When the New York Times announced its list of 20 new op-ed writers, none of the names stood out at the time. However, an article by Gawker changed that decisively. Just 24 hours later, Razib Khan was fired.
Who is Razib Khan? According to Gawker (the New York Times eviscerated the author page from which they pulled the info), he is a “science blogger, a programmer and a doctoral candidate in genomics and genetics at the University of California, Davis”. Gawker noted that NYT failed to mention something very significant about Khan and his writing history.
“Omitted from the paper’s biography, as a quick Google search indicates, is Khan’s history with racist, far-right online publications.”
This included a stint at publications known for far-right and openly racist articles. Gawker does give credit to Khan for “carefully choosing his words” as to not make outright bigoted declarations. At the same time, the publication notes that Khan did NOTHING to refute the ugly words by other authors and “treated the matter of black intelligence as a matter of debate.”
“[Razib Khan] hardly rejects the doctrines on which these outlets are based. He merely treats what white racists taken for granted—that non-whites, and especially blacks, are intellectually inferior—as an open question worth exploring in the name of scientific inquiry.”
Razib only managed to get TWO op-eds written before his entire existence at the New York Times went “poof.” Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy announced that the Times was cutting ties with Khan.
“After reviewing the full body of Razib Khan’s work, we are no longer comfortable using him as a regular, periodic contributor.”
Washington Post writer Erik Wemple was somewhat sympathetic about the matter; he noted that 20 new writers represented quite a bit of vetting. The New York Times is now well aware of Khan’s sketchy opinions about other ethnic groups (cautiously diluted with racially biased “research.” Despite officially dropping Razib Khan, both the writer and the NYT’s spokeswoman say that he might submit articles in the near future.
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) March 18, 2015
One doesn’t want to speculate about exactly how “comfortable” the New York Times is with racist writers on their payroll, but it’s not like the organization has done itself any favors recently. There was the “classic beauty” article posted about Viola Davis which resulted in a ton of backlash. The NYT was also called out for their remarkably biased coverage of the Mike Brown shooting.
Perhaps after their news organization’s reputation took a beating last year over allegations of racism and continuously publishing racist articles, the New York Times decided to nip any potential problems in the bud by letting Razib Khan go. But it’s more likely that the New York Times was well aware of Khan’s body of work and there was no issue with it…until suddenly there was.
— Razib Khan (@razibkhan) March 20, 2015
If that’s the case, this attitude is far more disturbing than ANYTHING Razib Khan has written until now. Hardly anyone knew who Khan was before this incident. Obviously, the same cannot be said for the Times.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]