With race, you just get to complain: On Monday, Piers Morgan became perhaps the ten millionth person to write a rather pointless column about the use of the N-word.
According to Morgan, if black people want white people to stop using the word, they’ll have to stop using it first. None of these things will ever occur, but it does kill a column.
Morgan’s column appeared in The Daily Mail, which is published in a different country. You’d think it would be easy enough to ignore such emanations.
Easy for others, but not for Salon! At Salon, Joanna Rothkopf swung into action, trailing a string of motive assessments behind her. She condemned Morgan for his “very poorly conceived article,” without ever quite explaining what made it so “poorly conceived.”
What was wrong with Morgan’s piece? This is the closest Rothkopf came to answering that question:
ROTHKOPF (11/11/14): Morgan argues that since he is white, he has no right to “demand” that a black person refrain from using [the N-word]. “But as someone who believes passionately in civil rights, I just think it’s the right thing to do.” In a clever turn of phrase, he both relinquishes his right to make requests of an entire race while doing just that.Unless you think that demands and requests are one and the same, you’ll see that that passage fails. But so it goes when the modern “liberal” decides to sound off about race.
Increasingly, no explanation is needed when we wail about race. This brings us back to Margaret Sullivan’s reaction to Alessandra Stanley’s lengthy profile of Shonda Rhimes, the high-profile TV producer.
Stanley’s profile appeared in the September 21 New York Times. Sullivan, the public editor, hit back hard the next day.
Sullivan offered a lengthy post on September 22, followed by a second post two days later. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:
Plainly, Sullivan agreed with readers who thought the profile was racially offensive. Eventually, she even said those readers were “justifiably offended.”
Sullivan’s judgment may even be correct! But can you find a single place where she tries to explain or justify that conclusion?
In her two posts, Sullivan devoted roughly 2300 words to this topic. We can find no explanation for the conclusion she reached.
Early in her initial post, Sullivan simply reprinted a post from an aggrieved reader. On some unstated basis, this was apparently meant to explain the judgment Sullivan reached:
LETTER TO DEAN BAQUET: I am deeply offended by the story written by Alessandra Stanley about Shonda Rhimes being an angry black woman. At first, I tried to give Ms. Stanley the benefit of the doubt and thought that she was attempting to be irreverent. Then I realized that she was being racist, ignorant, and arrogant. It is interesting that I have never seen any of Ms. Stanley's stories refer to any white producers of TV or film programs in racist, stereotypical terms. As awful as the story is, she got her facts wrong because Shonda Rhimes is not the executive producer of the new show, "How To Get Away With Murder."This writer asserted, several times, that Stanley’s profile was “racist.” That said, she made no attempt to support her claim. For good measure, she even included a large mistake right in her opening paragraph!
I am a black woman and a lawyer. I have worked very hard to achieve in my profession and earn respect. I live in a very nice suburban community in Maryland. And yet, none of that makes one bit of difference because a New York Times writer can make whatever offhanded, racist opinions about a successful TV producer who is a black woman she cares to make, and because she has the protection of The New York Times behind her, can publish it. Because Ms. Stanley is a New York Times writer, her story has reached a national audience. Why is Ms. Stanley allowed to characterize Ms. Rhimes as she did and get away it? Why is she allowed to characterize Viola Davis as she did in her story and get away with it?
Ms. Stanley's story was a backhand to me and it hurts. For the first time, I am considering cancelling my New York Times subscription because this story is much more than disagreeing with the writer's opinion. This story denigrated every black woman in America, beginning with Shonda Rhimes, that dares to strive to make a respectable life for herself. No matter what we do, as far as Ms. Stanley is concerned, we will always be angry and have potent libidos as we have been perceived from slavery, to Jim Crow, and sadly in September 2014, the 21st century.
Please remove Ms. Stanley from the New York Times. None of us who read your paper should ever be subjected to this.
(Note to readers: Shonda Rhimes is, in fact, an executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder. The Times has corrected a headline and caption that referred to her as the creator of the show.)
It was close enough for the New York Times! Sullivan posted the whole thing, howler and all. She went on to support the reader’s view without explaining why.
This is one of the many new rules which help explain why we progressives will never succeed. In matters of race, you don’t have to explain. You just have to get mad, feel offended.
To us liberals, this seems to make sense and it feels very good. Elsewhere, folk roll their eyes.