The Salon Tal Fortgang reading list!

FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2014

Most demonic college freshman in history: Tal Fortgang is the most demonic college freshman in world history.

So far.

Still, that makes him a college freshman. In turn, that makes Salon’s meltdown this week a bit of a milestone in the history in Salonist breakdowns concerning first-year students.

Background: Fortgang wrote a murky essay for a campus publication at Princeton. This could have been extremely important, except Fortgang is a freshman in college and no one cares what he writes or expects him to have much to say.

No one except the Salonistas! Complete with links, this is the reading list for the site’s upcoming MOOC, “Tal Fortgang and the rise of the demonic among college freshmen we’ve heard of:”
SUNDAY, MAY 4, 2014 05:03 PM EDT
“I’ll never apologize for my white privilege” guy is basically most of white America
Princeton University freshman Tal Fortgang is a jerk, but he's not an outlier on the issue of racism in America

MONDAY, MAY 5, 2014 02:49 PM EDT
We don’t need your apology, Princeton kid
Tal Fortgang wrote an essay saying he's not sorry for being male and white—but who asked him to be?

MONDAY, MAY 5, 2014 07:07 PM EDT
Princeton, check your privilege (or at least your PR strategy)
From Susan Patton to Tal Fortgang—what is going on at Princeton?

TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014 12:45 PM EDT
The 5 most regrettable student Op-Eds
Tal Fortgang is not the first undergrad to pen a polemic that will surely haunt him for many years to come

TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014 02:45 PM EDT
Right-wing wunderkind syndrome: What’s really behind the popularity of Tal Fortgang?
A Princeton freshman pens a defense of white privilege and gets famous. But why him? And why now?

WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 2014 07:45 AM EDT
How whites should talk about white privilege: (Hint, it’s not like Tal Fortgang)
The Fortgang and Stephen Colbert debates are missing this: Outspoken white allies who acknowledge their privilege

THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2014 12:45 PM EDT
Bye-bye, whiny white dudes: Tucker Carlson, Tal Fortgang and the weakening grip of entitlement
The relevance of jerks like Fortgang and Carlson has never been more tenuous—which is why they're whining harder

FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2014 02:48 PM EDT
White privilege 101: Here’s the basic lesson Paul Ryan, Tal Fortgang and Donald Sterling need
Here's one way to fight back against ignorance: A refresher on how privilege works, and why race and gender matter
We’ve probably missed a piece or three. Given Fortgang’s significance among college freshmen who live in his cluttered dorm room, more essays will likely appear.

Our favorite headline has to be this one: “What’s really behind the popularity of Tal Fortgang?”

We’re not sure! Given the fact that Fortgang is a college freshman, can anyone think of the demonic way he has become well known?

The melting away of the liberal brain isn’t likely to turn out well. At Salon, anthropogenic format change has produced a great deal of melting.

Weekend update: As of Saturday afternoon, we’ve added one piece we missed.


  1. Somberby neglects to mention that Fortgang's essay was published at (for how that probably happened, see and that Fortgang himself appeared on Fox news (Greta Van S) -- see His essay has been discussed widely on the internet, especially right-wing sites. I don't know why somerby singles out Salon or asserts without argument that its response to right-wing promotion of Fortgang's essay is evidence of the "melting away of the liberal brain."

  2. Yes, the problem with Bob's logic is that he stopped being "a college freshman" when he got published by TIme. Salon is (over)reacting the way they are because we have all seen this wingnut welfare show before. Many times.

  3. Two things can be independently true: 1) While Bob is not a racist, he has a "Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil attitude when White Racism does rear it's ugly head, and 2) he is completely correct about the pious ninnies at Salon. The later raise an interesting question: constantly crying race is obviously part of Salon's business model. Leaving how cynical this is or isn't aside for a moment, it's interesting to wonder if it's effective.

    1. Bob writes these pieces several times a week. What I have not seen from him is any alternative plan for reducing racism. Is it supposed to just go away if it's ignored?

      The Republican strategy is to keep its base agitated, partly to distract them from their own economic interests, but partly to keep election turnout up. Why shouldn't Salon, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow do the same?

    2. There are choices of what to keep the base agitated about. I would prefer we be agitated over issues like poverty, income inequality, preserving the safety net, improving education and social services. and so on. Those are the issues currently being ignored.

    3. "Why shouldn't Salon, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow do the same?"

      Something about not descending to the level of your opponent. Something about being better than the people whose evil policies you oppose. Something about calling other people stupid for doing what they do and then doing the same thing. Any of that work for you?

    4. "Something about not descending to the level of your opponent. Something about being better than the people whose evil policies you oppose. Something about calling other people stupid for doing what they do and then doing the same thing. Any of that work for you?" Jayhawk

      Somerby seems to think it works for him.

    5. I don't think that is what Somerby is doing. It is what his trolls accuse him of, but they are not persuasive.

    6. If Somerby were doing it, which he isn't, what difference would the hypocrisy of an individual make to the argument?

    7. Alas, the Somerby lunch bunch (12:07 and 12:55) must have missed out on the Mao flavored meanderings and Stalinist infected insights of our Salonistas the first time.

    8. Reply to Jayhawk at 11:15. I am walking down the street, intent upon big things, when a mosquito or fly lands on me. I swat the insect away, as I continue down the street, intent upon big things

      That's what any "liberal" response like Salon's is to this whole affair.

      At the same time, mosquitoes and flies can transmit serious diseases. It's not enough to swat them down (though each discrete swat may be a life-saver).

      I remember when outside -- always right-wing -- conservative money began pouring into colleges and universities in the late '80's and '90s to fund special conservative publications. This ain't just a swatting game (as valuable as every swat, every net may be): it's a battle against malaria.

      Bob's too young, and to ill-educated, to get any of this.

    9. Skept, Bob's stated plan for reducing racism, as I understand it, is to only call it out when it really shows itself. Thing is, when it does, even in his own estimation, he just shrugs it off. So he's not following his own plan. Anom at 1058, I would throw in the "Defense" budget.

  4. Sounds like the old conservative argument; well-fixed people are well-fixed because they work smarter, work harder, plan better, and are self reliant.
    Poor people don’t work smart, don’t work hard, don’t plan, and are self-indulgent.
    At least Tal Fortang realizes he was lucky to be born white in a nation that places white men at the top of the food chain.
    Does he deserve to be a demon to the left and a poster boy for the right?
    Does it make him a racist? An elitist?
    Or does an accident of birth just make him lucky?
    Perhaps the brouhaha will lead him to rethink his values, and his good fortune.
    James Kwak put it this way:
    BTW is this the same Paul Rosenberg that argued that Paul Ryan could be a psychopath? (It is)

    1. I think what he's arguing is that it's not on account of a lucky "accident", but rather hard work and sacrifice, particularly that of his parents and grandparents that put him in the position he's in. Fair enough.

      Generally speaking liberals already have a poor reputation regarding hard work and working people as it is. Their latest message seems to be that any accomplishment, any personal success can only be the result of oppressing others. And if you don't like it shut up. It's bad political startegy.

    2. Another child left behind @3:01P,

      Their latest message seems to be that any accomplishment, any personal success can only be the result of oppressing others.

      No. Try again.

    3. Good point. Liberals never seem to chalk up their own accomplishments as being the result of oppressive institutional racism, just others.

    4. Liberals can't win with rightards. Liberals either have no introspection about their accomplishments or they're consumed by "liberal guilt."

      The google is your friend.

  5. Our favorite headline has to be this one: “What’s really behind the popularity of Tal Fortgang?”

    My favorite was "What's going on at Princeton?"

    That representation of the fatuousness of these weirdos caused me to laugh out loud.

    1. Brain melted lizard brained liberal tribalists. Mao flavored Stalinist infected lousy lot of loser rubes. IBHO.

  6. Published in Time magazine. Viral amongst conservatives on the Internet. Covered by the BBC and the Guardian internationally. Articles in numerous US outlets from the Washington Post to Glenn Beck's The Blaze. And Salon is faulted for paying attention? Whatswiththat?

    1. Liberal brains are melting and many do not see it.

    2. These content-less generalities are worthless.

  7. Since blogger has almost supported this kid, almost supported Bundy, almost supported Sterling - shouldn't he be flogged publicly if the armed folks behind Bundy who are apparently raring for a shootout with the Feds end up shedding blood?

    1. Not even if he had actually supported any of these people.

    2. So now the liberals are up for flogging the "almost" politically incorrect. LOL You people have become completely full of yourselves.

  8. This Princeton freshman will soon be a reporter for the NY Times.

  9. I'm still trying to understand the meaning of "check your privilege." It almost seems like a reversal of the traditional snobbery that supposedly obtained at Princeton 75 years ago. A wealthy white student might have assumed that he was more knowledgeable than a minority student, because the white student had the advantage of attending a better high school, had more access to literature and science growing up, had the advantage of private tutors if needed, might have traveled abroad, would know more about economics just because of his family's method of investing their large pool of assets, and generally benefitted from moving in a circle of well-educated people.

    As far as I can make out, the phrase "check your privilege" doesn't deny that the white student of today presumably has all these advantages, but somehow concludes that these advantages are bad, rather than good.

    1. I'm still trying to understand the meaning of "check your privilege."

      Imagine my surprise. Here, let me help.

      It means that when you make pronouncements on public policy based solely on your own experience, it might be wise to consider that maybe that experience isn't representative.

      For example: Stop and Frisk. What's the problem? Office Friendly is just trying to keep the neighborhood safe.

    2. I think it means he should shut up and hang his head in shame anytime someone mouths this new liberal catchphrase. Now, maybe if his terrible daddy wasn't there to support him we could have some respect for him and his life experience.

    3. Basically, when you see someone say "check your privilege" that means you should not listen to anything that person has to say, as they're a SJW.

  10. It refers not to these obvious privileges of wealth and education but the ones taken for granted, non-obvious, that people tend to be less conscious of. Being white, male, young, healthy, from a stable caring home with enough to eat, clothing and shelter with books in the home, vacations and the usual childhood experiences, legally in the USA, and so on. These are sources of privilege compared to those who do not have them. It is bad to forget that one is privileged. We all want to have privilege but many do not and the assumption that everyone does is the problem and some are reminded to think about.

  11. Thanks for your explanations, deadrat and anon 9:39. They both make sense, but that won't stop me from quibbling. I would hope that no Princeton student would hold a position on public policy based solely on his/her own experience. Princeton students should be well-read and knowledgeable about current issues.

    I think privilege is relative, not absolute. Every single student at Princeton is privileged to be able to study at such a fine university. And, no doubt, every student there is smart and disciplined, or s/he wouldn't have gotten in.

    Anyhow, these are just quibbles. I sincerely appreciate both responses.

    BTW I wouldn't assume that all inner city residents would oppose stop and frisk. Paris Ainsworth might be in favor.

  12. And I recommend this as not just an anodyne but a call to reason and justice, as opposed to bob's whatevers:

    Maybe bob will even read it and learn.

    1. But,...but... Ta-Nehisi Coates sends his child to private school.

    2. Coates doesn't care about black kids.

    3. I think Ta-Nehisi Coates is a smart columnist, but Presidents have been delegitimized for many, many years. Truman was called a "haberdasher" and Reagan was an "actor". Both were ways of claiming that a prior job made them unfit to be President, even though their subsequent experience met usual standards. Ike, who was actually very smart, was called dumb. It was claimed that he did nothing but play golf. (I believe Obama has played more golf than Ike.) When JFK died, LBJ was represented as someone ignorant of what the government was doing, because he hadn't been included in the inner circle of decision-making. GHW Bush was supposedly unfamiliar with a grocery store scanner.

      And, where to start with GWB's delegitimization? Here are a few:
      1. He was dumb (even though he had a BS from Yale and an MBA from Harvard, and had been very successful in the baseball business and in politics.)
      2. Cheney was actually making the key decisions. Bush was Cheney's puppet.
      3. Lowest IQ of any President in history, according to the Lovenstein Institute (which doesn't exist.)
      4. Didn't properly complete his military service (according to a obviously faked document, which some hard-liners still believe.)
      5. Was working for the benefit of Halliburton or Big Oil.

      I would add that Obama was elected with less relevant experience than any President I can recall. Despite all the points that Coats makes, I believe Obama's race was helped more than it hurt him.

    4. Agreed. Plus Don Lemon wouldn't be on TV if he wasn't black and gay.

    5. 1. Stupid is as stupid does. See the time period 1/20/01 to 1/20/09. The WPE was a legacy at Yale. See the film Animal House. He managed to fail in the oil business in Texas. That tell you anything? He bought into the Texas Rangers by rounding up his daddy's friends as investors. He made a lot of money when he cashed out, but that's not so hard when the publicly-financed stadium was part of the deal.

      2. What your alternative theory? That the WPE was actually the "genius" behind his administrations, but he just made it look like Cheney was in charge?

      3. The Lovenstein Institute study was an obvious hoax. Was there a media outlet in this country that took it seriously?

      4. Bush didn't complete his military service. Ordered to take a flight physical, he simply refused; ordered to re-register with local National Guard units when he moved, he never showed up. None of this is in dispute, regardless of the faked documents, which you claim some unnamed "hard-liners" believe.

      5. How much do you suppose Halliburton made on the Iraq war?

      According to DDE's memorial commission, he played 800 rounds of golf while President. According to some clown in the White House press corps who keeps track of silly shit like this, as of last September, Obama had played 100.

    6. Mark Knoller is the reporter.