Photo: Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images
the national interest

I Am So Terribly Sorry For Offending Republican Americans

My insensitive words have caused pain to the Fox News audience.

Photo: Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images

To the Republicans of America,

I have caused terrible pain to your community with my hurtful words. This week, I wrote a “humorous” tweet about an offer by a conservative group to aid stranded drivers on I-95:

This joke set off a completely justifiable and proportionate backlash, in the form of outraged articles appearing in the Federalist (“New York Magazine Writer Mocks Conservatives Helping Stranded Drivers on Snow-Covered I-95”), Fox News (“Liberal New York Magazine writer roasted for mocking conservative group’s efforts to help stranded motorists”), RedState (“Liberal Journalist Mocks Republicans Trying to Help People Trapped in Snow on I-95”), and many others.

I have taken to heart these criticisms, which are completely sincere and in no way a cynical effort to generate cheap clicks by misconstruing an obvious joke.

As RedState correctly scolds, “In the middle of a snow emergency with these people trapped in the snow, this is what he thinks is a proper response? And by the way, Jonathan, this kind of response is ‘pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.’ When the government fails you, you figure out ways around it to help yourself and your neighbors.”

It had never occurred to me that people trapped in cars for hours on a stopped highway cannot pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I am ashamed at my ignorance, and I thank the Republicans — sorry, Republican Americans — for calling me out. I had no idea my tweet was perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

Even more shamefully, as many of these fine publications have noted, the I-95 affair is only my most recent offense. Two months ago, I tweeted an even more offensive joke. Commenting on a CNN report about a family struggling with the cost of buying 12 gallons of milk a week, I callously suggested that such a large quantity of milk indicated they are using the liquid to bathe:

This tweet generated an even larger and more outraged flood of headlines like “Liberals mock family of 11 featured on CNN concerned about rising cost of milk” and “‘What a POS’: Upper-class twit Jonathan Chait sneers at family of 11 — including adopted and foster children — for feeling the pain of inflation [video].”

I now realize that my assumption that 12 gallons of milk was an enormous amount of milk, even for a big household, exposed my own classism. There is absolutely nothing funny about imbibing staggering quantities of milk. My privilege was showing.

I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I know that I must learn and grow to earn your forgiveness. I will actively educate myself so I can do better by undertaking an intensive course of study at Prager University.

I know that education alone cannot remove the hurt I have caused through what the Federalist all-too-accurately described as my “insensitivity to the ongoing crisis.” I will be reaching out to the editors of these publications to provide therapy with a team of trauma specialists to treat the grief of their readers. I hope they will all be given a mental-health day to recover. Did I say “day”? I meant week.

If any good comes out of my hurtful jokes, I hope that, by highlighting my insensitivity, the editors at the Federalist, Twitchy, and elsewhere were at least able to generate monetizable audience engagement. Though I am sure this would offer no consolation to them.

Yours in earnest contrition,

Jonathan Chait

I Am So Terribly Sorry for Offending Republican Americans