National Geographic Confesses: We Were Racist!

The Cultural Revolution continues, with one institution after another confessing to past crimes even when there are no Red Guards holding knives to their throats. Today it is National Geographic magazine:

National Geographic acknowledged on Monday that it covered the world through a racist lens for generations, with its magazine portrayals of bare-breasted women and naive brown-skinned tribesmen as savage, unsophisticated and unintelligent.

Actually, while I do remember some bare-breasted women, I don’t recall National Geographic ever saying that brown-skinned tribesmen were savage, unsophisticated and unintelligent. Of course, one can argue that the magazine didn’t feature the tribesmen’s accomplishments–supercomputers, great literature, feats of engineering, biotechnology–as enthusiastically as it might have.

National Geographic, which now reaches 30 million people around the world, was the way that many Americans first learned about the rest of the world, said professor Samir Husni, who heads the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s journalism school.

That is true. For a long time, National Geographic was the foremost means by which Americans learned about faraway places. It sparked an interest in foreign countries in millions of Americans. Its maps alone were an education. But in today’s Jacobin climate, all of that must be thrown overboard amid a chorus of mea culpas. Why? As usual in such cases, it has something to do with money:

“The coverage wasn’t right before because it was told from an elite, white American point of view, and I think it speaks to exactly why we needed a diversity of storytellers,” [editor-in-chief Susan] Goldberg said. “So we need photographers who are African-American and Native American because they are going to capture a different truth and maybe a more accurate story.”

Really? Why? Still, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. If National Geographic gets rid of racism, it’s worth it, right? So what can we expect from the new National Geographic?

“We had to own our story to move beyond it,” editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg told The Associated Press in an interview about the yellow-bordered magazine’s April issue, which is devoted to race.

The old National Geographic no doubt had its faults, but I don’t think it ever devoted an entire issue to race. Welcome to the 21st century Left–a “non-racist” obsession with race. Somehow, I don’t think this will lead to a better magazine. Or to a better America.

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