Have you ever said something and wished you hadn’t?
If you’re married it’s probably a daily occurrence.
We’ve all done it. That cutting jab about the boss’s wife when she’s standing behind you at the office Christmas party. The letter to the editor excoriating the town council for a particular decision before realizing that policy is actually going to benefit yourself. The admiration for a band based on the only listenable song on an album.
Now-a-days we have Twitter to thank for being a repository of an entire lifetime’s supply of regrettable statements or opinions long since repudiated. With Twitter though even removing such thoughts doesn’t prevent them from reappearing years later. Someone somewhere will have cataloged and archived your appreciation for CATS The Movie.
A 22 year old Jewish woman named Emily Wilder finds herself pursed by the ghosts of Tweets past. Ms. Wilder was a student at Stanford University where she wrote for the school newspaper, got good grades, put out an occasional Tweet filled with the passion that only a college student can exert, and also was a Middle East peace activist often taking the side of Palestinians. She was in particular involved in the Return The Birthright movement.
Birthright is a program by which young American Jews are given a free trip to Israel to experience the uniqueness of a country where they are in the majority. I always thought it was a great program till I found out that it’s major funder was Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Republican infamy and that once students arrive in Israel the program heavily slanted the experience away from anything having to do with those folks in Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank.
Returning to Ms. Wilder, a group of students calling themselves the Stanford College Republicans decided to go on a Twitter rant about her because, heaven forbid, she got a job with the Associated Press as a junior reporter. If we’re going to be honest calling her position reporting is a stretch. She was so far down the food chain microbes fed off her. Over a year removed from having graduated from Stanford, this group for some reason thought it was appropriate to rage against her.
Then again they seem to be one of those conservative college groups that feels no matter how much privilege they have it’s not enough. Here is the opening of their mission statement:
Against the backdrop of the pernicious leftist assault on our liberty and the moral fabric of our nation, challenging the left’s monopoly over American campus politics by exposing students to conservatism is crucial for the survival of conservatism in coming decades.
Um right, leftists are in control of Stanford. The Stanford that is home to Billionaire’s Corner where all the computer science buildings are. The Stanford that is home to the Hoover Institute. The Stanford whose endowment was doubled by demanding a cut of Google’s profits since the original search engine was developed using their computer network.
Yeah, it’s a real hot bed of liberalism.
Nevertheless an enraged group of incels, er, I mean, conservative students thought there was no way anyone with an activist pedigree could ever be impartial in her coverage of…um, hold on let me check what she was assigned to cover…oh yes, local Phoenix area goings on. That’s right, she wasn’t the AP Jerusalem bureau chief or even a reporter there or even a full fledged reporter anywhere but in the suburbs of the American southwest. She had about as much to do with AP’s coverage of the Middle East as the janitor in the chemistry building on campus.
But apparently when Stanford College Republicans whistle, the dogs of the conservative movement come running. Literally within hours of posting that rage rant against Emily Wilder she had US Congress people demanding the AP fire her. But in an act of courage and an assertion of the independence of a free press….the AP capitulated and fired a 22 year old, just slightly above an intern level employee.
When she asked why she was being fired for activism and Tweets from before her employment she was told she was not, but rather she was being fired for tweets that she had written within the span of her employment with the AP. All three weeks of it. When she inquired which Tweets they were referring to they refused to say which ones.
Apparently the new AP Style Book was written by Franz Kafka.
In a, what else, Tweet explaining her side of the story Ms. Wilder makes the following point:
What future does it promise to aspiring reporters that an institution like the Associated Press would sacrifice those with the least power to the cruel trolling of a group of anonymous bullies?”
What future indeed.
Many of her former colleagues came to her defense. In a public letter they made clear her firing was a frightening but assuredly possible future for any of them.
“Once we decide to play this game on the terms of those acting in bad faith, we can’t win,” the letter said.
And it must be noted that this kind of treatment, both by the online bullies and the cowards in AP’s management, would not have occurred if it were happening to Emil Wilder and not Emily. Bullies, and especially online incel bullies, love to try and make the girls who won’t go out with them cry.
Most human beings evolve. We try out attitudes like we try on clothing. We search for meaning, especially when that search is the only thing we have to think about. We say both to ourselves and out loud “who is the person I want to be?”
Then the necessities of real life push those thoughts to the side as jobs, housing, love life, etc. become more important. The experiments in ideas, lifestyles, all the various togs we squirm into only to find they’re not quite the right fit get relegated to the back of the closet before being shipped off to Goodwill one day.
It’s called growing up.
Technology now makes those brief encounters into marks on a permanent record of our own making.
I would venture to say that Ms. Wilder is still growing up. She would no doubt admit she has much to learn. I would hope that the Stanford College Republicans would learn from her experience and also grow out of throwing childish temper tantrums that cost a person a job she loved.
Unfortunately their very name makes me think they won’t.
The Repugnicant party is the party of truncated adolescents who never got over being the cool kids in school. They are mean girls or bully boys. They can’t win an argument because their stunted evolution precludes them from having the rational thought process that allows for empathy and understanding. Their overriding belief is that the world belongs to them and the rest of us are here to serve them. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said,
They are careless people- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
In years to come I hope to see the comeuppance of the Stanford College Republicans. I hope to see them have to explain their vicious attack on a fellow student who did nothing to them except to have a different political opinion from theirs. I hope to see their Tweets used against them when they apply for graduate school or a job. Maybe then they will understand that sometimes you just have to let the past be the past.
When all that happens I hope the lead story is written by Emily Wilder.