NYT’s Hannah-Jones Claims ‘Racialized’ Bias Coverage of Russia Invasion Due to Ukrainians’ ‘White’ Appearance

Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks onstage at The Hollywood Reporter 2021 Power 100 Women in Enter
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter

Left-wing New York Times reporter and controversial 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was slammed online after accusing journalists covering the Russian invasion into Ukraine of “racialized analysis and language” in their reporting, indicating their “sympathy” for white victims of conflict and refugees in particular while claiming Europe is a fictional continent intended to separate it from non-“civilized” nations.

On Sunday, Hannah-Jones, author of the debunked New York Times 1619 Project, called on fellow journalists to “look internally” regarding acknowledging their racial biases in their coverage of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Every journalist covering Ukraine should really, really look internally. This is why I say we should stop pretending we have objectivity and in instead acknowledge our biases so that we can report against them,” she wrote. “Many of us see the racialized analysis and language.”

She added, “And honestly, these admissions of shock that this is happening in a European country are ahistorical and also serve to justify the lack of sympathy for other invasions, other occupations and other refugee crisis involving peoples not considered white.”

Later in the day, Hannah-Jones called the European continent a “geopolitical fiction” intended to separate it from Asia and which led to the “alarm” over an invasion of people who “are like us.” 

“What if I told you Europe is not a continent by defintion, but a geopolitical fiction to separate it from Asia and so the alarm about a European, or civilized, or First World nation being invaded is a dog whistle to tell us we should care because they are like us,” she asked.

In a follow-up tweet, she claimed that Ukrainians being invaded was worthy of concern but not because they “appear white” — a claim not seen made.

“To be clear: We should care about Ukraine. But not because it is European, or the people appear white, or they are ‘civilized’ and not ‘impoverished,’” she wrote. “All people deserve to be free and to be welcomed when their countries are at war.”

Many took to Twitter to express their outrage over her remarks as well as their timing.

“The World is dealing with a ‘Mad Man’ and she wants to play the ‘Race Card,’” Fox News contributor Leo Terrell wrote. “Shameful!”

“NY Times journalist suggests media concern for Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates racial ‘biases,’” he added.

“‘Europe is not a continent no matter what anyone else says’ sums up the entire philosophy behind 1619,” wrote political commentator Stephen L. Miller.

“What if I told you that NATO is a social construct? What if I told you that Russia is a social construct? What if I told you that all kinds of things are social constructs?” author Yascha Mounk asked.

“[B]ut that doesn’t make them less real or scary when they’re bombing your (socially constructed) country,” he added.

“Pretty sure the reason why we care is not because we’re all evil white supremacists who only care about blonde Slavic people, but because Puting nuking someone would be very bad,” journalist Liz Wolfe wrote.

“This 1619 ‘journalist’ sees everything in terms of race! She seems to have no clue the Russians & Ukrainians are the same racially,” economist and political commentator John R. Lott Jr. wrote.

“She has no feelings for the innocent civilians, the children, the people in hospitals, who are being ruthlessly murdered by a tyrant,” he added.

Imagine seeing what’s happening to Ukraine and thinking that it would insightful to tweet, ‘Well, actually, Europe’s not a continent!’” Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution wrote.

“Ah cool, you care because of the right reasons. Other people care because of wrong, racist reasons. Phew, for a moment there I thought you wouldn’t be able to showboat on Ukraine without calling people racist, but you managed,” one Twitter user wrote. “Truly a master at work.”

“Must be exhausting to make everything in life about race,” wrote another.

“To add another dimension of idiocy: Ukraine is very poor (certainly by our standards), Ukrainians are ethnically diverse and not all blonde/blue eyed, and Europe has long viewed them as inferior,” another Twitter user wrote.

“This is what happens when your only job is to come up with increasingly outlandish talking points about race. Its amazing what the human mind can conjure up,” wrote another. “Stay tuned, it’ll probably get worst.”

Hannah-Jones’ comments come as Russia has initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with Moscow launching military attacks on its neighbor and many casualties feared.

Last month, she claimed that laws about race curriculums in schools are part of the Republican’s “larger strategy” to veer America toward authoritarianism.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein


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