Can White People and Black People Have Things in Common?

It’s 2015, so I don’t know why there are still lots of people who still view society in racial terms.  But there are.  And there is no excuse for it.  That mindset is only keeping itself alive, and while many of the people who hold it have good intentions, many other people who hold it are motivated by malice towards certain races (or other groups of people).

Many of the people who hold such viewpoints fall into two categories: “social justice warriors” who believe “white privilege” is holding down all the other races, and white supremacists (and other racial superiority groups).

I’m not a big fan of psychology, but I think there is something to the idea of projection.  After all, if you are accustomed to having a certain mindset, it makes sense that you would naturally assume other people share the same mindset.  You may not even consider the possibility that other people view things in a different manner.  And I think it is possible that both of these groups tend to project their own obsession with race onto the rest of society.  If you spend so much time thinking in terms of race, the possibility that not everyone else is obsessed with it might not even cross your mind.

But I don’t think most people spend very much time thinking about race.  Not even white men, who are ostensibly afraid that they are losing their power in society to ascendant minorities and women.  But why then do they tend to be so opposed to social justice initiatives that are designed to help minorities and women ascend the socioeconomic ladder?  Perhaps it is because those initiatives are wrongheaded.  In addition to being fundamentally anti-meritocratic, they are also racial in nature, which makes people uncomfortable.  Discomfort when it comes to racial issues is a justified response, considering how talking about race inevitably emphasizes division*, which is something only bigots want.  Not that division is the intention everyone who wants to have a “conversation” about race.  It’s just the inevitable product, because not only are there still people who want division and will use any excuse they can find to justify that desire (i.e. the blacks are getting uppity, therefore white genocide is just around the corner), but also because race is not a valid premise to begin with.

I, a white guy, am capable of having things in common with black people.  I don’t see white people and assume they are anything like myself just because they are white, so why would I look at a black guy, or an Asian chick, or a Hispanic transsexual and assume that they are very different from myself?  It never even would have occurred to me to think like that, until all the race-obsessed “social justice warriors” brought race up in the first place.  Sure, I was aware of racism growing up, but I always assumed that that was mostly in the past and that humanity was now at a place where race didn’t matter.  Of course, I’m neglecting the experiences of racial minorities here, who may not have come to the same conclusion growing up.

It is appalling that anyone has a valid reason for believing they are the target of racism, but there is.  But is having a “conversation” that will stoke people’s emotions rather than fix anything going to be productive?  We’ve been having that conversation for years, and things don’t seem to be getting any better.  Perhaps a more productive solution would be to identify the actual causes of these problems and don’t just assume they are due to “white privilege” or some nonsense**.

The idea that a white guy and a black guy might have a lot in common with each other is also a major flaw with the overall worldview of both social justice warriors and white supremacists, and the general mindset of viewing people as a set of labels as opposed to individuals.  I mean, I’m a white, homosexual, cisgendered male, but what does that tell you about me?  The only way it tells you very much at all about me is if you think in stereotypes (and if you do, what it tells you about me would be way off, which I assume is also the case for almost everyone).  Everyone is an individual, and should be thought of as such.

I also have to comment on white supremacists, who I always assumed were an incredibly small fraction of the overall population and that they didn’t really have any influence.  But they’ve been coming out of the woodwork ever since Trump started running for president.  Obviously, this post is a repudiation of them as much as it is a repudiation of the “social justice warrior” mindset, but I just hate white supremacists so much more, on a visceral level.  As much as I will defend their right to express their repugnant opinions, they are garbage (both the opinions themselves and the people who express them), and they make me feel slightly sympathetic towards the “social justice warriors” who I believe are (mostly) well-intentioned, even if I vehemently disagree with them and think they are nuts and that their movement is insidious.

And while I’m on the topic of white supremacists, I’ll also address another idiotic (perhaps overlapping) segment of Trump supporters: the people who like him solely because he is “strong.”  Well, so was Stalin.  Trump supporters are basically communists.  In a race between Stalin and Calvin Coolidge, these “far-right” Trump supporters would pick Stalin.  And not only are they communists, but they are also basically millennials.  See, like many millennials, they operate on emotion (in this case, anger) and constantly need their precious feelings validated, or they start bitching like triggered college students.  So they’re frustrated at being ignored by the Republican establishment/the government.  Well, so is everyone else, but no one is complaining about it as loudly as them (I mean, opposing the government is great, but only if you can produce a logical argument.  Complaining is just fucking annoying).  So, there you have it: Trump supporters and communist millennials are basically the same thing.

*I’m also aware that I am talking about race right now.  So, to clarify, a conversation on race is needed, but not the conversation that either the “social justice warriors” or white supremacists want to have.

**Looking at racial groups as a whole, there is obvious disparity when it comes to social indicators.  But wouldn’t an affluent black kid in Prince George’s County, Maryland have more opportunity (i.e. privilege) than a poor white kid in rural eastern Kentucky?  Concepts like “white privilege” assume that black people are inherently poor and white people are inherently wealthy, which seems to be to be somewhat… problematic.  Perhaps “privilege” has more to do with economic status and geography than skin color, and talking about privilege in terms of race is an oversimplification.

Saying Nothing: The Latest Hate Speech

It’s a sad day for free speech.  The pandemic of anti-free speech attitudes on university campuses is getting out of control.  Some university students are demanding to be coddled and protected from anything that they don’t personally like, which, as someone who isn’t certifiably insane, I find baffling.  I mean, how do you expect to get through life like that?  Are these people so sheltered that they have never before encountered something that hurts their feelings?  I suppose this is a product of the “self-esteem at all costs” mindset of modern education, which is something I encountered as a kid, but I seemed to have managed to avoid its toxic effects for whatever reason.

The situation at the University of Missouri is particularly ridiculous.

Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri, is resigning his post, an act of extraordinary cowardice on the part of the university. The University of Missouri is purported to be convulsed by racism. How so? A drunk white student walking down the street used a racial slur in reference to a group of black students; he has been exiled from the campus and probably will be expelled when the disciplinary process comes to its conclusion. … [T]he university administration was silent on the matter of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a year ago. Multiple investigations of the Brown shooting, including the one conducted by Barack Obama’s Department of Justice, have concluded that there was no criminal conduct by police in the case. But even if there had been, what business is it of the University of Missouri? … A student says he was twice described with a racial slur, and a swastika was found applied to a dormitory wall with feces.

To summarize, the hysterical protests that led the university president to resign were caused by the racial slurs of a single drunk guy that has since been disciplined, a swastika, and the failure of the university to say anything about an incident it had nothing to do with.  That sure sounds like an assload of systemic racism, indeed.

Considering the modern left seems to believe that everyone is filled with caustic racism that is at all times this close to bubbling to the surface and incite riots and violent assaults on racial minorities, unless all speech conforms to their strict yet undecipherable codes, these things start to make sense.  Of course, that premise is abjectly absurd.  Society is filled with prejudice and general ugliness, which is exactly why it is necessary to develop a somewhat thick skin if you have any hope of succeeding in it.  And the best way to do that is to become secure enough in your own intellect that you are not afraid of being challenged, and in order to do that, you have to accept that maybe you are not completely right about everything.  That is a hard lesson to learn, especially for someone who grew up constantly hearing how special and smart they are, but it’s true for everyone.  Even people like Albert Einstein aren’t smart enough to know everything.  Even though his Nobel prize was won for a discovery he made that resulted in the field’s early development, Einstein was a critic of quantum  mechanics right up until he died, and he even invoked God in his arguments against it (which is doesn’t typically pass for scientific evidence nowadays).  Of course, quantum mechanics is consistent with what is observed, so he was most likely completely wrong about it.   Humility is incredibly liberating, as is the realization that you’re not important enough to be outraged at every slight, and certainly not important enough to demand everyone else heed to your every fragile sensibility.

Of course, the left isn’t the only side that is at fault.  The right has its share of people who would limit free speech if they had their way as well (of course, I would argue that such people are inherently leftist, but that is a matter of semantics and is therefore irrelevant).  The fundamental difference is that the right is far more willing to self-police (not that there aren’t leftists, such as Bill Maher, who are critical of the left’s frighteningly despotic fantasies, but they seem to be a relative minority), and I actually have yet to see any example of what I am about to say is something that happened.  But according to this, it is, and I tend to tune out the crazy people anyway.

What I am referring to here is Starbucks’ use of cups that do not feature the word “Christmas.”  So therefore, they are waging war on Christmas, and therefore Christians, and therefore America and all that is good and holy.  Frankly, these people (assuming they exist, and they almost certainly do on the bowels of Twitter, and they’re probably also all your relatives on Facebook) are pretty much the same as the people at the University of Missouri complaining about the systemic racism that haunts every corner of their campus.  Their personal feelings aren’t constantly validated, and therefore they are outraged.  This isn’t the only example of this kind of thing happening on the right, either.  Christians don’t like being mocked (or discriminated against) any more than any other group.  The actual discrimination against Christians that occurs is worthy of attention, but putting in the context of a “War on Christianity” not only misses the point, but is engaging in identity politics.  The very same identity politics the various constituencies of the left like to engage in.  The salient issues here can all be solved if you treat people as individuals and not members of some arbitrary identity-based group, and if you respect the rights of those individuals.

I mean, it does annoy me that some people are afraid of saying “Merry Christmas” because it might offend some people who don’t celebrate Christmas (although it probably wouldn’t since they would most likely be mature enough to realize they live in a country where the vast majority of people celebrate Christmas, either as a religious or  secularized and commercial holiday.  And if it did offend them, they would be just as ridiculous as everyone else here).  But is that seriously that big of an issue?  Firstly, it is well within people’s right to free speech to say whatever they want, even if it is something as demonic as “Happy Holidays.”  Secondly, we’re living in a time when people are losing their jobs for failing to manoeuvre the Kafkaesque rules of allowed speech (or lack of speech) that is arbitrarily devised and re-devised by a group of self-righteous, litigious millennials on a seemingly hourly basis.

Actually, come to think of it, the outrage has persuaded me that the phrase “Happy Holidays” is a much bigger threat to society than that, so disregard everything I’ve said here.

ADDENDUM: I didn’t mention the situation at Yale because the situation at the University of Missouri is more absurd, but the stuff going down at Yale is ridiculous as well.  Professor Erika Christakis and her husband got in trouble for criticizing an e-mail that suggested students avoid potentially offensive Halloween costumes, saying hurtful things like “free expression is important” and “Halloween is supposed to be fun” (paraphrasing).  Of course, that kind of thing is beyond the pale, and activists at Yale have been out for blood since.

The activists at Yale have been rightly mocked, but, of course, that is problematic because pointing out that the e-mail Professor Christakis sent was a silly thing to get worked up about ignores the context of why people are upset.

Of course, the context doesn’t make all this any less absurd, and it hasn’t been ignored either.  The context being that minority students feel unwelcome and unsupported at the university.  Now, I’m not saying that that wouldn’t be important to address, if there was more evidence than a couple swastikas drawn on the wall or drunk people acting stupid.  That that seems to be the crux of the problem leads me to beleive that these people are just way too sensitive and need to stop putting so much stock in their feelings.  It’s not like the swastikas are going to climb off the wall and start beating you up.  And if you do feel that threatened, take a self-defense class.  If you’re that sensitive and emotional that you can’t tolerate these minor things, that’s your problem, not everyone else’s.  Everyone has some kind of adversity in their lives; you aren’t anything special.

Of course, there is also the issue that racial minorities often grow up believing they are second-class citizens.  I can only assume the root of the problem here is viewing people as members of groups in the first place, as opposed to individuals.  We need to stop doing that or no progress is ever going to be made.