Is it OK to make fun of white people online? The inquiring minds at the WaPo want to know

Is it OK to make fun of white people online? The inquiring minds at the WaPo want to know
Image: Campus Reform

According to Betteridge’s law of headlines, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

I’m not sure the law applies to a question in the headline of a Washington Post article that is repeated in the title of this post.

The authors of the piece, Eli Rosenberg and Erin Logan, never answer the question directly, but their ruminations on the topic, inspired by the kerfuffle over the New York Times’s hiring of Sarah Jeong, lean in the direction of “yes.”

Claiming that Jeong’s tweets “make fun of white people” is a tough sell. Calling white men “bullsh*t” (whatever that means) and suggesting that white people are fit only “to live underground like groveling goblins” sounds more to me like hate speech than it does ridicule. But Rosenberg and Logan don’t present the tweets at face value, omitting the uglier streams of profanity from their quotes, which skunks the enterprise from the get-go.

In attempting to defend Jeong against her critics, the authors mention a previous hire for the same position, Quinn Norton, who the Times “let go before she even started after an uproar over remarks she made previously on Twitter.”

They seem to be trying to show that the Times possesses a moral compass, but Norton’s story differs from Jeong’s in several important way. For one thing, she was apparently friends with neo-Nazis, and for another she used the “n” word, albeit in an indirect manner, in a 2013 tweet.

In short, in firing Norton, the Times was cleansing itself of a person whose “values” are closer to what they imagine to be Donald Trump’s than to their own. In retaining Jeong, they were reaffirming values that, even if never stated overtly, they embrace.

As to the question Rosenberg and Logan pose, I would say the answer is “no,” but first I would broaden it to include every race and ethnicity. In their better days, the Times and the Post would have done the same.

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Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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