Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Mag recently posted a conversation between a black girl who supported Hillary Clinton and a white girl who supported Donald Trump. The post was titled, “You Can Stay Friends With a Trump Supporter.” The conversation is warm, personable, and insightful. It was sort of the opposite of the exchange that took place between Chuck Todd and Kellyanne Conway.
The Trump supporter tells how her and her friends have a safe word for when political discussions get too tumultuous.
When the Trump supporter says she’s scared of the protests and claims “nobody protested Obama,” the Clinton supporter informs her that lots of people protested Barack Obama, including the KKK.
Upon learning this, the Trump supporter says, “Oh, well, that’s awful.”
The two seem to be learning from each other. It posts like this that make me — a cis boy who doesn’t identify as a feminist and who likes video games and Ted Hughes — read Rookie regularly.
Most culture sites seem to be built for SEO and contrived, celebrity-centric empowerment, but not Rookie. This is an excerpt from a diary entry Rookie published. It’s by a girl named Britney:
School is where everyone fakes it so real it is beyond fake, and I don’t know how to find reality in other people anymore. Everyone makes me feel worse. I can feel parts of me dying in the pit of my stomach and making everything reek of death. Dead thoughts because they were the wrong things to say, dead feelings because I want to scream and cry sometimes but then it will just prove the point that I never have and never will fully fit in anywhere.
Rookie doesn’t conceal the ghastliness of the word. Its readers seem too informed to buy into the turn-everything-into-a-positive trend. So I was a tiny bit taken aback when I read about the commotion the Trump post caused within the Rookie community.
On Twitter, the tweet promoting the article was assailed with reproving replies:
The uproar lead to sorries from both the editor of the post, Lena Singer, and Gevinson.
Here is an excerpt from Singer’s apology:
I am privileged, and my safety and liberty are not under direct attack. I am also responsible for a grave omission: The piece does not mention that by the day, people—immigrants, people of color, people who are undocumented, Muslims, queer people, trans people, people with disabilities, Native Americans, poor Americans, and many others—are facing increasing, unprecedented threats from the president and his administration, as well as violence and harassment from his supporters.
Gevinson then says:
Thank you for continuing to make Rookie a community where hate is not tolerated, and for showing me that I was making room for it. We are dedicated to our mission of making Rookie a safe space for all of you, and are having conversations about how to ensure that that is always reflected in the work that we do and publish.
Both Singer and Gevinson are leaving out a lot in their apologies. They don’t tell their readers how both Clinton and Barack Obama have implemented hateful polices that kill and threaten the unprivileged (Clinton’s support of mass incarceration and the second Iraq War, Obama’s support of drones and mass deportations). Singer’s and Gevinson’s omissions make it seem like Trump’s policies are an absolute departure from those of Democrats or more mainstream Republicans.
More so, the “sorries” suggest that the Trump supporter supports every single action of Trump. No one (that I’m aware of) routinely accuses Obama supporters of supporting bombing funerals or killing a 16-year-old boy. For some reason, though, Trump supporters automatically support all of the things Trump does and says.
I don’t think Rookie needed to say sorry. They shouldn’t continue the harmful lie that America was a relatively wonderful country pre-Trump and would have been even more relatively wonderful if Clinton was president now.
Gevinson said her mission is to make Rookie “a safe space.” But an unthinking space isn’t a safe space. Thoughts require careful consideration too. Instead of carefully confronting self-satisfying perspectives of America, Singer and Gevinson reinforced them. Such buttressing may be comforting to Rookie readers, but it’s not true. Rookie should stay with the truth.