Playing the Indian Card

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Sarah Jeong's Racism

James Naismith, inventor of basketball.

A lot of people are becoming exercised about the New York Times' recent hire of a journalist named Sarah Jeong, on the grounds that she has for years been aggressively racist on social media. How come anyone who says anything that could even conceivably be considered racist or sexist referring to women or blacks gets fired immediately, but someone whose racism is extreme and directed against “whites” and whose extreme sexism is directed against men is A-OK? This seems to demonstrate a systemic racism and sexism.

But I think quite apart from her racism and sexism, the Jeong hire looks boneheaded purely in terms of competence. Her tweets and posts demonstrate profound ignorance and stupidity. What is the standard for journalism any more? Don't you need to be just a little aware of the meaning and significance of what you write? And if, as Jeong has been, you are a cultural journalist, don't you have to know just a little about the culture? What about awareness of little mechanics like punctuation and capitalization? Or the meaning of the word “literally”?

Someone has quoted from an old post of hers:

“have you ever tried to figure out all the things that white people are allowed to do that aren’t cultural appropriation. there’s literally nothing. like skiing, maybe, and also golf. white people aren’t even allowed to have polo. did you know that. like don’t you just feel bad? why can’t we give white people a break. lacrosse isn’t for white people either. it must be so boring to be white.” Or this: “basically i’m just imagining waking up white every morning with a terrible existential dread that i have no culture.”

So by her stated rules, nobody should be allowed to appreciate any culture not created by someone whose skin was the same hue. And specifically, you're not allowed to play any sports not invented by those of a reasonably similar skin tone.

Right, so as she says, that excludes people with pale skin from playing polo or lacrosse. I am sure that will hollow out many lives. Obviously, she says, they have nothing else. White people all spend their time playing polo and lacrosse.

On the other hand, what is going to be the consequence of her rule for black athletes? Now non-whites may no longer watch or play basketball. Did she really not know this was invented by “white folk”? Or football, for that matter, which evolved from rugby; or soccer, which is after all the world's most popular sport. Or baseball, or hockey, or golf, or tennis. Her rules would be a massive boost for the careers of any white professional athletes. Good old segregated baseball! She wants it back!

So what are the non-whites going to do instead, with their leisure time? It is painful to point it out. The standard complaint about European/North American culture has always been that the culture was entirely constructed by “dead white males.” Other voices, the left clamoured needed to be heard. And I, for one agreed--if not on which voices. This just does not fit well with the assertion that white males have no culture.

But back we go, then, in all the universities, to the old curricula that highlighted the classics, to Shakespeare, Twain, Milton, Dante, Goethe, Homer, Cervantes, and Moliere, to Beethoven, Verdi, Michelangelo, Picasso and Da Vinci. Non-white students should not even be admitted. It would be cultural appropriation.

She is an idiot.


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