We have to talk about MISAs for a quick moment (because I have a job interview later, and I need to distract myself from it so I won’t be nervous).
I think most of us — especially those of us who have ever worked in retail — are most familiar with MISA Susan, she of the classic Speak to the Manager Haircut. MISA Susan doesn’t understand why she can’t use a coupon that’s expired, when an expiration date means something is no longer of use. MISA Susan doesn’t understand why something without a sale sticker can’t magically be assigned a random price just because she found it in the sale section. MISA Susan was told by Applecare.
And MISA Susan will try to get you fired because she was mildly inconvenienced. To her, the customer is always right and the employee must always be subservient. Nevermind that oftentimes the customer is dead wrong and that you have not LOST any money if you have not BOUGHT anything because it wasn’t the price you wanted. MISA Susan wants you to kiss her ass for her minor inconvenience, and if you do not, she has no problem trying to affect your life in such a way that you may not be able to buy groceries or keep a roof over your head.
Some of us have worked with one or a few MISA Karens. No matter the situation, MISA Karen can find a way to turn a minor inconvenience into “why am I being attacked?” complete with tears and possibly a trip to HR so she can — common thread! — attempt to ruin your life by taking away your ability to support yourself. MISA Karen is especially dangerous to Black co-workers because her many microaggressions that we ignore everyday finally reach a point where we have to tell her about herself. And then she cries, because she’s now the victim of the Angry Colored Person’s Rage aka the recipient of Mild Criticism From An Exhausted Non-White Co-Worker. MISA Karen can’t tell the difference between criticism and violent rebuke, so she cries. The mild inconvenience of being forced to reckon with her own actions has led her to tell HR that you were yelling at her and she felt threatened.
Bret Stephens is of the MISA Chad variety, the white man of some position or stature (or imagined stature) who takes any mild action against him as an act of war that should be responded with — take a guess!– by trying to ruin someones life by getting them fired. MISA Chad can take any negative comment (or imagined negative slight) toward him and compare it to the actual struggles faced by disenfranchised communities. If you call MISA Chad “white boy” he says it’s like you called him the n-word. If you tell MISA Chad that Marvel is going to have more female superheroes, it’s an attack on his entire gender. And if you compare MISA Chad to an insect in a tweet that only 14 people even cared enough to interact with, he compares it to language used by totalitarian regimes to diminish people and he tries to get you fired.
Bret Stephens got dragged up one side of Twitter and down the other, and he could have cut his losses, ignored it, and let the news cycle wash it away in less than 24 hours. But MISA Chads can’t do that. There’s no such thing as taking an L gracefully, let alone reflecting on your actions and how you could have gone a bit overboard. They’re not even capable of disengaging from the issue. Just after Bret Stephens said he was deleting his Twitter, he went on national television to justify himself.
MISA Karen and MISA Susan are annoying, but MISA Chad is actually dangerous because he holds more power. MISA Karen can get you fired, but MISA Chad can get you killed because those are the ones who open fire in public spaces because they were mildly inconvenienced by being turned down for a date or a job. Those are the ones who become cops and then beat or kill innocent people for not being deferential enough for their liking.
Bret Stephens got on national television to lie about his reasons for copying a man’s boss on a tweet where he was mildly inconvenienced the same way the police get on the stand in front a jury to lie about how they were afraid for their life. The fragility of white people not only leads them to Cry & Lie when faced with the truth about themselves, but it’s that fragility that turns any mild inconvenience into the apocalypse. When you have spent most of your life basking in the sunshine, the first drop of rain feels like the end of the world. The rest of us are used to inclement weather and we’ve packed an umbrella. MISAs don’t understand why the sun would ever stop shining.