It would be wildly disingenuous to claim that I was disappointed in The New Yorker editor David Remnick’s decision to feature sentient barrow of racist cat jizz Steve Bannon at The New Yorker’s fall festival. Because that would mean I still possess the capacity to be disappointed by white people, and I do not. I am, however, surprised.
Remnick—who, by all reliable accounts, is an extremely intelligent man—should have known what would happen once word of this decision came out. I took a test several years ago that showed I just have a “moderately high” IQ. Despite these intellectual limitations, I can confidently say that I would have know what would happen. As would have anyone who’s ever thrown a house party and knew that if they invited “Jack” to it then “Peter,” “Ricky,” “Tia,” “Camille,” and “Gwen” probably ain’t coming because they’ve made it clear they don’t fuck with “Jack” under any circumstances. And my 2-year-old daughter, who already knows not to mix her Pup Patrol toys with her Sesame Street figurines.
This just keeps happening, though. Decision makers at large, mainstream publications and platforms keep inviting and providing space for men like Bannon and Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos, as if the things they have to say are riveting and engrossing, as if any novel insights can be gained from handing them the spotlight. (Especially the stage at a gotdamn festival.) A dive into the thoughts and inclinations and sensibilities of openly bigoted white men isn’t just old hat. It’s America’s oldest hat. Need to ask Steve Bannon about his racism and xenophobia? OK. While you’re at it, exhume Christopher fucking Columbus’ corpse to ask about the lunch menu on the Santa Maria.
And then, once word of them legitimizing this sort of stale and retrograde thought with a platform (and cash) is spread, they reconsider.
Unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to know exactly why this keeps happening. My IQ just ain’t that high, and I slept through each of the “Why Smart White People Do Dumb-Ass Shit” lessons in 11th grade civics. I mean, I think that sometimes whiteness can be so blinding and deafening that it turns white people into marshmallow Peeps; unable to see or hear or feel or process anything outside of their cocoons of causacity. But, again, I don’t know.
I do know that my capacity for surprise is waning, too.