Sports reporter and editor Hemal Jhaveri took to her blog on Friday to announce her termination over the controversial, now-deleted tweet, which said “it’s always an angry white man. Always,” in response to Monday’s mass shooting in Boulder. Though she acknowledged the post was an “over-generalization” and a “careless error of judgement” – the shooter, in fact, was not white – Jhaveri nonetheless portrayed herself as victim of a “alt-right” internet mob hellbent on her firing.
“There was social media outrage, threats and harassment towards me, and by the end of the day, USA TODAY had relieved me of my position as a Race and Inclusion editor,” she said of the reaction to her tweet.
In chronicling the episode, however, the reporter let slip that she had been disciplined at USA Today on other occasions for “publicly naming whiteness as a defining problem” – apparently seeing nothing controversial in deeming a particular race as inherently problematic. Nonetheless, Jhaveri insisted her hot-button post “[challenged] white supremacy” and that those who took issue with the tweet were merely “bad faith actors”“weaponizing” misplaced outrage.
One of the “alt-right” figures identified in Jhaveri’s blog post – Dave Rubin, a self-avowed classical liberal – deemed the journalist “a racist” over the tweet, while another Twitter user asked fellow netizens to imagine the reaction if a USA Today editor penned a similar post about any other demographic.
It didn’t take long before Monday’s mass shooting, which left 10 people dead at a Boulder grocery store, was pinned on “white supremacy” in a wave of social media posts, countless examples of which were compiled by journalist Caleb Hull. Liberal activist Amy Siskind, meanwhile, declared“it was almost certainly a white man (again). If he were black or brown he would be dead.” She offered no apology after it emerged the shooter was of Syrian heritage, not exactly in line with the “whiteness” narrative that found immediate approval online.
Twitter took no issue with the racialized posts, telling Newsweek that labeling the shooter – Ahmad al-Aliwi al-Issa – a “white Christian terrorist” did not run afoul of the platform’s policies on “misinformation.” The site’s trending section even managed to pass along the same misleading label itself, describing al-Issa as a “white male” suspect soon after the massacre.
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