Jonathan Weisman, one of the many geniuses employed at the New York Times, made a point this morning. As Addison DeWitt might say, it was an idiotic point but a point nonetheless. While discussing last night's Democratic debate, Claire McCaskill -- former senator and current progressive parade rain-on-er -- declared that folks in the Midwest don't like "free stuff." Waleed Shahid pointed out on Twitter that Medicare and Social Security are both technically "free stuff" and both very popular in the Midwest. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, vocal advocates for more "free stuff," also represent districts in the Midwest. Midwest residents elected them and everything. That's when Weisman whipped open his rhetorical trench coat and publicly exposed his racism.

Screenshots live foreverTwitter

Detroit is in Michigan and Minneapolis is in Minnesota. These are both Midwest states. Wikipedia says so. Weisman is somehow a deputy editor at the paper of Justin Bieber records and he can't find his way around a common gas station map. He also seems to think Austin is not in Texas (it's the goddamn capital). Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who has served in Texas government since Ted Cruz was 3, apparently isn't from there either. Weisman also dares to put the name of Rep. John Lewis in his mouth. He's not really from the Deep South, despite all the Jim Crow-era scars that are the truest proof of residency. We never thought we'd have to say this, but Atlanta is the Deep South. It's so Southern our boy William Tecumseh Sherman turned the city into a fire pit.

Weisman's tweet implies that Tlaib and Omar aren't "really" from the Midwest. They're brown and Muslim, and no Muslims live in the Midwest except for the more than 200,000 combined that live in Minnesota and Michigan. This is next of kin to Donald Trump's "go back where you came from" rhetoric but suitable for a fancy Manhattan book release party. We're reminded of David Bowie's interview on MTV when he confronted a douchenozzle VJ about why the network refused to air videos from black artists. His explanation came from a similar POV as Weisman's.

DOUCHENOZZLE VJ: We have to try and do what we think not only New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest, pick some town in the Midwest that would be scared to death by Prince, which we're playing, or a string of other black faces. We have to play the type of music the entire country would like.

Like Omar, Prince was from Minneapolis, which as we keep saying is in the Midwest. Minnesota is more than the cast of Fargo, and the Midwest and the "Deep South" are more than just white people in MAGA hats. Trying to erase southern blacks is a traditional dating back to the Constitution, but we at least managed to count for 3/5ths of a resident. Weisman dismisses Lewis's regional heritage entirely. The congressman left his blood on southern streets. No one has a greater right to call it his home.

We wanted to give Weisman the benefit of the doubt. Maybe someone hacked his account like what happened to poor Jessica Alba. And Weisman did quickly run to the Twitter-mobile to apologize, but his mea culpa was also epically ratio-worthy.

Screenshotting this one just in caseTwitter

This is such tiresome coded language. "Urban" means brown and queer or brown queers (mix and match from the cultural menu). "Rural" means white factory workers or "simple farmers, people of the land, the common clay of the new West." It's all bullshit. Woody Allen made 187 movies and counting so we'd get the point already that bland white people also live in big cities. Everyone in our family lives in the rural "Deep South," and we've been black ever since that witch showed up at our baptism. When we moved to New York, people like Weisman would often assume, without evidence, that we hated where we grew up and were happy to have escaped the land of slack-jawed yokels. Then they'd go secretly vote for Rudy Giuliani because he'd "cleaned up" the city. The progressive movement is alive and well in the South and Midwest. It doesn't count for less because the representatives aren't white. Seriously, the New York Times should consider hiring these people so their political coverage wouldn't stink of mayonnaise left out on the counter.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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