Reading Comprehension 101: Text, Subtext, and the Politics of Misinterpretation
"That said, and while I know we live in a culture where reading comprehension (and writing itself) is devalued — what with our emphasis on short, sweet text messages, or tweet-talk, in which we are expected to make a point in 140 characters — I am yet amazed at how difficult some find it to decipher the words I have caused to appear on the page, and to really interpret what they mean, as opposed to that which they do not.
To wit, after my latest piece on the election results went viral, there have been more than a few folks who have written to say how appalled they were by my “attack on white people,” or my “attack on America,” or my “hateful diatribe” in which I “gleefully anticipate the death of the elderly” and the “initiation of violent payback of whites writ large by people of color” once whites become a less prominent portion of the national population, a few decades hence. In other words, putting aside the inherent absurdity of this interpretation — I am white after all, as are my kids, as is my wife, as is my momma, all my immediate family and my best friend too — some who read the piece believe against all logic and in the face of plain English (however aggressive the piece may be), that I have announced, excitedly, the coming of a glorious race war and the end of white people.
(Sigh).So perhaps we should start with the obvious, for those a bit too slow to begin the reading of the essay with, ya know, the title."
- Tim Wise