Twitter is apologizing after “Red Pill Black” pundit and Turning Point USA director of communications Candace Owens was blocked from the platform for tweets she sent out criticizing the social media posts of Sarah Jeong, the controversial new pick for the editorial board of The New York Times.
Jeong, who previously was a senior writer at tech website The Verge, sent out a number of tweets in which she made clear she was not terribly fond of “white people.” Jeong and her defenders have claimed, more or less, that she was responding to internet trolls by using their language and that this should in no way be considered racist.
In a statement about the tweets, Jeong wrote that “(a)s a woman of color on the internet,” she had often faced racist harassment.
“I engaged in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling.” Jeong wrote. “While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns.”
I’m not going to go into just how eye-rollingly bad that self-extenuation is because we could be here all day. Point is, Owens didn’t think much of this excuse either, and decided to alter the language of one of Jeong’s more unsavory tweets to make clear just how horrible they really were.
Black people are only fit to live underground like groveling goblins. They have stopped breeding and will all go extinct soon. I enjoy being cruel to old black women.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 4, 2018
One of those tweets, according to The Daily Caller, read “Jewish people are bulls***… like dogs pissing on firehydrants. #cancelJewishpeople. Are Jewish people genetically disposed to burn faster in the sun?” Owens made it clear that these tweets were again just using Jeong’s exact language and replacing “white” with “Jewish,” but Twitter apparently didn’t care, giving her a ban for the tweet.
This led to plenty of outrage, including from Turning Point USA head Charlie Kirk:
Double standard!! https://t.co/IVA2QmF2EM
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 5, 2018
Owens received an apology email from Twitter shortly after the block was lifted:
BLOWN AWAY by the amount of patriots that just came to my side to make this happen.
I will be periscoping LIVE about this entire debacle, in 30 mins.
I am blessed to know you all. ?? pic.twitter.com/r91vwRoVuA
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 5, 2018
Yes, “it looks like we made an error.” I would tend to agree, not only in that Ms. Owens’ account was blocked but Ms. Jeong’s account has apparently never been. There’s also the fact that they discovered this “error” after an enormous backlash, which makes the “error” explanation a little harder to buy.
And yes, before liberal trolls fire off the inevitable response that I don’t get the contextualization of Jeong’s tweets and that Owens’ ripostes were ignorant of history, please note I am aware of your arguments and that you’d be well advised to save the keystrokes.
Yes, racism against whites may be less pernicious than racism against other races in the grand scheme of things (in the United States at least). That doesn’t make it less racist or not racist at all. Perniciousness or ill effect don’t define racism unless you operate under one of the more specious academic redefinitions of the term.
Another liberal argument is that there is no culturally significant group of “white people” — instead breaking down into groups like German, Italian, Irish, Russian, etc — which is why Caucasians in general oughtn’t take offense to this sort of thing. I would agree there’s no monolithic definition of whiteness; this is why I’m always confused when “white privilege” is on the menu, since, definitionally, white people are fundamentally different from one another. Indeed, this is true for all races, which is why identity politics is a losing game in the long run.
If you keep on talking about “white people” and then insisting that 400 years of history makes them ineligible to protest overt racism against them, however, they will start thinking about themselves in identitarian terms as “white people” — which isn’t a development anyone should welcome.
And I’ve also heard liberal pundit Zack Beauchamp’s risible explication that Jeong’s remarks were merely “the expressive way anti-racists and minorities talk about ‘white people'” and that it doesn’t actually mean “white people.” All right, then. Pushing boundaries is just an expressive way conservatives push back against boundaries of culturally enforced political correctness when they feel those boundaries are wrong.
By that logic, literally nothing any conservative has ever said could fit under the term “bigotry” — making it clearly inoffensive, right? I mean, liberals should be able to understand this is just how conservatives make themselves heard. Somehow, I don’t think that’s an argument Mr. Beauchamp is going to give any credence to, nor should he. I’m also sure his defenders would also say that this has to do with those ever-present structures of “power.” Return, again, to the first point about racism against whites. Wash, rinse, repeat.
For all of those reasons, what Candace Owens did was a perfectly legitimate exercise in pointing out the hypocrisy of Sarah Jeong’s defenders. In far fewer words than I did, it made the point that Jeong’s explanation was hollow and based on assumptions that are simply untrue.
Should Jeong be fired? I’m of mixed opinions on the matter, especially since The New York Times says it knew of Jeong’s Twitter history when she was hired. It certainly says a lot about The Times’ editorial board, and I think her presence there ought to be a constant reminder of the board’s standards. I also don’t think that pitchfork-wielding social media mobs being able to determine someone’s employment status over something written years ago is necessarily the best development for conservatives.
However, I do know how Jeong feels on the matter. After BuzzFeed editor Benny Johnson’s plagiarism scandal, Jeong tweeted that “Lots of talented people never ‘make mistakes’ and they still have trouble finding jobs. F*** Benny Johnson’s ‘redemption.'” Well, same to you, I suppose.
In terms of Twitter’s reaction, it’s clear that this is yet another instance of conservative censorship from a social media platform. This didn’t happen to Jeong when she wrote the tweets about the perfidies of white folk, which were the genesis of Owens’ tweets. The idea that this was just some random error Twitter committed because it takes “violations of the Twitter Rules very seriously” doesn’t wash, especially since this was the platform that once made the “mistake” of labeling Owens as a “far-right” pundit.
They can do the same thing with their redemption, as well.
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