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Cultural appropriation alert: ‘English understatement’ detected in New York

Readers of this blog know that I sometimes use the writing style called ‘English understatement’ – and though I’m Scottish, I’m also British and have a claim to it. So when I read

“a homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.”

I definitely felt my culture was being appropriated.

However, I’m not sure whom to accuse. Instapundit referred me to Liberty Unyielding, who prefaced their quote of it with ‘As the New York Times notes,’, and the NYT may just be quoting the remark of the nurse practitioner who ran the intake interview at the shelter. She obeyed her supervisor’s order to admit the recently-paroled-yet-again-as-now-harmless and even more recently reclassified-as-now-female Harvey, but even after the murder of Susan Leyden (whose body parts were so chopped up and miscellaneously discarded that determining her gender identity, never mind her identity, may have taken the pathologist some time), it could be the nurse thought it prudent to express her agenda-questioning doubts only in this very cautiously-phrased way. So I’m not clear whom I should demand be cancelled by Twitter, Facebook and everyone else.

Meanwhile, I clearly have to work harder on my English understatement skills if I am to keep our culture distinct from the one across the pond. In the good old days when Trump was in the White House, there was no doubt which side of the Atlantic stood for understatement and which didn’t, but it now appears that when the cabal stole the election they also stole that clarity. I am working as best I can to recreate it, and welcome in advance any commenter’s constructive critique of how well or otherwise I’m succeeding.

BTW, I wasn’t looking, still less hoping, for occasion to write more posts like this one – but that’s not the only thing in the last two years that I was not looking or hoping for.

16 comments to Cultural appropriation alert: ‘English understatement’ detected in New York

  • llamas

    “So I’m not clear whom I should demand be cancelled by Twitter.”

    Olympic-level. Very-nicely done.



  • Y. Knott

    Sorry – not seeing the problem here… I mean c’mon, be reasonable; maybe Ms. Harvey does murder women in homeless shelters, but (unlike a certain #45 President) there’s no public record that “she” makes mean tweets!


  • What about considering the whole person, instead of just a few of their traits?

  • Well, it took them a while to find the whole person once Harvey was done.

  • lucklucky

    “Austere religious scholar” “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests” ?

  • “Austere religious scholar” “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests” ? (lucklucky, August 3, 2022 at 4:06 pm)

    I was interpreting those remarks not as understatements but as lies.

    By contrast (unlike her supervisor), I did not think the admission nurse was wrong to question the wisdom of admitting a multiple gruesome murderer of women to a homeless women’s shelter. I just felt that (especially in retrospect) the thought could have been expressed less tentatively.

  • lucklucky

    Good point.

  • Gene

    I just felt that (especially in retrospect) the thought could have been expressed less tentatively.

    Given that the quote came from a shelter employee, and given that this employee would therefore be in close proximity to this lunatic, and given that a shelter that will admit one lunatic will admit others in the future, I’ll forgive her lack of forcefulness!

  • Gene (August 3, 2022 at 8:29 pm), your “this employee would therefore be in close proximity to this lunatic”. made me realise that I was living in a fantasy world.

    My “(especially in retrospect)” unthinkingly assumed that the New York authorities had arrested the murderer who was now bound for a long spell in jail (albeit maybe a female one!). But given New York’s desire to release people after charging them with murder and other such no-bail-requiring offences, I realise this may indeed be a fantasy. And even if Harvey is not yet back in the shelter, the repeated eagerness of the parole board to release him after his various prior bursts of murder can give the nurse no confidence he will not be there in time.

    I had been imagining that fear of her supervisor’s agenda, but not also of her woman-dismembering client, would be her sole realistic immediate concern. Thank you, Gene, for alerting me to how unrealistic my assumption was in 2022 New York City.

  • Paul Marks

    Some years ago Mark Steyn said that the American leftist publications, such as the New York Times combine far left politics (after all the NYT covered up for Stalin in the 1930s, supported the betrayal of the Republic of China in the 1940s, and pretended that the Castro brothers and “Che” were not Marxists in the late 1950s), with an incredibly BORING style – far removed from British understatement, a dementedly boring style all-of-their-own.

    A bit like listening to someone tell you that they are going to murder you – but taking about a hour to say it (and never making it clear), and speaking in a I-speak-your-weight monotone.

    Even someone who believes in Collectivism should not buy the New York Times, or watch network television (the ravings of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN – and-so-on) because they are so incredibly BORING.

  • Paul Marks

    I believe this combination of brain-dead Collectivist doctrines, and an incredibly flat and jargon filled way of presenting the brain-dead Collectivist doctrines, is taught in “elite” schools and universities. It is what passes for “education” today – in this dying society.

  • lucklucky

    Communists here in Portugal like anywhere else are very keen to adjectivize everyone else. But they suddenly lack almost all of adjectives when talking about USSR, they only say there were some “problems”. When someone asked a Communist female MP here about Gulag she said she never studied the issue so she could not comment…

  • Paul Marks

    lucklucky – a friend of mine knows Portugal well. The people of Portugal are good – but the Marxists among them certainly are not.

    What is it – is it that Marxism attracts bad people, or is it that Marxism corrupts people over time?

  • lucklucky

    I think both. Marxism attracts people that want absolute power over other people while giving them moral cover, people that want magic to fix the world, single problem people. In the end it is an idea to justify hating humans.

  • Dave Lenny

    Given that the questions are reported speech and apparently summarised, rather than direct quotation, it’s possible the originals were more forceful, even rhetorical, eg, ‘What brain-dead drongo thought it was a good idea…?’ etc, and thus no cultural impropriety occurred. Phew! (Of course, if a North American had used that antipodean colloquialism, there would be trouble at mill.)

  • Sox the cat

    I’d go a bit farther than Gene above. Currently, in almost any institution or corporation in what used to be thought of as the ‘Western’ side of the pond – given the immediate and electronic nature of most communications, we are all working in close proximity with lunatics, many of whose salaries, or at least sense of self, come from the ruling party, its narrative, and pronoun-cements. As such, one is almost required to make statements of a less than outspoken nature, lest one lose one livelihood and find one’s self hounded by the various mobs that the ruling party has set up to deal with malefactors of such magnitude.