Monday, February 15, 2021


She was 17 at the time, and had just finished her senior year at Phillips Academy Andover, a boarding school sometimes rated America’s best. She’s the kind of teenager who is excited to talk to a New York Times correspondent about public health, and perhaps to put the adventure on a résumé. She had even done the optional reading Mr. McNeil suggested, Jared Diamond’s 1997 book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” a Pulitzer-winning history that argues that environmental and geographic factors produced the global domination of European civilization. The book has drawn criticism for a deterministic view that seems to absolve colonial powers of responsibility for their choices.

Ms. Shepherd said she noticed that Mr. McNeil was walking alone as they left their hostel on the first morning of the trip, so she caught up with him. She asked him, she recalled, about the criticism of the book.

“He got very defensive very quickly about it,” she recalled. “It’s just a book, it’s just making this point, it’s very simple, it’s not racist.”

She said she backed down, apologized and “felt terribly guilty — like I must have come off as a crazy liberal.”

At lunch that day, she said she sat down the table from Mr. McNeil at a cafe overlooking the town’s narrow streets, where he was talking to another student when he uttered the N-word, and used the word in the context of a discussion of racism. Some of the teenagers responded almost reflexively, she said, to object to his use of the word in any context....

But Ms. Shepherd hadn’t really connected with the others on the trip either, so she kept seeking him out. A few nights later, after a hike up Machu Picchu, she sat with Mr. McNeil at dinner at El Albergue, one of several rather nice restaurants in the town of Ollantaytambo in the Andes.

On the walk over, she said, she talked about her favorite class at Andover, a history of American education that covered racial discrimination. He responded, she recalled, that “it’s frustrating, because Black Americans keep blaming the system, but racism is over, there’s nothing against them anymore — they can get out of the ghetto if they want to.”

Ms. Shepherd said she tried to argue, but he talked over her whenever she interjected, their voices getting louder and attracting the attention of other students, two of whom confirmed her account of the conversation....

His impolitic views were also hardly a secret. When he published a book on the Zika virus in 2016, a puzzled reviewer in The Quarterly Review of Biology noted passages about feminists and gay sex, and wrote that “it is McNeil’s seniority and journalistic experience that makes the occasional misstep, or indelicate deviation from the science, all the more surprising.”

The Quarterly Review of Biology

It is McNeil’s seniority and journalistic experience that makes the occasional misstep, or indelicate deviation from the science, all the more surprising: comparing microcephalic babies to Cabbage Patch Kids or Trollz dolls; arguing that “reproductive rights groups . . . exaggerated women’s helplessness” (p. 143) and suggested “all men were monsters” (p. 140), and verifying his view by consulting a panel of all-male scientists; commenting on his attraction to women he met during a Zika class in Puerto Rico; or maybe most of all, the strangely off-hand remark, “I don’t know why health agencies were reluctant to admit that gay sex could transmit the [Zika] virus” (p. 98), a comment that seems naïve to the history of HIV in the United States, a topic McNeil touches on more than once in the book. 

She's young, rich, naive, and curious; he's racist, sexist, and an asshole.  
He wasn’t respectful during some of the traditional ceremonies we attended with indigenous healers/shamans,” yet another wrote. 

There's no reason not to believe that.

“our community is outraged and in pain.” Children using the language of adults, and adults using the language of children. 
The Times will have to navigate its identity in tandem with the next generation of its audience — people like Ms. Shepherd, who said that she was most surprised by the gap between Mr. McNeil’s views and what she’d read in her favorite news outlet.

“That’s not what I would have expected from The Times,” she said. “You have the 1619 Project. You guys do all this amazing reporting on this, and you can say something like that?”

The 1619 project was crap and it's been rewritten; the Palestinians are the new "negro problem"; the rich white kids are better than the old school bigot; the union did its job. 

And when a furious Dean Baquet, the executive editor, read the complaints about the Peru trip in 2019, he said he initially wanted to fire Mr. McNeil. But the union played its traditional role, fighting aggressively to protect him. The union, a person involved in the conversations said, was ready to take The Times to arbitration if the company attempted to terminate Mr. McNeil for his conduct on the trip. Mr. McNeil received a formal reprimand instead. 

Buppies, Determinism, Drift, Feminism and Post-Feminism, Israel/Palestine, Make it Idiot-Proof, Naturalism, Politics, Race, Sexuality, The Press

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled.