Monday, February 8, 2021

The 'Black Sins' of the New York Times

Following-up, "Donald McNeil Out at the New York Times.

The "black sins" here are those of "Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)" staffers at the Old Gray Lady, who are cancelling anyone, no matter how good or how esteemed in their past work, like Donald McNeil, who as noted, seems like an arrogant bastard, but I read his reporting myself, and dang, he's good.

But he's out now. A victim of the cancerous cancel culture that is destroying American institutions up and down the line, from corporate America, to newsrooms, and especially the public schools. 

Here's John McWhorter, who's a Professor of Linguistics at Columbia University, and an expert on race relations in his own right. He doesn't care if he's called "Uncle Tom," because he's heard it for decades, when referring to the "N-Word" wasn't a big deal, and he brushes it off like a "pussy hat" some idiot progressive trying to make him wear one and turn him pink.

See, "The N-word as slur vs. the N-word as a sequence of sounds: What makes the New York Times so comfortable making black people look dim?":

On what Black History Month and the racial reckoning mean at the New York Times …

Over the past week, the Times’ crossword puzzles have included many clues having to do with black culture and issues, and in fact have been by black constructors. A fine gesture for Black History Month.

But then the other night we learned that longtime reporter Donald McNeil, who has done groundbreaking work on the pandemic, has been fired, at 67. His sin was that on an NYT-sponsored educational trip with teenagers, he used the N-word in referring to it (as opposed to actually using the word).

Inevitably, in response to outcry over how needlessly punitive this is, his inquisitors and defenders will note that he is documented to have said some other things that suggest that he is not completely on board with what a certain educated orthodoxy considers the proper positions on race, and that he was reputed to have treated some staffers in a discriminatory way. However, if the complaints were only these, it is reasonable to suppose that he would still have his job. It was the N-word thing that pushed things over the edge, and is the focus of the letter signed by 150 staffers demanding, in effect, his head on a pole.

That is, for people like this, the N-word has gone from being a slur to having, in its mere shape and sound, a totemic taboo status directly akin to how Harry Potter characters process the name Voldemort and theatre people maintain a pox on saying “Macbeth” inside a theatre. The letter roasts McNeil for “us[ing] language that is offensive and unacceptable,” implying a string of language, a whole point or series thereof, something like a stream, a stretch – “language.” But no: they are referring to his referring to a single word.

The kinds of people who got McNeil fired think of this new obsessive policing of the N-word as a kind of strength. Their idea is “We are offended by this word, we demand that you don’t use it, and if you do use it, we are going to make sure you lose your job.” But the analogy is off here. This would be strength if the issue were the vote, or employment. Here, people are demanding the right to exhibit performative delicacy, and being abetted in it by non-black fellow travellers.

One way we know that this pox on even uttering the N-word to refer to it is that it was not the common consensus quite recently...