No One Should Get a Pass on Racism
So, can nonwhite Americans be racist?
This question reared its ugly head this week after revelations about The New York Times’ latest editorial board hire, Sarah Jeong.
Jeong, a technology writer for The Verge, has long decried white people as a group. Her Twitter is filled with unflattering characterizations and racist remarks: “white men are bulls***”; “#cancelwhitepeople”; “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along.”; “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”
Jeong, predictably enough, wasn’t fired by the Times — nor should she have been. The Times knew what they were getting when they hired her, and they should feel the brunt of the backlash from their readers and subscribers. But the double standard is evident: a few months before Jeong’s hiring, the Times hired another tech columnist named Quinn Norton, who, it turns out, had sarcastically tweeted out the n-word in order to mock racists; the Times tossed her. Why? Presumably because Norton is white, and because she was once friendly online with Andrew Auernheimer, who would go on to work at the Nazi Daily Stormer website.
The double standard with regard to racism is, it turns out, not a coincidence. Many on the left are now arguing that people who are not white cannot be racist. Professor Nolan Cabrera of the University of Arizona told The Washington Post regarding Jeong, “It was easy to drum up anger and say it looks like she hates white people. That only makes sense if you are willfully ignorant of 400 to 500 years’ history and contemporary social context and also the context from which the tweets were sent.”
The argument seems to be that racism is the exclusive preserve of the powerful. “Her tweets weren’t even intended to cut down white people themselves,” explained Jessica Prois of HuffPost. “[T]hey were lampooning the fact that there is actually nothing she could say that could threaten white institutional power.” Racism is merely a tool used by the powerful; thus, nonpowerful people cannot be racist. The execrable Zack Beauchamp of Vox.com explained, “A lot of people on the internet today are confusing the expressive way anti-racists and minorities talk about ‘white people’ with actual race-based hatred, for some unfathomable reason.”
Yes, racism combined with athan racism alone. But racism alone is still racist.
But this is ridiculous. Racist sentiments are racist regardless of the supposed societal victim status of the offenders’ social group. Yes, racism combined with power is worse than racism alone. But racism alone is still racist. Sarah Jeong is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She’s spent her career writing about technology. She’s not a victim of a brutal American society by any logical standard. Hilariously, the same advocates for anti-white racism who support Jeong thanks to her alleged victimhood would have been happy to see her excluded from Harvard on account of her Asian background, given the fact that Asian Americans rank low on the intersectional hierarchy.
Jews, in particular, should be wary of the attempt to link racism with institutional power. In fact, this argument has been used against Jews time and time again. As Batya Ungar-Sargon writes in The Forward, “Anti-Jewish racism is always based on the belief that Jews have power, and are therefore deserving of hate.” We’re watching this perspective play out in real time as European leftists claim that anti-Semitism is fully justified thanks to power imbalances between Israel and its enemies. Jews are targeted when they’re powerful, as they are in the Israeli government; they’re targeted when they’re weak, as they were in the ghettos of Europe. They were the victims of anti-Semitism both times.
To remove responsibility for racism thanks to membership in a supposed victim group only excuses racism. Leftists seem to understand this when it comes to white racism — no amount of perceived victimization excuses such racism. But the same must hold true for everyone. Racism starts with individuals — and that’s how it ends, too.
Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the conservative podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”