Monday, March 24, 2008
Bored During Spring Break?
If so, let me link you to what I think is the most interesting blog post I've seen this year. Here. Go read it, then come back.
The link doesn't really do it justice, because it isn't the content of the post itself that's what makes it so interesting (although it is interesting, in a sense). You can follow his link to his response to comments, and you can look around in various other parts of the blogosphere and find some downright hilarious stuff going on (That one Glenn accused that other Glenn of linking to the post above this post by some other guy because he's subliminally trying to promote racism while maintaining plausible deniability and...).
But the central point of that post was made a thousand times over not by the post itself but by the response it provoked. Nobody wants an honest discussion on race in America. No one wants white people to talk about their anger and frustration. They want white people to sit in the middle of a circle while every other group pelts them with blame and accusations. (Some of those who have taken diversity training to become an RA in the past decade or so will recognize that this is not just a metaphor but something that actually happens.) And, as the first part of the post describes, white people accept that, pretty much.
So when he then goes on to the second part of his post and tells us what he really feels about race, out comes the response that validates everything he said in the first part of the post. And it's total nonsense.
It's nonsense because when the great arbiter of racism enters the comment box and declares "You, Sir, are a racist," nothing whatsoever has changed. Let's grant exactly that: The writer is a racist. What has this storm of "gotcha!" achieved? What has been gained by the game of "that guy who linked that guy is a racist" "nuh uh, I linked someone else, so I'm not really racist"? They asked for an honest discussion about race, and once someone took them up on the offer, it's "Let's see who we can hurt with this in order to score political points!" And all that's happened is nothing.
Because if you think "OldPunk" is the only white guy out there who thinks these things, you're completely ignorant. You can respond that "he's a racist" and walk away, confident that you've "won," but what did you win? What contest, besides the personal ego gratification war in your mind, have you emerged victorious from? What have you actually done to fight racism? If you aren't interested in accepting his feelings as genuine and actually engaging them, but you also believe that those feelings are racism, then the answer to racism you have provided is to shrug your shoulders. To leave it to fester. To say "Oh, there it is," and then walk off.
Is the belief that, if white people continue to be placed in the position where they may never talk, they'll nevertheless accept the result of the discussion they aren't allowed to join? Blacks put up with it because they had no choice but to submit. Even then, they eventually decided not to put up with it anymore. Do they really expect that whites, holding all the cards, will eventually just say "You know what? All those other folks are right."
Of course not. Most whites respond by just letting their feelings simmer. White elites respond by playing up every racial conflict they can and building mistrust. Do you think the L.A. Riots were a step forwards or backwards in this fight? Oh, and the Drug War! Don't forget the Drug War. If you think letting those feelings simmer and fester is harmless, try proposing an end to the Drug War to the general populace. What did it take to make weed legal in California? Was there a shift in opinion about the physiological and psychological effects? Or did the "right people" start using it?
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