“Nineteen Eighty-Four” in Twenty-Twenty

A passage from George Orwell’s haunting masterpiece, when an imprisoned Winston Smith runs into an old comrade:

Why did that passage come back to me? Oh, no reason…

UBC has announced that former Board of Governors (BoG) Chair Michael Korenberg has resigned after he came under fire for liking tweets criticizing anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter protests.

The June 20 email from BoG Vice-Chair Sandra Cawley said that Korenberg’s resignation is effective immediately. Cawley will be assuming the role as interim chair.

“The Board of Governors and Mr. Korenberg would like to recognize that this has been deeply hurtful to members of our community and that UBC has zero tolerance for racism and recognizes that real harm is created from both overt and structural racism,” Cawley wrote.

After student group Students Against Bigotry tweeted screenshots of Korenberg’s liked tweets from Republican and American right-wing figures, faculty and community members were quick to criticize him on Twitter.

[…]

Korenberg said in an interview with The Ubyssey on June 19 that he liked the tweets to save them to look at later. He has since unliked all the offending tweets.

In a media statement sent to The Ubyssey on June 20, Korenberg acknowledged that the tweets he liked “supported regressive voices and took aim at thousands of brave individuals who are standing up against racism, discrimination and hatred.”

“While I do not support violence of any kind, I understand how my actions created questions about who I am and what I believe in. To be clear, I support Black Lives Matter and I support the de-racialization of our educational institutions and our country,” he wrote.

“But I accept that, in liking these social media posts, I damaged what I support and that I hurt people. I wholeheartedly apologize to them, particularly to the students, faculty and staff of UBC.”

Imagine how much easier Joe McCarthy’s job would have been, if he could have just found suspected Communists “liking” tweets from @JoeStalin1878.

One thought on ““Nineteen Eighty-Four” in Twenty-Twenty

  1. M says:

    It does harken back to good old Orwellian thoughtcrime a bit, doesn’t it? I thought it was notable that the news seemed to be entirely about his social media, but little to nothing was written about the substance of the man. What does he generally stand for? What can his past (non-social-media) acts tell us about him? We’ll never know, unless we go digging for it ourselves.
    If we’re always performing for those who are watching, real substance may go out the window if we’re not careful. Regardless of a person’s history, any judgement of them should always include a closer look at the full picture.

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