The Times' resident white savior has his heart in the right place. But his work falls short over and over again.
This is a good assessment, Jack. I had sort of refused to read the Kristoff piece mostly because he's from Oregon, but every time he writes about anything in Oregon it feels as incurious and foreign as his writing about Syria or wherever else he airdrops into. It's so bizarre--is he so insulated by New York Media Brain that he doesn't have childhood friends he could call up for more genuine anecdotes?
And yes, many Portland protesters are Regular Joe People With Jobs and many are also anarchists, etc. But frankly without what Kristof (and Biden, for that matter) would call the Bad Protesters sustaining nightly protests for eight weeks and keeping intense pressure on our dipshit timber scion mayor, the Good Protesters would have had no impetus to join the protests when Trump's jackboots showed up.
But ah who cares, failed state, end of empire, etc. Gonna go smoke weed now.
I like this one Jack. I've known plenty of anarchists since I was a teenager and I know people who still identify that way. I went to NCOR. If you aren't familiar with NCOR, spotting an anarchist at NCOR is kind of like spotting weed at a Snoop Dog show. I could choose a number of words to describe 'anarchists' but violent would not be one of them. Though I did go to a 'Peace and Anarchism' talk at NCOR once where halfway through a dude got up and said it was all bullshit and he can't conceive of anarchism without violence, which was really rather bizarre, and I guess that's an example of a violent anarchist? There was probably 100 people in that room as confused as I was. Plus, I gotta give the anarchist infoshops some cred for putting on dope music shows. I've been to some super fun ones. But again, that entire scene felt closer to a big hug than anything else.
On white saviors, man this topic gives me complex feelings. I used to work at an int'l dev/humanitarian aid non-profit and then right after that I worked for a self described progressive organization. Didn't seem like many white saviors at the int'l dev place, one because there was a lot of diversity and it just wasn't terribly white in general, but also because people were just more concerned about leveling playing fields and such than saving anyone. At least that's the impression I always got. Going to the progressive organization after that was quite a change. It was mostly white, leadership entirely white, and the white savior thing was strong. Especially during an absolutely cringeworthy all day unconscious bias training. But the part that really bothered me is that people did not realize their workplace was not diverse. Their hearts were in the right place but the fucking point isn't to save people and pat yourself on the back (for me at least) it's to give people a fair shot at something. So in general that experience left me a mix of disappointed and jaded and I only worked there a year.
The burning question I really have though is why do white lawyers think they can solve every issue in this galaxy (possibly galaxies we don't yet know about) if they just put their white lawyer brain to it? That shit drove me up the wall. Has anyone seen Black AF? The end of that episode where they are at the table with the Greenpeace (i think) lawyer? Y'all, I have been at that table, and fuck is it embarrassing.
Good stuff, Jack. Especially liked that in critiquing Kristof for his lack of nuance, you allowed for some in sharing your connection to his work--even if it's just the What Not To Do As A Foreign Correspondent Covering Conflict playbook.
As always, a reminder that columnists getting hired for life--when they're at the peak of a moment-- and then riding off into the sunset of still applying the same worldview that got them the job every week decades later, is probably a bad practice.
I hadn’t read that Slate piece until now and my reaction can best be summarized thusly: https://giphy.com/gifs/vulture-itysl-103-he-admit-it-14e5M1adodXpspqrGT
"He’s fallen into the classic trap in which a Times columnist thinks that because they are paid an enormous amount of money to write words, those words must mean whatever they think they mean."
Ah, yes, the CLASSIC!
I stopped reading Kristof the very first time I read a column by him that couldn't be lobbed as a softball like "Human Trafficking is bad." It was the column where he demonized Chicago teachers for going on strike and he claimed they were "abandoning the kids," selfish, etc. I still rage about that column.
If the Times doesn’t provide its elderly audience with a steady diet of explaining-away, someone else could fill that void and make all the money from it!