The "Social Justice" Left and the Collapse of Rational Thought

Hugogate is still roiling the science fiction community — and interestingly enough, the controversy has managed to attract the attention of the national media. Granted, Glenn Reynolds is a long-standing sci-fi fan, as his periodic book recommendations attest. And yes — perhaps it was a slow news week. But what’s going on in the fandom shouldn’t be written off as irrelevant to the general populace. On the contrary, what’s going on in the fandom mirrors what’s going on in society as a whole — at least wherever the hard-left social justice warriors have gained substantial power and influence. Planning on sending your child to a traditional university? Then you need to know how said radicals operate. You need to know that they are the outright enemies of rational thought.

Consider: As a firearms instructor, Larry Correia (one of the authors at the center of the aforementioned controversy) has taught thousands of people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and creeds how to defend themselves. As he writes, “I think people who would try to drag anyone to death behind a pickup truck will have a difficult time doing so after they have a pair of hollow points placed into their chest cavity at high speed.” He has also expressed his libertarian indifference regarding the bedroom habits of his fellow citizens. But because he’s tangled with social justice warriors on whether or not science fiction writers should abandon the “gender binary” – and because he once defended Phil Robertson’s right to think gay sex is weird and sinful – he’s been defamed up and down the blogosphere as a violent homophobe. You see, it’s not enough that Larry is amenable to changing the law to give gay rights activists what they claim they want — i.e., the ability to enter into marriage contracts like anyone else. No — as far as the social justice warriors are concerned, you are a homophobe until you wholly and unambiguously approve of the gay lifestyle in all its particulars. Fail to march in lock-step with this celebratory agenda and you will be declared, essentially, a nonperson.
This is irrational — and tyrannical to boot. Yes — some gay and transgendered individuals have been bullied for who they are, and that is an injustice that requires recompense. But the right answer is not to become bullies yourselves and lash out indiscriminately at everyone who has doubts or questions about the way you choose to live. There are thousands of people out there who oppose gay marriage not because they seek to hurt you, but because of their sincere religious beliefs. There are also thousands of people who are willing to consider a compromise that allows gays to enter into civil marriage contracts while also protecting the rights of the religious to preach and act as they see fit. None of these people deserve to be browbeaten into submission; indeed, many in the second group are potential allies whom you are turning off by your continuing failure to distinguish between those who are legitimately threatening and hateful and those who merely dissent. 
And lest you think the hard-left is only poisoning the well on the matter of homosexuality, this full-bore irrationality also appears whenever these social justice warriors take up the issue of race. First of all, they erroneously flatten the history of oppression into a “whites vs. people of color” narrative that ignores, to name just a few examples, the mistreatment of the Irish in both the US and the UK, the continuing prejudice against the Romani people and other white nomadic groups, the atrocities committed by the Japanese against the Chinese during World War II (which, oh by the way, rival the crimes of the Nazis during the European Holocaust), and the Rwandan genocide (in which black Africans massacred other black Africans). Look through the history of any culture and you will find instances in which the Other was attacked, enslaved, or otherwise deprived of their natural rights. Tribalism is a universal feature of the human mind that can only be overcome by conscious, arduous effort; no nation or race of men can be declared 100% innocent.
Secondly, social justice warriors refuse to recognize that “white” does not describe a monolithic group and that “privilege,” if it does exist, has more to do with class than with skin color. There is no way on Earth that an unemployed white man in eastern Kentucky is more privileged than a black professor of women’s studies at an elite coastal university — but according to your average social justice warrior, if you’re a white male heterosexual, you automatically live life on an easier setting, a notion that is laughably counter to facts. Similarly, these petty Marxists hold all whites responsible for the crimes of slavery and Jim Crow — forgetting, of course, the white abolitionists and civil rights activists who played a key role in defeating both of these manifestations of institutional discrimination. Group-based charges of guilt are neither historically accurate nor constructive; they are more likely to foster resentment than racial harmony.  
Lastly, the social justice left utterly fails to attribute to any minority group either humanity or agency. If you criticize hip-hop culture, you’re a racist. If you express concern about the collapse of the black family, you’re a racist. If you hold members of a favored minority group responsible for the consequences of their own behavior, you’re a racist. In the mind of a social justice warrior, if you are a “person of color,” you are an unimpeachable victim. Nothing is your fault — and on the flip side of the coin, there is nothing you can personally do to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. You are powerless and in urgent need of the social justice warrior’s helping hand. As many black conservatives have observed, this is a profoundly condescending viewpoint — and virulently racist, too. “People of color” are just as capable of looking after themselves; what they need is the liberty to pursue their own interests, not a fleet of self-appointed saviors who swoop in and treat them like helpless children.
Honestly, I could go on forever about the myriad ways in which social justice radicals have assaulted logic, history, and human decency. The science fiction fandom? That’s an instructive microcosm, not an anomaly. 
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It’s Not Racism if it’s True

Some years ago, I recall reading angry facebook rants and general media hang-wringing about Chicago’s nightclubs.  It seems that, in an attempt to protect their businesses from vandalism, theft, and, in particular, sexual harassment complaints and drug busts (word of such being like poison to their bank accounts), many of Chicago’s evening hot spots began implementing dress codes with rules clearly targeting black and Hispanic popular attire.  The new rules were full of things like “no backward caps, no loose or baggy pants, no underwear showing, no ‘do rags.'”  Popular music – especially urban and hip hop – was full of icons who dressed this way to make a statement, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that such rules would block mostly black and Hispanic people from the clubs unless they changed how they dressed.  The foul cries came fast and loud – RACISTS!!

In a related moment of clarity, Barack Obama actually said something true recently.  (shocking, ain’t it?)  In response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal, Obama gave a rambling speech identifying Trayvon Martin as a symbol of the problems and racial barriers still facing African Americans today.  In that speech, he said:

“Few African Americans today can say they’ve never had the experience of being followed in a department store by suspicious security guards.  We’ve all had that unsettling sensation of walking across the street and hearing the clicks of locks on the car doors beside us.  It happened to me often before I became a senator.”  He was weaving a narrative of threads connected to the general media conclusion that George Zimmerman feared for his life and killed Trayvon Martin only because he was black, and that these events echoed the experience of most blacks in America today of being distrusted and harassed for the crime of being black.

I have another theory.  A theory, incidentally, shared by Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, in a rare moment of cultural honesty.  Responding to complaints about widespread abuse of Philadelphia citizens by flash mobs:

  • “Take those God darn hoodies down, especially in the summer. Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt. Nobody.”
  • “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy!”
I finally understood my theory and quit worrying about my reactions to the people I saw around me in my many travels when I moved to NYC and it afforded me the opportunity to put my feelings to the test.  Just a few days ago, while riding home from work, I chanced to have a pleasant conversation with a nicely dressed young African American man who was taking his son to a play downtown.  He wore a crisp-looking sport jacket and smoothly ironed pants, and his son was obviously dressed (by his father, no doubt) for a night of culture.  No hoodies, no ballcaps, no ridiculously loose pants hanging below the waist.  I noticed these two because I overheard the father warning his son that he was going someplace very nice and had to be on his best behavior or they wouldn’t come back again.  I smiled at him and he chuckled and said “you have to start warning him early or we’ll be in the lobby by the second act because he won’t sit still.”  We had a nice little chat about the importance of teaching your kids manners and then I got off at Columbus Circle and changed trains.  At no point did my lizard brain warn me of danger.  At no point did I regard this man and his son with anything other than a smile and a kind word.

Later in the ride (on my new train and crossing into Brooklyn), I realized that my traveling companions were making me nervous.  No one had done anything untoward, and I was likely perfectly safe, but my lizard brain didn’t like what it saw.  My car was filled with all kinds of people of different races, but, as we were approaching Prospect Park and Church Avenue – neighborhoods with higher crime rates and poverty problems – most of them looked unkempt…like street thugs.  Lots of hoodies on during the hottest week of the year, lots of loose fitting pants, lots of bandannas and t’shirts with nasty language on them, lots of huge tattoos.  And that’s when the light bulb went on for me.  All the times I’ve seen a black man on the street and walked a little faster, or passed a group of Hispanic men leaning against a car and turned my head to avoid catching their eyes…I was never responding to the color of their skin.  I was responding to other contextual variables.  It can’t be that my negative, fearful reactions are caused by skin color if I’m perfectly at ease with men with the same skin color who are behaving a little differently than is common.

No…it’s not racism if it’s not based on race, but on behavior or culture.  I detest almost all rap…and, ironically, the few rap hits that I’ve actually enjoyed hearing were sung by white artists like Eminem or clean-imaged stand-outs like Will Smith.  The problem, however, is not race – it’s culture.  I can’t stand listening to songs that disparage women, reduce sex to a game, glorify drug culture, gang warfare, and victimology, and decry all authority figures as the source of all urban unrest and anger.  It’s corrosive, it’s not an accurate or uplifting portrayal of the real world, and it terrifies me.

But isn’t that the political rub – dislike any aspect of black or Hispanic urban culture and you are RACIST.  Because all of those things you evil whites dislike about urban culture are caused by your racist institutions and behaviors anyway.  Blacks wouldn’t be walking around like gang-bangers if we weren’t so afraid of them that we made them feel isolated on a crowded sidewalk or singled out in a busy department store!

Well perhaps, my friends, it’s the other way around.  We choose our clothing because it represents our priorities when defining how the world sees us.  Girls who wear uber-minis and skin-tight jeans want to be seen as sexy on some level or they wouldn’t wear that attire.  The most important thing, evidently, in urban culture, is to be seen as ghetto-tough.  The hoodies, designed to cover up parts of your face that would identify you and thus make you instinctively more imposing, the foul t’shirts, the baggy pants…they all send the message loud and clear – “Question me and I will f*** you up.”  Or if you want to be more charitable, it may be more along the lines of “I’ve given up and don’t care how I look at all.”  That our culture has evolved to where this is the message young minorities in the inner cities want to send is one of the saddest things about this world we now inhabit.  But that whites might react to that culture with instinctive alarm is not a matter or race…it’s just common sense.

If people like Barack Obama really wanted to end racial disparities and unite this country, they would, perhaps, look in the mirror and realize that the day they stopped dressing like punks and put on a suit was the day they stopped drawing our unavoidable suspicions.

Book Rec: "No Matter What…They’ll Call this Book Racist"

Harry Stein’s latest social commentary is a hard-hitting look at race relations in the US from the end of the Civil War to the current sad state of affairs among urban blacks.  He takes common refrains for the left that have shaped policy on the issue since the Civil Rights Movement and dismantles them one by one, leaving the reader with the virtually inescapable conclusion that the Republicans, not the Democrats, have the better plan going forward for dealing with the large gap in happiness, prosperity and criminality of the races.

Sprinkled throughout the book were anecdotes about forgotten players in the fight for racial equality and sad stories about today’s leftists’ cultural blind spots.

But don’t take my word for it.  Go to amazon.com and look up this book title.  You will see that about 40 reviews have come in so far for the book and the only negative ones are inaccurate screeds posted by the very leftists Stein is taking to task in the book.  My favorite was the “reviewer” who claimed Stein simply overlooked the 100 years of Jim Crow, the 300 years of brutality of slave ownership, and the meager gains of the Civil Rights Movement.  Of course, I checked after I read the book and members of the black community from the Jim Crow era and members of their opposition (or governmental entities involved in the conflict) are mentioned on about 60% of the pages of the book…so…I would hazard a guess that knee-jerk-reacting leftists largely aren’t even reading the book before “reviewing” it.  Which is all the info I need to know in order to heartily recommend it to the rest of the thinkers out there who have an open mind.  Of course…I *did* read it…so I have much more to go on, but if you’re anything like me and love poking hard leftists in the eye…this book is for you.

Related to Previous – Elizabeth Warren’s "Race"

If we’re going to talk about the topic of institutional racism as fostered by left-wing identity politics and academics, we need look no further than Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  Now running to replace Senator pro-tem Scott Brown on a platform of “MONEY IS EEEEEEVIL…except my money,” Ms. Warren spent decades claiming Native American status without registering with a tribe (according to her, based off of nothing more than family stories about life on a Cherokee reservation a hundred years ago) and at no point did her colleges even bother to try to confirm said heredity because they were in a mad desperate scramble to prove their racial sensitivity in hiring practices to meet quotas.

It turns out that Warren’s stories were true…sort of…her great…great…GREAT grandmother was Cherokee and her great great grandfather got married on a reservation.  That makes her 1/32nd Cherokee.  Which is evidently enough that Warren feels proud to claim Native heritage even though the Cherokee nation RENOUNCED her.  And no one seems to want to question this state of affairs in Massachusetts or in academia.  Not even moderate liberals.

Oh…and if you think I’m looking too hard for institutional racism as a way to shoot down affirmative action (you’re partially correct, but…), Warren’s reaction was to decry Brown’s question about her native heritage as “just another woman having her credentials questions by Scott Brown.”  Did you see it?  While falsely claiming victim status…she again claimed victim status.  If I’m not Native American enough for you…you can’t deny that I’m FEMALE…and we aren’t allowed to be judged anymore, especially not by men!

The identity politics will eventually cause the left to implode.  I’m certain of it.  You can’t go on splicing your core constituents into groups and putting people in boxes forever before the infighting and name-calling tears you apart.  I just hope they implode before the country does.  I’m dubious as to whether that happens.

Let’s Play Another Game of "Spot the Connection," Shall We?

First, allow me to present the two news items under consideration:

  1. Are Educators Showing a ‘Positive Bias’ to Minority Students? “A major study, led by Rutgers-Newark psychology professor Kent D. Harber, indicates that public school teachers under-challenge minority students by providing them more positive feedback than they give to white students, for work of equal merit. The study, which is currently available online in the Journal of Educational Psychology (JEP), involved 113 white middle school and high school teachers in two public school districts located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, one middle class and white, and the other more working class and racially mixed.” (Emphasis mine.)
  2. Chronicle of Higher Education Fires Blogger for Challenging Seriousness of Black Studies Departments.”Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s lively and horribly-named “Brainstorm” blog, contributor Naomi Schaefer Riley has been fired for a post questioning the intellectual seriousness and validity of black studies departments (…) What did Schaefer Riley, the author of two books about higher education, do to warrant getting canned? Her primary offense was writing a post titled, “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” Keying off a recent Chronicle story touting Ph.D. candidates in black studies, Schaefer Riley notes in part: ‘If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it. What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap. The best that can be said of these topics is that they’re so irrelevant no one will ever look at them…’ “

The first case features a group of white teachers from the very blue New York City metro area who apparently feel uncomfortable raising the bar for their minority students. The second case involves a group of professors from the very blue world of academia — who apparently feel uncomfortable raising the bar for their minority students. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations!

I haven’t read the dissertations that were the focus of the blog post mentioned in the second story, so I can’t pass judgment on their quality or utility. However, I think the response to said blog post is quite telling. If these rising stars in the field of Black Studies were in fact genuine scholars – and not coddled thugs – then they would’ve launched a spirited, intellectual defense of their work instead of demanding in loud, hyper-emotional voices that their critic be silenced.

Picture Worth a Thousand Words – Black Racism and the Victim Mentality

I just thought I’d let you all watch this video I accidentally found while looking for the scene from “The Simpsons” in which Homer tried to pass candy bars off as sprinkles on his Kwik-E-Mart donut.

Never found that scene…but this was infinitely more entertaining…at least…in a “holy crap!” sort of way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gCQ5mTplZs

Coming from Nigeria doesn’t make you African American apparently.  And paying 15 more cents for your drink is a crime so vile that it demands the conversation involve slavery and reparations too.  Truly…truly special.

My favorite part is when the angry customer involved demands that the (fellow African American) owners of the Kwik-E-Mart in Southern California “get out of the African American Community” so that blacks can have those jobs.  Because other people who make money have evidently stolen such opportunities away from blacks.

Awesome.