In it, you can read an interesting (although biased) analysis:
“Toxic Masculinity Is at the Heart of This Darkness”.
Why did Alek Minassian allegedly climb into a van on Monday and kill ten people in Toronto? It goes without saying that each and every crime like this is determined by a number of factors. The one silver lining in all of this is that since the alleged killer was arrested, we may have the opportunity to understand what led to Monday’s horrific events.
In the interim, all we have so far is reports that it appears Minassian is a high-functioning autistic man who made a Facebook post in the minutes before the killing invoking misogynist murderer Elliot Rodger and announcing the inauguration of the “incel rebellion.”
For those uninitiated into the heart of darkness called Extremely Online, incels or “involuntary celibates” are a group of sad men so upset at their lack of sexual activity that they fantasize about raping, murdering, and otherwise brutalizing all women as a kind of guerrilla anti-feminist warfare. They first came to media prominence in 2014 after Rodger killed six people in California in 2014 and issued a 100+ page “manifesto” where he crudely turned his personal history of social and sexual frustration into a political crusade against all sex-havers.
“Western hedonism is at the heart of this darkness”
This prompted me to post what follows:
Yes, the deed was driven by a hate of women but we need to dig deeper than that. What are the causes of the extreme misogyny of “involuntary celibates” (an awful phrase I just discovered by the way)? It is certainly complex but I think that one major factor might be VIRGIN-SHAMING and the capitalistic sex-industry that glorifies the idea that the value of a man is determined by the number of women he manages to seduce. And that, in turn, drives many mentally unstable or otherwise handicapped men to despair and gravely compounds their mental health condition. So NEO-LIBERAL sex-positive feminists should recognise they are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
My own title? “Western hedonism is at the heart of this darkness”
The post-factualism of triggered progressives
This has led to a flurry of reactions that were neither particularly constructive nor rational.
First of all, J. F. shot from the hip: “Women being part of the problem that these idiots think sex is owed to them. Wow. Get the fuck out!”
I was puzzled by that. Where on earth did I say that women are part of the problem?
I said that neo-liberal sex-positive feminists (i.e. adherents of that ideology who can be both male and female) contribute to this problem by fostering a climate where the worth of a man is defined by how often he can “get laid” and where unsuccessful males are regularly mocked and ridiculed by their peers. I might be wrong aboutthat but my position is clearly entirely different from the ignoble thing I’m accused of saying.
Another (somewhat more polite) commentator wrote this:
“Hugh Hefner is not the reason these men have a problem. For Fuck’s Sake! Nor is any woman who chooses to make money from sex, or her body.”
As a mantra, that sounds great. But progressives are supposed to look beyond that and to carefully consider the available evidence before making such statements.
So, is it really true that the pornofication of our society doesn’t contribute by any means to the objectification of women?
I think there is one hell of a difference between growing up in the belief that romantic love should be pursued and growing up in the belief that having hedonistic pleasure trough sex is all that matters in life.
I would like to see empirical studies showing this has no influence on the way young men see members of the opposite gender.
On another level, I find it disheartening to see self-proclaimed progressives passionately and uncritically defend a man such as Hefner while ignoring his dark sides.
Finally, I’d like to go into the comment of D. J., as it is so typical of the way outraged progressives stifle any reasonable conversation:
“It’s quite apparent you’re speaking from your own experience, having the privilege of being a white assumed (cis) male. In a progressive space trying to mansplain what is a feminist to justify toxic masculinity.”
So this man knows very little about me but he believes that my skin colour and gender are sufficient to attribute complex psychological motives to me (and to accuse me of justifying the mass slaughtering of innocent women!). That, folks, is the very essence of racism.
But more fundamentally, this totally misses the point. I can be a terribly flawed human being but that does not in any way, shape or form invalidate my ideas which stand on their own merit. While reacting to opinions they dislike, progressives constantly commit the genetic fallacy and the ad-hominem fallacy instead of challenging them with reasonable arguments.
I did not primarily write this blog post to argue for the truth of my position regarding the link between such hardcore misogyny and neo-liberal hedonism. I might be wrong about that and I wholly recognise it.
I rather want to illustrate how it is not possible to have a reasonable and mutually respectful conversation with “progressives” on a controversial topic based on facts and a careful reasoning.
Apparently, just holding such an unorthodox position automatically makes you a despicable bigot.
I think it is truly a pity. To people thinking outside the box, progressivism can be as harmful and unwelcoming as conservatism.
This, in turn, contributes to the polarisation of society and the culture war where people talk (or rather shout) past to each other instead of seeking a common ground and having a rational debate where the opponent’s views are fairly represented.
I am all too aware that both liberals and conservatives are unlikely to like this post as it was written by someone who sorts of stands in the middle and doesn’t adhere to the dogmas of either side.
Are liberal Christians all the same?
Are conservative Christians all the same?
No, and I sing the praises of some. A short list, admittedly. And I intensely dislike some ‘conservative’ Christians.
However, if I described the key aspects of liberal Christians that I firmly regard as being essentially anti-Christian, I suspect you’ll find quite the overlap of the Venn diagrams.
By the way, Marc. I recall years ago over at your blog was some snarky little German atheist who used to talk about how the irreligious Germans didn’t really have much of a ‘racism’ problem (compared to the more religious US). I warned at the time that there was quite a lot of people ready and willing to immigrate to Europe, given half a chance, and that the perceived lack of problems wasn’t going to last forever. I recall being laughed at and being told how the only problems were the Turks, and that’s under control.
If ever the opportunity arises, let ’em know that I am laughing my ass off whenever I think of that conversation now.
I recognise at your tone you feel extremely frustrated and angry.
I don’t think this is doing you any good and I honestly don’t believe that this state of mind honours Christ.
I know only few things about your background, life experiences and what you went through.
But I think you’d be better off praying to God that He shows you if certain things you consider to be right might be wrong.
And I shall certainly do the same.
I haven’t got any news from Andy for a long time.
I do believe that we, as Christians, have a duty to welcome and shelter anyone whose live is really threatened.
But Angela’s Merkel decision to accept more than two MILLIONS of migrants was crazy. Many of them are pseudo-refugees. Many of then have no willingness to integrate themselves into the German society.
I am critical of “Black Lives matter” and I just published this blog post.
My opposition to this movement has caused many progressives to call me a “racist” and “white supremacist”.
I am now convinced that liberal cultural warriors aren’t any better than conservative culture warriors.
But I always try to be gracious and respectful towards respectful opponents.
Best wishes and blessings.
Credit where it’s due, Marc. You’re unusual.
That said, I really do what I think is right. Do keep this in mind: you’re coming around to show some sympathy with a point of view that I’ve long occupied. I used to be more moderate. I tried to have a ‘At least we’re all Christian’ attitude with leftist Christians.
Then I started to notice that the leftists didn’t care about God at all. The resurrection? A side-belief at best. No, what was really of interest was motivating the Church to subscribe to whatever the important secular social issues of the day were, with a bit of God-language thrown on them.
I notice, from afar, that the principal opponents to Merkel’s insanity tend to be people holding crosses and having a far more traditional view of Church and State. It’s the liberal Christians and (especially) atheists urging her on.
Besides, the appalling rise of Donald Trump makes it abundantly clear that there are still many Americans of Europeans descent who hate, resent or disdain Afro-Americans.
Why do I even bother?
And just like that, I’m reminded yet again of why I disown the Christian Left. Enjoy your Muslims, Marc. May the liberal parts of Europe give way to sultans, and may the rest be blessed by God.
If black people don’t want me resenting them, they should probably stop all of that rioting and extreme violence.
It would also help me resent them less if there were less black gang-bangers and if they actually made some sort of attempt to form families instead of breeding like rodents.
But what do I know. I’m just a racist.
“If black people don’t want me resenting them, they should probably stop all of that rioting and extreme violence.”
What disturbs me about that sentence is that it involves one hell of an over-generalisation.
“Black” people aren’t a monolithic group. There are as many differences between blacks as there are between “whites”.
Many blacks are appalled by the violence of “Black Lives Matters” and do not feel they represent them.
I agree with you that such acts are indefensible and also completely counter-productive.
But I think you should have written:
“If proponents of Black Live Matters don’t want me resenting them, they should probably stop supporting all that rioting and extreme violence.”
If an Afro-American wrote:
“If white people don’t want me resenting them, they should probably stop discriminating and hating us.”
I would disagree with him for the same reason.
Crude: I don’t expect you to become a liberal Christian.
I don’t expect you to start believing that gay marriage is a good thing.
I don’t expect you to support abortion, all the more so since I believe it should be avoided if the health of the woman isn’t threatened.
But I think that if you call yourself a Christian (and are aware of the Sermon on the Mount), you ought to make a conscious effort to respectfully treat respectful opponents regardless of their ideas.
I’ve always tried to be kind towards you, even when you wrote things I totally disagree with and even when you were insulting towards other commentators on my blog.
“Enjoy your Muslims, Marc. May the liberal parts of Europe give way to sultans, and may the rest be blessed by God.”
You are being quite nasty here. Apart from lumping together all Muslims as raping terrorists, you are assuming that I am happy about the current situation, even though I told you that a (small) part of the migrants are violent pseudo-refugees (who are a threat to Westerners, liberal Muslims, homosexuals, and Arab Christians alike).
By the way, Germany and France didn’t invade Iraq. Without American imperialism, there wouldn’t have been such atrocious destructions in Syria and in the Middle East.
So, I do believe that it is the US who should have welcomed the large majority of them.
Let us not forget that most of them aren’t criminals but people who have lost everything because of us Westerners.
What disturbs me about that sentence is that it involves one hell of an over-generalisation.
What disturbs me about that is that you don’t realize that I’m generalizing.
I’m tired of people pretending they don’t understand that that’s what I’m doing. They do. So I’m not going to apologize for it.
I agree with Malcolm. The need to constantly self-police and forever parse one’s words to exactitude is nonsensical. Especially when Marc himself will talk about how Trump’s rise obviously shows how wickedly horrible and racist towards black the country is.
That said, the black culture is – for a number of reasons – rife with single moms, who are increasingly copping an attitude of ‘I didn’t do nothing wrong!’ and ‘Oh my God for some reason my kids turned out rotten, it’s not my fault’. White culture has its own mass of problems, but I believe in addressing them, and being clear about their racial realities.
As for Marc, well, that warrants a post of its own.
Yeah. When you realize that the one group you actually made an effort to play nice with is ALSO not, and never going to be, willing to give you a fair hearing, you stop caring about what they think of you at all.
Crude, I want to be clear about one thing.
I wouldn’t have commented on your blog if you were just a nasty conservative to me. I think you have been being consumed by anger and hatred for too long. And I really believe this is doing you no good at all.
Malcolm, while some folks might understand it this way, many others will feel insulted.
Whenever liberal culture warriors write: “White men cannot bear the idea of a female leading the mightiest country in the world” I feel really offended and angry.
This is why I think *all* such over-generalisations should be avoided.
This is a straightforward application of the Golden Rule you probably know.
Best wishes, Marc.
“I think you have been being consumed by anger and hatred for too long. And I really believe this is doing you no good at all.”
‘Consumed by anger and hatred’ cashing out to… what? Snarky comments? Openly saying I have no patience for a segment of Christianity which was marking me and people like me as a monstrous hateful person even when I was noticeably more delicate and forever trying to be appeasingly careful with my words?
I express contempt for people who despise me or collude with those who do, and I am ‘consumed by anger and hatred’. You buddy up with people who think the failure to service a same-sex wedding is a criminal act, worthy of firing, fining and jailing, but what, you’re better because in direct conversation you’re civil? No, that’s not even in the realm of sensible.
As for ‘many others will feel insulted’ – they’ve turned feelings of insult into a policing weapon. And when we feel insulted or angry, we’re told – and have been told – to shut up and deal with it, because freedom. We offend, innocently or not, and the rules change; our offense is ‘hate’, which freedom is incompatible with.
You should understand why so many people have decided that the politeness game is no longer one they wish to play.
“Malcolm, while some folks might understand it this way, many others will feel insulted.”
You used an example of people of other races making similar generalizations about whites, and you’re quite correct: When that becomes taboo to say, I’ll stop generalizing about blacks.
I decided not to further engage them as the confrontation was starting to wear me down.
It goes without saying I completely reject their assertion that it is permissible to be nasty towards a respectful opponent because other people holding similar ideas have bullied you.
Nor do I believe that liberals making racist over-generalisations against whites can justify you making racist over-generalisations against blacks. For this is a form of collective punishment.
As a side note, if anyone is interested in learning the reasons why I don’t think that Black Lives Matter is the right way to tackle the undeniable reality of anti-black racism in America, I am certainly willing to talk about that.
But if you believe there cannot possibly be any such reasons, I am probably not worth your while.
White man runs red light, causes accident, shoots and kills black woman with her hands up
Early Saturday morning, Deborah Pearl, a 53-year-old African-American mother and employee of a Cleveland area Harley Davidson Diner in Northeast Ohio, was on her to way work.
At 7:20 a.m., as she was driving her Ford Taurus, she had no idea that she was living her very last moments on this earth. Matthew Ryan Desha, a 29-year-old white man, ran a red light at an intersection and hit Pearl’s car with his Jeep.
After his car flipped many times and hers was pushed into the intersection, what happened next was like something out of a horror movie.
As Deborah Pearl got out of her car to assess the situation, Matthew Desha did as well. Except he also grabbed his 5.56-millimeter high powered assault rifle. According to witnesses, Pearl then proceeded to put her hands in the air in attempt to save her life from the armed stranger who had narrowly avoided killing them both in the crash just seconds earlier.
It mattered not to Matthew Desha. A witness who called 911 reported hearing him fire off at least 12 shots. At first, the appeared to be random. The 911 caller heard Deborah Pearl, who was a sitting duck at that point, begin screaming. Desha then began aiming and firing at her. While it has not yet been released how many times she was hit, when police arrived the scene, Deborah Pearl was found there on pavement mortally wounded and bleeding out.
Devastated and shocked, her husband and other family members came to the scene, and, understandably so, could not even muster up the words to explain how they were feeling.
Matthew Desha was arrested near the scene. Early Monday morning he was charged with the murder of Deborah Pearl. Police have not mentioned a motive for the brutal murder, but the entire scene is riddled with awful implications.
Just this past June, “police charged 29-year-old Matthew R. Desha with one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. A search of the North Ridgeville, Ohio, man’s car turned up a loaded 9 mm handgun and three additional loaded magazines, along with straws with suspected drug residue and other contraband.”
Clearly, that arrest wasn’t enough to have this man fully disarmed.
My mind immediately goes to Kalief Browder, who was arrested on suspicion of stealing a backpack. Kalief spent three years in jail awaiting trial for that charge before simply being released when the case was dismissed.
Desha, though, was arrested on a felony gun charge and was suspected of having drugs in his car as well, but was released in plenty of time to murder Deborah Pearl in cold blood.
I don’t know Matthew Desha, but I know cold-blooded bigotry and violence. I know that what Matthew Desha did to Deborah Pearl reminds me a great deal of what Dylann Roof, another heavily armed white man who had been previously arrested multiple times for drug and other charges, did to a group of unarmed African-Americans in Charleston, South Carolina.
Either way, a family just lost their wife and mother in a senseless act of American violence and we don’t have a single sign that anybody in power is close to doing a thing about it.
I cannot imagine either what her family must have felt.
But I have several remarks concerning the article itself.
1) Was this really motivated by racial hatred? Could it be that under the same circumstances, the man would have killed a white woman standing in his way?
We need to know more about his background before concluding this hideous crime was driven by anti-black racism.
For all we know, he might as well be a psychopath or suffer from delusions.
So at the moment, we cannot positively assert that he murdered her for the same reason Dylann Roof cowardly killed black Christian ministers.
2) What about situations where the role are reversed and it is a black man who kills a white woman?
Would it be right to title an article “Black man causes car crash, shoots and kills white woman”?
If a black man did that to a black woman, would it be right to write “Black man causes car crash, shoots and kills black woman”?
I think not, because this would unjustly stigmatise all black men.
But the same can be said about the stigmatisation of “white” men which is so widespread among the wealthy liberal establishment.
If it turns out his crime was truly driven by bigotry, an appropriate title would be “Racistwhite man causes car crash, shoots and kills black woman”.
3) Given the absence of evidence this act was motivated by racial hatred, all we can say is that a human being committed an atrocity against another human being.
In such a situation, we should sympathise with the afflicted family and pray for them if we are religious believers.
4) This article shows one of the main problems I have with “Black Lives Matter”, namely their failure to consider alternative explanations before concluding something was due to anti-black racism.
To his credit, Shaun King did not draw this conclusion but he strongly suggested this is the case.
If we are really interested in truth, we should only conclude something was caused by racism if we have concrete evidence pointing in that direction.
To give you an example, it is entirely true that there are disproportionately more Africo-Americans in prison than whites.
But before shouting that this huge disparity is due to racism occurring in the here and now, you must show that poverty plays no significant role.
Do you want to be bullied, ridiculed and dehumanised by a LIBERAL culture warrior?
Say to him or her any of the following things.
1) Systematic racism against afro-americans is alive and well in America in 2016. This shouldn’t be tolerated. But there are also innocent white kids who get bullied and battered just because of their skin colour. This should be called racial hatred and equally combated.
2) Nowadays, there is still an intolerable level of homophobia and misogyny in the Western World. We must not deny this but eagerly fight it. However,in 2016 the oppression of gays and females is MUCH worse in Muslim countries. They (and liberal Muslims who defend them) are much more in need of our support than Western females and homosexuals.
4) A man whose life has been destroyed by a false rape accusation is as much in need of our help and compassion as a woman whose life has been destroyed by a true rape.
5) While assessing the existence of real discriminations in the here and now in a given society (say America), you shouldn’t directly compare the whole groups of non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, blacks and Asians because these populations can be extremely different in terms of poverty, culture and many other factors.
Instead, while investigating academic success, unjustified police arrests, discriminations etc., you should compare homogeneous groups such as:
a) wealthy whites and wealthy blacks coming from wealthy neighbourhoods
b) poor whites and poor blacks coming from poor neighbourhoods
c) qualified men and qualified women applying for academic positions in philosophy or mechanical engineering.
6) Anti-black racism isn’t only a Western phenomenon. There are awful cases of persecutions of black Africans in Arabic countries as well. This is something progressive Arabs clearly expose and fight. Curiously, this is something progressive Westerners choose to completely ignore because it destroys their most fundamental beliefs.
7) Race-based affirmative action is unjust and inevitably upholds artificial divisions of humankind.
Instead, it should be replaced by a set of three measures
i) wealth-based affirmative action
ii) any enterprise must have the same amount of employees belonging to the ethnic minority as the amount of that ethnic minority among qualified candidates.
iii) public education in poor neighbourhoods must be extremely strengthened and improved through the intervention of the State. Much more money needs to be spent in these areas.
8) Discriminating a person because he or she is obese, unattractive or behaves oddly due to a mental health condition isn’t any less immoral than discriminating him or her based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
9) Stealing the wallet of a person swinging it around in the street is as immoral as stealing it from his or her closed pockets.
But given the bad mentality of a large number of people, it might not be wise to hold it in one’s hands while walking down certain streets.
Raping a sexily dressed and attractive woman is as wrong, egregious and wicked as raping a “modestly” dressed woman.
But given the bad mentality of a large number of men, it might not be wise to dress oneself provocatively under certain circumstances.
Liberalism, rationality and morality
I want to make it perfectly clear that what I wrote does NOT concern all liberals, but only the true “culture warriors” among them.
These people view themselves as the champions of truth, reason, decency and intelligence.
Actually, my numerous interactions with them have shown me they aren’t any different from nasty religious fundamentalists aggressively defending their cherished dogmas, without evidence and often even in the face of evidence.
I consider myself a progressive Christian because I believe that the Bible contains contradictions and errors and that we need to use our God-given conscience in order to figure out what is right and what is wrong in a complex world and to make moral progress.
And this all too often leads me to think outside the box, as the content of this post proves.
Frankly, I am ready to give up any of the nine “heretical” beliefs I laid out if you give me compelling rational arguments against them.
Insulting and dehumanising me would be definitely most entertaining (to me) 🙂
Alas, it is unlikely to change my mind in the least.
It is particularly embarrassing that many of these self-righteous “leftists” are self-professed Christians.
By bullying their respectful opponents and treating them like the scum of the world, they are dishonouring Christ who taught us to even love our enemy.
(I argued elsewhere that this principle stands at the very centre of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth).
This naturally entails trying to put yourself in the shoes of a person experiencing injustices and act as you would like one acts towards you if you were in his or her situation.
Pseudo-progressives, on the other hand, believe that moral progress is all about acting in accordance with politically correct dogmas nobody ought to question.
Currently, these alleged “sacred truths” can be summed up in the following way
“Oppression almost always stems from heterosexual white males who attack the right of women, homosexuals and non-whites.”
(Of course, “whites” and “non-whites” are artificial (and incoherent) constructions they more or less unconsciously uphold. This shall be the topic of another post).
Now, I certainly wouldn’t deny that misogyny, homophobia and systematic racism are still huge problems (especially in religious conservative or fundamentalist circles, at least as far as the first two ones are concerned).
But I think it is nonsensical and extremely offensive to pretend that poverty and unjust economical structures aren’t in and of themselves a significant cause of oppression.
I also believe it is wrong for these people to pretend to follow the teachings of Martin Luther King while ignoring an essential part of it.
Martin Luther King on poverty
While describing the way in which annoying aspects of the message of prophets are rewritten by the mighty of a society, liberal Christian scholar Thom Stark considered the case of Martin Luther King in modern America.
And we do this today. Martin Luther King Jr. was a notorious gadfly. He is remembered today solely for his role in the civil rights movement, but, especially in his later years, King was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, and spoke out often and dynamically against free-market capitalism. He said that the U.S. needs to honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society.
“There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question,
‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalist economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?” These are questions that must be asked.” King went on to call for a synthesis of capitalism and communism that involved nothing less than a total overhaul of the U.S. economic system. This is the King we don’t remember on Martin Luther King Day every year. And that is the purpose of Martin Luther King Day. King, whatever else he was, was an enemy to the power structures in the United States. The genius of declaring a national holiday in King’s honor is that the elites get to claim King as one of their own; they get to control, to a large degree, how we remember him. He was a dissenter from the establishment orthodoxy, but the establishment could hardly shut him out of the collective memory, and far less could they vilify him. So what they did was to call him “son” and thereby acquire the means to control howthe public remembers him.
In an article entitled “King’s final message: Poverty is a civil rights battle”, Stephanie Sieck further drives the point home.
King’s final message: Poverty is a civil rights battle
On Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, some will volunteer, some will attend celebrations of his life and legacy, some will do nothing at all. “I have a dream,” the title of King’s best known speech, will be repeated countless times, along with well-known stories about his commitment to nonviolence, his letters from a Birmingham jail, his marches against segregation and the bullet that ended his life on April 4, 1968.
But few will remember how King lived his last birthday, as he turned 39 on January 15, 1968.
According to accounts of the day retold by Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III, King spent the day working on a campaign that he hoped would force Washington and the American public to acknowledge and resolve the problem of poverty for people of all races, religions and backgrounds in the United States. The Poor People’s Campaign was the agenda for the day, with a short break for birthday cake.
While King’s dream, the march on Washington and fight against segregation are well-known to children and adults now, fewer are aware that King spent the last months of his life fighting poverty.
When he died in Memphis, he was there to support fair wages and union representation for Memphis sanitation workers.
Rebecca Burns, who wrote about King’s last days, death, and burial in “Burial for a King,” said King’s antiwar and anti-poverty legacy are overshadowed in part because their solutions are more elusive.
“It’s a much more complex issue – it’s not, pardon my choice of words, as black and white as voting rights or where you sit on a bus,” Burns said. “It’s harder to talk about that in sound bites.”
Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, said that King’s dreams of economic justice remain unrealized, but not because they are impossible to achieve.
“It is easier to celebrate King as a civil rights leader, because that was the easier part of his vision to realize,” Carson said. “The southern Jim Crow system was a regional anachronism rather than a national problem – the gulf between rich and poor – that we still prefer to ignore.”
The Poor People’s Campaign reached out to poor whites, many of whom felt most threatened by the civil rights movement’s successes in black equality, as well as impoverished migrant farm workers who harvested the nation’s food and Native Americans who languished on reservations. Injustice anywhere, King said, was a threat to justice everywhere.
Race-based and gender-based affirmative action
This leads me to the topic of affirmative action and its usefulness in addressing injustices.
In another post, I argued that affirmative action should first and foremost be based on the wealth and well-being of individuals.
Pseudo-progressive passionately disagree and believe it should always only be based on gender and race even if this leads one to privilege a wealthy woman over a poor man in quite a few cases.
Richard D. Kahlenberg is an American scholar having spent considerable time analysing affirmative action in higher education.
On the whole, university leaders much prefer the prevailing system of racial preference in admission, which ignores issues of economic inequality and instead focuses, as Walter Benn Michaels acidly observes, on “what color skin the rich kids have.” (One study found that almost nine in ten African Americans at selective colleges are middle or upper class— though the whites were even wealthier.)
Recruiting fairly privileged students of color is far less expensive than including low-income and working-class kidsof all races. While higher education’s vigorous defense of affirmative action on one level represents a sincere desire for greater racial equality, it has another less virtuous side to it, as racial preferences avoid the hard work of addressing deeply rooted inequalities and instead provide what Stephen Carter has called “racial justice on the cheap.”
Most notably, in the late 1960s, before his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrestled with the issue of how best to remedy our nation’s history of discrimination. On the one hand, he argued in his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait that compensation is due to black Americans. “It is impossible to create a formula for the future which does not take into account that our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years,” he wrote.
In the book, and in subsequent testimony before the Kerner Commission in 1967, King called for “compensatory consideration,” noting, “if a man is entered at the starting line in a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his fellow runner.” But instead of urging adoption of a special program for blacks, as some civil rights leaders had done, King called for a color-blind Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged:
“While Negroes form the vast majority of America’s disadvantaged, there are millions of white poor who would also benefit from such a bill.”
“It is a simple matter of justice that America, in dealing creatively with the task of raising the Negro from backwardness, should also be rescuing a large stratum of the forgotten white poor.”
King knew that class-based approaches would disproportionately benefit victims of historic discrimination without violating the color-blind ideal he had famously articulated in the 1963 March on Washington.
Given these political realities, it is perhaps not surprising that the father of racial preferences was not Lyndon Johnson or Martin Luther King and instead was Richard Nixon. In 1969, Nixon proposed the Philadelphia Plan that imposed racial hiring quotas on the city’s construction industry. Bayard Rustin, the great civil rights leader and friend of labor who planned the 1963 March on Washington, was suspicious: why would Nixon, who was no great supporter of civil rights, support a policy of racial preferences? Rustin charged that Nixon was using the Philadelphia Plan to “deliberately throw black and white workers at each other’s throats.”
I think this should give a pause to all of us truly interested in genuine social justice .
In 2015, the real victims of slavery and segregation are mainly those blacks living under the threshold of poverty.
Race-based positive discrimination overwhelmingly favours economically privileged blacks and latinos at their expense and that of poor whites.
Whites of lower classes, in turn, are all too easily lured into far-right movements such as the Tea-Party or the personality cult of xenophobic billionaire Donald Trump.
It seems clear to me that privileging wealth-based or class-based affirmative action over race-based affirmative action (without necessarily always giving up on the latter) would lead to a far more just and stable society, as Martin Luther King would have desired.
In 2016, in a Western secular context, it doesn’t demand any moral courage to stand for the rights of Afro-Americans unjustly killed, homosexuals being bullied or women victim of sexism.
For there is a large consensus that those things are egregiously wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated.
You probably don’t need to be a Christian in order to recognise the wisdom in the following words of Jesus of Nazareth:
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
There is no great moral merit in defending values the large majority of your peers agree with.
It does require, however, a tremendous courage to criticise politically correct dogmas.
For many pseudo-progressives react like outraged religious fundamentalists and do not hesitate to resort to emotional bullying and unfair characterisations of the arguments of their opponents.
I know that it is very unlikely I could ever change their minds and I don’t even want to try it.
For all other readers, I think it might be worth considering what follows.
In 2016, the mighty of this world (i.e. the billionaires and millionaires governing Western oligarchies) can, by and large, cope with a black leader (such as Barack Obama) or a female leader (such as Angela Merkel and probably Hilary Clinton) who uphold neo-liberalism, Western imperialism and do not call into question their scandalous economic privileges.
“It’s not a radical concept that maybe the United States government should represent working families rather than a handful of billionaires.”
No, it isn’t a radical concept at all, indeed.
But it is a lot harder than posting pictures in favour of gay marriage or abortion on your facebook account, getting a lot of “likes” and thinking in turn you are a noble hero contributing to saving our world.
I guess that if I wrote such a long post, it is only because I am an evil heterosexual white man who takes pleasure in oppressing women, ethnic minorities and homosexuals (and devouring small children alive).
Therefore, you don’t have to bother about refuting my arguments, let alone trying to fairly understand and describe my actual positions.
I’ve already exposed one fundamental flaw of the New Atheism (also-called Anti-Theism): their failure to appreciate the fact that the entity they call Religion (with a capital R) is an incredibly diverse phenomenon.
NO, you should consider every specific denomination and compare its own performance and problems with respect to science,sexism, racism or homophobia.
It is silly to say to a liberal Methodist defending Gay marriage: “Get out of here hateful bigot!” just because he’s an American Christian, and American Christians have on average a low view of homosexuals.
(What follows is his post I quoted while emphasising certain sentences).
Jerry Coyne says I am wrong about creationism, misogyny and homophobia
Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True (both blog and book) didn’t like my recent posts about the link between creationism, sexism, and homophobia. In a recent post, he argues that I have made a logical fallacy and risk miring the battle against creationism in the ‘atheist wars’ over feminism.
Jerry introduced the post by saying some nice things about me, so I’ll return the compliment: I owe Jerry a great deal. Until I read his book, despite having not been to church in eight years I still thought it made sense to say “evolution is only a theory”. Although at that point I thought evolution was probably right, I had no idea how much evidence there is, nor why my understanding of the term ‘theory’ was wrong-headed. Thanks to him I entered the world of evolutionary science, and my life is the richer for it. And, as Jerry himself points out, he’s been a frequent supporter of my writing and I wouldn’t be as successful a blogger as I am without that patronage.
I sort of appreciate the sentiment of Jerry’s opening sentence—”It’s never a pleasure to criticize the views of someone I admire”—but actually I see no reason why this should be an unpleasant enterprise. One of the best things about my post-church life is that I now feel free to disagree with people without automatically making them my enemies. It’s also possible that I am mistaken about this, in which case I should be glad he’s pointed it out.
The title of Jerry’s post is “Does creationism matter more because it’s connected with misogyny and homophobia?” When you phrase the question like that, I struggle to see how the answer can be anything other than “yes”. Misogyny and homophobia, Jerry and I agree, are unqualified ills. If you take something that’s already bad and add misogyny and homophobia, you make it even worse. I didn’t say (and I do not believe) that if creationism were not homophobic or misogynistic there would be insufficient reason to oppose it. I did argue that the homophobia and misogyny that creationism involves are more pressing matters, and it seems Jerry agrees on this point. Near the end of the post, he writes “In fact, oppression of women and of gays are matters of greater import than is the teaching of creationism, and if I could wave a magic wand I’d make the first two disappear before the third”, which might leave some readers wondering where exactly he and I differ.
Jerry says I’ve made a logical fallacy, which is always a handy shortcut making your opponent look bad. If I’ve made a logical fallacy, I am objectively wrong. This is no mere difference of opinion, or difference of values, which might take longer to sort out or even be irreconcilable. I have made a fallacy, and I am a phallus.
Except that I don’t think I have. Jerry says it’s the underlying cause of all three that we need to oppose, and that was exactly my point in “Why creationism matters“. Possibly I didn’t make this sufficiently clear, in which case I’m glad for the opportunity to do so. We must be tough on creationism and tough on the causes of creationism. Jerry is right. Sort of.
The underlying cause of creationism, homophobia, and misogyny, says Jerry, is religion, and it is religion we must oppose. And here, I suspect, it is Jerry whose logic is flawed. Clearly, not all religion is all of these things, although much (perhaps most) of it is. Some religious people are among the most vocal opponents of creationism, and for some their faith is an extra reason to oppose the subjugation of women and gay people. Some of those people are among this blog’s most vocal supporters. So we’re going to need a different reason to oppose all religion, because this one is not fit for purpose.
Biblical literalism, on the other hand, is a root cause of all three of the problems at hand. The problem is the way creationists read the Bible. It promotes not just creationism, patriarchy, and gay-bashing, but also the denial of history, the enthusiastic acceptance of immorality, and an irrational rejection of opposing evidence. It is an intellectual black hole. But not all religion is Biblical literalism. I am (if you’ll forgive the term) agnostic on the question of whether the world would be better off if there were no religion at all. My hunch is that it probably would, but there isn’t enough data to be sure. Anyone who claims with certainty that religion must be annihilated for the good of humanity is taking a faith position. Which is somewhat ironic.
In my follow up post, “Creationism is inherently homophobic and misogynistic“, I made a somewhat stronger claim, but I still don’t think I made a logical fallacy. The argument here was this: the Biblical creation myths themselves contain verses which are anti-women and anti-gay. Now I’m not going to say there’s only one possible interpretation of those verses, because only fundamentalists think that way. But I did argue that if you interpret those verses using the same hermeneutic that creationists use to interpret the surrounding text, then you reach nasty conclusions. And I backed this up by empirically showing that those are, indeed, the very conclusions that creationists often come to.
The most trenchant criticism of that post, funnily enough, came from a Christian. Regular reader and commenter Kevin Long pointed out that I was expecting logical consistency from a group of people who have black belts in holding internally contradictory beliefs.
You’re thinking too logically here. Religion is not particularly logical. People are not particularly logical or theoretical about these things. People don’t usually haul out their beliefs and inspect them item by item. Most people are handed a set of beliefs early on in life, and then they just run with them, accepting the whole thing, but adapting bits when they need to. Most of these beliefs are rather fuzzy. Your gay Creationist friend is an example of that, and that type of thinking is, and has always been, the majority. This is actually an encouraging thing: people who are adaptable always outweigh people who are strictly inflexible.
That’s hardly a defence of creationism or of religion, but it does mean I could be more optimistic about the possibility of equality-affirming creationists. Of course, the problem, which Kevin’s post hints at, is that creationist beliefs actually rest on church traditions and authority, despite the fundamentalist insistence that they come purely from a plain reading of the Bible. Those church traditions are usually patriarchal and exclusionary. Kevin also pointed out that there are creationists who are not literalists with regard to other aspects of the Bible; my argument obviously wouldn’t hold in those cases. Our thread on the subject is worth a read.
I think the most important reason Jerry Coyne didn’t like my posts is that they failed the SJW sniff-test. And yes, at this point I must reveal (if it was not already clear) that I am one of those pesky feminist atheists threatening to divide the ‘movement’ with concerns over misogyny. Because what happens in this life matters more to me than what people think is going to happen after we die, I care more about equality, access to education, and social justice than I do about the nonexistence of gods.
Here follows my response to this post.
Simply amazing, Jonny!
If I didn’t fear to offend you, I’d be tempted to call you a prophet (in the noblest sense of the word).
There are so many true things you expressed here in such a stark and beautiful manner.
You (and Kevin) are entirely right that there is no consistent fundamentalist living under the sun.
Indeed, the Bible speaks with conflicting voices on many topics so that inerrantists have necessarily to distort some verses in order to take others at face value.
Their picking and choosing is (as you pointed out) strongly influenced by religious traditions and economical and social factors.
In the context of the American culture war, it is all too easy to use words in a fuzzy way without clearly laying out their meaning in order to make ideological points.
Over and over again, one can find people shouting: “Atheism has killed millions of people in the former Eastern block! Atheism is responsible for the Gulags!” and other loudly saying that “Religion is killing millions of people in the Middle East!”
For the sake of the argument, I will assume that atheism means the denial of God’s existence and religion any community based on supernatural beliefs (bypassing the difficulty of defining “natural” and “supernatural”).
If that’s the case, it is completely fallacious to say that atheism caused all the atrocities committed by these regimes in the past.
There’s absolutely no logical connection between denying God’s existence and thinking that such kinds of mass murders are morally warranted.
Countless atheists find these utterly abhorrent.
Likewise, it is completely fallacious to say that Religion causes misogyny and homophobia. There’s absolutely no logical connection between asserting “there is a supernatural realm” and “Gay people and women ought to be discriminated”. Countless religious folks find this utterly appalling.
While Jerry Coyne might be an incredibly brilliant scientist, he makes very blatant fallacies while wearing his armour of reckless culture warrior.
I appreciate your great modesty and the fact you care more about decency and love than about winning an argument.
I also think you’re entirely right to point out that the harmful moral beliefs of fundamentalists are worse than their teaching creation science.
Now I want to comment on the thought that the world would be better off without Religion .
I think it is a binary way to consider things.
As I wrote about Coyne’s initial defence of this idea:
“Basically his (implicit) reasoning was as follows:
1) It would be good to live in a world where creationism (and other anti-scientific beliefs) have wholly disappeared.
2) If ALL religions were to fade away, creationism would be no more.
3) Hence it is morally good to use our best techniques of psychological warfare to utterly destroy ALL religions.
Interestingly enough, French racists use exactly the same kind of reasoning:
1′) It would be good to live in a France where anti-white hatred no longer exists.
2′) If ALL blacks and Arabs were driven out of the land, anti-white hatred would be no more.
3′) Hence it is morally good to expel ALL blacks and Arabs from France.
Let us grant that both 1) and 1′) are true.
2) and 2′) are certainly technically true in both cases.
If ALL religions were to go away, there would be no longer any form of creationism, and if ALL blacks and Arabs no longer lived in France, anti-white hatred would be no more.
But it should be clear that a vital fact has been entirely left out of the picture in the second racist reasoning. There are countless blacks and Arabs (indeed the majority of them) who do not hate white folks and are completely respectful of French laws and customs.
It would be egregiously wrong to expel them as well for this would be a gruesome form of collective punishment.
Exactly the same thing can be said about Coyne’s reasoning.
There are countless moderate, progressive and even conservative religious believers who are not opposed to science and reason and who do not cause any harm to the society in which they live.
Advocating to systematically bully them out of their faith is equally egregious.“
(I can modify the example if you don’t deem it appropriate here. I do think it’s a good analogy which nicely illustrates the dangers of this type of reasoning).
I am convinced that the world would be better off if all fundamentalists who jettison their reason and moral intuitions for the sake of dogmas would give up their belief systems (and there are also many “secular” fundamentalists satisfying this definition).
But I see no reason to think that a thoroughly godless world would be better off than a world with religious people who are all driven by genuine love.
Let me end this long comment by saying one positive thing about Jerry: he has an adorable kitten he takes care of 🙂
OK, I’m going to push back at you a bit here. Imagine for a minute that in the past minority peoples had been forced to live in trees while white people were able to live in homes on the ground. Living in trees meant that it took more time and energy just to get to work, stores, entertainment and the like as they were all situated on the ground and climbing up and down trees is a lot of work. It also meant that the people living in trees had a significantly higher rate of skin cancer as they were closer to the sun. And occasionally, a child or even a whole house would fall out of the tree and die/be destroyed. The people living in the trees would also be stigmatized because, living in trees, they developed various ways of dealing with life which were foreign and distasteful to the ground dwellers.
Now, imagine that after several generations, society decided that they would no longer force people to live in trees. They weren’t going to help the people living in trees find and afford new homes on the ground, mind you. It was just that now, if a tree dweller could find a way to be successful enough, and was adventurous enough, they could join the white people living on the ground and enjoy the advantages of not having to climb up and down trees every time they needed to go somewhere or have their children and property endangered by gravity. As you can imagine, the migration out of the trees would probably be slow. For some time into the future the tree dwellers would continue to struggle to do well enough in life to actually get out of the trees. And some of them, particularly the youth, were angry about the state of their and their family’s lives. Now, the people who had always lived on the ground had their own problems. After all, living in a tree is hardly the only obstacle one can face in life. So while they agreed that having forced people to live in trees had been a bad idea and was no longer acceptable, they had their own problems and got tired of the grousing of the tree dwellers. After all, it wasn’t their fault that some people lived in trees. They weren’t responsible for creating the situation.
Imagine if a tree dweller said to a ground dweller, “living in a tree is destroying me and I can’t seem to find a way out! There are just so many obstacles to overcome and it’s all I can do to keep my family fed and safe and make it through each day. I hate living in a tree. It’s unfair that my people are living in trees while other people have always been able to live on the ground.” Do you really think that the tree dweller would be demanding a confession of guilt from the ground dweller? Or do you think that the tree dweller wants the ground dweller to hear of their struggle and have empathy? In this situation, would asking the ground dwelling people to help the tree dwellers overcome the problems that came with living in trees be a matter of asking them to carry the guilt of their fore-bearers who had created the unfair, harmful situation? Of course not! This idea that white people are being asked to carry guilt for what their forefathers did is a creation of the white imagination and not reality. What minorities want is for white people to stop dismissing and discounting their struggles and simply offer the same sort of empathy and assistance that any decent human being ought to offer to another who is struggling. They would like some acknowledgment from white people that being born a “ground dweller”, so to speak, means that there are certain struggles that we generally don’t have to deal with. What is being asked for is NOT guilt. What is being asked for is basic empathy and a willingness to do what we are able to do to help the “tree dwellers” move past the challenges which were left by our forefathers. Claiming that it’s about imputing guilt is a convenient way to wave off any sense of responsibility for our fellow man.
I also want to push back regarding your interaction with your Moroccan co-worker. Now, I agree that any act of bullying or violence, for whatever reason, is unacceptable. I would guess that your co-worker teaches her own children not to engage in such behaviors as well. However, I would also guess that your co-worker has personally witnessed, in a way that you have not, people who did not have the strength of spirit to deal with the obstacles and challenges that being a minority person entails. Not everyone has the character or strength of a saint. In real life, people do get to a place of bitterness, anger and despair that leads them to lash out at others. Particularly others who are, in their eyes, identified with the people who benefit from the way things are. (And whose children will witness and may repeat the bitterness their parents carry.) These people obviously cannot be given free reign to act on their anger and hatred. But no doubt your Moroccan co-worker is keenly aware of what brings a person to the point of doing that. And while I am certain she does not approve of people lashing out violently, no matter how downtrodden and angry they are, she does understand why it happens in a way that a person who has not seen it happen up close and personal do not. (And I’m not even getting into the way that when a white person behaves terribly, it is often ascribed to mental illness or getting caught up in crowd. Meanwhile a person of color behaving terribly is usually attributed to their culture and seen as a reflection of their community.)
On the other hand, the people who created this situation were not doing so because they had been pushed to the point of being crushed by the circumstances they were facing in life. They were doing so in order to maintain power and order. They were doing so out of convenience or because they did not feel the people they were pushing into untenable circumstances deserved any better. They did so because they did not want to risk having to do with less so that others could have what they needed. IOW, what drove people to create the situation of inequality is not really comparable in any way to what drive a person living on the losing end of their actions to lash out. And no doubt, for your Moroccan co-worker to hear the two situations painted as equivalent is offensive. A poor person who steals from their employer is still stealing and ought not do so, but their actions are not morally comparable to a dictator that steals his nations’ resources for his own benefit and leaves the people desperate and impoverished. And that, I believe, is why your co-worker responded so negatively.
Also, one of the things that I have become aware of is that we white people have an expectation that minority people would be sympathetic to and concerned about our negative experiences when it comes to race while we ourselves are frequently dismissive and skeptical of their negative experiences. It’s a bit like a sighted person complaining about the cost of prescription glasses to a blind person who, after all, can get by with sunglasses which don’t cost nearly as much. It just shows a lack of awareness on our part. I apologize if this sounds dismissive to you, but let me give you an illustration of how this plays out in real life. Here in the USA the practice of setting aside jobs, college admissions or scholarships for people of color is hugely controversial. White conservatives in particular consider it to be the ultimate hypocrisy as they see it as a form of reverse racism and aren’t we supposed to be getting rid of racism? So, let’s just accept the sake of discussion that they are completely right about this. Affirmative action (as this practice is called) is racism against white people and ought not be allowed in a society which is committed to equality for all people. And let’s just say, for the sake of our discussion, that this sentiment is widely shared by people of color as well. Even with all this being the case, it is quite likely that a white person condemning affirmative action to a person of color will be met with anger and hostility. Why?
The thing is that affirmative action is a form of discrimination that literally affects maybe 10,000 white people every year. And that’s a generous guess. The real number is probably much less than that. On the other hand, here in the USA, we have a situation where approximately 13% of drug users and drug dealers are African American, yet 60% of drug prisoners are African American. And that affects hundreds of thousands of African Americans each year.
And not only is the actual number of people affected by this racist system far, far larger than the number of people affected by affirmative action, because such a small percent of Americans are African American (12-14%), nearly every African American is affected by this racist system in some way. Plus, white people who lose out on a job or college admission due to affirmative action then have to find another job or school. Black people who are jailed for drug offenses not only lose their freedom for years on end, once they are out, they are virtually unemployable, have a hard time finding housing, can’t vote and in many places are unable to get any welfare benefits or educational assistance.
The end result is that white people are really, really upset by the racism of affirmative action, which affects almost no body, isn’t life destroying and isn’t widespread, yet the much bigger and more destructive racism of our “justice” system is hardly on most white people’s radar. In fact, when the problem is raised, most white people reflexively blame black people for the problem. Thus even a person of color who disagrees with affirmative action is likely to have much sympathy for white people who are harmed by it.
When white people insist that the discrimination they experience is a really, really big deal while simultaneously refusing to pour just as much energy and resources into fighting the much more devastating discrimination experienced by people of color, it will rub people of color the wrong way. To say the least. When we then try to get them to join us in being outraged over discrimination experienced by white people, well, let’s just say that we white people are lucky that bazooka’s are illegal.
The thing with “PC” is that while it is often poorly and foolishly executed, at it’s heart it is simply an attempt to get white people to move past our programmed self-centered views and show some consideration for and awareness of how our words, actions and attitude affect and appear to people of color. That’s it. We struggle with it because we have this idea that while our forebearers obviously left a mess that continues to affect minorities, we believe that we ourselves are unaffected. And that’s just not so. That we experience demands that something be done to fix the mess left behind as charges of guilt and object to being asked to consider the perspectives of the “other” as unreasonable whitewashing is evidence of the way that this pernicious evil practiced by those who went before us has caused us harm that we must also struggle to overcome.
My answer follows.
Thanks for your long and thoughtful reply.
I really liked your metaphor about the tree-dwellers and ground-dwellers and think it is a great (albeit sad) description of the situation in America and other Western countries.
I think there are several things I’d like to say in response.
1) I used “racism” as a synonym for “racial hatred” as this use is widespread in Europe, at least among common people.
I didn’t mean institutionalized racism.
What I was saying is that anti-white hatred is as real as any other kind of racial hatred and that it must be as firmly opposed.
2) You say that white people are oblivious to the inequalities other races suffer from.
You further say that if a gruesome crime is committed by a “colored” individual, white folks tend to assume it is not just due to mental illness but to his being black.
I don’t know the situation in the US in 2015. If this is still the case, this is very saddening indeed.
In modern France, this attitude is no longer widespread among the younger generations.
The large majority certainly stands for equal rights regardless of skin color.
And if after a psychopathic crime someone were to say “You see! These Blacks are crazy!” he’d spawn disgust and disdain against him.
Unfortunately, this kind of attitude is still widespread towards Muslims, especially after the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo. This is extremely unjust, preoccupying and revolting. Yet, this is not driven by feelings of racial superiority but by an ethnocentric conviction that our Western civilization is good whereas other cultures are savage and evil.
3) I completely agree there are laws in the US which are systematically very harmful to minorities.
Given all the financial interests related to this crusade, it’s perhaps never going to be abolished.
I find this monstrous and long for this evil to be undone.
I do believe, however, that my being white does not attribute me any kind of guilt, all the more so since I want it to cease as soon as possible.
I can’t honestly think of any kind of reasoning which would justify that alleged logical connection:
“Marc is white => Marc is partially responsible for the war on drugs destroying the lives of countless black persons”
I appreciate the fact you emphasized it’s not a question of feeling guilty but one of feeling empathy towards those who are still suffering from the consequences of past abuses.
I do agree it is our moral duty as Christians and as human beings to act in an empathic way towards them.
4) Your analogy about stealing is an interesting one.
I certainly accept the fact that the moral culpability of members of a poor (and formerly oppressed) ethnic minority who have to steal for surviving might be far lower than that of members of the dominant group engaging in the same type of activity.
However, this isn’t what I meant there.
I had in mind gratuitous crimes driven by sheer hatred.
As for example a gang of Arabs who wanted to rape a white woman after having screamed to the husband: “We’ll fuck your white whore!”.
It is my contention that from the standpoint of the victim and her suffering, this act is as heinous as the reverse situation where a white gang attempts to rape a black woman after having screamed “We’ll fuck your black whore!”
So, I think it’s perfectly in order to loudly say in the first case: “This is racial hatred. This is wrong. We need to reject that as well in order to build up a stable society. The past and present crimes of white institutions doesn’t justify in any way, shape or form this kind of heinous deeds.”
and I could draw on French-speaking black rappers making these points.
5) Let me give you a personal analogy to drive this point home.
It does not involve races but another situation of institutionalized ethnic discrimination.
I’m a Germanic Frenchman coming from a region which has been historically bilingual French-German (I speak roughly half of the time in French and half of the time in German to my father).
An intense propaganda has been carried out for convincing people that they ought to ONLY speak French to their children and that the languages spoken by their ancestors belong to the past.
Children speaking in dialect in the schoolyards were severely punished and oftentimes even beaten.
Any kind of administrative act and public meeting had to be performed in French.
People speaking in dialect or speaking in French with a strong accent were systematically mocked and even bullied by many (ethnic) French people.
Consequently, in my region, German has inexorably declined to such an extent that nowadays, people younger than I (I’m 30 years old) only speak French. It seems now doomed to disappear.
While modern Britain finances bilingual schools English/Welsh and does everything it can for allowing this language to survive, France of 2015 consistently refuses to compensate for the cultural genocides of the past by allowing bilingualism in private schools and administrations.
No, countless politicians hold fast to the dogma that French is the only tongue which ought to be used. Many of them still view dialects as a threat (which is disgustingly absurd since in many cases they’re spoken by less than 10% of the local population).
Now, does that situation mean that someone bullying a French person for defending French is less heinous than a French person bullying someone for defending a dialect?
It is true that in the second case, the misdeed is built upon a history of institutionalized discrimination.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe that both acts should be exposed and condemned.
I’m far from being a saint in that respect. A while ago, a Frenchman started an action against Anglicisms invading the French language.
This made me angry and I reacted with harsh words: “What? You destroyed the language of our ancestors and you dare to complain about your language being modified to a small extent by English influence?…”
He answered me that he’s for the preservation of all languages and has never endorsed French repression against dialects.
I then understood I had been unjust while attacking him and saying he was responsible for the destruction of our tongue just by virtue of his being French and loving the French language.
So I went to him and sincerely apologized.
While being an activist defending dialects and combating current French policies, I now openly condemn any hateful assertion about French people coming from my fellow Lorrains and Alsatians (i.e. the inhabitants of my homeland.)
6) To your mind, how does Jesus view the situation?
Suppose that a black and a white woman get (or got) gang-raped owing to their skin color.
Does he feel any less angry (or compassionate) in one case rather than in the other?
At the very least, I believe that His compassion is the same in both situations.
To conclude, I contend that:
a) racial hatred against white people truly exists and it has real physical consequences
b) acts driven by racial hatred should be called for what they are and firmly condemned no matter who the victims and perpetrators are
c) holding this position doesn’t amount to being a white supremacist.
I hope we can have a nice conversation despite our fundamental disagreements about this particular problem. In many of the things I went into, I was not necessarily criticizing your personal views but was making general points.
We should keep in mind that I can’t automatically translate the current situation in France to America and you can’t automatically assume to know how things in Western Continental Europe look like.
(That’s not an accusation, just a remark. )
There are many historical and cultural concepts which greatly differ (for instance, Arabs tend to be much more often victims of discrimination than Blacks in France).
I do believe we should all strive for a society where ethnicity no longer plays any role in terms of advantages and hurdles for living one’s life. I’m convinced this demands fighting impartially hate towards innocent people who never asked to be born with their skin color.
I think that issues concerning the shape reparations should take and positive discrimination are very complex ones and I have not (yet) any firm position in that respect.
It was about my pointing out that anti-white racism is real and should be combated as much as any other kind of racism.
While I don’t necessarily agree with everything she wrote, I find her thoughts really profound.
I have come to think that part of the reason we have failed in the Western world to handle the problem of race productively is because we don’t really understand the problem we are dealing with. We tend to think of racism as interpersonal animus motivated by an irrational dislike for certain races. So the answer must be to fight this interpersonal animus where ever it shows up. However, as we have seen, this isn’t all that effective.
The thing is that back when racism was motivated by this sort of irrational hostility towards a group of people based on race, people didn’t just walk around being nasty to certain groups. They actually set policy which had as its goal putting certain groups at a disadvantage and not allowing them to escape that disadvantage. Often this was done openly for the benefit of the dominant group. For example, it was quite common for discussions of employment to revolve around the need to protect jobs for white men, thus justifying discriminating against women and people of color. We tend to think that these discussions from the past aren’t particularly relevant to the present since we no longer engage in that sort of thinking. However, that doesn’t mean that the problems created by the past go away all by themselves. A good example of this is housing discrimination. After WWII, while white Americans were able to buy houses using the GI Bill, neighborhoods where African Americans were allowed to buy homes were excluded from eligibility for GI loans and other conventional forms of financing. When African Americans figured out ways to buy homes anyways, realtors and bankers engaged in shady practices which resulted in many African Americans losing their homes and those who didn’t were left with homes that were worth less than people had paid for them. Those who lost their homes or never could manage to get a house, were forced into unsafe, poorly serviced neighborhoods. And this is how we ended up with our crime ridden inner cities. We forced people to live there and then blamed them for not being able to overcome all the obstacles placed in their way. So that’s a problem which we created and which is still with us today. But because we think that racism is only about whether one particular person is nice to another particular person, we don’t really understand how unsafe minority communities are the result of racism, much less what to do about it. A lot of people don’t even understand why we might have an obligation to do something, in fact. So we don’t.
Then there’s the fact that people rarely dislike other groups of people for purely irrational reasons anymore. Generally, they have reasons they dislike other people. They don’t like the way they act, talk, dress, their attitudes, their morals, etc, etc, etc. So a lot of people feel like they are being forced to pretend that what they find unacceptable is not problematic for the sake of PC. However, what I have learned is that the things that people are most likely to point to as legitimate reasons for disapproving of another group of people was the direct result of a wrong done to them or their people and a set of insurmountable obstacles they were facing. For example, I have known some of these infamous black men who have children with multiple women, wind up in jail, etc, etc. Every single one of them suffered horrendous abuse growing up. (I am completely convinced that it should be possible to look at any pathologies present in any given African American family and trace them directly back to their people’s experiences during slavery. Women who were raped by their owners did not go on to have healthy relationships with other men. Men beaten by their owners and overseers did not go on to raise their children with patience and time-outs.) All of these men were raised without dads. (The US government went through a period where it would not provide assistance to families with a man in the home. So we’re not innocent in creating that situation.) All of them had witnessed terrible violence both inside and outside the home while growing up. They usually desperately want the love and approval of a woman, but have poor relationship skills and they are attracted to women with similar trauma histories who also have poor relationship skills. These men didn’t just wake up from comfortable lives one day and decide to act an ass. They needed help long before they got to the point of impregnating people and causing trouble. But we have nothing but contempt for these men.
At the end of the day, I think that we simply have not faced the depth of the damage done by our racist past. What we see as increasing levels of pathology, immorality and the like are actually the fruit of seeds planted in our societies long ago reaching harvest time. I think that once we understand the problems that way, we can start finding practical solutions that will make a real difference. But Americans are obscenely immature. Any solution that starts with having compassion on someone who they don’t think deserves compassion is a no-go. Poor Americans vote Republican because they believe in a world where good people get rewarded and bad people get punished. It’s a fantasy, but one that they put their trust in because, after all, they are good people. So if those who share their belief that good people should be rewarded are in charge, they will be rewarded. Or at least they will be able to take some satisfaction in knowing that the bad people (who just so happen to be disproportionately African American) get punished.
Anyhow, sorry this is super long, but it’s a complex topic and one that I’m convinced is generally poorly understood.
There is absolutely no doubt that the white dominant class in America committed atrocious crimes whose consequences can still be felt.
I certainly want justice to be achieved and the wounds of the past to be healed.
Interestingly enough, France has a similar history concerning the housing policy.
After World War II, French capitalists fostered a massive immigration of workers from their Arabic and black African colonies. They did that because this manpower could be paid much less than the salary they would have had to give to Europeans. They decided to put all of them into public housing apartments plagued by poverty and bad life standards.
It was sheer madness to have massively imported workers with a very different cultural background, concentrated them within poor suburbs with awful life conditions, discriminated them and then expected that everything would be just fine.
That said, I must also emphasize that I reject the idea of a collective culpability of the white race (if there really is such a thing in the first place).
I once discussed with a former colleague from Morocco and I told her:
“Racism hasn’t any color. The seeds of hatred, intolerance, bigotry and xenophobia can take root everywhere” and I then went on evoking the case of French children being bullied in schoolyards owing to their being white.
She became really angry.
“But haven’t you seen what France did to us? Aren’t you aware of all the horrors they inflicted to us during the colonial time?”
I wasn’t willing to engage an unproductive verbal fight and so I just left.
While she isn’t an evil person by any means, her words (reflecting what countless people think) are extremely offensive from a moral standpoint.
To see how, let us first consider what a Jewish prophet loudly proclaimed 1600 years ago.
This ancient text is extremely strong in that it went against the widespread concept that children of wicked people should be retributed for the misdeeds of their parents or that their current suffering was a divine punishment (a notion which can, incidentally, be found in other Biblical passages).
More than twenty centuries later, this very notion hasn’t been erased everywhere, alas.
The conversation I had with my former colleague is a sad example of this state of affairs.
If punishing children for the crimes of their parents is morally abhorrent, how much more horrendous is it to bully and hurt someone just because he or she has the same skin color as a group of oppressors.
It is depressing that if anyone dares to speak out about the reality of anti-whit racism, the Slaves of Political Correctness (SPC) shoot from the hip and become morally indignant.
I’m convinced that far from promoting peace, their fanatical denial of this phenomenon fosters a vicious circle of hatred.
Indeed, white folks who have been victim of such hateful acts are likely to join far-right groups after having been ignored or even ridiculed by all mainline politically correct parties.
I’m persuaded that a society where skin color no longer plays any role can only be created through a battle against every kind of hate regardless of its source and object.
I recently stumbled across a thought-provoking picture I want to comment on.
I have mixed feelings here.
The landscape of racism has changed
On the one hand, I think that one cannot apply this quote straightforwardly to modern America (let alone to the modern Western world as a whole).
Luckily, horrendous discriminations against black people sanctioned by the law belong to the past. The large majority of modern-day Republicans believe in racial equality and the racist demagogy Johnson rightly decried isn’t very likely to be found nowadays.
There is no denial that black people are still suffering from revolting injustices, such as the consequences of the war on drug. But politicians demeaning them for getting white votes have obviously become much rarer.
In the modern Western World (at least in France and to a much more limited extent in Germany) one can clearly see the existence of an anti-white racism I have partially documented here.
There is a dangerous imbalance here: while racism against blacks and Arabs is (rightly!) as severely combated as it must be, anti-white racism is almost always swept under the carpet. This situation is one of the reasons why the fascist party “Front National” is progressively becoming the first political power of France. This can only foster a vicious circle of hatred.
This is why I consider it absolutely necessary to take all racisms seriously and combat them in the same manner.
The fact that white slave holders have committed atrocities during the course of history gives no justification whatsoever for bullying a young white boy in a schoolyard just because he appears to have the same skin color.
Many Western liberals (I prefer to call them Slaves of Political Correctness (SPC) ) are upholding the myth that white males can only be oppressors and never be oppressed by other groups.
This refusal to face reality promotes extremism and creates an explosive situation which has already taken a dramatic shape in France.
Even if this makes me extremely unpopular, I must urge my fellow progressives to become real impartial enemies of injustice wherever it is found.
Poverty in America and political manipulation
On the other hand, I think that Johnson is completely right that the lower classes (and actually even the middle classes) are manipulated in Western democracies, especially America.
I think there is overwhelming evidence that a society where the fight against poverty is limited to personal private donations is a fiery hell for the needy.
We need judicial laws instead of anarchy because we cannot count on all or even most people freely choosing to avoid evil.
Likewise, we need laws protecting the poor instead of economical anarchy because we cannot expect a sufficient number of wealthy people to make donations large enough for meeting the needs of all of those suffering from poverty.
I just stumbled across a blog post from anti-theist Jerry Coyne where he took to task Lawrence Krauss for being too “moderate” (according to Coyne’s own enlightened standards).
I really think it’s a masterpiece in its own rights.
“Lawrence Krauss’s new book, A Universe from Nothing, is supposed to be very good; one of its points, I think, is to show that science disproves the cosmological argument for God. In today’s Notes & Theories from the Guardian‘s science desk, Krauss has an essay called, “The faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs.” I suppose this stuff needed to be said, but if Krauss is calling for accommodationism, as he seems to be doing, his argument is naive. Saying that the faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs is like saying, “tigers must learn to be vegetarians.”
I was a bit peeved from the opening paragraph:
Issues of personal faith can be a source of respectful debate and discussion. Since faith is often not based on evidence, however, it is hard to imagine how various deep philosophical or religious disagreements can be objectively laid to rest. As a result, skeptics like myself struggle to understand or anticipate the vehement anger that can be generated by the mere suggestion that perhaps there may be no God, or even that such a suggestion is not meant to offend.
Really? Is it really such a struggle for Krauss to anticipate and understand the anger of THE (my emphasis) faithful? I think not. And yes, some of the strategy is to offend, directly or indirectly, because one of the best ways to reveal the emptiness of faith is to mock it, and mock it hard in front of the uncommitted. That’s what P. Z. was doing when he nailed that cracker, and what I was doing when I drew a picture of Mohamed.
After citing several familiar examples of how reviled atheists are in America, Krauss concludes:
It is fascinating that lack of belief, or even mere skepticism, is met among the faithful with less respect and more distrust even than a fervent belief in a rival God. This, more than anything, leads to an inevitable and deep tension between science and religion. When such distrust enters the realm of public policy, everyone suffers.
It is fascinating, but understandable. If someone believes in a rival God, they’re at least confessing belief in a sky-fairy—something transcendent. I can easily see why that’s far less threatening than suggesting that one’s belief in sky-fairies is unjustified and ludicrous. For deep down, many religious people are deeply worried that they may be wrong. If you put the basic beliefs of Catholicism in simple language, for example, as I think P. Z. Myers has (and Ben Goren on this site), they sound absolutely ridiculous. No wonder religious folks get all huffy if you suggest that they’re wrong or deluded, and why, in the end, they resort to asserting that evidence isn’t relevant at all: what’s relevant is revelation and what feels good to believe.
As a scientist, one is trained to be skeptical, which is perhaps why many scientists find it difficult to accept blindly the existence of a deity. What is unfortunate is that this skepticism is taken by many among the faithful to be an attack not only on their beliefs, but also on their values, and therefore leads to the conclusion that science itself is suspect.
The first sentence is bloody obvious. And yes, it’s unfortunate that this situation exists, but it’s also inevitable—for religious values stem from religious beliefs. Where else would you get the idea that aborting an early-stage zygote is the same as human murder, or that it’s a sin for a man to lie with another man?
Krauss, who appears to have done a good job showing that the Universe could have arisen ex nihilo, then turns accommodationist, saying that new scientific knowledge need not drive a wedge between science and society.
As a result, the longstanding theological and philosophical question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”, like many earlier such questions, is increasingly becoming a scientific question, because our notions of “something” and “nothing” have completely changed as a result of our new knowledge.
As science continues to encroach on this issue of profound human interest, it would be most unfortunate if the inherent skepticism associated with scientific progress were to drive a further wedge between science and society.
As a cosmologist, I am keenly aware of the limitations inherent in our study of the universe and its origins – limitations arising from the accidents of our birth and location in a universe whose limits may forever be beyond the reach of our experiments.
As a result, science need not be the direct enemy of faith. However, a deep tension will persist until the faithful recognise that a willingness to question even one’s most fervently held beliefs – the hallmark of science – is a trait that should be respected, not reviled.
The last paragraph seems rather naive. Unless there are mercenary considerations at issue, I’m baffled why he thinks science need not be a direct enemy of faith. It need not be a direct enemy of only one kind of faith: deism. As for the remaining thousands of faiths that see God as interceding in the world, yes, science must be their enemy. For religion—especially theistic religion—is based on revelation, dogma, and indoctrination, while science is based on reason, doubt, and evidence. No rapprochement is possible.
Getting the faithful to show respect for the way science works will not bring about a truce between science and religion, for lots of religious people already have that respect for science. They just don’t apply it to their own beliefs. That “deep tension” will persist not until religion respects science, but until the hokum that is religion goes away forever. (And if you think that’s not possible, look what’s happened in Europe over the last 200 years.) I wish Krauss had had the guts to say that in his essay. But then he wouldn’t sell so many books.”
The hate of the New Atheists
I am thankful to Coyne that he showed us the true face of anti-theism. It is certainly not just about “ending religious privilege” or “relegating religion to the private sphere”.
No, it is about WIPING OUT all religions by using vile emotional bullying and all sorts of vicious propaganda.
There was a time where I tried to patiently dialog with anti-theists and wanted to understand their stories. All I got in return were the most intolerable insults you can think of and the conclusion that I must either be a lunatic, a hopeless idiot or a liar.
““Mock them, ridicule them in public, don’t fall for the convention that we’re far too polite to talk about religion…Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe, which need to be substantiated. They should be challenged and ridiculed with contempt.”
“I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt … I think we should probably abandon the irremediably religious precisely because that is what they are – irremediable. I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.”
“By and large the minds of the ridiculous can’t be changed. It’s their flock we’re talking to. But even the ridiculous change under ridicule some respond by getting more ridiculous (and those are the ones who could never be swayed even by the politest methods), but others accumulate shame until they see the error of their ways (I’ve met many ex-evangelicals who have told me exactly that). Thus, ridicule converts the convertible and marginalizes the untouchable.There is no more effective strategy in a culture war.”
I constantly speak out for the need for a reasonable and polite dialog between moderate atheists and religious believers and am certainly willing to read challenges against theism from respectful atheistic authors.
Yet I hate being mocked and ridiculed by people towards whom I have only been friendly. This makes me angry and causes me to boycott all kinds of writings resorting to a similar strategy.
According to Carrier, the fact I did not react to emotional bullying by becoming an atheist means that I am a ridiculous and incorrigible “untouchable”.
I cannot help but consider Coyne, Dawkins and Carrier as anti-theistic prophets calling their followers to a holy war for getting the world rid of religious darkness once and for all.
The last lines of Coyne were particularly troubling. Basically his (implicit) reasoning was as follows:
1) It would be good to live in a world where creationism (and other anti-scientific beliefs) have wholly disappeared.
2) If ALL religions were to fade away, creationism would be no more.
3) Hence it is morally good to use our best types of psychological warfare to utterly destroy ALL religions.
Interestingly enough, French racists use exactly the same kind of reasoning:
2′) If ALL blacks and Arabs were driven out of the land, anti-white racism would be no more.
3′) Hence it is morally good to expel ALL blacks and Arabs from France.
Let us grant that both 1) and 1′) are true.
2) and 2′) are certainly technically true in both cases.
If ALL religions were to go away, there would be no longer any form of creationism, and if ALL blacks and Arabs no longer lived in France, anti-white racism would be no more.
But it should be clear that a vital fact has been entirely left out of the picture in the second racist reasoning. There are countless blacks and Arabs who are not racist against white folks and are completely respectful of French laws and customs.
It would be egregiously wrong to expel them as well for this would be a gruesome form of collective punishment.
Exactly the same thing can be said about Coyne’s reasoning.
There are countless moderate, progressive and even conservative religious believers who are not opposed to science and reason and who do not cause any harm to the society in which they live.
Advocating to systematically bully them out of their faith is equally egregious.
The fundamentalist mindset of the New Atheists is crystal-clear when you consider the number of times they fall prey to the cognitive distortions “binary thinking”, “overgeneralization” and “focusing on the negative”.
They all too often seem utterly unable to realize and recognize that like everything in our universe, the religious landscape of planet Earth is extremely complex and multifaceted. There is not one Islam and one Christianity but many forms of them, some of them promoting peace and tolerance, some of them fostering hatred, superstitions and (verbal or physical) violence.
Likewise, there are numerous kinds of atheists out there, many of them being nice and respectful people and some of them being hateful self-righteous bigots like the individuals I’ve dealt with in this post. And there are clearly forms of anti-theism preaching the use of physical violence for reaching their noble goal of annihilating all religions. This is all too obvious when one considers the persecutions of religious people by the hand of Chinese and the former Russian anti-theists in the name of making their respective countries free of religion.
I really think that anti-theism is a loathsome hate-group which should not be tolerated in an open society but harshly combated like all other extremisms.
In the same way hateful Christian fundamentalists are an utter embarrassment for the Master they pretend to follow, militant atheists are a shame for the very Reason and Science they profess to cherish.