Fareed Zakaria Accidentally Gets Something Right About Pronouns in WaPo Op-Ed, Faces Immediate Backlash

Fareed Zakaria, a journalist with CNN, attends the Clinton Global Initiative, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

CNN fan fave Fareed Zakaria wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post Thursday where he actually got something right, pointing out that in these times, it would be more beneficial for politicians to solve the huge problems facing our country than to spend all their time obsessing over what pronouns a person might prefer.


Zakaria hosts CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” writes a foreign affairs column for The Post, and is also a contributing editor for the Atlantic. He’s got all his liberal credentials lined up in a neat row, but even he can’t escape the insatiable appetite of the outrage mob.

He predictably faced an immediate backlash over the story for daring to step away from liberal orthodoxy, with outrage pouring in from such important voices as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten and triggered New York Times writer Elizabeth Spiers.

Zakaria’s offending headline? “Forget Pronouns: Democrats need to become the party of building things.”  Forget pronouns?! What are you, nuts? What could possibly be more important than pronouns?

That headline has already been updated on the WaPo website to delete the offending phrase, now simply reading, “Democrats need to become the party of building things.” Gone is the outrageous phrase, “Forget the pronouns.” Thank goodness.


Why would the Washington Post change its headline so quickly? After all, it wasn’t even a story by WaPo writer Taylor Lorenz, whose writings regularly need updates, corrections, and clarifications. No, they didn’t change the headline because there was an error; they changed it because of the severe criticism and whining of the left. Here’s Chasten Buttigieg, hubby of Pete:

The New York Times wouldn’t pass up the chance to punch at its competitor, so writer Elizabeth Spiers quickly piled on. Referencing a poll that Fareed mentioned in his piece, she tweeted:

This is a wild misreading of that Times poll to begin with, but if you conflate civil rights with pronoun etiquette and are completely unaware that you’re parroting a transphobic GOP talking point, maybe step back from the keyboard.

Ooh, “better step away from the keyboard”! Them’s fighting words.

A liberal podcaster named Kimberley Johnson was overwrought too, tweeting: “Who is running on pronouns, @FareedZakaria? No candidate is making pronouns part of their platform. It is a social issue that most Democrats embrace… This is lazy journalism and it’s transphobic. You’re singling out one group and it’s gross.”


There’s more emotional devastation out there, but you get the idea. The problem with it all is that the Professional Aggrieved Class misses the most important point: Fareed is actually 100 percent right in his op-ed. We should be more focused on fixing a broken country than obsessing over polarizing social issues. He writes:

Analyzing some of the findings of the poll, David Leonhardt wrote, “Many Democrats — both politicians and voters, especially on the party’s left flank … seem more focused on divisive cultural issues than on most Americans’ everyday concerns, like inflation…”

There is plenty of evidence that the Democratic Party has moved left, that it is out of sync with Americans on many of these cultural issues, and that it needs to correct course.

Yup, yup, and yup. He’s absolutely right.

He goes on to complain that the problem is not leftism per se, but the increased ability of Republicans to use the cultural divide as a campaign issue. Leftists can never fully take blame for what they’ve wrought upon this country, but nevertheless, in this instance Zakaria is a rare breath of liberal fresh air and one of the few to point out that Democrats are woefully out of touch.

Fareed has plenty more to say in the op-ed, more than I can cover in this analysis, but his message will mostly be lost–as his former fans obsess over that one little phrase. I agree with Fareed: it would serve all of us better if the folks in power paid more attention to the economy, supply chain issues, the border, and all the other problems we face, than they do blasting those who don’t always march in lockstep with the ever-changing social mores and pronoun updates.



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