Jacobinghazi Part Deux

I’ve been asked by a number of people to take this down just to cool things off. I wrote the post because there was a lot of confusion swirling around specifically about me. The stuff I saw in the immediate aftermath of the initial post makes me pretty confident that those confusions have cleared up. Since I don’t particularly care that much about this or have any significant involvement in it beside a single tweet (one of the things now cleared up), I don’t see much value in keeping the post up when others insist it is crucial that it be taken down.

On to more election prognosticating with the best team in town.

What would it take to make Sarah Kendzior admit this is not true?

Sarah Kendzior is a liar. But this is old news, with the Jacobinghazi affair perhaps the most high-profile example thus far. I toyed with a piece going through a history of her unhinged deception, but instead I think it’d be more interesting to keep things simple.

So here is a fun question: what would it take to make Sarah Kendzior admit that what she said in this tweet is not correct?

In this tweet, Kendzior claims Megan Erickson, editor at Jacobin magazine, advocated that Kendzior be raped. This did not happen. Nobody besides Sarah Kendzior thinks this happened on account of the fact that it didn’t happen. Even with Kendzior, I can’t be sure if this comment is an intentional lie or genuine but delusional. Her behavior on this topic is right on that edge where it’s cogent enough to think she may be in touch with reality, but deranged enough that you wonder if she’s mentally well.

In addition to not being true, this is a rather vicious smear to put on someone. It seems then, at the very minimum, Kendzior should be expected to recant this lie. But what would it take for that to happen? Would her sycophants have to turn on her? Would she refuse until the very end even after all the social capital she calls upon in these lunatic episodes dries up? I am genuinely curious.

Here’s another question: what would it take for Kendzior to admit this isn’t true either?

If you wonder why Kendzior suddenly stops tweeting when certain people get on her case, it’s because she goes to the DM to continue her usual silliness. In this case, she’s said people have told her Doug Williams — a black fellow in Alabama it should be pointed out only because that matters in this world — wants to hurt her. Is this true? I suspect it isn’t true because Williams has denied it, there is no evidence of it, it’d be crazy if he did do it and he doesn’t strike me as crazy, oh and because Kendzior is a liar, as we know.

What would it take to get Kendzior to recant this, do you think? My hopes are somewhat buoyed by the fact that there is a strong case to make, as Sarah Slamen did, that a white woman filling up people’s DMs saying a black man wants to hurt her when he doesn’t is pretty racist. Something about lynching and false accusations regarding black men’s behavior towards white women. It’s in the history books. I haven’t the time to explain it here. Anyways, surely this is the sort of lie that is seriously unconscionable, so much so that some of the people unconcerned about the lie pertaining to Megan Erickson could be moved. But maybe not. The social capital and wagon-circling go deep and it’s quite possible nothing could ever jar it open.

In these latest Kendzior episodes, I have been interested to see what exactly her defenders have to say about them. It’s not often that you have someone making vicious, over-the-top accusations about others that the public record of events show to be demonstrably false. Normally, there is enough grey area that people can carve out some theory as to how she’s not lying, but not in this case. So what do they say?

I expected that the people arguing that what she is doing is not heinous would just insist that everything she says is true and then dissemble when people point out it isn’t. That’s a common and easy strategy. But, interestingly, that’s not what has happened.

In the Jacobinghazi episode of the Sarah Kendzior Show, many of her supporters (most prominently @davidgraeber and @caulkthewagon) ultimately came around to the position that, although she’s clearly lying, the spewing of lies is driven by the trauma she is currently experiencing. The argument was that Jacobin running a post that links to her public tweet about bros sending rape threats was so traumatic an experience that she just could not control herself. Like a Vietnam Veteran who starts shooting people when he hears a car backfire, being linked in that Jacobin piece caused her to start shooting lies.

I thought this was a clever theory when I read it, even if a bit implausible given her track record of lying about others, which does not always correspond with any claimed trauma event. But given the fact that she has continued to say, now months later, that Erickson is advocating that she be raped, it would seem the “trauma-responding” theory of why she says lies about others doesn’t really hold up. I went back to see how @davidgraeber and @caulkthewagon were handling this apparent blow to the trauma-responding theory and I found this.

Graeber, I guess to his credit, has backed off his trauma-responding arguments. Kendzior is no longer under attack by links and phantom threats, so it’s fair game to wonder why she continues to lie.

@caulkthewagon, it seems, is holding steady to the trauma-responding defense even as the lies keep coming months later, when there is no conceivable trauma-related excuse for it. Shrug.

More opportunistic misreads

I wrote previously about the dust up caused by Sarah Kendzior’s penchant for intentionally misreading things. She does that a lot. It’s pretty silly.

Anyways, she’s at it again:

Last RT is re: Elizabeth Stoker, who said that I had to be “disciplined” through “character assassination”, as I received rape threats

This tweet is in reference to a post Elizabeth Stoker wrote titled “Disciplining Women.” In it, she makes a very lucid argument regarding the heinous ways in which women with unorthodox views are disciplined into shutting up:

But unorthodox views can, especially for women in left academic feminism, result in precisely that form of discipline: withdrawal of community, overwhelming assassination of character, a very sudden onslaught of negative feedback and demands for apology. It strikes me that this method of disciplining members is another symptom of the problem Amber gets at in her article: the community is not so concerned with what is true or false as with who is good and who is bad.

This has been a facet of the left academic community I’m associated with (and do enjoy the fellowship of) that has distressed me for sometime, and I’m glad Amber took the time to flesh the problem out, even if the process turned out to be a bit more performative than she may have intended.

There is no mystery as to the point here. It is that when women express unorthodox views — e.g. Frost’s objections to certain usages of the word “bro” — a huge swarm of outrage bots are sent their way to discipline them. Through the proximate mechanisms of “withdrawal of community, overwhelming assassination of character, [and] a very sudden onslaught of negative feedback and demands for apology,” non-conforming women are disciplined away from speaking their minds.

This does not say that Sarah Kendzior should be “disciplined” through “character assassination.” It doesn’t come even remotely close to saying that. Nobody could ever confuse it for saying that.

(Somewhat amusingly, Kendzior has actually provided a perfect example of the sort of disciplining — by any means necessary including obvious lies — Stoker’s point is remarking upon.)

But like I said before, this is par for the course for Kendzior. Frost’s argument regarding the inappropriateness of using the cutesy tag of “bro” when describing seriously heinous violence against women was not unclear. Kendzior intentionally misrepresented it. My prior argument about the asymmetric way class and gender identity is treated within the anti-oppressive language framework was not unclear. Kendzior intentionally misrepresented it. And here we are again. Nobody who can read would ever derive from that blockquoted text above what Kendzior tweeted it as saying.

Either Kendzior is a deceptive moron or she has literacy problems. I can’t say for sure which it is, but I suspect it’s more the former than the latter.

Opportunistic Misreads

In my prior post, I commented on Amber A’Lee Frost’s recent piece in Jacobin. As an addendum to that, I thought I might address the issue of Sarah Kendzior’s reaction to this piece.

In the piece, Frost writes at one point:

And I just don’t think the diminutive label of “bro” should be to describe more insidious sexism, let alone violent aggression like rape threats. Let’s not mitigate our censure with cutesy fraternal nicknames.

This text linked to a tweet of Kendzior saying a “brocialist” sent her emails hoping for her rape.

Kendzior responded to the article by tweeting a bunch and then writing:

There are not words to describe the experience of reading an article, coming to the word “rape threats”, and then seeing that the rape threat is about you – intended to debase and humiliate you for admitting you have been threatened.

As Elizabeth Stoker points out, this is an absurd reading of Frost’s text:

This is to say: when ‘bro’ becomes the moniker for everything bad, we wind up categorizing things that are in reality dangerous, violent, and horrible under the fairly innocuous banner of the bro. Mansplaining and vaguely obnoxious jokes? Bro territory. Rape threats and other forms of sexual menace? Way beyond the pale of salmon-colored-shorts-wearing, boat-shoed bro-dom.

Frost’s point is that you debase the seriousness of violence against women when you mix it in with cutesy, sarcastic monikers. To extend the use of bro in that manner is to go way broverboard.

Only an intentional misread would describe that rather lucid text as being intended to humiliate someone “for admitting [they] have been threatened.” It was the flippant use of the light-hearted “bro” tag in concert with something that should be very serious and not made light of that Frost is censuring.

But opportunistic misreads are not new for Kendzior. I’ve had a front row seat to this before.

Late last year, I wrote a piece titled “3 Theses on Higher Education.” In the piece, I use extensive historical data regarding college costs and the class composition of college attendees to argue that the recent hubbub surrounding higher education costs are primarily driven by the fact that the upper class is feeling the squeeze. Read it if you want to see the argument, but its specifics are not terribly relevant here.

Sarah Kendzior disliked this post, and tweeted this in response:

.@MattBruenig The great unifying theme of your posts is that you never ask what an actual poor person thinks about anything.

I rightly identified this as an extremely offensive tweet because I come from a low-income family, which is to say I am an “actual poor person.” Under identitarianism 101, you are not allowed to say something like that to someone. If a person of color wrote a piece about something being mainly a white issue or whatnot, it would be deemed offensive and oppressive to ask them if, prior to posting it, they talked to an “actual person of color.” It implies that they don’t count as “actual” somehow.

Anyways, I illustrated how offensive this tweet was by writing:

Could you ever imagine any similar harassment for any other identity? Is there any world where I could, for instance, harangue Kendzior for not speaking to enough women before she wrote some piece on women’s issues? Could you even imagine? There is no way.

The point there is straightforward. I ask the reader to imagine some world in which Kendzior had written a piece related to women’s issues and I responded to that piece by saying “why don’t you speak to an actual woman about this before you post it.” Such a tweet would receive swift censure because the Left actually takes gender identity seriously unlike class identities (even though the theory suggests they should take them both seriously).

In response to this piece, Kendzior tweeted (find the tweet here h/t @aresnick) that my response was sexist. The reason it was sexist, she claimed, was because I had said that she was a “lady writer” who only wrote about women’s issues. I clearly had not said anything of the sort. I had said only that if she wrote a piece about women’s issues, then my responding to it the way she responded to my piece about class issues would be deemed oppressive. It was just a symmetric analogy using her own identity to illustrate my point.

Nobody could seriously read my piece as saying anything other than that. My point about how folks don’t take class identity as seriously when it comes to anti-oppressive language policing was clear as day. She opportunistically misread it just the same way as she has opportunistically misread Frost here. And she did so with the same intent in mind, to stir up some sort of outrage army to distract from criticism (that did not materialize in my case, perhaps because it was so over-the-top ridiculous that even those prone to mobilize in such a way couldn’t justify it).

This is just the same old, same old from Kendzior.