The definition of a “smirk”, I see as I peruse several dictionary definitions, is a condescending, smug, conceited or silly smile, universally regarded as obnoxious, rude and annoying. Thus the expression caught in an instant on the face of a teenage Catholic school student as a Native American activist intentionally confronted him, blocked his way and banged his drum within inches of his face was deemed by multiple commentators and pundits from progressive news organizations—that is to say, news organizations—to make the kid’s face “punchable.”
Examination of the video revealed that Nick Sandmann was not, in fact, smirking at all, but smiling awkwardly because human beings don’t have appropriate expressions pre-programmed for “old Indian jerk starts chanting and beating a drum in your face without any discernible reason when you have no clear avenue of escape.”
Senator Harris’s smirking, in contrast, has no excuse whatsoever, except that she is instinctively arrogant and condescending. And what does Kamala Harris have to be condescending about?
Yet here is a Washington Post headline proclaiming that a rude and anti-social habit universally regarded as showing disrespect for others is a “super-power” because Harris is a black woman. The pundit responsible for this rationalization for what no white male could get away with is Michelle Norris, a Post opinion contributor among what the late, great Mad Magazine would have called ‘the usual gang of idiots.” She writes, in part,
Black women have elevated the “Mama don’t take no mess” expression to a form of high art — a narrowing of the eye, a lift of the eyebrow, a tilt of the head. Sometimes there is a sideways arch of the neck, a molasses-slow movement of the jaw that says, without speaking, “You’ve got exactly 10 seconds to pick up your feet and run for the hills.”…The kind of thing that leads Black women to be called sassy, volatile, aggressive or angry. All of that is an effort to dismiss or demean. But that attempted erasure is the very reason Black women — indeed, most women — have some version of The Look in their arsenal….Women have long had to adorn their actual language with body language to be heard. Sometimes it is through protest, but often it is much more subtle than that. Lowering or adjusting the pitch of one’s voice. Fixing one’s gaze. A posture that says “I mean business” when the world isn’t interested in allowing you to run a business.
Nice try, Michelle. Except:
- People don’t “listen” to teenagers either. Why is a white teen’s perceived smirk judged offensive and make his face “punchable,” while a black Vice-Presidential candidate’s “smirk” is judged justified, other than through the wielding of a transparent double standard?
- Kamala Harris’s problem isn’t that men won’t listen to her, it’s that they hear what she has to say, and it is so frequently shallow and unpersuasive.
- An obnoxious facial expression that communicates contempt and superiority doesn’t encourage others to raise their regard for the smirker, or be more inclined to take their words seriously. Indeed, Occam’s Razor would suggest that a habitual smirk is one of the reasons people aren’t interested in having someone, female or not, black or not, in a leadership position.
- Women are listened to and taken seriously when they make intelligent and perceptive statements. Intelligent and perceptive statements are not enhanced, nor will be more likely to be appreciated when the speaker, male, female, black or white, delivers it with offensive expressions or gestures.
If Harris’s conceited facial tics are really are a common black woman’s technique, it is an impediment to their success, not an asset. The Post’s unconvincing spin is another striking example of Rationalization #64, “It isn’t What It Is,” the official mainstream media rationalization of the 2020 election campaign.
Like so many other examples where blacks, in particular, are undermined by being held to less demanding standards of conduct, encouraging black women to smirk does them no favors.