Those Who Can Make You Hate Karens, Can Make You Believe Absurdities

The Karen I knew didn’t want to speak to a manager — unless it was the manager of getting high. We shared a school bus stop in 1984. I was a twelve-year-old high-school freshman (excuse me, first-year student) and she was a fifteen-year-old high-school junior… who didn’t even go to high school. It was more than a little disconcerting for me to consider, but Karen rode the bus with me to Dublin High School (now Dublin Coffman, 10/10 GreatSchools for “College Prep” but 4/10 for “Equity”) and then took another bus to the Tolles Technical Center in Plain City, Ohio. Tolles was the vocational-tech school run by the neighboring school district; since only about fifteen of Dublin’s 1200 students were on the “vo-tech” path, they double-bused over there every day.

Information on Karen was hard to get, particularly for a twelve-year-old. She would be there at the bus stop every morning when I arrived, despite the fact that the bus stop was literally in front of her house. She was bleach blonde, five foot six, just a little bit too much Appalachia in her face to be classically beautiful, with what looked like a perfect body covered by JC Penney clothing from ten years ago. She always had a cigarette in hand right up to the moment the bus arrived, at which point she would flick it onto the driveway behind her in a motion that was both careless and completely rehearsed. The rumor in our neighborhood was that she was going to Tolles so she could be a hairdresser. The idea that someone could pick a career at seventeen, and that the career in question could be cutting hair, frightened me in a way I couldn’t articulate.

I don’t recall ever speaking directly to her, nor she to me. The next year they added a bus stop closer to my house, which put paid to our daily coexistence, but in the years to come I would occasionally see Karen on a neighborhood street, behind the wheel of her old Datsun or in the passenger seat with some older, scary-looking dude, never the same one twice. An friend of mine who’d been in a few classes with her during freshman and sophomore years, before she left for Tolles, said she was an easy lay. I nodded knowingly, but we both understood that there was no definition of easy lay in the world that included the possibility of lanky, flat-broke kids on $169 BMX bikes.

What happened to Karen? Turns out she is still in Columbus, Ohio. Not cutting hair, but working an entry-level gig in pharma tech. Her LinkedIn profile photo leaves no doubt it’s the same person. Two marriages, two divorces, a couple of wage garnishments when she failed to pay her state taxes or various bills, a lawsuit from king-of-the-in-store-credit-card Synchrony Financial to which she offered no convincing defense. Still a bleach blonde, still looks a little dangerous to my sedate suburban eyes. Fifty-one years old. Hard to imagine.

It’s become popular lately to use “Karen” in a derogatory fashion. It’s the successor to “Becky”, which was the media’s first shot at creating a slur for white women along the lines of other slur names for women of other races. Why did “Karen” stick when “Becky” didn’t? And why is everyone using it? I doubt you will be surprised by the answer.

Asking the above question got the asker hounded off Twitter with over 100,000 responses, many of them unpleasant, causing her to delete the tweet. This was one of the non-harassing responses:

I appreciate Ms. Sanchez’s forthright response, but I think she’s accidentally carrying water for a group of people that is very much not Black women. A few months ago I suggested that most modern economic and social policies put in place since 1990 or thereabouts are meant to accomplish one of the following tasks:

a) lowered real wages through increased labor market participation and/or lowered demand for labor;
b) increased the value of fixed assets or investment instruments.

(I was taken to task for the misuse of the phrase “fixed assets” here, so feel free to substitute “tangible assets” there instead.) What fascinated me when I wrote that, and continues to fascinate me now, is how these two goals are so consistently served by such a disparate group of policies, regulations, and actions. It’s almost like I was able to somehow put on the infamous “They Live” sunglasses, right? And that’s what I consider my above-repeated suggestion: as a “lens” you can use to understand an action in government or business which seems to make no sense otherwise. Does it accomplish one of the two above tasks? Then that is probably why it exists, all propaganda to the contrary.

Let me suggest another “lens” to you which might be useful given various recent and current events: There is a lot of class warfare out there masquerading as social justice — and 98% of it involves “punching down”. Self-described socialist Nathan Robinson explains why, for example, the #CancelYale movement is doomed to failure:

…the Yale name has a great deal of meaning to students, faculty, and alumni. Around the world, the name signifies a specific institution they are proud to be part of. Renaming it would destroy a significant part of the institution’s cache. It would also deprive students and alumni of color of a marker of social prestige that they have worked hard to earn. Thus, while one of our principles should be that things named after slaveholders should be renamed, we have other principles as well, and sometimes a particular renaming would carry a significant downside versus a limited upside.

Emphasis mine. In other words: “It’s all well and good to pull down statues and rename institutions when the statues and institutions involved are primarily cherished by poor white trash — but this crusade will stop comfortably short of the door here at Yale, because we have other principles as well, and one of those principles is that America’s Illuminati must be spared from even the most minor inconvenience regardless of the cost in money or blood.”

This is such a naked statement of power that it boggles the mind to consider it head-on. In order to understand Yale’s position, you have to grasp the concept that it’s not okay to be a slave trader… unless your name appears on the diplomas of America’s ruling class. Then it’s totally okay! So what seems at first like a clear-cut case of social justice, namely Let’s stop honoring the people who profited from, or fought to preserve, the institution of slavery becomes in practice something like Let’s do that… as long as the people involved are associated with the lower or middle classes. Using this “lens”, it’s obvious to see why Amazon is deleting “The Dukes Of Hazzard” from its streaming services while continuing to show historical Yale football games via Prime. The former is low culture, the latter is high culture.

Once you recognize this pattern, you will see it all around you — including when it comes to the use of the name “Karen” to denote an unpleasant white woman. Why is it “Karen”? There are plenty of theories, many of which have something to do with a particular comedy skit or television interview, but I want to suggest that “Karen” is a class marker. It was popular with the middle-middle class during the Baby Boom, but by the time the Seventies rolled around it was well out of fashion. Now here’s the thing about baby names: they start with rich people and end up with poor ones, and that process takes about twenty years. So “Karen” was middle-class popular in 1950, when it was the #8 choice, and even more so in 1960, when it was the #4 choice, but by 1970 it was definitely a bit Not Our Kind, Dear. Consider, if you will, the names surrounding “Karen” on the Social Security Seventies Name Popularity Chart:

22) Christine
23) Tammy
24) Tracy
25) Karen
26) Dawn
29) Tina

Imagine an after-work party with Christine, Tammy, Tracy, Karen, Dawn, and Tina attending. You already know this party is not taking place on a Manhattan rooftop, right? The name “Karen” had a socio-economic fall from grace in the Seventies, for sure.

(Aside: the top ten girls’ names in the just-completed decade were: Emma, Sophia, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Abigail, Emily, Madison, and Charlotte. Which means that if I am lucky enough to live another thirty or so years I will eventually see those names drop down the socio-economic ladder to the point where the average strip club will have a cast of characters with names straight out of a Jane Austen novel.)

So here’s the bait-and-switch. The role played by “Karen” in our media was originally assigned to “Becky”, courtesy of a high-profile incident of crazy white behavior in which the caller was nicknamed “BBQ Becky”. It’s worth noting that Becky’s real name was Jennifer. Anyway, we saw a lot of Becky-this and Becky-that in the media, but it just didn’t catch on as a slur for white women. Why not?

The same Social Security data tells us why. The “Rebecca” popularity curve is a good twenty years behind the “Karen” curve. So today’s 40-something Beckys are considerably wealthier and better-employed than today’s 40-something Karens. Rebecca didn’t sink down the Social Security newborn ranks until the Nineties, when it was surrounded by the newly-declasse Alyssa, Courtney, Danielle, and Brianna.

“Becky” didn’t catch on because there were simply too many Beckys who still mattered in the same way that Yale still matters. Karen, on the other hand, is the General Lee car, which is to say that Karens have no economic or social clout. So a little media sleight-of-hand gets done in plain sight, and “BBQ Becky” becomes “Karen”. And a whole bunch of Twitter users think they made it up.

While leads us, yet again, to Winston Smith: “I understand HOW, but I do not understand WHY.” The WHY is simple. The goal of America’s ruling class is simple, and consistent with the goals its predecessors throughout history have always held: namely, to preserve its position at all costs. It does this by co-opting the anger pointed in its direction by the disenfranchised and redirecting that anger to the class below.

So: You have a legitimate gripe of some sort — in this case, it’s that various institutions appear designed to honor people who did your ancestors a grave disservice, or perhaps that you’ve witnessed acts of brutality which appear targeted at you and other people like you. Left to yourself, you’d no doubt end up pursuing a chain of causality all the way up to the people who benefit from these situations. Like all the legacy admissions who graduated from Yale Law School and moved effortlessly into positions of immense power and influence. Or the class of career politicians who trade on family and social connections to gerrymander elections in their permanent favor.

Naturally, the folks with whom you should probably be angry have no desire to be inconvenienced by your anger. So they use the media, including the social media, to redirect it. You will see this happen on a large scale in the upcoming Presidential election, in which you will be told that the best way to address the last fifty years of racial and social injustice will be to kick out a guy who first held office in 2016 and replace him with someone who joined the United States Senate all the way back in 1973.

Party affiliations and the merit of the individual candidates aside, this is precisely equivalent to suggesting that General Motors could fix all its problems by bringing Roger Smith back and reintroducing the Cadillac Cimarron. This is neither to praise Trump nor to bury him; merely to point out that pretty much everything which is currently agitating the hoi polloi has its roots in decisions taken between 1776 and 2016, not between 2016 and 2020. This protean ability of an elite establishment to convincingly sell itself as the “Candidate of change” is an outstanding example of how the truly powerful people in America manipulate public opinion with virtually zero expended effort.

Another redirection: taking people who are legitimately angry with America’s upper class — the fabled “one percent”, although it’s really more like the one percent of the one percent — and redirecting that anger to “Nazis” and “KKK people” and “Karens”, all of whom are in the lower class by default and who make outstanding, not to mention geographically convenient, punching bags. Sometimes literally. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey recently came out of his mansion and joined an anti-police protest march, conveniently forgetting that he is the actual boss of the police department. This is roughly equivalent to having a job at McDonald’s, having your manager tell you it’s okay to spit in the food, then seeing him walk outside around holding a sign saying “KILL THE FRY COOK WHO SPITS ON THE FOOD.”

I don’t consider myself qualified to answer the question of whether or not we have systemic racism in the United Stats, or to what degree it exists — but I am willing to bet a zillion dollars on the fact that said racism was not put into place by completely powerless blue-collar and dingy-collar bigots working minimum-wage jobs after high school. I’ll also take a flier here and suggest that the oppression of BIPOC (which I believe to be the current term as of June 2020; if you are reading this after the term changes to something else, please try to squelch your entirely natural and predictable reaction of attempting to fire me from my job, burn down my house, and murder my family) is the product of processes and attitudes put into place by tremendously powerful people, not by “Karen” the pharma tech in her blue-smoking 2003 Camry.

It seems odd, in retrospect, to think that Karen and I had most of our fates written well before we were old enough to have a say in the matter. I don’t know exactly what’s happened to her over the years; certainly my life has had any number of literally bloody twists and turns between 1984 and 2020. Yet in the end we both became about what we were meant to be. As a John, and as the child of relatively fussy middle-class parents, I wound up working a series of desk jobs at corporations. As a Karen, and as the child of people who let her smoke outside her house, she ended up earning $45k a year doing fairly menial work.

Like spring-steel forms which can be bent and twisted with abandon but will still return to the basic shape in which they were heat-treated the moment you release them, Karen and I are merely inhabiting the spaces we were always meant to inhabit. I don’t have any trouble grasping the fact that it was always going to turn out that way for her; it’s much harder to realize that it was always going to turn out this way for me, as well. That the Yale Law crowd and their power-by-proxy servants in the government had the game rigged all along, that Karen and I were never going to come close to the lives they take for granted. What if more people had that realization? America’s middle class stopped squabbling over race and religion and guns and abortion long enough to really think about the mechanisms which separate them from the class above? I don’t know exactly what would happen, but I’ll guarantee you this: damage to statues would be the least of it.

66 Replies to “Those Who Can Make You Hate Karens, Can Make You Believe Absurdities”

  1. John C.

    I too had a literal Karen at my early high school school bus stop. She eventually married a cadet at a Washington DC military school. I was discouraged from her by my parents who thought her father a bearded wonder, by which they meant aging boomer liberal hippy. My unrequited love was a petite blond cheerleader who had you call her Cher. At what point did we as men sell out our sisters, who now have to kneel down before BLM and Weinstein?

  2. snorlax

    Bravo Jack, I think this is some of your best writing yet.

    I hope for her sake “Karen” is a composite or fictional character, because otherwise you’ve definitely given enough information for her to find this post, or for readers to find her.

    • paul pellico

      I get it, don’t spread my anger at unwitting people without any relation to my anger.
      so, instead, i will revert to the all-time term…bitches.
      and no race or person is effected.
      but these people who the “karen” term was used for is specifically addressing women and women who are white and are trashing and screaming at others for not doing right.
      these usually young women, as well as their gen white trash non-working, live at home un-educated college grad boyfriends are in truth…bitches.

      we will get to the boys in another lesson

  3. Ronnie Schreiber

    Thus, while one of our principles should be that things named after slaveholders should be renamed, we have other principles as well, and sometimes a particular renaming would carry a significant downside versus a limited upside.

    “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” – Groucho Marx

    FWIW, I’ve met Julie Bindel when she was debating Milo Yianopolis on whether feminism was a threat to free speech. During the debate she said that men as a class oppress women as a class. Afterwards I asked her if that were so, why did men give women the vote. She insisted it was the suffragettes, though they had no power to change the laws. For a radical man-hating lesbian, she was fairly charming, Milo had better skin.

    • arbuckle

      “She insisted it was the suffragettes, though they had no power to change the laws.”

      Judges 16:16.

  4. JMcG

    Lots to think about here. I had an office job for a few years. Every day I felt like Joe. Joe vs the Volcano Joe. I understood why wild animals chewed limbs off rather than stay in the trap. I was a National Merit semi finalist. Thank God I fell into a trade where I’ve been able to make a surprising amount of money.
    In fact, enough money to send my kids to some slightly snooty private schools. Like the one where my son is in the top ten of his class. And likely to be a National Merit semi finalist. The one he comes home from and says “I just can’t see myself sitting in an office all day”

    Steel finds its shape alright.

  5. Widgetsltd

    A thought-provoking piece, for sure. We’re rotten at the top. I’m not sold on the notion that the “media” is pushing the “Karen” narrative, though, unless you’re talking about trendiness on social media.

  6. stingray65

    Great Essay – Thank you Jack – Divide and Conquer with Karen and the BLM.

    I am also reminded of the Wizard of Oz – where the “Great Wizard” behind the curtain turns out to be a weak, scared old man desperate to hide the fact that he doesn’t have many answers and is far from being physically or mentally powerful. Which is the problem for the Democrats, because they have been promising solutions to “social justice” problems for decades, and the truth of the matter is that most social justice problems are not solvable even by competent and powerful “Wizards”, which Mayor Frey, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden are definitely not.

    Sadly, much of the public (including most Karens and the black folk they call the cops on) prefers to vote for continued broken promises by political “Wizards” claiming to have solutions (i.e. tear down those Legacy of Slavery statues, free college, $15 minimum wage, affirmative action, chokehold bans, defunding the police, solar panels on every roof).

    In contrast, it is much tougher for more honest “wizards” to earn votes by modestly proclaiming that equal rights will never equate to equal outcomes because people have different abilities and interests that when allowed to flourish generate great wealth that benefits everyone but is unequally distributed, or that governments can at best only allow the freedom to pursue happiness but can never guarantee happy outcomes.

    Most people with real and perceived problems and weakness don’t want to hear that things have never been better, or that the best solution is most often to take personal responsibility and fix it yourself – so they vote for “Wizards” who usually make things worse.

    • Newbie Jeff

      “Which is the problem for the Democrats, because they have been promising solutions to “social justice” problems for decades…”

      To me, it all comes down to this… Jack expertly fleshes out the mechanisms of class warfare, but I have a different theory on the motivations: this is the battle for political relevance.

      As “Stingray” says, it’s hard to be the political brand of constant “hope and change”, especially if you’ve been that change for the last few decades. It’s also hard to be the political brand of “hey, things aren’t so bad here, so let’s not try to rock the boat too much, okay?” …that brand has an uphill battle to political relevance…

      …but it’s VERY hard to be the political brand of “hope and change” with roaring, unprecedented economic opportunity. So if the #1 rule for political relevance is, “it’s the economy, stupid”, what’s a party to do? You have to convince Americans that, actually, we’re living in the most dangerous times ever… racism is everywhere, the president is racist, the government is racist, the system is racist. We have to vote for change… to “fight racism”… even if that “change” is a 70-something white guy who’s been in government for decades.

      …and half the country will do it. Biden’s name recognition is half the battle for political relevance. The media, tech companies, H-wood, N-flix, F-book, etc will do the rest… those who control the message, control the narrative, and thus control political relevance. Trump is the Democrats’ greatest enemy… certainly not because he’s a Republican, not even because he DGAF… he’s dangerous because he is politically relevant outside their spheres of controlling political relevance… Democrats will literally do anything to stop him… burn cities, wreck the economy, uproot the foundations of society. They don’t care if the only thing they’re standing on top of is a pile of ashes… they can’t lose control of political relevance. It’s as simple as that.

      • stingray65

        Biden 2020 – Just call me Joe, and I must confess that I’ve been part of the problem since 1973. As Senator I’ve never resolved any issues, and I’ve supported the wrong side on most disputes. In fact, I can’t think of a single accomplishment of my public service that I can feel proud about other than being picked as President Obama’s VP. Now I’m a doddering, senile old man, and I need your campaign contributions and votes to fix all the problems I’ve had a part in creating. Vote Biden – I’ve finally gained the wisdom to be your President – trust me one more time.

    • 98horn

      The left has no interest in solving “social justice” problems. Doing so would rob them of their electorate. They want a permanently aggrieved underclass that they can promise empty platitudes while lining the party’s pockets with filthy lucre. The right is mostly hapless, and is just hoping to agree with enough of the left’s plans to keep getting invited on talk shows and to DC dinner parties.

  7. Newbie Jeff

    “…trust me one more time”

    The depressing reality is that so many “progressives” and “liberals” and “moderates” will. Textbook candidate from Democrats… name recognition: low-info voters. Obama connection: black and Hispanic vote. White guy: white democrats very uncomfortable with overt raci-, er, wokeness consuming the party. Experienced politician: the “Yale Law crowd”, to use Jack’s words…

    I read something interesting recently from ex-SECDEF Robert Gates… he said Biden has gotten foreign policy wrong for the entire decades-long span of his political career, and that actually, Trump has ushered in some needed foreign policy initiatives, specifically citing China. But Gates is still voting for Biden.

    Let me repeat that: the most competent SECDEF in recent history is going to vote for the guy who has most consistently demonstrated the ability to get things wrong, all because Trump says mean stuff and it’s “divisive”. That’s the power of being able to define what is politically relevant and what isn’t…

    • stingray65

      Swamp creatures such as Gates will always vote for Democrats or RINOs because they know who butters their bread and six figure pensions. 90+% of the federal and blue state government bureaucracies are held by unelected, can’t be fired Democrat partisans, who will always benefit from expanded government, higher taxes, and new laws and policies that also expand their status, power, and influence, which is why they will do everything in their power to thwart real reform or government cutbacks. Such self-interest is understandable, but sadly too many private citizens also think constant government expansion is the only way that social justice issues will ever be solved, and if government has failed in the past it simply means that more public servants need to be hired (except for the racist police), more laws and regulations need to be passed, and higher taxes need to be enacted (with loopholes for the filthy rich supporters of social justice).

  8. hank chinaski

    Biden is an empty vessel to be filled with whatever those behind the scenes desire. Recall smirking Cheney as Vader behind the ‘aw shucks’ brush clearing W. If elected, me may even survive the year. Hell, at this rate, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Antifa Romanov’ed the Trumps in Mar A Lago the day after the election.

    ‘Becky vs Stacy’ could be the subject of its own article, SMV status being somewhat linked to class, or at least class mobility, particularly for women. Jack’s ‘Karen’ may have climbed higher without that touch of Appalachia, or at least had nicer toys and accessories on the rides up and down.

    Tangentially related, if only on silly name trends:

  9. Compaq Deskpro

    I’ve always thought the “Karen” was a racist stereotype, and plenty of people who are entitled in public don’t fit the stereotype.

  10. Gene

    My concern, as the author goes from Jack to John on the Hagerty site, is that the name change indicates something nefarious.

    As always, I appreciate the mental nourishment.

      • Gene

        It’s a hell of an indictment of modern times that every time I read something here that dares to question the current acceptable groupthink I fear you’ll be tarred, feathered, and/or canned (as chronicled happening to others here).

        One of the toughest things about getting old for me is my reluctance to speak my mind for fear of having the relative comfort of my life disrupted.

        • Newbie Jeff

          “One of the toughest things about getting old for me is my reluctance to speak my mind for fear of having the relative comfort of my life disrupted”

          You’re not alone. I work for a large, globally-known corporation and if any of my opinions – which are markedly against the current grain – were to “go viral” and be associated with me, I’m pretty sure I’d lose my job.

          Those not in step with the leftist mobs typically have something to lose… which is of course why we’re losing.

        • Dirty Dingus McGee

          “One of the toughest things about getting old for me is my reluctance to speak my mind for fear of having the relative comfort of my life disrupted.”

          I’m fortunate that I have reached an age where IDGAF. If what I say is offensive to someone, well boo friggin hoo. I recently saw a t-shirt that pretty much summed up my feelings on life in general at the moment; I’m a Grumpy Old Man. I’m too old to fight, too slow to run, so I’ll just shoot you and be done with it. I have a nest egg that will last me (barring hyper inflation) for as long as I figure I will live. I have no bills other than utilities, taxes and insurance, so don’t NEED to work. I only do because I enjoy it, AND there are 26 families that are depending on us to keep food on their table.
          However; I see no need to get out and be front and center on any side of any of the protest’s going on. I don’t need drama in my personal life, I get all I need with my work life. If the drama ever gets out here to East Podunk where I live, I’ll deal with it a manner that I see fit. If it happens on my property, well, all bets are off if I’m at home.

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        The John/Jack thing made it hard for me to find your C8 Corvette review. Comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver, creator of Cyberfrog, was talking about getting his wife a Corvette and I wanted to pass along your review.

  11. MrGreenMan

    You’d think somebody defending Yale would know there’s a “t” at the end of “cachet”. I don’t think the name’s hidden.

  12. trollson

    Good post. It’s interesting how the internet has been weaponized to form public opinion. Not surprising, since there is no big leap from effective advertising to effective propaganda, it’s just staggering how efficient it is.

    The “Karen” forced meme is a great example of that. It only came about a few months ago and now it is common vernacular, in contrast to the earlier days of the internet where if you quoted some stupid meme IRL, people would look at you funny. Now if you ask “what’s a Karen” you’d probably get the same looks.

    It’s amazing how many people don’t realize or just don’t care that they are being manipulated.

  13. Cdotson

    “What if more people had that realization? America’s middle class stopped squabbling over race and religion and guns and abortion long enough to really think about the mechanisms which separate them from the class above?”

    This is what has me so utterly contemptuous of the useless kneelers participating in the present insanity. Neither the kneeling nor the rioting (or even the peaceful protesting) will ever amount to a damn other than to perpetuate both “sides” participating in their own self-subjugation. The whole entire reason any of it is even happening is solely to distract everyone from how completely evil and incompetent the powers that be (or Masters of the Universe, as it were) are and how thoroughly they despise the populations over which they hold power. Whenever we start noticing too much some totally organic and spontaneous grass-roots event/movement happens to take our eye off the real problem in society that has a ready-made funding channel set up directing all solicited donations directly into the pockets of the nitwits fanning the flames of false division. Because leeching the lifeblood out of a nation’s people while usurping their freedom and power is A-OK, but allowing them notice it’s happening is a mortal sin.

    • hank chinaski

      The alliances of supposedly opposed forces is a frightening thing. Elected officials and law enforcement kneeling to rioters. The state with woke capital/tech. In both cases the latter does the dirty work (for instance naked thuggery, surveillance or deprivation of free speech and/or livelihood) that the former is explicitly forbidden to. A twisted chimera of the worst qualities of Maoism and Capitalism.

  14. Dan

    They also built us one hell of an unassimilable and wholly dependent underclass, as seen punching statues and burning police cars, which is nothing new in the world, but franchising them and giving them cameras connected to tiktok sure is. Under the guidance of our liberal friends they’re learning to punch up too.

    Up is us.

  15. stingray65

    Anybody see the “the US is a deplorable bunch of racists” editorial at TTAC yesterday in response to the non-racist garage door pull noose that scared Bubba Wallace? Why are Leftists always so disappointed when racist news stories turn out to be hoaxes or totally innocent? The US is SOOO racist it sent 15 FBI agents to investigate the so-called noose – I wonder how many FBI agents were sent to Chicago after the Father’s Day Massacre that actually wounded 102 and killed 14? Why didn’t TTAC offer an editorial about that – you know an event that actually killed black people?

    And speaking of TTAC – have they banned everyone from commenting there, or is the fact that most of the “news” features and editorials generate about 6 comments from 4 individuals an indication of the small number of visitors? For a site dedicated to the “truth about cars” it is strange that so much content and comment seems to come from people who don’t like any cars not powered by batteries and think rolling back the Obama 54 mpg CAFE standard is Trump’s diabolical plan to kill the planet.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Steph and Adam are trying their level best over at TTAC but the site has been dead ever since they hired the head of an automotive press insider’s organization to run a site that once existed to ridicule that sort of thing.

      I handed Derek a Ferrari 360.
      He handed Stevenson a Ferrari 430.
      Stevenson handed Healey a Hyundai Tiburon.
      Healey drove that Tiburon into a wall.

      • arbuckle

        What were you handed? A Maserati Bora?

        Stevenson is the worst leader TTAC ever had. He was always in way over his head and the site suffered a lot for it.
        I’m not a huge Tim fan either. I think he’s better than Mark, but I also believe that he doesn’t really want to be TTAC’s managing editor. He’s just doing this hoping it springboards him to a job at the New Yorker or Washington Post.
        It is interesting that you’ve always been positive on Derek but negative on Ed N. because I thought they both did good jobs and really tried to keep the site in the spirit of what Farago created. The behind the scenes stuff must have been very different between the two.
        The Bertel Era was Joel Schumacher Batman. The Baruth Era was Adam West Batman.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          More like a Maserati Biturbo. A broken one.

          From Bertel I got a site that had suffered a 50% traffic drop in six months. Half of the contributors had either quit in disgust or been fired. There was an absurd amount of bandage and dildo related content being published. Verticalscope had decided the best thing to do was shut it down. I pleaded for a chance to fix it.

          I was paid less than any EIC before or since: four grand a month, no expenses. I literally tripled the site traffic and set all time records for traffic and comments which still stand today. They killed my ID about six months back, but at that point site traffic was about one fifth of what it was under my tenure. With a payroll three times the size.

          Ed did some fine work on the site. However, his actions with regards to both Farago and me make it impossible for me to like or respect him. Robert has more cause to be angry than I do.

          Stevenson was not good at his job but he is a fundamentally decent, ethical, and thoughtful person. I would let him take my son to Europe for a month; I wouldn’t let Ed or Bertel near anyone’s child for any reason.

          Really TTAC, like Steely Dan, had no meaning away from its founder. If I succeeded at all it was because I had Robert’s counsel to steady my hand.

          • CJinSD

            Is the money there because now their job is to push an agenda rather than report and entertain? Why do we still have the NYT? Because who else is going to brainwash the feeble-minded and character-bereft into keeping the border open? it’s the same reason network news agencies still exist, but it seems awful for it to ooze down to small outfits like TTAC.

          • arbuckle

            I’ve never had any personal interactions with any of the TTAC editors so maybe Stevenson is a “good guy”. But, he is also the one who caved to mob and pulled Mark’s “Women’s/Driver’s Protest” editorial off the website (while offering a simpering apology) and banned some long-time commenters on vague charges of “racism”.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Stevenson was not good at his job but he is a fundamentally decent, ethical, and thoughtful person.

            My perspective on his ethics is different. When a full time TTAC position grinding news content opened up he said it was open to anyone to apply and specifically told me I’d be considered. Considering that I’d already done the job before under the TTAC Staff byline I thought I was a strong candiate. Understand that I’ve also written some of the posts with the most traffic on the site, and Jack will verify that. At the same time he told me I’d be considered he was telling others that he’d never hire me for the job.

            When I confronted him about lying to me about the position he was unapologetic and said that I was lazy and difficult to work with.

            I can’t prove it, but I also believe that he sabotaged my ability to get press cars to write reviews, ostensibly over concerns that TTAC might be seen as double dipping. I’ve gone from a summer a few years ago where I had five press cars in a row to nothing for years. I’m pretty sure that he told McLaren that I misrepresented to them that a review was going to run when he hadn’t yet approved it. He out and out refused to edit one of my McLaren reviews and it only ran after Jack graciously agreed to edit it.

            As a freelancer, I’ve always arranged to get press cars, and access to books and movies to review on my own. I worked on getting access to the first McLaren for a year, after their communications director reached out to me to comment on a piece I’d done about the company.

            What can you say about someone who’s aspirations extend all the way to being a Hyundai salesman?

          • stingray65

            Ronnie – is “difficult to work with” code for not woke enough or too Jewish?

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Ronnie – is “difficult to work with” code for not woke enough or too Jewish?

            Neither. I want to stress that I’ve never experienced anything untoward because I was Jewish from Mark or any of my editors, about half of whom actually have been Jews. As far as politics are concerned, Mark never censored my work. Apparently, it was a personal thing. He didn’t like me. I don’t know why because I’m not sure I ever even met the guy in person. Maybe once at a big auto show. I can be an ass but he didn’t know me well enough to know the obnoxious side of my personality. Frankly, I was baffled.

            As far as me being difficult to work with, I’ll concede that he might have a point. I try to be a team player but I’m not going to be stupid when the boss is wrong. I’ve been fired from almost every W-2 job I’ve ever had. One lasted 2 days and one lasted 22 years, so I’ll concede to not being the world’s best employee. I do do quality work but I can’t be stupid when the boss is wrong.

            Mark’s the only editor that I’ve had problems with along those lines. Hemming’s wimped out when I was attacked by the mob for quoting the title of a Lenny Bruce routine that has a bad word in it, but my editor there liked my work.

          • Felis Concolor

            Now I have a vision of you obtaining a pair of the mythical “deep breather” 6-valve Biturbo cylinder heads – and making them work.

    • Newbie Jeff

      “Anybody see the ‘the US is a deplorable bunch of racists’ editorial at TTAC”

      They just can’t help it… they have a platform, they’re programmed and ideological, they don’t care if they destroy their own brand to broadcast their righteous howls…

      I loved Grassroots Motorsports… I was a supporter, a subscriber, I even ran UTCC in 2018. A few weeks after begging GRM subscribers for money because of coronavirus, the editor-in-chief of GRM goes all-in and emails every subscriber that the organization was compelled to act in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, so they’d be making a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center… Predictably, a forum of enthusiasts of cars quickly turned into an argument about politics. Worse, the EIC was apparently so convinced of his moral obligation to make the organization an “ally”, he basically told the subscribers who were quitting “good riddance”… again, just a few weeks after begging everyone to donate to save the magazine. I, of course, canceled my subscription and rescinded my acceptance to the 2020 UTCC.

      Motorsport is my last – and I mean very last – refuge from the toxicity of American politics. And the walls seem to be closing in because the people who can unify motorsport enthusiasts just can’t help dividing us with their political bullshit.

      • arbuckle

        There’s a real loss to society from the politicization of sports, hobbies, and churches.
        For many people that was one of the few things that brought a sort of kinship across political and economic lines. As that apolitical nature disappears people will just become more walled off.

      • CJinSD

        That’s a shame about GRM. I really used to enjoy some of their efforts.

        TTAC has indeed acted like a big(brother) tech company and banned everyone who can articulate an individual rights viewpoint. The echo chamber that’s left will turn on them as soon as there is a story too big not to tell about how command economy fascism inevitably causes more harm than free markets.

        Here’s a Steph Williams quote that reveals how qualified he is to write about cars, from an article about a EV:

        “As well, the hub motors means a lower center of gravity and less sprung weight, aiding handling.”

        That’s the sort of stupid that would consider voting for Biden in 2020.

        • arbuckle

          I still go to TTAC because I really don’t know where else to go. Jalopnik is much worse than even “woke TTAC” and most other “general” automotive sites don’t even have commenting these days.

          I’m hopeful about Hagerty once they get their interface and technical issues sorted out.

          • Newbie Jeff

            “Jalopnik is much worse than…”

            A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know what Jalopnik was. I stumbled upon something of theirs and quickly realized they knew nothing about cars. Haven’t been back since…

        • Ronnie Schreiber

          Somewhere in the TTAC archives is an article that I wrote about Protean, which makes hub motors, and how they commissioned Lotus to evaluate the effect on handling from adding unsprung weight, which the use of hub motors will invariably do. Lotus, which has come corporate competence when it comes to vehicle handling, came to the conclusion that while adding the unsprung weight of a hub motor will initially affect handling negatively, but not so much that it can’t be overcome with the conventional suspension tuning that’s done in vehicle development.

          He is correct about reducing “sprung weight” (but obviously not about aiding handling), because that weight’s been transferred to unsprung weight, i.e. the parts of the car that are not supported by the suspension.

          • CJinSD

            The ability to overcome the damage done to handling by hub motors isn’t the same thing as hub motors aiding handling. Applying additional suspension tuning to a car with lower unsprung weight because it isn’t burdened with hub motors will also improve its handling, and not from a hobbled baseline. Are hub motors a show stopper? No. Obviously most EV buyers don’t care about chassis dynamics, or 5,000 pound Teslas wouldn’t be sold no matter how big the subsidies or how powerful the fascists behind EV mandates. All of this is demonstrably true. What Steph wrote is absolutely false, so why the efforts to dissemble?

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            I’m not trying to dissemble. I apologize for not being clearer. I meant that using hub motors vs a chassis mounted powerplant will reduce sprung weight.

            I’m not sure he understands the concept of sprung and unsprung weight

          • CJinSD

            “I’m not sure he understands the concept of sprung and unsprung weight.”

            That was my point. He has a job for which he isn’t even minimally qualified, much like his editor.

      • Bb R

        Newbie Jeff: I read that thread on Grassroots Motorsports as well, and I weep for the future. Most shocking was the post from a staff member calling on the individual she disagreed with to “die in a fire” Their approach of “if you disagree with us , then you are racist” (which most of the posters seemed to be on board with) is a slap in the face to the car nuts who helped them out financially at a time when money is tight – only to see them give money away. To see those enthusiasts being ganged up on, and marginalized for not being part of the herd is both sad and intimidating.

        Jack Baruth: I have been a long time lurker here, and read your work at TTAC. Further, I recall your posting in The Car Lounge on Vortex back in the day. I have always enjoyed your writing! Reading about what went on behind the scenes at TTAC never gets old. That was a fantastic site with excellent content, but it really has gone downhill. Speaking of downhill, The Car Lounge/VWVortex is a shadow of its former self. I rarely visit these days, but it is clear that things are moving very slowly there. My only wish is that Verticalscope had put you in charge of VMG. That would have made a lot of heads explode (in a funny way!)

        • Newbie Jeff

          “To see those enthusiasts being ganged up on, and marginalized for not being part of the herd is both sad and intimidating”

          …and all they had to do was just write about cars and racing. That is the unity our society needs. That’s the answer. But they just can’t help themselves… they KNOW they’re right, they just have to say it on a platform that they control, and then purge the dissent, and then they’re right.

          Now, instead of people coming together to race, they just made one more echo chamber in a society of echo chambers. They’ll probably lose some money, but they’ll gain others when woke amateur race car drivers tell their woke racer buddies that there’s a “community” just for them.

          The whole thing is utterly useless and sad.

      • Mike

        Newbie Jeff- I share your frustration over the politicization of GRM. I’d actually been a “forum supporter” when the first passed the cup, but when I read about the donation to SoPo LC I promptly stopped that. I may not renew my CM subscription when it expires this year.

        I race with a group of guys who span the political spectrum. We tend not to discuss politics- we know we all differ there, and accept that, and instead prefer to focus on the things we have in common, that we enjoy, that bring us together.

        • Newbie Jeff

          “I race with a group of guys who span the political spectrum. We tend not to discuss politics”

          Same here. I run in an all-Mustang class with guys who are mostly self-made…. general contractors, a couple of guys in the NASCAR industry, one guy built his business from the ground up. I can imagine where their politics are, but it never comes up. We’re there to enjoy the sport…

          • stingray65

            I’m so old that when I went to a liberal arts college I actually didn’t have any idea what the political affiliations of my professors was (except for Sociology). I’m sure that two-thirds or more were Leftist oriented, but they didn’t put their personal views into the lectures, topics, or grading.

  16. Jeff Zekas

    Really good article, Jack. You made me think. As for Karen: “my” Karen was a sweet, middle class girl (yes, I’m a boomer, but *not* a hippy or mindless liberal). Class warfare? Yep. Back in the 70’s, the CCP was heavily recruiting at the university, under the moniker “Communist People’s Party Marxist Leninist”. The olden days red folks sounded the same back then, as the BLM Marxist woman who is on TV now: destroy everything. Strange to see how they went from fringe, to powerful and mainstream. How did that happen? I liked your comments on Yale, as other commentators have mentioned the irony, and you put it in context. Best wishes from Communist Controlled Eugene Oregon. regards, Zeke

    • CJinSD

      I’ve known a few Karens, which I guess says something about me as a 50 year old. One lived in my neighborhood in a house so big that you could get lost in it. She was pretty but uncommonly mean. Typically such girls were low-hanging fruit for me, but we never happened, didn’t stay in touch, and I’ve forgotten her last name. Two other Karens I knew are medical doctors today. One Karen I knew grew up with the sort of privilege that isn’t under threat at all: Houses, planes, schools, balls, kept thousands of dollars in her glove box in college because she really didn’t understand paying cash and her family kept shoveling it into her hands every time she left the house, and a job at an investment bank upon receiving her Bachelors’ degree. She’s married to a Managing Director who may be a Principal by now at Morgan Stanley in the UK. I can think of one Karen who was middle class and none-too-classy. She’s probably unhappy about becoming a meme.

  17. thrillhouse

    Great analysis. Paul Fussell or Lionoftheblogosphere would be proud.

    I really wish the former were still around to write Class 2.0 to cover a few decades forward in time.

  18. Bill

    Just linked this to the leftists selling Angela Davis t-shirts on Nextdoor. I’ve been complained about in the past. My only-very-occasional posts there now send me an electronic warning about what I am saying!

  19. Franklin Mint

    This is my favorite thing you’ve written, having grown up in a suburb of Buffalo I know exactly what that bus stop felt like except the girl smoking the cigarette was “Diane”. Nice work on deconstructing the class warfare masquerading as social justice. I am encouraged to see that if Rasmussen is to be believed there are a record number of non-white voters who are waking up to this as well.


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