Alex Epstein’s racist writings in college don’t mean he’s racist, his career serving a racist industry doesn’t mean he's racist, and calling a Black journalist “vile” is definitely not racist. (At least not today. The other 364 days of the year are a different story.)
If you don’t already recognize the name, Alex Epstien is someone who since 2014 we have made fun of dozens of times, like when he thought a guy who literally hates kids was his next new pro-humanist “climate thinker.” Or, in 2019, when he went to a convention thrown by a conservative youth group known for wearing diapers and hiring racists, and even the Kool Konservative Kids there weren’t buying his schtick.
All pales in comparison to Epstein’s epic week though, as he launched an online crusade to get the Washington Post’s Maxine Joselow fired for doing her job, including, among her other generally excellent work, daring to report on content Alex worked on while editing a college paper at Duke. Apparently fearing he would be canceled (and sensing an opportunity to sell his upcoming book) he rallied the alt-right troops to bombard Joselow with hate mail, and flood the Post’s editor in chief with demands Joselow be fired. Just because online abuse against female journalists is a thing alt-right trolls have done for years doesn’t mean Epstein’s one of them.
According to the questions Joselow provided to give him an opportunity to respond for her story, as is good journalistic practice, Epstein was critical of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Duke student paper he edited. He felt MLK was unworthy of Duke students getting the day off for his holiday, and argued a trio of white men were more deserving of Duke to cancel classes: Christopher Columbus (brutal and evil even by his own time’s standards), Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson (being so un-racist, Epstein was easily able to overlook Jefferson’s ownership of slaves).
Epstein also wrote about “Western civilization” in a way that just so happens to track with the racist and alt-right, in its denigration of other cultures only worthy of study, Alex wrote, as “models of inferiority” and “anti-reason cultures.” Though he didn’t say “Black people” explicitly, he did write “just compare New York to Chad.” Definitely not in a racist way or anything! Just, y’know, a (false) narrative that racists also happen to endorse. It’s not like he called it a “shithole” or anything, so definitely doesn’t count as doing a racism!
In a creative, if desperate, pre-sponse to the story that seems to have at least delayed it, as of Friday morning, Epstein went on an epic and entirely un-sweaty and totally normal hour-long rant on YouTube, with a Substack post and accompanying Twitter threads. The totally normal multi-day Twitter tirade definitely proved the things he wrote at 18 and 19 definitely aren’t actually that bad anyway and his ideology of individualism is totally not racist at all, despite basically being standard issue Great Replacement Theory rhetoric, used by racists.
Just because Alex criticized MLK for “affiliating with Communism” and “supporting policies that [Epstein claims] proved destructive” doesn’t mean he was attacking MLK! Quoting what he wrote and having professors of African American history and chair at an MLK Jr. center analyze it, then share with him ahead of time to confirm or correct any errors, like Joselow did, is solid and ethical reporting. That’s why Alex was probably right when he said on Wednesday after assuming he’d gotten the story squashed, that it “could, had [he] not preempted it, have destroyed [his] professional life and significantly harmed [his] family.”
Because there is truly no worse fate in the world than to be an innocent and noble white man labeled as racist!
That’s why Epstein was totally in the right to whip up a bunch of rightwing hate to try and get Maxine Joselow fired, because as everyone knows, once you have a Black friend write a letter to the Post’s Editor-in-chief, you can’t be racist! (And that friend is definitely real, but just coincidentally isn’t one of the many white bitcoin obsessed guys who publicly voice support for you, like TX GOP Rep. Chip Roy who’s proudly-pro-lynching, or the guy who attacks the “woke religion” supposedly clearing you of racism on the podcast hosted by n-word sayer Joe Rogan.)
Alex should also keep reminding people that this was 20 years ago and he was only a kid then, because it definitely doesn’t imply that the writings were something he wouldn’t say today, and everyone gets a free pass to do a little light racism at age 18, right? Who knew racism was bad all the way back in the year 2000?! Certainly not innocent lil’ Alex!
He should also keep going on outlets like BlazeTV like he did last night to defend himself from accusations of racism, because that’s an outlet familiar with the subject, given that Blaze Media had to sever its relationship with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes in 2018, 2 years before the group would be involved in the Jan 6. violence. A look through Media Matters’ coverage of the video content hub features recent hits like Steven Crowder saying “slavery was never racially-motivated”, and “Tucker Carlson praises Glenn Beck for calling Barack Obama a ‘racist’”.
If anyone knows racism, it’s BlazeTV! Great choice!
And Epstein was totally very smart to respond to Joselow’s managing editor Krissah Thompson’s expression of the newsroom’s support for Maxine by calling Thompson “vile,” because insulting a Black woman is a surefire way to prove you’re not racist.
Great job, Alex! You definitely didn’t turn this from a newsletter blurb into a highly-anticipated story or anything!