July 07, 2010

Privilege and Projection: The Invisible Crapsack

This post is kind of out of nowhere, but I had a creative spark and had to use it for something before it passed. It's probably the longest thing I've written since college, and it touches on some points I've been meaning to address for a while. Some comments and discussion would be nice, if anyone has the time.

Basically, I've been rereading Thomas Sowell's The Quest for Cosmic Justice, and the sections touching on the idea that all or most disparities in achievement can be explained by intentional discrimination got me thinking about the odd concept of "white privilege."

I'll actually get back to that in a bit. First of all, I'll note that Sowell points out several situations in which one racial or ethnic group is dominant in a given category (ownership of businesses in an industry, academic achievement, etc.), but is in the minority of the population. He says that these situations would be explained by racism or some other type of prejudice if they involved the dominant group, but are ignored in reality. Due to this, it becomes clear that culture is often much more important in determining one's place in society than skin color.

This brings me to a thought experiment I came up with while reading. Imagine a study of 1,000 white people. 500 of them have brown eyes, while the other 500 are a mixture of every other eye color. Each subject's background is analyzed in detail to determine their individual wealth, academic achievement, social status, and so on. At the end of the study, it is found that the brown-eyed subjects have higher average salaries than the others.

Now, do you think anyone would conclude that this disparity is due to people with brown eyes discriminating against others who don't look like them? I highly, highly doubt it. But replace "brown eyes" with "white skin," and replace the other eye colors with other races, and imagine what that study would then conclude about the disparities between groups.

Of course, this is all hypothetical, but I think it makes an interesting point about how we define racism. Eye color, much like skin color or ethnicity, is pretty much an arbitrary distinction. The only reason we even notice it is because we're wired to respond to visual cues. In addition, "race" is even more arbitrary than eye color. There was a time when you weren't considered "white" if you were Irish or Jewish, and there have been deadly ethnic conflicts, even genocides, between groups whose members would look pretty much identical in the eyes of the average American.

Again, it's all arbitrary. "Race" doesn't exist. Only our concept of race exists. And yet, we attribute all kinds of things to "racism" or "prejudice." Some of it is valid, obviously, but as Sowell points out, it's become fashionable to explain any and all disparities between groups as racism, even in situations where there are clearly cultural or even age-related factors in play (a group with a higher average age is probably going to be wealthier on average, for example).

This rambling is actually leading to a point, so head on down to the extended entry for more fun.

As I said earlier, this is all connected to "white privilege." As overt acts of racism become harder and harder to find, people whose livelihood depends on sowing conflict between racial groups have latched onto the idea that "whiteness" comes with a whole set of unspoken, unacknowledged advantages that people don't even realize exist.

This actually sounds strangely similar to the Marxist idea of "false consciousness," which I've also touched on recently. Funny how Marx always seems to make an appearance when leftists open their mouths.

Anyway...

According to Wikipedia:

White privilege differs from conditions of overt racism or prejudice, in which a dominant group actively seeks to oppress or suppress other racial groups for its own advantage. Instead, theories of white privilege suggest that whites view their social, cultural, and economic experiences as a norm that everyone should experience, rather than as an advantaged position that must be maintained at the expense of others. This normative assumption implicitly constrains discussions of racial inequality within the dominant discourse: such explanations are limited to factors specific to disadvantaged racial groups - who are viewed as having failed to achieve the norm - and solutions focus on what can be done to help those groups achieve the 'normal' standards experienced by whites.

This is one of those concepts that sounds really profound until you think about it for a while. In a way, it's actually kind of racist. It's basically saying, "hey, white people have an exclusive culture that has led them to be successful, and by excluding other races, they've preserved their own dominance."

Why is that racist? First of all, it assumes that each "race" has its own culture. Second, it suggests that people of other races are somehow incapable of adapting to the dominant culture. Does this really make sense on anything other than an emotional level? If there's a given culture that leads to success, who gives a fuck if the people who introduced said culture tend to be paler than some others? It's still a human culture and can be experienced by anyone. Our current president, for example, seems to have fit into the "dominant" culture quite nicely. Remember this, because it will be important later.

Furthermore, especially in a country as big as the United States, how can you even say that "white culture" is the norm? Aren't there different cultures within each "race?" The Beverly Hillbillies would like to have a word with those who espouse these theories...

Some recent personal experiences have actually given me more to think about on this topic. As I've mentioned, I currently live in Weehawken, New Jersey. Weehawken borders, and is similar to, Union City, New Jersey. Why is this relevant to the current post? Well:

In the early days of the post-Revolution era, Union City boasted the nation's largest Cuban population, second only to Miami, Florida, leading to the nickname Havana on the Hudson.[27][46] Aspects of the enclave are explored in the 2009 publication The Cubans of Union City: Immigrants and Exiles in a New Jersey Community.[47]

In the ensuing decades, Cuban residents have spread out to other communities of North Hudson County. West New York, at 19.64%, now has the highest percentage of Cubans in New Jersey, with Union City in second place, with 15.35%. These two municipalities having the highest Cuban population percentage in the United States, outside of Florida.[48] Because of the still-high Cuban population, the major New York City television news outlets will invariably journey to Union City to interview citizens when news items involving Cuba or Ral Castro arise. Moreover, Union City still boasts the largest Hispanic population percentage in New Jersey. It also has a very diversified Hispanic population with Cubans, Dominicans, and the more recent groups, such as South Americans and Central Americans, Haitians, Asian Indians, Koreans and Arabs.[49] As of the 2000 census, 5.94% of Union City's residents identified themselves as being of Ecuadorian ancestry, which was the third highest of any municipality in New Jersey and the seventh highest percentage of Ecuadorian people in any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.[50] Almost 55.4% of the population is foreign born, 38.3% of which are naturalized citizens. 19.3% speak English at home, whereas 73.7% speak Spanish at home.

In other words, due to my European ancestry, I'm an ethnic minority in my current location. How about that?

This all brings me to a point that should explain part of this post's title. A name that seems to come up in certain discussions of white privilege is Peggy McIntosh, who invented the concept of the "Invisible Knapsack."

According to McIntosh:

I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was 'meant' to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless kapsack [sic] of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

Of course, she frames all this in the context of comparing whites with African-Americans, but she basically destroys her own argument when she says that the conditions supposedly caused by white privilege "attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographical location," then proceeds to list a bunch of things that have more to do with these than skin color. In addition, she seems to think that a certain type of white person (probably the stereotypical WASP based on her later descriptions of "whiteness" and her inclusion of herself in that group) is considered the standard, so other ethnicities that could still be considered "white" in some circles should be fair game here.

Ms. McIntosh is kind enough to provide a detailed list of all the ways that she, as a white person, benefits from white privilege. Let's go through a few (I don't have time for all of them) and "unpack" them, as she says. I know this is a lot, but I promise you there is a larger point beyond the snark.

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

First of all, this strikes me as another one of those things that is more racist than the supposed racism it's fighting, and it comes up a few more times in this list. The ability to surround yourself with people who look like you is a "benefit?" But aren't we always told that diversity makes us better people? You'd think this would be a disadvantage if their arguments were at all consistent.

If.

Furthermore, is this even true for all or most white people? Hell, at one point, I was the only truly "white" person in my apartment. One of my roommates is some shade of brown (I think Indian, but I never bothered to ask), and another who has since moved out was Puerto Rican. Of the two roommates I had in college, one was white, and the other was Arab. When I walk around my neighborhood, most of the people I see are Hispanic.

Does any of this bother me? Of course not, because I'm not a fucking racist.

Moving on...

2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

I guess I'm one of the only people in this area who actually wants to live here.

3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

I'm not sure how this is racial, since even if we assume that your race determines what kind of housing you can afford, you'd think people would be surrounded by those with similar dispositions to their own. Again, that's a big assumption that seems to suggest that different races are incapable of understanding those who aren't like them.

6. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

Your entire goddamn theory is dependent on those teachings being accurate, regardless of whether they actually are. Brilliant.

7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

And they will then be told that their "race" conveys certain privileges they should attempt to give up for the greater good.

9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented...

What is the music of your race, exactly? I'm fairly sure, based on your worldview, that it isn't the rap and R&B that is so wildly popular today, and if music has to be racially divided, I guess my favorite band should find a new singer.

...into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions...

My local supermarket has entire aisles where every label is in Spanish, and I'm pretty sure the staple foods of different cultural traditions aren't racially dependent. I have no desire to try lutefisk or haggis, for example, but I eat rice all the time. I guess I'm secretly Asian.

...into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

The last time I got a haircut, it took twice as long as usual because the woman doing the cutting had to listen to my descriptions of my desired style in English and then repeat them to herself in Spanish. Privilege!

10. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

So nobody keeps records of these things anymore? No wonder the economy sucks.

11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

This...I...how do...what? I guess the other white kids who used to beat me up in school were a figment of my imagination, as were the white teachers who turned a blind eye to it and the white administrators who instituted policies that would've punished me just as harshly if I fought back.

14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

If you weren't white, you could, however, be called a race traitor or an Uncle Tom, and if you did poorly, you could blame racism.

15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

So you've gone ahead and volunteered instead.

16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

Again, see the description of my last haircut. Also, this is yet another suggestion that white people have some monolithic culture that others are forced to fit into. In addition, those people wouldn't feel any penalty in their own culture for not knowing the language and customs of "white" people, either.

17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much i fear its policies and behaviour without being seen as a cultural outsider.

Here's a fun one. This was written in 1988 (although it's still being used today with a few additions), so it's funny how times seem to have changed. Try doing this now, as a white person, and see how long it takes before someone calls you a racist teabagger who resents having a black president.

18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to "the person in charge," I will be facing a person of my race.

Maybe in your homogeneous liberal enclave, yes, but not where I am. In fact, "the person in charge" at the place where I interned was Asian.

20. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.

Once again, if diversity is a strength, why is this considered part of white "privilege?"

21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

Because you work in a place where everyone agrees with you, even if they don't look like you. This is another point which will become very important later.

22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

And those suspicions would be the result of policies instituted by people like you who think minorities are inferior, dipshit.

24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

My current doctor is Hispanic, and the one before that was from Iraq. I don't think either situation has caused a problem other than some minor issues with accents, so I'm not sure what I'm missing that all those people with white doctors are enjoying.

25. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.

But if you're having a great day, week, or year...privilege!

26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have thme more or less match my skin.

I have never known anyone whose skin was the color of most "flesh colored" band-aids. The fact that this was important enough to be included on the list says a lot about how petty most of this shit really is.

Now, to get to the point...

...I'll wait while you all rejoice...

...I realized something that I never thought about before while analyzing this entire concept. What do the people who describe things such as "white privilege" tend to have in common? Among other things, they're usually white liberal academics who come from fairly stable backgrounds, and they tend to live and work in places populated mostly by middle class white liberals (Massachusetts, in the case of Ms. McIntosh).

I've mentioned several times in the past that liberals have a big, big problem with projection. They love to accuse others of doing things of which they're guilty, and they often assume that everyone thinks the way they do. This is, as I've also mentioned, why they seem to think that everyone who disagrees with them is evil. They really, truly believe that everyone knows their policies are superior, and the only reason anyone would oppose them is because they don't want certain groups to be happy.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to consider projection as the source of white privilege, but it makes perfect sense. Again, notice that the description of privilege is based on the experience of a white liberal academic. Of course she would assume that her experience is universal, because it's all she's ever known. It's a pretty good bet that everyone she interacts with on a daily basis voted for Barack Obama and would endorse other Democrat politicians, and there's almost certainly a shared cultural and ideological identity among these people.

You should see where this is going by now, if you actually kept those things in mind that I mentioned would be important later.

Look at the list again. Peggy McIntosh, due in her mind to white privilege, can choose to be surrounded at most times by people who look like her, think like her, act like her, and would have no reason to see her as an outsider. She can live and work with people who will treat her as part of their group and allow her to take part in a common culture. She can criticize certain beliefs and practices without being ostracized. She can be seen as representative of what is both normal and superior. "The person in charge" is most likely someone who reminds her of herself.

These are, as I said, the experiences of a white liberal academic who currently lives and works in Massachusetts. But due to projection, as well as her unhealthy fixation on race, she believes that all this is due more to her skin color than anything else. She can't see outside of her own experience and realize that it is by no means universal. This is someone who probably thinks that Stuff White People Like is a list of things that literally every white person likes (interestingly, "Being an expert on YOUR culture" is on the list).

Let's look at this in even more detail. "[Her] African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom [she comes] into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place, and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions."

Well, maybe it's because they're treated as tokens or exceptions to the rule rather than individuals with their own personalities and backgrounds. Maybe in places where the ability of a person to actually do a job well is more important than their skin color, it would be harder to find examples of "white privilege." Maybe people are just seen as people in these places, and even when they perform beyond expectations, it's because they exceeded their perceived skill level and not because they're "a credit to their race."

We can go even deeper than this. Let's imagine that one of her aforementioned African-American co-workers makes a critical remark about Obama and expresses his desire to attend a Tea Party protest. He'd probably be met with a barrage of insults, he'd be treated with suspicion by people who used to be his friends, and he may even discover that he's no longer seen as authentically black. Of course, this could be due to white privilege, right?

Now, imagine if one of her white co-workers made an identical remark. Aside from the authenticity thing (he'd be called a racist rather than a race traitor), the reaction would be pretty much the same. Why? Because culture and race are two different things. The "dominant culture" which bestows so many privileges upon people like Peggy McIntosh also requires a certain set of beliefs in order to remain a part of it. But this culture may not even extend beyond the building in which she works, let alone the school itself, or the city, or the state, or the region, etc. To suggest that there is a single "white" culture is to suggest that your race determines who you are.

How can we disprove this? By bringing up the guy who was just hypothetically criticized a couple of times.

Barack Obama. His father was black and his mother was white, but he identifies as black. His white mother and grandmother raised him, but he identifies as black. He grew up in places where he was surrounded by white people, and he attended and later worked for schools that were run by and populated by mostly white people, but he identifies as black. He was mentored by white people, white people voted for him in droves, his supposedly brilliant speeches are written by white people, and the radical left-wing policies he supports were conceived by white people, but he identifies as black. He even, as Harry Reid has told us, speaks with no "Negro dialect," and as Joe Biden has mentioned, he's clean and articulate, which is just so unusual for one of "those people!" But he identifies as black.

Race is arbitrary. Culture is not. You can grow up with one culture and reject it, or you can identify with a certain culture even if your entire life experience has been within a different one and nobody else in that culture looks like you. Barack Obama got to where he is partially because he spoke and acted in a way that was pleasing to race-obsessed white liberal academics, but he can still be seen as authentically black simply because a black dude nailed his mom. Is he just an extreme exception to the rule? Did liberals really vote for him because they thought the white part of his ancestry would overshadow the black part?

We're supposed to believe that "white privilege" is to blame for numerous racial disparities even as the people who castigate us for not recognizing that privilege perpetuate a system in which your race and your culture are somehow inseparable. We're told that minorities can't succeed to the same degree as white people due to their inability to adapt to the dominant culture, even though the president got to where he is by doing just that.

It makes sense, though. These morons project their own racial views onto the entire "white" race, which could be defined in several dozen ways depending on who you talk to, and that's just in America. When they talk about "white privilege," what they're really saying is something like this:

"I don't trust anyone who doesn't look and act like me, so I assume that you uncultured rubes out there in Jesusland are even worse. After all, if I, as an enlightened liberal, haven't been able to move beyond arbitrary racial categorization, there's no way anyone else has!"

Once again, they've spent their entire lives living and working in places where white liberals are considered the norm, and everyone else is seen as either a token or some sort of race traitor. They can't possibly conceive of a place in which people are judged by the content of their character, because it's completely outside their experience.

Shit, maybe I'm simply enjoying the benefits of conservative privilege, since my chosen culture allows me to deal with people as individuals and recognize that all culture is, ultimately, human. Sure, there are conflicts and barriers, but those aren't the result of something as stupid and artificial as race or ethnicity. As I pointed out earlier, there are cultures within individual workplaces that would be seen as ridiculous in most of the country, but if you're acting within that culture, of course there will be "privileges."

The question is whether your race should stop you from participating in a culture that would benefit you. I think Bill Cosby has touched on this a few times. In fact, Thomas Sowell has as well, and he sums it up nicely in one section of The Quest for Cosmic Justice:

In a world where every society and every civilization has borrowed heavily from the cultures of other societies and other civilizations, everyone does not have to go back to square one and discover fire and the wheel for himself, when someone else has already discovered it. Europeans did not have to continue copying scrolls by hand after the Chinese invented paper and printing. Malaysia could become the world's leading rubber-producing nation after planting seeds taken from Brazil. Yet the equal-respect "identity" promoters would have each group paint itself into its own little corner, with its own insular culture, thus presenting over all a static tableau of "diversity," rather than the dynamic process of competition on which the progress of the human race has been based for thousands of years.

In other words, who gives a fuck if the dominant culture is "white?" Unless only people of a certain race can participate in a certain culture, your skin color shouldn't mean anything.

I'm rambling now, but I'll leave you with a final thought experiment:

Imagine that when you wake up tomorrow, you find that you've become a different race from what you were when you went to bed. You soon discover that the same thing has happened to everyone else in the world. Again, nothing but skin color has changed. Would you expect the people themselves to change as well, or would you simply expect them to interact with one another differently? Would you be a different person, would you only try to act differently based on your perceived place in society, or would you simply go about your business and hope everyone else would do the same?

Race is physical. Culture and personality are not. You'd think people who call themselves "progressive" would realize this.

Posted by CD at 06:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2006

Mommy, They're Hurting My Feeeeeeelings Again!!!

Man, this is not a good week for computer-related issues. First of all, I managed to kill my eMac's hard drive yesterday after playing Falcon 4.0 for a few hours (luckily, everything important is on my PowerBook, so it's basically my full-time computer now), then my Internet connection went down for a while, and now MuNu apparently suffered a DOS attack, resulting in me (and probably everyone else) receiving a "403 Forbidden" error when trying to access SIT.

Crap.

However, as horrible as the timing on this is, I finally (finally!) found something interesting to write about, and although the weirdness has resulted in this post being delayed by a few hours, I'm not missing an opportunity to put up some meaningful content.

The fact that I'm basically nocturnal helps out in this situation. You may look at the time on this post and think "early morning on Saturday," but for me, it's still early evening on Friday. Yay, summer.

So, anyway...blogging!

Thanks to this post on Protein Wisdom, I checked out this story dealing with the oh-so-exciting issue of racial sensitivity. Let's take a look:

Racial slur read by professor upsets U of I law students

Professor says racial term fit in a negotiations class

Iowa City, Ia. - A professor's use of readings containing racial slurs has alarmed students and renewed discussions about diversity at the University of Iowa law school.

Hmm. I'm having flashbacks to the HillTV situation already. As you're about to see, there's a very good reason for that.

"This incident was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back," said Steven Nelson, 27, a second-year U of I law student from New Orleans. "We're not going to stand for living in an environment that is hostile to us."

If simply hearing a racial slur, regardless of context, fits your definition of "hostile," I struggle to think how you managed to survive for 27 years without having a complete nervous breakdown and spending the rest of your days cowering in the corner babbling about how everyone is out to get you.

...Or maybe I'm giving you too much credit. Anyway...

The university's Black Law Students Association...

Isn't it great that we've finally managed to eliminate racial segregation from our society?

Oh, wait...

...a group of 27 students, said in a letter to law faculty, U of I administration and the Iowa Board of Regents executive director that a March 29 incident was "indicative of a much larger problem at the College of Law."

Predictable as hell. This is the same reaction that takes place every time we have a "bias-related incident" at Syracuse:

"Somebody did something offensive! Therefore, because one person wasn't thinking straight, it's clear that the entire school is full of intolerant bigots who need to be properly educated in the ways of never doing anything that would make anyone uncomfortable ever! Look! Look around! You're all a bunch of fucking bigots and you don't even know it! LOOK!!!"

Sorry, got a little carried away there. Now, let's take a closer look at the event that led to all this trouble:

The incident that triggered the larger discussion was professor Gerald Wetlaufer reading aloud two passages that contained racial epithets in his negotiations class, according to law school Dean Carolyn Jones.

Wow. How utterly horrible. A professor dared to read something written by someone else, and that writing happened to contain offensive words. I understand everything now. In fact, I feel absolutely sickened that anyone could be so heartless and inconsiderate. I can't imagine what those poor, innocent students (some of whom are apparently pushing 30) must have gone through.

Really. I am shocked and appalled beyond belief. Let's move on:

The readings, one from Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of former President Lyndon Johnson and another a 1964 speech by a black sharecropper named Fannie Lou Hamer, were in context with the course, Jones said, but students may not have been sufficiently prepared to hear the racial slurs.

I'm going to repeat the last part of that excerpt for emphasis:

...students may not have been sufficiently prepared to hear the racial slurs.

Let's think about this. What the crap does that even mean? How do you prepare someone to hear racial slurs? You'd think that if they're able to recognize the words in question as racial slurs in the first place, it means they're sufficiently prepared to hear them again. Furthermore, considering the fact that we're talking about adult law students here, don't you think it's a bit insulting to their intelligence to even consider this?

"Okay, boys and girls, you've all been a very good class lately, and I promise to give you an extra half hour of naptime this Friday, but in tomorrow's lecture, I may have to say some naughty, naughty words, and I wanted to make sure nobody will go home crying, so I have to ask that you have your parents sign these permission slips. Now, if you'll just hand in your fingerpaintings, I'll dismiss you."

I'm having way too much fun with this. It's been a long time since I wrote a good sarcastic rant. Let's continue:

Wetlaufer apologized to students for not adequately warning them about the readings but said he believes they were relevant to the course, which focuses on the power of language.

Can you say "unintended consequences," children?

I still can't get over the fact that the students believe they should've been "warned" about this. The idea of law students being so thin-skinned that they can't even handle listening to a quoted racial epithet is making me hope I never have to be within 1000 yards of a courthouse.

"These were not words I used to oppress anyone in the class or promote anyone else's agenda," he said. "This word appears 49 times in 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' I don't think I have crossed some line here."

The fact that he even had to explain this in an "academic" environment demonstrates the infantilization of the modern American educational system. I'm starting to think that shit like this is why people in certain countries view Americans as dumb.

...Tori Bobryk, a third-year law student who is white, walked out of the class because she was offended by Wetlaufer reading the slur without warning, she said.

I'm not sure which would be more painful at this point: Continuing to think about how anyone could be so sheltered that they would resort to this, or banging my head on my desk until I pass out. I guess I should at least finish the post...

"I wish there had been a preface or a disclaimer or a discussion afterward," she said.

*HEADDESK*
*HEADDESK*
*HEADDESK*
*HEADDESK*
*HEADDESK*
*HEADDESK*

...Oh, I'm still conscious. All right, I'll think about it, damn you.

I really don't understand how people can actually believe this crap about needing disclaimers and discussions, etc. before dealing with any sensitive topic. It almost seems more likely that they're just doing this to get attention...but when I recall some of the ridiculous things I've seen people do and say, I realize that it is, in fact, possible for human beings to be this mind-bendingly brainwashed and idiotic. Moving on...

Nelson, the Black Law Students Association president, said there have been other instances in which students or professors have made insensitive comments.

In another case, a student brought up the idea of reinstating slavery, and the professor, whom Nelson would not name, did not contradict the notion, he said.

I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly doubt that this event happened in the way it's described here. My guess is that someone brought up a hypothetical situation in which slavery was never abolished, and certain students were made uncomfortable by the act of thinking about it. However, since the article gives no more information, I'll go ahead and strike that opinion from the record, as you law school types would say.

(Insert oversensitive asshole here: "'You law school types?' Is that some kind of racial slur? How dare you!")

Jones said the law school has 16 percent minority enrollment — more than other U of I colleges — and is working to recruit more students and faculty of color.

Fight the War on Homogeneity!!!

"I want you...as long as you're a minority!"

"It's really important for our students to learn about diversity and work with people of all different backgrounds. That's where their future is," Jones said.

And what better way to prepare them for the real world than shielding them from unpleasant thoughts? Brilliant!

A new law school diversity committee will work this summer to develop racially sensitive programming, she said.

Why do I get a chill when I see the word "programming" in there?

"You will be assimilated...by accepting diversity!"

Seriously, I shouldn't be having this much fun with an issue that pisses me off this much. I should do this blogging thingawhatsit more often...

[More boring statistics about minority enrollment left out; See the original article if you're interested for some reason]
"Throughout this academic year, we've been thinking about ways to make the law school more welcoming," Jones said.

Nelson would like the law school to draft a policy requiring faculty to put racially related topics in context.

It seems to me that the professor in question did just that and STILL GOT CRAPPED ON, YOU IDIOTS.

"It's not that we don't want these issues talked about...

Could've fooled me.

...it's just we want them to be brought up in a sensitive manner," he said.

Well, thanks for being so specific about what "sensitive" means, moron. Apparently, making it clear that you're reading someone else's words and not endorsing the offensive usage of the words in question isn't good enough for you.

That's the end of the article, but I want to get into these issues just a bit more to illustrate how ridiculous this whole thing really is.

First and foremost, I still can't quite understand how fucking law students aren't prepared for this kind of thing. Imagine tuning in to CourtTV and seeing this:

LAWYER: Could you describe what you saw the defendant doing?

WITNESS: Well, he shot the guy twice, then he just...started stabbing him in the chest while he was on the ground begging for his life. I...I can't really talk about it anymore.

LAWYER: Did the defendant say anything to the victim?

WITNESS: I...I think he called him a..."dumb nigger," and-

LAWYER: How dare you use that word, you monster! You're a disgrace to society, and you deserve to be locked up forever!

DEFENDANT: You can't prove that I-

LAWYER: I wasn't talking to you!

...I think I got carried away again. Anyway, this kind of thing irritates the crap out of me, if you couldn't tell. People are afraid of words.

Words.

Not the context in which they're used, or the people who are using them, but the words themselves. As a result, they consider it an assault on their well-being to even hear these words.

I consider myself something of a writer, so I understand the power of language (which was apparently the subject of the lecture(s) in question), but when it gets to the point where the words themselves become the enemy, we've gone too far.

Allow me to share a few personal anecdotes to illustrate the hypersensitivity of these perpetual victims.

First of all, during my freshman year of college, I had an ethics professor (with whom I was involved in an extended debate about abortion) who used racial slurs quite often to illustrate points in class. This professor happened to be black, but if the words themselves are the problem, that shouldn't make a difference. What matters is that nobody got up and walked out of the room when he used said slurs. In fact, at one point in a lecture, he actually asked a student to "call [him] a nigger" in order to demonstrate the uselessness of epithets in an argument. The resulting dialogue went something like this:

STUDENT: Nigger!
PROFESSOR: Cracker!
STUDENT: Nigger!
PROFESSOR: Cracker!
STUDENT: Nigger!
PROFESSOR: Cracker!
STUDENT: Nigger!
PROFESSOR: Cracker!

A bit more "offensive" than the stuff in the article, even in context, right? But nobody seemed to get bent out of shape about it, and we all understood why the words in question were being used. Nobody complained that there should've been warnings or discussion. We used our brains and figured out why these words were said, and then we moved on.

Keep in mind that this was an undergraduate philosophy class, not fucking law school, so if we were all mature enough to handle this, surely a 27 year-old should be able to handle a quote that contains offensive language.

In addition, this is yet another example of the emotionalism that so dominates our society.

"It's all about how I feel! The mean professor's words made me uncomfortable! He's creating a hostile environment! Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me!!!"

Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

You want to talk about a "hostile environment?" Try being a conservative studying communications at a liberal school and see how things go. You'll have a great time watching people in a poli-sci class come to a consensus that the broadcast media is overwhelmingly conservative, listening to your history professor imply that he would like to see the president assassinated, hearing your sociology professor suggest that only white people can be racist, having pro-Bush signs ripped off your dorm door and vandalized repeatedly, taking part in a political discussion in which it's you against 19 liberal students and a liberal professor, and overhearing a discussion in which one participant asks "have you ever met a conservative movie-maker?" (implying that they don't exist) while trying to resist the urge to say "you have now." And that's just scratching the surface!

But you know what? I don't go to the administration and complain that my feelings are being hurt and that I should be warned before I have to listen to anything I don't like. Instead, I realize that people don't agree with me, I consider their views, I speak when necessary and remain silent when necessary, and I occasionally vent on my blog, but I generally try to act like an adult, because that's what I am, and that's what you are, so for the love of crap, STOP WHINING.

Finally, let's all celebrate our great nation with a quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and Never Hearing Offensive Words.

You know...something about that doesn't look right...

Posted by CD at 05:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

Is This Progress?

I was checking my school email earlier today, and I noticed a subject line that said "Communications Internships." I happen to be looking for a communications internship right now, so obviously, I was interested. Then I read this line in the message itself:

PAID SUMMER INTERNSHIPS IN COMMUNICATIONS FOR MINORITIES

The Louis Carr Internship Foundation (LCIF) is accepting applications until March 1, 2006 for Summer 2006 paid internships in communications from minority students, who are now completing their sophomore or junior year of college.

Oh, great. Thanks for getting my hopes up, racists.

Posted by CD at 01:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack