What Happened to the Kids Today?

Time for a change of speed, huh? As stupid as Buzzfeed-brand left wing social politics can be, Fox News-brand right wing social politics can be equally–if not more–ridiculous. I critique the lefties more on this blog because I still somewhat associate myself with them and thereby have to constantly point out the wrong things they do to save myself the second-hand shame and embarrassment. That doesn’t mean I don’t have just as much snark reserved for the folks on the other side of the horseshoe. I make fun of everybody equally.

So, random Fox News opinions columnist, why do you think the younger generations are less religious?

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First things first, the author of this column is Dr. Alex McFarland, the Director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University. I didn’t know you could be the director for a religious worldview. What does that mean? Is he like a college chaplain? Does he pray over stressed out engineering majors in their first week of finals, reminding them that suicide is a sin? What do you do, Dr. McFarland? Seeing as how NGU is heavily associated with apologetic Southern Baptists and its mascot is The Crusader, I can only assume that it’s one of those Christian colleges you send your daughter to when you don’t want those evil yank liberals turning her into a slut. All I’m saying is that I’m not banking on this being an unbiased assessment of social trends, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this opinions piece came with a poorly filmed, hip Christian rap to appeal to the kids. But, hey, who said you had to be unbiased? I’m clearly not.

College-aged millennials today are far more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. This is true when they are compared to previous generations as well.

In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where “one in four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.”

Here’s a link to the Pew Poll in question, with the most recent stats being from 2014. The overtly Christian sects are dropping in popularity (though they are, by far, still the most prevalent). Non-Christian faiths are getting a bit more popular, but they’re so minuscule in representation that it doesn’t have much of an impact. And “unaffiliated” is on a significant rise, with the most popular iteration of religious affiliation being “nothing in particular.”

How very millennial of us. Our religious beliefs can be summed up as eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh *exaggerated shoulder shrug*

To be fair, Pew researchers have also found that millennials are just as “spiritual” as other generations even though they’re not as religious. I take that with a grain of salt, though, because Pew–like the rest of the world–doesn’t clearly define what “spiritual” means, and the things it does count as “spiritual” seem really questionable to me personally. I think the universe is interesting, I don’t count myself as being spiritual at all. But Pew counts it, so whatever. The point that I’m trying to make is that being “unaffiliated” can mean lots of things, especially since atheist/agnostic are separate sub-categories, meaning that “nothing in particular” says, well, nothing in particular, about what their spiritual beliefs are.

Just over 60 percent of millennials say that Christianity is “judgmental,” and 64 percent say that “anti-gay” best describes most churches today.

I’m not going to be an angry internet atheist and claim that every single church and every single facet of Christianity is judgmental and weirdly concerned with people’s sex lives. But it’s definitely out there. Hey, not every church in America is going to be a wishy-washy Unitarian Univeralist one, what can I say.

In ministry circles, it has long been reported that of youth raised in homes that were to some degree “Christian,” roughly three-quarters will jettison that faith after high school. Just under half of this number will return to some level of church involvement in their late 20s or early 30s.

It’s almost like forcing a religion on a teenager makes them not like it or something. Did the “ministry circles” really have to tell you that? Now I’m getting the image of some overly elaborate, James Bond-esque meeting room where holograms of ministers from around the world sit around a table and talk about how they don’t know what’s happened to the kids today.

Why is this? Our most recent research, which includes dozens of interviews with teens, twentysomethings, professed ex-Christians, and religion and culture experts, points to factors like these:

Gonna be honest, Dr. McFarland, I’d be far more interested in reading/watching those actual interviews than I would be with reading your second-hand account of what the crux of those interviews was.

1.Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts—economically, spiritually, artistically. There is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.

. . . What? I honestly don’t know what this means. Since when did being eclectic mean that no one latches onto individual, specific things? Millennials are perfectly capable of finding one thing they like and sticking to it. Hell, my generation has been very heavily criticized for having too much “brand loyalty” to certain groups or ideas even after latching onto them stops making sense. It’s not the Baby Boomers keeping Apple and pseudo-religious mindfulness seminars in business.

2.Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God, sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”

This kind of just doesn’t make sense. In the same Pew Poll you quoted before, you can click on over a few pages and find out that the people most likely to be overtly religious (in regards to Christianity, anyway) are the same groups that are plagued by poverty, “broken family” being a subsection of “poverty.”

Yeah, I don’t have a father, and I’m an atheist. But I have six younger brothers with a burnout dad who might as well be as nonexistent as mine is, and three of them are extremely religious. One of them wants to be a preacher when he gets older. My mom overtly sends to them church every Sunday and Wednesday for the express purpose of getting them around other father-figures to help guide them through life. The idea that broken homes don’t invite religious sentiments is rather laughable.

That sociologist is contributing to the increasingly more apparent notion that sociology is a hack field. Yeah, I know, it’s not just the social justice warriors ruining it–how odd. She’s making a causative statement when, at best, there is only a correlation. First day of Intro Stat: “Correlation =/= Causation.” Nothing you’ve said has made it clear what the relationship between religion and traditional family ties is and what impact they have on each other; you’ve just asserted that non-traditional family structures are rising at the same time that rates of religion are going down. That is true, but that’s not enough information to make any “X caused Y” claims. Like with most social changes, there’s likely an unmentioned third element (like education or income) that is the actual causal factor behind those other statistics, but I guess we’re just not going to get into that here.

3.Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior. People today are subjected to an enforced secularism.

You mean separation of church and state? I bet you’re just balling your fists up and cursing the heavens because sophomore biology isn’t teaching kids about the theories of reincarnation, karma, and Nirvana and how they relate to the human life cycle. Or were you just referring to Christianity in your little freak out about how public schools don’t teach the “truths” espoused by religion? Pssssst. Psssst. This is why people are getting a bit sick of you.

Also, ethics are taught in secular science courses, so the idea that schools are raising our kids to be amoral because we can’t teach them about God is just inaccurate.

4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no — or very limited — exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.

I knew I should have been sent to a nunnery when I was younger. That would’ve straightened me out for sure. Also, I was exposed to very fervently religious people as a child–both of the “churchy” type and the “personally devoted to God” type. I talked to my grandmother about God a lot as a kid. The two of us would stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking about God. Didn’t stop the whole “me being an atheist” thing.

5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.

This one’s pretty accurate. Sunday is my sleep-in-and-watch-anime day, bro. It’s also rather amazing how you manage to sound disappointed through text that people aren’t guilted into going to church anymore. I tutor kids on Wednesdays. Can that replace being bored in church for two hours as my obligatory moral do-gooding of the week?

6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.

I’m more lenient on the idea of objective morality. I don’t think there are any universally agreed-upon things that are considered objectively good or bad. But if you want to argue that some objectively good or bad things exist independent of human perception, it’s still an argument to be had about where you draw the line between individuals’ subjective opinions and their objective impact on the world and try to establish an objective morality that way.

That being said, you worded this as “pervasive cultural abandonment of morality,” as though not believing in objective morality just means you are a sociopath who has abandoned morals. So excuse me for assuming that the above conversation would not be one you’d be willing to have. This knee-jerk moral condemnation of people who don’t subscribe to your belief system is, once again, why people are starting to get sick of you.

The obvious implication here is that Christianity is the source of the One True Morality. I’m sorry, but that’s not a very good leg to stand on when you’re trying to convince people that your belief system is the fount of all moral truths. Your religion has done, said, and justified some fucked up things, so claiming that you have the monopoly on morality and that you know the true way to being a good person doesn’t sell very well. That, and lots of the “moral rules” the Bible lays out are pretty stupid. “Murder is bad” is a good moral lesson, but then there’s lots of stuff about dietary constrictions and what fabric you should wear and oddly specific rules about what sexual interests are “good” or “bad.” Excuse me for thinking that Objective Morality doesn’t seem all that connected to whether or not a dude finishes when he jerks off.

This is the problem that all religions that claim to be the bringer of objective morality have. What if someone believes in objective morality through the teachings of Hinduism? Are they okay in your book, or is their religiously determined objective morality wrong because it’s not your religiously determined objective morality?

7. Intellectual skepticism. College students are encouraged to accept platitudes like “life is about asking questions, not about dogmatic answers.” Is that the answer? That there are no answers? Claiming to have answers is viewed as “impolite.” On life’s ultimate questions, it is much more socially acceptable to “suspend judgment.”

. . . What? I was nonreligious a decade before I went to college, so there’s that. I don’t doubt that plenty of people decide that they’re an atheist after freshmen year at university, but it depends on the individual as to how “legitimate” that label change is. College is typically the place where you try to figure out what you think about things. Ping-ponging between different worldviews before finding one that’s actually accurate to yourself and not just one you’re fleetingly interested in because you read a chapter of a book in Intro Philosophy is pretty par for the course. I see nothing wrong with that as long as people can articulate their mental experience well.

I went on that tangent because WTF, dude? “Being curious and skeptical of people who say they have all the answers in life is bad!” What? Claiming to have answers for life’s ultimate questions isn’t “impolite,” it’s just inaccurate. 100% of the time. Claiming to know the answers to all the complexities and intricacies of life and all of it’s confusing, difficult parts is inaccurate when a hack motivational speaker does it. It’s inaccurate when a cult does it. It’s inaccurate when pharmaceutical companies do it. It’s inaccurate when social justice warriors do it. And it’s inaccurate when you do it. Feeling put upon because people aren’t accepting your dogmatic answers without question makes you look like an idiot, not them. I even agree with you that “life’s about asking questions” is just a platitude, but it’s sure as hell a better platitude than “life’s about not questioning what people tell you as long as they claim it comes from God first.”

8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.” Full of self-congratulatory swagger and blasphemous bravado, pop-level atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I interviewed twice) made it cool to be a non-believer. Many millennials, though mostly 20-something Caucasian males, are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers.”

Bitter much? Chris Hitchens was awesome, but he was and still is a very divisive figure. There are plenty of people who think he was an asshole. I like the guy, and I can give them that point. To say he “made atheism cool” seems to be oversimplifying the impact he had. I will even concede to you, as I did above, that there are plenty of real-world people giving themselves the “atheism” label the same way Marvel making popular blockbuster movies magically made everybody “a comic book nerd.”

That being said, I don’t think the rise in areligiosity can just be boiled down to a fad. You pointed out yourself that this steady decline in religious sentiments has been happening generation-by-generation. Atheism isn’t like 80s hair. It didn’t just pop up one day because the social and consumer conditions were good and then fade away. We’ve been building up to this 1/4 nonreligious statistic for quite a while.

Also, “angry YouTube atheism” has really died down as a topic. It was popular in the early-mid 2000s, but now the “internet atheists” have largely moved on to other topics, the remaining Four Horseman don’t talk about atheism specifically anymore, there are no modern popular irreverent atheist stand-up routines like there were back in the day, and things like Atheism+ have been declining in popularity since their conception. If this was 2005, I’d buy into this more, but I’m having a very difficult time believing that atheism is “the new hip thing” in 2017.

9.  Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name. “Tolerance” today essentially means, “Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold.” This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.

I’d be inclined to agree that millennials use “tolerance” as a crutch in far too many situations and that the obsession when “being tolerant” of different people has been brought to ridiculous extremes. That being said, I’m not sure how this has led to a decline in religion, by your own logic. I guess you’re implying that they tolerate too much anti-religious things, that you’re then not allowed to question?

While I agree with the general sentiment that there are some groups you’re generally not allowed to criticize in the name of “being tolerant,” I don’t agree with your conclusion that this is bad thing for religious beliefs. Religion, like all beliefs and belief systems, can and should be criticized. The issue with the Tolerance Police popping up over the last handful of years is that they seek to shield only certain people and ideas from the criticism justifiably levied at them. But a religion being subject to criticism isn’t bad, and having to defend your religion and explain why it’s a legitimate belief to hold should not be seen as a “threat.”

You rightfully call out this “no one can question my opinions” notion when you see it in millennials, but you’ve complained about people having the gall to question you and what you think is the Truth in this very article. Hi, Pot! This is my friend, Kettle!

10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood. As we leave adolescence and morph into adulthood, we all can be susceptible to an inflated sense of our own intelligence and giftedness. During the late teens and early 20s, many young people feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I did. The cultural trend toward rejection of God—and other loci of authority—resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.

That’s why atheism has always been consistently popular among young adults in America, right? Wait a minute . . . Also, there’s nothing like believing that your planet is the center of the universe and that you specifically are cared about by the Creator of all things to give someone an inflated sense of bulletproof giftedness. Just saying.

Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as-nails truth.

I’m sorry, I just burst out laughing for a few minutes because I remembered this one fire-and-brimstone sermon I had to read in English class once. Yeah, nothing appeals to young people more than impassioned, fifteen minute long rants about how God’s going to bitchslap them into Hell where they’ll be brutally tortured forever if they don’t submit to His almighty authority and weep in the power of his presence until their eyes bleed. People will just line up around the block to be a part of that religion! Screw the church that has bake sales and potluck dinners and an in-church band playing rock as hardcore as the Christian faith allows. Protestant preaching about Hell is what’s really metal.

For evangelical youth mentored by many a hip and zany “Minister to Students,” commitment to Jesus lasts about as long as the time it takes to wash the stains out of T-shirts worn at the senior-year paintball retreat.

I don’t know what’s sadder: student ministers apparently trying so hard to be “hip and zany,” or Dr. McFarland actually seeming to think that those guys are too edgy.

“Hey there, kids! Who wants to play some lazer tag and listen to Flyleaf before the sermon!” *insert Bill and Ted-appropriated air guitar*

“Get out of here! You’re corrupting the youth!”

It is true that our culture has grown visibly antithetical to God and Christian commitment. But in addressing the spiritual attrition rate of young America, it must be admitted that a prayerless, powerless church peddling versions of “Christianity Lite” share in the blame. God only knows the degree of our complicity, and also the time when we’ll be concerned enough to change direction.

How dare they try to make the church-going experience actually enjoyable, am I right? But I guess that does entail admitting that church and strict religious teachings aren’t very appealing, which must be a difficult thing to do if you’re a Christian apologist. I’m sure the Muslim imam decrying the fact that so many young Muslims are trying to *gasp* go on dates agrees with your sentiment that Religion Lite and hip, wishy-washy young practitioners are ruining the whole thing. How dare they? It’s almost like lording over people and telling them that casually believing in God is bad and that they’re not being religious “the right way” is one of the very many things making them a bit sick of you.

Well, that was fun! I’m going to go listen to some awesome Swedish, Satanist, goth metal now.

Once Upon a Time, I was a Social Justice Warrior

I think I’ve made it relatively clear that I am on the left side of things in regards to politics. For those new to this, back in the olden days of Disorderly Politics, with my very first post about why I wasn’t a feminist, I mentioned rather offhandedly that I used to be far more entrenched in social-justice brand leftist politics than I am now. I decided to use this blog post to explain the reasoning behind why I was a part of that crowd and the reasoning behind why I left it. I think it’s important to have this kind of narrative out in the ether to combat the notion that anti-SJWs are inherently hateful borderline bigots, born and raised on conservative Reddit forums.

This’ll be a long one, and a lot of it’s background. So skip on down to the half-way point if you don’t want to deal with that. It’s about time that I ranted for 3,000 words again.

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For some background, I am from the rural South. Southern Baptist church on every corner, sweet tea drinking, Confederate flag flying from the back of every other pickup truck-brand, Bible Belt South. I have many younger brothers, and my single mother and grandmother raised me in a trailer park. Most people around me were politically conservative, as is typical of the area. And the ones who weren’t politically conservative tended to be Southern Baptist Democrats–mostly African-American extended family who liked Billy Clinton and social safety nets and thought the gays were going to go to Hell.

My mother and grandmother are life-long Democrats out of habit. For the most part, like most poor working people, they are apolitical in the practical sense. We never talked about politics, and what they know about the political scene typically doesn’t go past what is gone over in mainstream ABC Channel news segments. There are things of more immediate concern in their lives.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been more socially liberal than most of my peers, something that can be significantly attributed to me realizing that I was an atheist at a very young age. Once you start thinking church is stupid and God doesn’t exist, it’s kind of hard to think that homosexuality or drugs or premarital sex or abortions or any number of other things are sinful. And being in some way “sinful” is the main argument you hear against most of those above topics when you live in the Bible Belt. There are other arguments, of course, but I didn’t hear those until much later.

So me and my small group of more liberal friends grew up with a bit of a chip on our collective shoulder regarding small-town conservatism. It’s to be expected. I’m of the opinion that small towns exist as a test to see if you leave when you get the chance to. I was desperate to pass that test, like many other small town kids are and forever will be. I’m sure that if my town was full of moralizing liberal hippies, I would have a knee-jerk negative reaction to that. But as it stands, my town was full of people who thought Obama was an evil Muslim socialist who wanted to take our guns, and by the time I was eighteen years old, I wanted to get as far away from that as humanly possible.

While I was looking for colleges, a liberal atmosphere was one of the main things I was after. Granted, I wasn’t gay save for a solitary girl-crush my senior year. My friends and I didn’t do any drugs, and we weren’t fans of drinking. I wasn’t promiscuous. But I already identified as a humanist at that point and was very concerned with not automatically judging anyone who indulged in any of those things as long as they weren’t harming themselves or others. I was tired of the hypocritical small town conservatism where they hated marijuana but didn’t seem to care about their neighbor being addicted to meth, and where God loved all His creations but still didn’t care much for the homosexuals. I wanted to be in a place that accepted gay people. I wanted to be in a place where I could talk about being okay with legalizing marijuana without getting yelled at about the inherent moral depravity of drugs. I wanted to be in a place where I wasn’t afraid to admit that I didn’t believe in God.

I wanted to be at a liberal arts college. So that’s where I went.

I took the ACT and a few subject tests, aced my advanced placement courses, got a full-ride to an impressive liberal arts college a 2-hour plane ride away, and I was ecstatic. Going to college was the first time I’d ever flown on a plane or taken a taxi. I was out of my element, to say the very least.

* * *

The title is a bit intentionally click-baity, as I don’t think that I was ever a full-blown SJW. I say that because the atmosphere of my new college was really great . . . for a week. Yes, this is truly one of those “the grass is always greener on the other side” stories, as cliched as that moral is.

I knew full-well about how hyper-liberal my chosen college was. This was not an example of my family being afraid of an evil Northern college rotting my brain and turning me into a Communist. My family highly values education in a very blanket sense. They don’t know what the Ivy League is, but they know college is important, and I showed them my school’s spot on the Forbe’s college list, and they were impressed. So as soon as they figured out that I got a full-ride, they had no qualms with it. They didn’t worry about the politics of the place at all.

No, all my warnings came from the internet. Like any nerdy high school senior with a home computer, I did ravenous amounts of research on the colleges I wanted to go to. I visited the official website and student blogs and web forums and Reddit pages all in an attempt to get the most accurate picture possible of my choices. The general consensus was this: Academics are A+, but its liberal politics are seriously out of hand. Like any nerdy high school senior with a serious case of Desperate-to-Leave-Her-Small-Town Syndrome, I ignored those warnings. I wrote them off as people with right-leaning politics who just didn’t do enough research before choosing their school. Of course it was a super-liberal place, why were they so bitter and surprised about it? They should’ve went to Georgetown or Notre Dame if they wanted a more conservative atmosphere.

I get it now.

* * *

As I said, my fabulous Liberal Wonderland that was everything I had hoped and dreamed of in a college lasted all of a week before I started to get tired with it all. That’s not to say that I missed the politics of my hometown, but I clued in very quickly to what I had previously thought was impossible. I associated conservatism with religiosity and repressive social practices, and I associated liberalism with live-and-let-live acceptance, and I didn’t think you could have too much acceptance. Turns out, I was wrong.

I was much more dedicated to social justice ideas upon entering college. This was mainly because of my fervent support of gay rights. I actually planned on being more of an activist for minority groups in college even though I hadn’t had much experience. Because of that interest, I was accepted into a week-long program that happened before official orientation that was all about social justice and activism and all that cool stuff.

The experience wasn’t awful, by any means. Some of my happiest memories of college–and in general–take place during this program. Despite my fervent support of gay rights, I was very ill-informed about transgender people and had a negative opinion of them that wasn’t all that warranted, and I genuinely do appreciate the program informing me more about what being trans actually meant. With that being said, it was during that seven-day program that I learned social justice wasn’t for me.

I was fine with telling people my preferred pronouns every time I introduced myself. I was fine with talking about gender identity. I was fine with acknowledging white privilege and male privilege, and I ascribed to feminism wholeheartedly. I find it important to note those things, because, on paper, it seems like I should have been all for stereotypical social justice warriorism. But I could never fully buy into it because, from day one, it came across as extremely cynical to me, and it wasn’t an atmosphere that I took kindly to even if I agreed with plenty of its points.

I distinctly remember doing a Privilege Walk on the second day of the program. For those of you who don’t know what that is: You stand in a line, and you close your eyes, and someone reads off a list, and every time a point pertains to you, you take a step forward. The idea is, the people who take the most steps have the most privilege, and vice versa. So there were questions like “My family owns our house,” “I’ve never been followed in a store,” “I’m a man,” etc. etc. I didn’t mind the walk itself as much as I minded the discussion afterwards, where we were all told to open our eyes and gaze upon our disparate amounts of privilege. It was all very somber and sad and self-pitying, and I eventually just had to make a comment about how I was actually very encouraged by what I saw because, no matter how far behind or ahead people were at the end of the Privilege Walk, we still all wound up in the same place: at a good college, with people who support us, and good prospects ahead of us. My optimism was apparently a surprising thing to hear.

The rest of the week was like that. It was lots and lots of encouraging people to navel-gaze about how bad they had it in the most cynical way possible. I remember going to a small caucus group for black students that could essentially be summed up as: “Tell us about all the even slightly racist things that have ever happened to you, and tell us about how awful they made you feel, and if you can’t think of anything or it didn’t make you feel bad, we’ll convince you otherwise.” At one point another girl, who has gone full SJW four years later, questioned the need for racial affinity groups on-campus, and she was essentially told never to question how necessary they were again because they obviously were, end of story.

I wasn’t a fan of the cynicism. I wasn’t a fan of the automatic disregarding of ideas that didn’t fit within our little liberal bubble. I wasn’t a fan of the superfluous social niceties that had you feeling like you were walking on eggshells whenever you were talking to a new person. I wasn’t a fan of the “intent vs. impact” idea they enforced that treated people’s intentions as irrelevant. So I couldn’t buy into it entirely, even back then.

* * *

 It still took me some time to become totally disillusioned, but I had already decided that the social justice activism scene just wasn’t for me. It came across as incredibly histrionic and exclusionary from the get-go. There was lots of internal drama, and lots of molehills being made into mountains for our brave campus activists to surpass, and it seemed like a very toxic environment that I didn’t want to be around. So I had to find some other way to be a good liberal.

Early in my college career, I decided to look into Democratic Socialism as a potential political label. I wound up taking a train to a four-day long Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York. I still have the pin they gave me, I still get DSA emails, and the conference convinced me that the DSA wasn’t for me either. It’s largely for the same reasons. I feel like I was privy to one genuinely productive discussion for the entirety of those four days (It was about helping the working class.), and the rest was once again a whole lot of overly-negative naval gazing about how bad we all had it for various reasons. I even mentioned to one of the friends I made there that I thought the conference’s habit of breaking up people into demographic groups to talk to them separately seemed really unhelpful, and I didn’t and still don’t think his justification for it was all that satisfactory.

In addition to that, though, there was a healthy dose of the casual straight white male hatred that is so common in SJW circles nowadays. Sitting in a room full of people having a hearty laugh about how disappointing it was that a good book was written by a straight white guy made me extremely uncomfortable, to say the very least. These were not bad people. And they weren’t stupid people. What I learned from that conference was that Democratic Socialists throw awesome house parties, and have very rousing conversations over dinner, and are willing to leave their house at 1am during a blizzard to find you after you accidentally get lost on the subway and wind up in Harlem. And their social politics are extremely off-putting when you put them all together in a room to talk about them.

* * *

My final disillusionment ultimately came during the two times when I genuinely tried to give social-justice-style community work and social activism its chance. I was already mainly against it. I thought it wasn’t nuanced. I thought it divided people more than it united them. But I was still willing to give it a chance if I thought it could do some good.

Since I care about education, I joined a tutoring program that tutored low-income, mainly minority students in their after-school programs. We helped with their homework, and went over their quizzes, did cool science experiments, all that jazz. I enjoyed doing it. I found one nerdy black elementary schooler and took him under my wing, and it was all going great. Then my location changed, and I no longer had my little mentee, and I had a new site coordinator–one of my classmates.

While going to my new location with her and the new batch of tutors I was working with, I witnessed the most ridiculously racist conversation on the face of the planet that made me drop the tutoring program entirely because there was no way I was going to work with a bunch of raging racists even if I did like helping kids study. Essentially, my Latina site coordinator thought that she’d go off on an unsolicited rant against two strangers who worked at the community center we were tutoring at. It was a rant about how she hates white people, and about how she’s so glad that all of us were people of color, and about how those horrible white boys need to get out of our way because they ruin everything and don’t care about minorities, and about how she wished white people just weren’t around. This is not paraphrased, by the way.

Those “horrible white boys” turned out to be locals in that low-income community who volunteered as coaches for a program that taught kids various sports in an attempt to keep them away from drugs and other illegal things. When she found out that they cared about minorities after all and weren’t just two white boys hogging the gym to shoot some hoops, she begrudgingly acknowledged that maybe they were okay but she still hates white people in general. That disgusted me. My fellow tutors’ reaction to it–to nod and agree–disgusted me. The fact that that racist cunt prided herself on how she was able to teach children disgusted me. And the fact that she felt perfectly comfortable telling me that she hated a race of people and wanted them gone all because my skin tone apparently dictates that I agree with that sentiment disgusted me.

Needless to say, I never talked to any of them again.

The final nail in the coffin was something very similar: me, trying to give a group with a good premise a chance and quickly becoming disillusioned with the entire thing because everyone around me was an asshole. I decided to join the new club that helped and advocated for low-income students. I’ve been very open about how I don’t think elite institutions care about class or the hardships being low-income places on students in those academic environments. I thought the club was a great idea. I signed up for it. I became a Big Sibling to an underclassmen. I participated in panels and talked to the administration about things they could do to help people who don’t have any money to spare.

Then, one night, I met the girls in charge of the group. We were sitting around a table putting candy in plastic bags and talking about the group dynamics of the club. It was at that point that the two girls who formed the group decided to–you guessed it–go on an unsolicited rant against a random person who had done nothing wrong. In this case, they overtly laughed at a white guy who didn’t appreciate people on campus constantly telling him that he had privilege because he was a straight white guy–and, as a side effect, providing him with less help and support than the “oppressed” people. This was a boy who was forced to go “home” every winter break to the backseat of a car, to live off of McDonald’s coupons for a month, whose parents abused him, who didn’t have a penny to his name. And apparently the very notion that he didn’t want to be treated like he was privileged when he so obviously wasn’t was laughable. His concerns were stupid and could be dismissed without a second thought.

And those were the people who apparently cared about low-income students. Those were the people who wanted to help, who wanted to make a group that wasn’t about racial demographics, who wanted to focus on class for fucking once. But apparently white men can still go fuck themselves. They don’t deserve any sympathy. They’re given enough of it from everyone else.

* * *

That was the point that I gave up on “social justice” and its very conditional sympathy for the downtrodden, rivaled only by the small town conservatism that cared about all of God’s creatures unless they were fags. That was when I gave up on the political ideology that kept trying to censor art and media, like it was the 1980s again and they were the pearl-clutching Christian mothers afraid that D&D and Frank Zappa would turn their children to Satan.

And maybe you could say that I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater when I reject social justice as a concept. But I don’t think so. They had good ideas that were difficult to object to–acceptance and diversity and social support. I’m not denying that. And I’m not denying that there are many people who ascribe to social justice who are still holding onto that vague set of genuinely good ideas as principles to uphold. But social justice as a copyrighted, trademarked political institution with leaders and interest groups that lobby the government and speak on television and make course syllabi for college students . . . that social justice is ruined, in my opinion.

That bathwater is boiling, and that baby is dead.

#HangAyazNizami and Other Thoughts from Our Favorite Peaceful People

Time to shake things up a bit with something that is immediately awful and harmful, and something I have a hard time being sarcastically dismissive about. So strap in, I guess. If you haven’t read my post from a while quite a while ago, I am an atheist, so the topic I’ll be talking about hits closer to home than usual. I may bitch a lot about BLM and feminism and how I think they’re awful for the most part, which I do, don’t get me wrong; but in the end of the day, I can only care so much about things I feel obligated to address just to break the stereotype that all women/black people/etc. think X thing. Religious beliefs, though, are actually something you can choose about yourself, something that actually says something about you as a person, something that actually informs who you are as a unique human being. As a general rule, anything that involves being harmed or abused for the damnable crime of “thinking the wrong things” really disturbs me as a concept, so that on top of me being an atheist makes the Ayaz Nizami debacle resonate with me a great deal.

For some background: Ayaz Nizami is a Pakistani atheist who, along with reportedly two other atheists, was arrested for blasphemy after posting on a few atheist Facebook pages and online forums. This follows right on the footsteps of an atheist in neighboring India, H. Farook, being hacked to death with sickles by a mob for expressing atheistic sentiments online. People have taken to the internet expressing themselves about what the punishment for blasphemy should be, which is why #HangAyazNizami was trending. I guess we know what the consensus is.

This is the same country where tens of thousands of people supported and mourned the death of an assassin of a government official who wanted to protect Christian minorities. This is the same country where the government has actively given a call to arms to its people to start seeking out and reporting blasphemy, particularly of the anti-Islam kind, to be punished. According to Pew researchers, the Middle East and North Africa are the main places where you can still find laws against blasphemy (18 out of the 20 countries) and apostasy (14 out of the 20 countries), with Pakistan being one of the harshest, often sentencing blasphemers to the death penalty. Other countries are nicer and just send people to prison for 2-15 years. Aren’t they reasonable?

* * *

For some more nice info about Pakistan in particular: 61% of them think that there is only one interpretation of Sharia law, 84% of them are in favor of making it the law of the land, 87% of them think religious judges should handle disputes, 89% think stoning is an apt punishment for adultery, 76% think apostasy from Islam should warrant the death penalty, 91% think it’s bad that their country doesn’t follow Sharia more closely, 88% think a wife should always obey her husband, 26% think that a woman has the right to a divorce, 85% think that it’s necessary to believe in god to be moral, 93% think sex outside marriage is morally wrong, 90% think homosexuality is immoral, 71% think divorce is immoral, a bit more than half think honor killings are justified, and 87% think society should not accept homosexuality, which falls in line with the mainly-Muslim countries where not even younger generations are slightly more accepting of it.

I put these stats there for a nice micro-example of how these are not “fringe” notions. It’s not 1% of Muslims with extreme, fundamentalist ideas who think apostates should be killed and that gay people are evil and that women have to defer to their husbands, even legally. These are not uncommon ideas to have in overtly Muslim societies. And I’m sure that if you asked the people who gave their answers to this poll, they’d say there were religious moderates. Yes, the lovely moderates we hear so much about, the ones who are peaceful and fine and just minding their own business.

* * *

I’m not a fan of religion. There are days where I actively despise it as a concept. The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) are awful and mostly incoherent, and I used to be inclined to give the more Eastern-centric religions a break . . . until finding out about the whole “using Reincarnation as an excuse to hate and further the abuse poor people” thing, after which I threw in the towel and admitted to myself that making excuses for religion was pointless. This isn’t me saying that religion causes bad things to happen. I mentioned in my original post about atheism that I think people would find excuses to be crazy and violent even if religion wasn’t a thing. That being said, I think religion gives people an excuse to be violent and explicit groups of people who it is morally acceptable to mistreat or treat as lesser than you. “There are other stupid things in the world,” doesn’t strike me as a particularly compelling argument for why religion should just be given a pass and treated like some great thing.

This most recent happening with Ayaz Nizami (who, best case scenario if no one steps in, is going to be imprisoned for the rest of his life) just serves as yet another all-too-frequent example of an idea being granted the title of sacrosanct. This is what happens when a large group of people decides that their ideas should never be criticized. Should never even be joked about or made fun of. Should never be questioned. And this is why it annoys me to all hell when people in the US and Canada and Britain and Germany trip over themselves to defend Islam from any criticism, doing nothing but reaffirming this already-ridiculous notion that it should automatically be regarded with the highest of respects.

You have Majid Nawaz and Ayan Hirsi Ali of all people being labeled as dangerous Islamophobic bigots. You have social media sites actively guarding against “Islamophbic, hateful content.” But, rest assured, all the tweets unironically calling for a man to be hung in the streets for speaking against Islam are still readily available to be seen by anyone who wants them.

You have Canada passing motions that make “Islamophobia” something that can get you in federal trouble, because how dare you not respect someone’s religious affiliation. How is this not some glorified blasphemy law? How? And why does no other religion get it? I’m guessing it’d still be okay for me to go on over to Canada and call a Christian photographer who’s just not feeling up to snapping photos at a gay wedding an insufferably moralistic cunt. It’s okay to not give two fucks about the religious convictions of a Christian, but expressing displeasure with the religion that has currently provided the world with almost 500 violent attacks (most of them small scale, which is why they aren’t newsworthy at this point) in the last 3 months isn’t allowed. All in the name of tolerance. Muslims should be insulted by this. They are being depicted as either a.) ticking time-bombs who are going to literally explode the second they feel disrespected or b.) fragile victims who crumble under criticism of their apparently deeply held beliefs, even when criticism of all the other religious beliefs is seen as fine and normal.

I understand why this is happening. People want to be kind. They want to be tolerant. They want to be good people. There actually was a rash of genuine Muslim-hatred after 9/11, back when you could throw a rock and hit somebody who thought we should nuke all of the towelheads and kick all the sand niggers out of our country. I understand feeling bad about that and seeking atonement for it. But we’ve gotten to the point of overcompensating. In our attempts to prove that we don’t hate Muslims, we are over-correcting past missteps by giving the Islamic religion a pass for things that we wouldn’t otherwise accept.

A Christian shoots up an abortion clinic and kills 5 people? Christianity is awful. A Muslim shoots up a club and kills 30? Well, he was indoctrinated into America’s strong anti-gay sentiments. People aren’t allowed to wear any identifying religious garb at a certain business . . . unless a Muslim girl wants to wear a headscarf, in which case it’s an outrage that she can’t wear her religious garb. A Christian doesn’t want to bake a cake for some gay people? Screw their religion. A Muslim doesn’t want to be taught by a woman in the classroom? Well, that’s their religious belief, so . . .

I’ll provide a quick anecdote. One day, some friends and I were discussing a professor from another university who was a sexual predator yet inexplicably hasn’t been fired just because he was such a big deal in academic circles. He sexually harassed and groped female students. At one point he outright drugged a girl, and she woke up an indeterminate amount of time later topless, on his lap, with his hand in between her legs. On another occasion, he asked a female Muslim student for a kiss, and pulled off her headscarf while he yanked her closer to him, after which she pulled away and left. Now, both incidents completely and utterly disrespect the wishes and bodily autonomy of another human being. That being said, I think we can all agree that being outright drugged and raped is worse than having an accessory pulled off your head while someone roughly grabs your arm. Guess which incident my friends thought was the more deplorable, punchable thing for that man to do? Hint: they didn’t want to punch him until they found out he pulled off a Muslim girl’s headscarf, because that would make her feel really bad.

It is nothing but people scrambling to prove how tolerant they are, to the point where they are willing to sacrifice their other principles to do it. “Muslim women are the best feminists” being one of the most egregious examples of this. Yeah, have fun going to feminist bastion Saudi Arabia and being physically assaulted in public for not wearing a headscarf. To be fair, many countries are overcompensating in the opposite direction, taking into account legitimate fears and translating that into counterproductive policies like outright banning burkinis and whatnot. What people don’t seem to realize is that religious freedom means having the freedom to practice a religion as long as that practice doesn’t impose on the rights of others and having the freedom to criticize that religion mercilessly, if you so choose.

Meanwhile, as Canada enacts the first steps of its anti-Islamophobia motion, Ayaz Nizami is going to be put to death for criticizing Islam, and Ayan Hirsi Ali is sleeping with armed guards outside her bedroom, and Majid Nawaz is getting death threats, and the former editor of Charlie Hebdo is at risk of losing money over committing hate speech, all because they said something unkind about the religion of peace.

 

One Last Look at White Privilege

The Amazing Atheist recently replied to a video circulating around that tlly pwns n00bs on their yt privlige, yo. You should check out his reply; I think he makes some good points. But the White Privilege Explained in Five Minutes video is apparently very popular. I feel the need to add another dissenting voice to the fray here because, really, if this is what’s considered an epic laying down of the law, a flawless bit of perfectly digestible argumentation, then no wonder the left is losing so much political ground. It’s lost the ability to tell when it’s being educational and convincing and when it’s just being condescending as all get out.

So let’s get started tackling this behemoth of intellectual arguments, I guess.

Have you ever been called unprofessional for wearing your hair the way it naturally grows out of your scalp?

No. While I’m not under the impression that this never happens, I hesitate to call it racism. It seems like professional settings tend to like hair to be contained, and black people’s natural hair just happens to be big and puffy, and just happens to lend itself more towards hairstyles like dreadlocks that are considered too casual. I’ve known white people with dread locks who got in trouble for being unprofessional. I’ve known white people with long, thick hair who have gotten in trouble for being unprofessional. By the way, I work in a professional setting, and here is what my hair looks like (it’s actually bigger now), and, as I’ve said, I haven’t once gotten in trouble:

daphne

Is your race accused of being terrorist for wearing scarves on their heads?

No.

So that’s why people associate Islam with terrorism. Scarves. Of course. People associate Islam with terrorist activity because Islamic extremism is the number one source of terrorist activity in the 21st century. The Communists are catching up, but they haven’t surpassed them yet. This doesn’t mean that every Muslim is a terrorist–Muslim communities are often the number one victims of Islamic extremism–but can we all just stop fucking pretending that people are making the Islam/terrorism association out of nowhere and for no reason? Can we also stop pretending that a hijab is just a scarf? Iranian women dressed like women pretty much everywhere else until the Islamic Revolution happened and all of a sudden no make-up and headscarves were all the rage. But it was just a fashion choice, guys! It’s not archaic religious garb forced on women in most Muslim majority countries under threat of punishment and/or violence. It’s just a scarf! Look this little American girl is wearing a headscarf with flowers on it!

Also, Islam is not a race. A huge percentage of Muslims don’t even come from the Middle East. A huge percentage of Muslims aren’t Middle Eastern or black. They’re Asian. So . . . what race are we talking about here?

Have you been stereotyped as a thug, terrorist, gang member, ghetto, lawn-mowing guy, rapper, or immigrant for no reason at all?

No. I have been stereotyped as a coon before, though. Does that count?

I guess a South African guy I met in a European airport once mistakenly thought that I wasn’t from the United States, but not having to deal with two seconds of extra awkwardness whilst talking to a foreign stranger in a Frankfurt airport is a very esoteric form of privilege.

I have resting-nice-face and dress like a hipster, so no one’s going to look at me and think I’m a thug or a gang member. I don’t follow a stupid religion, so being a terrorist in this day and age would be kind of difficult. I’m pretty sure I look like I haven’t done a hard day’s work in my life, so no one’s going to mistake me for a landscaper any time soon. And, as I said above, the only time anyone has ever been confused about my nationality is when I wasn’t even in America, and since this entire idea of “white privilege” has always come across as egregiously USA-centric, I’m not sure if that counts.

And, by the way, the “immigrant” example is accompanied by a picture of a presumably East Asian woman. Yes, East Asians, very frequent immigrants to the United States (so the chances of an East Asian person actually being an immigrant is fairly high) and one of the most financially successful racial demographics, above white Americans. White privilege, ya’ll!

If you answered no to any of these questions, then you have whiiiiiiiiite privilege!

Looks like I have white privilege, guys! *Looks at skin tone and becomes very confused.* It’s almost like homogenizing people’s experiences based off of race is stupid and not very helpful or accurate.

*rants about how black people’s only privilege is being considered as a race to be good at music and sports*

Is that not significant? People really like music and sports. Being successful in music and sports is very impressive and, as a concept, has carved itself out as a very distinct part of the American Dream that many, many people aspire to. White privilege is apparently oppressive and awful because white people don’t get asked awkward questions as much, but black people being considered to be naturally talented at things most people can only dream of being good at is just some little thing that can be swept under the rug as insignificant and culturally irrelevant and not worth anything? Consistency, dammit!

But we’re not talking about rapping, dancing, singing black privilege. We’re talking about world dominating, culturally appropriating, ruling almost every nation white privilege!

I’ve touched on all of these topics multiple times. These points are shit.

  • How much of an inferiority complex do you have to have to say without irony that white people “dominate the world” and rule “almost every nation”? I think most of the world would beg to differ. It’s not like every country outside of North America and Western Europe exists or anything.
  • This is also an incredibly limited world view to have for another reason: There are relatively few countries that care about skin tone more than they care about nationality. The racists in Western European countries are racist towards other pale people. The Scandinavians apparently fucking hate each other, and I doubt anyone would be able to visually tell apart a Norwegian and a Swede. The racists in Africa are a bunch of black people being racist towards a bunch of other black people. The racists in East Asia are a bunch of East Asians being racist towards other Asians. Because all of these people care about nationality and ethnicity more than looks. So this preoccupation with looks and looks alone is a very specific thing that really can’t be applied to the rest of the world.
  • Yes, the white privilege of being in charge of nations! Go on over to the Ukraine or Siberia or most of Russia and see how much privilege those people have because the government officials in charge of them are also a bunch of pale people. I’m sure they’re just living the high life. The kinship of the white race really keeps them warm during those Eastern European winters.
  • He used Katy Perry’s Dark Horse video as an example of cultural appropriation. I guess appropriating long-dead ancient Egyptian culture is now an offense as well. I bet the Pharaoh is sitting behind his MacBook right now writing an angry blog post about how Katy Perry shouldn’t dress in an over-the-top artists’ rendering of ancient Egyptian aristocracy garb. Wearing togas is still okay, though.

*does what I assume is supposed to be a humorous impression of a stereotypical white person, who, as per usual, is a borderline illiterate, racist hick. Said hick denies that white privilege is a thing and that he worked hard for everything he got*

This is, for some reason, not the same thing as stereotyping black people as thugs or Muslims as potential terrorists, though. Because, you see, when we unironically portray a race of people as only the most negative of the stereotypes about them, we’re being clever and thought-provoking and fighting against power and shit. This message has been brought to you by It’s Okay When We Do It!, the world’s leading brand in hypocrisy cover-ups since 1992.

Dave Chappelle you are not.

I’m sure you did, Mr. or Mrs. White Privilege, but your skin made it waaaay easier.

Pro tip: If you’re going to accuse white people of having it easier and not having to work as hard for their accomplishments, maybe don’t address that idea to a hickish, white trash stereotype. You know, the stereotype about poor, underprivileged white people. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Are white people a bunch of suit-wearing super villains who run the world, or are they a bunch of inbred hicks who want the niggers to get off their lawn? These are two very contrasting portrayals, is all I’m saying.

White privilege means no one questions how you got into that really, really great school or how you got that really, really great job. They just assume that you were highly qualified.

What about the white people who don’t go to a really great school or who don’t have a really great job?

What about all the white people in New Mexico, one of the most impoverished states in the US, who are now jobless because an overwhelming majority of them make their paychecks by doing potentially lethal grunt-work in the state’s currently failing oil business that’s laying off workers by the thousands? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but white males are on their way to becoming the least educated demographic in America. High school dropout rates are skyrocketing as well as general, honest-to-god illiteracy rivaled only by ESL speakers. Less of them are applying to colleges, and less are gaining higher education, which means they are one of the groups most effected by competition among unskilled workers and one of the groups most prone to long spans of unemployment because of it. Meanwhile, black women are up there with Chinese and South Asian immigrants as the most highly educated demographic in America.

But white privilege, yes, of course. Please, continue to complain about how no one listens to you or takes you seriously . . . in this video that has been liked and shared millions of times, with essentially all of the feedback being positive and supportive.

As for the “assumption” point, I’ve said this before and I’ll reiterate myself again. It is liberals who have gone on the record insisting that we need race quotas and affirmative action in schools and hiring. It is liberals who promote the notion that POC need an extra leg-up in order to be represented in hiring and academia. So, in short, if you don’t like everyone thinking that you’re an affirmative action hire, stop insisting that we should keep using affirmative action hiring practices. If you don’t like people questioning your merit and assuming that you’re not as competent as those around you, stop insisting that you’re not as competent as everyone else and need quotas to help you out. This is a problem you made, not racist white people.

Privilege is living in a country in which 87% of the lawmakers look like you despite the fact that your race makes up nowhere near 87% of the country.

But black actors making up a proportionally equal amount of award winners in American TV and cinema is racist because proportional representation is dumb and racist, and there should be more of them! Once again . . . fucking consistency. There is none.

I’m really wondering what these people think will change if POC get more “representation.” Race relations in America got worse under our first black president than they were back during the race riots of the 1990s. Newark, New Jersey has been under black governance since 1970. It’s longest serving black mayor, who was supposed to care so much about the black community and represent them better than any white man ever would, gave himself a pay raise at the overt and crippling expense of the mainly-black poor neighborhoods of Newark. The black mayor of Atlanta, Georgia took funds that were supposed to go to improving Atlanta’s dismal public schools and used it to buy himself a private helicopter. If only more strong black men like them were in power! We blacks would finally get the representation and power that has been denied us!!!!

This is the last time I’m going to make this point. If you think someone looking like you means they represent you, then you are an idiot with a very shallow idea of what “representation” means, and anyone you vote in is likely to exploit that stupidity for their own personal gain and leave you in the dust, laughing all the way to the bank.

White privilege is Googling the word “beauty” and it showing hundreds of pictures of white women.

Do you know how Google works? It factors in where you are from and what language you use. If you used an American server and you typed “beauty” in English, you’re going to get skewed image results because the US is mostly white and English is a language spoken by mostly white people. This is ignoring that Googling “beauty” isn’t some sea of whiteness. There are other races peppered in there. Beyonce is pictured twice on the first fucking page. Also, according to super official dating site statistics, Asian women are the most attractive demographic by a fucking landslide, to everyone of other races. How does that factor into white people apparently having the gift of being the hottest?

Guess what, if you type in 美しさ, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Japanese women. If you type in جمال, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Arab women. If you type in güzellik, you’ll get hundreds of pictures of Turkish women. Are you starting to see my point?

White privilege is Googling the word “God” and it showing hundreds of pictures of white men.

Blame the Catholic church for popularizing the image of Jesus as some white hippy dude. I also feel inclined to bring up TJs point that most physical humans who we have given god-like qualities to in pop culture are a bunch of black dudes, Morgan Freeman having the voice of God being the biggest example.

This is also yet another esoteric point because you’re assuming that I give any amount of fucks what people think God looks like, and I don’t. It doesn’t make me insecure to think that people’s imaginary friend doesn’t look accurate in the pictures they draw of him. I’m sure there’d be some amount of controversy among the various sects and localities of Muslims over what the Prophet Muhammad looks like if people were actually allowed to draw him, but it looks like we’ll never know for sure.

White privilege is not being monitored in a store because you look like you steal stuff.

I can only recall this happening to me once for the entire time I’ve been alive. The irony is that I actually did go through a petty theft phase in high school where I would steal random things all the time, and I was never monitored and never caught doing it. Yay, stereotypes!

In all honesty, that’s just anecdotal evidence and I’m sure this does legitimately happen to people. But the whole point of this video is to be some huge gotcha on white people. “SEE, you don’t have to deal with THIS, and WE do!” So the sole fact that I’m a black person who doesn’t have this experience shoots the message of there being some homogeneous black struggle where we all have to deal with this because we don’t have racial privilege in the foot. What’s their argument going to be? Did some white privilege just rub off on me, and that’s why I never got in trouble?

White privilege is being six times less likely to be arrested than black people.

Are you doing things that warrant getting arrested? I’m against arresting people for petty drug charges as much as the next guy, and that’s where the brunt of police profiling of black people goes. But that still doesn’t say much about the fact that black people are committing disproportionately more actual crimes like armed robbery and murder. I’m not going to die on the hill of “Let this guy who robbed someone at knifepoint go, because he’s black, and there are too many of those guys getting arrested!”

White privilege is your history being taught as a core part of the curriculum and mine being an elective.

I actually think the way the US teaches history is stupid, so I’d actually be inclined to agree with this. Not for the race-baity reason of “white privilege,” but just because it’s never made sense to divide up historical events by the race of the people who are contributing to them. Did you know that the fight for black civil rights was happening at the same time as McCarthyism and ‘Nam? I didn’t for an embarrassingly long time. American history books tend to be really shitty at putting things in a full historical context. They’re prone to making it seem like all of these events were single isolated moments where nothing else was happening, and that’s especially true of “black history” which doesn’t bother telling you the context of any of the shit you’re learning about. The rise of funk and soul had a very reciprocal relationship with the rise of rock n’ roll, for instance, but you’d never be told that. You’d just know that both of them happened.

So, yes, this is stupid, because dividing up history like it’s made up of individual isolated incidents that never interacted with each other is stupid and all of these “[insert race here] history” courses further promote that style of teaching. On the college side of things, though, this is the fault of POC, not racist white people. It’s POC who insisted that academia should begin catering more to ethnic groups and ethnic groups specifically, which is why you got entire departments dedicated solely to only talking about certain racial groups.

White privilege is having a history book that doesn’t start off with you being a slave or a barbaric savage.

Well, if you’re reading an American history book, what do you want? Africans were brought to the US as slaves. That’s how they got here. I’d be inclined to agree that history courses are incredibly one-sided on this topic because they never talk about how they became slaves to begin with, and they never talk about the fact that not all black people in the US were slaves. But, in general, that’s how black people showed up here. Do you want a history book that starts off talking about warring West African tribes that kept people from other groups as slaves, who they then sold to the white people who arrived as a means of resource trading? Would that make you feel better?

Also, what history book is depicting Native Americans as barbaric savages? I took lots of history classes in elementary, middle, and high school and every single one of them spent the first couple weeks talking almost exclusively about how much the Native Americans got screwed over by colonists. I didn’t know how political parties worked or what countries had colonies where, but I sure as fuck knew that the Trail of Tears was evil.

White privilege is being able to teach history only from the perspective of the colonizer.

Two of my assigned text books for Advanced Placement US History (a standardized-across-all-schools course) were one book that focused exclusively on Native American accounts of colonization and one book that focused on the African American perception of slavery and post-Civil War attitudes. Fail.

Also, white people aren’t the only ones who colonized shit. Just going to throw that out there. Hell, when the first batch of colonizers showed up on the coast, the Powhatan tribe just got done fighting a bloody land feud with multiple neighboring tribes, where they took over territory and made many women and children from those tribes slaves. African slaves were gained mainly through this same type of territorial feud where larger groups pushed in on the land of smaller ones in an attempt to take it and its resources over.

The thing is, I’d be okay with teaching a more rounded view of history. I’d prefer it, actually. I’m not a fan of the American exceptionalism you find in a good number of history text books that makes it seem like America is just awesome and amazing, and the Trail of Tears and slavery were sad moments on an otherwise spotlessly heroic and gentlemanly past of exploration and innovation. That being said, it seems like many liberals who fight for a reformation of US history textbooks want to go in the complete opposite direction where the colonists did nothing good or admirable a day in their fucking lives and everyone was evil and awful, look how bad we treated minorities. That also seems like a really wrong way to go about things.

On an off-note, these guys would fucking hate taking history classes in Japan. Fun fact: they don’t make it seem like everything was hunky-dory until evil Western colonizers showed up and ruined everything.

White privilege is getting lost at sea, thinking your going to India, winding up somewhere that’s already inhabited, and still get credit for discovering it.

Well, he did discover it as far as Europe was concerned. No one else from where he was had been there before. I’m just going to apply your standards to something totally mundane to show you how stupid this point is. I’ve started listening to the goth metal band Ghost recently. I had no idea that band existed. I’d never heard a song by them. I’d never seen a picture of their album cover in passing. I had absolutely no knowledge of them whatsoever. I was looking for a song by another band that I already knew about when I stumbled across them on accident.  So, according to these guys, because Square Hammer by Ghost had already been viewed a couple million times before I stumbled across it, I didn’t discover it. I introduced my friend to this band, but he cannot say, “My friend found this band and told me about it,” because other people already knew Ghost existed.

What.

White privilege is the fact that anything you didn’t know about is a new discovery as soon as you notice it.

Japanese privilege is the Japanese aristocracy introducing Dutch Studies to its universities like a new thing they just discovered even though the Dutch had those studies first. The bastards.

White privilege is when you can ask for equality and not be considered a hate group.

Who are you talking about? Black Lives Matter? The media and left-wing darling that can’t do a thing wrong as far as they’re concerned, to the point where they’ll edit footage to make it seem more peaceful than it is? The group that is in no way classified as a hate group by any reputable source? Yes, there are individuals who think it’s a hate group. I sometimes think it’s a hate group depended what offshoot of it we’re talking about. Oh no, people think things about a group you like, that you don’t agree with! Privilege!

Also, antifa is a mostly white group that protests racism, and they’re getting a pretty cold reception in the mainstream. Just so you know.

Also, having a hate group like the KKK be listed as a non-violent Christian organization and not have the rest of your race be labeled as terrorists.

The KKK is listed as a non-violent Christian group because that is what the KKK is at this point. If they were still lynching people in the street on the regular, they’d be acknowledged as violent. But they aren’t. The KKK is a half-dead organization gasping out its final breaths as humanity is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I live in a town where the KKK holds rallies and stands on street corners asking for donations every now and again, and people laugh at them. I gave the KKK a few bucks once, because they are a joke. The police presence at their rallies is to protect them from people who would otherwise harm them.

When ISIS starts being a joke, when open members of ISIS are begging on street corners for monetary support, and they have to get the local authorities to protect them from the violence of people who don’t tolerate their hate mongering, when the religion behind ISIS stops violently manifesting its laws and oppressing huge swaths of people. When that is the case, you can make this comparison. Until then, this comparison is garbage.

White privilege is not having your application thrown out because your name is weird. White privilege is when everything that is not regular or common to your race is weird!

Are you talking about the job application thing? You want to talk about the college application process where applicants with Asian names are put on the bottom of the pile because they have too many impressive Asians, and blacks/Latinos are put at the top? Applications suck. There should be blind hiring and blind college acceptance where you don’t know the name, race, or gender of the applicant until you’ve already decided whether or not you want to give them the time of day. Until then, these kinds of unfair things will happen. But if we do that, how will we give priority hiring and acceptance to black people in order to fill our affirmative action quota? These are the important questions. Also, on an off note, I wouldn’t hire someone named Sholodanay either. Call me racist all you want. I don’t care.

On the second point, how is this a “white” thing? People thinking that things that come from other groups is weird isn’t new and it isn’t unique to white people. My black classmates thought I was weird because I watched anime. My white mom thinks I’m weird because I like anime. My Japanese host sibling thinks English is stupid and doesn’t sound like a real language. My white friend with curly red hair was seen as weird by other white people because that color and type of hair is relatively rare. My school had a white Russian exchange student, and everybody thought his Russian name was weird. We also had an African speaker come to a black conference I went to in high school and everyone there, all black kids, thought that her African name was weird. How is this a white people thing?!

 White privilege is being able to walk into a church, kill eight people, and be walked out by police and taken to Burger King.

Is white privilege also killing yourself to avoid getting arrested? Because that’s what happens in the case of the majority of mass shooters. The second most likely occurrence is that they get gunned down by the cops. A mass shooter making it out of a mass shooting is exceedingly rare, and using one example of some racist white kid not getting killed by the cops as if it offsets the overwhelming majority of other examples where the shooter gets gunned right the fuck down either by himself or others, is disingenuous. What, do you think it’s because he killed some black folks, so the racist cops decided to go easy on him? Do you have any proof of that whatsoever? Because if you don’t, that’s just what you think happened with your Everything is Racist lens, and it’s just as likely a reason for why he got out alive as any other reason I can pull out of my ass to explain it. The Burger King part is weird, though. I’ll take your word for it and assume it happened, but weirder things have happened.

White privilege is having the cool stuff your ancestors did be talked about every other month, while my ancestors only get one month.

You do realize that Black History Month is something asked for by black people, right? Just throwing that out there. I’ve already talked about how this is stupid. Here’s a question, though: If we expand our cultural and historical breadth, can we talk about the shitty things black people have done, too? Can we talk about how Africa has an award for leaders who actually step down when it’s their time to without becoming violent dictators? Can we talk about that, or do you just want to talk about the cool, awesome things? If white people have to own all the shitty things their ancestors have done, black people have to do the same thing.

White privilege means you won’t be told to go back to your country.

Tell that to the Polish people who live literally anywhere other than Poland. Europe hates them for some reason.

This mentality confuses me, because black people seem very, very intent on seeing themselves a one collective group. The things individual black people accomplished in the past are the accomplishments of all black people through all time. The suffering of black people in the past is the suffering of all black people through all time. A black scientist is a win for black people. A black novelist is the voice of black people. Black people can be represented by other black people interchangeably because we all want and experience the same things. But Africa is not our country. If you tell us that, you’re being racist.

*long rant about how manifest destiny killed lots of people and about how Mt. Rushmore is bad because it glorifies bad people* You’re never called a terrorist, or a war mongering murder, or a psychopath and are glorified as a founding father who did something courageous and beautiful.

Aren’t you calling them out as terrorists right now? Once again, millions of people have seen, shared, and agreed with this video you’re making. It’s not like this is a rare opinion to have in this day and age. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who a.) knows about the Mexican-American War and b.) thinks it’s something other than a morally awful clusterfuck. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t acknowledge Andrew Jackson as being fucking crazy, even if they like him.

Were the founding fathers perfect people? Hell no. They definitely aren’t perfect by our 21st century standards. But this hearkens back to the point I was making before about how people of this mentality seem to approach the topic of American history from the most negative stance humanly possible where they want nothing good said about anyone. One of the people on Mt. Rushmore is Abraham Lincoln for fuck’s sake, but apparently he’s just a war mongering murderer who did nothing courageous or admirable whatsoever. Yes, Thomas Jefferson had slaves, but he also penned one of the most important and influential documents in known history that upheld a standard of democracy and personal liberty that stands up as a standard for human rights to this day. Yes, Polk was war hungry and more than a little bit insane, but he also achieved the goal of making and successfully governing over a huge country that stretched from coast to coast during a time when maintaining the integrity of a country the size of Maine was exceedingly difficult.

And, yes, before you go on a rant, I’d be more than willing to acknowledge the good points of questionable, non-white historical figures as well. That also means acknowledging their bad points, though, which I’m not sure these guys want to do. Malcolm X was just a down-home, admirable freedom-fighter!

 *talks about indentured servants in America, who were usually white, and who were made more promises of freedom and land than black slaves*

Good thing they bypassed the fact that the typical way of dealing with an indentured servant was either to a.) work/starve them to death before you had to make good on the promise of letting them go and giving them land or b.) keep tacking expenses onto their indentured servitude so that they remained an indentured servant far past the initial number of years they agreed to or, at best, were set free only to owe a crippling amount of debt that led to them working for the same person for free afterwards, kind of like a slave. This isn’t me saying that indentured servitude was better or worse than slavery, but their attempt to downplay the fact that it was slavery under another name is actually really insulting. Fuck all the people who suffered under that systematically oppressive system! Were they called slaves? Nope. Check mate! Black people win the victim games again! White people were never oppressed! Only us.

*talks about the 200+ years of chattel slavery and how obviously awful it and its rule set was*

No one is arguing that slavery didn’t suck. No one thinks that it was some grand ole time. Even the stupid people who say stuff along the lines of “black people should be thankful for slavery because that’s how they wound up in America” don’t harbor any illusion about slavery somehow being a pleasant thing. This is what conversations about white privilege always–and I mean always–boil down to: slavery and how bad it was. And if you have any trace of a dissenting opinion left in you, they accuse you of not acknowledging how bad American slavery was. “But slavery” is their ace-in-the-hole argument to win any debate.

You want to talk about crime rates in mostly-black communities? But slavery.

You don’t think having the occasional awkward conversation is a sign of living in a systematically oppressive society? But slavery.

You think white privilege is a stupid idea that demonizes white people for the sins of their fathers? But slavery.

And, of course, we’re not going to acknowledge the slavery that happened anywhere else in the world. We’re not even going to acknowledge the other races that were enslaved in America. Black people were slaves once, and it is what’s to blame for literally every even slightly bad thing that has happened, is happening, or will happen in the future to a black person. That’s all you need to know. And if you want to talk about anything any more than that, you just don’t understand how bad slavery was, probably because the existence of slavery hundreds of years ago made you racist.

This argument actually angers me because black American people act like they have a fucking monopoly on being horribly enslaved and that white people have a monopoly on enslaving people. Slavery is such a big deal! It’s such a big deal that we’re going to treat the enslavement of Africans in the US hundreds of years ago like it’s a still-open wound pulsating puss and blood everywhere, a gash on the country’s anatomy that will never come close to scabbing over, that will always drain the black community of its life blood until the end of time . . . and conveniently never mention the fact that slavery is still a thing now and that it’s worse than it’s ever been.

When anyone in America talks about slavery and how awful it is, and how horrendous it is, and oh how much it’s ruined the potential of everyone involved, it’s always about African slavery that ended hundreds of years ago. You’ll never hear them talk about the the thousands of children kidnapped in rural Africa to become slaves in lethally dangerous mines and quarries, lucky to live into adulthood. You’ll never hear them talk about the kidnapped children who are repeatedly raped, physically mutilated, and indoctrinated into becoming child brides or child soldiers. You’ll never hear them talk about the Eastern European and South American women who are abducted by the hundreds of thousands to be made into drugged-out sex slaves. You’ll never hear them talk about the South Asian immigrants who go to the Gulf and have their passports stolen by the Saudi government, where they are then forced to be the slave labor behind Saudi Arabia’s lavish upper class areas. You’ll never hear them talk about the slaves all over the Middle East who are used by insurgent groups to go out and see if there are landmines anywhere. You’ll never hear about Romani people being enslaved and given no legal means of acting against those who harm them because of their statelessness. You’ll never hear about the North Korean camps where the families of those who commit even the slightest amount of political dissent are imprisoned and worked to death without pay for three generations. You’ll never hear about the sex slaves in Thailand who are often genitally mutilated after being bought.

But you will hear about how bad it was that black people in America were slaves once. I’m sure the guys making this video, living a comfortable first-world life in one of the most developed and politically free countries in the fucking world, selling merch on the internet to their sizable fanbase that loves to hear them talk about how bad they have it, can really relate on a deep, personal level to all of those people I listed above. After all, their [insert however many greats] grandfather was probably a slave.

From that time on, to be white, even to be poor and white, meant getting some kinds of preferential treatment.

Like what? If we lived in Jim Crow era Alabama, you’d have a point. What’s going on now? Are those examples you gave in the beginning of the video all you have to work with? Because those are pretty weak.

This is not said to make white people feel guilty about their privilege. It’s not your fault that you were born white-skinned, and I get it: You’re not your ancestors. But, whether you realize it or not, you do benefit from it and it is your fault if you do not maintain awareness of that fact.

 I don’t even know what “maintain awareness” means. What can it mean besides, “feel guilty”? I’m honestly asking this. What would this “awareness” entail other than a white person seeing a black guy on the street and consciously reminding themself, “Remember, that black guy has it worse than you, so try not to make his life even worse with your existence. He’s had a hard time.” What do you want them to do? Really? What? Do you want them to decline a promotion they get at the office and pass their boss a note telling them to take a look at Tyrone for the position instead? Do you want them to pay reparations? I guess I already know you want them to institute quotas.

So there’s one thing that I know you want done, and it’s fucking stupid. You’re not making your case.

Technically Being Right: A Response

Hey, guys! One of my readers requested that I respond to this YouTube video by Shaun and Jen, and it’s officially spring break for me so I actually have glorious time to dick around on the internet. So I’m responding to it. It’ll be a bit difficult because the video is a response to a comment about Shaun’s response to another video. It’s kind of convoluted. From what I can gather, they’re talking about Milo Stewart’s infamous “ALL white people are racist, ALL straight people are homophobic, blahblahblah” video that blew up a while ago.

To avoid confusion, here is the YouTube comment that Shaun is responding to:

“You attempted to take a logical middle of the road stance here, but its clear you have a bias.

The problem is that Milo is consciously deciding to claim that an entire group of people (all white people) are subconsciously racist is racist itself and also flatout wrong. The definition of racism is

“the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” To add to this, the other definition is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

therefore, saying ALL white people subconsciously hold this belief over another race from birth is flat out wrong and even prejudiced simply because of the sweeping generalization without citation. Despite your belief that society at large is indoctrinating people to hold racist beliefs, you seem to forget about people that grow up in household where they are NOT raised with these subconscious beliefs.

However, believing races are superior to one another ON AVERAGE in regards to certain things is perfectly reasonable and its fucking stupid to claim we are all perfectly equal in every way. We aren’t equal within our own race, how can we be equal across races?

On average Blacks make better basketball players, on average Asians score higher on the SAT. You cannot debate this.”

And now, I shall respond to both the above comment and what Shaun has to say in equal parts, because there are points where both of them could have done better.

* * *

To address the original comment first: I agree that Milo asserting that all white people are racist is flat out wrong on account of it being a sweeping generalization. I am also slow to accuse “society,” vague, amorphous term that it is, of indoctrinating people to hold certain beliefs, racist or otherwise. Blaming society always seemed like a cop-out to me because there’s really nothing to be done about the whole of society just being bad. That being said, it’s rather difficult to raise someone with subconscious beliefs. The whole point of them is that they are not explicit, so it’d be difficult to intentionally raise someone to subconsciously think something.

Here is Shaun’s point (note: parts of this are paraphrased, so if you don’t trust my shorthand, listen along with the actual video):

I don’t think it’s possible to have any sort of meaningful interaction with society in general and not come into contact with anything that might cause a subconscious bias. Excluding people raised by wolves or in fall out shelters or something, I think we all have some level of racial bias. But I will concede that it’s hard to prove if a subconscious bias exist or not because, by its nature, it’s hard to detect.

This gets me. It always fucking gets me. Can we please have a class, a world wide one that everybody gets in on, where we drill into people’s heads what the definitions and manifestations of certain terms are? Just drill them in. It would save everyone so much time. Shaun doesn’t do this as overtly as most people, so I’m not biting his head off. But it’s a topic that needs discussed.

“Subconscious bias” =/= “racism”

“Racial bias” =/= “racism”

The thing about subconscious biases is that they encompass literally everything. We have biases about clothing color, and height, and posture, and voice, and opinions, and things on the left, and things that come first, and things that come last; and all of those things are further effected by the temperature of the room and the color of the walls and whether or not you just got done jogging before having an interaction. “Subconscious biases” are everywhere.

They can be biases for something or against something, and it is important to note here that being biased in favor of one thing doesn’t mean you don’t like the other things. That’s a common mistake made. Society, in fact, does a pretty good job at mitigating and lessening inherent biases just as much, if not more than, it reinforces them, depending on the environment. So the kid raised by wolves in a fallout shelter would probably actually be more effected by inherent biases than someone raised within society, if I were to guess. You can’t escape these. Newborns have inherent, “subconscious” biases. Month-old infants who’ve never left their house have inherent biases.

This is why it irritates me so much when people talk about “inherent, subconscious biases” like they’re something wildly significant by default. Oh no, we have racial biases! Almost like how we have biases centered around pretty much everything else. What a surprise. Racial biases tend to be in favor of your racial in-group according to eye-tracking studies done with infants. In short, they prefer people who look like them, and this is true for all races, not just evil white people. They tend to see people who look like them as more friendly or less of a threat, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Your family is less likely to want to kill you. Even so, that bias is vastly effected by the society you live in (not what you see on TV and billboards, but the people you actively interact with). Children who frequently interact with more racially diverse groups lose the “other races are scary and inherently less preferable than my race” bias, for example. And even with that bias still firmly in place, it is mitigated by a far more specific subconscious bias in favor of people who agree with you. Infants and adults are more likely to have a positive bias for someone who likes the things they like and a negative bias against someone who doesn’t like what they like. And if the one they agree with is of another race than them, they’ll still prefer that person over someone of the same race who disagrees with them.

Sooooooooooooooo . . . inherent biases are tricky. They are mitigated and strengthened and canceled out by a million and one things a million times over before you can act on anything. And those factors are not really something that you can just generalize across entire races, white or otherwise. They are also not the same as overt racism, and white people are not the only ones effected by them.

Shaun is right to point out that subconscious bias is difficult to detect. It’s actually much easier to do with infants too young to speak. For example, the infamous racial bias test that you can take from your very own computer that was used as an official research tool is not reliable whatsoever. If you’re interested, it tracks reaction time to see if you’re faster to associate bad words and images with minorities. I took the same test four separate times and got four wildly varying results. I believe I was biased in favor of minorities once, biased against them once, and got a neutral score twice. So the SJW tactic of telling people what their subconscious biases objectively and definitely are is laughable to me. “If you’re white, these are the biases you definitely have, and they are definitely not mitigated or in any way effected by anything else, either mentally or in your external environment! No question!” It is actually rather ridiculous.

We’re biased in favor of people with their hair parted to the right. Can the lefties start up an interest group lobby now?

That took a long time to respond to. Fuck.

I understand the argument “All white people are racist,” but wouldn’t personally use it. If I did have to say all white people were racist . . . I’d waffle a lot and lay a lot of ground work beforehand, and that just makes the statement lose all of its shock value, which negates the point of saying it in the first place.

Good. You’re saying you’d lay groundwork and further explain the situation like doing that is somehow a bad thing, like it’s “waffling.” No. Being hesitant to make sweeping claims is a good thing.

The argument to be had with the “All white people are racist” approach is one of efficacy. On the one hand, “racism” is a powerful word, and it draws a lot of attention to an issue that needs a lot of attention. But on the other hand, you are gonna get a lot of backlash saying something like that. Is the increased attention worth the backlash? It turns people off.

I don’t think it’s very effective. As Shaun himself pointed out, for everyone one person who decides to continue listening to you after you say this, you’ve got at least one other person who pissed off and decided to never speak to you again. And the backlash this “all white people are racist” sentiment gets is justified, not just because it draws a lot of negative attention. As he states, “racism” is a powerful term. Not only is it a powerful term, but it is an inherently negative powerful term.

I’m forgetting the guy’s name, and I’m too lazy to use Google; but there was a politician in the 1990s who was a staunch Democrat-was all in favor of social safety net programs and made uplifting the black community a huge part of his platform and service record. An upstanding guy. He said the word “niggardly” once in a press conference in regards to finances and got blacklisted from politics, reviled by his former voter base afterward, because a black person heard him say that word and thought it sounded too much like the word “nigger.” This is not a case of mishearing someone. He said “niggardly,” the black person heard “niggardly,” and decided to call it racist anyway because hey, close enough.

Calling things racist is a big fucking deal. Or at least it used to be. I have spoken about this before about how social justice seems very fond of overusing words to the point where they lose all value and meaning, and “racist” is one of the words in question. When you take the inherent human racial bias that is a simple in-group preference (no overt maliciousness) and call that racism, you devalue the term “racism.” When you say that simply having a racial in-group preference (totally ignoring that tons of other factors have a huge effect on whether or not this preference actually makes it to the top rung of things that actively factor into an individual’s higher-level thoughts and outward actions) is racism, you devalue the term “racism.”

You’re essentially damning people for having a thought crime that they may or may not personally approve of and may or may not act on in any capacity, that you don’t even know they actually have to begin with. That is a total clusterfuck. How is that helpful? How? How is accusing someone of being some awful thing and couching the accusation in terms that they are logically incapable of disputing a good way to go about things? This is made even worse by the typical tactic of saying that anyone who disputes the accusation of being “racist on the inside” is just proving that they are indeed racist on the inside “The insane man denies he’s insane” and all that. There’s no winning with this. And when one of your biggest points is one that can’t be argued against, congratulations, you’re in a religion!

And all of that totally ignores my opinion that it actually is a racist sentiment. Racism is awful. If it wasn’t generally agreed upon that racism is awful, then it wouldn’t be such a good word to throw around to get your way. You are fitting into the provided definition of “racism” like a glove: you think that one racial group is the only racial group capable of doing something that you and almost everyone else thinks is utterly deplorable. If that isn’t tacitly implying some kind of inherent moral inferiority on white people’s part, I don’t know what is. And if I’m getting this wrong, and that isn’t the intention, then this sure as fuck has been one hell of an unintended consequence of throwing this “all white people are racist” idea around like it’s just the fact of the matter.

Just for a thought experiment, imagine if I just came out and said that all black people were criminals in order to be “effective” and get people’s attention so I can talk about crime in black neighborhoods. I don’t think you’d like that one bit.

Moving on to him talking about the basketball/SAT topic.

There’re a few different lines of argument here. You need context. For example, I can say, “Dogs are larger than cats.” Is that true? Free of context, that statement is neither true nor untrue. If we’re talking about domesticated dogs and cats, it is true. Even the words “dogs” and “cats” need clarification.

Well, actually . . . *she said in the snootiest, most punchable voice humanly possible*

You actually don’t need context here. Or at least not the kind of context Shaun is refering to. Linguistically speaking, “Dogs are larger than cats.” is a sentence that can be understood in two different ways. “Dogs” and “cats” can either be single conceptual groups or they can be terms refering to every single dog and every single cat in question. In the second scenario, yes, you’d need the context that he provides in order to say whether or not it’s true or false. Conceptual groups, on the other hand, do not require that. For an easier example: “The dog is an affectionate animal.” “Dog,” here is not talking specifics. It’s not asking for specifics. It is making a generalizing statement that is agreed upon by others in the conversation to be accurate on a conceptual level. Our default idea of what goes into the stereotypical, concept-level dog has “affectionate” as a trait, the same way a conceptual dog is bigger than the conceptual cat, so further clarification isn’t necessary.

This is actually a tangent. This sentence structure doesn’t fit likelihood claims very well. We’ll move on.

So let’s talk about the term “Black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.” I see this sort of thing all the time, usually justifying a reported police bias against black people. Is it true?

Yes. He goes into this more, though.

By itself, it doesn’t mean anything. First off, we need a specific location. “In the USA, black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.”

This is the case. Black people are approximately 13% of the US population, and they commit around the same number of violent crimes as white people who are over half of the US population. To say that there’s nothing disproportionate there seems like Shaun is being a bit intentionally dense.

What does more likely mean? Are we speaking genetically?

No. I stopped here to address this point specifically because this seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of people. Not even leftists, just people in general. When you say “Black people commit more crimes than white people,” or “Black people in the US are more violent than white people in the US,” or any iteration of those ideas, people’s default understanding of it is to think you’re saying something about what black people inherently, genetically are. like. They then move from that to calling you a racist, because of course.

This is not a claim about the genetics or default state of existence for people with darker skin tones. It is a description of the reality of the situation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable that reality is. Just making that clear.

Most people will say no, not genetically but statistically. Where do these statistics come from? Data taken from the police and court system. So, “In the USA, according to data gathered by the justice system . . . white people.”

And here he goes off for a while about how this is inaccurate because statistics about how black people commit more crimes affects policing strategies and leads to black people being policed more than white people, which leads to them getting arrested more, which leads to their data being added to those stats and making them go up, perpetuating the cycle of black people being targeted by the police.

I have many, many issues with this, but I’ll try to be concise and make some bullet points.

  • For the police to go after specifically black people so much that they make it look like 13% of the population has the same crime rate as 60% of the population, that would entail a ridiculous amount of negligence that doesn’t seem readily apparent. American police forces are very arrest-happy. Even when you take into account our population, the amount of arrests made and imprisonments in this country is on par with some pretty depressingly oppressive places, and most of those arrests are of white people.  Yes, I know, “population proportion.” But the implication that American cops are neglecting to apprehend white criminals en mass in favor of going after black people is at borderline conspiracy-theory levels.
  •  This also implies that the initial data was also wrong and that majority black areas in question are just being “targeted” for no reason and the stats got bumped up out of pure racism. This once again seems like he’s being intentionally dense. Go ride around Oakland sometime and then come back and tell me that the LA cops calling it a high crime area are just talking out of their asses because they’re biased against black people. They aren’t being targeted, they’re being policed. And, yes, an area where more police are lurking around is bound to turn up more arrests than one where they have to be called to-location first, but Shaun seems to be willfully ignoring the fact that we don’t have caretaker cops that are just there to give us directions when we’re lost. We have cops that tend to stick around areas where dangerous crimes happen. Yes, this also means that they get people for more petty, misdemeanor chargers as well, but he seems to be saying that there’s no pressing reason for this cop presence and that petty misdemeanor charges are all they hand out which is just false.
  • Murder in particular is a different breed of monster that is, in many ways, more accurately reported on. If someone gets killed, the chances of finding the person who did it are higher than in other violent crimes like a mugging or a rape. Murder tends to get reported (not just shrugged off as a lame experience like getting robbed), there tends to be more evidence, more mistakes tend to be made, etc. And the factor that Shaun will probably think is important is that murder is very homogeneous. You don’t get very many cross-racial murders. The amount of reported murders within black American communities–with black people doing the killing and black people getting killed and black people calling the police for help–is in the same ballpark as the number for the much larger white community. This isn’t arrests, by the way. This is just reports. The court hasn’t touched these numbers yet.The prison system hasn’t touched these numbers yet. So unless the black victims of these crimes are being biased when they call in about one of their friends getting hit by a stray drive-by bullet, making the argument that racist policing must be why the stats are so high doesn’t really work here. And if his argument isn’t “police need to stop policing these communities as much because that’s racist,” I’m not sure what it is.
  • Other minority communities (read: Latino) that are policed and racially profiled just as much as black communities do not show this same pattern of hugely disproportionate crime. It’s almost as if they don’t commit as much.

That’s how you end up with black Americans being arrested more for smoking marijuana far more than white people even though they smoke at similar rates.  And that’s just on the police end. The justice system isn’t perfect. Black people are more likely to be convicted of the same crimes as white people, and they receive harsher punishments than white people. “In America, according to the US justice system, black people are more likely to be found to be criminals than white people.” then.

First, I want to point out that Shaun is using “more likely” statements to justify his own mentality. Seeing as how this entire video is him picking a “more likely” statement that he doesn’t like apart for being too vague and not detailed enough, I just find it rather ironic that he’s perfectly willing to throw out his own “more likely”s about how black people are victims of things without dissecting them for details.

Yes, I agree that black people have been the main victims of overzealous drug enforcement, mainly because they are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are heavily policed. The large percentage of black people in prison can be, with some caveats, attributed to non-violent drug charges earning them stints in prison. I agree that that is messed up, but it’s not an argument against ghettos being heavily policed. It’s an argument against harmful drug laws. Now for some more bullet points . . .

  • There is more to prison conviction than race. A huuuuuuuuuuge factor that no one talks about (which is rather infuriating to me) is the lack of competent legal assistance provided for low-income people. Also known as, the people who get taken to court for petty drugs charges, and the people who rob someone in an alleyway for some extra cash, etc. A judge isn’t looking at a black person and saying, “Because I hate niggers, you go to jail longer!” Black people are arrested in disproportionately large numbers thanks to their high concentration in urban areas. These urban areas tend to be high crime areas. These high crime areas tend to be judicially governed over by a very limited number of courthouses typically based on districts and jurisdictions. Governing over a high crime area means these courthouses are very busy all of the time. These high crime areas tend to be low-income areas where the people being taken to see the judge can’t afford a lawyer and/or don’t know how to effectively work the legal system. The courthouses are severely overworked due to their location, with a severe lack of financial resources due to their location, and a severe lack of publicly provided law representation–the publicly provided representation that low-income people depend on. This leads to people being given a very overworked lawyer who generally doesn’t have the time or energy to even look at their case for more than a few minutes before going to see the judge. This leads to the lawyer giving really shitty, default advice to just take whatever deal the judge gives them because they have no time to argue it any further. The low-income person agrees because the lawyer is supposed to be the expert on these things, and if they want better representation they’re going to have to use money and time that they don’t have to pay for it.
  • The deal the judge gives them is dependent upon very many factors that Shaun has neglected to mention. It’s not just race, believe it or not! It’s location: if you come from an area known for organized gang crime, they’ll put you away longer. It’s affiliation: if you are overtly associated with someone who is a known criminal, they’ll put you away longer. It’s past criminal history: if you’ve been in trouble with the law before, they’ll put you away longer. And if you’re a black kid living in an Oakland ghetto, the chances of having a record before you turn 16 are very high, and so are the chances of you living in Blood territory and having a few friends who really like wearing the color red. Is this fair? Not really. But the very white methheads in ABQ don’t fare very well with the court system either for largely the same reasons–they come from bad, economically depressed, drug-riddled places, have toxic friends, and they got caught stealing one too many times as a teenager, and no one in the courthouse feels like lifting a finger to help them out because it’s just not worth the time.
  • The cycle of poverty is a bitch, and it also effects Native Americans more than black people, btdubs, so if the special victimization points go to anyone, it should be to them. So I guess he should start making some delicately worded statements about how, “Maybe some sources claim that Native Americans have what they call higher rates of alcoholism, if that’s what you think alcoholism is.”

If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of his final watered-down version of the statement that seems less “detail-oriented” and more . . . “dodgy.”

A huge predictor: richer, better educated parents have richer, better educated children. There are black people who were alive or whose parents were alive during the time of segregated schools. They were forced to go to worse schools and get a worse education than white people. These sorts of things take a lot of generations to shrink to the point where they are statistically insignificant.

Fun fact! Black schools were actually pretty good, at least in cities. It’s actually really interesting. They weren’t given as many resources or resources of the same quality, of course, but grade schools in all-black neighborhoods (from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, at least) had incredibly high standards that actually led to them testing on-par with children from all-white public schools.

The reason behind this was that educated black adults would go to these schools in the city as the only places to get a decent paying teaching job, where they then enforced very high educational standards despite their lack of resources. The same goes for black colleges, which were genuinely good schools. This is also combined with the fact that the anti-intellectualism you find in many black communities now wasn’t there for the majority of the twentieth century, so black parents also had very high education standards for their children. Education quality for black people actually dropped after schools were desegregated in the 1960s. Coupled with the beginning of welfare in black communities (that legitimately did screw people over when it was first instituted because they had no idea what they were doing) and the rise of the anti-intellectual sentiment that led to many people placing less value on education than on other facets of life, black academic achievement essentially nosedived into the modern era.

All of that was to say: The idea that black people never had good education or chance for upward mobility within their communities is not accurate. It’s especially not accurate when you take into account the fact that the education boom for black communities was in the 1920s, a time when black people objectively were being systematically oppressed by an overtly racist society, unlike modern times when claims of plain, old systemic racism can even be argued against.

The majority of recent Asian immigrants have BA degrees, and their children and grandchildren are the ones taking the SAT. A bunch of impoverished North Korean farmers won’t be taking the SAT and they’d do shit at it. One good point of comparison is that young black children who are adopted to better on these kinds of tests because adopted kids generally grow up in richer, safer households. If you change the circumstances, you get different results.

There’s nothing all that objectionable here except for me pointing out that even low-income kids in East Asia typically get better scores than Western kids. I’d chalk that up to a cultural thing, though.

Some things are technically right. There’s a point to be made about technically being right. There were a series of tweets by Richard Dawkins where he was ranking how bad different types of rapes are. Even if he’s right, shut up. Shut up, Richard Dawkins. Being right isn’t an excuse for being a prick.

That Richard Dawkins thing is fucking random. Being right is an excuse for being a prick, though. When you have mainstream feminists refusing to discuss what even constitutes a rape, somebody has to step up and try to make these very important distinctions. We do it with everything else. We have different degrees of murder. We say that armed robbery is worse than pick-pocketing. Wanting to discuss the different levels of severity that rape can fall under isn’t “being a prick” because it’s a sensitive subject that some people are uncomfortable talking about. And Dawkins is right. Being raped at knife-point is more traumatizing than being roofied at a party: you’re more likely to develop PTSD, and in cases where both cases lead to PTSD, the overtly violent rape leads to more severe and difficult/longer to treat symptoms. Being exposed to brutal violence does that to a person.

That’s a pretty good way to end this, though, because it helps me make my point. Shaun doesn’t seem like a bad guy or an unintelligent guy, but he does seem like one who cares far too much about being sensitive. You can see it with him spending 15 minutes to talk about the finer points of a vague statement that he disagrees with but him not even addressing when he uses similar vague statements of his own. You can see if with him being very concerned with the nuances of individual situations . . . until Richard Dawkins says something straightforward about the nuances of rape, in which case it should just not be talked about because some topics are just nasty business.

 

 

I Dig My Hole, You Build a Wall

It’s a lyric from a Bastion song! I would much rather talk about Bastion, actually. Why did I make this blog about politics and not shit I actually like?

I guess I have to address this whole Trump and Mexico debacle. Even though Mexicans were demoted to be among the various Asian ethnicities in the “races  we don’t care to acknowledge in the modern race discussion” bucket for quite some time, now that Trump is in office, they’ve become super relevant.

Donald Trump is racist, I guess. I don’t see it. I’ve never really seen it. He’s incredibly insensitive in a very general way and easily misconstrued, but I doubt the guy has any malicious thoughts or intentions based on the race of the target. He kind of just seems stupid. Isn’t that an internet law: don’t mistake stupidity for maliciousness. He didn’t call Mexicans murders and rapists, and that quote being constantly taken out of its context (where he was bringing up the sad fact that a disproportionate number of people, particularly women, are victimized by those traveling with them while trying to come into the country illegally) annoys me to no end. Then there’s the whole Wall thing, which is just a bad idea that a.) probably won’t be much of a deterrent and b.) would fuck with the private property rights that I think Donald Trump likes.

I think that if you have lots of people trying to come into your country, to the point where they’re willing to do it illegally, then that is a testament to how good your country is (at least in relation to the places around it). The day that droves of Mexican citizens decide that staying in Mexico is preferable to crossing the border is the day that the USA starts royally sucking as a place. So just a a litmus test to see that my country is still a desirable place to live, I’m fine with illegal immigration. I think it’s a good thing.

That being said, I’m not really a bleeding heart liberal on this issue. I think deportation is fine, both for the sake of the USA and for the sake of the betterment of Mexico, which I’ll get into later. If you are in a country illegally, the authorities of that country have every right to deport you. I don’t even know how to explain myself further on this topic. Is it sad that someone from Mexico has to be sent to Mexico when they don’t want to be sent back to Mexico? Yes. I can imagine that it is an incredibly shitty and unpleasant experience all around. That being said, you’re not entitled to just not get in trouble for breaking the law because getting in trouble would make you and your friends sad.

If it sounds like I’m being unempathetic, I really don’t mean to be. I understand that there are Mexican immigrants who come to the US and establish lives and connections and families. I understand that. How the US deals with Mexican immigration is awful, for the most part. “Anchor babies” are not anchor babies, they’re just babies who get shunted into our overburdened foster care system after their parents are sent back to Mexico. The utter red-tape bureaucracy of obtaining citizenship status, or even getting temporary permission to be in the country, is ridiculous and needs to be streamlined in some fashion. It’s not fair that a woman can be brought to America by her parents, having no say in the matter herself, at an age when she’s too young to even speak, only to find out that she’s not a citizen eighteen years later when she’s applying for college. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t think deporting hard-working people whose only real crime is hopping the border 10 years ago is the best way to go about things.

It’s not like I’m a fan of how America deals with this issue. But you can sit in a circle clapping your hands and singing Kumbaya all you fucking want, it’s not going to change the fact that countries have borders and they have them for a reason. Unchecked immigration is a very nice idea, but its utopian. It’s never going to be a thing, and dealing with the immigration issue by chasing after a pipe dream of global citizenship where “no one is illegal” isn’t going to get anything done. If you want to see what I mean, go see if liberal icon Justin Trudeau would be okay with scores of under-educated, low-skill workers from rural Appalachia flooding into Canada with no real way to keep track of them. And remember, if he isn’t okay with it, he’s probably some kind of -ist.

This is not me saying that Mexican immigrants are criminals or a burden on society or that “they’re taking our jobs.” This is me saying that you cannot disrespect the property rights of another country and then expect that country to care about your interests. This is why I don’t fully understand how being pro-open border immigration is even a politically liberal standpoint. I honestly don’t. You’re essentially saying that you want all these people to be able to come and live and work in this country without having to worry about being sent back, totally ignoring that that essentially enables all of their abusers to continue abusing them. I don’t think we should be lenient on illegal immigration because the people who are fucked over by illegal immigration more than anyone else are illegal immigrants. Is no one going to acknowledge this?

Almost no one is saying that we should be giving these people a path to citizenship. No one is saying that we should abolish citizenship as a concept. They’re just saying that the American government should look the other way when someone from Mexico decides that they want to live in the US now without going through the legal means of doing that. You could be encouraging legal immigration and fight for reforms that would make naturalization a more streamlined process or provide a faster means for low-skill workers to receive the equivalent of a temporary work visa to help ease into the longer bureaucratic process of citizenship. But instead, you just want illegal immigrants to not only continue coming over here, but encourage illegal immigration as an option that gives all the perks of moving legally and being a legal citizen, but one that’s just more expedient and convenient (since apparently, they shouldn’t have to worry about being deported, and they should be entitled to be able to do all the things legal citizens can do like vote in American elections). What incentive does anyone have to come to the country legally, at this point?

And to cap all of that off, that beautiful picture liberals are painting where illegal immigrants have nothing to fear and have all the perks of American citizenship with none of the hassle of having to do all that pesky paperwork or have to sit on jury duty, is just a fucking pipe dream. Yes, Mexican citizens! Be physically and financially abused by people who are highly likely to rape and/or kill you in order to cross the border illegally into America, because then you’ll be living the high life of . . . being paid less than minimum wage because it’s not like you can complain to the authorities about it, living conditions in asbestos-ridden housing developments, giving your children an awful start at life once you realize that schooling requires English paperwork to be filed, and having almost no chance for upward social mobility.

Yeah, we really did those people a favor by letting them come here illegally without batting an eye! How is this the liberal position? It enables exploitative coyotes who may or may not be considered outright human traffickers, enables exploitative businesses that want cheaper in-country labor, and enables the continuation of horrible public schooling practices that take advantage of naive immigrant parents and don’t even teach their children English half the time. But hey, they can still vote in our elections even though they’re not citizens of the country. So keep letting them come in while we continue to make promises about improving their living conditions that we immediately ignore as soon as we’re voted into office!

Mexico’s government is one of the most corrupt in the goddamn world, and its allowed to stay that way because the people who face the brunt of that corruption (the blue collared poor) are given the green-light to just skip the border into Texas illegally instead of staying and demanding that something be done about the fact that their government might as well be a stand-in for oligarchs and Columbian drug cartels. Why do you think billboards and ads in Mexican newspapers funded by the government or wealthy private sources exist extolling the values of hopping the border? My comfortably middle-class Mexican friend went to Mexico City to visit family and learned the hard way that the police only give a damn about you and your troubles if you’re rich. Let’s just say he got used to people stealing his stuff and the cops only bothering to look in his direction if he flashed some money first.

If half of the political outrage over how “mean and unfair deportation is” was filtered into outrage over how Mexico’s working poor is essentially treated like cannon fodder by the wealthy and the federal and private authorities that back them up, then Mexico might be a half-way livable place for a working class stiff to be by now. How do you think the situation in Mexico is improving by its wealthier neighbor up north doing nothing to put pressure on it to reform and also giving it a Get Outta Jail Free card by offering to take all the disgruntled masses of off its hands for no cost to them?

Instead of funneling our resources into making Mexico a place people would actually want to live, we’re busy providing federal scholarships to Mexican children who had the poor fortune of being screwed over by their parents’ short-sighted decision-making skills. Instead of cracking down on companies that violate workers’ rights, we’re busy encouraging them to hire illegal immigrants who they have no incentive to treat well, with no means of punishing them for that mistreatment because that would entail revealing the undocumented status of their workers, which is a no-no.

I understand why people are so against deportation. I get it. It’s not like I look at video footage of someone being dragged kicking and screaming into a van back to TJ and get a warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside. But, in the end of the day, this open border policy where the Mexican underclass can shed the borderline-tyranny of living in a corrupt Mexico for the privilege of living in elevated poverty in the US is not working. It’s not helping either country. If you care about the well-being of illegal Mexican immigrants, then you should care about the reasons why they left their country to begin with; and you shouldn’t put a band-aid on it by telling them that they can just crash on your couch for a while until all the trouble back home blows over. It won’t all blow over. They’ll be crashing on your couch forever because you never give them any reason to leave, and that may be a nice thing to do for a limited period of time, but something should probably be done about it when they start listing your address as their place of permanent residence.

 

A Very Small Rant About Trump and College Campuses

Dear college campuses,

Stop insisting that I need therapy because Trump is president. Stop sending out five e-mails a day about all the on-campus mental health resources available to help me through these “trying times.” Stop automatically assuming that everyone on your campus is full of seething hatred and fear of the man. Stop acting like we’ve all suffered through some collective, crippling trauma. Stop encouraging students to be hysterical about every single thing Trump does, and stop legitimizing the ones who are. Stop encouraging students to be hysterical about every single ‘bias incident’ that occurs and talking about it like white supremacists have set up shop in our dorms. Stop acting like obvious political bias is commensurate with moral superiority. Stop treating every positive or neutral thing said about Trump like a hate crime against all the minorities on-campus. Stop automatically assuming that I’m quaking in my boots over his presidency because I’m a minority.

Just stop.

You care so much about your students’ mental health that you waited for a topically controversial presidential race to bring up the topic at all. Good on ya.