May 1, 2018

HOW A PRETTY PROM DRESS HELPED REVEAL ROT IN THE AMERICAN SOUL:

On the one side is a collection of Americans who rightly look at Daum’s dress and say, “That’s not racist. It’s just a pretty dress.” On the other side is a collection of Americans who view this indifference and confusion as a provocation.

Now, let me ask. As you survey pop culture, the academy, and American corporations, which side has the upper hand? Which side is defining American discourse? America’s most prominent culture-makers obsess over identity. They elevate prom dress choices to matters of national debate. And that’s why people who still possess a sense of reason, proportion, and manners (on both sides of the political aisle) need to push back. Reason can’t cede the public square to rage. Sometimes a prom dress is just a prom dress. But Lam’s tweet wasn’t “just” a tweet. It was a symbol of the incoherent anger that is tearing this nation apart.

Definitely read the whole thing. And kudos to Daum for not backing down. What David French accurately calls “perhaps the dumbest story you’ve ever heard — a story that is stupid with a heaping helping of malice on the side” made the Washington Post:

While the family lives in a predominantly white suburb of Salt Lake City, Dawes said she has made an effort to give her daughter a multicultural upbringing. When Daum was in the third grade, her mother pulled her out of her school and enrolled her in a more diverse school in Salt Lake City. “I wanted her to have that exposure,” Dawes said.

She also said that Daum has grown up with a multicultural extended family. Several of her nieces and nephews are of Pacific Island descent.

The mother found it particularly unsettling that “an adult male has attacked her for what she’s wearing,” something that has nothing to do with “her talent or her mind.”

“I’m proud of her for standing her ground because she didn’t do anything wrong,” Dawes said.

In the days since the photos went viral, Daum said she has made a point of researching the significance of the dress in Chinese history and culture. She also says she has learned about the velocity and reach of messages on social media, and the importance of being able to see her own posts from a different lens.

“This does give me a better sense of choice and being careful in what I say in posts and how it can be perceived differently,” she said.  “It’s taught me to be extra cautious because you don’t want people to see it the wrong way.”

But at the same time, she said, “there are people who are going to find something to offend them no matter what it is.”

“I’d wear it again,” she said of the dress.

Good for her. Twitter’s management attempted to keep the mob enraged by spotlighting this weekend’s idiocy as a “Twitter Moment,” but since the cycle that Internet shaming is now completely predictable, that may finally be diluting its impact:

  • Random crank is outraged over minutia, tweets random crankery.
  • The outrage mob amplifies said crankery 140 characters at a time – or simply by hitting the retweet button.
  • A few days later, faced with thousands of thousands of hateful responses, the victim apologizes, and the mob’s thirst for blood* is temporarily slaked…
  • …until the outrage mob finds a new skull to collect.

Also diluting the outrage mob? As Jordan Peterson advises Daum, “Don’t apologize. That will merely be read as an indication of your guilt. You’re innocent. Maintain your stance,” adding “Ignore them. They’re contemptible bullies masking their cruelty with virtue. You’re a kid trying to have a nice time. You’ve done nothing wrong.”

* And the frisson of pleasure from the belief that they’re the doing vital missionary work as members of the anointed.

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