What is worse?
Is it Jerry’s racism or living in a culture like this where you are constantly looking over your shoulder, navigating around ridiculous landmines, walking on eggshells, policing your own thoughts, never being able to just say whatever is on your mind because some brat will do this to you?
“So I hung up and wrote this:
1. Yes, I did use the word, in this context: A student asked me if I thought her high school’s administration was right to suspend a classmate of hers for using the word in a video she’d made in eighth grade. I said “Did she actually call someone a “(offending word”? Or was she singing a rap song or quoting a book title or something?” When the student explained that it was the student, who was white and Jewish, sitting with a black friend and the two were jokingly insulting each other by calling each other offensive names for a black person and a Jew, I said “She was suspended for that? Two years later? No, I don’t think suspension was warranted. Somebody should have talked to her, but any school administrator should know that 12-year-olds say dumb things. It’s part of growing up.”
My notes of the conversation are sparser than I normally take, but I also recounted it right afterward to a friend, so I think this is accurate.
As I remember it, Dean started off by saying “Donald, you had a great year — you really owned the story of the pandemic….”
As soon as I realized he was talking in the past tense, I became tense and started taking notes.
“Donald, I know you,” he went on. “I know you’re not a racist. We’re going ahead with your Pulitzer. We’re writing to the board telling them we looked into this two years ago.”
“But Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People are hurt. People are saying they won’t work with you because you didn’t apologize.”
“I did write an apology,” I said. “I sent it to you Friday night. I sent another paragraph on Saturday morning. Didn’t you get it?”
Dean didn’t answer.
“I saw it,” Carolyn said.
“But Donald,” Dean said, “you’ve lost the newsroom. A lot of your colleagues are hurt. A lot of them won’t work with you. Thank you for writing the apology. But we’d like you to consider adding to it that you’re leaving.”
“WHAT?” I said loudly. “ARE YOU KIDDING? You want me to leave after 40-plus years? Over this? You know this is bullshit. You know you looked into it and I didn’t do the things they said I did, I wasn’t some crazy racist, I was just answering the kids’ questions.”
“Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People won’t work with you.”
“What are you talking about?” I said. “Since when do we get to choose who we work with?”
“Donald, you’ve had a great year, you’re still up for a Pulitzer.”
“And I’m supposed to what — call in to the ceremony from my retirement home?”
Carolyn stepped in: “Donald, there are other complaints that you made people uncomfortable. X, Y and Z.”
I remember looking at the snow in my garden.
“May I know exactly what X, Y and Z are? And who said I did X, Y and Z? I’m happy to answer anything — but I have to know what I’m being accused of.”
Neither of them responded. To me, it felt like an attempt to intimidate me.
“Let me give you an alternative view of who’s ‘lost the newsroom,’” I said. “I’ve been getting emails and calls from bureaus all over the world saying, “Hang in there, you’re getting screwed.” People are outraged at how I’m being trashed in the press and by the Times. If you fire me over this, you’re going to lose everybody over age 40 at the paper, all the grownups. All your bureau chiefs, all your Washington reporters, all your Pulitzer winners. Especially once they realize how innocuous what I really said was and that you didn’t find it a firing offense in 2019. And they’ll talk to every media columnist in town. The right wing will have a field day.”
“We’re not firing you,” Dean said. “We’re asking you to consider resigning.”
“You’re twisting my arm.”
“We’re not twisting your arm.”
“Just mentioning it, just bringing it up, is twisting my arm. Nobody in 45 years has suggested I resign. Charlotte has threatened to fire me a couple of times, but that’s different. That was always bullshit. But nobody’s ever suggested I resign. I should shut up and get a lawyer. I need a lawyer.”
Dean and Carolyn seemed to pretend to not hear that, either.
“We’re not twisting your arm. We’re asking you to consider it.”
“No. I’m not considering it. I’m not just quitting like this.”
The conversation then trailed to an end, with them saying “consider it” and me saying no. …
Soon after we hung up, I had a furious conversation with a friend walking his dog.
“What does he mean, I’ve “lost the newsroom?” I raged. “People won’t work with me? Since when do we get to pick and choose who we work with? That’s not in our contract. In fact, that amounts to racial discrimination — that’s illegal under federal law, under Times policy, under Guild tradition. You work with who they assign you. Photographer, producer, editor, whatever. What is this?”
I sent a note to two Guild officers about what had happened and started looking for a lawyer. I contacted several friends who knew about situations like mine, and learned something that came as a huge relief.
Since I had been investigated and punished in 2019, one explained, the Peru trip was a dead issue. As with criminal law, the principle of “no double jeopardy” applies to punishments meted out under union contracts. I could not be re-investigated. …”
No one is safe.
The people who are the least safe are professionals who operate in this anti-White environment which is getting worse by the year. All it takes to ruin you is one insensitive comment or microaggression.
Note: Even if you can’t find any actual racists, intent doesn’t matter because racism is systematic under the new definition. Donald McNeil, Jr. was complicit in “systemic racism” and benefits from “white privilege” for being a White male. It is all still the same “white supremacy.”