Even Oprah (Remember Her?) Is Scared of Our New “Woke” Culture

A talented reader of mine who prefers to remain anonymous gave me permission to post this article here:

Let’s talk about Oprah Winfrey.  Let’s talk about Gurrrl Power and strong, independent women and “nevertheless she persisted” and how girls and young women need role models who will lead by example and teach them how to reach their goals and show them that anything’s possible.  Yeah, let’s talk about that.  Because Oprah Winfrey, with her hundreds of millions of dollars and fame and global adulation, turns out to be the last person a girl should try to emulate, because Oprah Winfrey is an abject moral coward.

Oprah Winfrey has a book club.  One of the books she chose recently is called American Dirt.  At Hot Air, the novel is described as “the story of a Mexican mother and son who are forced to flee their home for safety in the United States after they get caught up with a cartel boss.  The novel was intended as a moving, albeit action-filled tribute to immigrants who make the journey to the US border, and at first it seemed it was destined to be a huge cultural success.  The book sold for a reported seven-figure sum and a movie adaptation seemed inevitable.  Oprah Winfrey read a galley of the book and praised it.  She also sent copies to a number of celebrities including actresses Selma Hayek and Gina Rodriguez, who similarly praised the book on social media.”

The problem is that the author of a book about Mexicans isn’t Mexican herself.  Therefore she’s not only forbidden from writing about Mexicans (who, it shouldn’t need saying, aren’t a race but a nationality and are as Caucasian as any blond-haired Scandinavian) but she can be pilloried for daring to tell a story about someone who doesn’t look exactly like her.  Writers are commonly given the horrible advice, “Write what you know.”  They should be told, “Write what you know emotionally.”  Anyone can look up anything on the Internet.  You don’t have to be an Inuit heart surgeon to write a novel about an Inuit heart surgeon, and only a hopelessly concrete-bound racist would claim that particular emotions are exclusive to a given race, sex, or nationality.  So let’s hear nothing further about who’s “qualified” to write a story about a Mexican mother.  You don’t have to be Mexican, a mother, or even a woman to do it effectively.  You have to be a human being with human emotions, imagination, and writing skills.  Period.

According to the HotAir article, the criticism directed at American Dirt’s author “became so intense that the publisher cancelled the author’s book tour, citing safety concerns.”  So in a country that isn’t 1930’s Germany or present-day North Korea, the outrage mob made it too dangerous for an author to do a book tour.  The purveyors of peace, hope, humanity, brother-love, and charity so credibly threatened violence against a writer that she stayed home rather than promote a fictional story.  Did Oprah use her fame and global audience to condemn the brown-shirted sociopaths?  She did not.  She didn’t pull the book as a book club selection, HotAir said, but she “held a two-hour-long, televised discussion featuring some of the book’s critics.”  That is, she used her influence not to defend the author, but to empower the thugs who were threatening her.  “The Associated Press said the critics put the novel on trial:  ‘When Oprah Winfrey chose the novel American Dirt for her book club, she imagined engaging in an impassioned television dialog about the narrative…Instead, Winfrey ended up organizing a show that put the book, author Jeanine Cummins, and Winfrey herself on trial.  After critics complained about the novel’s portrayal of Latinos, she turned the forum into a debate about the marginalization of Latino voices, the lack of diversity in publishing, and the question of who is best suited to tell a given story…Winfrey read from social media postings that called Cummins “clueless” and her novel a “whitewash” of a human rights crisis.’”  (I invite anyone who doubts that the SJW mob isn’t already firmly in control of publishing to visit any literary agency’s website and enjoy a gawk at the undifferentiated “own voices” swill agents peddle to publishers these days.  There’s no diversity in publishing—because it’s already fallen to identity politics and victimology.)

“Oprah acknowledged,” HotAir said, “that in the past she hasn’t really thought about who published [a] book or who wrote it, only about whether she liked it.”  In other words, her standard of value was the writing, not the author’s secondary sex characteristics.  Obviously that’s a problem for the window-lickers on Twitter, and Oprah has learned her lesson.  “[S]he admitted that going forward she would avoid wading into similar controversy, which takes up a tremendous amount of energy.”  It’s true that it takes some mental energy to stand up to bullies.  It also takes moral confidence.  You have to know you’re right to be willing to fight knuckle-draggers who scream and throw tantrums because a book about Mexicans wasn’t written by a Mexican.  You can’t be a craven moral coward who finds it exhausting to stand up to malignant freaks and defend rational ideals.

But at the first sign of conflict Oprah Winfrey, the strong, independent, courageous, self-made businesswoman from whom girls and women are supposed to draw inspiration, utterly declined to use her brains and influence.  She could have told those attention-seeking, puerile malcontents that the person who conceived the story and the plot and wrote the book is the one “best suited” to tell a given story, because it’s his creation.  She could have told them that if they wanted to hear party-approved “Latino voices” then they should write their own damned book instead of physically threatening someone who sat down and endured the labor of actually doing it.  She could have said that if they think the melanin content of their skin qualifies them as writers, then they should prove it by writing something longer than 140 characters.  That’s what Oprah could have said to these brain-dead cretinous trolls.  She could have said it, and people would have listened.  People would have cheered her for standing up to bullies because she’s Oprah Winfrey.  But she didn’t.  The most powerful woman outside of politics rolled over and wet herself rather than defy the tantrum a bunch of racist bullies were throwing.  Faced with the prospect of a little intellectual and moral heavy lifting, brave Oprah Winfrey didn’t persist.  She took a hard pass.

“It has not been a concern of mine,” the AP quoted Winfrey as saying, “or of interest to me, who is publishing the book…‘Oh, I chose three Random House books in a row,’ or ‘I chose the Harper’s book and then I chose another Harper’s book.’  That has never been the focus.  I just really go on, ‘Do I like the book?’ and ‘What is the book?’  And now I will pay more attention to that.  I will also pay more attention to who is writing it.  This has actually caused me to pause about who’s writing it.  Am I going to have to spend the next two months defending the writer, defending the writer’s right to write the book, or can we actually talk about the story?”

Let’s pause to consider what a shameless, disgraceful coward someone has to be to announce that publicly.  She knows what the right thing is.  She just summarized it:  Is it a good story?  Did I enjoy reading it?  And yet with all her alleged independence and strength and courage she’s actually not embarrassed to say to her worldwide audience that “going forward” she’ll be damned sure to place other considerations above reality.  From now on she won’t worry about whether she has to defend the truth or apply justice or insist on evaluating an author’s writing as good or bad.  Nope.  “Going forward” she’s going to subordinate those considerations to the question of whether she’d have to perform the exhausting labor of telling a bunch of basement-dwellers to go suck.  It’s easier to cave to the mob than to use her position to educate people and stand up for what she knows is right.  So what again is the point of becoming a successful businesswoman through talent and hard work?  What again is the point of having hundreds of millions of dollars and a global audience of adoring fans?  What’s the point, if you’re going to turn your back on reality and justice the instant a few anti-social-media spazzes stamp their feet and scream?  No, she has no moral obligation to anyone—but she does have one to herself and to reality.  It’s not her job to educate the world, but it is her job to fight irrationality in her own life, and considering the global audience she commands, it should have been her privilege.



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