I'm Offended

I think this post (and this one) crystallized a lot of why the Harvard Law story has repelled me. Leaving aside the nature of the personal beef, when someone forwards you someone else's personal e-mail, I think it's always worth thinking about the forwarder's motives, as well as what we might be losing without context. This is true with public officials, but, for me, it's doubly true with private citizens. It's worth considering whether you're just carrying someone else's pettiness.


Whatever her personal thoughts, the student sent a note of apology (and not the "If I offended anyone" variety.) I understand black students at the law school being pissed off, and voicing it. They have the right to their struggle. I'm not there, and they are.

But I think those of us in the broader world should be careful about who we bestow martyrdom upon. A cause that is so fragile that it necessitates hysteria based on a single civilian e-mail isn't much of a cause. Outrage is a resource that has its uses--and its limits. 

(H/T to the Crimson.)
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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