Atlantic columnist Conor Friedersdorf condemned the recent trend of overbearing political correctness on social media in a piece published on Monday.
Friedersdorf’s Monday column came in response to a Twitter dispute involving New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, who was intensely criticized last week over a tweet she put out about U.S. Olympic ice skater Mirai Nagasu. One anonymous New York Times staffer even compared Weiss’ tweet to Japanese internment.“…I felt that Tweet denied Mirai her full citizenship just as the Internment did,” the staffer wrote in the leak conversation.
So what did Weiss tweet that was so repugnant? “Immigrants: they get the job done,” Weiss tweeted. The tweet sparked a wide and long-lasting backlash. Why? Because Weiss hadn’t probably clarified that Nagasu’s parents had immigrated to the United States rather than Nagasu herself.
Weiss was subjected to a wide array of demeaning remarks and calls for her termination after the tweet was posted.
For this tweet I am being told I am a racist, a ghoul and that I deserve to die. So I deleted the tweet. That's where we are.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) February 12, 2018
Friedersdorf focused on the reaction of Huffington Post contributor Ashley Feinberg, who published an anonymous transcript of New York Times employees disparaging Weiss.
“People were outraged not only at the tweet―which referenced a line from a song from ‘Hamilton’―but also at Weiss’ refusal to acknowledge that perhaps she had been insensitive in placing an American citizen in the category of other,” Feinberg wrote.
Friedersdorf was quick to point out that Feinberg’s language suggested that “being an immigrant and an American citizen are mutually exclusive.” Although Feinberg’s choice of language could be construed as offensive, Friedersdorf said both she and Weiss should be protected from accusations of bigotry.
“Why would I attack any of those people or want them stigmatized, as if on behalf of immigrants, or people of color, or Asian Americans, when all wrote with the intention of celebrating or defending one of those very same groups, and almost certainly don’t hold the substantive views that their language could be taken to imply?” Friedersdorf wrote.
Friedersdorf suggests that attacks directed at Weiss could possibly be the result of an “ideological power grab” in which members of the mainstream media are aiming to delegitimize right-of-center voices.
The least charitable critics of the social-justice left will say that I am being naive; that what I am noticing is not a mysterious double standard, but a deliberate effort to weaponize social-justice critiques against right-leaning voices in the mainstream media in a conscious attempt to delegitimize them in an ideological power grab; or alternatively, that this is all rooted in virtue-signaling, whereby a member of the out-group like Weiss is savaged by members of an in-group not for any rational project, but because it raises their own status.