Sarah Jeong is not going to be the latest victim of tweet mining.
The New York Times hired the tech writer recently, as part of an attempt to expand their audience among young news consumers. Her detractors quickly produced a mountain of tweets full of venomous racism.
— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) August 2, 2018
Here’s the link to the story at the Washington Times. Other traditionally Republican media sources have been pressing on it, from the relatively tame Daily Caller and Fox News to places like Breitbart and PJ Media.
Jeong has consistently been spitting out anti-white, anti-straight, anti-police and such messages into Twitter, full of obvious hate and racism. The New York Times has decided to retain her anyway, fueling questions about whether the decision shows a double standard.
From the Washington Post:
“Part of the reason it was so easy for the outrage to be manufactured in the first place was it was completely decontextualized and ahistorified,” said Nolan L. Cabrera, an associate professor at the University of Arizona who will publish a book in the fall about racial attitudes held by white college students. “Then it was easy to drum up anger and say it looks like she hates white people. That only makes sense if you are willfully ignorant of 400 to 500 years’ history and contemporary social context and also the context from which the tweets were sent.”
It is likely true, as many have pointed out, that if any minority group were substituted in the place of white people into Jeong’s statements, she would not have kept her job. Some edited Jeong’s tweets to hammer home that idea, replacing the words “white people” in her tweets with “black people” and “Jewish people.”
But Cabrera said the idea was “a complete false equivalence,” noting that whiteness isn’t a cultural identity the way being black, Japanese American or Jewish is. Cabrera listed off examples of government policies that targeted various racial groups, including the Chinese Exclusion Act and Operation Wetback, calling racism a “systemic reality” that necessarily favors white people.
Simply put, “white people” aren’t really a group, and any racism displayed against them is different from racism against other groups because they have more inherent power.
This is a serious flaw in the “social justice” mindset. “People” of any stripe are one a convenient group for trend analysis. For specific cases, the context is all that matters. When someone is victimized because of their skin color they are still a victim; the notion that someone unconnected to them is not a victim should mitigate that fact is ridiculous. A person who has never been robbed but lives in a robbery-heavy city is not worse off than the only person in a crime-low suburb who has had most of their accumulated wealth and mementos stolen.
A much more direct defense was offered by Vox:
Once Jeong’s hiring was announced, her detractors immediately started digging through her internet history to see what they could find. A survey of Jeong’s past commentary on Twitter reveals several mainly sarcastic tweets dating back to 2013, which were largely discussing and responding to the oppressive mentality of white culture.
On Thursday morning, Jeong issued a statement. As a female journalist on the internet as well as a woman of color, she is no stranger to harassment — as she herself noted before explaining that in the tweets being circulated as proof of her supposed “racism,” she had been engaging “in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling.”
Thus, it’s simply an analysis of white culture and counter-trolling. Addressing the second issue first, “counter-trolling” regularly by expressing racist comments simply exposes an otherwise hidden racism. Her responses aren’t even equivalent in many cases; when she is attacked by someone for being a lesbian, she responds by attacking his skin color.
Worse, the “discussion of the oppressive mentality of white culture” is a fundamentally racist construct. Whether it has been accepted as fact by many stripes of academia or, even, if it is factually based – a position with which I strongly disagree – it remains a racist construct.
Recall what was said above about the “social justice” mindset. Even if “white culture” (mind, as referenced in the Washington Post article above, there is no “white culture” if the attacks are made about whites in general, merely an accumulation of separate white cultures) is fundamentally oppressive, individual white people within it are not automatically representative of it… yet her tweets promote that viewpoint in the most simplistic, hateful way.
None of this excuses the attacks that have come her way which triggered many of her responses. It also doesn’t excuse the Republican political columnists and pundits who have carefully excised all of the comments to which she was responding, although one can see from many of the stories, like the one in the Washington Times, above, how most of the tweets were posted “in response to”. It is reasonable to ask what the comments were to which she was responding.
The context is important, because when you see someone being attacked with slurs, their response using abusive language is seen as more understandable. Still wrong, but less likely to induce outrage. Removing the context also gives her supporters the chance to fraudulently present all of her statements as reactive, because some of them are.
At least, you can see the lack of context in some of the stories. Media sources that aren’t traditionally Republican have been covering it differently, like the BBC and the LA Times. In those, the controversy is addressed, but her tweets are not presented at all.
The tweets are important, because if it is just kept as “alleged racist tweets” the reader is missing out on the joyful vitriol of “F** white women” and images of police getting violently beaten. Jeong’s racist and abusive nature is being, well, whitewashed.
Not only is Jeong not being fairly presented by most in the media, but her story is being used to further the cultural divide.