Monday, August 06, 2018

Opinion | The Nation Betrays a Poet — and Itself - The New York Times

An interesting piece turning on freedom of thought and the press, coming against a tide of public opinion, fueled by concerns of racism, Opinion | The Nation Betrays a Poet — and Itself:
My first thought was that the offense was a cultural appropriation, but I decided to go read it. On the first pass, maybe not reading so closely, it sounded like it might be sensitive to the plight of discrimination, and insightful about how perception is displayed to justify our self-perceptions.

I read it again.

Hmmm.

Now, it sounds like a description of a deceiving street person, but still with an understanding that the world's perception is to justify their own self-worth.

On some level, there are people like this, although the idea that it would be used to enable racist perceptions is plausible but unlikely. Does the fascist right-wing read The Nation, let alone poetry in The Nation? Have we all read great literature that stereotyped? Yes, but almost always it comes with a big dose of empathy, of being in someone else's shoes. When I mentally step away from this poem, I still imagine I am in that person's shoes and feel a deeper sympathy for them. Apologies were given, maybe not needed, but certainly, the reasoning behind the choice would have been appropriate.

On the other hand...

Considering how much majority culture has abused and misused minority culture for its own entertainment, maybe an apology is necessary. If nothing else, we have a better-rounded understanding of the meaning of this poem, to everyone.
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