TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2021
Where this nonsense takes us: Yesterday afternoon, we posted an award-winning report on the so-called "Cottom Triptych"—on the trio of lengthy essays by Associate Professor Cottom about Senator Sinema's deeply informative wardrobe.
(Or at least we thought we did. See explanatory note below.)
That trio of lengthy, brain-numbing essays has been published by—who else?—the New York Times. We're sorry to return to the topic today, but a letter in this morning's Times helps us contemplate the wages of journalistic sin of this type.
The letter appears beneath this heading in this morning's Times:
Attacks on Kyrsten Sinema Over Her Bisexuality
In full, the letter says this:
To the Editor:
Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin are facing criticism from Democrats for not toeing the party line. As a bisexual Democrat, I find it horrifying to watch the criticism of Ms. Sinema devolve into sly biphobic attacks that are increasing in frequency and ferocity.
Recent articles about Senator Sinema, including in The New York Times, focus on her person, not her politics. Democrats are attacking her because she is not voting the way they want her to vote, and the attacks are using her bisexuality as a weapon against her.
One article, for example, refers to Ms. Sinema’s style choices viewed as “a type of pinkwashing: leveraging positive associations with gay culture and identity to distract from one’s negative actions.”
Meanwhile, without federal anti-discrimination legislation, bisexuals face discrimination across the United States. One of the places making strides to eliminate L.G.B.T. discrimination is Arizona, Ms. Sinema’s state.
Whether or not one agrees with all of Ms. Sinema’s policy positions, and I often don’t, as an American who cherishes democracy I believe that it is her right (and, as an elected official, her duty) to determine her own political positions, free from attacks on her identity.
(Rev.) Marian Edmonds-Allen / New York
The writer is the executive director of Parity, a nonprofit that works on faith and L.G.B.T. issues.
The letter writer says she frequently disagrees with Sinema's policy positions. We'd be strongly inclined to make the same statement, if we were ever able to figure out what Sinema's positions are.
In our view, Sinema's political behavior has been extremely strange, but that isn't the topic of this morning's letter. The writer complains that attacks on Sinema are now "using her bisexuality as a weapon against her."
The writer even cites an unspecified article which refers to Sinema's "style choices" as “a type of pinkwashing: leveraging positive associations with gay culture and identity to distract from one’s negative actions.”
Oddly, the Times doesn't provide a specific link to the article which used that particular language. When we googled the offending phrase, you can probably guess what we found:
The letter writer is complaining about the second essay in the Cottom triptych—the essay which was published, by the Times, beneath this brain-numbing headline:
Kyrsten Sinema and the Politics of a Sleeveless Silhouette
And no, we aren't making that up. That's actually what the actual headline on that essay said!
Is Reverend Edmonds-Allen making a fair criticism of Cottom's essay? Can it fairly be said that Cottom's essay in the Times included a sly biphobic attack against Sinema? Can it fairly be said that her essay used Sinema's bisexuality "as a weapon against her?"
We can't and won't answer your questions. In our view, Cottom's essay is so depressingly pompous and dumb that we're unable to read all the way through to the end.
The dumbness of the essay in question—mixed with the knowledge that it was part of a brain-numbing triptych published by our tribe's most brainiac newspaper—seems to force our brain cells to shut our systems down. It leaves us thinking, as we now do every day, of the destruction Wilfred Owen saw back in World War I.
Did Associate Professor Cottom really lodge a sly biphobic attack on Sinema through the auspices of the Times? We don't know, and we make no such charge. But we can tell you this:
The Times launched a sly attack on the life of the mind when it published that trio of essays. When our academic and journalistic elites think that's the way our world should work, our world is coming to an end, like the more peaceful European realm predating The Great War.
Can a continental nation expect to survive when its academic and journalistic elites believe that work of that type makes sense?
Experts say the answer is no. We think of Owen, and of the ways in which worlds reach their end, whenever we read such manifest dreck, which is pretty much every day now.
It came to us from UNC—but also from the New York Times. Sadly, this should come as no surprise:
At the Times, brain-jangling dumbness has been a prominent cultural value dating back these many long years. They want to write about people's clothes, and to make it sound like they're doing deeply thoughtful work.
Was a sly biphobic attack involved? We leave you to figure that out.
Discourse on method: Doggone it! Somehow, yesterday afternoon's essay about the Cottom triptych failed to get posted.
To read our original essay, click here. This new report is intended as an addition to that post.