Racial invective on the streets of New York!


Are these anecdotes true?: To our ear, the New York Times often seems highly performative when it comes to matters of race.

As we noted this morning, we know of no branch of modern journalism which is more heinous than the way this Hamptons-based newspaper covers New York City's public schools. 

The newspaper seems to be engaged in constant performance about this deeply consequential subject. Because the subject is so important, we'd call that a poor approach.

Is there anything the Times won't publish so long as it embodies standard narratives concerning matters of race? At several points, we were puzzled by the logic found in yesterday's report about black congressional staffers. Then too, we'd direct you to the op-ed column which ran today beneath this headline:

Anti-Asian Racism Isn’t New

Obviously, the statement made in that headline is true. But then, we started to read the column. The first thing we read was this:

WANG (2/19/21): One of the first English words I learned was an ethnic slur I heard whenever my parents and I walked around the city. I was 7 years old and had just moved to Brooklyn from China. One day, eager to show off, I turned to my father and declared, “We are chinks now!” in English. My father looked as if I had stabbed him. In a grave, low voice he told me to never utter that word again.

The author is Qian Julie Wang, a litigator and managing partner of Gottlieb & Wang LLP.

Wang graduated from Swarthmore, then earned a law degree from Yale. According to Penguin Random House, she arrived in this country in 1994, when she was 7 years old.

Our first question would be this:

In 1994, were Asian-Americans, or newly arrived Asian immigrants, really confronted with undisguised ethnic slurs "whenever [they] walked around the city?" 

That's the first assertion today's column makes. The column continues as shown:

WANG (continuing directly): That slur has haunted me throughout my life, cutting like a knife when I least expect it. A boy on a bike once screamed it so deep into my ear that it rang for hours afterward. The ringing eventually subsided, but the street harassment became a regular fixture in my life.

Just as a general matter, how can someone on a bike scream something into someone's ear? How could such a boy scream something so loud—so deep into that person's ear—that it rang in her ear for hours afterward?

Stating the obvious, we have no way of knowing whether these anecdotal claims are true. But as the column continues, the claims continue to sound a bit odd:

WANG (continuing directly): Before the pandemic, the simple act of walking to the courthouse where I work demanded exhaustive control of my body. For a while I tried very hard to make myself look less feminine and more white. I’d pretend to be deaf when strangers addressed me with their eyes pulled back into a slant while taunting “Me love you long time” or loudly said they had “yellow fever.”

Really? As of 2018 or 2019, strangers would routinely address the full-grown Wang with their eyes pulled back into a slant while taunting her by saying, “Me love you long time?” 

Other strangers would taunt her by loudly saying that they had “yellow fever?” 

Is this the common experience of Asian-Americans in New York City? If so, this should be a front-page news report, not a mere op-ed column promoting a forthcoming memoir.

(Needless to say, Wang  wrote her memoir "on her iPhone, during her subway commute to and from work at a national law firm, where she was elected to partnership within two years of joining the firm." Isn't that the way all memoirs get written these days?)

As of 2019, Wang was a 32-year-old commercial litigation associate working in New York City. We know that because, in that same year, she and her husband-to-be described the details of their courtship for this "Mini-Vows" report for the overtly silly side of that same New York Times.

At certain points, we can't quite follow the logic of that long report. Presumably, that's the fault of the Times' jumbled writing, not of Wang and her fiancé, Marc Ari Gottlieb.

That said, the report describes Wang and Gottlieb tramping all over Manhattan on at least one seven-hour date. Was Wang being assailed in the manner described during those excursions?

Obviously, we have no way of answering these questions. We'll only say that Wang's anecdotes seem a bit puzzling to us. Within the past year, has she had these experiences?

WANG (continuing directly): As the coronavirus spread, I began to dread my commute to work. People made a show of keeping away from me even in crowded subway train cars. Other times, the harassment was more overt—strangers bumped their shoulders into me; someone jabbed me with the pointy metal end of a long umbrella while shouting, “Go back to China.” My parents wore hats, sunglasses and double masks whenever they left the house.

It's been widely reported that anti-Asian invective increased as the pandemic spread. This was widely attributed to Donald Trump's self-serving use of the phrase, "the China virus."

Is it true that, even before the pandemic hit, Wang would try to make herself "look more white," so routinely was she assailed in the ways she describes? By the way, how does a woman of Asian ancestry try to make herself look more white?

Today, we make a confession. When we read this column, we thought of a conversation we had several years ago with a major journalist.

Rolling Stone had just published its report about the (fraudulent) UVa rape accusation. Our journalist friend said the events described were so implausible that he didn't believe the report was true.

We hadn't had that reaction when we'd skimmed the Rolling Stone report. As it turned out, our friend's assessment was right.

Our friend thought the claims in Rolling Stone had the ring of untruth. We recalled that conversation when we read today's column.

The fact that the column appeared in the Times did nothing to heighten our confidence in it. We'll close with this restatement:

The column seems to suggest that, from 1994 through 2019, heinous anti-Asian invective was a very regular part of life in New York City. Routinely, such invective descended to the level of the ugly and the stupidly cartoonish, this column seems to suggest.

If true, that should be a front-page news report. Wang is describing remarkable conduct. Is this really what life has been like in the streets of New York?

The question we're asking is fully sincere. Is that really what life has been like in the streets of New York?

Also, this claim about apples: Do you believe the more colorful claims in this column from the Washington Post? Do you believe, for example, that the author, during her law school days, would buy a dozen apples when she already had half a dozen in her room, hidden from her roommate and growing rotten?

After reading this morning's column, we're not sure that we do. Colorful claims can make outstanding copy, but as we've all learned in recent years, such claims won't always be true.

Major orgs have published phony claims on every conceivable subject over the past several decades. If today's implied claims are true, they belong in a front-page report, not in a mere op-ed column.

Is that what life in New York has been like? Forget the apples just for now. Can that remarkable portrait be true?


  1. "Are these anecdotes true?"

    No, dear Bob, of course they aren't. Just the usual: liberal-hitlerian hate-mongering. Dembottery.

    Why do you keep reading and watching this shit? It's making you crazy.

  2. ma0 ma0 * ,!, ,!,

  3. "Are these anecdotes true?"

    Heavens no! Everyone knows that not only does the NY Times lie but so do all those minorities.

    Somerby asks: "In 1994, were Asian-Americans, or newly arrived Asian immigrants, really confronted with undisguised ethnic slurs "whenever [they] walked around the city?"

    Somerby would have no idea because he isn't Asian, but apparently he also has no one nearby who he can ask. I do, and my Asians friends have definitely heard those slurs (without provocation).

    Somerby then asks: "Just as a general matter, how can someone on a bike scream something into someone's ear?"

    Just as a general matter, how literal can Somerby be? Does he not understand that the wounding of her father was the problem, not the word itself. Does he not understand that the unexpectedness of such a slur at a random moment would give it a sense of extra loudness? Our sensory experiences are subjective. A whisper sounds extra loud in a very quiet room. Your own name sounds louder than other words to you. Has Somerby never experienced the closeness of someone whizzing by you on a bike while you are on a sidewalk. In my experience, she was lucky not to have a soda or coffee cup thrown at her.

    Then Somerby says: "But as the column continues, the claims continue to sound a bit odd"

    How can Somerby be the arbiter of what is odd or not when he is reading about the experience of someone whose life is much different than his own, which is the point. Somerby is not ever going to be targeted for being Asian, so he cannot know what is odd or not about this woman's experience. And don't get me started on the street harassment that women routinely experience. He probably thinks that's odd too, that the complaints about it are performative.

    Insultingly, Somerby asks: "By the way, how does a woman of Asian ancestry try to make herself look more white?"

    Sunglasses, hats, avoid speaking Chinese on the street. Does Somerby have no imagination?

    Somerby appears to be unaware of the multiple incidents in which elderly Asian people have been targeted by bigots, pushed down and robbed or kicked, injured, while walking down the street. This has been reported in San Francisco, which has many Asian people who should be a familiar sight to anyone living there. Trump has empowered bigots to act on their hostility and they are cowardly attacking elderly people, who Trump DID scapegoat for the virus.

    Somerby thinks that one article in Rolling Stone which was improperly investigated and later shown to be false entitles him to disbelieve any complaint by any minority group member he wishes. I might ask what Asian American reports of violence have to do with a college student with borderline personality disorder, who fabricated a sexual assault claim for the attention?

    Somerby might as well say that because the "disordered" Donald Trump told so many lies, that no one need ever believe anything told by anyone on any subject ever again.

    What does any Asian person gain by fabricating such an account? Somerby doesn't explain that. This woman is a partner at a law firm. What can she gain by alerting people to the rising level of bigotry aimed at her parents, herself and other Asian people? And doesn't Somerby know that those who track hate crimes corroborate this op/ed? They too have seen rising numbers of hate crimes against Asians.

  4. Somerby says Anti-Asian racism isn't new. However, the amount of it is new because bigots have been given permission to display their racism by Trump.

    Next, Somerby will be arguing that the insurrection on 1/6 didn't happen.

  5. How many years has Somerby lived in NYC? None. Asians are 1.51% of the population of Baltimore. Somerby has no basis for discussing the incidence of racist attacks on urban Asians. He should take that into account before trying to tell us what sounds "odd" to him and hinting that women just make shit up.

  6. The word "Chinks" was not always an ethnic slur. When I was young, we called going out to a Chinese restaurants "going to Chinks". We meant no disrespect. By the way, Mabel Lee, a Chinese American, was elected President of our High School, one year/

    in today's hyper-sensitive world, any suspicious word is considered offensive. However, I think the races got along better in the old days.

    1. Yes, it’s amazing how much more respectful blacks were under Jim Crow.

    2. Now that you know how an Asian person feels about being called a chink, do you feel sorry about your past ignorance?

    3. This is almost like a parody of what a boomer conservative might say about race, David in Cal has outdone himself this time.

    4. And on Tuesdays the family went to wops for their spaghetti special.

  7. Gee our old Lasalle ran great

  8. Another “devastating” critique.

    Somerby is skeptical. Oh, there was anti-Asian racism. But prior to the pandemic, in 2018? Or back in 1994?

    Surely, the current anti-Asian racism is just because of Trump and his “China virus.” Surely, racism like this springs up in 2020 out of whole cloth and cannot plausibly have its roots in pre-existing anti-Asian bigotry.

    Wang could be lying. She is, after all, very successful.

    Also, there was that UVA rape case, which has nothing to do with Qian Julie Wang or the New York Times, and it had nothing to do with racism, real or imaginary. That makes Somerby skeptical here.


  9. “how can someone on a bike scream something into someone's ear?”

    Is Somerby this dense?

    Before anyone answers, let me suggest the astounding possibility that the someone on the bike wasn’t moving at the time. Maybe he was sitting there, waiting to cross the street when Julie came by.

    How hard was that to imagine, and how ridiculous is Somerby being?

  10. Not a fan of a lot of what Somerby argues, but the “ethnic slur I heard whenever my parents and I walked around the city” does not pass the smell test.

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