Language

Just popping head in with what I know is a rare occurrence anymore … just a thought I’ve had and have worked and re-worked how to best express it.  It’s not like I haven’t said this before, but I just came up with this while commenting out in social networking land, and I wanted to jot it down for future reference.  File it under “know thine enemy”.  Ah, “Know Your Leftist”.  Already there.  That’ll do.

I like to ask people if they can tell me why racism is wrong in one sentence before I will engage them on it. *I* know why, but I want to know if *they* know why and can articulate it. Six words. All it takes. Once we’ve established that we’re talking about the same thing, then we can proceed.

This is because it *is* deeply wrong, and therefore the charge is a serious one. And one should not cast serious charges about idly.

What these post-modern progressives are attempting (and have been wildly successful) to do is take a word with a strong, well-earned emotional connotation and attach it to new, usually unspoken definitions of that word and thus use the power of the original definition to protect their agenda wrapped in their alternate definition.

Language is a device developed to communicate ideas between people. Like any other tool, it can be abused. If we’re not talking about the same thing when we use a word, then at least one of us is not using language for its basic purpose.

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21 thoughts on “Language

  1. AvatarNuke1776

    To your point on language, shouldn’t the first question be, “What is racism?” After all, the term as applied is so nebulous as to cause hand-wringing over an Indian portrayed (not even as a caricature) on a butter box.

    What is the reason you give on the question?

    1. Avatarphilmon Post author

      An excellent question.

      Here’s the reason (probably) that it is NOT my first question. I won’t allow them to set the definition first. I want to know if they know what is wrong with it. I mean, it’s a horrible thing, right? We all agree it’s a horrible thing. What’s horrible about it? It draws such a deep, emotional response. What is the reason behind that? Because THAT’S why we hate it.

      Once we know what is wrong with it, we can talk about what it is and what it isn’t.

      I posted my answer in the comments below. But here it is again: “It is unfair to the individual”.

      If you hold any definition against that, whatever part of that definition that isn’t unfair to the individual isn’t racism and should be discarded from the “definition”.

  2. AvatarRecusant

    Just because I was the idiot who wanted to be the first with the answer and was usually made to look a prat because of it, I’ll give it a go:

    “Racism is wrong because it discriminates against people solely on their immutable characteristics, as opposed to their mutable behaviours.”

    ^Ducks for cover^

    1. SeverianSeverian

      I’d cast it in explicitly Christian terms, but I agree with this. We are commanded to hate the sin, but love the sinner. I don’t hate anyone because of their skin color, which is an immutable part of their person. I hate their behavior. And I really, truly HATE the behavior of those traitors-to-civilization who lionize their behavior, and who keep pimping the crudest barbarism as “keepin’ it real.”

      And if the sinner really can’t do any better, well, that’s life — we are all fallen creatures; we all have our crosses to bear. To take a slightly less contentious group, consider homosexuals. I don’t hate them. I “hate” their behavior, in the sense that it’s dysfunctional, spreads truly vicious diseases that otherwise wouldn’t exist, etc. As I believe homosexuality is largely congenital, I realize that by saying this, I “condemn” them to a life in which some of the greatest pleasures we have are closed off to them. And I feel bad about that, I really do, but “love the sinner” doesn’t mean “tolerate, make excuses for, or even celebrate” everything he does. It’s tough love, like I wrote about below. I’ll do anything short of condoning your behavior to help you… but ultimately, that’s your cross to bear and you must carry it as best you can.

      1. AvatarMaus

        I totally get the love the sinner/hate the sin distinction as a theoretical construct. I don’t want to hate anyone because of the color of their skin. But humans are pattern-seeking thought processors; and we use rules of thumb to quickly sort the data we experience. It doesn’t take too many suboptimal encounters with POC before one starts relying on the sort of generalizing assumptions that smack of racism to those who want the theoretical construct to triumph over lived experience. And I frequently find that those who hold fastest to that view often have the least practical experience of the occasions for that suboptimality. In other words, they don’t know WTF they’re talkin’ about.
        Regarding the theoretical construct as a moral principle, the best a Christian can hope for is usually a wary tolerance tinged with sadness. My own brother, whom I love dearly, is a self-avowed homosexual. Our continued relationship is only possible because I never ask nor does he volunteer anything regarding his sodomitical bedroom activities. It is difficult enough putting up with the cultural and political sequelae of his so-called identity. We agree to disagree and indeed refrain from talking about a great number of things. It is not an ideal situation, nor one I’d wish on anyone. If it weren’t for the ties of blood, separation would be inevitable. Separation is what I practice and advocate as a solution for POC as well. A Christian might deplore much of what Heartiste used to write about, but it would be hard to deny his oft repeated formula “Diversity + Proximity = War.”

    2. AvatarMBlanc46

      That appears to presuppose that all immutable characteristics are the same, and that, therefore, all must be accepted. I’m inclined to think that that is not the case, but even if it is the case, it must be demonstrated, and not merely asserted.

  3. Avatardave b

    Another related question is what is wrong with racism? Specifically, if blacks can hate me because I am white why am I not allowed to hate them back? It is pretty obvious that whites are the least racist people on the planet so why do we get the most heat ? Or maybe a more polite way to put this would be the question I always ask – if Chinese people can have their own country called China, and Nigerians have Nigeria, and Iranians have Iran….why cannot white people have any countries to call their own? The French and Germans and the rest of Europe are supposed to give up their lands to the Muslims and Africans, the USA is supposed to give up our land to the Africans and Mexicans, etc. Where do we get to live as a majority and within our own culture?

    1. AvatarDansidea

      Maybe it boils down to the fact that white led countries that didn’t overtly embrace socialism/communism have been more successful by per capita measurement? Even the Chinese are somewhere in the $10-$11,000 range I believe?

  4. Avatarwixwaxer

    I say let ‘em use the raaysis word, let ‘em overuse it. If everything is racist, then nothing is. The word is rapidly losing whatever currency it had in our national discourse anyway. It was not so long ago when ‘Nazi’ was a word that was rarely tossed about as an insult. Here we are in 2021 and it’s a commonplace barb in our social discourse. And it don’t mean jack. Or shit.

    1. Avatarphilmon Post author

      Lotta truth in there. But people are still so afraid of the label that it still has immense power. If that day would get here before the leftists get their … ahem, “utopia” … that’s be great. I actually thought this might happen after Obama 1. But then Obama 2 happened. And while Trump was effective at pushing back on it, it’s a behemoth that would take at least a couple of decades to dismantle. And now we have Obama 3.

      I just hope Justice Thomas survives the next four years.

      Ultimately, though, this has to be a bottom up movement. Which means those of us at the bottom need to work on our peers and popularize our views. Only then can they trickle up in a consistent way. Our half and half country is doomed to lurch back and forth until something breaks free.

    1. AvatarWOPR

      That seems rather unpersuasive. Lots of things are unfair to the individual. A blind person is not allowed to drive. A mature and serious 16 year old is not allowed to vote. A very short person cannot ride certain rides at the fairground. So fairness to the individual does not work. I would argue that an undue concern over fairness is one reason why we are in the current mess.

      Next, it is impossible to know every person one with whom one interacts. The world would grind to a halt if it was tried. Man has always used markers to determine what actions to take with another person. Some are immutable and some are not. It is not always fair. But, it is the only option to keep the world running.

      I will go with Codex’s answer:

      Because we are made in the image of God

      I also agree with Maus though, image of God doesn’t mean there are not irreconcilable differences. Call it evolutionary, or a result of God scattering man and confusing his language.* People prefer to be around others like themselves. There is only so much diversity they can tolerate before the friction results in conflict. The Apostle Paul pointed this out when he told believers to give their spouses a divorce if they could not tolerate that they were now a Christian. A Christian should seek peace. Mass diversity undermines peace. Therefore, a Christian should recognize that separation, even by race, is not necessarily unChristian.

      * A pet belief of mine is that God did more than make people have different words for different things. Honestly, that would be easy to overcome. I think it was a deeper change. It was a change in non-verbal cues and concepts.

      1. Avatarphilmon Post author

        Life isn’t fair to the blind individual. Not letting a blind person drive is not unfair. It’s a necessary consequence of their physical condition and the safety requirements for them and for others due to the nature of operating a ton or more of equipment often at high speeds, especially around others.

        Discrimination is NOT the same thing as racism. Discrimination, as noted above, is something we have to do.

        Discrimination against an individual because of his skin color or the shape of his eyes or face, on the other hand, is unfair. (Which is pretty close to the most succinct definition of racism I can come up with).

        Let’s just say, for the sake of argument that 60% of the bad drivers out there have purple skin. It is unfair to an individual purple-skinned person to say “you can’t drive, because most bad drivers have purple skin, and you have purple skin.” Because of two things. 1) this purple person may very well be a highly responsible, capable driver — and 2) There is no reason at all, based solely on the color of his skin, that he can’t become one.

        Pass a test showing you can drive safely, following the rules, you get a license. Don’t … and, well, you don’t. THAT … is fair. All people who can show that they can drive safely and follow the rules get a license*.

        * Right now, we do discriminate against people younger than 16, and reasonable people can discuss the wisdom or fairness of it. But not a lot of people are seriously debating whether or not an 8 year old should be given a license to operate a multi-ton machine around other people.

        1. AvatarWOPR

          Yes, discrimination is not racism. But, discrimination is a facet of racism. No one would care if anyone was a racist if it never resulted in action. So discrimination is an important component of racism.

          We discriminate against people of certain ages in specific areas regardless of if they can pass a test or not. That is not considered immoral against the individual. It is generally concluded, that the exceptions do not invalidate the prohibitions.

          Let’s take something less transitory than age and go with sex. Women, until the current madness, were generally excluded from certain areas due solely to their sex. It did not matter if they were qualified for the job, they were denied the opportunity. In most cases, I would say it was the correct decision for society. It was not the best decision for all females as individuals.

          Finally, from a practical standpoint, the formulation does not work. Let’s take your purple skinned drivers who should not be on the road. A perfectly fair test is devised and 5 times the number of purple skinned drivers are denied their license compared to green skinned drivers. It is not going to take long before the test is either dumbed down or purple drivers skewed upward in scoring. Otherwise you have to be willing to say that purple people are generally incompetent at driving.

          1. Avatarphilmon Post author

            Well, I personally don’t think competent women should be excluded from jobs they can do and that they want to do, on a competitive, merit-based basis.

            I do agree that in general, for several reasons, it was and may still be the best model … as in expectation, that women be primary care-givers and men be primary bread-winners. In general. Encouraged, expected, but not forced.

            It has been noted in studies that professional women in general WILL NOT date men who make less than they do. There’s probably a bio-sociological reason for that.

            That’s a new term I just made up, as far as I know. I named it so because I think the societies we develop are highly influenced by biological realities and the shifted bell-curves of the personality traits of the two sexes. I don’t think they’re independent.

            As to the dumbing down of tests so that more purple people pass, that may very well happen as long as people don’t realize that that is the wrong thing to do. The right thing to do is to encourage, and maybe even help — purple people overcome whatever it is that’s keeping them from passing drivers’ tests so that more of them can do it. It may be, say, cultural. An attitude that needs to be discarded. Or it may be that they actually have to work harder. But changing the test so that more unsafe drivers, regardless of skin color, can drive is the absolute wrong thing to do, regardless of whether people make that happen.

            You’re right, the current “progressive”, “woke” attitude says that differences in outcome can ONLY come about as a result of oppression. But they’re wrong. And that’s my point. I’m not saying it hasn’t or doesn’t happen. But it’s not the ONLY explanation. It is one possible explanation, to be ruled out, or to be corrected depending on whether it isn’t … or is … happening (respectively) in each of these cases.

            If our rules are wrong we need to change them. If they’re not, we need to leave them alone.

  5. AvatarCodex

    Huh. I had: Because…

    We are made in imago Deii.

    Or possibly: *Despising blacks leads to civil war” and/or “Fearing and resenting Jews ends badly”. No-one cares if someone indulges in reality-proof stereotyping of Chinamen, Koreans, Poles, Swedes, or the Irish.

    My own favorite is ” dehumanizing anyone is Satanic”. (Even…sigh… Pinkos) But that is four words.

  6. Avatartoastedposts

    (While this may not be the way my morality actually works, since it’s this deeply layered thing, like my grammar, impressed by all the experiences of my life, I wonder sometimes if this isn’t how it *should* work. It’s a simple model, all simple models fail eventually in real life, but here it goes.)

    I’m a partisan for the interests of my extended family. Our interests are best served by having as many allies as possible forming a well functioning and supportive society, with hopefully as few enemies as possible. This doesn’t happen without mutual respect. It’s possible that not all potential allies are co-ethnics, nor are all co-ethnics guaranteed to be friends. Racism cuts off potential alliances.

    Caveat 1: Sometimes you have to recognize when people are unlikely to be your friend. Generalization is the basis of inductive reasoning – certain patterns cohere.

    Caveat 2: Real-life racism often amounts to gratuitous ugliness for the sake of feeling cheap superiority.

    On the other hand, “racism”, like “selfishness”, what our society is currently excoriating anyone and everyone for, is definitional sleight-of-hand for people defending their own interests and dignity in the face of assault and dehumanization. “Don’t be selfish, you should be slaving away for *my* interests instead!”

    (Not very terse, may be a shorter-hand way of stating the point. Also, I’m not very far along into the “alt-right”)

    1. SeverianSeverian

      I agree. There are three very different definitions of “racism” floating around out there.

      There’s the Left’s definition, which is the same thing as “fascism” — “something not desirable.” George Orwell nailed this all the way back in 1946 (Z Man didn’t mention this in his “starter books” podcast, but Orwell’s seminal essay “Politics and the English Language” should absolutely be required reading in Our Thing. If I were writing the syllabus, we’d lead with it, then swing into Hoffer).

      Then there’s what I’ll call, for lack of a better term, the Normie CivNat definition: behaviors based on unwarranted assumptions, for the sole purpose of feeling that nasty little thrill of superiority. For instance, you see a homeless person. If you say “gosh, that guy is probably an addict, or has mental problems, or both,” well, that’s just experience. Those are warranted assumptions, as anyone who has spent time in a big city knows, which lead to warranted behaviors — cross the street, avoid eye contact, etc. Unwarranted assumptions would be stuff like “that guy is incapable of reform;” which leads to unwarranted behaviors, e.g. taunting the guy, walking over there to give him a stern lecture about getting his shit together, or in short, acting like Karen. This is perhaps better called “bigotry.

      Then there’s “racism” as lots of folks in Our Thing use it — whether because they’re “owning the insult,” or because of cold logic. An example of the former would be as a defensive strategy. “They obviously hate me just on general principles, so fuck them, I’m going to hate them right back.” The problems with this are obvious, but if we’re being honest — as must must, among friends — who hasn’t felt this? The latter is everything Derb said in “the Talk.” You’re damn right I’m assuming that young Black guy coming my way is a criminal. I have every reason to think he is, and pretty much no reason to think he’s not. Unless he’s dressed in a business suit, it’s high noon, and we’re in the middle of the high-rent district… and even then I’m going to be wary, because look, you don’t have to touch too many hot stoves before you start assuming that all stoves are hot, just on general principles.

      1. AvatarWOPR

        When I was much younger, I was sitting out in the grocery store parking lot while the wife ran in to get a few items. Two lanes over, I saw a car pull in with a couple of young, black males. My first thought, was “What are they up to?” My next thought was, “Don’t be a racist.” So, I ignored them for a couple of minutes. I happened to look up and notice they were still there. The passenger side door was open and the passenger kept leaning in and out. Then I saw the crowbar. They were trying to steal the SUV beside them. I scared them off.

        That and a number of other interactions…..hot stove.

  7. Avatarjwm

    First, define the term.
    Racism has been neatly conflated with bigotry. They are not the same. Bigotry is just “Hate ’em all”. Period. Racism is acknowledging that there are differences between groups, and that those differences are important. Bigotry is unfair to the individual. Racism is the second hand smoke of human evil. We all prefer our own to the other.
    We are commanded to “Love thy neighbor”, not “like” thy neighbor. To love is to have feelings of closeness, intimacy, affection, and regard, to value the other as highly as one does one’s self. I cannot so “love” a stranger. So I take the “love thy neighbor” to mean that I would keep the commandments with the stranger, regardless of his immutable characteristics, as I would with my family. I would not steal from, bear false witness against, murder, or commit adultery with the stranger. That does not mean I need to live in proximity, desire his company, or choose to socialize with this person.

    JWM

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