This happened a few days ago but it’s still worth chronicling as another example of social justice warriors demanding everything be made a safe space. The Nation published a poem by someone named Anders Carlson-Wee which is just over 100 words long. But after a massive backlash, the magazine has apologized and added a 223-word apology:
As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received. We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem “How-To.” We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem. We recognize that we must now earn your trust back. Some of our readers have asked what we were thinking. When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way.
We are currently revising our process for solicited and unsolicited submissions. But more importantly, we are listening, and we are working. We are grateful for the insightful critiques we have heard, but we know that the onus of change is on us, and we take that responsibility seriously. In the end, this decision means that we need to step back and look at not only our editing process, but at ourselves as editors.
This kind of abject repentance is the only response available on the left to those who are called out for, well, anything. If people say that words hurt them, you can’t question their motives for saying so. You can’t disagree or argue. All you can do is say you were wrong and hope the mob moves on to some other outrage. The author of the poem took the same tack. Here’s his apology in which he criticizes himself for making art, “from a place of privilege.”
— Anders Carlson-Wee (@AndersWeePoet) July 24, 2018
Again, I don’t think this is humility so much as fear. Everyone on the left is well-aware (or can be made aware) that once the mob is offended it will destroy you unless appeased. There is no reasoning with the SJW mob and no chance to argue you had a different intent or were trying to put yourself in a different perspective. That’s not good enough. Absolute abasement and a promise never to risk offending the PC mob again is the only way to escape complete destruction. The author’s wrongdoing, in this case, had to do with how the poem seemed to use a vernacular that some considered distinctly African American. A sample:
Let em think they’re good enough
Christians to notice. Don’t say you pray,
say you sin. It’s about who they believe
they is. You hardly even there.
It turns out the author is white. Readers felt he was committing the sin of cultural appropriation, a verbal version of blackface.
yo fam. I’m trying to understand the voice in this poem. It feels offensive to me and like it’s trafficking inappropriately in Black language but is there something i’m missing? Help me understand.
— Nate Marshall (@illuminatemics) July 24, 2018
But there’s really not much room for understanding. On the left, no one is allowed to escape their identity. Not in a film. Not on TV. Not on Twitter. Not in a poem. Forget putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, even sympathetically. That’s considered theft, not empathy or imagination. This is the outlook that Bari Weiss (correctly, I think) called the opposite of the American ethos and it’s now the default view on the far left. But again, I don’t think people, even on the left, really want to believe this so much as they fear the mob that enforces it with the threat of total personal destruction unless you go along.