Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hoping the Boston Marathon Bomber Wasn't One Of You...

I often hear that, when something like this happens, many Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent hope that the bomber doesn't turn out to be one of them.

If it helps at all, my friends, you'll note that males don't even bother to hope that it wasn't one of us. Because that hope would be futile.

You know it was a dude, I know it was a dude, everybody knows it was a dude. We don't even have to ask the question.

It goes SO without saying that nobody even seems to think it's weird. It just is what it is. We don't usually even get singled out for it very often.

So we basically know that the perpetrator was a male.

And try getting somebody to take a bet, even at 100-1 odds, that it was an elderly Japanese woman...


Anonymous AB said...

A similar point re: whiteness –

2:42 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks, A.

I've got to say that I basically switch off when I hear about "x privilege" though. That terminology has gotten so confused, so annoying and associated with such dogmatism that it's hard for me to take seriously anymore.

Besides, I think it's inaccurate. It's not, IMHO, best thought of as some privilege that whites have. It is, rather, a kind of bigotry against non-whites. You might argue that those are simply two sides of the same coin, but I don't think so.

But that point is boring and niggling and too long for the time I've now got available.

And none of that means that I don't appreciate the link to that piece, because I do.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with the x-privilege conception of this kind of injustice is this: when a person enjoys an unjust privilege, the way of correcting the situation is for that privilege to be withdrawn. If white privilege means not being held collectively responsible for the actions of a few terrible people, not being surveiled for merely practicing your religion, not being profiled and harassed by police, &c., then that implies the corrective is for white people to be deprived of these comforts. But of course that's not the way this kind of injustice should be cured. Everyone ought to enjoy such "privileges". The source of the problem is that some people are being deprived of their rights, and the cure is for those rights to be restored.

It's weird to me how analyzing all racial, sex, and class injustices as privilege has taken over these discussions, considering how it changes the subject from what matters - people's unfair suffering - to what doesn't - other people's not suffering. On second thought it's not so weird: "privilege" accusations are a great way of reducing an interlocutor to sputtering defensiveness, since it makes the problem you, you who are not being done over. This explains why privilege talk seems to have really taken off in the interwebs era, where the point of most debate is trying to get to the sputtering, not to vet solutions. It also explains why, frankly, privilege seems to be the choice way for white people to talk about racial injustice to other white people, since now the subject is them and their experiences rather than people whose experience might take a bit more work to understand.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not saying that my pre-cognitive hunch was that it was a woman or anything, but in fairness, you might have overstated your case a little bit. I would hesitate to make any categorial claims about the matter, thinking especially with reference to female Chechen "rebels," e.g.:

12:13 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I absolutely agree with what you say about the "privilege" locution, A, and I came here to say basically the same thing today.

I just wrote a long--and, needless to say, insightful--response/extension of your point, but it got eaten to blogger, so I'll just say:

I think the 'privilege' locution is used because it's basically a small opportunity to sneak in a (to use another annoying "SJW" term) "microaggression" with every use of the term. Many of us know that we don't discriminate, so we don't take it personally (though most of us take it seriously) when we are told that people are discriminated against. The 'privilege' locution is, I suspect, a way to try to circumvent that. The lefty-left is dedicated to trying to defuse any claim of personal blamelessness.

Anyway. However that last bit turns out, I absolutely agree with the main/initial point: the 'privilege' conception of discrimination suggests that the solution is for the cops to start illicitly hassling whites.


7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winston, I agree with the microagression point, which is about 90% of the reason this way of speaking is popular on the internet.

But what I think should be emphasized about this way of speaking is not that it's slightly unfair to white people. I mean, none of the users of privilege locutions advocates, at least explicitly, that enjoyment of rights should be taken away from some people because they've been taken away from others. ("Stop and frisk for everybody!" would make a great op-ed headline though.) The worst a white person suffers from this kind of discourse is the small amount of guilty unease it aims to produce. ("I know you don’t want to hear it. But I don’t much care," as the linked article puts it.) The real problem is the shift of focus away from the people who suffer as a result of injustice.

There are things you can do to improve these situations, policies you can stand against and attitudes you avoid embracing. You might spend some effort trying understand the experiences of people who get hurt by such injustice, to be better able to respond to their claims. But privilege talk teaches us that what you really need to do is to... what exactly? Feel bad? "It [white privilege] is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression." There we go, time to embrace your deserved guilt. But don't do anything in particular. (You want to shake people like this by the lapels and repeat "It's not about you!" until it soaks in. It wouldn't soak in.)

This feeling of guilt becomes a sort of internal ritual that absolves you of obligation to act, like the smoker's ritual promise to quit. Of course, it doesn't help anybody. And, eventually, you will get tired and resentful at perpetually feeling bad for enjoying the basic rights of a free society. When you do, the conservatives will be there help you channel your resentment toward the privileged liberal elite, and to provide you with reasons to support policies and embrace attitudes that make racial injustice worse.

So yeah, I think the real problem with privilege discourse is that it makes matters worse for the people we should be concerned about.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Yep, a agree with most of what you write. As noted, my first comment got eaten by Blogger, and I hastily re-wrote...

Clearly the more serious problem is that it makes things worse for those already discriminated against. The fact that it's part of a temper-tantrum against males, whites, etc. is, compared to that, fairly inconsequential.

Sorry. I ought to just spell my thoughts out in a post and see what you have to say. Too tired to do this justice now.

Thanks for the good input.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous AB said...

A thought-provoking discussion – thanks for the comments. Winston, I would certainly be interested in reading more from you on the subject.

11:59 PM  

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