It appears the Right Wing media has a new boogeyman today as Fox News, the Republican National Committee (RNC), and Conservative bloggers have all lined up to try to silence Ebony digital editor Jamilah Lemieux.
The incident began when Lemieux tweeted about Dr. Ben Carson and Armstrong Williams’ new magazine project targeting Black Conservatives. After jokingly saying she wished she knew less about the venture than she did, her cheeky tweet prompted another user to respond, adding several others to the conversation.
Raffi Williams, Deputy Press Secretary for the RNC and son of pundit Juan Williams, tweeted Lemieux, “Wish you knew less? hoped [sic] you would encourage diversity of thought,” to which Lemieux responded, “Oh great, here comes a White dude telling me how to do this Black thing. Pass.”
— Raffi Williams (@Raffiwilliams) March 27, 2014
Apparently, Williams was offended Lemieux called him White. While Lemieux apologized for the mixup, Conservatives flooded her Twitter mentions, calling her a racist and demanding both she and Ebony magazine, apologize to Williams.
The kerfuffle would have faded into obscurity, but both Fox News and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus jumped in to “defend” Williams and attack Lemieux.
Priebus called Lemieux’s tweet “sickening” and penned a letter to Ebony insisting she apology “for making assumptions about his race but more importantly for dismissing black Republicans and the validity of their opinions in public discourse.”
Fox News—apart of 21st Century Fox, a multi-national company with $8.16 billion in revenue—regularly dismisses the opinions of those who do not agree with its ideological viewpoint, but it ran an entire segment lambasting Lemieux for “exposing her true colors” and “insulting Black Conservatives” (note: this shows they have no clue about Jamilah or her work, because she’s been staunchly pro-black and progressive since she began writing). Williams appeared on the network and said he was “caught off guard” by Lemieux’s tweets, which he felt weren’t inclusive enough.
Hmm. Pot meets kettle?
The hypocrisy of Fox News, Reince Priebus, and several Conservatives is astounding. While many Right Wingers have no problem pandering to extremists in their party like Ted Nugent who regularly spew on racially charged rhetoric (i.e. calling President Obama is the “Food Stamp President” or a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist or a “subhuman mongrel”), the moment someone, particularly a Black person, does not subscribe to their views (or chooses to not engage as Lemieux did when she told Williams she wasn’t interested in anything he had to say), they cry reverse racism and cloak themselves in victimhood.
And though everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, the vitriol ginned up by the Right Wing media is hard to counteract, particularly because they have the resources to inflict real damage.
Let’s be clear: Jamilah Lemieux was not speaking on behalf of Ebony during her exchange with Raffi Williams. She was not using Ebony’s Twitter handle or even discussing her work with the magazine.
Lemieux was speaking to Williams on her own time and exercising her own First Amendment rights to free speech that Conservatives claim to love so much (as long as you agree with them, that is). Moreover, Lemieux also apologized for mistakenly calling Williams White and refused to engage with Conservatives who flooded her Twitter mentions and called her names.
For this, Fox News and the RNC, both of which have vast resources, aims to sully her name and silence her voice, while simultaneously claiming they are the ones who are inclusive and respectful of diversity.
To paraphrase Kanye West, the RNC and Fox News doesn’t care about Black people.
After the 2012 elections, the RNC conducted an “autopsy” and concluded they needed to do more to reach Black voters. To aid the cause, the RNC hired two Black media professionals to serve as liaisons to Black media outlets, and Priebus hit the road for an “African American listening tour.” Meanwhile, Republicans across the county have continued to resist policies that would help many African Americans like funding education, raising the minimum wage, and working to improve the Affordable Care Act. Add to that the fact that many Republicans across the county have been actively working to disenfranchise voters by instituting harsh new voter I.D. laws, and it’s clear that while the GOP claims to be “the Party of Lincoln,” they are quickly becoming a party of Southern White, male voters.
Which brings me back to their assault on Jamilah Lemieux. While Priebus, Williams, and some Right Wingers have called on her to apologize (which, she’s already done), they are also trying to bogard space in one of our most venerable publications to advocate for their policies, which have proven over and over again to not be made with Black folks in mind. And that is simply not acceptable.
The GOP has billionaires, lobbyists, several prominent media outlets, and an entire news network dedicated to furthering its cause; they don’t need Ebony too.
These “outraged” Conservatives are the worst kinds of bullies. They demand an apology for a tweet, but are suspiciously quiet when their own cohort attacks the President, immigrants, people of color, or women who do not kowtow to their beliefs.
But apparently, it worked.
Ebony appears to have succumbed pressure by Conservatives and apologized to the RNC and Williams on behalf of the magazine, while throwing Lemieux under the bus.
EBONY founder John H. Johnson once said that he created EBONY magazine with the intention to affirm a certain sense of “somebodiness” for African Americans. Nearly 70 years ago the magazine began on the principle that, as Black people, we are all somebody—we all count.
Yesterday, the spirit of this mission was disregarded by EBONY.com Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux in a personal Twitter exchange between herself and RNC Deputy Press Secretary Raffi Williams.
The magazine continued:
EBONY acknowledges Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux’s lack of judgment on her personal Twitter account and apologizes to Raffi Williams and the Black Republican community.
I don’t know what hurts more about this situation: the fact that Right Wing bullies were able to concoct faux outrage over a couple of tweets, or the fact that Ebony bowed to the pressure of those who couldn’t care less about the magazine OR its readers.
Either way, I’ll #StandWithJamilah—someone who has written about and advocated fearlessly for Black women—before I rock with Priebus, Williams, or anyone else looking to turn her into scapegoat.