Everything’s a problem. That’s the name of a popular Tumblr blog, and it’s also true, especially on the left, where even its most prominent members are being eaten alive for the tiniest misstep.
The Tumblr blog chronicles the outrage around movies like “The Force Awakens,” a diverse film that was accused of “tokenism” because the black character is knocked unconscious for too long. Another “offensive” film, “Tomboy” involves a character played by Michelle Rodriguez undergoing gender reassignment surgery. GLAAD called the movie disappointing, expressing frustration that the filmmakers used the surgery as a “sensationalist plot device.”
Liberal CNN commentator Sally Kohn has been feeling the wrath recently: a scandal has been brewing over two black women who were quoted in her book, “The Opposite of Hate,” which ironically explores how to deal with online haters. One woman says her quotes were taken off Twitter (a public platform) without permission; the other claims she was misquoted.
Of the latter, Kohn writes in her book: “My friend writer Aminatou Sow has cautioned that there’s a compounding unfairness, even oppression, in expecting the most marginalized among us to take the high road. ‘Why is it black women are always asked to do the work,’ Aminatou chides one day as we’re in a cab and I’m telling her about my book. ‘Once you’re provoked, the rules of engagement change,’ she adds, ‘and I can f–king kill you and I’m justified in doing that.’”
Sow says she never said these words and has condemned Kohn for not checking with her before the book went to print. “The nature of the quote is something she should have been more careful about,” she said. “It is explosive.” Sow went on to tell Bustle that, “Knowing the state of the publishing industry, it is very hard for me to imagine a woman of color getting an opportunity similar to Sally’s and being as reckless and getting away with it.”
Kohn immediately apologized, all mentions of Sow have been removed from digital editions of her book and Kohn’s publisher, Algonquin, has made a $500 donation to Radical Monarchs, an Oakland-based organization that seeks to empower girls of color.
But that wasn’t enough for the social justice-warriors. Amidst continued fury, Kohn was forced to cancel her scheduled book party in Los Angeles and has gone underground while WNYC held an entire panel on the “ethics of representation,” where Kohn’s white privilege was tried in absentia.
It’s not just liberal individuals finding themselves under fire. The “woke” corporation Starbucks — which responded to President Trump’s travel ban by pledging to hire 10,000 refugees — also found itself at the center of a racial controversy last month.
On May 29, every single chain will close its doors for “race-bias training” after a store manager in Philadelphia called the police on two black men for refusing to buy anything or leave the premises.
The men were led away in handcuffs, the incident was caught on tape and soon protests were staged. One chant went: “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.”
It was a terrible incident. But it’s one thing to say a Starbucks manager erred; it’s quite another to declare the entire corporation “anti-black.” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has long showed concern for racial issues. In the wake of high-profile police shootings three years ago, the company held open forums in Oakland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York and Chicago with over 2,000 Starbucks employees to discuss matters of race.
In a way, the left’s hyper-outrage shows how far we’ve come
Still, no matter how many apologies the corporate office issued, the frenzy was insatiable. Once blood hit the water, there was no holding back the sharks.
The same kind of furor recently hit Utah teenager Keziah Daum, who chose a Chinoiserie gown for her prom because of its modest nature then posted a picture of it on Twitter.
Cue the firestorm.
Twitter user Jeremy Lam wrote: “My culture is NOT your g—–n prom dress. He went on: “I’m proud of my culture . . . For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.”
His tweet led to over 40,000 retweets, spurring even more bile — including death threats — at Daum.
But while American justice warriors were in a tizzy, most commenters on Chinese social media applauded Daum’s decision to wear it. They called it “cultural appreciation” not “cultural appropriation.”
And they’re right.
Meanwhile, instead of apologizing, Daum has admirably held her head high. She told the Daily Wire she would “wear the dress again.” And she wrote on Twitter, “I have much respect for the Chinese culture. To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. I’m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture. It’s a f–king dress. And it’s beautiful.”
In a way, the left’s hyper-outrage shows how far we’ve come. Many glaring examples of systemic racism in our society have lessened to the point that mountains are being made out of molehills — attacking an entire company for the actions of one branch manager or vilifying a single teenager over a prom dress.
Much still needs to be done to fight discrimination. But if Kohn and Daum are any indication, those committed to fighting racism need their own day of training about proportionality.
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