Friday, July 17, 2015

That's not what good people do

It's that classic "what if" scenario: The pilot of the aircraft you're riding in suddenly becomes unconscious and unresponsive. Someone needs to take the controls and land the plane safely.

I have never in my life flown a plane. I have never taken a flying lesson. I've only seen this scenario on TV, and it looks pretty exciting. How hard can it be?

Being at the front of the plane, I'm first in the cockpit. I lock the cockpit door behind me, shove aside the pilot, and strap into the seat.

At the door are other passengers, pounding on the door. "I have a pilot's licence! Let me in!" one of them shouts.

But dammit! If I land this plane I'll be a by-God HERO. Nobody's taking that away from me.

A mountain looms ahead. Our trajectory is taking us directly into a cliff face. But nobody's taking this away from me. I'll just do this nifty maneuver I saw on TV and …

****

Well, I was trying to do the right thing: land the plane safely. Can you fault my motives? I didn't WANT to explode on that granite cliff. We just kinda did.

That doesn't make me a bad person.

****

But you see it actually does make me a bad person. An extremely bad person.

I knew that I didn't know how to fly a plane and I knew that someone else on board did. I saw that mountain looming ahead and understood that we were going to crash. I saw how my ineffective attempts to avoid the mountain weren't working at all.

But I was hell-bent on getting that glory, and so I killed everyone on board.

For my vanity.

****

Politicians who have steered the country into a cliff are likewise bad people. They know that their actions are logically, ethically, and Constitutionally untenable, but they do them anyway.

They see the cliff looming ahead and they refuse to listen to sound counsel on how to avoid it. THEY will do the steering, come hell or high water.

For their vanity.

Good people don't do that. They just don't.

No more rhetorical cover for the affable people who haved steered us into a cliff.

They're actually not good people.

Sorry, but there it is.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A better response to jaden @crazysexyhalsey

First, let me thank you for being a decent Twitterlocutor last night. You displayed no malice or other nastiness, you didn't scream "racist!" like an squid squirting obfuscating ink, and you didn't flounce off in a huff, blocking me.

That speaks well of you. You strike me as someone worth knowing. The other thing that speaks well of you is that you don't attend a university. Unless you want to train in a science-related subject, don't go. Those places will poison your very soul.

Second, after thinking it over last night I realized that I gave the wrong impression with regard to your experience in the world versus mine. I have no doubt that if you and I were to swap skins for a week, we'd both be surprised at how differently people treated us—surprised in good and bad ways.

It is absolutely true that because you and I have different complexions, we don't live in exactly the same country. It is also true that white people don't know what it's like to be a person of color in this country, and that racism isn't as bad as it was but it's still there.

I know what it's like to try to explain my experiences to people and have them blow me off. I have dysthymia, a mild but chronic form of depression, and trying to explain a mood disorder to someone who's never experienced mental illness is not only impossible, it's painful, because they just won't listen. WON'T.

So I apologize for giving the impression that I don't regard your experience as valid or that I can just sit there and tell you what your life is like. I hate it when people do that to me, so I should be more careful to not do it to others. Even on Twitter. :-)

Please let me explain what I was reacting to: the rhetorical framework of your assertions, which have their origins in the neo-Marxist fever swamps of university soft-science and humanities departments.

Here's the problem: During the Civil Rights era, the rhetoric was based on the following truths:
  • Race is purely cosmetic 
  • Race doesn't inform intelligence, talent, character, integrity, ability, worth, or personality. So there is no logical reason for anyone to be treated differently based on a superficial, cosmetic trait. 
  • The Declaration of Independence states explicitly that "all men are created equal" is the official base assumption on which this country is founded. However, people are NOT being treated equally, not by the law and certainly not by the culture. 
  • We as Americans need to live up to our stated standard of equality — to do otherwise is an offense to truth, to God our common Father, and to our own American ideals. 

The Civil Rights Activists invited white people to look inside themselves and consider whether the current state of race relations conformed to any standard of justice, fairness, or righteousness. Obviously, it did not, so most Americans came to realize that racial discrimination has no basis either in reality or morality. Hence the progress made since 1964: people changed their hearts and minds.

Unfortunately, such a change did not obliterate some of the more primitive tribal instincts, wherein "you may be equal but you're not my people," still holds sway. That's what you're experiencing, not the white belief that Africans are literally a lesser breed of humans and therefore should be treated with less respect and dignity. Or worse, the eugenics of the Progressive Era, wherein "lesser races" should be prevented from reproducing, thus to prevent the "mongrelization" of the human race. It's tribalism that informs racial animus today more than pseudo-scientific or culturally embedded nonsense about racial superiority.

That said.

The introduction of neo-Marxist "power structure" concepts into the discussion on race relations is NOT a good thing, even though you CAN accurately point to where power is held and maintained, and you CAN show how it breaks along racial lines.

The neo-Marxist preoccupation with power structures does not have as its goal the healing of racial divides nor the promotion of genuine equality or brotherhood among races. Instead, its purpose is to exploit the grievances of out-groups (racial, ethnic, religious, economic, linguistic) to defeat the current power structure (regardless of whether that's a good idea) so that the neo-Marxists can step into the power vacuum. Once there, they'll be just as oppressive toward their former allies as their putative enemies.

By regarding racism as a structural reality rather than a problem within the human heart, the solution stops being "how about treating everyone fairly, regardless of their appearance" and becomes "we have to bust up all the institutions and remove all the offending tribe (Whites) from their place."

Insisting that I have "white privilege" might be accurate in some ways but it doesn't lead toward a positive solution. Instead, it's most often employed in a type of Kafkatrapping, defined thusly:
the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.
This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals.
(Let me hasten to add that you don't seem to possess the kind of malice and sadism necessary to be a real Kafkatrapper — you're just using their language and some of their assumptions.)

My "white privilege" is not something I can control in any way. I didn't choose the conditions of my birth, I didn't set up the racial divide in this country, I don't use my "white privilege" to lord it over people of color, and what's more, there's nothing I can do to divest myself of this "white privilege."

It's guilt by existence, which I hope you can see is completely different from being guilty of thinking about race in a way that's contrary to reality or of harboring and refusing to reject racial stereotypes. I can change how I think about race; I cannot change my alleged "white privilege."

So right there I'm being put into a no-win situation, because the only way for me to escape my "white privilege" is to publicly and abjectly denounce myself and my "privilege" and a host of other things for which I am not responsible, including suspected "unconscious racism" which I am by-definition unaware of and therefore cannot control, assuming that it exists.

You should know that Freshmen Orientation in many colleges includes racial awareness sessions wherein white students are required to effectively denounce their own existence and "privilege" and to publicly confess their thoughtcrimes.

These "struggle sessions" were perfected in Mao's China, wherein people were humiliated until they confessed to crimes against the state. Other employers of "struggle sessions" are the leaders of creepy mind-control cults, wherein the "Cult of Confession," which keeps people afraid of their own very thoughts.

College campuses have not yet reached this level of mind control, but that's where they're heading. That's the trajectory. And so far there hasn't been anyone with the perspicacity or valor to call a stop to it.

So that's what sets me off about "structural racism" arguments and rhetoric: they're intended to exacerbate racial tension rather than heal rifts; to increase suspicion and animus instead of increasing understanding and empathy; to destroy existing institutions rather than reform them; to put the worst sort of people into power rather than encourage harmony among the races.

When you talk to me about my "white privilege," you're putting me on the defensive, because I can't control the structures that created said privilege. When you say "people of color can't be racist, only whites can," you're putting you and me on opposite sides of an unbridgeable chasm. How can we dialog across an abyss?

I am perfectly willing to listen to you tell me what your life is like. I am NOT particularly open to being told that my very existence is problematic.

You wouldn't like it either. If you want people to listen with the intent to understand, you have to make sure you don't alienate them first—the way I did when I seemed to deny that racism exists. :-)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Price of Discipleship Is… Everything

The Anchoress just tweeted this insightful article on the "social detritus of gay marriage pile-up":
[M]y friend gave a template for how to handle friends who are not family. We really need to stand our ground. If the people we call friends do not respect us enough to allow us the space and personal dignity to hold our own beliefs and act on them, then the friendship is on sick and sad grounds.
I know from personal experience how painful this is. But there is nothing we can do but let them go.
That also goes for priests who have parishioners walk out on them when they teach what the Church teaches about marriage from the pulpit. Many of these walkers away will walk back later. But whether they do or not, priests must still teach the truth. …
Family members are a bit more difficult. … Children, in particular, are too willing to use their parents’ love for them, a love they do not doubt or they wouldn’t do this, as a form of blackmail. “If you love me, you’ll desert your faith and back gay marriage.”
Chose me, or chose Christ.
That is the thing in the balance.
All I can say is that you must never stop loving people because they are jerks and bullies. But no one — no one – can be put between you and Jesus. Jesus has to be your first loyalty.
That doesn’t mean you lecture them or even try to get them to change. Even if you do this with the intention of saving their souls, it is still the wrong thing in this circumstance. They are too set on their downward path to listen. Their ears are stopped and their hearts are hardened.
All you can do is love them and continue to love them and reach out to them in love. That, and keep the faith with your faith in your own life.
This is where we come to understand what the scripture meant in Matt 5:
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Also, Matt 10:
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Those who would be disciples of Christ have already got our instruction: the price of discipleship is everything, including friends and family, if it comes to that, but as Ms. Hamilton observes, the decision to break things off with family has to come from them, not from you. Don't toss out your kid for being gay or even being gay married.

Friends who won't respect your religious autonomy aren't actually friends and can be let go, however painfully. If any hatred and anger is to be generated, let it come from those who are merely following the example of THEIR master, and by "them" I mean those who are happy to dump steaming piles of name-calling, rage, and contempt upon Christians, whom they didn't particularly respect in the first place.

There are plenty of SSM supporters from all over the believing spectrum — atheist to agnostic to saint — who are NOT cool with trashing the losing side, NOT at all happy to see religious liberty curtailed (because they know their liberty of conscience is bundled up with everyone else's), and NOT impressed with SCOTUS overreach and the implications it holds for the rule of law.

Furthermore, they know our society, they know the Left, they know how dirty they fight, and they know that what the Left is after, ultimately, is to silence all dissent while they accrue ever more power into their hands, whether that dissent be religious or secular.

 before things get worse, I must thank the atheists and agnostic for being "righteous Gentiles" and to the believers who support SSM, thank you for not attributing our objections to bigotry. I understand your reasons for accepting SSM even if you don't understand mine for saying no.

 It's gonna get ugly. We need all the moral support we can get. INCLUDING from decent Muslims who love religious liberty. So let's not alie