Nag Rage- Christopher Nuttall
[Quick explanation. I wrote this at the heart of the Starbucks ‘Race Together’ idiocy, then sent it to Sarah. However, it was delayed and may be slightly out of date. The core idea still holds true, though. CGN]
(Addendum: Yeah, I was — literally — dopey and only got my bearings enough to put it up today. I don’t think it’s outdated. – SAH)
I am not a psychologist. Indeed, it is a profession I hold in considerable mistrust. However, after reading a couple of articles online that annoyed me, I wound up defining a whole new mental condition, something akin to Road Rage. I call it Nag Rage. No doubt someone has beaten me to the punch (I did no research whatsoever before writing this) but it needs to be said (in my best pseudo-medical style):
Nag Rage: a condition caused by repeated nagging from the same person (or persons) on the same subject, defined as a growing wave of fury and frustration combined with a swelling impulse to just shut the nagger up. Nag Rage is particularly dangerous as a person who reaches 5 on the Nag Rage Scale, after a long bout of nagging, will immediately jump back to 5 if the nagging should resume. The effects of Nag Rage will double if the victim is unable to give the nagger what he/she wants. Victims of Nag Rage will eventually tune out the nagger, on the grounds that the nagger is endlessly repeating him/herself, or snap and start screaming.
The solution? Stop nagging.
Ok, you may ask, what does this have to do with anything?
I read a lot of posts on Facebook when I’m not writing. One article that came to my attention covered Starbuck’s latest scheme to lose customers … by encouraging baristas to talk to them about race. I have a feeling that customer response will probably end up as “MANAGER, this man is HARASSSING me!” Or “I’ll take my custom elsewhere!” Or “you just absorbed twenty minutes of my time! The bill is $10, plus assorted other charges!”
Or customers will probably end up hurling cups of scalding hot coffee at the poor baristas, who will then face medical bills, while the customers wind up in jail for assault (and legal problems for Starbucks.)
Actually, I thought that few baristas would actually follow orders and talk about race – they’re the ones on the front line – but some recent posts that popped up in my Facebook suggest otherwise.
EDIT – Starbucks appears to have shut the idea down and is frantically doing damage control. Surprise, surprise.
I really have no idea what Starbucks was thinking when it started this idea. People do not go to coffee shops for anything, but coffee. Who in their right mind would go to a coffee shop, when they might be in a hurry, for a lecture on race? Particularly, I might add, one delivered by baristas who probably don’t have the slightest idea how to deliver one? Did Starbucks issue a script? Were the staff given training in how to alter the script or were they told to keep plugging along no matter what they got in response? I haven’t heard anything, to be honest, that suggests there was any training at all.
My response? Support your local indie coffee shop … and forsake Starbucks forever.
But this pales compared to another article that popped up in my feed.
You’ve probably heard of ‘White Privilege,’ the largely-nonsensical suggestion that whites are more privileged than anyone else. (I say largely nonsensical because I have been in a place where there really is such a thing as White Privilege; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.) What you might not have heard of is it’s unholy twin, White Fragility. Robin DiAngelo, a professor of multicultural education, defined it as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include outward display of emotions such as anger, fear and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”
Really, it’s astonishing just how much this diagnostic has in common with Nag Rage.
In the article I read, Professor DiAngelo goes on to say the following:
In large part, white fragility—the defensiveness, the fear of conflict—is rooted in this good/bad binary. If you call someone out, they think to themselves, “What you just said was that I am a bad person, and that is intolerable to me.” It’s a deep challenge to the core of our identity as good, moral people.
Unfortunately, I think the professor is misinterpreting the response. What people actually think to themselves is “what you just said is that I am responsible for the [crimes of my ancestors/crimes of someone else’s ancestors/crimes of a white person with no connection to me whatsoever/being born white] and that you expect me to make recompense for these crimes and that is utterly outrageous.”
This tends to be common, I believe, at so-called ‘diversity training’ and mandatory ‘cultural sensitivity’ lectures. Such sessions, like multiculturalism itself, rest on an unspoken and unchallenged premise that diversity and cultural sensitivity are actually good ideas. The simple application of common sense suggests otherwise. Businesses rely on hiring people who can actually do the jobs, not because of their skin colour/sex/age/religion/etc. The mere suggestion that someone got a coveted job or promotion because of the colour of their skin is corrosive, even if it is completely inaccurate. A person who feels that they were passed over for promotion because they happened to be white is not likely to be in a good frame of mind for accepting that the winner actually deserved to win.
And, as always, it’s easier to blame someone else for our problems.
Diversity training sessions tend to become, very quickly, nagging sessions. The unhappy recipients, who were hired to do specific jobs, are ordered to listen to someone who knows nothing about the jobs they do, but hectors them constantly about the dangers of racism. They are not only forced to leave their jobs for a day, which can mean falling behind with their work, but also be spoken to like children in need of adults to show them the way. Is it any surprise, really, that people are growing less and less reluctant to discuss race when most ‘conversations’ start with an assumption that white men are responsible for the world’s ills … and when any disagreement, no matter how minor, is greeted with screams of RACIST!
And, as I said above, every bout of nagging resumes charging up the rage-o-meter from where it stopped, last time. White fragility? More like frustration with having to play a game where the rules seem to be rigged against them, where victory is impossible, where the slightest expression of disagreement can be used against one, where nothing short of bowing one’s head to PC-orthodoxy is acceptable.
I could spend quite a long time, if I wished, dissecting Professor DiAngelo’s article. I’m not going to bother, not now. All I can really do is point out that hectoring people, time and time again, about ‘racism’ and ‘micro-aggressions’ – and hammering someone into the ground for daring to hint that he might just disagree – does nothing, but make the problem worse. Social Justice Warriors insist on drawing lines between people – and, in doing so, set each of the groups against the others. They have played the Race Card so often that no one outside their circles takes it seriously any longer.
And why, you might ask, do I care?
My son is a mixed-race child. If the world’s population is divided into different groups by race, where does he fit in?