The most significant feature of Sarah Jeong, the New York Times’ embattled new editorial board member, is not that she is a “racist,” as her critics put it. It is that she is an entirely typical product of the contemporary academy.
After the New York Times announced Jeong’s hire in early August, web sleuths dug out a mother lode of tweets demonstrating an obsession with whites. Samples include “white men are [bullsh**],” “#cancelwhitepeople,” “National/ Pretty goddam white/ Radio,” “I’m tired of being mad about white dudes. I’m going to pretend they don’t exist for a week,” and “I figured it out. Powerful white women automatically receive officer status in Club Feminism. Unless they disavow.” Both the Times and Jeong blamed her posts on . . . you guessed, it, whites. Her status as a “young Asian woman,” in the Times’ words, made her a subject of frequent online harassment, to which she responded “for a period of time” by “imitating the rhetoric of her harassers.”
This argument was, to borrow a phrase, bullsh**. Jeong’s five-year tweet trail is much longer than a mere “period of time” during which she allegedly experimented with counter-trolling. But most important, her tweets are not imitative of anything other than the ideology that now rules the higher-education establishment, including UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School, both of which Jeong attended. And that ideology is taking over non-academic institutions, whether in journalism, publishing, the tech sector, or the rest of corporate America. Sarah Jeong’s tweets and blog posts are just a marker of the world we already live in.