Oh Come Off It, Bari Weiss.
Were this a perfect world, I would not be writing about New York Times columnist Bari Weiss two days in a row. Alas, it is far from a perfect world and Weiss's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher was so appalling and just... wrong, that I am compelled to do so. In fact, said appearance was so appalling that after it aired last night, my own dear mother called me in order to vent about how awful she was, and also to point out Weiss's fresh new media makeover, which is probably a sign that she thinks she is hurdling towards superstardom.
So here we are!
The interview starts with Maher explaining to all of us that he and his new teacher's pet are both very outraged about the "outrage machine" on social media. Which is interesting coming from two people who are regularly outraged about things -- and are, in fact, paid to do so on very big platforms. In order to illustrate how truly bad things have gotten, Maher brings up Weiss's tweet about Mirai Nagasu during the Olympics.
To refresh your memories, during the Olympics, Weiss tweeted out a video of Nagasu skating, with the caption "Immigrants, they get the job done." Many people then pointed out to Weiss that Nagasu was not an immigrant, but rather the daughter of immigrants. Had she simply said "Whoops! I made a mistake! I'm sorry about that!" we never would have heard about it again. But rather than do that, like a normal person, Weiss went on a weird rampage about how "the outrage machine" was calling her a racist, even though she totally loves immigrants and thinks immigrants are great, and greatly exaggerated the amount of people who even said anything to her about the tweet.
On the show, Weiss insinuated that people were actually mad at her because the lyric she was quoting from Hamilton was actually "Immigrants, we get the job done!" rather than about the fact that she didn't do the normal thing and apologize.
WEISS: Mirai Nagasu, a person born in California, her parents are Japanese immigrants, landed an historic triple axel at the Olympics. I tweeted out video along with a lyric from Hamilton that said "Immigrants, they get the job done. Now the actual lyric is "we," I got the lyric wrong,
MAHER: How dare you!
WEISS: And I was jumped upon.
Maher then explained that it was really unfair that people would say that he and Weiss would say something that is racist when we all "know" they are not racist, instead of going after the real racists. Which, of course, we never do.
Weiss and Maher then lamented that in real life, rather than the internet, if you made a mistake you could just say "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that, it was a misunderstanding" and your friends would understand that. The irony being that the entire reason this became a thing in the first place is because Weiss did not do that. Had she done that, no one would be talking about it now. Quite frankly, she's the only one still bringing it up. In the four weeks since that tweet, the rest of us have all since moved on to being appalled by other things Weiss has said and done.
You know, things like stanning for Christina Hoff Sommers and citing hoax Antifa Twitter accounts in order to smear the actual Left.
The problem here is that most people who are going to watch the show are probably not on Twitter themselves. There are probably a lot of people watching that show who will see it and go "Oh man, the Left is calling this poor girl a racist just for getting a Hamilton lyric wrong? What has the world come to?" It's a toxic game of telephone.
Weiss then claimed that "offense taking is being weaponized" and is "a route now to political power" and that saying "I'm offended" is a way of making someone "radioactive." Which is just interesting given that Weiss's route to "political power" has literally been being offended by the fact that other people -- mostly marginalized people with a much smaller platform than she has -- are offended.
The only person making Bari Weiss "radioactive" is herself. Not only does she say terrible things on a weekly basis, but she regularly bases her opinions on things she has gotten factually incorrect. If she were to suddenly stop being terrible, people would say "Oh look! Bari Weiss said a thing that was neither terrible nor factually incorrect! Good for her!"
Her real concern though, she explains, is the little people. The people who want to jump into the online conversation and say something "provocative" but don't because they are so afraid that the online mob will get them.
Well, here's the thing. If you do say something that is "provocative," you are probably going to "provoke" some people. That is what that word means. If you are going to have strong opinions, some people will strongly agree with you, and others will strongly disagree with you. Sometimes, we say things without considering other perspectives on it, and then someone brings up those perspectives, and we learn a new thing. It is not a big deal. If you react to that by going "Oh, I hadn't thought about that!," you will be fine. If you react to that by exploding and going "OH WELL I GUESS I AM A LITERAL NAZI FASCIST RACIST MONSTER NOW AND NO ONE WILL EVER LIKE ME AGAIN!" people are going to think you are maybe a weird jerk.
Further on the interview, after the clip ends, Maher and Weiss went on the usual trip of "It's so sad that these feminists like, talk about what people here in AMERICA do wrong, when things are way worse for women in Saudi Arabia!," an argument that can go ahead and die forever. Is that really what they want? They actually think that all the feminist-leaning blogs in the United States should exclusively report on bad things happening to women in other countries? What purpose would that serve? I would like to point out that no one asks this of anyone other than feminists.
But, if they're going to make that argument, I'd like to point something out. Why are they complaining about the way they feel the American Left "censors" people, rather than exclusively talking about other countries where the actual government censors people? Why do they get to go on and on about how the Left eats its own, while chewing with their mouths open and full of liberal strawmen?
People are always going to disagree with each other, and we live in an age where people you don't know can disagree with you publicly, and can even be pretty shitty about it if they are so moved. It can certainly be a lot to adjust to, and that's worth talking about. But this is not the way to go about it.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse