The other day, I posted a link to this article (http://jezebel.com/5905291/a-complete-guide-to-hipster-racism) and some brief criticism of the content. One of my colleagues challenged me about my it, so I thought I would add a bit of color to my position.
My reaction to race-baiting articles such at the one I posted about is strong, because of how irresponsible and cynical they are. The accusation of racism is one of the worst ones you can receive as a white male in American society today, akin to being called a liar or a coward in the old American West. There’s practically no defense to it, and the label carries a tremendous stigma in modern society. The charge is frequently used as an argument-ender for people who haven’t an honest argument to make. E.g. “People who disagree with ObamaCare are just racists.”
Whenever I read pieces by white people freaking out about all the injustices done by white people to black people and how awful white people are, I can’t help but laugh at the utter folly of being racist against your own race as a reaction to racism. It’s silly and disingenuous and deserves ridicule and derision.
My colleague wrote:
In referencing “states’ rights,” I *think* the author is alluding to — albeit in a clumsy, context-lacking style — the rhetorical quality of “states’ rights” in racially sensitive debates throughout American history, beginning with the Civil War/slavery, climaxing with the 1960s Civil Rights movement, hitting a sensitive note in Mississippi during Reagan’s 1980 speech, and surfacing more recently in discussion of healthcare, immigration, etc.
Does that make sense? I agree that the article is bit awkward and irresponsibly written, although I think the mere fact that “states’ rights” can carry so much baggage for some folks yet very little for you speaks to the author’s point: so many facets of American society and public discourse carry racially sensitive undertones and implications.
Given the writer’s atrocious and immature style, I think he may be crediting her with a bit too much capability for nuance.
I think that as a society the only way we can get beyond racism is by not giving such phrases as “states’ rights” and “work ethic” the power to evoke pre-civil rights-era racist ideas. I actually have no idea why “work ethic” would mean anything racist, at all. I understand the putative issue with “States’ Rights” but strongly disagree that people should keep thinking of it in that context. I.e. Not every white person who believes in States’ Rights believes in slavery, to be blunt.
From a principled point of view, slavery is an obvious infringement on individual human rights. But that’s a Libertarian idea, and all Libertarians want the United States to turn into Somalia, if you believe the popular hype from those who don’t happen to know what Libertarianism is actually about.
States’ rights, in particular, is actually a very important constitutional principle. If we want to delve into the subtleties and nuances of how language can be used, let’s examine the idea that many on the left would cede tremendous power and authority to the Federal government, stripping away powers that are meant to be “reserved to the States” in the name of collectivist Marxism, at the most extreme. This can be achieved by keeping principles like “States’ Rights” as topics to avoid, lest you be branded a racist for using such a coded racist term.
Unfortunately, we have allowed Congress to run roughshod over the Tenth Amendment for decades, abusing the “commerce clause” to regulate all kinds of things that ought to be left to the States, or even better, left unregulated.
Anyway, now I’m getting a bit off track here.
Her item #4 is particularly galling.
4. “God, Don’t White People Suck?”
Okay, I get what you’re trying to do here—having some fun at the expense of the oppressors while setting yourself up as one of the “cool” white people—but mainly what you end up doing is implying that black people don’t like informative radio or TED talks. Stuff White People Like: having the best brains! Isn’t it great that we can make fun of ourselves while still reminding you that we’re better than you?
(The red text for emphasis is mine.)
Apparently, by poking a bit of fun at your own group with sites like www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com you’re actually being racist? That she assumes a venal motive (acting superior to black people) really reflects more on her own latent(?) prejudices than on those of the people who made that site.
I guess my main objection is that by railing against white people as being a bunch of awful, latent racists, she’s really just exposing herself as one. I think if she sees racists hiding behind every “coded phrase” she just might be a racist herself.