Earlier today, the New York Times announced that it had hired Sarah Jeong to join its editorial board, and — like clockwork — controversial old tweets promptly surfaced. In them, Jeong expressed some rather interesting views of “[dumba** f***ing] white people,” musing about how much joy she gets “out of being cruel to old white men” and how “white men are [bullsh**].” For good measure she also compared white people to “groveling goblins” and questioned why they’re “genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun.” In a statement, Jeong expressed her regret and explained that she was engaging in “counter-trolling” designed to mimic the language of racists who harassed her online.
The Times is standing by its hire. Good. It’s time to end termination-by-Twitter and debate bad ideas head-on. (As for whether the Times and other elite outlets will display the same fortitude when a conservative is the target of online outrage, I’ll believe it when I see it.)
But it’s one thing to argue that Jeong should be given a chance to prove herself at the Times, and another entirely to justify the content of the tweets themselves. Yet that’s what part of left-wing Twitter did.