Saturday, December 26, 2015

George Yancy Gives You The Gift Of You Being Racist

The same mistakes over and over and over again.
The tl;dr is:
[1] If we presuppose you are racist, then it follows that you are racist!
And, needless to say, there's also the quasi-Freudian auxiliary hypothesis that constitutes the pseudoscientific turn:
[2] If you deny this, then you are really racist.
Also if you deny this, then you're turning down a present! That's just bad manners, dude.

   Look, there's a serious discussion to be had more-or-less in this vicinity...but this isn't it. What we see over and over again is the mere assertion that everybody (white) is racist. I've known quite a few people--EVEN Z0MG SOME WHITE PEOPLE!!!--, however, who just weren't. Or, if they were, they did an amazing job of hiding it. Again: The automatic dismissal of disconfirming evidence is almost definitive of pseudoscience.
   I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. Somebody on the internet is wrong. Stop the presses.
The thesis of universal necessary (white?) racism probably isn't true. It could be...but it probably isn't. Neither is the thesis of universal necessary (male?) sexism. Those claims are false. And it's also worth noting that they don't do anything to solve the relevant problems. Even if they did help, they'd be false...but, because so many people erroneously turn the factual question into a moral/political one, it might help to note that the thesis about imaginary racism doesn't help reduce actual racism.
   I will point out that part of the problem is a shifting and astonishingly broad conception of racism. Contra Yancy, being white and going to the store is not racist. It isn't racist to receive a bank loan without being racially discriminated against. What Yancy--and others--do here is basically expand the definition of 'racism' until--basically--merely being white counts as being racist. And you can't be right about a factual claim merely by adopting a more expansive definition.
   This isn't a matter of covering anything up, nor of refusing to feel bad, nor of turning down Yancy's "gift"...  This is just a matter of rejecting bad reasoning.
   There's a lot going on here that I really do think is worth discussing. For one thing, it's worth thinking about the urge so many people have to eagerly admit their alleged sinfulness... Personally, I think it's because some people think that it' stick up for your own interests. I used to be one of those people. But I got better. Now I recognize that what's important is being objective. That'll mean admitting error sometimes, sticking up for others sometimes, sticking up for yourself sometimes, and denying error sometimes. Erring in either direction is erring...
But I'm done with this one for now.
   Yancy fails to prove his case...and you can't make up for that with rhetorical tricks that suggest that we shouldn't be assessing claims, but rather accepting them uncritically. Imagine if a Christian had written something analogous asking us to accept Jesus, arguing that we already do so in our hearts, and setting things up rhetorically in a way that pretends that atheism is really further proof our deeply Christian nature... Nobody's going to fall for that nonsense...


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