Radical Left

Sarah Jeong Probably Doesn't Hate White People, But Mocking Them Is an Easy Way to Prove You're Woke

The left doesn't believe racism against white people is possible.


Screenshot via Youtube

Having delved a little deeper into the controversial tweets of recent New York Times hire Sarah Jeong, I no longer entirely buy the rationale that Jeong provided to The Times: that she was merely "imitating" the rhetoric of people harassing her. If she was trolling her harassers, I would have expected her to quote-tweet or reply to them, but many of the tweets seem to be generated by nothing other than Jeong's own thoughts, or by items in the news.

I understand that she was experiencing a deluge of harassment at the time. That's the internet: an ugly place for everybody, but especially for women of color (Jeong was born in South Korea). It's awful, and people ought to think long and hard about how they might have handled such a situation. Have you ever lashed out in anger after someone was being mean to you? Do you think this should make you unemployable?

I still don't think she should be fired, and further efforts to mine her old tweets for content that runs afoul of right-wing political correctness—oh no, she said bad things about the police, how dare she—play directly into the hands of a bad-faith smear campaign. Over the last 24 hours, it's been incredible to watch an army of right-of-center Twitter users gleefully demand Jeong's head out of some misguided sense of fair play—of forcing the left to "live by its own rules." A much more productive use of their time would be to defend Jeong while pointing out leftist hypocrisy when warranted.

Speaking of which, the reaction to Jeong's tweet among some left-of-center folks is a powerful reminder of a harmful lefty belief: that racism against white people is impossible. National Review's David French and New York's Andrew Sullivan (both, alas, white people—and men!) have both written articles about this reaction, which was evident for anyone paying attention to the Jeong news cycle on social media.

Most people probably define racism as harboring negative views about people based on their skin color or national origin, or treating them differently, or prejudging them, or making broad, stereotypical assumptions about them. But for the left, racism has to involve a structural power imbalance to count. White people as a group have never been oppressed, the argument goes, so they cannot suffer racism. White people can still experience oppression if they are female, gay, trans, disabled, etc., but they can't experience racism. That's how intersectionality works.

One easy way for a person to indicate that she is on the left—that she's woke, she gets it, etc.—is to make remarks that disparage white people. While these remarks seem ugly and offensive to most people, folks on the left who understand that anti-white racism is impossible are able to recognize the disparager as one of their own.

Ultimately, I suspect that's what Jeong was really doing. She doesn't actually hate white people; she was demonstrating that she subscribes to The Cause. Of course, it says something about this strain of leftism that one of the easiest ways to prove you're a devotee is to make mean-spirited, troll-ish generalizations about other people.