For people born yesterday, the fury was about New York Times’ editorial writer Bari Weiss’ “racist” twit.
Mirai Nagasu was not an immigrant, though her parents were. So Weiss’ twit, a reference to the play Hamilton, was technically inaccurate. What it was not was mean or hateful. She lauded Nagasu’s achievement. It was positive toward immigrants. It checked a few boxes, but that wasn’t good enough.
The New York Times staff ripped her to shreds, as if she got caught with a swastika tat under her pussy hat. From a transcript of the NYT internal chatroom:
sorry, but I felt that tweet denied Mirai her full citizenship just as the internment did. and nothing will be done because no one was offended! (since we don’t count)
This is where your most serious, most reliable news comes from? And…
on a related note, given the heightened political discourse around “free speech” where many people on the receiving end of criticism complain about being silenced, I don’t think there’s enough thought given to the way institutions/organizations/communities are structured to defacto silence people who are already most vulnerable to marginalization.
No one ever gets the irony of their freedom to complain about free speech. In any event, was this twit, or even Weiss’ failure to admit her heresy and repent, deserving of the outrage? Or were the claws out for her because of her ongoing heresy? After all, Weiss was a “proud feminist,” as she Gertruded.
Remember Bari Weiss’ op-ed about the Chicago Dyke March, where she was critical of the intersectionalism that forced Jewish lesbians out for making others feel unsafe? Or her op-ed about Aziz Ansari not being a mind reader? This was the twit that broke the camel’s back. No matter how hard Weiss tried to be a woke but rational feminist, she couldn’t thread that needle.
As Cathy Young writes, the twit may not have been as precise as some would want, but it wasn’t particularly wrong either.
But was Weiss’s tweet actually wrong? You could argue that it’s not uncommon to use “immigrants” as an umbrella term for both people who come to the U.S. from other countries and their American-born children—often called “second-generation immigrants.”
There are plenty of examples of such usage—and it’s not just a Jewish thing. A 2007 National Public Radio story about “black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean” attending Ivy League universities included second-generation immigrants. Last year, the millennial-oriented website Mental Floss ran a piece on “immigrant success stories” from predominantly Muslim countries covered by Donald Trump’s travel ban which featured two immigrants and four people born to immigrant parents (among them Apple founder Steve Jobs).
Was the problem that her twit was so racist, so hateful, that it warranted SJW fury? Was it that Bari Weiss, despite her efforts to establish her bona fides as a “proud feminist,” never stood a chance, because there is no moderation, no rational middle allowed? Both? Was this twit that racist and awful?
Too racist for her “colleagues” the New York Times, who were silenced, marginalized and vulnerablized (that’s not a word) by their eyes being forced to see her celebration of Nagasu’s triple axel. But they already decided Bari Weiss needed to be burned at the stake for her heresy, and this merely lit the match.
Maybe it’s just Bari Weiss, you ask? Maybe they just don’t like her because she never says “hi” to the other writers, doesn’t share stories at Starbucks, never participates in the
Secret Santa Holiday Anonymous Gift Giving game. Ironically, another women was also thrown under the New York Times delivery truck that same day.
Shortly after this conversation, [NYT Editorial Editor James] Bennet’s section announced it had hired Quinn Norton as a columnist. Almost instantly, Twitter users discovered that Norton had previously boasted about her friendships with neo-Nazis, among other troubling facts. That internal discussion was apparently taken to a much smaller, private Slack room. Seven hours and a considerable amount of Twitter furor later, the Times announced that it had decided to fire Norton.
Seven hours from hire to fire? It’s unlikely that Bennett didn’t know of Quinn Norton’s work, but that her association with trolls like weev and efforts to engage with Anonymous couldn’t withstand the withering scrutiny of the social justice scolds. Norton was seriously knowledgeable about the inside of hacker tech, but as an EFF friend explained:
She’s always been somewhat controversial, NYT knew that when they hired her, referencing some of her work in the initial announcement. But SJW twitter dug up tweets of hers that are consistent with her work that, when taken wholly out of context, make her appear to be a nazi-lover, a queer hater, etc. She isn’t (I know her well), but who the fuck cares about context on SJW twitter? NYT couldn’t take the heat.
Norton’s work inside the hacker community required her to engage with them, and in the course of doing so, she used the words they used, and they were bad words. No matter why, or what context they were used in. Good people never use bad words, you know, unless they’re bad people.
If you wonder why your news and opinion is largely provided by 23-year-old gender studies majors, it’s not just because they work dirt cheap. They’re also fully indoctrinated and lack sufficient life experience to have uttered a word, expressed a thought, that questioned the orthodoxy.
Quinn Norton knew her stuff really well, but never stood a chance. Bari Weiss tried so very hard to tell the silenced reporters at the New York Times that she wasn’t a bad person, she was really very social justice-y, but tempered with something they had never personally experienced: reason. Just as depth of knowledge didn’t save Norton, Gertruding didn’t save Weiss. And Bret Stephens wouldn’t stand a chance, but for the fact that he’s a white cishet male and thus a lost cause anyway.