
                    Through the course of my last long-term relationship spanning some twenty months, there were two occasions where I never did get off. (I have learned to be a gentleman, i.e., ladies first.) She wanted to keep going, so I would get off, but I stopped her. Mere ejaculation was never my objective.
                    Some of the best sex advice ever given to me was simply noting a distinction between the sexes. For a man, love-making typically begins when her skirt lifts. For a woman, love-making begins some 4 to 6 hours before sex. Works like a charm.
                    I could refer you to a book on gestalt theory, but instead I will tell you that love-making consists of three stages: before, during, and after. From the feedback I get, most guys don’t seem to acknowledge the “after” part, though that’s a very important time. I like to spend as much time there as I can.
                    All of which points to some non-biological function of sex. (I know, incomplete sentence.)

                    [EDIT: Topic #2 here: ]
                    Having had 73 men as sex partners, I believe I can speak a bit authoritatively on the matter.
                    At the very least, it can be said that I got to “know” them.
                    If you read that as a matter of sexual preference, you are mistaken. It was merely sexual opportunism. It was there, and I was horny enough to go for it.

                    Gender identity is something I find laughable.
                    The fact of the matter is that people lie to themselves way too much to consider their gender identity as anything real.
                    It also avoids the [very real] issues of sexual opportunism and actual conduct.

                    [EDIT: Conclusion here: ]
                    So, we obviously disagree about certain things.

                    Perhaps one day we can do better.

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                    • @will-h Telling me you find gender identity laughable and that I lie to myself too much to consider it as anything real is really rude, and really hurtful, whatever else it is.

                      That’s why I said generalizations like that aren’t a good idea.

                      Not that you shouldn’t believe in them, I am happy to concede your own head to you, but when you walk the world telling other people that if you don’t get their things, they don’t exist, and that you’re an expert on various groups of people to the point where you feel confident declaiming about them, you’re not going to find it easy or fruitful to talk to people about your beliefs.

                      Were I not trying really hard to give you some space here, I would be very not okay with a comment like this one, in my role as moderator.

                      As it is I’m just remembering why I should stop trying to connect with you conversationally.

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                      • It is regrettable that you could absorb so readily such a statement, and end there without taking the rest into account.
                        Either conduct is important, or it is not.
                        Either preference vs. opportunism is important, or it is not.

                        As it is, I revert to my own training (i.e. that would be the management portion of my double-major), I read this as both a statement of adherence and avoidance.
                        I was also trained (and trained others as part of team competition) to use such adherence and avoidance statements as motivational factors in addressing personnel; e.g., for someone with issues concerning their capabilities, “Do you think you would be able to . . . ?”
                        But I forego that here, because I don’t really care. See Vroom’s normative decision model.

                        However, note that not once have I questioned whether you got the 900’s of the Dewey decimal system right, or any other thing regarding your own training.
                        Meanwhile, I have my own training questioned habitually, though, to my knowledge, no other person frequenting this site has as much (or any, for that matter) actual formal training in criminal justice.
                        Now, a great many attorneys seem to think their law degree is identical in every respect to a degree in criminal justice; and granted, according to whatever sh!tty law school they might have went to, this may well be the case. I’m not sure if they are advocating bar membership for persons with criminal justice credentials, or if this avowal of knowledge of what goes on in those classes ends before this.
                        And this does not even go to inexplicable assertion that Pipefitters Local 597 Chicago would never feasibly place any journeyman on a travel card at the single largest facility within their jurisdication, what was, at the time, the fourth largest refinery in the U.S.

                        So, forgive me if I view your slight as . . . , well, rather slight.

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                        • *sigh*

                          Will, if I tell you that I have a biology degree as well as extra training in gender studies and psychology from a perspective of how to create respectful and inclusive work environments, will that help you at all to understand that you’re being disrespectful to me and others at this site on a regular basis?

                          I kind of feel like it won’t but maybe it would.

                          I mean, part of being a community is that you do *have* to care, at least somewhat, about being kind and respectful to other people. You can’t just refuse to adhere to group norms because you don’t care about them.

                          Also the Dewey Decimal system was an infinitely small part of my training – I think I spent a total of 3 or 4 hours on it – , whereas the work to make things fairer and more just and more welcoming for more people actually *was*, and through professional development opportunities and personal commitment, continues to be.

                          I don’t think I’ve ever blown off your training about anything to do with criminal justice, but if so I apologize.

                          In this case, though, we were talking about sex, and more than I was comfortable doing considering the *original* context of this thread.

                          I’m not going to play the “how much inside intel do each of us have about this and so who is the bigger expert into human behavior?” game about sexuality and sexual experiences. I trust my friends who’ve told me that your claims about gay and bisexual men are, bluntly, wrong, even as an overall tendency. I wouldn’t make claims about those things one way or the other on my own behalf, unless someone was already making them and I thought their claims were inaccurate, definitely not if it wasn’t even the topic under discussion — because it is not my place to do so.

                          Given that you yourself do not claim either bisexuality or homosexuality, nor was I attributing them to you, why do you feel so strongly that your evidence about this is incontrovertible?

                          Or, you know, we can just drop it and you can quit making offtopic statements about groups based on anecdata that is easily countered by other people’s anecdata, and which go generally against the group norms for civility here.

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                            • The answer to the first question is that I’m attempting to appeal to your sense of community with the other folks who, like you, are long time (or short term but committed) commenters here. That may or may not involve your reason depending on what definition of “reason” you’re using, I would guess it would, but as previously discussed you are, for good and ill, idiosyncratic as heck, so who knows what I’m attempting to appeal to as you define it.

                              As for the other, which I can answer more easily, of course I’m not. I never did that and I don’t, actually, agree that anything is that simple, so if you were to agree to it, you wouldn’t be agreeing with me anyway.

                              You’re putting an awful lot of energy into disproving things that no one was saying, as far as I can tell?

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    • Virtually every person defending what Jeong said would be defending what she said if she’d been a white man (or a man of any other race, FTM).

      Thus the idea that we’re defending/excusing/minimizing her conduct on who she is doesn’t really stand up to even casual scrutiny.

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      • Hmmm. I initially thought I would agree with this, that all people would be equally defended, but I don’t.

        I think she’s being excoriated more *and* defended more because of her non-white-man-ness. I mean, I personally am defending her more or at least pushing against *some* ways of being displeased with her (even though I don’t agree with her methods!), purely because I assume she’s had to deal with a lot more shit than a white man with her equivalent other demographics would, and I’m annoyed that she’s being attacked more than I believe someone not female and Asian-American would be, and so I bother to talk about it (kind of a lot for someone who is frustrated it’s a topic in the first place) because – without *excusing her* – I get so tired of how this normally plays out. I know that about myself. It’s also the main reason I gave a shit whether the NYT kept her on or not, even though I wouldn’t have tried to hire her in the first place without strategically addressing the PR issue I would’ve *known* would come up the second I did, in their shoes.

        Minimizing, I think I agree with you about.

        I reckon we wouldn’t even notice *this particular line of conversation* if it was white dudes talking about other white dudes, and in fact white dudes do this all the time and get away with it. Some of my best white dude friends (okay, only a handful) engage in this sort of satire from time to time, and while someone occasionally tells them to knock it off, no one has ever threatened them with death or rape over it. Nor has it ever even threatened to cause them professional issues.

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        • Yeah I think you’re probably right about that.

          Obviously it’s confounded by the fact that as she’s been criticized more vigorously from some quarters, and often in pretty unlovely terms, there’s been more of an impulse to defend her from those quarters that are more or less sympathetic and or tribally affiliated with her.

          And coming from the same sort of Blue-coded upper-middle class, over-educated background as Jeong, and being of almost the same generation, I’m very acculturated to the kind of stuff she says, even though I tend to avoid it myself.

          But I’m white, and yet the idea of feeling attacked by it is… very abstract to me. I have to really step out of my own shoes to appreciate it.

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          • Forgive me if this comes off wrong, but it is possible you just weren’t that primarily identified with whiteness in the first place? I suspect that those of us with deep ties to our specific ethnic identities, as I have, and I think you have, are possibly less hung up on these things.

            I mean, if someone was posting “DEATH TO ALL IRISH WHO INTERBRED WITH HIGHLAND SCOTS” or “DEATH TO ALL PE ISLANDERS”, well, unless the latter had to do with a hockey game, I’d be pretty damn uncomfortable. The white people thing? I’m like eeeeeeehhhhhhhhh, we’ve never fully counted in the hierarchy as White People in all their accoutrements anyway.

            It’s quite possible that the upper upper classes (ie not you or me, I don’t think, though we pass in those circles from time to time) mostly don’t feel the need to identify as anything, being at the top of the food chain. They’re the default, the ur-individuals. So freakouts about “white people” are obviously not about them, from their point of view….

            I don’t know, pretty speculative by this point and I think your line of thought was quite different but also pretty interesting.

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            • So freakouts about “white people” are obviously not about them, from their point of view….

              I think this is the underlying assumption mostly at play. Scott Alexander’s blue tribe red tribe post argues that in this context ‘white people’ is usually code for red tribe, as opposed to race. I think he’s usually right and that’s how most people strongly in the blue tribe in group read it. This results in three reactions:

              1. Blue tribe being totally perplexed as to how it could ever be seen any other way than the intent. Sometimes this is a good faith reaction (i.e. it comes from being in a cultural bubble) and sometimes its a bad faith reaction (i.e. trolling).

              2. Good faith literal readings by the out group (mostly red tribe leaning but not hardcore partisans or particularly politically sophisticated) and/or other weakly affiliated people that see it as counter to the standard MLK day race narrative they’ve seen pushed most of if not their entire lives.

              3. Bad faith literal readings by committed red tribe partisans where the reader probably knows enough about the blue tribe to identify its signaling but plays up the worst possible interpretation in hopes of discrediting them.

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  7. It’s a very well done piece Sam. With Jeong, as others wrote over the weekend, the question is do we really believe she wants to kill people or is she being rhetorically provocative. The first is a concern the second should illicit an eye roll. I fail under the later. So then when the reactions, like Sullivans that you are pointing out here, come under the guise of the former while demanding the later for all their own statements you are correct to call out the hypocrisy of it. You’re tag line of lacking empathy I think is a better place to examine these things, and be slower in judgement. But maybe we’d all do better to answer the Jeong’s of the world with less reaction to start with. More eye rolls, less calling for peoples jobs.

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  8. Vikram’s recent piece on Jeong jogged my memory. Jeong was a contributer at The Toast, which I read assiduously, if not always comfortably.

    Many writers there engaged in this exact form of satire, and #KillAllMen was a definite part of it.

    The satire was designed to humiliate people who didn’t get it, so it wasn’t that pretty. But I’m not their mother, and reading it was useful in understanding how people who aren’t me might think.

    I don’t think this stuff is anything more than highbrow preaching to the choir, though. It’s not like there aren’t a whole pile of people doing that for profit on the internet, so why not her? It has little value as persuasion, but what the hill, I’m not her mother. She can have fun any way she wants.

    What I’m not going to do is condemn it as racism, because it’s satire of racism. I retract my earlier objection.

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      • I understand the point of it, but I’m not a big fan. It’s more or less guilt-by-association.

        Whereas, I have been known to associate with people who have problematic behavior or attitudes. Sometimes I’m making some headway on it. Then someone waltzes in and destroys the whole conversation with their judgemental self-righteousness. They often make the Rule of Goats argument.

        Like I said, not a fan.

        N.B. I’m far more unhappy with white people who get all judgy of other people about racism than I am with black people. They have their history and their reasons. But with white people, I think a bit more humility is in order.

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  9. Having gotten some sleep and delivered enough code that I can take some time to breathe, I think I know what I wanted to say last night. I’m replying out here to avoid having a long comment smushed up against the right margin.

    First, like says, it’s mostly a Blue Tribe signal, but it overlaps a lot with an “upper middle class elite education signal”, and as such can end up alienating and pushing out white people from different class and cultural backgrounds out of a generally privileged group. Sometimes that’s probably the intent. There’s a term for using someone’s race against them as a way to enforce and maintain privilege, and that term isn’t “not racist”.

    I think it may have been cited in one of the threads here, but Reihan Salam wrote a lengthy and interesting article about the purpose performative white-bashing serves. One he mentions is this:

    Embracing the culture of upper-white self-flagellation can spur avowedly enlightened whites to eagerly cheer on their Asian American comrades who show (abstract, faceless, numberless) lower-white people what for. And, simultaneously, it allows Asian Americans who use the discourse to position themselves as ethnic outsiders, including those who are comfortably enmeshed in elite circles.

    Yet the backlash for this kind of signaling falls much more heavily on people of color than it does on white people. There’s a term where the barriers to entry into a social group with a lot of cultural capital and economic potential is higher for people of color, and it isn’t “not racism”.

    I don’t think “self-flagellation” is really the right term. Performative white bashing isn’t about penance or self-abasement, it’s about displaying indifference, saying, “Hey, this shit doesn’t even hurt my feelings because being white isn’t something I’m defensive about, and the privilege associated with being white isn’t something I want to perpetuate.” There is, indeed, a term for that, too, but it sure as hell isn’t “racism”.

    After all of that, it does serve a variety of purposes, and some are good. On balance the benefits may well exceed the costs. Pace , I don’t think means cleanly separate into “good” and “evil”. If we’re going to move beyond this cultural tic, and there are no end of very legitimate reasons to think we should, there needs to be an alternative that serves the positive functions without the same costs, or utility for less valuable ends.

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  10. I guess it’s a nuance, but there’s a difference between talking about “slowing massive demographic change”, which is what Sullivan says, and “being opposed to massive demographic change” which is what we’re attributing to him. Since we’re calling him out for an uncharitable reading of Sarah Jeong, uncharitably reading him just muddies the waters.

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  11. @sam-wilkinson

    Here’s David Duke celebrating what Laura Ingraham said. I wonder if his outspoken political positions have anything to do with that endorsement?

    No.

    Absolutely not.

    I have no dog in this fight and lord knows I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the concept of racism against whites (it’s like fit shaming vs. fat shaming – come on now ), or what Andrew Sullivan thinks, but I HATE the tactic you’re using.

    You want to peg a meaning to Sullivan’s comment. Use Sullivan not David Freaking Duke or Laura Ingraham.

    Dude…your history…come on.

    Lord knows you’re the person I speak to the most off this god forsaken site and I probably like you more than anyone else. We have our opinions. We have our differences. All good. This? I don’t like it one bit.

    Someone pulls that kind of stunt on me in real life and I rip that person a new asshole so wide you’ll be able to drive a truck through it.

    What the fuck has happened to this place? Sad.

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    • 1) I agree with you about this tactic and was struggling to express why, but I think you put your finger on it extremely well, so thank you.

      2) Do you have to add a complaint about the state of the site to nearly every negative comment you post? If you don’t like it, do more (without flat out calling people names) to change it.

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    • I tried using Sullivan’s own history of advocating for the genetic inferiority of some groups, such as they are. That, alone, strikes me as reason enough to be incredibly dubious of his advocacy for preventing “demographic change” or at least, aggressively slowing it down. There are commenters here, in this thread, who are insisting that “demographic change” does not mean outright racial hostility. And yet merely days later, the same phrasing is not only coming up in Laura Ingraham’s show, but being praised by David Duke. If you want me to write, “Andrew Sullivan isn’t Laura Ingraham or David Duke!” I can do that, but it gets harder and harder to believe that there is as much distance between them as maybe there once was, given Sullivan’s voluntary decisions to both defend (at least to some degree) and appropriate the language and the arguments that those two (and plenty of others) are making. Language and arguments that, it should be noted, stand in direct opposition to all of the facts that we have about the realities of immigration.

      As for what happened to this site: it is dying as a result of Trump having been elected, plainly and simply.

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      • I have multiple ways to add value to the site and calling bullshit when I see it is one of those ways. People can choose to like that or not. I have too many things going on to worry about who feels uncomfortable because of it unless someone reaches out to me personally (and those who have in the past that know me know I’m very reasonable).

        Thank you for the response. Speaking of my adding value to the site, one of the things I like to do best when I write (and I don’t/can’t do it enough), is to try to thread a pretty tight needle in sticky situations…and I this one is…

        If I wanted to spend the time and energy, you and I can spin our wheels disagreeing with your first sentence and we can end up going back and forth for two hours like Ezra Klein and Sam Harris. I listened to that whole damn thing and wasn’t particularly impressed either way, especially with Harris.

        Having spent some time reading and thinking about this before responding back to you, you and I end up in a similar place with perhaps some difference in degrees. I don’t see Sullivan as “advocating for the genetic inferiority of some groups” as much as I see him taking what he sees as a defense of science and allowing the facts to lead where they may.

        Agree or disagree, you can respond to me by saying it’s a distinction without a difference. I’d disagree and say that there are some significant differences but those differences are irrelevant because it’s a whole different type of obnoxious bullshit.

        Sullivan’s defense feels to me like Harris’: Less about the scientific pursuit of truth and more rooted in a reflexive reaction to an anti-science left that seeks to censor truth and facts out of some fealty towards an ideology of cultural Marxism/political correctness/whatever (I guess that’s kind of like Jordan Peterson).

        Lord knows I’m no fan of the left, especially the far left “Progressives” but it takes a batshit crazy mind to believe that they’re an existential threat to scientific pursuit. And to choose this hill to have that battle, especially when I just read several articles making a strong case that the so-called science is bunk? It’s awful.

        It reminds me of his screeds against #metoo. I can get my head around the idea that an increase in the number of people being accused of sexual harassment/sexual assault could drag innocent people into the mix. That’s simple math. If I recall (and I believe you wrote about it), Sullivan turned the alarmism up to 11 and seemed to treat #metoo like some existential threat to due process and rights despite having no evidence that there was a risk of this happening. As far as I know it hasn’t.

        Where Sam Harris impressed me the least was his wholesale refusal to consider his viewpoint in the context of the world we live in, and Ezra Klein was right to press him on that as hard as he could. Harris pretty much lost me after that. I see Sullivan ignoring context in the service against an imaginary enemy. I don’t think his motivations are racially-based but he’s close to that fire that if he gets burned by it, I can understand why you say what you do.

        You say: “it gets harder and harder to believe that there is as much distance between them as maybe there once was”

        I’ll put it to you this way – to some degree, I’m going to back down on my disagreement because I have zero interest fighting you on that hill. To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, the fact that we’re both contemplating that tells me it’s not worth it.

        I don’t completely agree with you but I don’t think your approach is unacceptable.

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        • I didn’t complain about comments that are negative, I complained about you generalizing about the state of the site as a whole every time. Anyway, I sent you an email about it, given that you say you prefer people to reach out personally about this kind of thing. Perhaps my emaili will make it more understandable where I’m coming from.

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