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Are White People Bloodsucking Devils?

Nikole Hannah-Jones, who once believed whites were bloodsucking devils (Mike Coppola/GettyImages, for the Peabody Awards)

Here’s a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper written by Nikole Hannah-Jones (then Nicole Hannah) in 1995, when she was a student at Notre Dame:

(Via The Federalist)

She went on to become the Pulitzer Prize-winning genius behind The New York Times‘s 1619 Project, which claims that slavery is the basis of the American founding. Recently a critic on Twitter said the recent riots ought to be known as the “1619 Riots” — a distinction Hannah-Jones accepted with pride, but then deleted her tweet.

As far as we know, there has been no discipline of Hannah-Jones within the Times. Publishing an op-ed from a Republican senator calling for troop deployment to stop rioting is the kind of thing that gets you fired at the Times. But if you publicly welcome the branding of those riots as a spinoff of the Times‘s signature project — hey, no problem!

I don’t think it’s fair to hold what Hannah-Jones wrote in college against her. To be sure, there’s no doubt that if a similar college-newspaper letter by Ross Douthat or David Brooks were unearthed, Nikole Hannah-Jones would be leading the mob calling for their firing and public ruin. But I believe across the board that people should not be held responsible today for things they wrote as students over two decades ago. Furthermore, in charity, I assume that she no longer believes that whites, as a race, are “bloodsuckers” and “devils.” I could be wrong, but again, in charity, I will assume that she no longer believes these racist things. What I would like to hear from her is when and how she ceased to believe them, if she in fact has. What changed her mind?

I would very much like to know how her moral judgment changed since then. And I think people ought to be asking this. If it’s fair not to hold her responsible for racist things she wrote in the 1990s, it’s also fair to ask her how she matured past those beliefs — again, assuming that she has. Surely The New York Times would not wish to employ a racist. Surely the Times deplores all racism, and makes no exception for anti-white racism. Surely.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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