Politics & Policy

No, It Wasn’t ‘Racist’ or ‘Sexist’ for Sean Spicer to Tell a Reporter to Stop Shaking Her Head

Sean Spicer at a press briefing earlier in March (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

People are accusing White House press secretary Sean Spicer of being “racist” and “sexist” for telling a reporter to stop shaking her head — because the reporter was black and female, and apparently any criticism of anyone with these attributes automatically qualifies as bigotry.

During Tuesday’s White House briefing, a reporter for Urban Radio Networks named April Ryan was interrupting Spicer and shaking her head as he attempted to answer her question, according to an article in the Washington Post. Spicer told her, “You’re shaking your head,” and then later, when she kept shaking her head, “I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head.”

Now, you may be struggling to figure out exactly how race and sex are involved the sentence “I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head,” but apparently a lot of people on Twitter felt differently:

Hillary Clinton even weighed in. According to an article in The Blaze, Clinton specifically mentioned Spicer’s comments during a speech in California on Tuesday, saying: “Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice, taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride.”

Now, I agree that women, and particularly women of color, certainly do have to face certain challenges that other people don’t have to face. What’s more, I understand that reporters certainly do have every right to shake their heads if they want to shake their heads. We have a free press in this country, and Ryan had every right to shake her head — and to keep shaking her head — regardless of Spicer’s instructions. You can call it rude if you’d like, but do you know what? That doesn’t mean it was “sexist” or “racist.”

This is especially true considering the fact that Spicer has frequently displayed attitude when dealing with reporters, regardless of their race or gender. Remember his first official press conference, when he essentially attacked the media as a whole? When he made it clear that he was going to be tough on them? No reporter, male or female, would ever rush to call Spicer “agreeable.”

No, there’s no problem with calling Spicer out for telling Ryan to stop shaking her head, but trying to spin “I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head” into a racially motivated attack — when all evidence points to the fact that anyone could have been on the receiving end of these kinds of comments — is absurd. The Left seems to just throw out accusations of racism and sexism in some kind of knee-jerk reaction every time a woman or a nonwhite person is involved, regardless of other considerations, and it doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it can actually hurt.

After all, the more these terms are used frivolously, the less likely people are to take them seriously when they hear them.


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