Sunday, March 01, 2015

Policing the Policers

I wrote a long post that I deleted because it was dumb and ranty. The main issue and something I've been struggling with, philosophically: occasions where progressives act just as self-righteous, one-sided, and shitty as the right-wingers they claim to hate. I don't mean this in a "reverse racism*" or "Liberals are intolerant of intolerance!!!" kind of way. I mean it in a "two wrongs don't make a right" and a "being a dick to dicks still makes you a dick" kind of way. 

It's the way the same shitty "Us vs. them" mentality is used by the oppressed on the oppressors. (Brad Warner at Hardcore Zen had a good post on this in the wake of the Ferguson protests. To quote him:" It’s “us” who understand white privilege and know all about subtle racism, against “them” who say racism is a thing of the past and tell others they “don’t see race.” We write insulting Facebook status updates and articles chastising those who don’t share our more enlightened views. Instead of appealing to the people who need to hear this stuff the most, it alienates them, drives them away, makes them defensive and angry." My response was: "I’m not going to deny that there is deep seated racism and classism in the U.S., and that the legacy of that racism manifests itself in many ways in our society. However, what is the end game? How do we move forward? What I hear from the more radicalized people of color is just another version of what the more racist white people are saying: this isn’t your land, you people don’t belong here, you people are all the same and all responsible for the actions of anyone with your skin color, and everything you do is inherently suspect and deserving of derision. On the other end you have white liberals trying to outdo themselves by showing how PC they are by calling everyone who isn’t as enlightened as they are racists. It never gets beyond “us vs. them” tribal thinking, defining oneself by what one is not. If “us vs. them” thinking is what got us into this mess, than more “us vs. them” thinking isn’t going to get us out of it."

The elitist focus on language, and maintaing a constantly changing script of correct ways to talk about people, and shaming those who are using an outdated script, as if you can't express racist ideas using politically correct terms. (The Left's focus on language as the driver of action makes me nuts. I'm not saying we shouldn't adjust language and remove racist or outdated language from our lexicon, but the assumption that using the wrong term to describe someone automatically makes you racist is wrongheaded. My anecdotal proof of this is that in the twenty-odd years since politically correct language became such a focus for progressives, racism hasn't gone away. Politically correct language hasn't stopped a rollback of voting rights for people of color, it hasn't prevented the explosion of the prison industrial complex, it hasn't ended racism. It has just made us talk about it in coded language.)

I get upset about this stuff because I  can't bear to  even read or any of the conservative rags, and yet when I go to progressive blogs I see some of the same bullshit in different ideological wrapping. Real progress means changing the way we think about and behave towards one another, not just being an asshole back to the assholes.

*My thought on reverse racism is this: if normal ol' racism is a busted sewage pipe that is flooding the street with shit, reverse racism is a weakness in a pipe further up the line that is starting to show signs of strains and has a very slow leak of fresh water. People crying "reverse racism" are essentially saying, "Forget about the shit spewing out into the street, what are we going to do about this leaky pipe?" 

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