Sunday, August 05, 2018

Zack Beauchamp At Vox Defends Sarah Jeong

   Jesus, it's almost too embarrassing to read. I really wish people would take this crap even a little bit seriously. Because it's bullshit from start to finish. I know this conversation is being conducted by the B...or These people are just journalists (of a sort, anyway...). They're not exactly the best and the brightest. And all they're trying to do is throw up a smokescreen until people get bored and move on. These are not thoughts for the ages. But, seriously, it would be a lot better if this were taken seriously. These arguments are laughable shit, and betray ridiculous confusions about meaning, for one thing. If the lefty position genuinely depended on these arguments by Beauchamp, it'd be all over for them.
   Look, the reality isn't that complicated.
   Though racism is a more complicated concept than most seem to think, the general idea is clear enough: it consists of something like: irrationally believing that some races are inferior--especially morally inferior--to others. The left doesn't like that, because it doesn't want anyone but whites to be racist; so it goes with PC plan A: insist that words don't mean what they mean. They're wrong--but we know that, and there's no reason to go through it all yet again. Anyone who has the right (i.e. wrong) attitudes is racist. So if Smith is black and has an irrational hatred of Asians or whites or Australian aborigines...he's racist. And, of course, utterances can also be racist. For example, if Smith says "we should kill all Asian people," Smith has said something racist. (Institutions can also be racist--but more on that below.)
   Thus: Sarah Jeong's tweets are--barring some exceptional excuse--racist.
   (Though, again: I don't think they were any big deal. I don't personally care about them. What I do care about is the geyser of hypocrisy and sophistry issuing from the progressive left.)

   Of course: she may have been kidding--e.g. may actually have been, per the official excuse, responding ironically to racist trolls. But those things seem not to have been true. But maybe they are true. But they don't seem to be. But maybe they are.
   The lefties want to dodge all this by pretending that 'racism' means something like systemic/institutional oppression on the basis of race. But, of course, that's not what it means. You can make up a term for that--which they have: 'systemic racism.' We have to add the 'systemic' because that's not what 'racism' means. Racism is not inherently systemic; so if you only want to talk about racism that is systemic (as some is), you've got to say so. Which is fine. What's not fine is: pretending that words mean what they demonstrably do not mean. Especially just in order to satisfy your lame-ass political preferences.
   In actual fact, anyone can be racist, regardless of their race. In fact, just about anything representational can be racist: people, institutions, utterances, paintings, movies... Anything that can express racist attitudes or have related effects. The left goes wrong not by pointing out that institutions can be racist--we all know they can. Jim Crow laws were racist. The left goes wrong by pretending that that only institutions can be racist. The left likes society and institutions and social explanations--it dislikes biological explanations, rational explanations, theological explanations, etc. So it seeks to see everything in such terms. It then turns around and insists that its parochial, partial, social view of things is the only possible view--and pretends that its preferred view is written into the very language. This is partially a result of the left having become an echo chamber in which the choir is constantly preaching to itself. But it's partially a strategy: they don't really believe it, but they know that if they say it over and over again--especially since the left gets to say things in the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education and sociology lectures--people will likely start to believe it.
   Also in actual fact: some racism is worse than other racism in certain ways. If Smith is a black racist and Jones is a white racist, one can reasonably suggest that, other things being equal, Jones's racism is worse than Smith's After all, Jones will be adding his efforts to a lot more like-minded racists than Smith will. Jones's racism might very well have more actual effects than Smith's. It might also engage with racist institutions, such as still exist. Furthermore: Smith's racism might be more excusable. After all, if Smith's encountered a lot of white racists, all denigrating him and making his life harder, it will be more understandable if he goes too far and develops racist attitudes in response. We're only human, after all. Jones's racism seems less likely to be an understandable, excusable, psychological consequence of racism directed against him--though undoubtedly there are cases like that.
   These are common, obvious thoughts...but the contemporary left can't seem to get them through its thick echo chamber. In actual fact, anyone or any (representational) thing can be racist...though more whites than blacks seem to be, and the racist systems we have had have mostly been racist against non-whites. (Though affirmative action is, of course, a controversial case.) And racism by whites may be worse than racism by (say) blacks. The left gets this all twisted up and--partially out of confusion, and partially as a strategy--claims that only systems can be racist, and only against nonwhites. (Though...they seem to like to call white individuals there's always been a tension there.)
   Then there are all of Beauchamp's sophomoric confusions about meaning...but I've got actual philosophy to do. I can't be disentangling that guy's nonsense all day long.


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