Call it the revenge of the canceled.
Earlier this month when New York City nurse Sarah Comrie was leaving a 12-hour hospital shift, she was confronted by a group of teenagers as she tried to access the Citi Bike she had paid for, what happened next has become all too common.
In a viral video the scuffle over the two-wheeler made its way across the internet and the next thing you know Comrie was dubbed “Citi Bike Karen,” solely because the teenagers in question were Black and she is White.
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Social media posts exploded, including a tweet from noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump painting Comrie, who by the way is six-months pregnant, as a racist who was stealing the bike from the poor innocent Black teenagers and then faking tears.
Comrie’s employer, Bellevue Hospital shamelessly placed her on leave, calling the incident “disturbing.”
This is usually the part of the story where the falsely accused “racist” slinks off hoping that eventually the events will be forgotten, but not Comrie who courageously is fighting back against the slander with receipts, and not just the metaphorical kind.
Last week, her lawyer produced a set of records proving that, lo and behold, it was Comrie who rented the bike and was then harassed by these teenagers who physically kept her from accessing her ride home.
Like many others, Crump quietly deleted the tweet in which he accused Comrie of racism, quite possibly out of legitimate fear that she could take legal action against such a potentially defamatory misrepresentation, but without so much as saying he was sorry.
Perhaps Crump saw no need to apologize because he believes this is the exception that proves the rule, that even though the bike was rightfully hers, even though he wrongly jumped to a conclusion, he had a right to do so based on how racist he believes our society to be.
But let’s be clear as crystal, he does not have that right. Nobody has that right, nobody has the right to spew vile allegations against another human being solely because of their skin color. In fact, there is a word for that.
Crump’s baseless claim that Comrie’s tears were fake and meant to elicit sympathy is itself a racist stereotype, “white tears,” they call it. Crump needed no evidence beyond the color of her skin to conclude a fact he couldn’t possibly know.
Put yourself in her position. You’re accessing your Citi Bike and out of the blue a gaggle of teens grabs it, surrounds you, and starts filming you. Wouldn’t any normal person find this upsetting? Might not anyone, especially a pregnant woman, call for help and eventually wind up in tears?
It wasn’t so very long ago that New Yorkers were banging pots and pans out of open windows to celebrate the nurses who braved COVID-19 while they worked from home. Now this nurse is smeared as a racist by those fueling the fires of perpetual outrage.
The safe move for Comrie after her brush with infamy would have been to apologize for overreacting, to acknowledge how race made the situation complicated, or nuanced, or something. Thankfully, this is not the choice she made.
Nor is it the choice that Daniel Penny made following claims that his chokehold which tragically led to the death of a homeless Jordan Neely who was harassing riders was racially motivated.
What people like Comrie have learned after more than a decade of “cancel culture” is that apologies don’t work, compromise doesn’t work. One must firmly state that they are not guilty of their supposed crimes and demand retractions.
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And it might be working, celebrities such as J.K. Rowling and Dave Chappelle have stood their ground against cancelation attempts and succeeded even when it looked like they had destroyed their careers.
Until recently, a mere allegation of racism, even if unproven, was enough to destroy lives and livelihoods. And the only thing worse than being called a racist was denying it, which the race zealots also have a term for, “white fragility.”
It’s a neat trick worthy of witch trials, the easiest way to prove someone is a racist is if they deny it.
Well, it’s not going to work anymore.
We need more Sarah Comries, we need more people who will stand up for themselves and for the truth when the canceling hordes come calling with their digital pitchforks.
It takes guts, but ultimately, we must all refuse to be canceled.
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