Allegedly 'Smart' White People Keep Getting Dumber and Dumber About Racism

Illustration for article titled Allegedly 'Smart' White People Keep Getting Dumber and Dumber About Racism
Photo: fotojog (iStock)

I’m going to keep this short, because variants of this piece have been written so many times that spending more than 600 words on this will make my ears explode.


On Twitter earlier today, New York Times features writer Elizabeth Williamson shared a piece from columnist (and colleague) Bret Stephens about Sarah Jeong, whose hiring by the Times two weeks ago immediately sparkled a tsunami of performative and fake-as-the-fuck outrage over a series of tweets where Jeong picked fun at white people—white men, specifically.

Williamson has since deleted that tweet, but below is a screenshot of it when it was shared in The Root’s Slack.

Illustration for article titled Allegedly 'Smart' White People Keep Getting Dumber and Dumber About Racism

This sentence contains two whopping lies. First, of course, is the idea that Sarah Jeong “has yet to prove” that she deserves confetti cake and a fucking ticker tape parade from her new co-workers. And, as Williamson tweeted, if Jeong doesn’t deserve a classy welcome from the people who she was recently hired to work with and next to, what exactly does she deserve? A bag of dog shit at her cubicle? A disinvitation to a Slack room? A really intense sneer? CAN THESE PEOPLE PLEASE JUST GET THE FUCK OFF OF SARAH JEONG’S NUTS?

After reading Williamson’s tweet, curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on and read Bret Stephens’ “classy welcome.” And now I’m blind. I can still see well enough to write this, but I can feel my vision decreasing by the second.

Predictably, Stephens doubled down on the assertion that what Jeong did is racist and fits well within the definition of racism. To strengthen his point, he included a nice little jab at “liberals.”

We should call many of these tweets for what they are: racist. I’ve seen some acrobatic efforts to explain why Jeong’s tweets should be treated as “quasi-satirical,” hyperbolical and a function of “social context.” But the criteria for racism is either objective or it’s meaningless: If liberals get to decide for themselves who is or isn’t a racist according to their political lights, conservatives will be within their rights to ignore them.


I do not know if Bret Stephens has internet access. I think (and hope) he does, but I’d be wrong to assume. You can never be too sure. I, however, do. And, with this internet access, I was able to jaunt over to Merriam-Webster to see how racism is defined there.

1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2a : a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles

b : a political or social system founded on racism

It would seem as if the actual definition of racism from the actual fucking dictionary addresses the fact that racism is incomplete without power. This is not some double meaning arbitrarily decided upon by liberals to fit a political agenda. THE FULL DEFINITION IS IN THE FUCKING BOOK OF DEFINITIONS.


Forget about whether Sarah Jeong gets a classy welcome. Can someone please let Bret Stephens borrow a wifi password?

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Argument by dictionary is lame, bro. Definitions are, ultimately, social constructs. Having said that, this obliterates Stephens’ point: there is no way to create an objective definition of racism. However, you can get one that’s close enough.

At least The National Review’s David French admitted that the likelihood of white Americans experiencing what has happened and continues to happen to non-white ones, including the sort of racial harassment that Jeong endured prior to sending the tweets in question—the foundation of the slippery-slope argument used by a number of Jeong’s criticsis zero, and used the “b-b-b-but it’s not fair!” argument instead.