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Bari Weiss, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, tweeted out an ill-advised commentary on Monday after Mirai Nagasu’s historic Olympic performance.
Weiss tweeted a video of the figure skater’s routine on Monday adding the phrase: “Immigrants: they get the job done”. The tweet has since been deleted by Weiss.
The main problem with the comment is that Nagasu isn’t an immigrant. She was born in California to Japanese immigrants and maintained dual U.S. and Japanese citizenship until she was 22 years old.
Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition, boosting Team USA to a bronze medal finish in the team event.
Many people criticized Weiss’ tweet for implying her misconception that because Nagasu is not white, she is an immigrant. The internet exploded with opinions.
Weiss pushed back, saying she’d used poetic license in quoting the line from the wildly popular Broadway show “Hamilton.” Which sounds scarily close to saying something like: “I’m not racist, I have tons of black friends.”
Weiss seemed to miss the point of the criticisms she received on Twitter in the same way that most “white-privileged” people miss the point. For minorities in the United States, not being white often means having your status as a citizen questioned for no reason. Especially in our current social setting, being white can afford positive assumptions whereas simply being not white can lead to heated citizenship discussions with assumptions that because you’re not white, you’re not really from the United States.
The intensity of the debate from Weiss’ tweet may also partially stem from her reputation for controversial viewpoints. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald described Weiss as a writer “who thrives on cheap, easy, and superficial ‘controversy’” after the Times hired her.
As of now, Mirai Nagasu has not commented on the twitter discussion.
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