I would be considered leftist and progressive. There is a distinction between this and, for lack of a more eloquent word, SJW leftists who use progressive causes for reactionary ends (paradoxically enough).
I won’t defend Carlson-Wee’s poem, though if it were better he would have gotten away with it. The Nation’s response was the worst of all possible responses; what the magazine should have done, if it felt that it needed to do anything, was publish a few of the poems bouncing around Twitter written in response to Carlson-Wee’s poem and which were well-done. This would have allowed the reader to decide and learn for himself what was problematic with the original, and it would have given an audience to those poets who found it offensive and who were able to articulate why instead of assuming it was self-evident.
Two points of absurdity:
• The massive backlash against a leftist poet for writing a tone-deaf poem. I don’t think Carlson-Wee is racist; I think he totally misjudged and didn’t realize why what he had written was bad and embarrassing and deemed racist by some. To paraphrase Zizek talking about liberal nation-states: those on the left will be criticized by other members of the left for failing to do enough, while the people who do nothing avoid all criticism but also help no one. Carlson-Wee is not the problem.
• This happened at the same time Israel jailed a Palestinian poet because it found the poem she wrote and shared on Facebook to be offensive.
Yes, Andrew, that Persian Letters poem. I don’t think poems have to be historically accurate—they don’t have to be anything at all—but “barbarian” didn’t have the connotation then as it does now—the Greeks weren’t comparing Persians to animals, like the speaker suggests—and the Persians were the invaders and would-be conquerors of the Greek city-states, with Alexander’s later conquests revenge for what Xerxes and Darius did. The speaker calls the Greeks the brutes, but they were just defending themselves. Am I misreading the poem? Definitely possible.