Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SafetyPinWars!: The Leftiest Slapfight Ev-Ar

But that’s not how some people saw it. Just days after the impromptu campaign went viral, the decision to don safety pins came under fire from critics — including several black and Hispanic writers — who lambasted it as a poor excuse for action and a self-indulgent way for white people to distance themselves from Trump voters.
“Let’s call these safety pins what they are: an empty gesture,” Demetria Lucas D’Oyley wrote in The Root. “These pins, not the wearing of them nor the pictures posted of folks wearing them, are not about safe spaces. They’re about not wanting to be perceived as a racist. Like, ‘I might be white, but I’m not like them, over there. I’m enlightened.’”
Writing for Mic, Phillip Henry went farther, calling the trend the trend a “bat signal of white guilt” and an example of “performative wokeness” — put simply, the act of advertising one’s progressive beliefs to appear tolerant.
“They are nothing but badges made for white people to assuage white guilt and declare themselves allies completely autonomously,” he wrote. “It signifies almost nothing at all. It is a self-administered pat on the back for being a decent human being. Privilege at its finest.”
   This...this actually brought tears of self-righteous, joyful superiority to my eyes. This is like crack to me. I may never get over this particular story. I am so filled with self-righteous revulsion right now that I hardly know what to do with myself. Man, I am messed up.
  I was going to rant and rave about how repulsively idiotic they and their disputes are...but why? If you can't see it, there's nothing I can do for you.
   But..."performative wokeness" LOL...And used unironically! Or is it..? God knows. No, of course it's un-ironic. These people are humorless.
   And "bat signal" should "moonbat signal".
   But, see, the objection on the table in all that isn't you people are crazy...it's that's not politically correct enough. (Later in the piece the author asks how anyone can wear a safety pin when MORE THAN TWENTY TRANSWOMEN OF COLOR WERE KILLED THIS YEAR!?!?!?!?!?! How indeed.)
   Even the form of this dispute is getting old:
   B:  NO YOU'RE NOT PC AT ALL BRO YOU'RE...(drops PC nuclear bomb) YOU'RE ACTUALLY RACIST!!!!!!!

   This lunacy is seeping more and more deeply into what used to be sane and ordinary liberalism. The more this stuff affects relatively more centrist liberalism, the more that liberalism deserves to be repudiated by normal, non-insane people. And, of course, by liberals...since there's nothing at all liberal about this nonsense.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to add to my time machine errand list. It will now read:

1) Kill Hitler.

2) Do this.

3) Go to Oxford in 1951 and visit JL Austin. Say, "John, I'm from the future. I'm sorry about the cancer. We can't cure that in my time either. But enough small talk. You can't call them 'performative utterances'. Thirty years from now, one person is going to latch on to a subsidiary meaning of the word 'performance' to build a horribly misguided theory of the pragmatics of language, claiming you for support. I don't have time to explain why, but that theory now terrorizes the world and is seemingly irresistible. Please, use another term. Maybe 'effective utterances'. Not 'affective utterences, or we're all back to square one."

7:32 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I would like to contribute to your GoFundMe page for this project.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

I believe "performance wokeness" is used in a uniformly derogatory way--that is, this usage suggests there is never a time that "performance wokeness" is a useful action. In short, some minorities are telling people wearing safety pins to get over themselves and take off their diapers. All in all, not an unreasonable piece.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Hm...yeah, I think you're right...

But since I hate both of those terms, I'm still gonna make fun of the jargon.

Also, doesn't this *still* just seem like one of those internecine PCer-than-thou spats?

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Hi Winst! I'm with Mr Mack. I actually wrote my comment yesterday before any other comments, but then I deleted it by accident.

So anyway, after your quotes from the safety-pin critics, I was half-expecting you to endorse them! After all, the substance of the critique is: what we're seeing is white people making themselves feel better and advertising their deeply caring natures by making a gesture of solidarity toward vulnerable minorities which is so superficial, ineffectual and cost-free that one might even suspect that they are opportunistically using the minorities' vulnerability as a pretext for moral self-aggrandisement.

And this substance seems to me to be not only largely true, but strongly continuous with your ongoing critique of PC culture. My suspicion is that the locution 'performative wokeness' -- which admittedly has unfortunate connotations, although like Mr Mack I believe it is doing a perfectly respectable semantic job -- induced an understandable descent of the red mist, which obscured the fact that these guys are basically talking your language, as it were.

I can see the temptation to think of this as another case of 'I'm "holier-than-thou"-er than thou!' But another reason I think this is a mistake is that the contemptuous rhetoric of the quoted critics (who are both black) draws justification from the undoubted fact that they will be very much at the sharp end of the significant cultural deterioration we are very likely to see in the era of Trump. Or, as Phillip Henry amusingly puts it, 'Forgive me for not shedding a tear over the safety pin I'd likely be stopped and frisked for wearing over the next four to eight years.'

3:07 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This is almost exactly what I've been thinking, DJ, since P-Mack's comment--that I blearily read that thing incautiously,and then flipped my shit at the damn *words*, and may very well have missed a chance to agree with the author...

...but no chance/energy to go back and re-read it this crazy week. I'll still bet there IS an element of PC slapfight in it...and surely I'll be able to find/conjure/imagine grounds for getting pissed off at both sides even on a re-read...I have faith in myself...

3:32 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

That may be true, but there is insufficient evidence on the basis of this excerpt. I agree it would be a fantastic piece to study in philosophy class, but not for the reason you originally stated.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Actually, the more I think on this, the more I think "performance wokefulness" is a useful phrase. It is so clearly ridiculous, it can be used to satirize all sorts of actions.
* The use of tiny US flag pins by *every single US politician* post 9/11. And then criticizing other pols for finally taking the thing off.
* The performance of the National anthem, often recorded(!), before every single sporting event where there's an audience. (Of course, if there's no audience, there's no need for the teams to demonstrate how patriotic they are.)
* The wearing of hats that say "Make America Great Again"

Basically, any public symbol tribal affilliation that costs nothing. Putting scars on your face, or tattoos--that means something. I say, show me the tattoo, or it ain't nothing but performance wokefulness.

6:24 PM  

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