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Sarah Jeong, newly hired member of the New York Times’s editorial board, hates white people.
And police officers.
May God have mercy on any white, heterosexual, Christian male police officer who falls under the gaze of the New York Times. Because Jeong certainly won’t.
The fact of her obsessive hatred seems clear. The reasons for it are less clear.
I come neither to praise Jeong nor to bury her.
My goal is merely to explain her and the thousands of other angry, half-educated social climbers like her.
Jeong is not consciously evil. That requires intellectual and moral depth that she lacks. She is merely confused, self-interested, and insecure. She needs to see herself as a member of an “intellectual elite” because she doubts her own ability and personal worth. She hates white people because it’s the fashionable thing to do. If it were fashionable to hate black people or midgets, she’d do that instead.
The Pleasure of Hating
The root cause of Jeong’s hatred for white people isn’t new, trendy, or postmodernist. It’s been around as long as humanity. British social critic William Hazlitt summarized it in his essay “On the Pleasure of Hating:”
Had they done us any harm of late? No: but we have always a quantity of superfluous bile upon the stomach, and we wanted an object to let it out upon.
Psychotherapists call it floating anger: a diffuse feeling of rage that’s just looking for an outlet.
Everyone has frustrations in life. We often can’t do anything about them, so we latch onto a handy target for our anger. Sarah latches onto several targets. They’re safe targets that won’t hurt her career or social standing. In fact, they helped her get a job at the New York Times.
Insecure people need to reassure themselves that they’re not bad or worthless.
Maybe you haven’t achieved much but you’ve been rewarded as if you did. Maybe you abused your government job by attempting to rig an election. Maybe you beat your spouse or steal money from the cash register. At least you’re better than one of them: white people, black people, Christians, Jews, Muslims, or whomever you see as inferior. It eases your feelings of self-doubt.
Jeong seems to think that white people “smell like dogs” (December 24, 2014). Perhaps it’s the same noxious odor that renegade FBI agent Peter Strzok detected in a Virginia Walmart (August 26, 2016) when he texted that he “could SMELL the Trump support.” Self-styled elites have often smelled it:
Count de Monet: The people are revolting!
King Louis: You said it. They stink on ice!
Careerism and “Branding”
To those of us who grew up before Twitter and don’t work in advertising, the idea of branding is a new one. But it is, as people now say, “a thing.”
The idea is that you must do something distinctive and unusual to get attention and establish “your brand.” You sell yourself to the marketplace just like Apple or Coca-Cola.
Of course, hating white people isn’t a particularly distinctive or unusual way of branding. But if you pour on the vitriol and crank up the volume, it can work. It worked for Sarah Jeong, whose brand is now world-famous. She will probably never want for gainful employment.
In Defense of Sarah Jeong (and Peter Strzok)
And now, as a white, male, heterosexual, patriotic American—i.e., someone hated by Sarah Jeong and Peter Strzok—I’d like to say a few words in their defense.
First, he observed that human beings naturally crave belonging to a group. “Man is by nature a political animal,” Aristotle said. “And he who by nature and not by accident is without a [group] is either a bad man or above humanity.”
Let us agree that Jeong and Strzok are not above humanity. They need to belong to a group. Professing hatred of white people and Americans marks their membership in a particular group.
Because they went to all the right schools, have money and status, they consider themselves elite. The rest of us are just a bunch of smelly barbarians. And that leads to Aristotle’s second observation. Though he was one of the greatest geniuses in history, he had fairly conventional attitudes about relations between different groups. In order to have an in-group, we need to have an out-group. Aristotle was a Hellene, so he thought, “It is [appropriate] that Hellenes should rule over barbarians.”
As far as Sarah Jeong and Peter Strzok are concerned, they are the Hellenes and the rest of us are the barbarians. In other words, Jeong and Strzok are ordinary human beings. Unfortunately, they’re in positions where they can still do extraordinary harm.