Author Topic: "Trigger" words  (Read 15881 times)

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #300 on: June 14, 2019, 08:43:39 PM »

"If Azaan Rodriguez were to look in a mirror, he would describe himself as a 13-year-old kid who loves science, lives in Mattapan, and wants to be an ecologist. But recently, he's found himself thinking about how the racists of the world perceive the color of his skin."

"I think they see me as a criminal and a liar and dangerous," Rodriguez said.

https://www.wbur.org/artery/2019/05/31/mfa-racist-encounter-lingers

Sticks and stones may break their bones, and words will not be forgotten by these young people.

pudding

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #301 on: June 15, 2019, 12:26:18 AM »
I was a party once talking to a friend of a friend, he referred to forestry workers as 'tree rapists' ....   what a dick!   At least that's what I thought.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #302 on: June 15, 2019, 04:39:35 PM »
It's your inexhaustible optimism on things like the chance of racist Trump voters changing to be better people that makes me like your posts sol.

This bothered me a little bit when you posted it, and it took me a few days to think about why.

Trying to extend empathy and understanding to racists (sexists, homophobes, rich people, etc) doesn't feel like optimism, it feels more like defeatism.  An optimist would look at improvements in the past 50 years and think we were on the right track, that if we just wait long enough everyone will come around.  An optimist would trumpet the past successes of the progressive movement and assume that was going to be sufficient.  I'm arguing that we need work a little harder, and that the only way to really move the needle is to treat people better than they deserve.  That's hard.

A racist Trump voter, or a misogynist, or a fat-shamer, these people probably don't deserve your patience and understanding.  It feels totally justified to flip them the bird and move on.  But I think we HAVE to make a better effort to reach out to worst among us, as it's the hallmark of liberalism to do so.  For example, when social conservatives controlled the majority they never made any attempt at "well let's listen to both sides" or "everyone deserves a chance to be heard" or even "let's identify the underlying problems here".  It was always just attack dogs and firehoses, arson and lynching, Jim Crow and boot stomping.  They didn't give a shit about the minority.  Now that the social conservatives are becoming the minority, suddenly they're all about protecting minority opinions, and listening to everyone's feedback as equally valid, because they lost the culture war and found themselves on the wrong end of the metaphorical boot heel.  Liberals would be slightly hypocritical to take their new majority and treat the minority the same way they were treated just because it feels good.

In some sense, racists are the new minority.  And just like "the blacks and the gays" of generations past, the unique set of cultural problems inherent to their culture are not wholly the result of them all being bad individuals.  They are raised in bad environments that reinforce these problems.  Just like kids from the projects grew up to be drug dealers, racist white boys grow up to catcall and hurl racial slurs.  Blaming every single redneck for being a shithead isn't that different from blaming the Central Park 5.  There are larger, systemic problems at work here that need rooting out and addressing, rather than just shoveling hate at each individual person.

Racism effects everyone differently, and to varying degrees, and not just based on skin color.  Sasha and Malia are not more downtrodden victims of racism than white trailer trash from Alabama.  Those girls grew up with wealth and privilege, in a world that tries to judge them for their skin color.  BillyBob grew up in poverty surrounded by hatred and bigotry, in a world that judges him for his.  If he's a complete piece of shit racist with a confederate flag on his pickup, that's not entirely his fault, just like it's not entirely the fault of the kid from the projects who turns to dealing drugs.  His options are somewhat limited.

Which is why it bothers me when Poundwise says white Americans should not only take action to stop racism, but also apologize for the actions of white people.  I didn't oppress you, and I'm supposed to apologize?  Ben Carson is black and he's done more to harm black Americans than I ever have, why isn't anyone calling on him to apologize?  My family have been the victims of racist hate crimes, and I'm supposed to apologize to our attackers because it's assumed that I'm part of the problem because of my skin color?  How is that different from expecting Sasha and Malia to apologize for the inner city crack epidemic?  Isn't that, itself, textbook racism?

Racism impacts individuals in different ways, and as such individuals each bear differing amounts of responsibility for it.  It's not my fault that I have benefited from being born white, just like it's not Treyvon's fault that he has suffered from being born black.  I'd like to believe that the real target here is inequality, and that people who have suffered from bigotry and hatred are the ones who deserve apologies, not everyone with slightly darker than average skin.  Random chance determines how you were born.  Society at large determines how you are treated.  You only get to decide how you live, and I strive to personally treat people based solely on that last one, and I'm only asking you to return the favor.  Don't lump me in with BillyBob just because I'm also white, because that's racist.

Or with the Pussy Grabber in Chief because I'm also a man, or Mike "conversion therapy" Pence because I'm also straight.  I am not guilty of the sins you despise, so maybe stop treating me the way you would treat them.

But focusing on the need for Black Americans to acknowledge/apologize for prejudicial crimes and attitudes creates a false equivalency.

I'm definitely NOT focusing on that.  In fact I was doing the exact opposite, saying it's ridiculous to expect a black accountant from the suburbs to carry the least bit of individual racial guilt for inner city crime rates.  I wasn't creating false equivalency, I was highlighting how dumb that equivalence would be.  Only a racist would blame all black people for a problem in the black community, so why do we continue to blame all white people for problems in the white community?

And before that paragraph brings an onslaught of "yea but"s, yes I'm acutely aware of the generations or evil committed by white people, and the way that evil continues to echo through modern society.  I'm not pretending things are anywhere near equal, nor do I believe we'll ever see appropriate amends made.  I'm only saying that at some point, in order to heal and move forward, we're going to have to let the sins of our forefathers die with them.  Don't blame me, the product of starving immigrant Iowa dirt farmers, for what happened on cotton plantations in Georgia.  In return, I won't blame Obama for what's been done to my family by black people.  You don't swear off marriage because one of your ex-boyfriends called you the c-word.  You don't fly a swastika flag because a Jewish lawyer screwed you once.  You have to treat people as people, despite the historical patterns that came before.

Lots of places have dealt with generations of evil but are actively trying to move past it, see for example Ireland and England, France and England, Australia and England, America and England, etc.  It takes time and it's definitely not fair, but eventually we can all move past it.

And in the meantime, since that's at least several generations away, maybe trying to extend a little unwarranted kindness to someone who hates you.  Understanding their circumstances goes a long way toward forgiving their behavior, in my experience.  You don't change anyone's mind with your middle fingers in the air, and I feel like large portions of the liberal establishment, my establishment, just live with middle fingers permanently extended these days.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 04:49:21 PM by sol »

GuitarStv

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #303 on: June 15, 2019, 06:06:49 PM »
It's your inexhaustible optimism on things like the chance of racist Trump voters changing to be better people that makes me like your posts sol.

This bothered me a little bit when you posted it, and it took me a few days to think about why.

Trying to extend empathy and understanding to racists (sexists, homophobes, rich people, etc) doesn't feel like optimism, it feels more like defeatism.  An optimist would look at improvements in the past 50 years and think we were on the right track, that if we just wait long enough everyone will come around.  An optimist would trumpet the past successes of the progressive movement and assume that was going to be sufficient.  I'm arguing that we need work a little harder, and that the only way to really move the needle is to treat people better than they deserve.  That's hard.

A racist Trump voter, or a misogynist, or a fat-shamer, these people probably don't deserve your patience and understanding.  It feels totally justified to flip them the bird and move on.  But I think we HAVE to make a better effort to reach out to worst among us, as it's the hallmark of liberalism to do so.  For example, when social conservatives controlled the majority they never made any attempt at "well let's listen to both sides" or "everyone deserves a chance to be heard" or even "let's identify the underlying problems here".  It was always just attack dogs and firehoses, arson and lynching, Jim Crow and boot stomping.  They didn't give a shit about the minority.  Now that the social conservatives are becoming the minority, suddenly they're all about protecting minority opinions, and listening to everyone's feedback as equally valid, because they lost the culture war and found themselves on the wrong end of the metaphorical boot heel.  Liberals would be slightly hypocritical to take their new majority and treat the minority the same way they were treated just because it feels good.

In some sense, racists are the new minority.  And just like "the blacks and the gays" of generations past, the unique set of cultural problems inherent to their culture are not wholly the result of them all being bad individuals.  They are raised in bad environments that reinforce these problems.  Just like kids from the projects grew up to be drug dealers, racist white boys grow up to catcall and hurl racial slurs.  Blaming every single redneck for being a shithead isn't that different from blaming the Central Park 5.  There are larger, systemic problems at work here that need rooting out and addressing, rather than just shoveling hate at each individual person.

Racism effects everyone differently, and to varying degrees, and not just based on skin color.  Sasha and Malia are not more downtrodden victims of racism than white trailer trash from Alabama.  Those girls grew up with wealth and privilege, in a world that tries to judge them for their skin color.  BillyBob grew up in poverty surrounded by hatred and bigotry, in a world that judges him for his.  If he's a complete piece of shit racist with a confederate flag on his pickup, that's not entirely his fault, just like it's not entirely the fault of the kid from the projects who turns to dealing drugs.  His options are somewhat limited.

I think I can follow the logic here . . . but I don't entirely agree with the 'racists as a new minority that we need to care for' bit.

- Racists hurt others by their racist actions.  If they didn't, we wouldn't know that they were racist.
- Racists are voluntarily choosing to hurt others.

I get where you're coming from saying that some of this is a product of environment.  I'm all in favour of trying to help change that environment, be it through education programs, job re-training, better social services, etc.  At the end of the day though, racism is an anti-social viewpoint.  Socially shunning people and showing that this viewpoint is unacceptable at every chance is one of the more effective ways we've got to combat this sort of social problem.  To do otherwise is (in some ways) to endorse the racism by show of solidarity.  A policy of appeasement never really works with a bully or terrorist.


Which is why it bothers me when Poundwise says white Americans should not only take action to stop racism, but also apologize for the actions of white people.  I didn't oppress you, and I'm supposed to apologize?  Ben Carson is black and he's done more to harm black Americans than I ever have, why isn't anyone calling on him to apologize?  My family have been the victims of racist hate crimes, and I'm supposed to apologize to our attackers because it's assumed that I'm part of the problem because of my skin color?  How is that different from expecting Sasha and Malia to apologize for the inner city crack epidemic?  Isn't that, itself, textbook racism?

As described, yes.  White people certainly don't need to apologize for the actions of others who happen to share their skin colour.  Nobody should be the victim of racist hate crimes.


Racism impacts individuals in different ways, and as such individuals each bear differing amounts of responsibility for it.  It's not my fault that I have benefited from being born white, just like it's not Treyvon's fault that he has suffered from being born black.  I'd like to believe that the real target here is inequality, and that people who have suffered from bigotry and hatred are the ones who deserve apologies, not everyone with slightly darker than average skin.  Random chance determines how you were born.  Society at large determines how you are treated.  You only get to decide how you live, and I strive to personally treat people based solely on that last one, and I'm only asking you to return the favor.  Don't lump me in with BillyBob just because I'm also white, because that's racist.

Or with the Pussy Grabber in Chief because I'm also a man, or Mike "conversion therapy" Pence because I'm also straight.  I am not guilty of the sins you despise, so maybe stop treating me the way you would treat them.

Again, as described here . . . I agree with you.  But I'm not entirely sure that you're fairly characterizing some of the comments you've received.


And before that paragraph brings an onslaught of "yea but"s, yes I'm acutely aware of the generations or evil committed by white people, and the way that evil continues to echo through modern society.  I'm not pretending things are anywhere near equal, nor do I believe we'll ever see appropriate amends made.  I'm only saying that at some point, in order to heal and move forward, we're going to have to let the sins of our forefathers die with them.  Don't blame me, the product of starving immigrant Iowa dirt farmers, for what happened on cotton plantations in Georgia.  In return, I won't blame Obama for what's been done to my family by black people.  You don't swear off marriage because one of your ex-boyfriends called you the c-word.  You don't fly a swastika flag because a Jewish lawyer screwed you once.  You have to treat people as people, despite the historical patterns that came before.

When the systemic problems created by our forefathers have been eliminated, we can more forward.  While systemic problems related to race/sex/sexual orientation exist asking the people who bear the brunt of those issues to just forget it and all the history that led up to it . . . well, that's not likely to go over very well.  Understandably.


And in the meantime, since that's at least several generations away, maybe trying to extend a little unwarranted kindness to someone who hates you.  Understanding their circumstances goes a long way toward forgiving their behavior, in my experience.  You don't change anyone's mind with your middle fingers in the air, and I feel like large portions of the liberal establishment, my establishment, just live with middle fingers permanently extended these days.

What do you believe the best way to change the minds of white racists really is?  As mentioned, many of them live in cloistered communities of other white racists, have the full political support of the Republican party, and are brought up to eat and breathe racism.  How nice do you think that a progressive needs to be to change their mind on all of this?  How many acts of racism (subtle or overt) have to be quietly and understandingly accepted?

Kindness to others (even those you don't get along with) is generally good policy.  Understanding does go a long way towards making the world a better place to live . . . but understanding doesn't mean acceptance.  Repeatedly forgiving the same behaviour without outcry seems like a defeatist acceptance of the status quo.

jeninco

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #304 on: June 15, 2019, 06:39:34 PM »
<big giant snip, because I only want to respond to this part>

And before that paragraph brings an onslaught of "yea but"s, yes I'm acutely aware of the generations or evil committed by white people, and the way that evil continues to echo through modern society.  I'm not pretending things are anywhere near equal, nor do I believe we'll ever see appropriate amends made.  I'm only saying that at some point, in order to heal and move forward, we're going to have to let the sins of our forefathers die with them.  Don't blame me, the product of starving immigrant Iowa dirt farmers, for what happened on cotton plantations in Georgia.  In return, I won't blame Obama for what's been done to my family by black people.  You don't swear off marriage because one of your ex-boyfriends called you the c-word.  You don't fly a swastika flag because a Jewish lawyer screwed you once.  You have to treat people as people, despite the historical patterns that came before.

When the systemic problems created by our forefathers have been eliminated, we can more forward.  While systemic problems related to race/sex/sexual orientation exist asking the people who bear the brunt of those issues to just forget it and all the history that led up to it . . . well, that's not likely to go over very well.  Understandably.

And although you may be completely innocent of creating these problems, you're still reaping the benefits, every time you don't get pulled over driving through a small town in a rural place at gunpoint, for instance. Or whenever you're not followed through a store by someone looking suspicious. Or whenever you get to, you know, go about your business in a crowded public place without the fear of someone reaching out and groping you, or worse...
(Hey, my ancestors actively helped move black people out of the south: I still reap the benefits of being a certain kind of establishment-looking older white lady. And I try to use my superpowers for good whenever possible, visibly befriending minority teenagers who are being hassled in public places, for instance.)


Kindness to others (even those you don't get along with) is generally good policy.  Understanding does go a long way towards making the world a better place to live . . . but understanding doesn't mean acceptance.  Repeatedly forgiving the same behaviour without outcry seems like a defeatist acceptance of the status quo.

Yeah, not sure where this balance lies. I'm not great with social conflict, so sometimes I just try to model appropriate behavior...

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #305 on: June 15, 2019, 06:42:52 PM »
I don't entirely agree with the 'racists as a new minority that we need to care for' bit.

I don't think they need to be cared for.  I think they are afflicted by a social malady that needs curing, and that making fun of them doesn't help reduce the harm they cause.

Just look at all of the Trump voters who were mostly anti-Clinton voters, and who now vocally defend Trump no matter what crazy BS he comes up with.  I think we helped push them into those more extreme views by not listening to their less-offensive and slightly misguided initial positions.  Hence my focus in this thread on outreach to the undeserving.  It's not appeasement, it's conversation about finding common ground.  Then from there we can work on expanding the areas of overlap.

Quote
When the systemic problems created by our forefathers have been eliminated, we can more forward.  While systemic problems related to race/sex/sexual orientation exist asking the people who bear the brunt of those issues to just forget it and all the history that led up to it . . . well, that's not likely to go over very well.  Understandably.

I understand that.  I also don't see any other way.  White Americans are never going to be able to set things right for American slavery, so why hold up attempts at future equality while we all stew over it?  I worry that as long as our national conversation is only about one group's advantage vs another group's advantage, we're not going to achieve any sort of equality.  It just sets up the us vs them conflict mentality.  Eventually, we have to all be Americans working towards a common goal.  The Catholics and the Protestants used to hate each other too, and I don't think any of them feel like their score is fairly settled.  They're moving on anyways.  America will get there too, one day, when all of this is sufficiently ancient history.

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What do you believe the best way to change the minds of white racists really is?

Depends on the racist, I suppose.  I'm pretty sure sure that shouting "fuck you" at him every day isn't it, though.
 
In the case of racist Trump supporters, some of them are clearly lost causes but there were thousands of white voters in WI/PA/MI who voted for him without considering themselves racists.  Some of them were union workers who felt free trade agreements were robbing their communities of their only good employers.  Some of them were evangelicals who believed Clinton used aborted fetuses as an anti-aging facial cream.  Some of them just got swept up in the Russian propaganda coming out of Fox News.  But most of those people, for all of their faults, genuinely want economic prosperity, privacy protections, and reliable political discourse.  They just voted against those interests in this case, because of the way the arguments were phrased.  I think we could have swayed some of them with better information, and honest conversations.  Free trade saved their jobs, not ruined them.  Abortion is a right guaranteed to you along with many other rights, for your protection, but not something you will ever be forced into by your government.  And it's pretty easy to show that Fox News trades in lies and outrage, and if you want America to succeed it needs to die.

Those arguments might fail 99% of the time, but shouting "you're just a fucking racist" at those people is guaranteed to fail all of the time.

Quote
How many acts of racism (subtle or overt) have to be quietly and understandingly accepted?

None, obviously.  Just like I don't have to accept three black men gang raping my sister.  Horrible acts deserve to be called out as such.  That doesn't mean I decided that every black person in Oakland is an irredeemable rapist, though.  I can call out each and every rape without denigrating every member of that demographic.  If you want to lower the rape stats in Oakland, you don't go on TV and call everyone a rapist.  You do outreach to the people you think are most likely to rape.  You educate.  You offer alternative methodologies.  Maybe you still fail to stop 99% of rapes.  You've still moved the needle in the right direction with that hard work.

And most importantly, you don't attack the people doing that outreach for "understanding" or "accepting" the very attitudes they are trying to correct.  That was BS, man.

jeninco

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #306 on: June 15, 2019, 07:25:39 PM »
Sol,

I just realized that no one responded to that alarming personal incident you raised. I'm sorry. Not said as if I could assume responsibility, but because no human should undergo something like that.

I'm sorry that happened to her, and I'm sorry all the collateral damage happened to you and whomever else.  I hope she is doing OK now.

People suck, is my recurring take-away. Not all people, but just enough.

Although, perhaps that's the apology we all need to practice: I'm sorry that happened to you, and how can I help you recover and is there anything I can to do help you feel OK again?


(I see that you just responded to @GuitarStv, but I have to run out, so I'll read through tomorrow.)

GuitarStv

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #307 on: June 15, 2019, 08:03:12 PM »
I don't entirely agree with the 'racists as a new minority that we need to care for' bit.

I don't think they need to be cared for.  I think they are afflicted by a social malady that needs curing, and that making fun of them doesn't help reduce the harm they cause.

Just look at all of the Trump voters who were mostly anti-Clinton voters, and who now vocally defend Trump no matter what crazy BS he comes up with.  I think we helped push them into those more extreme views by not listening to their less-offensive and slightly misguided initial positions.  Hence my focus in this thread on outreach to the undeserving.  It's not appeasement, it's conversation about finding common ground.  Then from there we can work on expanding the areas of overlap.

I honestly don't know if logic/reasoning is going to work with anti-Clinton voters.  I've yet to hear a logical or well reasoned anti-Clinton argument from one.  What common ground are you going to find without a framework of logic, or a belief in science?


Quote
When the systemic problems created by our forefathers have been eliminated, we can more forward.  While systemic problems related to race/sex/sexual orientation exist asking the people who bear the brunt of those issues to just forget it and all the history that led up to it . . . well, that's not likely to go over very well.  Understandably.

I understand that.  I also don't see any other way.  White Americans are never going to be able to set things right for American slavery, so why hold up attempts at future equality while we all stew over it?  I worry that as long as our national conversation is only about one group's advantage vs another group's advantage, we're not going to achieve any sort of equality.  It just sets up the us vs them conflict mentality.  Eventually, we have to all be Americans working towards a common goal.  The Catholics and the Protestants used to hate each other too, and I don't think any of them feel like their score is fairly settled.  They're moving on anyways.  America will get there too, one day, when all of this is sufficiently ancient history.

But again, I gotta ask . . . did the Protestants and Catholics move on while a systemic power imbalance existed in the US between them?  Because that certainly didn't happen in Ireland.  I want what you want too.  I just think that you're asking for it too soon.


Quote
What do you believe the best way to change the minds of white racists really is?

Depends on the racist, I suppose.  I'm pretty sure sure that shouting "fuck you" at him every day isn't it, though.
 
In the case of racist Trump supporters, some of them are clearly lost causes but there were thousands of white voters in WI/PA/MI who voted for him without considering themselves racists.  Some of them were union workers who felt free trade agreements were robbing their communities of their only good employers.  Some of them were evangelicals who believed Clinton used aborted fetuses as an anti-aging facial cream.  Some of them just got swept up in the Russian propaganda coming out of Fox News.  But most of those people, for all of their faults, genuinely want economic prosperity, privacy protections, and reliable political discourse.  They just voted against those interests in this case, because of the way the arguments were phrased.  I think we could have swayed some of them with better information, and honest conversations.  Free trade saved their jobs, not ruined them.  Abortion is a right guaranteed to you along with many other rights, for your protection, but not something you will ever be forced into by your government.  And it's pretty easy to show that Fox News trades in lies and outrage, and if you want America to succeed it needs to die.

Those arguments might fail 99% of the time, but shouting "you're just a fucking racist" at those people is guaranteed to fail all of the time.

Although all people who support the Republican party today support racists I try not to bring up the truth too often for the reason that you mentioned.  These people have built up a wall of lies around them and it's not possible to have any discourse while shoulting "you're a fucking racist".  And to be fair to them, not everyone is robbing the bank . . . many are just driving the getaway car or fencing the goods.

But I was specifically referring to the really, unquestionably racist folks.  Because I honestly don't know of a very good way to reach these people.


Quote
How many acts of racism (subtle or overt) have to be quietly and understandingly accepted?

None, obviously.  Just like I don't have to accept three black men gang raping my sister.  Horrible acts deserve to be called out as such.  That doesn't mean I decided that every black person in Oakland is an irredeemable rapist, though.  I can call out each and every rape without denigrating every member of that demographic.  If you want to lower the rape stats in Oakland, you don't go on TV and call everyone a rapist.  You do outreach to the people you think are most likely to rape.  You educate.  You offer alternative methodologies.  Maybe you still fail to stop 99% of rapes.  You've still moved the needle in the right direction with that hard work.

And most importantly, you don't attack the people doing that outreach for "understanding" or "accepting" the very attitudes they are trying to correct.  That was BS, man.

Certainly, not every white person is racist just as not every black person is a rapist.  So far, though there's no political party that openly supports rape.  There is one that openly supports racism.  I suspect that you'll find it very hard to keep quiet when folks support the Rapeuplican party because . . . yeah the raping is distasteful, but hey, they say they'll fix the economy.

What you're advocating for (outreach, education, alternative methodologies) . . . I'm on board with.  As long as the understanding doesn't turn into tolerance we've got no disagreement.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #308 on: June 15, 2019, 08:40:29 PM »
I'm sorry that happened to her, and I'm sorry all the collateral damage happened to you and whomever else.  I hope she is doing OK now.

No, she's all kinds of fucked up.  She had mental health problems before that happened, and that incident sent her off the deep end.  She's a complete train wreck, and we don't talk.  Every family has closet skeletons dressed up as black sheep, I suppose.  Mine are just a little worse than most. 

What common ground are you going to find without a framework of logic, or a belief in science?

Patriotism, maybe?  We all want America to prosper, right?  If we can agree on that first, maybe we can talk about different ideas for how to make that happen.  As long as everyone think the other side is raving lunatics, though, we can't even agree on that.

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But again, I gotta ask . . . did the Protestants and Catholics move on while a systemic power imbalance existed in the US between them?

Well kind of, yea.  In part because they unified against common enemies, I suppose, but Kennedy certainly faced some pretty severe anti-Catholic sentiment during his campaign.  For an office that had basically never been held by anyone except a Protestant.

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I want what you want too.  I just think that you're asking for it too soon.

I'm not really expecting everyone to snap out of their bullshit ideologies today just because of my painfully long forum posts.  But the kinds of multi-generational memory lapse that let the Protestants and the Catholics get along, or the English and the French get along, is bound to happen in America eventually, right?  At least I think it will if we can stop teaching our kids to hate each other.

And to be fair to them, not everyone is robbing the bank . . . many are just driving the getaway car or fencing the goods.

Fun family fact:  my paternal grandfather was a raging racist, and also a convicted bank robber.  He spent most of the WWII years in federal prison.

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But I was specifically referring to the really, unquestionably racist folks.  Because I honestly don't know of a very good way to reach these people.

I'm not sure people like my grandfather ever get "reached" in the way you desire.  He spent his latter years teaching English to local Hmong immigrants though, because he was a Knight of Columbus and the order preaches charity.  So maybe religion is way to reach them?  Then he died, which is probably the best outcome we can hope for for the truly irredeemable.  We outvote them until they die off.  We'll never stamp out racism entirely, we just need to make sure they're a minority of the electorate next time.

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As long as the understanding doesn't turn into tolerance we've got no disagreement.

I don't think you and I have had much disagreement throughout this thread, honestly.  Methodologies, maybe, but not goals or ideals.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #309 on: June 15, 2019, 09:58:05 PM »
Which is why it bothers me when Poundwise says white Americans should not only take action to stop racism, but also apologize for the actions of white people.  I didn't oppress you, and I'm supposed to apologize?  Ben Carson is black and he's done more to harm black Americans than I ever have, why isn't anyone calling on him to apologize?  My family have been the victims of racist hate crimes, and I'm supposed to apologize to our attackers because it's assumed that I'm part of the problem because of my skin color?  How is that different from expecting Sasha and Malia to apologize for the inner city crack epidemic?  Isn't that, itself, textbook racism?

Actions are preferable to apologies, of course. Nobody has to apologize or make amends for anything.  But things go smoother when they do, especially when actions are not being taken.

I'll try to restate my point that you don't have to say a personal "sorry" to every black person.  I am talking about apologies in a corporate or institutional way. If, for instance, you were an employee of Starbucks, and found that they had a policy of overcharging senior citizens, you'd have a moral duty to speak out against it, and to work against it. If Starbucks had to make up for it later by giving free lattes to everybody over age 65, you might suffer by lower wages, even if you joined after the end of the discrimination.  Also, you'd probably be asked to be extra courteous to older customers, or even to apologize on behalf of your company.  With respect to racism, though, we're not even at the free latte stage... we're at the point where one says, "sorry ma'am, it looks like you've been overcharged once again... we're working on getting the system fixed! I can't give you a full refund, but here's a 5% off coupon on your next visit!"  Nobody's accusing you, a mere flunky, of discriminating. You are simply acknowledging the other person's pain and your regret that it has not been addressed.

Collective guilt is the cost of being an American.  We carry collective guilt for so many other things than racism too. Being citizen of almost any imperial power carries similar costs.   Do you have a problem with apologizing to Black Americans on behalf of your country?  Do you have a problem with supporting formal apologies by the state?  Just because you voted a straight Dem line every year, do you get to exempt yourself from these apologies? It is frustrating for sure to be working to fix the system and yet be lumped in with the perpetrators of the system. 

Does fighting for justice absolve one of the need to apologize for the absence of justice? Does having been wronged yourself by members of the discriminated against group mean that you are even? I don't know.

I am just extrapolating from interpersonal relationships. If someone in my group keeps hurting members of another group, and somebody in that group hurts me back... where do we go from there? We stay angry and ready to hurt again. The bad people in each group hide behind the good people. How do the good people signal that they are different?

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Racism impacts individuals in different ways, and as such individuals each bear differing amounts of responsibility for it.
We can't easily identify who or whose ancestors were the winners and losers of racism, and we only have blunt tools like blanket apologies, cash reparations, affirmative action, grants, and policy. 

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But focusing on the need for Black Americans to acknowledge/apologize for prejudicial crimes and attitudes creates a false equivalency.

I'm definitely NOT focusing on that.  In fact I was doing the exact opposite, saying it's ridiculous to expect a black accountant from the suburbs to carry the least bit of individual racial guilt for inner city crime rates.  I wasn't creating false equivalency, I was highlighting how dumb that equivalence would be.  Only a racist would blame all black people for a problem in the black community, so why do we continue to blame all white people for problems in the white community?
Okay. Well I would argue that in fact members of certain subcultures should apologize for perpetuating/not fighting misogyny and violence against women, but only a few have

By this, you may argue that only Trump or GOP voters should apologize for institutional racism, but not liberals.  Well, yes, they certainly have MORE to be sorry for. Just as Ben Carson has lots to apologize for. 

Your family has suffered greatly from racism, and you are being more than gracious in fighting the temptation to take an eye for an eye.

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I'm only saying that at some point, in order to heal and move forward, we're going to have to let the sins of our forefathers die with them.  Don't blame me, the product of starving immigrant Iowa dirt farmers, for what happened on cotton plantations in Georgia.  In return, I won't blame Obama for what's been done to my family by black people.
Yes, this point will come, when the wounds stop being re-opened.  As long as the harms keep happening, we cannot move forward. Just as I think your breaking point would come if your loved ones were the subject of more racially based harm.

You have the trifecta of being a straight white male at a time when the bills are coming due. But I think that our country taking the appropriate actions would remove the demand for some sort of verbal recognition that wrongs were committed.
For instance, nobody is asking you to apologize on behalf of American men for denying women the vote.  Because we have it now, and it's not an issue. You  and I might still be called upon to apologize for denying Native Americans the vote and for family separation. Because they still face a lot of obstacles in these areas, and people with more power could be expected to help them.

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And in the meantime, since that's at least several generations away, maybe trying to extend a little unwarranted kindness to someone who hates you.  Understanding their circumstances goes a long way toward forgiving their behavior, in my experience.  You don't change anyone's mind with your middle fingers in the air, and I feel like large portions of the liberal establishment, my establishment, just live with middle fingers permanently extended these days.
Absolutely and well said.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 11:11:46 PM by Poundwise »

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #310 on: June 15, 2019, 10:06:49 PM »
Although, perhaps that's the apology we all need to practice: I'm sorry that happened to you, and how can I help you recover and is there anything I can to do help you feel OK again?

Jen said it the way I wish I had, sol.

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #311 on: June 17, 2019, 11:23:59 AM »
Your family has suffered greatly from racism, and you are being more than gracious in fighting the temptation to take an eye for an eye.

While I do appreciate the positivity, it doesn't feel like graciousness any more than it felt like optimism earlier in this thread.  Individual black people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all black people.  Individual white people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all white people.  If you think an entire race of people should bear the burden of sin for the actions of specific individuals, I think you're probably a racist.

Which is different from modern white people recognizing that they benefit from hidden racism.  Of course we have.  But I personally, as an individual, can be the unwitting beneficiary of racism without supporting racism, just like I can be the unwitting beneficiary of fossil fuel energy without supporting climate change, or the unwitting beneficiary of exploitive child labor in Vietnamese garment factories without supporting child labor.  We all live in and benefit from a world that routinely runs on some pretty shady shit, even as we try to make that shit less shady. 

But it would never occur to me to look at a case like child labor laws in third world free trade zones and think to myself "An eye for an eye!  American kids should have to make sneakers for 35 cents/hour until this problem is solved!"  So why is racism perceived any differently? 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 11:32:11 AM by sol »

jeninco

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #312 on: June 17, 2019, 01:02:51 PM »
<snip>

While I do appreciate the positivity, it doesn't feel like graciousness any more than it felt like optimism earlier in this thread.  Individual black people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all black people.  Individual white people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all white people.  If you think an entire race of people should bear the burden of sin for the actions of specific individuals, I think you're probably a racist.

Reasonable people can disagree, I think.
Don't worry, I won't run all over the boards yelling SOL IS SO GRACIOUS!!!

Which is different from modern white people recognizing that they benefit from hidden racism.  Of course we have.  But I personally, as an individual, can be the unwitting beneficiary of racism without supporting racism, just like I can be the unwitting beneficiary of fossil fuel energy without supporting climate change, or the unwitting beneficiary of exploitive child labor in Vietnamese garment factories without supporting child labor.  We all live in and benefit from a world that routinely runs on some pretty shady shit, even as we try to make that shit less shady. 

But it would never occur to me to look at a case like child labor laws in third world free trade zones and think to myself "An eye for an eye!  American kids should have to make sneakers for 35 cents/hour until this problem is solved!"  So why is racism perceived any differently?

Distance versus proximity? The fact that "we" as a society are shown well-documented studies and recordings of what's happening, but it still happens over and over again? I mean, children in third world free trade zones probably don't have conversations among themselves about how wonderful and beneficent Americans are, either.

I think there may also be a bit of ... well, what if it IS the case that my kids have to attend a slightly crappier school so that other kids can have more educational opportunities? I would argue that the school they'd transfer to (in this hypothetical example) has an obligation to provide an appropriate education to all students (and that my kids aren't so far out the normal curve that there aren't other kids in their same boat), but I've had education folks tell me "this school has an obligation to serve the most needy kids, not to provide challenges to yours."  (Reader, after 4 years of volunteering at that school and working almost every position available to parents, including representing the school at the district level, we requested an administrative transfer from the district administration. 10+ years later, I still volunteer tutoring and supporting at-risk students, but I'm not on board with turning my sons into discipline problems because they're active boys who are bored.)

Ahem. Sorry for the digression -- anyhow, in a world of limited resources, what if we all have to live in smaller houses for everyone to be housed? What if we have to take public transportation so everyone can get where they need to go? What if we have fewer privileges so that everyone can have enough? Even in Bellamy's book Looking Backwards, which is pretty utopian, no one gets everything -- people still have to make trade-offs for what they think is important. So I think there's a concern that I might have to give something up for other people to have what they need. (For the record, I'm OK with this.)

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #313 on: June 17, 2019, 01:08:55 PM »
I agree with most of your post Sol. And I agree with your larger point that understanding, kindness, and outreach are the best tools to change people. And I think we have to offer even more understanding, kindness, and outreach to the those who suffer from oppression/racism/sexism/etc.

...I personally, as an individual, can be the unwitting beneficiary of racism without supporting racism, just like I can be the unwitting beneficiary of fossil fuel energy without supporting climate change, or the unwitting beneficiary of exploitive child labor in Vietnamese garment factories without supporting child labor.  We all live in and benefit from a world that routinely runs on some pretty shady shit, even as we try to make that shit less shady. 

But it would never occur to me to look at a case like child labor laws in third world free trade zones and think to myself "An eye for an eye!  American kids should have to make sneakers for 35 cents/hour until this problem is solved!"  So why is racism perceived any differently?

If the Vietnamese child who worked in that factory grew up to have a dim view of Americans, would that be that surprising, or unwarranted? And would you blame them if they weren't particularly interested in hearing about how unwitting your role was?

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #314 on: June 17, 2019, 03:22:14 PM »
Your family has suffered greatly from racism, and you are being more than gracious in fighting the temptation to take an eye for an eye.

While I do appreciate the positivity, it doesn't feel like graciousness any more than it felt like optimism earlier in this thread.  Individual black people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all black people.  Individual white people have done some terrible things, but that doesn't need to be a reflection on all white people.  If you think an entire race of people should bear the burden of sin for the actions of specific individuals, I think you're probably a racist.

I believe that a true apology can serve multiple purposes, and comprise multiple parts.
Parts of a good apology:
- admission of guilt
- acknowledgement of the injury
- identification of the party injured
- communication of actions that will be taken to prevent further hurt
- expression of empathy

The goals of the apology (not all are achievable) are to:
- diminish the pain of the other
- restore respect
- restore trust
- identify possible steps towards righting the wrong
- restore one's own integrity

It seems to me that you are sticking at one aspect of an apology, the admission of guilt part, because you deny your participation or belonging to the group of people who have received advantages from racism against people of color, or to the group of people who could have done/could be doing something about it.  Is that correct?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 03:24:13 PM by Poundwise »

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #315 on: June 17, 2019, 03:46:52 PM »
Also let me be clear, membership of either of the two above groups does not necessarily mean that you belong to a third group, those who perpetrate racism. Nor does membership in any of these groups imply intent or choice.  Membership in any of these groups may be accidental.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #316 on: June 17, 2019, 04:32:49 PM »
I think there may also be a bit of ... well, what if it IS the case that my kids have to attend a slightly crappier school so that other kids can have more educational opportunities?

I'm not sure that this is any different than the argument above that American kids needs to make sneakers for 35 cents/hour.  Since when do we solve inequality by tearing people down? 

Let's just go ahead and slippery slope that argument:  we could significantly advance the economic status of black Americans if we just placed a ten year hiatus on admitting any white people to colleges.  Does anybody really think that's a good idea?  Just cut off all forms of higher education for every white person until we have equity?  Would our nation benefit from that?

Now if you as a white person want to choose to forego college for your white kids, then by all means send them out into the world with a high school education and let them fend for themselves.  No one is stopping you for taking on that burden, and making that small contribution towards narrowing the racial pay gap.  But I think it's bad policy to make it nationally mandatory.

It's a tough sell, right?  Much easier to get popular support behind providing additional scholarship money or stem summer camps to minority kids, I think. 

If the Vietnamese child who worked in that factory grew up to have a dim view of Americans, would that be that surprising, or unwarranted? And would you blame them if they weren't particularly interested in hearing about how unwitting your role was?

I would expect nothing less.  Of course they should be pissed off about it. 

But they should be pissed at the person who put them in that situation, not every white person.  Lots of black Americans benefit from child labor violations in free trade zones, but we don't see black people walking around carrying the guilt of capitalism on their shoulders, or Vietnamese kids holding similarly dim views of the Brits and Australians who equally benefit from that crappy situation.

And if those kids DID grow up to hate all white people, that would also be racism.  I wouldn't wholly blame them, because just like my grandfather's racism it's a product of a bad environment that simplifies complex social problems into easy-to-chant racist slogans.  I don't wholly blame my grandfather, either.  Or BillyBob from Alabama, or Malcom X.  We are all products of our environment, good and bad.  But whenever a person says "I hate white/black/purple people" instead of "I hate this particular person who is white/black/purple" then that's bigotry of a sort that doesn't do us any good.  That's always racism, and it deserves to be called out as such even in situations where the person expressing that hateful rhetoric comes from a background that makes it seem justifiable to them.

It seems to me that you are sticking at one aspect of an apology, the admission of guilt part, because you deny your participation or belonging to the group of people who have received advantages from racism against people of color, or to the group of people who could have done/could be doing something about it.  Is that correct?

No, that's incorrect. 

I can't deny being white, I was born this way.  That's not exactly my fault, though.  And I freely admit that most white people have both benefited from racism and perpetuated racism.  But here's the key difference: I have benefited from (and been harmed by) racism, without actively perpetuating racism.  I thought I made that clear in the previous posts, with examples of other types of inequality that a person can benefit from invisibly, while actively opposing.  If we're going to lob hatred at people, it should probably be at the individuals who caused the problem and not everyone else who belongs to that person's class.  Hating people because of their race is called racism.  People who claim to be fighting racism should probably know better.

Which is not to say I am different from anyone else, in that we're all part of a society with inherent racial biases that we often can't even see.  Is it racist of me to live in a good school district that is more than 50% white?  Maybe a little?  Would it be non-racist of me to move back to East Oakland and be the only white family on the block?  Definitely not.  In a larger sense, every American of every color has benefited from racism, in that much of our country's economic prosperity was built on it.  Just like we have all benefited from the exploitation of child labor in free trade zones, the larger inequities of capitalism, the destruction of our environment, and the US military torturing "enemy combatants" in secret international prisons.  America is shady as hell, right?  That doesn't mean every American is shady as hell, though.  Many of us, black white and other, hate all that stuff despite benefiting from it.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2019, 07:55:29 PM by sol »

Civex

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #317 on: June 17, 2019, 08:39:52 PM »
Holy shit,

I only read the first page and this article I read came to mind. Sorry if it was mentioned in the previous 5 pages........

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

jeninco

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #318 on: June 17, 2019, 09:11:18 PM »
I think there may also be a bit of ... well, what if it IS the case that my kids have to attend a slightly crappier school so that other kids can have more educational opportunities?

I'm not sure that this is any different than the argument above that American kids needs to make sneakers for 35 cents/hour.  Since when do we solve inequality by tearing people down? 

Let's just go ahead and slippery slope that argument:  we could significantly advance the economic status of black Americans if we just placed a ten year hiatus on admitting any white people to colleges.  Does anybody really think that's a good idea?  Just cut off all forms of higher education for every white person until we have equity?  Would our nation benefit from that?

Now if you as a white person want to choose to forego college for your white kids, then by all means send them out into the world with a high school education and let them fend for themselves.  No one is stopping you for taking on that burden, and making that small contribution towards narrowing the racial pay gap.  But I think it's bad policy to make it nationally mandatory.

It's a tough sell, right?  Much easier to get popular support behind providing additional scholarship money or stem summer camps to minority kids, I think. 

My individual choices in this matter would make absolutely no difference in solving racial inequality, except that it'd turn my kids into raging assholes. Look, I pulled my kids from a school that was clearly uninterested in educating them, because the teachers were more invested in teaching other children. My argument is not that anyone (my kids, or other kids) should go entirely without, just that at some point there's a finite pie, and there might be better ways to share it.

Let me rephrase: the school we moved to had a large gifted/advanced group of students, mostly faculty kids from the University. They also had a large group of kids with Down's Syndrome (AKA Trisomy 21, please don't call me out for using last decade's name) and similar moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities, because it was a focus school for supporting those kinds of students. And there was a group of kids in the middle. PTO meetings and school planning meetings were always a bit of a tug of war -- there was a finite pool of resources, and the school and district were legally obligated to meet certain needs for the disabled kids. The parents of gifted and advanced students, reasonably, wanted their kids to see a year's grown in an academic year, and pushed for resources to be provided to make that happen. At some point, everyone got part of what they wanted/needed, but no one got everything.

Do I think it's OK for my kids to get a free ride to the honors program at the state school, while the kids two miles away can't afford to go to college (although they're reasonably well prepared)?? Nope. Do I still want my kids to be challenged and intellectually engaged? Yes, and I want that for ALL the kids in my community who want to and are prepared to attend college.


<snippity snip>

I can't deny being white, I was born this way.  That's not exactly my fault, though.  And I freely admit that most white people have both benefited from racism and perpetuated racism.  But here's the key difference: I have benefited from (and been harmed by) racism, without actively perpetuating racism.  I thought I made that clear in the previous posts, with examples of other types of inequality that a person can benefit from invisibly, while actively opposing.  If we're going to lob hatred at people, it should probably be at the individuals who caused the problem and not everyone else who belongs to that person's class.  Hating people because of their race is called racism.  People who claim to be fighting racism should probably know better.

Which is not to say I am different from anyone else, in that we're all part of a society with inherent racial biases that we often can't even see.  Is it racist of me to live in a good school district that is more than 50% white?  Maybe a little?  Would it be non-racist of me to move back to East Oakland and be the only white family on the block?  Definitely not.  In a larger sense, every American of every color has benefited from racism, in that much of our country's economic prosperity was built on it.  Just like we have all benefited from the exploitation of child labor in free trade zones, the larger inequities of capitalism, the destruction of our environment, and the US military torturing "enemy combatants" in secret international prisons.  America is shady as hell, right?  That doesn't mean every American is shady as hell, though.  Many of us, black white and other, hate all that stuff despite benefiting from it.

Oy, I just realized how far we've wondered from the original topic.
It's been good strolling with you guys, though.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #319 on: June 19, 2019, 02:44:27 PM »
It seems to me that you are sticking at one aspect of an apology, the admission of guilt part, because you deny your participation or belonging to the group of people who have received advantages from racism against people of color, or to the group of people who could have done/could be doing something about it.  Is that correct?

No, that's incorrect. 

I can't deny being white, I was born this way.  That's not exactly my fault, though.  And I freely admit that most white people have both benefited from racism and perpetuated racism.  But here's the key difference: I have benefited from (and been harmed by) racism, without actively perpetuating racism.  I thought I made that clear in the previous posts, with examples of other types of inequality that a person can benefit from invisibly, while actively opposing.  If we're going to lob hatred at people, it should probably be at the individuals who caused the problem and not everyone else who belongs to that person's class.  Hating people because of their race is called racism.  People who claim to be fighting racism should probably know better.

OK. Then, do you feel that people belonging to the first two bins (Bin 1= benefited from a wrong, bin 2= failed to combat a wrong) do not owe any apology to those harmed by a wrong?

If the answer is no, then this is the root of our disagreement. It's certainly your right to hold this viewpoint, but in my opinion, one that will be less effective in repairing the damaged relationship between Black and White Americans. 

If the answer is yes, then since you admit that you probably belong to the first two bins, then logically you should be part of an apology to Black Americans. 

Should this apology be the same kind of apology that a bin 3 dweller, like somebody who calls the police on black picnickers, should make? Of course not!  What form should this apology take?  Personally, I think that all it takes is a comment like 
"I'm sorry to be part of a damaged society that makes you go through this" (if you belong only in Bin 1), or
"I'm sorry I haven't done more to fix the system that makes you go through this, but I'm going to start" (if you are in Bins 1 and 2)
if you encounter people going through an -ism related issue.

Then what is not sitting right with you? Trying to restate what you have said previously,
1. You resent the fact that membership in the bins seems to be color coded. As a White American, your placement is instantly apparent and assumed. You were born in bin 1 and there seems to be no way to get out of it.

2. You feel that hatred for people born into a bin 1 is unfair, since it's not a choice.

3. You resent when people assume that membership in bins 2 and 3 is color coded as well, when in fact you have made efforts in your life to avoid these. 

4. As well as being a person who received benefit from anti-Black racism, you've received harm from anti-White racism, which you feel is not addressed by a one-sided call for white apologies.

5.It seems that you feel that assuming group responsibility for an individual's actions is part of the problem, and you are attempting to break the cycle of racism by denying that members of an involuntary group need to take responsibility for what others in the group do.

My answers.
1. That is what racism, or any other -ism does.  As well as hurting one group, it confers an unwanted benefit and guilt on members the other group. That's what terrorism thrives on: instantly creates sides where none may have existed before. The way to get everyone out of bin 1 is to get them to move out of bin 2: help them stop passively accepting an unjust society.  We should strive to recognize the need for equity over discrimination or even equality and combat the perpetration of isms (as you, sol, already recognize and are doing).

2. Yes. Though that's not what we were disputing.

3. If you are not a member of bins 2 or 3 you should not have to apologize as such. Although membership in bin 2 seems endemic in White Americans, I agree that it is wrong, "racist" if you will, to use your physical appearance to assume that you are currently part of the problem and not the solution.

4. One's status as a wronged party is separate from bin membership on other issues.  They don't neutralize each other. You could be owed a large apology on one issue, and yet still owe a small apology on another.  In fact, my opinion is that Black Americans who perpetuate hate against other groups, bear responsibility for harming you, as do those who do not speak out against it in the community.
 
5. This is an interesting point. I disagree, believing that membership, however involuntary, in a group may give a person more power to influence others within that group, and also gives the power to mend relationships with the other group. Innocent members of a group who humble themselves in answering for the sins of a few, are more effective in healing trust than simply asserting "we're not all like that".  The assumption of group responsibility can be abused when externally applied (like blaming all Muslims for the actions of Daesh) or simply ineffective if unheard. But it is a good first step towards making amends. 
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 04:06:05 PM by Poundwise »

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #320 on: June 19, 2019, 03:45:09 PM »
If the Vietnamese child who worked in that factory grew up to have a dim view of Americans, would that be that surprising, or unwarranted? And would you blame them if they weren't particularly interested in hearing about how unwitting your role was?

I would expect nothing less.  Of course they should be pissed off about it. 

But they should be pissed at the person who put them in that situation, not every white person.  Lots of black Americans benefit from child labor violations in free trade zones, but we don't see black people walking around carrying the guilt of capitalism on their shoulders, or Vietnamese kids holding similarly dim views of the Brits and Australians who equally benefit from that crappy situation.

And if those kids DID grow up to hate all white people, that would also be racism.  I wouldn't wholly blame them, because just like my grandfather's racism it's a product of a bad environment that simplifies complex social problems into easy-to-chant racist slogans.  I don't wholly blame my grandfather, either.  Or BillyBob from Alabama, or Malcom X.  We are all products of our environment, good and bad.  But whenever a person says "I hate white/black/purple people" instead of "I hate this particular person who is white/black/purple" then that's bigotry of a sort that doesn't do us any good.  That's always racism, and it deserves to be called out as such even in situations where the person expressing that hateful rhetoric comes from a background that makes it seem justifiable to them.

No real disagreement here.

In practice, I find phrases like "I hate white people" are often serving as short hand for a more complicated idea, something like: "I hate my oppressors, those who benefit from my oppression, and those who could help but do not. From where I'm sitting, that's a pretty white group."

The more nuanced version isn't racist. The question is how much charitable interpretation do we do?

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #321 on: June 19, 2019, 07:59:12 PM »
Returning to the OP's sentiments, here are my two cents:

If I never hear the word "micro-aggression" again it will be too soon.  It appears to mean an occasion where someone chooses to be offended by a word/action that clearly wasn't meant to be rude or offensive -- so trivial as to be called "micro" by the offended themselves.  The world does not need this.

I am completely disdainful of the concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in a college environment.  Students should be attending college to learn; to stretch their minds and become acquainted with people, experiences, and philosophies they may not have encountered before.  If you want to remain in your "safe space" bubble, stay the hell home.  Yes, this also applies to students making colleges ban speakers they don't agree with.  (Here's an idea:  just don't attend the speech if you don't want to hear it.  Or attend, hear them out, then respectfully challenge the speaker's views.)

My first exposure to the idea of "trigger words" was also from the college environment.  The idea was that students needed to be warned about "triggering" materials that might occur as part of the course work.  This strikes me as both ridiculous and impractical.  College students are (mostly) legal adults and on the verge of being expected to function as adults in broader society.  Expecting all others to anticipate what might upset you and to make your way smooth is going to lead to some serious disappointment in post-graduate life.

Note that I am not making a comment here against treating people equally, being civil and polite, or having the simple tact not to express obviously offensive language.  I am simply expressing my own opinion that "micro-aggressions", "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in their original incarnations annoy me intensely.

« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 08:28:23 PM by SpeedReader »

2Cent

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #322 on: June 20, 2019, 03:48:24 AM »
@Poundwise
Nice of you to structure things. It makes it easier to analyse. I would say split bin 2 into 2a failed to combat a wrong that is happening in his presence.(non-reactive). Like ignoring racist comments. 2b not making efforts to address the wider problem beyond their personal circle. Like not supporting a program to help black people(non-proactive)

But, do you really think that when some white guy is making apologies for slavery, it will help in healing? I think that kind of apology is taken in exactly the same way as saying we're not all like that. Just like in your example, muslims who publicly condemn terrorism are kind of saying the same thing. To me it feels like a fake apology. But I really like the analogy, because here white people are the victims so it will help us to understand how certain behavior affects the other side.

Malkynn

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #323 on: June 20, 2019, 04:08:30 AM »
Returning to the OP's sentiments, here are my two cents:

If I never hear the word "micro-aggression" again it will be too soon.  It appears to mean an occasion where someone chooses to be offended by a word/action that clearly wasn't meant to be rude or offensive -- so trivial as to be called "micro" by the offended themselves.  The world does not need this.

I am completely disdainful of the concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in a college environment.  Students should be attending college to learn; to stretch their minds and become acquainted with people, experiences, and philosophies they may not have encountered before.  If you want to remain in your "safe space" bubble, stay the hell home.  Yes, this also applies to students making colleges ban speakers they don't agree with.  (Here's an idea:  just don't attend the speech if you don't want to hear it.  Or attend, hear them out, then respectfully challenge the speaker's views.)

My first exposure to the idea of "trigger words" was also from the college environment.  The idea was that students needed to be warned about "triggering" materials that might occur as part of the course work.  This strikes me as both ridiculous and impractical.  College students are (mostly) legal adults and on the verge of being expected to function as adults in broader society.  Expecting all others to anticipate what might upset you and to make your way smooth is going to lead to some serious disappointment in post-graduate life.

Note that I am not making a comment here against treating people equally, being civil and polite, or having the simple tact not to express obviously offensive language.  I am simply expressing my own opinion that "micro-aggressions", "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in their original incarnations annoy me intensely.

"Safe Spaces" originates from gay culture in the 60s where gay people had legitimate concerns about being murdered in the streets. 

"Trigger words", I may be wrong about this, but I first learned about in my psych degree as pertaining to PTSD, which I'm sure you know kills double the US vets as actual combat does.

"Microaggression" was coined in the 70s to describe very real behaviour used to marginalize black people while ostensibly sounding polite, which is the foundation of systemic racism.

None of these terms was developed in any way frivolously. You may feel like certain groups have co-opted them, which is a legitimate debate, but where they come from is a place of VERY REAL violence, VERY REAL pain and suffering, and VERY REAL history that is utterly heartbreaking.

So by shitting on those words you shit on their history and even worse, erase it.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #324 on: June 20, 2019, 08:03:45 AM »
@Poundwise
Nice of you to structure things. It makes it easier to analyse. I would say split bin 2 into 2a failed to combat a wrong that is happening in his presence.(non-reactive). Like ignoring racist comments. 2b not making efforts to address the wider problem beyond their personal circle. Like not supporting a program to help black people(non-proactive)
Sure, you can subdivide if you like.  The point is that there there IS a continuum that needs to be recognized. And we should recognize that people don't like to be called "racist" if they fall into Bin 2a and not Bins 3, 4, or 5. 

That said, just because somebody's behavior is worse doesn't mean you've been good (as all parents know). And one should do some self examination to see that one is really only a Bin 2a dweller and not Bin 3 (propagating and spreading -isms).  The way to mend relationships is to assume the worst about oneself and let the injured party say, "Oh no, you're not as bad as that!" A relationship where both sides are bargaining blame from a point of generosity, where you're fighting to see who can give the other more, creates a bond of love.  When people fight to see who can give the least, the opposite occurs. I'm not sure if that makes sense but it's what I've found in life.

Quote
But, do you really think that when some white guy is making apologies for slavery, it will help in healing? I think that kind of apology is taken in exactly the same way as saying we're not all like that.
Insufficient apologies are:
"Sorry, but we're not all like that" (I committed no fault, your wrong for assuming that we're all like that)
"I'm sorry if I hurt you" (your fault for being too sensitive)

Better apologies are:
"I'm sorry that I failed to listen seriously when you said you had a problem and needed help"
"I was wrong to make an assumption about you based on your appearance. How can I make it up to you?"

I think that the simple act of acknowledgement goes a long way. 




sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #325 on: June 20, 2019, 09:18:36 AM »
OK. Then, do you feel that people belonging to the first two bins (Bin 1= benefited from a wrong, bin 2= failed to combat a wrong) do not owe any apology to those harmed by a wrong?

I'm not making myself clear, apparently.  My objection was not about whether people you classify into specific groups should be treated or punished in specific ways, my objection was to your attempt to classify me into one of those groups.  The problem is not what to do with people you call cracker, the problem is calling them that to begin with.

I have devoted much of my life to combating sexism and racism, on a personal and a professional level.  It's been the unifying theme of my career.  The fact that none of that matters to you, but my skin color does, is what I'm protesting here.  Your bigotry isn't helping the cause you claim to support, and it's tiresome.  Your assumptions about "group responsibility" are racist, whether you see it or not.

People are people.  Their adopted cultural traits are only partially a result of their individual choices, but their skin color is independent of their culture or perspective.  Example:  Neil deGrasse Tyson is a celebrity scientist who is black, and he does not bear any responsibility for the crack epidemic of the 80s, or inner city crime rates, or raping my sister, just because he is black.  He didn't choose his race, and it would be racist of you to confer blame, demand apologies, or even expect him to give a damn about any of that.  He certainly can give a damn about them, but he doesn't need to.  He is not racist if he chooses to ignore the cultural problems perpetuated by other members of his race.  We may want him to take a stand on the declining percentage of black children born to married black parents, or how poor black communities can break the cycle of poverty, but he doesn't need to.  And it would be racist of you to project your desires and expectations onto him just because he's black.  You have to let him, as a an individual, live his own life.  You don't get to control him just because he's black and you have strong opinions about how black people should behave.

And to bring this back around to your particular exercise of racism, not only are you demanding that sol the white man take a stand on these issues, you have totally ignored the fact that I have made it my personal mission in life to take that stand.  You told me I that I owe an apology to black Americans because I have failed to combat racism, and you're wrong.  That's a bigoted assumption based on my skin color, not on me as an individual.

Racism is insidious like that it.  It infects all of us who have been raised surrounded by it, to varying degrees, and usually in ways that we can't even see.  Sexism too, for that matter.  And we're not going to make any real progress on these issues, in my opinion, as long as even our champions of change continue to express racism in everything they do up to and including pushing for change.

If it's any consolation, Poundwise, I feel like your unintentionally racist attempts to mitigate racism aren't half as bad as some of the unintentionally sexist attempts to mitigate sexism that we've seen on this forum.  We're all prisoners of our own upbringing, and sometimes that upbringing forces us to perpetuate the us vs them phrasing of inevitable conflict that I think is the real root of these problems.  As long as racism is discussed as a black vs white issue, rather than a social malady infecting American society, it's going to hang around.  As long as sexism is discussed in terms of how men should suffer, instead of how how women can succeed, sexism is going to continue to hold us back.  Even well-intentioned efforts to improve American society can be co-opted by those who seek to divide us, when those efforts are based on a philosophy of division and conflict.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #326 on: June 20, 2019, 10:18:08 AM »
And to bring this back around to your particular exercise of racism, not only are you demanding that sol the white man take a stand on these issues, you have totally ignored the fact that I have made it my personal mission in life to take that stand.  You told me I that I owe an apology to black Americans because I have failed to combat racism, and you're wrong.  That's a bigoted assumption based on my skin color, not on me as an individual.
No, I didn't tell you that.  I asked you to clarify if you belong to the group of people who have failed to combat racism.  And I stated that if you belong to this group, then I feel that you owe an apology.

Quote
And to bring this back around to your particular exercise of racism, not only are you demanding that sol the white man take a stand on these issues, you have totally ignored the fact that I have made it my personal mission in life to take that stand.  You told me I that I owe an apology to black Americans because I have failed to combat racism, and you're wrong.  That's a bigoted assumption based on my skin color, not on me as an individual.

I did not ignore that this has been your life mission. I did not know, as I have not read past posts in which you may have informed this community. I thought I asked which groups to which you feel you belong. I probably did not ask clearly enough, and so we misinterpreted the following exchange:
Quote from: sol
   
Quote from: Poundwise
        It seems to me that you are sticking at one aspect of an apology, the admission of guilt part, because you deny your participation or belonging to the group of people who have received advantages from racism against people of color, or to the group of people who could have done/could be doing something about it.  Is that correct?

    No, that's incorrect.

    I can't deny being white, I was born this way.  That's not exactly my fault, though.  And I freely admit that most white people have both benefited from racism and perpetuated racism.  But here's the key difference: I have benefited from (and been harmed by) racism, without actively perpetuating racism.

You read my question as an accusation. 

I read your response of "incorrect" as an acceptance that you fit into Bins 1 and 2, but not Bin 3.



Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #327 on: June 20, 2019, 10:51:26 AM »
5.It seems that you feel that assuming group responsibility for an individual's actions is part of the problem, and you are attempting to break the cycle of racism by denying that members of an involuntary group need to take responsibility for what others in the group do.

Quote from: Poundwise
5. This is an interesting point. I disagree, believing that membership, however involuntary, in a group may give a person more power to influence others within that group, and also gives the power to mend relationships with the other group. Innocent members of a group who humble themselves in answering for the sins of a few, are more effective in healing trust than simply asserting "we're not all like that".  The assumption of group responsibility can be abused when externally applied (like blaming all Muslims for the actions of Daesh) or simply ineffective if unheard. But it is a good first step towards making amends.

Quote from: sol
Your assumptions about "group responsibility" are racist, whether you see it or not.

Okay, so I think we have reached the heart of our disagreement.  You want every human to be judged on and to have responsibility solely for his/her individual actions and not for involuntary externalities. In the abstract, you are correct.

My assumption about "group responsibility" is only a practical one, based on my experience about social interactions. Perhaps it is wrong. The way I see it, if a group member takes on as much responsibility as possible, even excess, and acknowledge pain of the other group, this builds bridges.  "Bin 3" people, the perpetrators of a wrong, are not going to apologize, so who will recognize the pain of the wronged?  Maybe the issue is that it is racist to demand a Bin 1 apology, but practically speaking, a good policy to offer it.  As an "ally" it may be a good idea to urge others within your own group to make the Bin 1 or 2 apologies,  but it is not good taste to demand an apology to your own group.

Sol, I want to clarify something. I don't think you are a racist. I have never called you a racist.  I thought I took care to not do so, even indirectly. 

I'm sorry for my poor wording and for making racist assumptions. I'm also sorry for pushing you so hard on a painful subject to you.

« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 10:53:39 AM by Poundwise »

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #328 on: June 20, 2019, 10:56:14 AM »
And apologies to OP for COMPLETELY sidetracking this thread.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #329 on: June 20, 2019, 11:44:37 AM »
Maybe the issue is that it is racist to demand a Bin 1 apology, but practically speaking, a good policy to offer it.  As an "ally" it may be a good idea to urge others within your own group to make the Bin 1 or 2 apologies,  but it is not good taste to demand an apology to your own group.

I think both sol and poundwise are making good points. I disagree with Poundwise (and sol as well) somewhat on the quoted section above though. My view is that it's impossible to be a completely innocent white person in America. Whether you wanted it or not, whether you were witting or not, and whether you do things to combat it, as a white person you have benefited from a racist system. It is good and commendable when a white person does things to fight this system, but no one I know has done all they could possible do to fight it.

(It's very likely that sol has done more than I have to combat it, so that last sentence is in no way meant to be accusatory towards anyone.)

I don't think it is necessarily racist to say "I hate white people". If the hatred is because they are white, yes, that's racism. But if you believe all white people to be culpable to some degree (and I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that), then I don't see that as a racist position. And I've been told by many people that when allies take up time emphasizing the moral equivalence of "reverse" racism/sexism/etc, it feels like a betrayal. Like if a kid is being beaten up, you don't criticism them for throwing a punch back (especially when they are still getting beaten up).

For the record, I don't think hatred solves anything, and I think it damages the hater more than the hated anyway.

And (sorry OP) I don't apologize for the derailment. This thread of the conversation is more productive than the original complainypants one was.

*edited to fix typo.*
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 11:31:02 AM by Watchmaker »

Dabnasty

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #330 on: June 20, 2019, 11:58:41 AM »
Maybe the issue is that it is racist to demand a Bin 1 apology, but practically speaking, a good policy to offer it.  As an "ally" it may be a good idea to urge others within your own group to make the Bin 1 or 2 apologies,  but it is not good taste to demand an apology to your own group.

I think both sol and poundwise are making good points. I disagree with Poundwise (and sol as well) somewhat on the quoted section above though. My view is that it's impossible to be a completely innocent white person in America. When you wanted it or not, whether you were witting or not, and whether you do things to combat it, as a white person you have benefited from a racist system. It is good and commendable when a white person does things to fight this system, but no one I know has done all they could possible do to fight it.

(It's very likely that sol has done more than I have to combat it, so that last sentence is in no way meant to be accusatory towards anyone.)

I don't think it is necessarily racist to say "I hate white people". If the hatred is because they are white, yes, that's racism. But if you believe all white people to be culpable to some degree (and I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that), then I don't see that as a racist position. And I've been told by many people that when allies take up time emphasizing the moral equivalence of "reverse" racism/sexism/etc, it feels like a betrayal. Like if a kid is being beaten up, you don't criticism them for throwing a punch back (especially when they are still getting beaten up).

For the record, I don't think hatred solves anything, and I think it damages the hater more than the hated anyway.

And (sorry OP) I don't apologize for the derailment. This thread of the conversation is more productive than the original complainypants one was.

Maybe some of the disagreement is in the definition of "innocent"? I don't see why someone can't benefit and still be innocent. If my parents steal to provide for me without my knowledge, am I not innocent? What if I know they are stealing to provide for me? What if I know they are stealing to provide for me and I reject the stolen goods and try to repair the losses of the victims?

To say anyone who benefits should acknowledge as much is fair, to say they are culpable seems wrong to me.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 12:02:04 PM by Dabnasty »

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #331 on: June 20, 2019, 12:25:13 PM »
Maybe some of the disagreement is in the definition of "innocent"? I don't see why someone can't benefit and still be innocent. If my parents steal to provide for me without my knowledge, am I not innocent? What if I know they are stealing to provide for me? What if I know they are stealing to provide for me and I reject the stolen goods and try to repair the losses of the victims?

To say anyone who benefits should acknowledge as much is fair, to say they are culpable seems wrong to me.

Yeah, you make a fair point. In your first scenario, you shouldn't go to jail, but you also don't get to keep the bread. In your second scenario, you are guilty.

Your third scenario is perhaps closest to the situation a non-racist white person finds themselves in America. The question is, how much should you have to do to be blameless in the baker's eyes? To stick with your scenario, what about turning in your parents to the police? What if you know your aunt and uncle are stealing bread for their kids as well? Or is refusing the bread once you know it's stolen enough?

To me, there isn't one obvious answer, but I find a lot of the possibilities reasonable.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #332 on: June 20, 2019, 12:50:39 PM »
You told me I that I owe an apology to black Americans because I have failed to combat racism
No, I didn't tell you that.  I asked you to clarify if you belong to the group of people who have failed to combat racism.  And I stated that if you belong to this group, then I feel that you owe an apology.

The part of this discussion in which you told me I owed an apology to black Americans looked like this
Quote
do you feel that people belonging to the first two bins (Bin 1= benefited from a wrong, bin 2= failed to combat a wrong) do not owe any apology to those harmed by a wrong?

If the answer is no, then this is the root of our disagreement. It's certainly your right to hold this viewpoint, but in my opinion, one that will be less effective in repairing the damaged relationship between Black and White Americans. 

If the answer is yes, then since you admit that you probably belong to the first two bins, then logically you should be part of an apology to Black Americans. 

In it, you posited that I must belong to one of two groups, and if that I belong to one group then I must apologize to black people, and if I belong to the other group then I am wrong.  Except that you don't get to define these groups, you don't get to put me in your fictional groupings, and you don't get to expect anything from me or anyone else based on your attempt to put me into a group.  The whole exercise is kind of racist, right?  Who gave you the power to make up the rules, and why do you think that your rules should apply to anyone else?  Maybe stick to judging yourself, for now.  I wholly support efforts to identify your own best course of action, but you can leave me out of it, thanks.

I'm just not interested in your attempts to tell me what I should or shouldn't do, just like I wouldn't be interested in your attempts to get Neil deGrasse Tyson to take a stand on inner city crime rates.  You should probably stop using race to decide how you think people should act.

Quote
I did not ignore that this has been your life mission. I did not know

You didn't ask.  You assumed, and you judged, and then you labelled, and then you stood up on your high horse and dictated what I should do based on your assumptions, judgments, and labels.  That's not helping solve racism, that's just perpetuating it.  I know you think you're helping and I applaud your good intentions, I just take issue with your implementation.

My assumption about "group responsibility" is only a practical one, based on my experience about social interactions.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that argument from racist people.  They say "I don't have anything against black people in theory, but in practice most of the black guys in my neighborhood are gang members so as a practical matter I give all black people a wide berth."  Or "I know black people aren't supposed to be intellectually inferior, but in practice the black kids in my school struggle with the standardized tests."  Or "It's not that all men are rapists, but as a practical matter the vast majority of rapes are committed by men so it's only natural to treat all men with suspicion."  Any time you use group membership to disparage a specific individual, you're just making things worse by setting a backwards example.

I'm sure the "experiences and social interactions" of white American southerners in 1930 supported the idea that blacks were largely illiterate, untrustworthy, and dangerous.  Their prejudice and expectations made it true, and seeing it be true all around them made them think it was natural and inevitable to be racist against black people.  You're just doing the same thing in a broader context, because it's a natural human trait to generalize from our immediate experiences.  It's still racist, though.

Quote
I'm sorry for my poor wording and for making racist assumptions.

I don't blame you.  Like I said, we were all raised surrounded by racism, some of it horribly obvious but much of hidden and unrecognized.  The whole point of conversations like this one is to help everyone, from all sides, identify and recognize those socially destructive behaviors in themselves.

There are lots of very racist people in America, but there are even more subtly and unintentionally racist people in America.  Tough conversations might help some of them come around, though.

It is good and commendable when a white person does things to fight this system, but no one I know has done all they could possible do to fight it.

I agree that it is good and commendable when a white person fights against racism.  I'm just not convinced we can really ever solve this problem as long it is still phrased as a task that white people must do for the benefit of black people.  We're all in this fight together, and everyone should be fighting discrimination in all its forms.  We don't require every straight person to march for gay rights, and we don't require every natural born citizen to protest immigration restrictions.  It's great when they do, but it's not fair to assign it to them as their burden alone, to demand they apologize for past transgressions, or to judge them harshly for focusing on racism instead of homophobia/sexism/xenophobia/etc.

Quote
And I've been told by many people that when allies take up time emphasizing the moral equivalence of "reverse" racism/sexism/etc, it feels like a betrayal. Like if a kid is being beaten up, you don't criticism them for throwing a punch back (especially when they are still getting beaten up).

I agree that this is a real problem.  I don't think that's what we're doing here, though. 

And it still smacks of self-defeating hypocrisy, to me, to say "Violence is never the answer, so my kid HAD to fight back against the bully."  If you believe that violence is the correct response to violence, then you're not really opposed to violence.  You're not betraying the anti-violence cause by "taking up time emphasizing the moral equivalence" of reverse violence, you're holding true to your anti-violence ideals by calling out violent behavior regardless of cause or direction. 

I think that same argument can be probably be applied, very carefully, to racism and sexism.  If you honestly believe in fighting those things, then it's not necessarily a betrayal of that mission to highlight that someone is being racist and sexist in their efforts to fight racism and sexism, right?  If we can get everyone on board with the idea of treating these problems as shared afflictions, to be fought by everyone regardless of what labels you give them, I suspect we stand a better chance of making real progress.  Of course, that plan requires the wronged parties to accept they are probably not going to get any sort of intergenerational revenge for past wrongs, and I don't think most people are there quite yet.  Forgiveness comes slowly. 

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #333 on: June 20, 2019, 01:43:28 PM »

Quote
I did not ignore that this has been your life mission. I did not know

You didn't ask.
Yes, I did.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #334 on: June 20, 2019, 01:55:05 PM »
You told me I that I owe an apology to black Americans because I have failed to combat racism
No, I didn't tell you that.  I asked you to clarify if you belong to the group of people who have failed to combat racism.  And I stated that if you belong to this group, then I feel that you owe an apology.

The part of this discussion in which you told me I owed an apology to black Americans looked like this
Quote
do you feel that people belonging to the first two bins (Bin 1= benefited from a wrong, bin 2= failed to combat a wrong) do not owe any apology to those harmed by a wrong?

If the answer is no, then this is the root of our disagreement. It's certainly your right to hold this viewpoint, but in my opinion, one that will be less effective in repairing the damaged relationship between Black and White Americans. 

If the answer is yes, then since you admit that you probably belong to the first two bins, then logically you should be part of an apology to Black Americans. 

In it, you posited that I must belong to one of two groups, and if that I belong to one group then I must apologize to black people, and if I belong to the other group then I am wrong.  Except that you don't get to define these groups, you don't get to put me in your fictional groupings, and you don't get to expect anything from me or anyone else based on your attempt to put me into a group.  The whole exercise is kind of racist, right?  Who gave you the power to make up the rules, and why do you think that your rules should apply to anyone else?  Maybe stick to judging yourself, for now.  I wholly support efforts to identify your own best course of action, but you can leave me out of it, thanks.

I was trying to parse out where we differed in opinion, since I have agreed with you many times in the past.  I was not trying to impose my standards on you. If you re-read the above snippet, then you'll see that I have been asking what you think at each step.  I made the mistake of interpreting one of your earlier answers as saying that you had not been fighting against racism.

Anyway, you're clearly upset.  I'm done pestering you and will leave you alone from now on.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #335 on: June 20, 2019, 02:07:01 PM »
It is good and commendable when a white person does things to fight this system, but no one I know has done all they could possible do to fight it.

I agree that it is good and commendable when a white person fights against racism.  I'm just not convinced we can really ever solve this problem as long it is still phrased as a task that white people must do for the benefit of black people.  We're all in this fight together, and everyone should be fighting discrimination in all its forms.  We don't require every straight person to march for gay rights, and we don't require every natural born citizen to protest immigration restrictions.  It's great when they do, but it's not fair to assign it to them as their burden alone, to demand they apologize for past transgressions, or to judge them harshly for focusing on racism instead of homophobia/sexism/xenophobia/etc.

I totally get your position here.

Quote
And I've been told by many people that when allies take up time emphasizing the moral equivalence of "reverse" racism/sexism/etc, it feels like a betrayal. Like if a kid is being beaten up, you don't criticism them for throwing a punch back (especially when they are still getting beaten up).

I agree that this is a real problem.  I don't think that's what we're doing here, though.

I agree that that is not what we're doing here, because we're not derailing some discussion of racism towards blacks, we're derailing F.V.'s "reverse safe space". But it does happen. A lot, in my experience.

And it still smacks of self-defeating hypocrisy, to me, to say "Violence is never the answer, so my kid HAD to fight back against the bully."  If you believe that violence is the correct response to violence, then you're not really opposed to violence.  You're not betraying the anti-violence cause by "taking up time emphasizing the moral equivalence" of reverse violence, you're holding true to your anti-violence ideals by calling out violent behavior regardless of cause or direction. 

I think that same argument can be probably be applied, very carefully, to racism and sexism.  If you honestly believe in fighting those things, then it's not necessarily a betrayal of that mission to highlight that someone is being racist and sexist in their efforts to fight racism and sexism, right?  If we can get everyone on board with the idea of treating these problems as shared afflictions, to be fought by everyone regardless of what labels you give them, I suspect we stand a better chance of making real progress.  Of course, that plan requires the wronged parties to accept they are probably not going to get any sort of intergenerational revenge for past wrongs, and I don't think most people are there quite yet.  Forgiveness comes slowly.

I think the process for forgiveness hasn't begun for a lot of people yet, because the oppression hasn't ended. You can't shake hands and make up till the other kid stops punching you.

I hate violence. I don't think it solves anything. And I don't think we're really very far apart on any of this sol. Maybe our biggest difference is that I feel like it is most important to not get distracted from dealing with the original wrong, whereas you feel it is most important to consistently denounce all wrongs.

Another difference may be in how charitable we're willing to be when interpreting phrases like "I hate white people". I already explained my thinking on that above, so I won't go through that again.

I value exploring these differences, but it's always worth reminding ourselves of all the similarities too.

shenlong55

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #336 on: June 20, 2019, 02:12:09 PM »
And it still smacks of self-defeating hypocrisy, to me, to say "Violence is never the answer, so my kid HAD to fight back against the bully."  If you believe that violence is the correct response to violence, then you're not really opposed to violence.  You're not betraying the anti-violence cause by "taking up time emphasizing the moral equivalence" of reverse violence, you're holding true to your anti-violence ideals by calling out violent behavior regardless of cause or direction. 

I'm anti-violence but I also recognize that, in the moment, the more important concern is my kid's safety.  It would certainly have been better if someone had taken the time before the incident occurred to address the bully's issue in a non-violent manner, but if that opportunity has already been missed then I would rather tell my child to end the incident in the least violent manner that they are currently capable of than to tell them to allow the violence to continue.

The point being that violence is never the correct response, but it may be an acceptable response to an urgent problem.  I'm not sure how that maps onto your racism analogy, but the paragraph above seemed a bit confused to me.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 02:14:28 PM by shenlong55 »

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #337 on: June 20, 2019, 11:33:41 PM »
I'm done pestering you and will leave you alone from now on.

I don't take it personally.  Racism is an upsetting topic.  If our collective conversations about it aren't at least moderately uncomfortable, then we're probably not getting anywhere.

I think that you and I aren't very far apart on this topic, compared to the breadth of opinions expressed on this forum.  You can pester me any time you like.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #338 on: June 20, 2019, 11:51:34 PM »
I agree that that is not what we're doing here, because we're not derailing some discussion of racism towards blacks, we're derailing F.V.'s "reverse safe space".

Maybe!  But maybe I'm also making full use of the "reverse safe space" idea, in a kind of backwards way.  There aren't very many places on the internet where you can voice unpopular opinions like "we shouldn't make white people apologize for racism" without getting shouted down by the mob.  What!?  Treat people like individuals instead of dictating their acceptable behaviors based on their skin color?  Outrageous! 

We're a long way from that kind of equality, but I think we'll get there eventually.  I doubt I'll live long enough to see it, though

Quote
I think the process for forgiveness hasn't begun for a lot of people yet, because the oppression hasn't ended. You can't shake hands and make up till the other kid stops punching you.

Sure, I get that.  But you have to counterpunch in the right direction.  If a bully is currently kicking you while you're down, you don't help yourself by lashing out at the crowd trying to stop him, even if the crowd and the bully have the same skin color.

Quote
I hate violence. I don't think it solves anything. And I don't think we're really very far apart on any of this sol.

I suspect we're much farther apart on this one sub-point than you realize, because I'm kind of a radical extremist when it comes to the use of violence.  I believe that violence DOES solve problems, swiftly and permanently, which is why nations continue to use it to resolve their differences.  It doesn't solve problems fairly or with any hint of justice, but it does solve them. 

I think lots of people resort to violence for the wrong reasons.  I've never taken a swing at a drunk frat boy in a bar who was trying to fight me, no matter how belligerent or insulting he was, and believe me I've had lots of opportunities.  I've never traded punches with a friend in the middle of a heated argument.  But, if I thought there was a legitimate threat to my family or something, I wouldn't have to struggle with my internal ethical code before shooting somebody twice in the chest.  See?  Violence solves problems.

So the bully analogy is perhaps a strained one, in my case.  I'm much more philosophically opposed to racism and sexism than I am to violence and killing.  Killing can be justified sometimes.

Quote
Maybe our biggest difference is that I feel like it is most important to not get distracted from dealing with the original wrong, whereas you feel it is most important to consistently denounce all wrongs.

Perhaps, but I think I would rephrase your thought a little bit to make a slightly different distinction.  Some people who claim to oppose racism are more accurately described as opposing the oppression of black people by white people, which isn't 100% the same idea.  If your real concern is rectifying that particular historical iniquity, rather than opposing racism, then you might support more extreme proposals like taxing all white people to pay reparations, or placing a national hiring freeze on white job applicants for a decade, because those proposals feel like justice.  They tear down the oppressors and lift up the oppressed.  They are also racist, because they continue to use race to determine how to treat people, and to place people into artificial subgroups that can be pitted against each other for political gain.  If you really oppose racism, though, those racist ideas look terrible. 

I certainly don't blame people who want to tear down the oppressors and lift up the oppressed, as that can also be a noble goal.  It's just not the same goal as ending racism, and I wish they wouldn't pretend they were against racism while pushing for racist "solutions" to racism.  That just makes it harder for the rest of us who think racism should die out.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 11:58:59 PM by sol »

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #339 on: June 21, 2019, 08:42:33 AM »
Quote
I think the process for forgiveness hasn't begun for a lot of people yet, because the oppression hasn't ended. You can't shake hands and make up till the other kid stops punching you.

Sure, I get that.  But you have to counterpunch in the right direction.  If a bully is currently kicking you while you're down, you don't help yourself by lashing out at the crowd trying to stop him, even if the crowd and the bully have the same skin color.

Someone might not view me as an innocent though, if by their measure I haven't done as much as I could to fight the problem. I don't find that view unreasonable. And they might make that same judgement about the entire privileged class of this country. I don't find that unreasonable either.

Quote
Maybe our biggest difference is that I feel like it is most important to not get distracted from dealing with the original wrong, whereas you feel it is most important to consistently denounce all wrongs.

Perhaps, but I think I would rephrase your thought a little bit to make a slightly different distinction.  Some people who claim to oppose racism are more accurately described as opposing the oppression of black people by white people, which isn't 100% the same idea.  If your real concern is rectifying that particular historical iniquity, rather than opposing racism, then you might support more extreme proposals like taxing all white people to pay reparations, or placing a national hiring freeze on white job applicants for a decade, because those proposals feel like justice.  They tear down the oppressors and lift up the oppressed.  They are also racist, because they continue to use race to determine how to treat people, and to place people into artificial subgroups that can be pitted against each other for political gain.  If you really oppose racism, though, those racist ideas look terrible. 

I certainly don't blame people who want to tear down the oppressors and lift up the oppressed, as that can also be a noble goal.  It's just not the same goal as ending racism, and I wish they wouldn't pretend they were against racism while pushing for racist "solutions" to racism.  That just makes it harder for the rest of us who think racism should die out.

I don't agree with your framing (but I do find it an interesting perspective). I am most concerned with ending oppression (of anyone by anyone). But I'm also very interested in ending racism. The reason I am less concerned with racism towards whites is primarily because I view it as a symptom of white racism, and see the best cure to be to fight to original problem.

Also, as I described above, I think a lot of statements that can be literally read as racism towards whites can be charitably interpreted in a more nuanced way; I view racism towards whites as a small problem in society, not a large one. Along the same vein, racism towards whites isn't accompanied by oppression, and so it is a lower priority to me. There are lots of things in this world I don't like, but that I don't do anything about. To put energy into that fight means less of my energy is available for other fights.



Raenia

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #340 on: June 21, 2019, 08:49:22 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to say, I've been following along and I really appreciate all of your nuanced arguments, and how civil you're all being.  It's rare to see a good discussion on this kind of thing, I'm learning a lot.  Thanks!

SpeedReader

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #341 on: June 21, 2019, 08:53:36 AM »
Returning to the OP's sentiments, here are my two cents:

If I never hear the word "micro-aggression" again it will be too soon.  It appears to mean an occasion where someone chooses to be offended by a word/action that clearly wasn't meant to be rude or offensive -- so trivial as to be called "micro" by the offended themselves.  The world does not need this.

I am completely disdainful of the concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in a college environment.  Students should be attending college to learn; to stretch their minds and become acquainted with people, experiences, and philosophies they may not have encountered before.  If you want to remain in your "safe space" bubble, stay the hell home.  Yes, this also applies to students making colleges ban speakers they don't agree with.  (Here's an idea:  just don't attend the speech if you don't want to hear it.  Or attend, hear them out, then respectfully challenge the speaker's views.)

My first exposure to the idea of "trigger words" was also from the college environment.  The idea was that students needed to be warned about "triggering" materials that might occur as part of the course work.  This strikes me as both ridiculous and impractical.  College students are (mostly) legal adults and on the verge of being expected to function as adults in broader society.  Expecting all others to anticipate what might upset you and to make your way smooth is going to lead to some serious disappointment in post-graduate life.

Note that I am not making a comment here against treating people equally, being civil and polite, or having the simple tact not to express obviously offensive language.  I am simply expressing my own opinion that "micro-aggressions", "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in their original incarnations annoy me intensely.

"Safe Spaces" originates from gay culture in the 60s where gay people had legitimate concerns about being murdered in the streets. 

"Trigger words", I may be wrong about this, but I first learned about in my psych degree as pertaining to PTSD, which I'm sure you know kills double the US vets as actual combat does.

"Microaggression" was coined in the 70s to describe very real behaviour used to marginalize black people while ostensibly sounding polite, which is the foundation of systemic racism.

None of these terms was developed in any way frivolously. You may feel like certain groups have co-opted them, which is a legitimate debate, but where they come from is a place of VERY REAL violence, VERY REAL pain and suffering, and VERY REAL history that is utterly heartbreaking.

So by shitting on those words you shit on their history and even worse, erase it.

Malkynn, thank you for giving me the history on these expressions.  I think it was pretty clear, though, that I was talking about them in the modern college context.  I have to disagree with you that I was shitting on history, let alone erasing it, by decrying their current usage.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #342 on: June 21, 2019, 09:52:54 AM »
Someone might not view me as an innocent though, if by their measure I haven't done as much as I could to fight the problem. I don't find that view unreasonable.

I think I do find it unreasonable?  I mean we don't accuse every straight person of being a homophobe if they've only marched for gay rights twice instead of twenty times.  I'm not entirely sure a person can reasonably be accused of supporting homophobia or racism just because you feel they haven't done enough to fight it.  I certainly get the impulse to want more, but it also feels like its own kind of racism to say "society demands that you act in only this one specific way because of the skin color you were born with."  If a gay white man spends his time fighting homophobia instead of racism, do you think he's guilty of racism?

Quote
I don't agree with your framing (but I do find it an interesting perspective). I am most concerned with ending oppression (of anyone by anyone). But I'm also very interested in ending racism. The reason I am less concerned with racism towards whites is primarily because I view it as a symptom of white racism, and see the best cure to be to fight to original problem.

I'm not particularly concerned with "racism against whites".  I am concerned with racism, though.  There are Hispanic people out there who hate Jews.  Black Africans of "different races" were enslaving each other long before white Europeans turned it up to 11, and continue to do so in numbers that far exceed the number of slaves in North America today.  Neither of those examples are acceptable behavior.  And any time we turn a blind eye to example of racism, even the silly inconsequential kind like so-called "reverse racism" in America, we perpetuate all forms of racism by sending the signal that racial discrimination is okay, in some circumstances.  Which may also be a defensible position to hold, I think, it's just not the same as demanding an end to racism.  You shouldn't accept slavery in Eritrea or Burundi just because it's not white folks holding the whip.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #343 on: June 21, 2019, 10:30:54 AM »
Someone might not view me as an innocent though, if by their measure I haven't done as much as I could to fight the problem. I don't find that view unreasonable.

I think I do find it unreasonable?  I mean we don't accuse every straight person of being a homophobe if they've only marched for gay rights twice instead of twenty times.  I'm not entirely sure a person can reasonably be accused of supporting homophobia or racism just because you feel they haven't done enough to fight it. 

I understand that you do. I sympathize with your position. But I just don't think it's the only defensible position to hold. In my view, we are all guilty of not doing everything we could. On racism, sexism, poverty, and every other wrong in the world. There are no innocents, just shades of guilt.

I certainly get the impulse to want more, but it also feels like its own kind of racism to say "society demands that you act in only this one specific way because of the skin color you were born with."

I don't think the demand is "because of the color of the skin you were born with". I think it's because you've chosen to accept, to some degree, a society which benefits you are the cost of others.

And any time we turn a blind eye to example of racism, even the silly inconsequential kind like so-called "reverse racism" in America, we perpetuate all forms of racism by sending the signal that racial discrimination is okay, in some circumstances.

Or, when we allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against the most damaging and prevalent racism, we teach racists a strategy to splinter and divert their opposition.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #344 on: June 21, 2019, 11:00:53 AM »

I don't think the demand is "because of the color of the skin you were born with". I think it's because you've chosen to accept, to some degree, a society which benefits you are the cost of others.


This is an interesting part of the argument. How would one possibly choose to not accept the society or societal benefits? It would seem to leave only literally extricating yourself from the society. Would being an expat in a far flung corner of the world without any history of unfair advantages given to white people really be the only solution to fully eliminate culpability? Otherwise, from what I can see, there are no other ways to fully not accept the benefits and therefore have culpability, and if that's the case, then that's an unreasonable expectation. I'm not saying that you're saying any of this, just that it seems that you've set up an ethical framework that seems to intrinsically generate a catch-22 situation.

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #345 on: June 21, 2019, 11:08:04 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to say, I've been following along and I really appreciate all of your nuanced arguments, and how civil you're all being.  It's rare to see a good discussion on this kind of thing, I'm learning a lot.  Thanks!

Thank you, Raenia.  These discussions are always sort of performative, and long detailed ones like this thread tend to be so dense that they reach only relatively small audiences of a handful of people.  I'm pretty sure you're one of like six people who has read all of this thread.

GuitarStv

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #346 on: June 21, 2019, 11:12:56 AM »
Seven!

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #347 on: June 21, 2019, 11:28:14 AM »

I don't think the demand is "because of the color of the skin you were born with". I think it's because you've chosen to accept, to some degree, a society which benefits you are the cost of others.


This is an interesting part of the argument. How would one possibly choose to not accept the society or societal benefits? It would seem to leave only literally extricating yourself from the society. Would being an expat in a far flung corner of the world without any history of unfair advantages given to white people really be the only solution to fully eliminate culpability? Otherwise, from what I can see, there are no other ways to fully not accept the benefits and therefore have culpability, and if that's the case, then that's an unreasonable expectation. I'm not saying that you're saying any of this, just that it seems that you've set up an ethical framework that seems to intrinsically generate a catch-22 situation.

I agree: it's very difficult to reject society's benefits. There's the option you suggest, and at least one more I can think of. By why does that have to be a catch, rather than just a fact?

Just because the alternative is hard doesn't make a choice right.

Now, I'm not saying we should all reject society and move to some far flung corner (how many far flung corners are there?). I'm saying we should accept that we are responsible, to some degree, for the ills of our society, and work to correct them the best we are able.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 12:06:59 PM by Watchmaker »

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #348 on: June 21, 2019, 12:02:27 PM »
I wanted to hit a couple of miscellaneous points from early posts that I've skipped over previously:

There aren't very many places on the internet where you can voice unpopular opinions like "we shouldn't make white people apologize for racism" without getting shouted down by the mob. 
Is this really an unpopular opinion, in your experience? It seems to me that most white people hold this view.

Just wanted to pop in to say, I've been following along and I really appreciate all of your nuanced arguments, and how civil you're all being.  It's rare to see a good discussion on this kind of thing, I'm learning a lot.  Thanks!

I also really appreciate the civility and reason in this thread. This is what I hope for when I come to the off topic area.

Returning to the OP's sentiments, here are my two cents:

If I never hear the word "micro-aggression" again it will be too soon.  It appears to mean an occasion where someone chooses to be offended by a word/action that clearly wasn't meant to be rude or offensive -- so trivial as to be called "micro" by the offended themselves.  The world does not need this.

I am completely disdainful of the concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in a college environment.  Students should be attending college to learn; to stretch their minds and become acquainted with people, experiences, and philosophies they may not have encountered before.  If you want to remain in your "safe space" bubble, stay the hell home.  Yes, this also applies to students making colleges ban speakers they don't agree with.  (Here's an idea:  just don't attend the speech if you don't want to hear it.  Or attend, hear them out, then respectfully challenge the speaker's views.)

My first exposure to the idea of "trigger words" was also from the college environment.  The idea was that students needed to be warned about "triggering" materials that might occur as part of the course work.  This strikes me as both ridiculous and impractical.  College students are (mostly) legal adults and on the verge of being expected to function as adults in broader society.  Expecting all others to anticipate what might upset you and to make your way smooth is going to lead to some serious disappointment in post-graduate life.

Note that I am not making a comment here against treating people equally, being civil and polite, or having the simple tact not to express obviously offensive language.  I am simply expressing my own opinion that "micro-aggressions", "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in their original incarnations annoy me intensely.

I understand that the usage of these terms can be frustrating, and I've certainly seen them misused. But let me push back against the idea that these terms have no value in their modern sense.

Micro-aggression - I think the key takeaway here is meant to be behaviors of yours that seem inconsequential to you (and might actually be pretty inconsequential in isolation) can have a cumulative affect on someone. If one white person watches you extra carefully in a store, you brush it off. If every time you go to the store it happens, it has an effect on you. The hope is that by discussing it, we'll better realize better how small behaviors multiply across time and society to have big effects.

Safe-space - I don't believe the idea is that your entire life should be a safe-space, just that everyone (students on campus, for example) should all have someplace they can go to get away from whatever threats or stress they experience in the world. That doesn't really sound unreasonable, does it? 

Trigger warnings - As you said, the idea of a trigger warning isn't that topics aren't discussed, just that (for example) sexual abuse survivors aren't blindsided by a discussion of rape. This to me feels like a good impulse. Like we as a society are better understanding and respecting mental health and the effects of traumatic stress. Sure, I don't feel like I need trigger warnings for anything, but my experience is not someone else's. If I had been raped, or was a soldier in a war, or whatever, I think I'd appreciate the heads up.

So none of those things bother me, apart from when they are grossly misused. I'm somewhat more worried by de-platforming, but I also think that been overblown to some degree. I'd love to hear your further thoughts, SpeedReader.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 12:04:35 PM by Watchmaker »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #349 on: June 21, 2019, 12:02:47 PM »
Just wanted to pop in to say, I've been following along and I really appreciate all of your nuanced arguments, and how civil you're all being.  It's rare to see a good discussion on this kind of thing, I'm learning a lot.  Thanks!

Thank you, Raenia.  These discussions are always sort of performative, and long detailed ones like this thread tend to be so dense that they reach only relatively small audiences of a handful of people.  I'm pretty sure you're one of like six people who has read all of this thread.

Nah there are a lot of us.  I have been enjoying this thread as well.  Difficult discussion and good perspectives I've never considered before.