I’ve been saying for a week now that the most disturbing thing about Sarah Jeong isn’t Jeong herself but the fact that so many on the progressive left have greeted her tweets with a collective shrug or worse, with excuses. So I’m both surprised and pleased to discover that a substantial number of readers of the NY Times have concerns about Jeong’s tweets (h/t to Tom Maguire). These comments appear in response to Bret Stephens’ column yesterday which simultaneously criticized Jeong’s tweets and welcomed her to the paper. I’m going to offer a sample but without any identifying information:
- Let he who is without a bad tweet cast the first stone.[ Fine, then I will cast away.The New York Times does not need to have a person who writes racist comments writing for the Times. ]
- Of course the tweets don’t reflect the “core truth of who she is”. I”m sure she’s lovely – and was undoubtedly provoked – but that’s not the point. This wasn’t one racist tweet, it was a pattern of behavior; a choice. It’s unfathomable to me that the NYT would put her on the editorial board. I’m dismayed, and that’s why I canceled my subscription.
- This doesn’t seem like a case of a few errant questionable tweets. It seems like an obsession, a worldview. And, if so, how can we be sure as readers that it doesn’t influence her substantive writing? I’m not convinced.
- Both sides must meet the same standards. As a liberal I believe I cannot condemn Trump’s careless tweets, and suggest they fuel racism, violence, hate and cruelty, and not also condemn such behavior in liberals. We either find our way back to civil discourse, or our democracy fails, Twitter or not.
- Make no mistake: the hypocritical double standard exhibited here is one of many reasons that a Donald Trump is now President.
- Someday soon we will hopefully get our heads around how racism is not a one way street. We need to foster respect if expect to get respect. This piece of mental acrobatics trying to explain away and excuse meanness is rooted in the idea that being a racist in this country is only a problem if you are dot dot dot. How can we ask for diversity and tolerance while indulging in its opposite? We need maturity not mockery.
- Conservatives make racist comments and they are fired on the spot. Liberals make racist comments and excuses are made as to why its no big deal and they get to keep their jobs. This is part of the reason why a large part of the population sees the media as biased.
- Had Ms. Jeong tweeted the same things, even in jest, about other racial groups, the NYT wouldn’t have touched her with a ten foot pole. Her judgment about trolling trollers for a lengthy period of time in a similarly racist way reflected poor judgement and a juvenile demeanor.
- There’s an old Sunday school lesson about gossiping and meanness: A pastor gives young children a tube of toothpaste and says squeeze. Then he says put the toothpaste back, which is clearly impossible. The lesson: Once words leave your mouth, or phone, they can’t be taken back – they are permanent. Respect your words. This journalist did not and should not remain at the NYT.
- I hope the NYT reads the comments carefully. The comments suggest that there is a sizable population of reasonable and decent people who are bothered by her tweets and don’t excuse them as “ironic” or “performative.” I hope Jeong and her defenders don’t assume all the criticism they hear is coming from alt-right trolls and therefore feel it is ok to ignore.
If you think I’ve cherry-picked ten tweets I promise I haven’t. There are dozens more like this and most of these comments have been upvoted hundreds of times by other readers. This seems to be the consensus view of people responding to this article.
I’m surprised that so many left-leaning NY Times readers haven’t bought into the idea that racism is purely about power or that saying “it was a joke” is a workable excuse. In fact, Times readers seem quite a bit more sensible than the average Vox writer.
And that makes me wonder if the degree to which regular people on the left and right disagree about this is being clouded by the loud and extreme voices who write about these issues for Slate, Vox and all the rest who see wonkiness as a path to wokeness.
Then again, maybe the reality is that the socialist left has expanded the Overton window so far that the NY Times is now, effectively, a center-left publication. Another ten years and there could be people calling the Times a reactionary, right-wing paper. If you’ve seen some of the carping about Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens (both Times opinion writers) we may already be there.