As I described yesterday, San Francisco School Board Vice President Alison Collins is under a lot of pressure to resign over some tweets she wrote about Asian parents and students back in 2016. Today the LA Times editorial board joins the chorus of people calling for Collins to bow out.
The LA Times isn’t the first news site to notice the similarity between Collins’ situation and that of Teen Vogue editor Alexi McCammond who was forced out of a job earlier this month. Both Collins and McCammond are black and both had written some arguably racist things about Asians on Twitter. But, to my surprise, even the LA Times can see a clear difference here: “One of the women, a commissioner of San Francisco schools, should resign. The other, a magazine editor, never should have lost her job.”
The Times points out that there are ways to measure an appropriate response to these situations by looking at how old the offense was and whether it could reasonably interfere with someone doing the job they were hired to do. Also, has the person offered an apology? In Collins’ case, the answers don’t help her case:
Her concerns about standing up against racism were legitimate, but her remarks about Asians were heinous, invoking racist tropes and nasty accusations against a racial group that makes up 30% of the school district’s enrollment. And though the tweets were from before Collins ran for office, she holds an important and delicate position. It’s fair to say that many parents of Asian descent would not trust her to treat them or their children fairly. That trust is crucial to her ability to do her job…
In contrast, Alexi McCammond, who had been newly named as the editor of Teen Vogue magazine, issued a straight-on apology for ugly tweets about Asians she had made on social media 10 years ago — including a reference to “swollen, asian eyes” — along with slurs against gay people…
It matters too that McCammond was 17 at the time she made the remarks, not yet an adult. That’s not an excuse, but youthful outrageousness is a well-known phenomenon. There is good reason to think she has long since outgrown such harmful ways. Yet she resigned last week under pressure…
Collins, on the other hand, should give up her spot on the school board, as two of her fellow board members reportedly are demanding. She has shown little interest in learning from the racist attitudes she displayed and using that along with her position to heal and bring parents and students together in fighting all forms of intolerance. And that’s a shame, too.
Again, I’m a bit surprised to be saying this, but all of that seems entirely reasonable. I’ve made exactly these same points over the past couple weeks. People say dumb things, especially as teenagers. If Twitter had been around when I was 17 I’m very certain there would have been some embarrassing comments, not about Asian-Americans (my best friend in high school was Vietnamese) but about any number of other things. And that’s true of almost everyone. There’s just a time in the teen years or even a bit later when being outrageous for effect seems like fun and eventually most of us grow out of that phase.
The LA Times won’t say this but I will. Alexi McCammond grew out of her dumb-comments-about-Asians phase, but Alison Collins grew into hers. Her comments aren’t casually ignorant, they were carefully considered and in keeping with her woke outlook. She’s an adult woman who, as of yesterday, still hadn’t deleted the tweets or claimed she no longer believed what she’d said.
All of these distinctions really ought to make a difference but as of now, the woke newsroom staff at Teen Vogue got Alexi McCammond canceled and the woke President of the SF School Board is defending Alison Collins. These decisions aren’t being driven by reason, but by the views of a loud minority of left-wing extremists. Still, it’s something that the LA Times noticed.