Twitter – or, the right-wing part of it – was seething with rage after the New York Times hired Sarah Jeong to its editorial board, saying the tech writer was an ‘anti-white’ racist. Get all the details on this scandal.
Twitter was such a bad idea. After going after James Gunn, Dan Harmon, Sarah Silverman, Shaun King and countless others who speak out against intolerance, right-wingers put Sarah Jeong, 30, and The New York Times in their sights on Aug. 2. After the Times announced its decision to appoint Sarah to its editorial board, right-wingers unearthed tweets she made that were deemed “anti-white.” No, this is not a repeat — right-wing Twitter users are trying to get another person fired so let’s unpack this non-controversy.
1. Sarah Jeong is a celebrated tech writer accused of making racist tweets… So, Sarah is a South-Korean-born American journalist (and Harvard Law School graduate) who specializes in legal and technology topics. Through her work, she has earned a reputation as being one of the sharpest voices when it comes to analyzing the shifting world of technology. So, it’s no surprise that the Times would want her on the editorial board.
Yet, when the paper announced her hiring, Twitter exploded when (mostly right-wing, per The Cut) users started retweeting a collage of tweets she made in 2014: “#CancelWhtiePeople” “I dare you to get on Wikipedia and play ‘Things white people can definitely take credit for, it’s really hard.” “I just realized why I can’t stand watching Breaking Bad or Battlestar Galactica. The premise of both is just ‘white people being miserable.” “.@RepDanMode White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.” “it must be so boring to be white.”
2. …which she claimed was satire. Sarah issued an apology for her tweets, along with a screenshot of some tweets directed towards her (“If I saw you, I would sock you right in your lesbian face.” “shut the f*ck up you dog eating ***”) As a woman of color on the Internet, I have faced torrents of online hate,” she said. “I engaged in what I thought of at the time as counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers.
“These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again,” she added. Keep in mind that Sarah has quite literally written the book about online harassment — The Internet Of Garbage, which came out in 2015.
Hi all, I have a statement about the tweets that have been going around:
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) August 2, 2018
3. The Times defended their decision to hire her. “We have had candid conversations with Sarah as part of our thorough vetting process,” the Times said in response to the faux-rage, “which included a review of her social media history. She understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times and we are confident that she will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward.” The Times’ defense also came under fire by critics from the left, who saw the paper as “validating” the outrage.
“Making jokes about white people isn’t the same as making racist jokes about black people, or Asian people, or Jews, or gay people, or any other historically oppressed minority,” Libby Watson wrote for Splinter. “As much as you [whites] might find it desperately oppressive to not be able to use the n-word when you sing along to rap songs, there has never been a government-endorsed legal or societal campaign of oppression against whites. White people can be oppressed by other means, such as through gender or economics, but whites in the U.S. have never been systematically oppressed on the basis of their race alone.”
4. She was one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in 2017. Sarah grew up in North Carolina and California. She edited the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender and worked at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. She was also a Poynter Fellow in Journalism at Yale for 2016, and named to the Forbes’ list of “30 Under 30” in 2017. Before the Times, she has written for The Verge, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Forbes and the Guardian.
5. Her made her debut for the Times writing about Pokémon Go. “Pokémon Go kept me outside and active,” she wrote in 2016, “and it turned out that searching for the adorable little monsters in augmented reality gave me a new way to enjoy the city around me — I spent days discovering historical landmarks, parks, statues and street art all around the places Pokémon were hiding.” So, can everyone chill and go play with Pikachu?