Singapore—After former Straits Times editor turned journalism professor Bertha Henson endorsed a piece written by one of her students which was published last Sunday (Mar 14) in TODAY, some netizens were, to put it mildly, less than happy.
The commentary, written by Ms Dana Teoh, is entitled, Gen Y Speaks: This is why I don’t want to be woke. Don’t cancel me for it.
Ms Teoh begins the piece by writing, “Being ‘hella woke’ is foolish. Lower your pitchforks, and hear me out.”
She added that while there are parts of woke culture she agrees with, it is the “cancelling” of dissenting opinion that she does not.
“What I cannot get on board with is the cancelling of people and organisations for believing or saying something that opposes the ‘woke stance’, whatever the issue.
“The push for kinder and more inclusive norms should not entail condemning dissenters,” she wrote.
Prof Henson praised the piece, calling it the best among the 24 that had been submitted.
“I thought Dana’s was the best. She has a style of writing that stands out among the class – and from most Gen Y Speaks pieces we have critiqued.
I thought she was brave to be so direct about calling out the negative effects of the woke culture and for using the transgender issue as an example,” she added in a Mar 15 Facebook post, after Ms Teoh’s piece had already caused a stir.
Prof Henson added, “I look at the bullying vitriol that has been poured on her column and on her – and I feel for her. Re-direct your ire to me. She is my student. I assigned the piece and cleared it. I know that some have already jumped in to kick me, my work and my reputation and even hope that I will lose my job. It’s nothing I haven’t been through.
But stop bullying my student. You’re only validating her point.”
Some critics had found Ms Teoh’s article to be transphobic, and expressed concern over the LGBTQ community.
In a Facebook post, one netizen, Mr Lim Jialang wrote, “But because (Prof Henson) liked that transphobic article enough and deemed it worthy for national publication, I am now even more concerned for the queer and LGBT people that are taking her course….
Dana’s article today showed just how much hostility there were to trans people today. But Bertha showed just how people in power continue to perpetuate untruths and bigotry on vulnerable, marginalised communities.”
Filmmaker Martyn See posted a screenshot of Ms Teoh’s piece, which he summarized as, “Transgender is weird. But don’t cancel me. I deserve the right to be ignorant. Being woke breeds narrow-mindedness.”
He captioned it by writing, “Bertha Henson is grooming our next generation of writers to mind-f*** you with opinions such as this.”
Teaching assistant and musician, Mr Bob deLonge, wrote, “A well-written piece of work cannot be and SHOULD NOT be concealment for groundless, elitist arguments.
Because if you don’t, and you instead embolden your students with top grades and glowing comments for racist, sexist, elitist, exclusionary ideas and views, because they are ‘well-written’, then you end up with crap like this.”
He added a screenshot from an Instagram story, where the poster had written that what bothered her the most is, “reading the pov (point of view) of someone who fails to recognize her privilege, championing the power to deny the realities of those who are marginalised, and even going so far as to play the victim—it’s all wrong.”
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