To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why Trump's 'Enemy Of The People' Charge Rings Bells For So Many Of 'The People' (The Short Version)

Way too many words have been expended already on the Times’ misbegotten hiring of Sarah Jeong for the prestigious spot on the editorial board dedicated to technology, law and internet policy. Most of the coverage has been focused on the Korean immigrant’s obsessive habit of tweeting out nasty bursts of anti-white racism and other forms of derisive "othering." This seems to have gone on for years during the time Jeong was a Harvard Law School student (JD, 2014), a Yale journalism fellow (2015-16) and a contributor to such publications as Motherboard, the Atlantic, Forbes, the Verge and the New York Times Magazine. Apparently, anti-white racism isn't a disqualification for the California bar either; Jeong was admitted in 2016.  

With the hounds baying for her blood almost as soon as the hiring announcement was made, both the Times and Jeong herself attempted to explain that she had long been the target of online harassment from misogynistic, anti-Asian trolls; she'd merely been responding in the idiom of her tormenters. That is to say, she was responding ironically. This is, of course, an explanation that hardly anyone besides the senior managers who hired her, and would look profoundly embarrassed if they fired her, actually believed, or at least pretended hard enough to look like they did. The idea that someone could get away with saying something analogous about any of the so-called protected groups---Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians---is absurd, as conservative black activist Candace Owen learned when Twitter suspended her account after Owens took some of Jeong’s tweets and tweeted them out again with the races reversed: black where Jeong had tweeted white. Irony tweets it seems are the object of a decided double standard, both online among flippant millennials and, apparently, on the pages of the serious (or serious-seeming) New York Times. 

The best and most incisive treatment of the Sarah Jeong case is actually contained in a single sentence that Caitlin Flanagan wrote earlier this week in an excellent Atlantic essay about the subversive appeal of alt-lite self-help author Jordan Peterson. The single sentence, albeit quite a honker of a single sentence, is actually a two-fer, cutting to the heart of the Times hypocrisy on hiring Jeong at a time when it is hyperventilating about the rising tide of white racism on a daily basis and on issuing portentous warnings about Trump’s threatening use of the term “Enemy of the People.” In fact the two senior figures at the Times who had made the decision to hire Jeong---Opinion editor James Bennet and publisher A. G. Sulzberger, who took over from his father Arthur Sulzberger Jr at the end of last year, journeyed out to Trump’s Bedminster New Jersey golf club last month to relay their concerns mano-a-mano and joined the Boston Globe's effort, along with 300 other newspaper editorial pages, to denounce Trump's anti-press attacks. Flanagan writes:    

When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system. 
Interestingly, Flanagan used to write for James Bennet when Bennet was editor at the Atlantic, and the current Atlantic editor, Jeffrey Goldberg, was long protected by Bennet from the many many Beltway journalists who were after him for any number of offenses, most of them tied to his Zionist chauvinism and the kind of Israel First journalism that produced his infamous and lethally flawed Saddam Hussein WMD piece from 2003. A bit of a betrayal then, or at the very least sign of significant disappointment in a former boss.

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