Important issues should be discussed in language we understand the meaning of.
The recent trend of dictionaries changing meanings according to the howling of the crazy people is wrong, but frankly, so is the howling which gets in sane people’s heads and replaces the meaning of some words with a howling sound of outrage and the sense of “DON’T”. After that the howling-word starts getting applied to everything vaguely adjacent whether benign, malign, indifferent, or simply something a political side wishes to suppress.
Take racism for instance.
I was never racist, until “race-blind” became racist. This is not a statement of virtue, because race-blind is a neutral characteristic. Some people see race, some people don’t. In my case, I don’t except in the sense of becoming fascinated about someone who looks like no-one I’ve ever seen. This is rare, of course, but there are — particularly in the US, some fascinating and unclassifiable genetic mixtures, which are almost always, for some reason, beautiful. And my fascination extends as far as “I want to draw this person.” (I need to get back into practice.) That’s it. There is no value judgement, besides the fact that it’s built in to humans that beautiful people are somehow nicer, no matter how often we learn it’s not true.
Individuals are individuals, and their features and skin color don’t have much to do with the content of their characters, as far as my experience goes. People who grew up in different places and times might have different mental pigeon holes for certain sets of features and skin color. And it’s none of my business.
Look, real “racism” as a thought category — someone who mentally assumes all people of a certain race are good or bad — is none of anyone’s business. It’s only when that thought translates to actions that it becomes anyone’s business, and even then… The Constitution, though apparently we’re not paying any attention to it anymore, guarantees us freedom of association. This means if someone chooses not to associate with people of a race he or she despises, it’s none of our business. In a society like America, racism of that kind is likely to be its own punishment, because if there are enough people of a different race to make an economic difference, the racist will suffer. He’ll either miss on employment, or have to pay higher price. In the end, the behavior will be disguised or abated.
But what about riding in the back of buses and not being able to sit at a lunch counter and– Well, all those were government-imposed during the reconstruction. The segregation of races in America was a government imposed thing. Because it’s antithetical to the spirit of America. …. So, of course, it was solved with regulations the other way. Which makes no sense whatsoever, but is of course the way it goes.
For the record, if a place is so screwed in the head that you can’t use public accommodations — that doesn’t mean private shops — you should move. And if a government imposes that kind of segregationist rule, yeah that’s wrong and should be struck down because it’s unconstitutional.
But the point is rules in the other direction are screwed in the head too, and lead to “bake the cake” situations, and who knows what other crazy stuff in the future. Do Catholics have to host a Satanist wedding? Think about it. We’re so far into raping the Constitution that this seems like a step more, and not a big one.
“But why should people have to move because every business in a town — say — is run by racists?”
Well, why not? The best thing you can do is move. That way the businesses lose both your business and the satisfaction of looking down on you, and you can go and be prosperous elsewhere. Eventually the racists will have to sell to each other, and won’t survive.
Look, I speak with knowledge. As an out-conservative (Bah, Libertarian. Or Constitutionalist. Or something. Someone of my disposition, who has been side-eyeing guillotines for a few years now, and wanted to deposit one on Polis’ lawn as a memento mori, (Don’t worry, that’s the inner bitch, and I watch her ALL THE TIME) should not be called conservative. But in this decayed linguistic time I apparently am) I am QUITE barred from the small town of traditional publishing and have to make my way to the frontier. (Imagine my shock when husband pointed out that since I did I doubled my annual income. Not that it’s a ton.) So I know. It’s not race, but it’s just indelible a scarlet mark. And yet, what could be gained from pounding my head against the doors of those who don’t want me? And heaven knows I don’t want a law forcing them to take me. Thank you. I’ve suffered enough.
Which is why it’s important to think carefully about things like “racism” and what they mean, rather than starting to howl, as intended.
Look, racism as a thought is not only not a crime, and not necessarily detrimental, but is also impossible to police against. Trying to change what’s inside people’s head is impossible, and will cause stupid(er) backlash.
How can I say it’s not detrimental? Well, depends on what you consider race. My dad is almost charmingly racist. No, seriously. Except he thinks Portuguese is a race. It would be the ridiculous “white nationalism” they keep warning us about if Portuguese had anything to do with racial characteristics. Instead, it’s just charming and a bit deranged, and I think you guys with relatives who came from Europe have experienced the same.
My dad thinks the Portuguese invented everything and did everything worth doing. The Portuguese not only invented bread, but the knife to slice it and the butter to spread on it. No seriously. You can hear him explain history according to Portuguese greatness and the only reasonable response is to giggle.
It only chafes a bit because his crazy younger child went off and married one of them inferior Anglo-saxons (With a bit of Amerindian, a lot of German and…. but dad doesn’t need to know that. I mean Germans. That’s worse than anything. Amerindian is a plus though, because he grew up on Westerns.) He deals with it passibly. Dan is of course inferior, but he’s OUR untermenchen and Dad quite likes him. Not as much as if I’d married a Portuguese, of course, but look, he’s dealing with it the best he can. And the boys, though obviously mixed race take after the Portuguese side (in dad’s mind) as any sensible child would, so they’re okay, and he’s very proud of them and expects them to excel in this barbarous land to which I took myself.
The fact he thinks Portuguese are genetically superior hurts no one and enhances his life immeasurably.
Now, of course, dad is a moral person. If he enters into business with a foreigner, he’ll be strictly honest, because his own pride demands he be fair. (The Portuguese are always fair. Snort, giggle.)
But, you say, Portuguese is not a race. Isn’t it? Makes as much sense as American perception of races. You guys might not realize it, if you grew up here, but what you consider black (Oh, pardon me, African-American) makes not a whit of sense. No, seriously. Half of my relatives are “black” according to American perceptions. (Dad would mostly ping Arab or, if in NYC, very Jewish. But dark. But other relatives.) And frankly half of my genetic cousins, to believe 23 and me (snort, giggle) are pure European. But… dear Lord, drop them anywhere in the US and they would be assumed to be black. As for me, with a perm and a tan, some PORTUGUESE assumed I came from the African colonies.
I hear someone referred to as “An African American actor”, (in another post we’ll go into the erasure of women by using the male form ONLY for artists) blink at the picture of a Mediterranean looking girl, and flash on the Farside cartoon of two bathrooms marked with identical penguins, and the words “only they can tell the difference.” I think you have to be born and raised in America to “get” how Americans see race. Either that, or it’s actually impossible. I don’t know which.
America is in fact so mixed we scared the heck out of my mom who couldn’t discern which (European) race people belonged to and had a minor panic attack over it, since we were messing with her head categories. (She also couldn’t identify any of the races we consider races, because it doesn’t look like in Europe where they tend to keep separate.)
Look, if there’s an American race, it’s “mongrel and proud.”
So, racism in America is USUALLY a reaction not to race at all but to culture, as expressed in clothes, hairstyle and manner of speech.
People often ask my kids what race they are (snort, giggle) because apparently they present as incredibly mixed, but they’re more likely to be discriminated against for being male and huge and perceived as dangerous than because they tan. Because they open their mouths and — how did the Barbarella reviewer class my language habits? Oh, yeah, — sound like they swallowed a thesaurus. And no one is afraid of that. Confused, sometimes. Upset, often. But not terrified.
But we don’t use “racism” to mean hatred of a race. Instead we apply it to situations that real racists in NYC or Hollywood THINK are due to racism, thereby betraying only their own inner thoughts.
Take when I complained about homeless taking over the public library and denying me and the boys a resource and a place where we used to walk regularly. The blogs on the left that read that and decided I needed to be yelled at immediately screamed “racist”. This puzzled living heck out of me, until someone on the blog pointed out that “homeless are usually black in the East.”
Well, that’s…. interesting. I might be racist against the East of the US, only it’s really culturist. Look, guys, I don’t dislike you or anything. it’s just you’re all way too cozy with other people in your space. Like… When traveling to Liberty con I hit Atlanta (usually the last transfer) and start singing “Don’t stand so close to me” under my breath before I even realize it. (It’s the reason I ultimately couldn’t face moving East.)
In the west there aren’t a ton of black people. And in Colorado Springs, any random black person you encounter is more likely to be in the Air Force than to be homeless. In fact, up to the time of that accusation, I’d never seen a homeless black person. (Only started seeing them when crazy cakes Polis made Denver a haven for them, and they came from the East, because the benes were excellent.)
I dislike infestations of homeless, particularly feral homeless, because they make the city dangerous, destroy business and victimize innocent inhabitants of the area, not because they’re any color or variation of features. So screaming “Racist” when I’m pondering what to do with the homeless problem that neither involves killing them nor subsidizing them but probably a dose of tough love, is such a bizarre misfire that it says more about you than about me. You can call me heartless (I’m not, but I don’t favor being kind to the cruel, because it’s being cruel to the kind) or hard-assed, or even stupid, but it has zero to do with race.
In the same way, yesterday while helping a friend distance-house-hunt we tripped on another of those.
You see, realtor and other sites used to have crime-maps. This was very useful when shopping for a house from another state.
Those have been banned because “they were used as a proxy for race.”
Again, this says more about the people coming up with that nonsense, or perhaps the benighted places they live in, than normal human beings, who — like us — looked at the maps to make sure we wouldn’t be knifed in our sleep.
Dan and I have lived in neighborhoods (our first house) where we were the only white people, and had no issues. (Yeah, I know. I’m “white” — waggles hand — but pass, but trust me, the husband tans by becoming slightly less pasty.) We talked to neighbors, went to neighborhood events and stole the county commissioner’s cat. (Stop staring at me. He let him out in the snow. We let him in. We’d have moved with him too, if he hadn’t caught us in the act. We didn’t know he was a Maine Coon!) The neighborhood was young professionals. That was more important than any race. And I suspect our nickname was “the crazy cat people.”
And we lived in a high crime neighborhood — we rented without checking the map. ARGH — where I was probably the darkest person. Yes, it was mostly drug crimes/dealing, but seriously. Good idea to stay indoors after dark, and away from front windows.
However some crazy people, undoubtedly back East have a head-belief that all criminals are black (Sounds racist to me) and therefore took away a useful tool people used when buying houses at a distance. (Hey, maybe they didn’t want us to flee.)
That there is harmful racism, because it affects people of every race when going about their lawful business of real-estate purchase.
But we let them do it, because they hide behind that awful “racism” slur.
Which is why it’s important to tear the cover away and see the thing for what it is.
Racism as a thought-crime doesn’t hurt anyone. The crazy things racists do while claiming OTHER PEOPLE are the racists? That hurts everyone and tears society apart.