Race And Racism

There is one thing in which liberal activists are right: everyone is racist.  There is one thing in which they’re wrong: everyone is racist.

Racism is not confined to white people — and the idea that it equals prejudice plus power is an interesting (and stupid, as usual) Marxist distortion we’ll deal with later — it’s a characteristic of being human.

Why?  Oh, like most other things because it was evolutionarily sound.  I.e. those who had it survived and had more kids.

The thing is it’s not so much “racism” as in discriminating against another race.  It’s “Fear of the stranger.”

And even if it involves just-so stories, it really doesn’t take much to figure out why people who have a fear of the stranger survive and have more children more than those who don’t.  Even in modern society, the teen who will hitchhike and get in the car with just anyone has a higher chance of ending up dead.  But long before that, the little kid who approaches panel vans driven by strangers, has a good chance of ending up dead.  (NOT as high was our media makes it out to be, but high enough their scares are justified.)

In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”

Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.

The thing is, this fear of the stranger activates more the more the stranger looks like you and your family.  No, seriously.  When is the last time anyone was accused of racism towards another species (Okay, fine, Harambe, but that’s an exception and also liberals be cray.) This makes perfect sense, because even toddlers (at least those not desensitized by stuffed animals and parents’ being idiots) understand that large animals are dangerous.

Okay, so being afraid of cows might be a new one, and I sort of invented it (I have no idea why as a child I thought cows and horses were both man-eaters.  None.  But then I thought there were sharks with chainsaws under my bed ready to lop off any limb that extended over the edge, so we might as well admit as a proto-writer I was already rather Odd) but most kids are afraid of anything large and furry that charges towards them.  This is not racism, it’s survival.

The fear of the stranger that goes under “racism” in our society is the fear of people like us and yet not like us.

And it’s not racism in the sense that the media and liberals (who be cray) portray it.  If you believe racism as they portray it, then you believe paler people are born with an instinctive fear of African features and dark skin.  For the party that claims to be for “science” this is odder than believing in chainsaw sharks.  What is their evolutionary reason for it, precisely?  Is it the sort of fear as that of the Aliens in Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s end?  Are people of African descent thought to bring about the apocalypse and does time run in a circular fashion?

Oh, I know, they say we all internalize racism and self-racism.  Both those things are stupid.  We absorb all sorts of prejudices from the society we live in, but for the last several decades we’ve been pounded with anti-racism.  It works too.  I was reading a mystery from the eighties where the teen wishes she were black, because you know, black people are so much cooler and don’t oppose other people.  Yep, the book was written in the eighties.  (And I thought “Rachel Dolezal, we hardly knew ya”)  and the writer thought this was a perfectly sane character to sketch. And who knows, it might be, given the barrage of anti-racist propaganda.  (More on that later, too.)  But racism, true racism, is “fear of the stranger.”  The myths and attacks come from THAT and it’s one of the basic instincts of humans.  BTW it also makes “internalized racism” even dumber.  You don’t fear yourself as a stranger, unless you’ve had one of those strokes that make it impossible to recognize yourself in the mirror.

So if the fear isn’t of dark skin or African features, what is it a fear of?  “People who are not like my family/tribe/village to whom I’m accustomed” is a better way to describe it.

When I was a little girl, living in Portugal, I saw all kind of distinctions when I first entered elementary school.  Some of my classmates were much darker than I, some were blond.  Some were tall, some were short.  Being sort of medium, I never had that trigger fear of the “stranger” or at least not towards appearance.

It took going back after 30 years here to realize as a child I’d seen differences that weren’t there.  For one, Portuguese “blond” is a medium brown hair (unless enhanced with dye.)  I myself was often called “ruiva” by guys calling from street corners, because my dark brown hair threw off red highlights in the full sun.  Oh, sure there was a Viking in the wood pile there, and if I’d been in the sun a lot, my hair would look flame red when fully lit (acutally bozo-red.  My kids make fun of those pictures.) BUT in the shade hair was dark brown (now it is whatever I feel like coloring it, being a rather ugly iron-grey since I was 28.)

It took my going back after 30 years here and getting stuck watching some sort of multi-school gymnastics competition to have the stunning realization of “Heavens, all these kids look like cousins.”

This is because the human brain in a highly homogeneous population will find the most minor differences to attach “stranger danger” to.

As for big differences…  I was six the first time I saw a blond man. I mean REALLY blond.  He must have been a tourist.  In those days there weren’t many tourists in the north of Portugal, and at any rate, I was only taken to the city when I needed to buy shoes or something else my parents couldn’t find in the village.

So I’d never seen a blond.  As I remember, I screamed, and tried to run.  I also had nightmares for days.  In my mind, I decided he was one of those molded plastic dolls, hair and skin the same color, that had come to life.  But that came after for the nightmares.  The first reaction was pure fear of the stranger.

The thing about that?  Fear of the stranger — duh — goes away with familiarity.  I had a blond friend in college (real blond, even if dark blond.  Her parents were not from around there.  At least her dad wasn’t.) My husband’s best friend for twenty years, whose kids were raised with ours as “cousins” was blond.  His kids are blond.  I don’t run screaming from them.

If kids are raised together in a great variety of skin colors and hair colors, they don’t even notice them.  My kids who attended an urban school, rarely remembered to tell me the race of their friends.  Which really wasn’t an issue, except when the friends did the same and their parents did have an issue with friendships between races.

Because again, it is fear of the stranger.  Take an American kid who was raised with all skin colors, though, and introduce someone who dresses funny and the fear of the stranger activates.  Which is why we’re now using (and fostering) “racism” for things that have bloody nothing to do with race.

I’ve become a different race before my very eyes, for instance.  Worst, my family, abroad, has internalized/believes this.  Oh, not a different race from them, but that we’re all a minority and despised.

Look, I grew up thinking of myself as “White.”  This is a broad church in Portugal. I have a cousin who looks considerably more African than Obama’s Reverend Wright, but was also considered “White.”  You’d really need to look pretty dark not to be considered “white.”

Yes, there were hints that some people already considered Portuguese “Latin” when I came here thirty years ago.  Like, my first boss in the US thought Portugal was a city in Mexico (and he didn’t like Mexicans.)  Someone (at a Mensa meeting for Bob’s sake,) was so sold on me as “Hispanic” that he heard my accent as that of Ricky Ricardo’s.  Those of you who heard me (or search sings the blues in this blog, where there is a reading) should be jaw-dropped.  Portuguese LOOKS like Spanish written, but sounds nothing like Spanish, so the accent is markedly different.  Oh, and when I got my social security card they tried to put “Hispanic” in the field.  I’d have taken Latin, but there was no such classification and Spanish I’m NOT.

The Hispanic/Latin classification in governmental things isn’t STRICTLY a race.  There are Hispanic whites (one of our friends was an exchange student from argentina, whose family were first generation immigrants from Italy.  If they’d immigrated here they’d be “white” but they hadn’t, so she was “Hispanic.”) and black Hispanics and everything in between.

At least that was the idea.  BUT the problem when you paint a target and say “this is different” you’re going to activate the human instinct for “fear of the stranger.”  And remember that this fear of the stranger can and does pick up minute differences.

So, over the last thirty years, I’ve watched Latin become a race.  I’m still not 100 percent sure what people are picking up on, and sometimes what they do pick/don’t pick is bewildering.  I’ve more than once been in a line/situation where my two kids are picked as “Latin” but I’m not.  Given they’re a mix of me and their very white anglo-saxon looking father, this is somewhat bewildering.  Though I’m happy — ???– to report as times go on, I too am picked out as Latin by strangers who don’t even ask before writing “Latin” in the form or saying “Hey, you’re Latin.”  (To be fair, whatever the heck the marker is might have been there from the beginning, witness first boss, and social security lady.But it’s now more prevalent.  People are more alert to the signs.)

It’s more prevalent now, though.  People used to mistake me for Russian (this sometimes still happens, if they hear me before taking a good look at me), Greek, Italian, or Arab.  But now, nine times out of ten it’s “Latin.”

Sure there are manners, there is a culture.  I can laugh at “you’re so Cuban” jokes because they’re remarkably similar to what “you’re so Portuguese” jokes would be.  And maybe what people are picking up on is gestures, a way of standing, but it’s all getting both highlighted by saying “look at this minority here” (seriously, guys, we could do this with redheads or people who have freckles by deciding they were an oppressed minority) and made “racial” instead of cultural. (Part of this is the liberal — liberals be cray — confusion between race and culture.  They have come to think these are the same and culture can’t be changed, which is why making someone learn/speak English is racist.  As someone who learned English at 14 I’m here to tell you calling Harambe’s death the result of racism is SANER.)

Because of that there is a tendency to consider “white” only blond and blue eyed, which frankly excludes even my husband.

The justification for this is the delightful Marxist illusion that racism= prejudice + power.  Have I mentioned I thought Marx — who at any rate is not the originator of this illusion.  That’s his followers trying to make his crazy cakes theory work — and his followers are all some form of Aspergers, and unable to see things outside what they’re classified as?

They seem to think — be honest, most sf writers do too — that power equals institutional/economic/government power.

Power in human societies is a matter of one on one interactions.  Even if all black people in the US were held in menial positions, do you know how much power those can have?  Yep, a cook can spit in your food.  But more than that, a daycare worker can wreak havoc among her charges and mess with their self-image for years, even though she’s ultimately a low paid drone.  But of course, because of various affirmatives, black people are disproportionately represented in the machinery of our government, both local and federal.  And if you think that a DMV worker has no power over you, you don’t drive.

Even if racism REALLY were a thing of power and prejudice, it would apply to every “race” of human, ever.  But it’s not.  Racism is a fear of the stranger.

And our industrial-education-entertainment complex has the ability to cut out entire groups of people, point them out as different and thereby CREATE racism against them, which then requires intervention to make them “non discriminated against.”

It’s as old a game as any.  “Divide and conquer.”  If people are dependent on the government to keep them from each other’s throats, then they won’t notice the government is planting a foot more and more firmly on their necks.  And if they do, they won’t unite to topple that government.

Sure, you’ll always experience “stranger danger” when you meet someone who is truly different.  But stranger danger doesn’t shove people into groups and then train them to fear every other group.  By rights, Reverend Wright should be part of the great indistinct majority of people who can be “Whatever” if everyone, himself included, hadn’t been trained to think of african features as meaning “different race.”  (Older son gets considered black as often as Latin.  It’s the features.)

Stranger danger is not racism as the ideologues proclaim it, but it’s the only form of non-government-induced racism, and the basis of what they use to try to claim that everyone is racist (like that heinous experiment with infants.)  Stranger danger is a leftover instinct, not particularly useful in our society except to keep children from panel vans.

Fortunately it can be defeated by living in a varied society with people of all sizes and colors.  After a while the alarm stops ringing.

Of course, you’ll still react to someone who ACTS weird comes to town.  But seriously, would you want to stop that?  Often it is a sign of danger, in fact, as often “acting weird” has to do with mental illness.

More importantly, when that leftist activist comes to town, do you want to think of her as just another human being, even as she lectures you on your “toxic whiteness”?  Think of the lost opportunities to point and laugh.

 

356 responses to “Race And Racism

  1. paladin3001

    Oh my good lord. I thought I was the only one! I once had a discussion with a co-worker years ago (almost decades now) about this. Saying that “racism” was an evolutionary trait for protection of the tribe. Still believe it, now though I don’t dare say it to unenlightened people (leftists). If I did now I would be accused of that nasty toxic whiteness or masculinity. Speaking from my base of privilege.

    • paladin3001

      *sigh* Now I check the silly little box….

      • Gremlins. Unchecking it when you weren’t looking.

      • I really HATE those damn boxes. I have to run analyses on them occasionally, and NOBODY has a hard and fast definition for any of them. Half the Hispanic population becomes Latino and vice versa. Or someone identifies themselves as Ethnicity? Hispanic, and then marks the Hispanic? box with No.

        I mean, I’m predominantly northern European ancestry from 4 to 14 generations ago, but am I Caucasian? Nobody in my family (that we know of) ever grew up in, or came from, the Caucasus Mountains. Considering we’re Americans for at least 3 generations, we really ought to have a racial-ethnic choice of M&M – Mixed-Mongrel. Besides, I like chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hands..

        • You gotta know the history. I believe it was something like people from Georgia were regarded as the type specimens of that particular human “subspecies” or race, just as people from Mongolia were so regarded for East and Southeast Asians. So both names got applied to populations vastly larger than the particular geographical locale.

          On the other hand, when I’m asked that question, my preferred answer is Homo sapiens sapiens. If asked, I’ll explain that “race” is socially constructed and has no scientific validity. Or I’ll jush check, “Prefer not to state,” if that’s an option.

          • If there’s a “prefer not to state” or “declined to answer,” I take that. If there’s a “fill in here,” I put “human” and leave it at that. If they pre-checked “white,” I line it out.

            I need to start lining-out the ones that I leave blank, too.

        • For years I threatened to start checking ‘native American’ as my families current best genealogy includes ancestors that came across in the 1600s, with some living in Neuw Amsterdam colony before the transfer of ownership and name change, so I figured 400ish years is native-y enough.

          On the other hand my grandfather on the other side came over from Hungary around 1900, so there I’m a relative newbie.

          And on the gripping hand, family friends who have the appropriate documented ancestry fraction to register with any of several tribes absolutely refuse to do so, not wanting to get tangled up in tribal politics or victim status mongering.

          So not wanting to make any nod towards fauxcahontas status, I just keep checking as many confusing combinations as I can (sorry Mike Houst) just to gum up the works.

          As a basic principle, having government workers (and under threat of law, corporations individual employers) spend time collecting exacting detailed information on “race” in order to work to end “racism” is something that has never made any sense to me whatsoever.

          • I am ever miffed that they don’t offer a DK/DC box on those forms.

            A MYOB box wouldn’t work as they consider their business to be sticking their collectivist nose into everybody’s business.

        • Looking from outside, as somebody who grew up in a pretty damn homogeneous population (except latest DNA studies seem to put bit of lie to that, claiming that Finns actually have quite diverse roots for Europeans, and that there is a clear genetic divide between east and west Finns, one that is sharper than the one between, let’s say Germans and Poles who grade much more. But never mind, we look familiar to each other) there seems to be a distinct look to all white Americans, something which sort of makes you into a tribe clearly different from the European ones.

          Of course when you take everything, body language, behavior otherwise, and how they talk, all Americans are a distinct group, but when it’s just the looks and you compare clearly different racial groups to the ones who stayed in the “home country” to me something like the American Asians can look pretty similar to those Asians who stayed in Asia. Same for all groups.

          I think it may be because I am more tuned to people who look more similar to my tribe, and can see smaller differences between them.

          So when I compare just American whites to Europeans, American whites look like a group. More variety than in the European tribes, but even the ones who are more close to their European roots look in some way different than the ones who stayed in Europe (when it’s people whose ancestors emigrated at least some generations ago). I can’t tell how, I can’t really isolate the differences, and it’s not as if I could tell with each and every one, this is something that kind of comes out only when it’s group compared to group. Maybe it is those mixed marriages, most of you are more mixed than Europeans are, I’d suppose with at least some Native American input in a lot of those family lines who went there early.

        • He may have been Hispanic, but he hated burritos.

          Lt. Calletano from Hill Street Blues, played with patient dignity and grace by René Enríquez.

        • If you’re an Apache born north of the Rio Grande, you’re a “Native American.” And I, born in California, am not. And if you’re an Apache born a few miles away, south of the Rio Grande, you’re “Hispanic”, even if you have no Spanish culture and speak no Spanish, and have relatives on both sides of the border.

        • If i ever have to fill out a form of that sort in Hawaii, I am checking Pacific Islander. I’m just enough to count under that state’s laws.

        • In the spirit of “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” I’ll check “other” and then fill in “Alpheusian”.

      • Been vaguely wondering why I wasn’t getting comment updates half the day….

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    With the “Other” is can be “social clues” not “appearance”.

    People living in a small community few (if any) outsiders visiting for prolonged periods will develop habits/manners that differ from those of other small communities.

    An outsider coming in may “look the same” but even before he/she speaks everybody would know that “he/she isn’t like us”.

    Of course, in social interactions the outsider could “give offense” without intending to do so because he/she doesn’t know the “social rules of behavior”.

    Of course, the traveler could deliberately “rob/kill/cheat” members of the small community and then would be gone (possibly never to return) before his/her crimes were discovered.

    On the other hand, since he was an outsider he/she wasn’t protected by the community’s rules so could be “robbed/killed/cheated” because nobody in the community was related to him/her and wouldn’t act to protect him.

    In later times, the strong custom of hospitality developed so that the host was obligated to protect his guest from the community. Likely because other communities reacted strongly if a traveler from their communities came to harm.

    Humans have always been tribal and along with “fear of outsiders” is the “root of racism”.

    Your tribe was always seen as more important than members of other tribes.

    • Hospitality also meant that you could keep tabs on your guest, and that the neighbors and relatives could gather and scope things out in a friendly way, instead of with a mob.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod.

        Of course, many times travelers had “letters of introduction” to give to their possible hosts.

        Oh, one Greek Myth has the traveler give the “letter of introduction” to his host, the host gives him “guest rights” and then reads the full letter.

        The “letter” orders the host to kill the traveler but the host can’t kill the traveler because the traveler is now a guest.

        The host then asks the traveler to kill this monster but the traveler isn’t killed as he was able to kill the monster. 😉

    • With the “Other” is can be “social clues” not “appearance”.

      I think that was, for a while, what made America function. When I attend a con, anyone wearing a con badge, regardless of how odd and outlandish they look (and it can be pretty outlandish) is automatically ‘my tribe’. I will assume they are friendly unless proven otherwise; I’ll strike up a conversation, help them if they look lost, offer them a seat if table space is at a premium. I will side with them in any conflict with a different ‘tribe’, be it tourists, sports fans or business people. And I expect that the other tribes (especially the sports fans) behave the same way.

      It works the same way elsewhere. When I’m in the office, acting as part of the ‘business’ tribe, I assume that someone that dresses and acts businesslike is part of the same tribe. I assume the people sitting nearby at mass are part of the Catholic ‘tribe’. And I assume all of them… congoers, business people, and church parishioners (and even the sports fans)… are either part of the American tribe or friendly allies to be treated respectfully so as not to embarrass my tribe. After all, I have no way of knowing that that sports fan isn’t a Catholic or a business person.

      Identity politics changes all this. I trust congoers, business people and Catholics because I expect the group loyalty to be returned. If you’re demonstrating more loyalty to another group (such as your ethnicity, gender or political beliefs) than a group we share membership of, then I’m going to stop granting you the benefit of that trust, and I’m likely to lower if not remove the benefit of trust for others in that other group.

      • The Progressive intrusion of POLITICS into every venue has broken that Tribal Function you describe. While I could expand upon that the simplest mode of conveying it is “Shut up and sing.”

        When I want to learn about “the plight of the working man” I will go talk to actual honest to ghod blue-collar working men, not some rock ‘n’ roll icon who sells out 20K seat arenas at an average ticket price of one hundred bucks.

        • The Progressive intrusion of POLITICS into every venue has broken that Tribal Function you describe.

          And that is not accidental at all.

      • When I attend a con, anyone wearing a con badge, regardless of how odd and outlandish they look (and it can be pretty outlandish) is automatically ‘my tribe’. I will assume they are friendly unless proven otherwise; I’ll strike up a conversation, help them if they look lost, offer them a seat if table space is at a premium. I will side with them in any conflict with a different ‘tribe’, be it tourists, sports fans or business people. And I expect that the other tribes (especially the sports fans) behave the same way.

        Very much so but it also works the other way in that in situations where my tribe is mixing with other tribes I will keep members of mine about to start trouble in check.

        A few years back Southeast Leather Fest was in a hotel across the road from Turner Field on the same weekend as a long home stand including a Saturday double header. Result: sports fans and families taking a hotel room to spend a day in Atlanta going to the ball game were stuck in a hotel full of kinky people. Lead to lots of awkward moments but I saw a lot of riding herd on less…socially adept or wise say…members of our community to avoid trouble.

        I also wanted to smack a few parents who didn’t do the same with their teenagers and/or themselves.

        The sports fans who thought “fetish wear = easy and I don’t need to ask”…well, that’s always a self-correcting problem 🙂

        • In 1991, the Usenix Technical Conference was held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, which was already a serious culture clash. Then it turned out to be the same week as the Country Music Fan Fair, and several high school proms.

          Then there was the time that Glamourcon (filled with former Playboy models) crossed with an insurance convention and a large tour group of asian schoolgirls…

          -j

          • Back in 2000, DragonCon ended up sharing one of the con hotels with the Eastern Command Conference of the Salvation Army…. GWAR was there.

          • Our first Neko Con (anime) after moving into the Hampton Roads Convention Center was shared with two other functions, the fiftieth anniversary of St. Agnes’ nunnery and the Marine Corp Ball for the area.

            A friend thought that we would have trouble with the nunnery. We did not. The nuns and the Bishop engaged some of the attendees in conversation, asked questions and otherwise expressed interest in what we were doing. The nuns were impressed by the creativity and craftsmanship of some of the cos-play costumes.

            On the other hand, the wives and girlfriends of the Marines were none to happy. They had spent a great deal of money and time to look good. They did not appreciate having little girls running around in scanty elf, pixie and who-knows-what costumes and distracting their beaus. A few seemed outright repulsed by the bloody zombie (?) nurses that were a big thing that year.

          • Have been to Nashville for conferences. Maybe it was because we’re utility guys, but there didn’t seem much of a clash.

            • Specific points that I remember:

              1) Usenix had a lot more women and out gays than a typical conference back then, and they made frequent loud remarks every time they walked past the leer-enabled waitresses, who were serving tables in the walkway between the rooms and the conference.

              2) The only restaurant without a dress code was Rachel’s Kitchen, so very few of us t-shirt-clad Unix geeks spent real money on food and booze, where they expected to make a lot of their profit. And since most people flew in and didn’t rent cars, there were no other options, so by the end of the week people were cranky about the food at Rachel’s. (a quick look shows that now almost all of their restaurants are “casual”, and two are “smart casual”)

              3) They called it a “conservatory”, we called it a “supersoaker arena”.

              4) Security was unhappy about after-hours skinny-dipping in the hotel pool.

              -j

              • Ours was in Nashville proper, and many would go bar hopping at least one night. Or two. Some bar – I have no idea where – consisted of tires stacked across the front and they just stepped over the tires. Nothing wild. We’re pretty laid back.

                • I think we’d have been fine in Nashville; it was the self-contained universe of the Opryland Hotel that we clashed with. Especially since it really felt like they expected “computer professionals” to be “middle-aged white male engineers with expense accounts”.

                  -j

        • A couple of years back there was a big Furry convention in Seattle, and the same hotel had some sort of little-kid-centered thing going on at the same time.

          To the shock of the more cynical and/or worry prone…the Furries rose to the challenge wonderfully, doing the whole nine yards of “be an ambassador” and letting kids take pictures, riding herd on anybody with possibly scandalous habits, etc. There was an epic quote from one of the moms who’d only known of furries from some Special Victims Unit episode or something like that.

          See also: kids when there’s a convention going on, going up to Superman because they’ve lost mommy or daddy and don’t see a policeman.

          • I did Scholars’ Bowl when I was in high school, and we made it to Nationals my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years, which were held at a hotel in Chicago.
            One year, the hotel also hosted ShibariCon during the same week.
            We were told “Don’t go in the basement.”

      • Sometimes tribes go and organize when you’re not looking, too. For example, I’ve been a warehouse lead with a bunch of subordinates. Now, in one warehouse, I had all the subordinates (or they had me?) so it seemed natural they’d group. (I may have referred to them as “Minions!” and they may have done Igor impressions and quoted Young Frankenstein at me.) But in the other, much larger operation, I was one of many leads, and a large chunk of my people were on shifts that split them across two different leads.

        I knew they mostly liked me, because I’m interested in treating people as individual people, and fixing their problems so they can work better, and trying them out in different positions until I find the best job fit for them, where they’re the most productive and hapiest. I knew that some people in other departments I’d borrowed for temporary labour had a habit of trying to move into my department.

        What I didn’t realize is that while I’d always treated them as mine and gone to bat for ’em, they’d decided I wasn’t just a lead, I was their lead. But when I caught Official Ire when I spoke up with an unwelcome dose of reality about the latest shiny management idea at a company-wide meeting…
        One of my split-shift subordinates popped up from his table, and boomed across the cafeteria, “This is my lead! There are many like her, but this one is mine!” And on, and on, and about the time he was riffing “Without me, my lead is useless! Without my lead, I am useless!” I was facepalming, and my subordinates were hooting, hollering, whistling, and stamping.

        Um, okay then. Yes, yes, these are my people. Or I’m theirs. And apparently I’m not allowed to be hung out to dry. Um. Expletive.

        • I am convinced that the true leaders are the ones who, intentionally or not, convince others to follow them. And that’s usually the results of (1) showing that you’re a competent authority, and (2) showing that you respect other people.

          There are people who don’t accept claims of authority without proof that the authority is justified….but when that authority is justified, they are loyal to that authority to a tee. Oddly enough, such people are often labelled “anti-authoritarians”…particularly by the people who expect authority to be unquestioningly given to them by virtue of their station in life.

    • With the “Other” is can be “social clues” not “appearance”.

      The progtards are a prime example of this with all their signalling that they are not like the mouthbreathers by making the correct pious motions.

      To not blow to the right idols around progtards is to ensure you’re seen as the other.

    • In the expat realm, you can usually tell the mercenaries (ie, business people) from the missionaries from the maniacs (ie, tourist) pretty quick.

      • OK, that taxonomy of expats (mercenaries, missionaries and maniacs) I like, and am stealing.

        • Not original to me, so go nuts.

          • trailing wife

            We didn’t have much in the way of missionaries when we were expating in Germany/Belgium, and nobody paid attention to the tourists, even the embassies. But when my husband’s work group did a business thing with spouses in Kuantan, Malaysia, the English-speaking wives group invited us to join their daily revels at the hotel, and advised us in excursions in the neighbourhood.

    • The your tribe thing is still very active and alive. I’ve been able to call up relatives I’ve never met, introduce myself, give my relationship and ask if I and a bunch of friends could crash on their floor so we could attend another friend’s wedding in that city. “Sure thing!” It didn’t matter that they didn’t know me, they knew and were part of my “tribe”.

      • I think it was Walter Williams who used to emphasize the importance of marriage (formal joining of tribe) by pointing out there is a very different reaction to a request for an investment in a business start-up from a son-in-law versus a similar request from the guy with whom she’s shacking up.

    • About a year after I got to Oregon I read a letter to the editor of the local paper from a lady woman from Portland lambasting the resident rubes for their attitudes. Seems lily-pale she and her black husband had entered a local drinking establishment and been greeted by suspicious, if not hostile, stares, which she ascribed to racism, or at least hostility to mixed-race relationships. ‘Cuz rural Oregon = racist rednecks, I guess.

      I could relate, somewhat, though not because I was a mixed-race couple. Hell, when I first got to Oregon after spending a long, cold winter in Minnesota I was about as white as a non-albino white guy could be. The first time I went into the hangout of my co-workers, I was greeted with suspicious, if not hostile stares. Then my co-workers showed up. After I’d bought them a round of and praised the local brew, bought, eaten, and praised the specialty burger of the house, and won and lost a few dart games, I was no longer ‘suspicious stranger’ and the nasty glances went away.

      The suspicious, if not hostile, stares this couple experienced were thus demonstrably not caused, or at least not mainly caused, by racism per se as by the Stranger Syndrome.

      • I remember a video about micro-aggressions illustrating how awful it was for a white woman to back up into a corner and hold her purse a little more tightly when a black man walks into an elevator.

        Never mind that I do that when *any* stranger, heck, even any *friend*, gets onto an elevator with me: first, to make more room; second, to make sure I don’t accidentally drop what I’m holding; and third, in the case of a stranger (regardless of sex or race), I brace for the possibility that the stranger may have ulterior motives, and may initiate hostilities against me, such as by taking what’s in my hand, or knocking my books and notes onto the floor (a particular fear, having endured some bullying myself)…or initiate a friendly conversation (being an introvert *and* shy, a VERY hostile act indeed!)…

        The problem with looking for “micro-aggressions” is that you often misinterpret harmless behavior as something harmful, and when the behavior *is* intended to be harmful, the harm is considerably amplified when you focus on it rather than brush it off.

    • Free Range Oyster

      I find the intersections of tribes entertaining, and how one signal can offset (or delay judgement on) a bunch of others. I had a coworker for a while with a slight inner city accent, dark-for-America skin tone, expensive athletic shoes, omnipresent gym bag, a souped-up Subaru… and a prominent winged Triforce tattoo on his arm. We got along great.

      • The real benefit of Geek Swag. If the five year old is wearing a Hearthstone t-shirt, and the dad’s backpack has a Horde icon, you can probably talk games with him just fine.

        Although some of the prettier jewelry is only 50/50 and instead you can tell that they know someone who games.

    • “hostile” and “hospitality” came from the same root.

    • In non-malignant form, “not one of us” also gave you a free pass for a lot of the unintended offense stuff.

  3. Thank you so much for writing these posts.

    As someone returning to school and taking the obligatory “Minority Group Relations” class, it’s posts like these that remind me that I’m not the crazy one, and no amount of gaslighting can make me so. 🙂

  4. A lot of this nonsense is down to Marx (Karl, not Groucho) trying to eliminate tribe, clan and family in favor of ultimate loyalty being to the State. Sadly for Marxism, that appears to be a non-starter. Humans don’t have much in the way of hard wiring, but what we do have does not bend in that direction.

    • Yes. To test this out after 60+ years of pounding indoctrination to the contrary, ask any native Russian what they think of any of the non-Russians that used to be brotherly comrades in Soviet arms.

  5. Fear of the stranger is a good way to put it. It reveals the lie of the Left that only white people can be racist.

    But for a Leftist, none of this matters. Their hatred of the conservative other is usually insurmountable. Which is rather ironic, because they are exhibiting the same fear of the stranger (in this case, fear of the political stranger) that they accuse us of.

    To them, whiteness is the original sin which can never be expunged, never be forgiven. When they encounter fear of the stranger in themselves, their reaction to it is to declare it a heresy, and intentionally, consciously do the opposite. They’d put their children in the sketchy van, intentionally sacrificing them, so as to say they are enlightened, to say they have no fear of the stranger. They virtue signal that they aren’t prejudicial toward sketchy van owners.

    This is, of course, utter lunacy. It is possible that the stranger offers no threat, and that upon meeting him your fear of the stranger will ease, and you will accept him, and he will then no longer be a stranger to you, but that is a thing that must be determined logically. With Leftists, it is a knee-jerk reaction. “I’m afraid of strangers, therefore strangers must be good (unless conservative).”

    They think this is enlightened and intelligent, but it actually makes even less sense than reflexively fearing and dismissing the stranger. Any species that did this in the wild would be quickly rendered extinct.

    It is too bad that it has, so far, not rendered Leftism extinct.

    • And thus the reason I don’t trust people who identify as certain political parties unless I’ve known them closely for a long time. Their thought processes make little sense to me as they actively court danger.

  6. …chainsaw sharks

    Not strange from the same mind that would come up with a giant beetle that runs a diner in order to attract prey.

    • On one hand there’s “fear of the stranger” generically: ethnocentrism, or xenophobia, or what have you. But what we call “racism” seems to be descended from a nineteenth century ideology, “racialism,” which attempted to give a formal scientific rationale to various laws and institutions in terms of distorted biological anthropology. That is, it was one of the contenders for “scientifically based ideology” against Marxism. I’ve read that there was even an anthropological theory that different human “races” descended from different ape species: Caucasians from chimpanzees, Mongolians from orangutans, Negroids from gorillas. (I don’t know how they explained cross-fertility, as the great apes surely don’t hybridize. It isn’t as if there we’re millions of “black” children with white fathers, from Virginia to Brazil.)

      • “It isn’t as if there we’re millions of “black” children with white fathers, from Virginia to Brazil.)”

        Yeah, but no one wanted to acknowledge that part…

      • Ethnocentrism was more “our people are best.” It’s where you and yours hold a lock on Truth (note the capital) and everyone else is some misinformed hobgoblin. Xenophobia is fear of the unknown, specifically unknown people (which may not be classed as “people,” i.e., strangers are sub-human and are not protected by local tradition. Local traditions are quite often stronger than law in most cases).

        These days modern racism has a lot of roots. Racialism, phrenology, even proto-nationalism when you get to digging. “Those foreigners from across the pond are all cheats. And they look funny. You can’t trust anyone who isn’t from this island, I tell you.” The theory that different “races” were descended from different hominid groups *is* bunk. But we also have evo-psych nuttiness too, so bunk is a recurring theme you might say.

        The whole “scientific” concept of race is also bunk. Our host alluded pretty strongly to this in several places (how does one “become” a race, if it is scientific consensus that it is fact?). Race and racism are the witch doctor in the lab, muttering spells over the reagents while the real scientists try to get on with their work while not bumping into the gibbering idiot.

        The thing is, there are perfectly good words for how to describe what “race” has been the handle for. Things like, oh, “culture” and so on. If any of y’all cringed upon hearing “the first African-American of any nationality…” This will be familiar territory.

        Training to be a physical anthropologist, one of the most annoying requests by law enforcement- not the detectives or the beat cops, usually PR or paper pushers- was “what was the race of the vic?” Seriously. We were trainied to deal mostly in partially or completely de-fleshed skeletons. ME’s for the fresh corpses, though we did get a fairly thorough grounding in physiology and micro- from the bones *out* that is. “Race” puts essentially zero useful markers on the bones themselves. Ditto the genes. At the time, if I heard one more variation of “racial mixing” there would have been objects thrown. And, being a geek, my first thought about “race” tended to be “dwarf, elf, half-orc…”

        And having been mistaken for nearly every shade of brown except Asian (and I have cousins who get mistaken for that, too), I’ve found little to recommend “race” as a useful tool. Human beings classify. It’s shorthand that works. Skeevy looking hoodie wearing pants sagging thug-walk and paying way too close attention to you and yours will classify as “possible/probable threat.” Skin color is not a terribly useful datum. Not when there are a lot *better* ways to profile (remember, useful shorthand. Everybody does it, and those who claim they don’t are lying).

        Given all that, I do have a certain sympathy for the the Rachel Dolezals and Talcum X’s (can’t remember his real name at the moment) of the world. Certain signals get you real benefits. And it’s not as though there’s anything really backing those claims but personal history and culture, one of which can be changed (with difficulty, I gather). It would have been quite easy for me and folks like me to claim minority benefits from several sources, were we inclined that way. That’s why I think such preferential treatment is real racism. It’s favoring one race over another, which is another way of treating people as things, widgets. I like that definition much better.

        • Why, some folks are so confused about things they’ve got me classified as human! Admittedly useful, but… mighty odd.

        • ” If any of y’all cringed upon hearing “the first African-American of any nationality…” This will be familiar territory. ” I note that Kim duToit is an African (South) American.

          • Not to be forgotten, Peter Grant. And Dave Freer, African (South)- Australian? Nah, he’s a battler, Aussie as they come.

            Gets the twits all -twisty when their “African-American” folk who really are Americans born in Africa turn out to be … not quite what they expected. *chuckle*

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I enjoy the “fun” that happens when you call a Black Englishman or a Black Jamaican an “African-American”. 😈

              • worked with a fellow named Freddie. He wasn’t American (yet), and if asked would say he was French. But his accent was way more that clipped French of the Côte d’Ivoire than the “Outside Paris” he once stated, and he was not fond of being called African American. He didn’t seem to be fond of the African portion of that at all.

              • Do not call a Guatemalan a Mexican. Trust me on this.

                • Or an Iranian an Iraqi (high school classmate, late ’60s).

                  • Feather Blade

                    Of course not! Iranians are Persian with a history and culture stretching back thousands of years, thankyouverymuch, and are nothing like those uncivilised desert nomads.

                    ^_^

                    • trailing wife

                      Tried the Persian thing on an Iranian colleague once, based in the immigrant Persian Jews I knew growing up. Got a very frosty response — Iranians are no more Persian than Jews are Hebrews, you see. One is the modern nationality, the other the ancient designation. But that was in the 1980s, and possibly he was a non-Persian Iranian, of whom there are many.

                    • In the mid oughts i went to college with some ‘Persians’ and apparently you call the m that now because Iranian has negative connotations…

                    • I was having woo pitched at me while in Basic Training by a very sweet Iranian tech school student at Lackland AFB in 1977 – who did describe himself as a Persian – and seemed to be quite proud of that. So – that mind-set predates the Iranian Revolution. Although anecdote does not equal data.
                      Still – it was kind of amusing how the Iranian students looked down on the Saudis in their training courses as uneducated, uncouth, camel-jockying hicks from the sticks.
                      Sweet guy, with a very poetical turn of phrase. Had a picture of the Shah and Empress Farah in his wallet. I’ve often wondered how he fared, after Khomeini.

                    • I had a grade school classmate in the 80s who described herself as Persian. I think it’s because her family emigrated in the wake of the revolution and didn’t want to be associated with the contemporary folk in charge of Iran, thankyouverymuch.

                    • Can we go back to calling them Aryans?

            • Peter has been known to point out that he’s as African American as Charlize Theron… if only to watch idiot’s brains start to smoke when the gears seize and the indignation gets caught in the crossfire of shattered preconceptions and public humiliation.

              But you really have to amuse him or impress him before he’ll explain how he came to be an initiate in the Zulu sangomas. Because that’s something that had nothing to do with anything people blinded by racism would be capable of understanding.

              • *grin* Peter strikes me as a sharp man. I can just see the smoke coming out of the ears at that point- and all of it self inflicted! Ah, it does a body good to have one’s ego punctured when it gets too inflated. The world needs more of that sort of wit.

                • Peter at work is a wonderful thing to watch. He seems so harmless, polite, with a lovely “British” [NOT] accent…

        • Terry Sanders

          Wait a minute. You mean Dr. Temperance Brennan *can’t* tell you a fifty-year-old corpse is Asian-American after a quick glance at the skull.

          (Wanders off muttering…)

          • Sorry to break it to you, sir. I’ve met folks with supraorbital ridges you could balance a pencil on, gracile faces, wide zygomatics, narrow ones, high foreheads and low brows, of *all* “races.” There are no distinctive “racial” characteristics in the skull. Or anywhere else on the skeleton for that matter, but I digress…

            You can tell male and female with decent accuracy… Though you run into problems with pubescent males and females looking alike. Skull is actually no. 2 on the spots to look at to determine sex- pelvis bones being the other (hint- if you could fit an infants head through the pelvic opening, female to 98% confidence). Age, teeth will give away a pretty good idea. Jaw can be another good spot, thick, rugose jaw is almost always male. Females spend their developmental energy growing other things donchaknow. *grin*

            Spotting a specific individual is usually a matter of putting together enough pieces to give a higher degree of confidence. Best of all is when you have distinguishing characteristics that leave marks on the bones themselves- healed breaks, etc. Depending on when the remains are found and where that can be tricky. Been dumped somewhere in the open (to include urban environs in crawlspaces and abandoned areas), you lose bits (like hands. small bones and suchlike get nabbed by scavengers quick before the bigger scavvers come along to get the soft bits). So finding, say, a wedding ring on a finger is unlikely.

            Er. That’s a lot more blathering than I intended on the subject. Apologies.

            • I know, let’s count ribs!

              *runs and hides*

              • Oh, that’s how you can tell female from male skeletons, isn’t it? Because men have one less, where God took one out to make Eve? (I have actually had someone assert this to me. I think I just facepalmed and dodged the whole discussion.)

                • I seem to remember running into the “guys have one less rib” thing…as an example of myths growing up to explain physical differences….

        • Patrick Chester

          Given all that, I do have a certain sympathy for the the Rachel Dolezals and Talcum X’s (can’t remember his real name at the moment) of the world.

          Just remember the meme: Shaun King So White. 😉

          • Memory block. No matter how many times I see it, I remember the one and not the other. I have a sad habit of doing that with people I meet, too.

            I will try to do better in the future.

      • “I don’t know how they explained cross-fertility, as the great apes surely don’t hybridize.”

        Hybrids between chimps and bonobos have been observed, definitely in captivity and possibly in the wild, but I think that’s the exception that proves the rule, and it is within genus Pan.

        • Humans could cross-fertilize with other, now extinct Homo genius. I have read that Neanderthal DNA is the source for red hair, and Denivosian DNA in east Asians. The point being that inter-breeding amongst the Homo Sapiens races is quite trivial in comparision. I have also read that much of the differences in melanin production in races was more Vitamin-D induced back in the days of outside living before Vitamin-D milk was available.

          • Last I heard they were still arguing about the red hair– some said that they had a different gene that caused it.

            Once we figured out that there HAD been cross-over, and it was (obviously) fertile, it just went to prove a theory my mom had floated when I was a kid:
            they’re not different SPECIES (donkey vs horse), they’re different SUB SPECIES (coyote vs wolf).

        • Eh, Bonobos. Why am I not surprised?

          I notice that Brin didn’t mention Uplifting *them* in any of his Uplift universe books. Just Chimps, Dophins, and (secretly) Gorillas. Probably because any plausible social behaviors for Uplifted Bonobos would be . . . interesting.

  7. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Our senses do not detect absolute values, they detect differences. The same shade of gray looks greenish when surrounded by shades of red, yellowish when surrounded by blue, etc. The other senses are the same. We can train to recognize specific values, but our default is to pick out differences.

    So yes, we tend to detect and exaggerate the differences in the social group around us — until a true outsider comes in, and suddenly there’s a clear Us and Them.

    • And the differences are compared to the point that skewing things can fail. Edwin Land, I think it was, had a neat demonstration. A big display of different color squares and rectangles would be shown, then masked to reveal only a hole exposing a single color. Red, Green, and Blue lights would be adjusted until that looked like a different color due to the lighting. And then the mask would be removed… and the colors would ‘snap back’ to what they were, as if they were still under white light. Without the mask, the difference information became sufficient to compensate for the weird lighting.

      Make your own white/color light joke, if you must.

  8. Those of you who heard me (or search sings the blues in this blog, where there is a reading) should be jaw-dropped.

    You got that right.

    I was thinking, WHAT THE!?! Of the voices I knew in childhood a certain femme named Natasha Fatale* maybe. Ricky Ricardo? Really? Never!

    * The resemblance is not just the enunciation, it is that throaty richness.

    • Funny thing with accents, you spend enough time with it, and you can tell regional accents too. My Aunt Sophia sounds a lot like Miss Sarah, though she is from southern Ukraine and that puzzled me for the longest time after I heard the latter speak. Both of them have strong hints of the American South, too, if you know what to listen for. Last Libertycon I was at, I kept expecting to see a petite blonde on the panel when I closed my eyes- very similar voices.

    • A few years ago I was thinking about Bujold’s description of the “flat Betan accent,” which I took to be the way Americans are shown as speaking in 19th century British literature, and started wondering how Barrayarans talked. And suddenly I was hearing all those Vorkosigans and Vorpatrils sound like Boris and Natasha. . . .

      • Ah, but don’t forget the Greekies and the Francophones.

      • I’ve seen old British novels describing the “flat Australian accent,” but… either someone’s ears are seriously out of adjustment, or that word doesn’t mean the same between American and Britlish.

    • Someone needs to get her plush Bullwinkle and Rocky so she can finally catch moose and squirrel.

    • Upon listening to the podcast, had I not known better, my definite thought would have been vaguely or generically Eastern European, though there seems to be some Scandinavian flavor to some of the vowel pronunciations. (Maybe some more of the Viking in the woodpile peeking out.) So – Finnish?

      Though it’s possible that having grown up with a Swedish Grampa and a Norsk/Dane Gramma, I may detect Scandihoovian even when it’s not present because that’s my frame of reference.

  9. Pingback: Fear of the Stranger | Declination

  10. I happened to flip the pickup radio to NPR last night around 2115 local time, and some academic was pontificating about language and tribalism and how humans could be so good and generous and charitable to people… so long as they belonged to the same tribe. And how terrible this was that humans used language and accents as tribal markers. At which point I changed to the classic rock station while muttering about “Dumbbunny, its called an ingrained defense mechanism, not evil. And you don’t understand anything about American charity outside of your ivory tower.”

    • …you don’t understand anything about American charity outside of your ivory tower.

      I wonder how many of the academic’s acquaintances have taken their vacation time and, largely at their own expense, packed up to join an aid crew after a disaster such as a tornado or hurricane or a tsunami whipped through some distant place? This has traditionally has been and is still being done by various private civic and church organizations throughout this nation.

      • I’d wager not too many, although some may have paid lots of $$$ to go on “relief” or “aid” trips to the Third World as teenagers because it got them lots and lots of Community Service hours.

    • And yet, should some aspiring student with a Southern accent approach that academic …

      BTW – that academic is partially right, as shown by the behaviour of Christian missionaries who go to the worst corners of Hell on this Earth, who show up after the worst natural disasters to offer aid, support and The Word (usually quietly) because they see all humanity as their Lord’s creation.

      A largeness of heart and mind not typically found on American campi these days.

      • Wasn’t there a bit of a brouhaha over aid not rendered and monies mysteriously disappearing after some natural disaster in Haiti, I believe? After a storm wrecked quite a bit of the island, homes, and infrastructure, I am somehow thinking the Clintons were involved, and the U.S. sent aid (along with Christian charity, who went to help because that’s what one does), but homes went un-rebuilt.

        Can’t search it out at the moment, but now that it’s got its hooks in me, I want to follow that trail. Seems to me to show something instructive on the difference between apolitical/Christian charities and lefty values of “charity.”

        • OTOH, Searchengine for “Samaritan’s Purse*” and “$Natural Disaster” and you will find that not only were they lickety-split johnny-on-the-spot with the relief work and workers, they were likely to hang around long after the news cameras left.

          And the $ to Aid Delivery ratio is extremely high.

          *Just the first that came to mind; you would find similar effects for Catholic Relief and other religiously based relief programs … not so much for Clinton Global Initiative.

          • That’s how Team Rubicon got started, the Haiti earthquake (I was a founding donor through Black Five). Someone saw a need, knew people who could help, had a contact on the ground through the Catholic Church, and the rest is a wonderful story of vets helping themselves and a slew of other people.

          • Samaritan’s Purse is run by Billy Graham’s son Franklin according to his father’s standards for evangelist book keeping developed in the 50s.

          • Throughput on most explicitly Christian charities is quite often high- and Samaritan’s Purse has a record worth emulating (I’m more familiar with Catholic Relief, which is quite good, too).

            After a bit of searchengine-fu, the disaster was the 2010 earthquake, and the Clintons were up to their eyeteeth in it. On first glance, it appears it was a massive bribery scam, wherein companies who donated to CGI were awarded contracts, many of which were never seen to fruition, or were castles built on sand. Not quite the “charity” I recognize there. *shakes head*

            Perhaps the many follies of the Peace Corps would be a better comparison? In any case, down in the mud and the blood, real charity will be recognized by those who need it most.

            • paladin3001

              Funny isn’t it that the Clinton Global Initiative has the same initials as CGI for movie images? Coincidence?

              • ‘Tis indeed, good sir. Methinks it was less a happy coincidence than overlooked (or unreported to the principals for some terribly odd reason…). *chuckle*

          • The Knights of Columbus are likewise doing stuff— including a really cool “smuggle those who leave Islam out of Muslim country” setup that they can’t do too many details on, which includes safe-houses.

            • There are lots of people doing those sort of things, but apparently they’er doing it for “wrong” reasons and cannot be praised.

              Or perhaps the problem is that the people being rescued are property of their Faith/Ruler/Government and helping them escape is theft?

          • CRS got captured, though– they’ve gotten into the “prevent there being more people, that will solve the problem” situation. 😦

    • scottsaxbury

      Whenever you need reminded that an intellectual doesn’t necessarily use their intellect, NPR is useful. Wish there was something else on on my way home from work, though.

    • National Propaganda Radio. We have the dirty little secret of listening to them sometimes.

      • I thought it was National Progressive Radio?

        • Though I must admit a weakness for The Prairie Home Companion and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

          • I liked PHC before I found out Keillor’s middle name was Insufferable.

            I still listen to Thistle & Shamrock when I can find where they’ve hidden it, and used to never miss Afropop Worldwide, Schickele Mix*, or their British imports, My Word and My Music. Eventually the crap filter on my radio got clogged by the rest of their filler and I simply avoided those channels.

            *Still have a large number of episodes of those shows, recorded so I could listen repeated times as I am musically illiterate; while I can tell a flat from a sharp I couldn’t tell you which was which except by random guess.

            • Yeah. Once they took T & S off the airwaves here, I pretty much gave up on NPR.

              • Car talk. Blue Monday. Thistle & Shamrock. PHC struck me as a bit weird to my then-youngster ears, and didn’t normalize as I grew older. Hearing Keillor finally letting loose struck me as more honest, I suppose.

                But I do miss Car Talk, and Tom most dearly. The two reminded me of less stern versions of my grandad, also a long time mechanic. Blue Monday taught me an appreciation for music that a dozen years of learning (and later, teaching) never did. And Thistle and Shamrock was just fun.

                For most of the rest, it is occasionally educational to hear what those folks have to say. Can’t say we agree on much of anything, ay-tall, but knowing what they say amongst themselves as it were is something worth knowing. Because it occasionally gives us a warning of what’s coming next, if you listen both to what *is* said, and what, very carefully, is *not.*

                • Martin L. Shoemaker

                  My station is still playing Car Talk reruns. It’s beginning to seem a bit ghoulish.

            • My Word is on NPR?! I might need to see if it’s carried locally. It’s been years, as I used to listen to it on BBC World Service.

          • That’s because occasionally they take potshots at their own crew.

        • National Pointless Radio, I think…

        • You can’t have Progressive without Propaganda.

    • Yes, because all those Mormon and Lutheran groups that went to Louisiana and deep south after Katrina only served white areas (NOLA doesn’t count cuz war zone). Idiots.

    • and how humans could be so good and generous and charitable to people… so long as they belonged to the same tribe

      ‘Tell me, who is my neighbor?’

      #Brilliant

  11. Many years ago, C and I went to our first WorldCon, in San Francisco. So there we were, walking down a city street from our hotel toward the convention center, the day before the actual official start of the con. And we saw some people a block or two away, also walking along the street. I looked at them and said to C, “I wonder if they’re going to WorldCon?” And we got closer, and yes, they were. I’d never seen any of them before, but there was something about them. . . .

    • I’ve done that before, picking sci-fi fans out of a crowd. Sometimes even when they’re not wearing t-shirts that give it away. Had a nice train ride once from western PA to NYC, where I found a fellow fan to sit next to a talk with.

      • Wearing t-shirts itself seems to have become something of a fannish subcultural identity marker, though not one exclusive to fans. It affects me in an odd way: Most of the time I wear shirts that button down the front, made of light fabrics—usually either classic long sleeve dress shirts, or Hawaiian style shirts with interesting patterns (not conventional “tropical holiday” motifs). But I have a few t-shirts that I treat almost as formal wear for fannish occasions, particularly the one that says, “The book was better,” for when I want to go among my people and proclaim, “I am one of you.”

      • “…I’ve done that before, picking sci-fi fans out of a crowd.”

        It’s not just an SFnal thing. I can do it with librarians.

        • Military, too– I’ve had folks get confused when I’m at the base exchange and have a dependent’s ID card. I know because a couple have asked….

          It sure isn’t my hair.

          It can be taught, though, if someone’s a good actor. SuburbanBanshee mentioned that the guy who set up NCIS had folks go through a mini-bootcamp so they’d know what to fake. (And man, did the guy who plays Gibbs manage it well!)

    • Oh, yes. I can pick our kind out from a crowd too. No clue how.
      The other day Dan and I were at a cheap restaurant, and the three people next to us JUST screamed “Science fiction” and because I was tired and my defenses low, I sashayed over and introduced myself. Yep, science fiction fans and actually had been involved in local fandom before my time. (but not now.)
      Also, in second rental house, there was a couple who went to same Chinese restaurant we frequented WAY too much because of working on the house and being exhausted. Just middle aged couple, about our age, but something about them… I mean, they were reading, but kindle. Could be reports or something. Finally introduced self. Found they actually read ME and were big Baen fans. Eh. There is SOMETHING. Danged if I know what.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        The awkwardness. Even when we’ve learned to fake normality, WE know we’re Odd.

        • It’s more than that. Almost of all of us, even those like me who shouldn’t have had that experience, because my family was respected, were AT BEST ostracized when very young in school. I was too large to be bullied, so I gathered the bullied around me, and was “mother of the Odds.” But then I watched my kids, including younger son who was small, slight and looked normal, be “rejected” by kindergartners. it’s like… they sense something is wrong and set out to eliminate us.
          I have this theory we have a lot of Neanderthal 😉

          • There is a fellow at work who is very, very smart but I suspect not well socialized at least earlier in his life. He creeps people out without trying. He even creeps me out and that’s Very Unusual Indeed. (I do not maintain that I am so creepy, just that it’s rare anything trips that alarum.) $HOUSEMATE twigged on to what is going on. His reactions might be ‘right’ but there is a slightly, just barely noticeable delay. He is, in effect, running an emulation of his social self. That processing propagation delay might not stand out, but it is detected and there lies an Uncanny Valley. “Almost right” is very wrong.

            • One of my sisters’ MiL is from South America (I forget which country.) Being in a conversation with her bothered me big time until I realized that her culture has a closer standing distance than the U.S. does, so she was unconsciously getting closer to have a conversation while I was backing away. Solution? Sit down.

            • Hmm.

              I look in the mirror and see a fairly normal schmuck, but there’s something about me that seems to raise the hackles on a lot of people. Every now and then I’ll wind up in some social situation, and I feel like Mr. T at a Klan meeting.

              I might have some kind of delay like you’re mentioning. I usually have *no* idea what other people are up to, but over time I’ve learned behaviors which seem to smooth out most of the rough spots. I wouldn’t necessarily describe any of those as “natural” behavior patterns.

              [shrug] I can’t make everyone else happy, so I get on with my own life.

            • Terry Sanders

              One of my jokes is “I learned tact as a foreign language.” In college, self taught. I seem to have done a better job than your coworker, but I can relate all too well.

              • With him it’s fairly but not completely obvious. $HOUSEMATE identified it and diagnosed it correctly, I think. I had the vague feeling that it was kind of like he had some shoulder-critter (angel, demon, whatever) telling him stuff: “Here’s where you’re supposed to say ‘thank you’.”

            • Oooh, you just gave me a REASON that the Uncanny Valley might be there!

              Psychopaths do the same thing, yes? Or even just people who are lying to you.

              Not that the smart guy is lying to anybody, or that WE’RE lying to anybody, but we are probably checking that we’re speaking the same language, so to speak.

              • Heck, psychopaths can even be nice people. There’s just enough scary psychopaths, though, who, while they might not kill you right out, can make your life a living hell if you’re not careful…

                So I can see why there can be natural defenses against indicators of such people…

          • Martin L. Shoemaker

            I am a very odd Odd. I was never ostracized. Or if I was, it was by people so socially distant from me that I never noticed. (And even there… Some of the serious stoners back then are now on my Facebook Friends, and we chat like long lost pals.) Yes, my school had cliques. Yes, I was acknowledged as Odd. But somehow, I never felt ostracized for it. I was “their” Odd. Sometimes in on jokes, sometimes the butt of jokes, just like everybody else. Often got funny looks, but never shunned. The cliques in my school had a lot of overlap.

            When I hear what many of you went through, I think: “Wait… You mean that’s not just something from bad TV shows? That really happened?”

            • “Wait… You mean that’s not just something from bad TV shows? That really happened?”

              Oh yes. It certainly did. Many of us bear the scars from school, and I have to tell you it carries on into adult life. If you have That Thing which makes certain types of people uncomfortable, they will hound you to death.

              • In my teens I read a story by L. Sprague de Camp about a genius-level nuclear physicist who had come up with a process for making iron fission with positive energy yield, and was debating whether to publish it, since he could foresee its being used to destroy the Earth, Krypton-style in one big boom. He looked back over his life of being abused by jocks, extroverts, and normal social people, and of having essentially no friends. I’m sure de Camp had met a number of such people, though by all reports he wasn’t one. Now I can see it as a cautionary tale; but when I first read it the narrator’s deciding to publish made perfect sense to me.

                • Once read a SF story about a scientist who discovered how to predict earthquakes and was already to make a splash because he was about to predict a big one. Then he realized that his high school class was having a reunion near the epicenter.

                  He delayed publication, claiming he had to double-check something.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    I read that one and the de Camp one.

                    Understood the MC’s actions in both ones.

            • I’m sort of with you—I had a little bit in grade school, though the teachers managed to keep bullying of physical and emotional things within limits by making certain things (like Valentine’s Day) mandatory all-or-none. I was with the same class for five years, and then we all went off to junior high, and I said the thing where I was sad I was going to a different one, but I really wasn’t. And it’s about there I had the “eff them if they don’t like me” and started ignoring everything.

              There were a few small incidents after that point, but for the most part, I was just off to the side, not really a part of most groups but not really excluded from them either. By the time I got to high school, I was just the smart kid who did what I wanted and didn’t much care about the social order. It worked for me.

              • By the time I got to high school, I was just the smart kid who did what I wanted and didn’t much care about the social order. It worked for me.

                Internet hit just right so that I had a lot of folks to talk to as fast as I could type– it meshed with this PERFECTLY, especially since that actively prevented me from realizing that I was mentally faster than most of the adults I interacted with. (I could’ve become an absolute terror if I hadn’t had the mental shunt of “they’re just not interested in the same thing.” Which is true enough, but without that instead of “Oh, wow, they REALLY CAN’T figure that out?”, I could have become a really insufferable prick.)

              • That sounds rather like my experience.

                I was shocked a couple of years ago when I was visiting a friend from Elementary/Junior/High School, and he made the comment that I was so bullied, he wouldn’t have been surprised if I had become one of those kids that shot up a school….

                • *raises hand* Voted most likely to come to school with a gun.

                  Yes, they took actual votes.

                  And yes, they were that freaking stupid. “Hey, I think this person is a deadly threat. Let’s harass them some more!”

                • My brother still remembers one of my grade school classmates by name and still dislikes her intensely. Me, I figured she grew up a long time ago and don’t remember anything particularly nasty, just a lot of backhanded compliment stuff.

                  Funny that he remembers it better than I do. He never even met her.

            • Different sub-cultures handle it differently, too; if you’ve got kids who know “if I harass the Outsider, my grandmother will skin me and THEN I’ll have to face my aunts and mom,” you’ll get different reactions than kids who know it’s OK to harass the Outsider because nobody will stand up for him.

              Once you get past the “they’re kinda strange” thing, then you can have a “he’s strange, but he’s OURS” situation.

          • There is the theory that Neanderthal genes are why Northern Europeans are so badass at everything. Autism has benefits, apparently.

            The Odd one is the kid who is thinking about something other than group dynamics and fitting in. People who “fit in” tell me that they work at it. They get the cues and act on them, even when they’re tired and don’t want to.

            People who don’t get the cues stand out like a sore thumb. That’s us. Odds. The people who invent chainsaw sharks, and then MAKE one for a laugh.

            • Um… I don’t even THINK about fitting in most of the time, unless it’s a professional thing and I have to.

              • Yup. It’s not so much about not fitting in, it’s about not noticing that there’s anything to fit in.

              • “Hey squarepeg! Round off yourself and fit into the standard hole!”

                “How making make a hole the right shape? And hang on, why should I even get into a hole anyway?”

                • My “round hole” coping mechanism since early on has been to paint myself blue and go for the guy with the hammer, who thinks he’s going to make me fit. Scots ancestry. It’s a burden.

                  This works well in certain business models, like construction. Less well in white-collar realms, like hospitals. I keep the resume polished, lets just say.

                  Being old is interesting, in this regard. The guy with the hammer seems to have lost interest these days. Either my emulation of Normal has improved, or they’re too intimidated to take a swing.

                  • From some 1970’s or 1980’s TV show (Trapper John, M.D. perhaps?) a crotchety old doctor quipped, “I love being old. I can get away with murder!” after saying something nobody else dared to.

                  • Being old is interesting, in this regard.

                    Not only is the guy with the hammer older and more tired, he’s also likely to figure that if you haven’t had the rough edges removed by this time there’s nothing he do to smooth you over.

                    Everybody knows, “You can’t teach an old SOB new tricks.”

                • Terry Sanders

                  A girl once got me out on a dance floor. Big mistake. I distinctly recall the following exchange:

                  HER
                  “Just move with the music! Relax!”

                  ME (standing more or less perfectly still)
                  I AM relaxed…

                  Pavanes, on the other hand, made perfect sense…

                  • I remember being taught marching in grade school gym class …

                    “Your left foot goes down with the beat of the bass drum.”

                    “Which is that?”

                    “The big booming one.”

                    “Don’t you have instruction I can follow?”

                    (after an hour of class time)
                    “Sigh. Just look at the kid next to you.”

              • Fitting in? With these feet? Bwah-hah-hah-ha!

                I work on receding into the background.

              • Martin L. Shoemaker

                My mother took great pride in being an outcast. She didn’t like much of the community. So I never understood the idea of fitting in, of why you would want to.

                But my dad never met a stranger. Everyone was his friend, and he’d help anyone in trouble. So I’m also trained to help people.

                • This sounds quintessentially American, actually.

                  Of course, this fits in with Sarah’s claim that America is the Asperger Nation in the World Community — and largely because we don’t care what other people think, but are willing to help anyone in trouble…

          • Pheromones. It’s all pheromones.

          • “they sense something is wrong and set out to eliminate us”
            Wrong in the sense that you are a threat to them. Power, confidence, and competence tend to instill fear in the average.

        • I wonder. What kind of mentality does Science Fiction (and let’s lump techno-fantasy in the same boat for simplicity) appeal to? And do people with that mentality exhibit some unique set of body language? Hands positioned to cross-body draw a sword? Hold a shield with their off-arm? Draw and shoot a blaster from the hip? Far-focused eyes? A willingness to go to strange new places, meet interesting people, and NOT instantly try to kill them? Able understand Latin and to use calculus?

          • Well, there’s a report from long ago that talks about the fannish accent: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/rec.arts.sf.fandom/q84niLJ1Ces/N86jJnyVWh4J . One of the key points is “acquiring an adult vocabulary while still too young to speak clearly, and enunciating painstakingly accurately to try to make oneself understood.” That sounds right to me; I’ve said for years and years that my native language is written English.

            • I’ve had people ask me if I were from somewhere else than where I grew up. I think part of the reason is that I tend to try to pronounce words as they are spelled…

              Ironically, this may in part because this is sometimes how I memorize the spelling of such words…

          • Body language? You mean like the characteristic stride and posture acquired by walking the sidewalk while reading a book?

          • I’m not sure there is one that is consistent. My Dad was a grease monkey and raced motorcycles on frozen Lake Winnipeg. My Mom was a math major who dropped out after getting married. One of my best childhood friends was salutatorian and earned a college football scholarship. One of the cops I used to work with was in the military for years. Outside of their love of SF/F there isn’t much common in their backgrounds. Maybe a love for ‘what might be’ or ‘might have been?’

      • “Oh, yes. I can pick our kind out from a crowd too. No clue how.”

        Its because we’re weird looking. We dress funny too. ~:D

        I love Comic Con because the place is filled with people who have Fan way worse than I do.

        • Martin L. Shoemaker

          I tell my friends, most of whom have never been to a con, that we are far and away the most normal group of geeks you will ever meet.

          They don’t believe me, but enough con going has convinced me.

          • I must admit that cons are a love/hate thing with me. I hate the lines and the crowding, I hate the crappy food. I love the kids and the excitement, I love the art and the artists. I love seeing famous people in real life.

            One thing that is kind of sad, I see so many kids that are very badly socialized. Oh. My. Ghod. What wreckage there is out there. Those poor kids, and their poor parents.

            • Ya. Ones where only interaction seems to be fandom. One reason I’m glad my quirks came from other sources (My first con I was told I looked like a cop). I’ve seen more than a few kids and adults that I shudder at.

        • Once upon a time at a con, some fans and two airline pilots were waiting for the elevator when they concluded it was broken. The fans went in search of stairs.

          One pilot turned to the other and said, “Follow the weirdos, they always know where the stairs are.”

      • I believe it has something to do with relaxed body positions. Don’t know which position defines sf/f (forward leaning, anticipatory perhaps?). Having been dragged to different states and countries from birth, I can pick out which people are from where with reasonable accuracy by the way they stand or walk before I hear them speak and regardless of skin tone. When one is always the “new kid” it’s a survival mechanism to be able to identify possible fellow tribal members quickly. I imagine it’s the same for identifying fellow “Odds.”

      • Free Range Oyster

        We went to a neighborhood gathering here shortly before we moved into our house, figured we’d get to know the people. One fellow walked up to let me know that there was a very small local ISP with great data speeds and low prices. I was wearing ordinary office clothes – chinos and a button-down shirt – without any kind of overt tribal marker, but he somehow knew by looking that I worked in tech, and was a geek. He and his family are well-connected in the local writing, tech, and geekery scenes. I’ve had other folks tell me I look like a ‘dane even in geeky circumstances, so I’m not sure what signals each is picking up on.

  12. Racism is not confined to white people

    Now hold it rite thar, young lady. Racism is confined to White folk only; that’s explicit in the definition the Libby’alls use. Bin that way for years. We ain’t gonna get far iff’n you don’ recognise that.

    Mind, recently the definition has expanded to include Blue people, but that is because all Blue people are White (again, by definition.) It I am not sure but what it also includes Yaller people, but according to recent news reports of ongoing rallies against racism in America it certainly includes Orange people.

    Of course, when we says “White” folk it isn’t merely pallid people, neither, as Whiteness seems to be what they calls a Socialist Construct” and is largely defined as “people who do npt subscribe to our racial agenda.”

      • *snicker* I used to win bets in my tech school, on if there was a real performing group called the Bonzo-Dog Doo-Dah band. Other students would bet against — and I would pull out the card for “I Am the Urban Spaceman” from the files in the radio library…

        • I brought my girl an apple
          She let me hold her hand.
          I brought my girl an orange
          We kissed beneath the band.
          I brought my girl bananas
          She let me squeeze her tight.
          I’m going to bring a watermelon
          To my girl tonight.

        • I was rather tickled by their “Intro and Outro” back in the day.

  13. Speaking about pigeonholes and trying to fit people into them, my black Colombian wife confuses the heck out of those who just have to define her as something or other. She’s not African-American as she’s from Colombia, but she’s not Hispanic as she’s black. And she doesn’t play either of those games, so it’s all on them to figure it out. If you ask her what she is, she’ll probably say, a certified nurse’s aide. 🙂

    • “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam!”

    • She is also drop-dead gorgeous, which probably confuses them more.

      • What she’s doing with me is a mystery for the ages, I know. 😉

        • Eh. You look RIGHT together. That said, I did get a shock when I met you because geeks don’t USUALLY get gorgeous girls.

          • So you’re saying she isn’t right in the head? 😀 Just kidding, of course.

            • Naw, it’s just that she’s furrin, an those furrin gals aren’t clued into American Culture enough to know what is good-lookin’ in an American guy. They think “Hawt” is a chili pepper.

    • I’ve read that there are people (mostly on the left) who think the correct word for a native born Ghanaian or Angola is “African American” or “Afro-American.” They’ve been indoctrinated all their lives to use that word for people with dark skin, and when they see an African with dark skin (or a Frenchman, or a Brazilian, or I expect a Colombian) that’s the only word they know . . . or, at least, aren’t afraid to use.

      Though there used to be people from Mesoamerica and South America who made a point that they were just as “American” as people from the EE.UU. I suppose from that PoV a black Colombian could be called “African American.”

      • I used to know a folk singer (Tony Rice) who though extremely white was born and raised in Malawi. He routinely identified himself as African-American, to predictably routine outrage from leftists.

      • I’ve read that there are people (mostly on the left) who think believe the correct word …

        Fixed that for you. Little thought is involved.

        • No, no, my dear sir. “Think” can be either a transitive or an intransitive verb. You are using it in an intransitive sense: 1 a: to exercise the powers of judgment, conception, or inference: REASON. I was using it in a transitive sense, as the words that follow it are clearly a subordinate clause acting as the direct object: 3 a: to have as an opinion. That sense does not assert or suggest anything about the process by which the opinion was reached.

      • I know a lady from PNG who went to the US for college. She would be offended if referred to as “African-Americain”.

      • I once had someone describe a skin tone to me as “African-American from Nigeria.” Um. That first bit is unnecessary…

        • Also note: This person was part-owner of a coffee shop. It’s easy enough to go from “espresso” to “caramel mocha” to “just plain milk” if you’re talking skin tones to an artist.

  14. Meh, I’m comfortable with my prejudice against stupid people. That’s the majority of _every_ race, anyway.

  15. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Shhh… When the Fates get it right for once, just keep quiet…

  16. For most of history it has only been prudent to mistrust the strange groups and strange males. Given the chance they might very well steal your stuff, or in extreme situations kill you and occupy your lands. How did one know this? Because given the change that is exactly what you would do to them.
    But strange females, that’s a different story. There is an opportunity to spread your DNA, and depending on your culture gain yourself an exotic new wife, concubine, or slave.
    Would seem to me that the attraction felt by males towards strange females is likely an ingrained survival trait.

  17. One thing I love about my kids’ school is that we have a really wide cross-section of humanity, so their default is going to be set really wide. For instance, there are the triplets whose parents are from Cameroon, and the Indian girl with the gorgeous dresses at the Multicultural Fair (the school’s excuse for kids to dress up and the parents to get international potluck) whose family apparently is the one that sets up the crazy amount of inflatables in December that have earned their house the nickname “The House That Threw Up Christmas.” And the Sikh kids, and the various kids whose parents have been in California long enough that the kids are basically background at this point (though they’d probably be categorized as something or other in most other places.)

    I want my kids to be completely baffled when someone tells them that they have to acknowledge the differences they’ve never learned to see. If they see individuals first before categories, we’ve done it right.

    • One day many years back Beloved Spouse was expressing amused pleasure that our little neighborhood (a one-block cul-de-sac) included a negro household, a Hispanic gal across the street and several other diversity types. I allowed as I didn’t care what their ethnic backgrounds so long as they “vote Republican.”

      As if I would want to talk to people simply because they live next door. Oh, I do it, but not because I want to. Heck, most days I don’t even want to talk to myself.

    • Free Range Oyster

      I got very used to a variety of looks, sounds, and backgrounds growing up, both in the States and in Brasil. I realized today that although I’ve been in Utah almost a decade now, I’m still a little uncomfortable with just how white it is. The near monoculture doesn’t help, even if I mostly fit both in color and culture. I don’t think the demography is a bad thing, but life in Sacramento and São Paulo did not prepare me for such a flood of pallid American Mormons. I don’t really notice until I’m around someone of a darker hue, or with a strong accent (especially brasileiro, of course); then something unclenches inside.

      • The closer you live to one of the many college campuses, the more diverse the crowd because of all the foreign students around.

      • Wait—you also grew up in Sacramento? Dang, I know a lot of geeks from Sac-town that I’ve only met online…

        • Free Range Oyster

          Yup. I lived near Watt & Folsom, across from the Teichert (sp?) gravel pit. Spent a lot of time in Oak Park and Liberty Heights, and later DPH and North Highlands. My brother got to live through Johnson High’s annual riots (do they still have those?). The Oyster Wife is from up near the wilds of Elverta. Utah is so bizarrely tame by comparison…

          • Near Watt & Whitney myself, up near 80. Not Carmichael and not North Highlands, right in the thick of the inventor street names.

            I believe Hiram Johnson got overhauled in a smart method and is now two campuses, one of which is for artistic types (music, art, etc.) And Sac High got turned into a charter school, which made a vast improvement in its neighborhood.

  18. I’m not odd; I’m weird, strange, and peculiar. Keeps my daughter on her toes. Wife just puts up with me.

  19. Christopher M. Chupik

    It always amuses me that “white” people are actually pinkish. Imagining the Klan if they had to wear pink robes is very amusing.

    • You reminded me of Chesterton just then. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was something about a truly “white” man being something we would only find in a nightmare.

  20. Portuguese LOOKS like Spanish written, but sounds nothing like Spanish, so the accent is markedly different.

    That’s silly, we all know Portuguese sounds like generic Eastern European spy accent comrade.

  21. As you start feeling more stable you can afford to lower your guard. Often it runs to dropping guard too much and getting used. But it seems a large chunk of positions like this: sweatshops, energy, race all come from the idea that every person in culture should be just like anyone in their gated community. Other nations need not go thru their own industrial revolution, ought to be as ‘enlightened’ as they see themselves etc. That minimum wage should be liveable, not an entry, that service jobs like it, baristas, etc an create an economy all come from same place.

  22. The thing that’s always gotten me about these people who are “white” and arguing for the existence of things like “white privilege” and “uniquely white racism” is this: What in the ever-loving bejesus do they think they’re going to get out of it? OK, you’re white; I hear you railing against the “white establishment”, and crying for its overthrow… What the f**k do you think comes after? What will your place be, in that world?

    It’s like the idjits back in the not-so-old-days of my youth, who were railing against capitalism, and screaming for Communism: What did they think was going to happen, after the fall? Did they not grasp that they were going to be the Kulaks of the new era, and would likely be going up against the wall first?

    I had it out with one of these college-indoctrinated idiots, one time, and the thrust of my argument with her was “Gee, hon… Don’t you read history? Do you not recognize that you’re irredeemable, in the eyes of the coming regime? That you’re one of the first people they’re going to eliminate?”.

    She was entirely innocent of the history of such things, and truly thought that her virtue-signalling would get her a place at the top of the heap, when the changes came. What changed her mind? I introduced her to a friend of mine, an actual-honest-to-God Trotskyite expat from the “Good old days”. I think he opened her eyes, when he just started laughing in her face at her naivete. “Oh, darling girl… You’ll be one of the first against the wall, a necessary sacrifice…”. I think hearing it from someone who’d “been there, done that…”, and who casually assumed that she understood she’d just know the deal, and was entirely OK with it all…? And, he was a true believer–Even though he’d been driven from his home, he thought it was all worth it, ‘cos Communism… He was a willing sacrifice, a man who’d have gone to the altar willingly, in the name of the cause.

    Lots of these idiots just don’t grasp that virtue-signalling ain’t gonna be enough, and that they can’t wipe the stain of whiteness away, or surmount the crime of their class origins. The truth is, if they really believed all that shit, they really ought to be on the side of the establishment, and trying to keep their place in the bucket secure, ‘cos there won’t be a place for them in the world they’re trying to call into being.

    Where I come from, we have a phrase to describe these people: “F**king idiots”.

    • (a) No long-term thinking. (b) It’s like the peacock’s tail: It says, “I’m so high in status and power that I can afford to handicap myself by giving away my advantages.” It sets you apart from white trash and improves your odds in the mating pool (even if you aren’t actually going to breed). Think of the wealthy Florentines throwing their Botticelli paintings on Savonarola’s bonfires: Yes, they were giving up wealth, but they were also advertising how much they had to give up.

    • > What the f**k do you think comes after?

      The idealized outcome, for many people, seems to be “the pre-Civil-War South, except with my own group running things.”

      They usually refer to this as “equality.”

      “You keep using hat word… I do not think it means what you think it means…”

    • They’re Marxist. The guy who has just told his buddies “hold my beer and watch THIS” has put more constructive thought into the consequences of his actions.

  23. “In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.””

    Here we go again. Infidel = dinner.

    https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/2017/03/06/new-isis-command-to-eat-infidels-has-islamic-roots/

    • Every time you think ISIS can’t get worse …

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      There are times I really hope something is fake news.

      This is one of those times.

    • There’s roots of that in Islamic belief; which is that you cannot go to heaven if you are incomplete, in pieces (recall the outrage when the Ghurka simply beheaded the body he was supposed to cart back to confirm that a terrorist leader was killed.)

      So when Islamics eat someone, or pieces of someone, they are condemning someone to hell.

      This was weaponized against them by the Ilaga in the Philippines.

      Contrary to the sanitized and history-rewriting and allegations-filled Wikipedia article, the Christians were the group that was originally aggrieved (this, having been told to me by people who come from the region, and were alive when this was all happening.) The government, hoping to bring about greater agricultural prosperity in the area, helped Christian farmers from up north to immigrate and settle in farmland that was not used by locals (more accurately, unwanted by the locals, or deemed too difficult to farm.) The thought was, ‘They will become neighbors, and share knowledge and everyone will prosper.’

      This worked, to some extent, as some of the local Muslim farmers took on the knowledge, after seeing the Christians make what had been popularly believed as ‘bad farmland’ into stable, if not prosperous farms. But there were others, who were not as industrious, or refused to learn new techniques, or simply bitter about the success of others when they themselves failed, who started grumbling about the Christian farmers’ successes, and muttering about how the land had been ‘stolen’ from them by ‘rats’ or ilaga. Most of these farms are rather remote, so they were pretty isolated; and to some extent in those early days, they didn’t have anything to fear from their neighbors.

      That changed as the more jealous Muslims killed the Christian farmers one farm at a time, and replaced them with different families, reasoning that if the government thought that the farms were still occupied they wouldn’t notice.

      Except, there would be visitors to those families, who were more wary than the Muslims thought. Personal anecdotes went along the lines of “They (people who brought out the reports of this happening) were visiting friends or relatives, and when they would reach the farm and see strangers there, pretend to only be asking for directions, so they could escape unscathed. But there were enough of these stories that there would be follow-up checks, pretending to be looking for the missing family’s farm, and then pretending that perhaps it was much further along. This was the jungle, nobody expected to find bodies anymore. But they knew they had been killed to take over the farms.”

      The story goes that the farmers knew well that they were too far away and too spread out to be guarded by the government, so they took steps of their own, choosing to condemn themselves to hell to protect their families and friends. They kidnapped men from families that were reputed or known to have taken over farms from Christians, took them deep into the jungle, and then forced them to select one of their number.

      This person would be disemboweled alive, and a kawali, or wok, would be heated with oil, and the man’s entrails cooked in front of them, with the still living man screaming. And because it was known that a Muslim who had parts of him eaten would never go to heaven as he was never ‘complete’ pieces of the man’s liver would be eaten.

      Then the rest of the captured men would be allowed to go free, to spread the story, that this would be their fates, if they continued to go after Christian farming families.

      So successful were the Ilaga in their terrorism against the Muslims who wanted to kill the Christians, that they became known as a terrorist group, one of the few Christian groups that exist.

      If barbarism is the only language they recognize, then civilized dealings are fruitless.

      http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/261954/how-american-soldiers-used-pigs-blood-and-corpses-daniel-greenfield

    • It’s in the Myth of the Andalusian Paradise (Many thanks to Mrs. Hoyt or whichever Hun* or Hoyden* recommended it) fairly early on with respect to the holiness of all-out war on the polytheists* of Hispania.

      (*ignoramus AutoCorrect – NONE of those words are in its dictionary. What an ultra-maroon)

      • Interesting side note: I am currently reading a biography of Clair Bee, Hall of Fame basketball coach best known now for being author of the Chip Hilton books, and have learned that back in the 1920s it was quite common for athletic teams to be given names based on their uniform colors, such as the [Yourtown] Maroons.

        Can’t imagine how that fell out of fashion. Cincinnati Reds, NY Jets, Memphis Blues, St. Louis Browns …


        Somewhat depressing, actually.

  24. Shouldn’t it be that those who believe Race the prime variable, the element which dominates all else in a person, the critical component … shouldn’t it be <I<those people who are deemed racist?

    • I’d also say those that deny race has anything to do with group averages and such. We all are likely I flushed to some extent, both mentally and physically by our genes and the fact that certain genes may be more prevalent in an area and be found in the culture and race there is not racist. Using that to call others inferior would be, but recognizing that grouping is pretty fractal. Groups become just as individual when characterized against another as two individuals would. The whole thing with Murray recently just reminds me of how either extreme is incorrect.

  25. Ever walk into a group and decide to be invisible? Ever walk into a group and decide to be the center of attention? Either works every time for me regardless of makeup of group. Does this make me “odd” or “normal”? Always wondered if everyone can/do this. Too scared to ask. Figured I really don’t want to be labeled…Enjoyed all the discussions above.

    • Yeah, I can do that. I don’t know if it’s everyone.

      • Terry Sanders

        Not everyone. When you’re really good at it, people in Hollywood call it “star quality.”

        I read something once about a reporter who was interviewing Marilyn Monroe at a restaurant. Half an hour in, he finally expressed his puzzlement at the lack of attention they were receiving.

        She just looked at him for a long moment, and then said, “Oh. You want HER.”

        He said absolutely nothing changed. But suddenly everyone in the room was staring at them.

        • A friend said when we stayed to Monday after a con and were having breakfast “I can feel you pulling the aura in.”
          I HAVE to be “Con Sarah” or as Kate Paulk calls it “Evil Panel Sarah” or I just can’t go out in public. Not as ME. That would be horrendous.

          • Exactly. The “real you” is something personal, fragile, even; Private. The “on” you is a kind of dialed-up persona, loud, flamboyant – sort of like “you” but gone up to eleven. Or twelve.
            The “on” you can be done for short stretches – but’s exhausting to maintain for long. I used to think that the level required for the daily radio show – it was as if a vampire was taking a couple of pints. Every day, It just sucked out the personal energy. And no one in command really realized what a total drain it was.

            • Ah, so it’s like ‘work me’ vs. ‘home me’. Yeah, I can flip that switch, but after awhile I really, really need a break.

          • When I met you at Raven Con I noticed that both Dan and Kate Paulk were being very (or is the correct word fiercely) protective of you.

      • I can do it, too. I call it going “On” – you know, on-stage.
        Long practice. Came from the experience of being on military entertainment media. In my last overseas, I was so resolutely “off-stage” during those hours when I wasn’t – that there were other people who managed to disconnect me completely from the person of the same name who did the midday request radio show.

        • Yep. It’s the reference librarian personna (also excellent for breaking the ice at parties). Madly exhausting though.

        • I played Rachel Lynde once in a musical of Anne of Green Gables. (Not the official one because the director hated it.) There’s something that clicks in when you’re in costume and on stage, and with one line I got everyone to hate me.

          (When I am old, I will cosplay Granny Weatherwax.)

      • I’ve had that; turn it on and people seem to think I’m much taller and imposing – and more intimidating – than I really am.

        Turn it off, and “You’re shorter and cuter than I thought you were. O_O ”

        The completely flip version of this is the “suddenly, I have lots of old people or children chatting to me, because I feel harmless and safe.”

    • Nope, not everyone– I apparently have a natural high quality servant aura (people will walk past someone in store uniform to ask me where things are, but won’t notice me when they’re not looking for help– and it’s hard to get someone to notice that I’m there) while my mom has to work hard, all the time, not to have I Am The Boss rolling off of her.

      “Auras” are 90+% baloney, but they’re not built on air.

  26. “Courage is what’s needed. Courage to eschew tribalism & partisanship. Courage to reject conformism & groupthink. Courage to speak the truth.”
    Recent Tweet from Princeton professor Robert P. George

    It doesn’t take courage to be an Odd, but it develops courage to openly remain an Odd. The Proglodytes do not, generally, display courage in any of its forms (with the possible exception of the courage of the bully backed by a mob.)

    This is not to claim Odds deserve credit for having courage (few had any real choice in the matter, it was crumple or stand.) But it suggests those who mouth the platitudes of the prevailing perspective are in fact the true cowards.

  27. I just have to be anal-retentive and note that cattle and horses *are* dangerous. I’m a fair hand with stock, but I’m reminded of any number of close calls every time it rains.

    Thanks for the article. It explains a reaction I’ve been puzzled about for months.
    I was praising the work ethic of someone, and one of my kids asked who I was talking about. I gestured, and said “the black man in the roller skates”. My wife did a full on pearl clutch of “You can’t say that!”
    To which I said something insightful along the lines of “Huh? Why not?”
    I was informed that the statement was raaaaacist.
    I asked how anything I said could possibly be construed as denoting one race to be superior to another in any way.
    Evidently, noticing one of the his obvious physical characteristics was a faux pas. (Presumably, I’m also a sexist for noting that he was male.)
    I didn’t get much traction pointing out that this is not what the word means. Evidently, I was supposed to be contrite and collapse. Especially when accused of setting a horrible example for our children. (That went over particularly unwell with me.)

    • The perils of seeing the socially denied …


      All I see is a captain. That’s all.

    • Meh. Black people use “black.” African Americans is for crazy liberals.

      • I got corrected in high school for that one. Preferred black over AA.

      • Most of the Native Americans I’m friends with prefer Indian.

        Getting people to differentiate between Indian and Indian at work is sometimes problematic since ‘dot’ and ‘feather’ aren’t acceptable on campus. I’ve been using ‘subcontinent’ and either ‘Native American’ or ‘First Nations’ the last few years.

    • …note that cattle and horses *are* dangerous…

      A programmer that I used to work with appeared to be in the middle stages of some Parkinson type of physical decline; her walking and speech were becoming more and more labored as time went on.

      But she was an accomplished dressage rider, and on a horse she was simply brilliant.

      One of her favorite horses, though, had issues. Or, at least, one major issue. It was terrified of cows. Any cows. It would tip toe around any that were nearby (the stables were situated near some open-ish range, and sometimes the cattle weren’t far away enough), then accelerate a bit after passing them until it could be sure it was safe.

      That was when I first understood that cows ate horses.

      • “That was when I first understood that cows ate horses.”
        Not likely, but horses are neurotic, often crazy, and not to be trusted. I’ve actually been stalked by a horse who later killed my cat. Fortunately the cat incident convinced the horse’s owner that the animal was dangerous to his children and it was sold before it killed again. Our longtime vet called horses goats, but would admit goats were smarter and not as nasty.

        • There are some good horses, but I have never understood the general affection some people have for the species. Comanche was awesome. Cougar is a sweetheart. Cactus Jack was awesome. My mom’s horse that hated men and had a mustache (I am not even exaggerating) was an awesome horse, as long as no man tried to ride him.

          But in general? Especially if they’re not socialized right, or are just freaking insane? Heck, no, it’s a small vehicle with hooves and TEETH!

      • Beware horse-eating blades of grass. And some horses have this issue with horns, which is understandable.

  28. When I was going to High School in the 1970s, “Black Like Me” was required reading in one of my classes. The degree of racial hatred the author experienced and described was a shock to me. It was clear to me that the cultural legacy of centuries of black slavery, and the various justifications for it was slow to pass. Years later, I read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, where actual slavery was described, and saw where some of those echoes were coming from. Combine “different and possibly dangerous” with notions of “Inferior”, and you get instant racism.
    Personally, I’ve been derided, ostracized, and ignored for various reasons, known and unknown, good and bad, for most of my life. I’m not unfamiliar with the problem. I deal with it. All victims of unwarranted prejudice and hatred have my sympathy. However, that experience also has made me keenly aware of the limits of external power in solving the problems. Identity politics is exactly the wrong answer.

  29. Sorry, haven’t read all the comments yet.

    Stranger-Danger is about being able to predict another’s actions. If someone is close to you, you understand their cues and know when to get the heck out of the way (You can see this in the wild by watching old Mutual of Omaha episodes about the big cats as they wander through a herd of gazelles where no one running away). When humans don’t know how someone is going to act/react they become leery and give the ‘other’ a wide berth until they figure out the cues. Visual cues like dress or auditory cues like speech are the predominant way to begin evaluating someone, even though those cues may be misinterpreted, pigeon holing the ‘other’ into the wrong category and causing all kinds of consternation.

    When my ancestors first immigrated to North Dakota many of the whites already here thought they were all Russians because of the way they dressed (they are actually German who happened to settle in Russia but never integrated into Russian society). Many of the Indians here referred to them as ‘the hard talkers’ and thought they were cruel to the children because of the variant of German they spoke. As the parties became used to each other and intermingled they became less suspicious. Though even when my grandparents (other side of the family) got married it was a bit of a minor scandal because my Swedish grandmother married a German-Irish man.

    • [I]t was a bit of a minor scandal because my Swedish grandmother married a German-Irish man.

      Understandable — once you let the Irish into the breeding stock …

      Olson Johnson: All right… we’ll give some land to the niggers and the chinks. But we don’t want the Irish!
      [everyone complains]
      Olson Johnson: Aw, prairie shit… Everybody!
      [everyone rejoices]

      • I’d seen clips of bits and pieces of Blazing Saddles for the past decade, but until Christmastime I’d never seen the whole thing before. So the last I was visiting my parents, Dad insisted on playing it. We had to rent it for like $3, had the neighbors over, and we all laughed like crazy. They could never make that movie again today, which should at least spare it from the indignity of a remake. What a movie!

        • Heck, they didn’t think they could make it then, at a time when films like The President’s Analyst, Cotton Comes To Harlem and Watermelon Man were being shown on Prime Time network television.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          No, they will remake it, with extra added social justice and “wokeness”.

          It’ll flop, but have 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

        • On a Mel Brooks tangent… in the early 1980s my grandfather had come up to visit my parents. I rented a tape of “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation” and stuck it in the VCR after dinner.

          I noticed my grandfather seemed to be (what the medical types call) “experiencing some discomfort” as the movie progressed. And then, at the scene where the Griswolds drove off with the dead body strapped to the roof, he started breathing hard, turned purple, and fell back against the couch, digging in his pocket for his nitroglycerine pills. He’d laughed until he was on the verge of a heart attack.

          Also, he’d never actually seen a VCR before, and stoutly objected when I paused the movie. I had to demonstrate that I could restart it at any time before he would chill out and get his breath back.

          • And no, Mel Brooks had nothing to do with NLFV, that’s what happens when I get interrupted while trying to type in a reply…

            “Northing to see here, move along.”

    • One branch of my German ancestry came over recently (around 1845-ish). They married Americans of German descend who’d been around since the 1600s. Butt they still spoke German, published German language newspapers, and (mostly) married others of their community. Every so often, one of them would marry an English-speaker from those around them. The concentrations of German-speakers started getting diluted. But they were German speakers up til WWI when the US went to war with Germany. My Great Grandfather told the family that “We are American. We speak English.” and they gave it all up. We actually lost a bit of information that way because nobody wanted to talk about the “homeland” or translate things anymore. That same Great Grandfather married a girl of very English descent who didn’t realize the in-laws even liked her until her 14th child was born because she couldn’t speak German and nobody taught her.

      • My parents and their families were from Georgia and Florida. The family trees on both sides both vanished in the 1830s. It’s a pretty common thing in the South; once the Fed marched all the obvious Indians off to Oklahoma, people figured they’d come looking for all the half- and quarter-Indians next. There were lots of them; the Spanish, French, British, and later the Americans interbred freely with the natives.

        A lot of written records were lost in tragic fireplace accidents after that…

      • My maternal grand parents were both German-Russian and grew up speaking German. But different dialects that the other could just barely make sense of if they tried really hard. My paternal grandfather grew up speaking English, but my great grandfather knew German. Unfortunately he died before my parents met so no idea if it was a similar enough one to communicate with my mother’s side.

      • That same Great Grandfather married a girl of very English descent who didn’t realize the in-laws even liked her until her 14th child was born because she couldn’t speak German and nobody taught her.

        I was going to say something like wouldn’t the help when the babies showed up be a hint, but then… very English. At least, if my dad’s dad is anything to go off of, the duty to your family would mean that you dang sure would be there, double-plus if you hated the new wife’s guts. Being extra nice to her would suggest they didn’t like her….

        No idea what the German tradition would be.

  30. OT: Just heard on the news that John “Hank the Cowdog” Erickson lost his house in the windfires. He probably lost livestock as well. Kind thoughts would be appreciated, I’m sure. He’s good people (cousin-in-law of a very good friend of mine).

    • Grrr. Wildfires. It’s tryin’ to be one of those days. Over 700,000 acres burned thus far, five human fatalities, no idea on livestock losses yet.

      • *hugs* Windfires works just right, the way these things are racing. We’re smelling the smoke down here, and looking your way with worried eyes and hopes and prayers.

        You stay safe up there, you hear? And here’s hoping they die down before I come up to visit.

      • Here I thought it was a marvelous descriptive for what is happening — wind driven fires. I thought you were just brilliantly inspired.

        Now going off to wonder how many words and phrases that we now commonly use happened by such accident.

      • Windfires seems appropriate. We’re in Gale Force 7 here in ND at the moment. If a fire starts the only thing stopping it is the cold.

    • Oh, no!

      Do you know if they still kept the books at the house? I was over the moon when I found out that he was still writing the books, and got the first ten for the Princess, and vaguely remember that they had them stored at home.

      If so… oh, gads, I don’t even want to imagine the other half of the impact, there.

      Adding in on the Very Nice People thing– I wrote an email to them, well a fan letter, and BOTH Mr. Erickson and Mrs. Erickson sent me very nice emails in response.

  31. Back around ’92, my niece and her younger brother, both blond and blue-eyed, were the only white kids in their Atlanta day care/kindergarten. They got along famously with the rest of the kids, and were treated no differently by the staff. In February, her mother asked Sarah if she wanted her best friend, a boy whose name I can’t recall, to go to the movie with us on the weekend, and she said, “Oh, I don’t like him anymore. He’s got dark skin.”

    Momentary pause while the world shifts slightly.

    Since she hadn’t gotten that at home (her parents are anti-idiotarian), they inquired if anything strange had happened at the kindergarten. It seems that the staff had decided to stage a pageant for Black History Month, and the main item was to be a presentation on Rosa Parks. Using 4- and 5-year-olds. Guess who got cast as the white passenger who demanded Parks move to the back of the bus? To their credit, the staff were appalled by this also, but it showed rather forcefully that children will indeed learn what they are taught. (Two years later, when Sarah was in first grade but her brother Daniel was still in the day care, the church where the day care was situated changed hands and the new owners were Afrocentric; Daniel’s parents were told in no uncertain terms that he was no longer welcome.)

  32. Geoff Withnell

    Redheads with freckles ARE a discriminated group – called “gingers”. Which oddly enough has the same letters as a less accepted group designation.

  33. When our pups asked about this we just told them ‘We’re all God’s children’ and to treat everyone right. The BPS schools straightened them out on that. They are not going to put up this everyone is equal stuff.

  34. Rich Rostrom

    Maybe this has been addressed in comments above; I haven’t searched thoroughly…

    There is a fundamental error in this essay. You say you are writing about racism, but what you are really discussing is xenophobia – which is related to racism, but is not the same thing.

    Xenophobia is “fear of strangers”, which can take the form of unreasoned distaste or panic toward someone whose appearance is different from the person and his neighbor (such as that blond man who frightened you as a child). But that only applies when such contacts are novel or intermittent.

    Sometimes xenophobia drives the development of negative prejudices about a stranger class.

    But racial prejudice can exist where the bigots and the targets have been in close contact for a long time – even multiple generations. Consider the attitude of John Calhoun and his South Carolina ilk toward blacks.

    Blacks were in no way strange to them. They lived among large numbers of blacks (whom they owned). Their households were maintained by black servants; their children were suckled by black wet-nurses. This condition had existed for well over a hundred years.

    Yet these people had deep-seated beliefs about blacks, and about the proper relation of whites and blacks, which were unquestionably racist.

    How does that fit into your explanation of racism?

    Also note: blacks occupied essentially every menial position in that society, but had no power whatever. The owners could do whatever they wanted to the slaves: rape women, sell spouses and children away from their families, torture and kill any who didn’t work as required, or tried to get away.

    Finally: while living in a multi-racial society will deaden the xenophobic response, it doesn’t eliminate racial prejudice or hostility. Vide Malaysia, which is very multi-racial – but still has deep tensions between the 50% Malays and everyone else (especially the 20% Chinese).

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      There is also a strong element of “tribalism” in what is “called racism”.

      Those outside of “your tribe” aren’t true humans even if there is no real “physical” differences between “your tribe” and a “neighboring tribe”.

      What’s sad is that when certain people talk about “racism”, they think only of “white racism” but never about “black racism”.

      IE “Only Whites can be racist and Blacks can’t be racists (especially toward Whites)”.

      • Patrick Chester

        IE “Only Whites can be racist and Blacks can’t be racists (especially toward Whites)”.

        Which makes it easier for blacks to become racist towards whites because their conscience is swayed by that lie. What depresses me is that that lie has been going on long enough that there are now people who’ve been fed that lie since they were children. 😦