Okay, I Guess This is What Racism Looks Like

I am one of those anti-political correctness types who eschew the easy road of accusing people of “racism” every time they say something harsh or hyperbolic about anyone who happens not to share the same skin color, or even about a racial group as such.

For one thing, I despise the way such -isms always end up being used as smears to destroy the reputations of people with whom one disagrees, in the absence of a legitimate counterargument to what they have said, thus directly poisoning the well of liberty, rational dialogue.

For another thing, I have yet to come across a proper, rationally explicated definition of racism, one which would allow everyone on all sides of a dispute to agree upon particular examples in such a way that the smear tactics referred to above would simply be immediately and clearly answerable, much as accusing someone of being a vegetarian would admit of being tested by applying known facts about the person against the clear definition of that word.

Furthermore, I believe that all beliefs about human things fall somewhere on a nebulous continuum of particularity and generality, and that, the limits of human reason being as they are, it is very difficult to judge exactly when someone else’s thoughts fall too far this way or that on the continuum, regarding this or that topic in this or that context. After all, general statements are a necessary and proper part of discourse, and while generalities about human matters often and inherently run the risk of lopping off inconvenient exceptions for the sake of making an overall assessment or proposal, they are also an essential part of human thinking, without which many intrinsically useful or worthwhile ideas would never get off the ground.

Thus, I am truly loath to use the word “racism” in any context, let alone to find it under every bed. I myself have been accused of it many times, by people who have never met me and know less than nothing about me, so I am fully aware of the emptiness and irrationality the word conceals.

Having said all that, if we are to allow that there really is something in the hearts of men (or of course women — sexism alert!) that might answer to the word “racism,” and we need to find an example to prove this, we could hardly do much better than The New York Times‘ new editorial board member, Sarah Jeong.

Patterico, over at his website, reproduces several of her impressive Twitter rants from 2014 and 2015:

Well, to address each of these “ideas” carefully would be a monumental waste of time, but I would say that, apart from the hackneyed neo-Marxist systemic oppression presuppositions — which merely prove she has been to university — this young Asian woman has a serious personal animosity toward white men. That’s not an interpretation or a theory, just an observation.

Of course there is nothing surprising about her views, or about the fact that she has just been hired for a prestigious new job in the American media — although I note that her name, Jeong, is Korean, and she was apparently born here (that is, in Korea), but if she were a real Korean she wouldn’t be so eager to hide behind the collective accomplishments of the “yellow” race, as she is obviously doing when she challenges readers to find “things white people can definitely take credit for.” Real Koreans are much more refined in their race identity than that, and the common and easily-observable rank-ordering of Asian peoples, in the minds of ordinary Koreans, is a nuanced thing to behold. You’d be amazed at some of the things I’ve heard normal, nice, intelligent Koreans say about “Chinese people,” for example. You might call it racist if you were the sort of person who liked to throw that word around, which I am not.

By the way, her new bosses at The New York Times introduce her on their company website with this: 

She arrives most recently from the Verge, where she’s a senior writer. She also authored the book, “The Internet of Garbage,” which examines the many forms of online harassment, free speech, and the challenges of moderating platforms and social media networks.

She is an expert, then, in online harassment, which you would already know if you read the tweets above, such as this one, a favorite: “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” Yeah, kind of sick! Oh man!

But the real reason I bring this up is because I love a good trivia game, and I enjoy a good challenge, and Ms. Jeong, who may be a racist, has justified her time on this Earth by daring us all to join a fun game of “Things white people can definitely take credit for.”

Leaving aside the fact that the concept of her game is, shall we say, the sort of thing we might call racist — races don’t get to “take credit” for things, dear; individuals or organizations do — I just want to play!

A thing white people can definitely take credit for: The New York Times.

What do I win?

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