Racism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But with a difference. Beauty is subjective. Racism isn’t.
I may walk around being the only person who thinks I’m “beautiful”. So long as no one’s bullying me though — and so long as I’m not being destructively delusional because I think I’m an Adonis — what difference does it make? No one’s getting hurt by me thinking I’m better looking than I am.
But, if I walk around thinking I’m no racist — while doing incredibly racist things — first of all, I’m hurting people and second of all my “opinion” about whether I’m racist or not is irrelevant. If you do harmful things to other people — if you think harmful thoughts about them — because of the color of their skin, how they dress, the way they pray or who they love — it’s not a matter opinion whether you’re a racist or not.
If someone calls you, calls something you’ve done or something you’ve said “racist”, it’s a sign you might be a racist. If your immediate response is to deny your racism — that’s another sign you’re a racist. Racists don’t listen. They whitesplain or mansplain over their victim instead. Another sign.
After a while, all the signs kinda add up — if you’d stop to count them. In the “I’m a racist” pile — plenty of chits. In the “I’m no racist” pile — just one: you and your insistence that you couldn’t possibly be a racist.
It’s soooooooooooo simple. No one gets to decide if they are racist. No one gets to decide if they’re bigoted — or misogynist — or even generically cruel. Our victims get to say.
That is, they should. We need to stop giving racists street cred over the people they’ve bullied. We need to make being racist impossibly expensive — both financially and personally.
We need to make being thought a racist as bad as being one. We need to fear being called “racist” the way we’d fear being called a “child molester”. It’s that offensive and unacceptable. It’s that counter-productive.
So — if someone calls you “racist” (and I don’t mean some Trumpian shithead who’s projecting their racism onto you as part of a meaningless argument) — take it seriously.
By the same token? If someone calls you beautiful? Accept it.
“Fair” is kind of like the Buddhist notion of “Bodhisattva”. A Bodhisattva is someone on the road to enlightenment. But they’re not there yet. If they think they’re there? They’re definitely not “there”. Enlightenment is as hard a goal to achieve as “fair” is. It’s more surreal than real, more abstract than plastic.
And it’s so personal. What’s fair to me might not be fair to you. Even when we compromise (the goal, really), if the compromise is “fair”? Neither of us will like it much; it’s not “fair”.
“Fair” gets harder when there are multiple competing interests whose concept of “fair” contradicts one another. Maybe the problem is we value “fair” to the individual over “fair” to the group. Assuming everyone’s rights are being respected (a big assumption), it’s hard to justify being fair to one person at the expense of a large chunk of everyone else.
When we say “All men are created equal”, we better mean “everyone” is created equal — before the law (which is what it means). If the Law treats everyone fairly — that is, “equally”, there’s a better chance we’ll feel that we’ve been treated fairly. That’s all we can ask. It’s the consistency that creates a basis for “fairness” in our minds. That’s why the Rule Of Law — as a concept — gives us the best possible chance to experience the most “fairness” for the most people.
Racism is inherently unfair. Ditto bigotry, misogyny and every other form of irrational, ignorant hatred.
But, just like “fair” is a human construct, so’s the Rule Of Law. We invented it. And though we want to think it’s “automatic” or autonomous, it isn’t. It does not self-perpetuate. It’s not some perpetual motion machine. We have to care for these ideas and nurture them. We have to renew both the ideas and our passion for them.
As the Trump years have taught us, if you start taking “fairness” for granted, you’re doomed to a life of perpetual unfairness. Minority rule — as an example? Not fair. Mitch McConnell hijacking the judiciary — to give hard core conservative judges power over an increasingly progressive majority? Not even remotely fair. Committing treason to win the presidency in 2016? Don’t get me started…
“Fair” is a muscle we have to exercise every single day. We have make sure we’re being fair — despite the unfairness around us. If we don’t exercise our own sense of fair — that is, fair for the group — our “fairness” muscle will atrophy, wither and die. Before long, we’ll become like every Trump supporter. Their idea of “fair” begins and ends with them.
You want fair? Be fair. Have receipts ready to demonstrate what real fairness looks like. Be prepared to persist. “Unfair” is the bully’s preference and there are plenty of bullies around.
It sucks when the thing at the end of “I hate you because…” is bullshit.
I’m a yid. A kike. A sheeny.
I grew up part of a hated community. As a kid, you ask the obvious question — “But WHY do they hate me (never mind us)?” The answer you get back isn’t satisfying — or logical. Underneath the “because you’re a Jew” — to the reasons WHY they hate your Jewness — one finds fiction.
More to the point, one finds BULLSHIT. And Magical Thinking.
Antisemitism is not alone in its bullshittiness. Lots of white people think black people are less intelligent because of their skin color. The scientific basis for this thinking is exactly zero. It ain’t reality talking, it’s ignorant, racist bullshit. Of course.
Antisemitism is slightly different because it’s not based on an obvious tribal difference. It’s based on a story.
I bet if Jesus — a Jew every day of his life — were to be resurrected, he’d be horrified in a thousand different ways. He’d be especially horrified that HE was the reason his own tribe has been threatened ever since. Jesus preached a message so simple, even a dumb atheist can see its value and go along with it: “Do Unto Others”. It doesn’t require an ounce of ooga-booga. Jesus (I’m going with The Jesus Seminar’s findings here) never advocated for a church (he was too busy advocating against the temple ffs!) or talked about being any sort of messianic playah who was part of a complex, prophesy-following make-believe. That was Paul, actually, and the early “Church Fathers” — the boys club that put the early church together.
The Early Church was a literal construct. The New Testament did not suddenly plop down in the middle of Rome. It was put together in order to send out a message — a story. There are loads of interesting texts that didn’t make the cut (I highly recommend The Other Bible — which includes these texts). You have to ask “Why?”
Spoiler alert — because the Early Church made up its foundational mythology out of pretty much whole cloth. They invented a “Jesus” — borrowing just enough of the original to give it flavor — then manufacturing the rest from the ground up. That included the way this fictitious version of the Jesus Character died — at the end of a process started by Jews.
In the storytelling biz, that story doesn’t sell cause it smells. If you put it in a script — changing the names, of course, to protect the innocent — it would get killed by everyone who read it because it makes no sense. Even villains have to have logic. Especially villains.
The church manufactured a fiction that worked well for them. And because it worked well, they repeated it — and repeated it ad nauseum until a literal lie became, to those without the perspective or knowledge of history, a “truth”. And that false “truth” became the basis for a massive amount of unwarranted hatred.
If the Holocaust (as studies now say) caused actual genetic mutations — the emotional reactions to the experience literally altered its’ victims DNA — it’s likely strong emotional reactions caused earlier DNA alterations to those on the other side of that equation — the perps. How else to explain the seeming hard-wiring of this hatred? Maybe I’m just being paranoid about Jew hatred being universal.
How else to explain the persistent Magical Thinking that Jews use Christian babies to make matzoh or plot — together — to take over the world through the banks and media. Jews, as a rule, tend to be pretty independent in their thinking (it’s a cultural thing for lots of us). Getting a bunch of us to be that together in our thinking so we could pull such a thing off — hasn’t actually met any Jews. That’s Magical Thinking.
Magical Thinking based on rubbish — as all Magical Thinking is.
So, here’s the punchline to the joke. It sucks to be hated because of a fiction. But — are ya ready for it? Racial hatred, tribal hatred, pretty much most hatred — it’s all is based on fiction.
We need to fix our attention on the scumbags who regularly exploit that fact. I won’t point fingers here — I’d need more fingers. We all know who those scumbags are. They’re the ones who bray bullshit — because they know how well bullshit sells — and what bullshit will do as it spreads.
Bullshit comes with being Human. We don’t know yet if Bullshit comes with being sentient; do other animals capable of conscious thought LIE to each other when necessary? Why would we assume they didn’t?
I’m just saying — Lying and Bullshit seem so natural to us that it could be an organic outgrown of having a ‘sense of self’, an imperative to protect that ‘self’ from harm, and an impulse to alter the Truth in order to protect from harm.
Lie to a dog — about whether or not you’ll give it a treat — and you’ll see a mind grappling with bullshit. Ever watch a Nature Program where a pack of wild dogs hunt? It’s all about deception — that’s the nature of setting a trap: the trapped think safety lies in one direction when it doesn’t. It’s the creation of a legitimate fear for a bullshit reason (‘Run THIS way not THAT or you’ll get eaten). Next thing you know — you’re eaten.
Bullshit is powerful stuff used on the fly.
It’s even MORE powerful when given time to ‘cure’ like concrete. Just like concrete, as BULLSHIT hardens, it becomes more difficult to destroy. After a while — if it continues to stand, it becomes foundational — a thing that’s always been so it must be true…
Today’s Featured Player – “THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION”…
First published in Russia in 1903, the ‘Protocols’ want you to believe that a bunch of Jews got together and — having already planned World Domination — decided to get it all down in writing (bad writing). It ain’t even a good story.
If you really want to hate another group of people, please, Anti-Semites, have a little self-respect. Just go and hate. Don’t try to embellish with nonsense like this — it’s ‘unbecoming’…
C’mon, Jew-Haters — if you’re really THAT into hating Jews, why would you need an excuse? Isn’t your capacity to hate good enough for you? You need Bullshit Reasons for hating?
Chrissakes — don’t tell me even Bigotry has been wrecked by the Age of Trump…
The most frustrating arguments I have these days aren’t with Trumpanistas. They’re with people completely on ‘our side’.
The question isn’t ‘Is Donald Trump the worst thing (aside from slavery) that ever happened to America?’ The question is why are so many ‘informed’, progressive people so reluctant to fully embrace — and act upon — a simple, empirical fact?
Why are they so reluctant when their whole way of life is threatened. Not make believe threatened — For Real, No-Shit, No-Kidding Threatened. The kind you look back upon afterward and ask yourself, ‘Gee, considering how clearly and obviously threatened we were, why didn’t someone do something?’ That someone would be YOU, pal — and the why is YOU NORMALIZED THE THREAT.
The steady ‘Drip-Drip-Drip’ of Normalization. It is DEADLY.
Remember the feelings of outrage you felt over the words Donald Trump spoke about Mexicans on DAY ONE of his campaign? He said that about human beings he didn’t know, about AMERICANS (many of them) — hard-working, patriotic Americans.
The moment we didn’t stop what was happening and insist that Donald Trump’s campaign to be POTUS end right there, right then — he had us. It was over. We had just ACCEPTED — and therefore NORMALIZED overt racism and bigotry. It poked its nose into the Commonweal’s tent — saw no resistance — and so came right in and made itself at home.
When we next ACCEPTED ‘Pussy-Grabbing’ as ‘Just how this candidate talks about women‘ — we were gone, gone, gone. Now it was more than HALF THE POPULATION whose DEBASEMENT we ACCEPTED and NORMALIZED.
Authoritarians need the mob BEHIND THEM, not opposing them for this reason and that reason. Divide & Conquer is so basic even bad dictators usually get that one right. Donald Trump certainly did.
Donald Trump managed to get the wishes & desires of 16% of the American population — yeah, as a percentage of the whole American Population, that’s the sum total of hard core Trumpanistas. Throw in the fact that — with the assistance of Russia and Cynical RW White Christian Male Money — Election 2016 was fraudulent top to bottom and you get the recipe for an Authoritarian soft coup just the way the chefs drew it up.
Each little drip was bad enough. But those drips add up. Like now — into a whole trough FILLED with Malicious, Un-Democratic Intent. And the ‘Coffee Maker’ looks and smells like it’s about to explode.
Fer Christ’s Sake — Can we PLEASE turn the ‘coffee maker’ off before it shorts out and burns the whole house down?