In the wake of the controversy surrounding New York Times hire Sarah Jeong, Vox writers busily composed articles defending Jeong’s racist rants.  Apparently, there’s a whole other “social justice” language that makes her racist tweets not only acceptable but not racist at all.

There was so much twisting of logic and SJW semantic gymnastics that Cal State sociology professor Bradley Campbell put together a nifty chart to help us understand the finer points of microagressions versus Orwellian SJW babble.

In one Vox article, Why Sarah Jeong’s tweets weren’t racist”:

To anyone who’s even passingly familiar with the way the social justice left talks, this is just clearly untrue. “White people” is a shorthand in these communities, one that’s used to capture the way that many whites still act in clueless and/or racist ways. It’s typically used satirically and hyperbolically to emphasize how white people continue to benefit (even unknowingly) from their skin color, or to point out the ways in which a power structure that favors white people continues to exist.

I get that white people who aren’t familiar might find this discomforting. Sullivan thinks it’s unacceptable on an “an open-forum website like Twitter.” But the reality is that Twitter is where these conversations between people of color are taking place, and (given the 280-character limit) it’s a lot easier to use the kind of “white people” shorthand rather than adding endless qualifications (“a certain kind of white person, definitely Not All White People,” is pretty lengthy).

What makes these quasi-satirical generalizations about “white people” different from actual racism is, yes, the underlying power structure in American society. There is no sense of threat associated with Jeong making a joke about how white people have dog-like opinions. But when white people have said the same about minorities, it has historically been a pretext for violence or justification for exclusionary politics.

. . . . This is, incidentally, why you hear a lot of people on the social left say there’s no such thing as “reverse racism.” We interpret language through social context. Because of the way racial power structures are set up, the same set of words mean very different things when you swap out “white people” for “black people,” “Asians,” “Jews,” etc. The phrase might be racist in one context, in the sense of conveying actual racial animus, but not in another.

In another Vox piece,

The same dynamic seems to me to be at play in the way “white people” is used in Jeong’s jokes. On social justice Twitter, the term means something closer to “the dominant power structure and culture” than it does to actual white people. To read “#CancelWhitePeople” and think Jeong is calling for genocide, as New York magazine’s Andrew Sullivan apparently does, is absurd. And to sit around wondering how the social justice left would respond if you completely changed the context, intent, and meaning of the tweets by subbing in the names of different groups, well, read Zack Beauchamp on that.

But after reading take after take after take on the latest round of our ongoing Twitter wars, I’m struck by how inexplicable both sides seem to the other. To much of the right, it’s obvious that Jeong’s tweets represented anti-white racism in its purest form; to much of the left, it’s obvious they were jokes that anyone with an iota of self-awareness could parse, and the affront taken at them is pure bad faith.

Jeong’s statement seemed, to me, to offer a much more persuasive middle road: These were satirical tweets framed in a way that could reasonably offend people who didn’t understand the context for what they were reading.

So let’s see how these “jokes” work by examining the context of Jeong on how “awful” white people are and how we “smell like wet dogs.”

If you’re still not doubled over with side-splitting laughter at these “jokes,” perhaps Campbell’s handy chart can help., then, the SJW crowd can say anything—no matter how offensive, divisive, hateful, and yes, racist—with impunity and a circling of woke SJW wagons around the “comedian.”

We saw this a lot with actual comedians like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher, but I guess anyone with a Twitter account and SJW cred can be just as hilarious as long as they are making their jokes about white people, Jews, and Christians.


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