Hate to be self-referential but….
Edited on 4/25/2018 for clarity and a few careless grammar and spelling errors.
Radicalization has come to be synonymous with Islam and Islam signals folks who are non white although there have been a few notable Caucasian converts. It’s generally reserved for people who fall of the liberal western wagon and fall into the muddy ditch of identitarian authoritarianism. In other words radicalized = converted to radical Islam.
We use the term which should serve as a general description of anyone who has committed beyond reason to an ideology, usually a violent and destructive one, as a shortcut for signaling Islam. It’s a mistake that both reflects and colors our values, one that on some level is not a mistake at all but instead a value judgement based on so many assumptions.
We do operate in the sphere of cultural supremacy, the combination of assuming that so-called western values are the most “right” and that those values have all their roots in white western culture and those roots are purely derived from Europe and the cultural superiority of being American. Both are pretty ignorant, they assume that the blanks of history are all colored in White. They assume that, given all the interaction between the subjugated and the subjigators both here and abroad, now and in the past, that there is only one way to rub off.
They assume that missionaries and explorers, slavers and guests, never had any contact with people who produced any kind of two-way exchange. They assume that the spices and foods, culinary habits being one of the first and best introductions to a culture, were never traded. They assume that hunting and gathering and farming in different climates did not have some impact on those who observed them. They assume things that we in our daily lives know to be patently untrue. In the US, our art, culture culinary traditions and language borrow so much from outside influences that we’ve sometimes assumed they started here.
We operate, despite evidence to the contrary, in a blanket of assumptions that color our culture and language. We assume that only the Islamists are radicalized, we reserve that word for non-whites and race traitorous converted whites. When an instance of violence occurs perpetuated by a person of white European descent we make every excuse for their actions even when the targets and methods would suggest otherwise. We assume there is any other motive than what would be obvious if they were Muslim.
Until we can call a terrorist a terrorist, regardless of the color of their skin, until we can equate acts of violence based on ideology, regardless of what that ideology is, we are hopelessly lost in our delusion that White western culture is the only source from which civilization springs. We are also ignorant of our own cultural infancy as Americans, our civilization is not half as old as those we pull influence from and we can’t seem to integrate that into our collective consciousness.
We keep arguing around these issues, talking about SJWs instead of just being courteous enough to each other to simply listen, consider and then react, we keep using language that diminishes the concerns of people to tropes, on all sides. We color “flyover states” and BLM with broad brushes, not recognizing the breadth of opinion in the pigeonholed groups we create. We talk about western culture like it came about in a vacuum and ignore all the surrounding pieces assuming that the history we know, despite so many obvious modern parallels, is history with nothing left out.
We make a lot of assumptions, we kind of have to, but with the expanse of information we have at our fingertips we ignore even the slightest tweaks to our own worldview.
Even when it is as obvious as the growing number of violent acts perpetrated by those steeped in “western values.”
The more people I encounter, the more it seems the difference between the political poles is a social construction. Aside from the prominent examples of ideological contradictions (Liberal Racists, Conservative Welfare Cheats, etc., and everyone knows at least one), there are some very real reasons that people seem to adhere to beliefs, act upon impulses and support policies that may do them harm in the long run.
We are manipulated, especially the bottom third of the economic scale, into believing we belong with those in power but are being sold an ideological package labeled “Liberal” or “Conservative” and anything that falls outside those preconceived broad definitions is filtered out of choice.
There are some hot-button issues that are determined by our closer communities. If you are White and rural, you are more likely to feel X, or Urban Black and Gay, Y, but after that, I’m always surprised at the level of nuance people show when they have discussions with people with opposing views who are willing to engage them. Being able to have conversations between my fiscally conservative friends about a topic like gun control is a whole lot easier than being able to talk about the subject with a rural hunter, but not impossible. Speaking to a Melinneal liberal arts college kid about not understanding the new gender definitions or why “safe spaces” exist is a hell of a lot harder than discussing it with a moderate, but older LGBTQ ally who is still in the process of understanding all of the above him/her/themselves.
As a friend of mine recently said “I don’t talk about politics on social media anymore, It’s all a matter of where you come from and how you see it” truer words…. But we need to have those conversations, preferably face to face, in each others presence without our “Hi I’m a Liberal” or “Hello I’m a Conservative” stickers attached.
There is no doubt that we are what we are primarily because of where we grew up and what we were surrounded by.
There are other factors,
But, I’d say, mostly you have to be exposed to new people, and new ideas to at least know they aren’t the monsters you have running around in your head.
Even if Conservative, Libertarian, and Liberal brains are “different” don’t we all need each other’s perspective to live with each other?
I think that even when we come up against issues that we are steadfast on, especially so in some cases, we need to listen harder and assume less.
I think its the only way we’ll ever possibly learn to live together. Our existence as a species depends on it.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated. At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.
Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.
I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.
My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes. Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.
It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around. But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.
That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind. While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.
When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.
I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma. Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.
At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.
When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.
We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.
I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.
Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.
It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.
Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!
Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”
Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.
Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?
Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?
If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.
When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.
There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.
For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.
I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.
One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.
Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.
It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”
My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:
but is was certainly better than this:
Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.
It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.
So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.
Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?
Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.
Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.
Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.
Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.
In the world of spin, anything is possible.
Updated on 8/23/17 with links. And a few egregious spelling errors.
….so don’t have heroes.
Feminism has been redefined, again and again, mostly by men. I think I went through a short period of calling myself a feminist before I realized the ridiculousness of that statement. I’m not a woman, so the defining of feminism was not for me to do. Like conversations about abortion, I can only actually be involved on the periphery unless I had something directly to do with the pregnancy. Yes I know and love the women in my life but I don’t define who they are.
Feminism and the definition of it are truly woman’s work. I have a right to chime in and ask questions but the defining characteristics of feminism and being female are not mine to judge. I think our first mistake when we talk about feminism is allowing fearful or manipulative men to set the conversational terms of engagement. Men, although well-meaning, are often swayed by less than honorable reasons to declare themselves “feminists.” there is a running joke that guys who declare themselves feminists are just trying to get laid. Its a trope on every college campus and workplace and it exists because in many ways it’s true.
It is like the friend who declares their “color blindness,” the person who always knows the best “ethnic food spots” but knows not a single person representing the various flavors he can describe in great detail. The guy who likes exotic looking chicks, or the girl who shows up at all the anti-racist rallies and doesn’t have a single Black friend IRL.
Those people. I’ve been one of those people. I hope never to be one again.
I wish I could say that Kai Cole’s essay about her ex-husband Joss Whedon came as a huge surprise to me. Anyone who shouts so loudly about a cause and is so vocally oppositional to those who champion its opposition is often, not always, but often, full of some degree of shit.
Granted, as we should do with everyone, we need to wait for both sides or at least the stream of on set confirmations that will surely follow, until fully accepting Cole’s POV lock stock and barrel. I fear, though, that it may be too close to the truth.
I love Rosemary’s Baby, adore Braveheart and still believe North by Northwest is a classic, but all of the above film’s Directors, were and in some cases still are, shitty to women. It doesn’t make my enjoyment of any of the above less so because they all came from the minds of mild to extreme misogynists. It does, however, because I am a man and have no direct experience with misogyny, not ring as deeply as it would had I been female. It sucks in this case because he was preaching to be just the opposite.
Now you can find a whole host of reasons his activism was nulled and voided by these revelations (if true) but I can’t help but think that along with the truckload of bullshit there is a deep psychological upset in there as well. Not justifying any of it, just looking at everything full big picture.
If what Cole has written is true, not in its natural and understandable POV but its core truth, that Whedon was a faker and manipulator who used his feminist creds to hide his philandering, that will be a hard pill to swallow. For me it’s not as much a personal affront that he cheated, that aspect of his life is his, and his ex’s not the public’s. What tramples on my sensibilities is that everything he’s said, largely in line with my own beliefs, will be used as ammunition against the rest of us, the silent ones who looked at his stances as brave (but sometimes just as bad as some of whats been said on the “other side”) and echoed his sentiments. It doesn’t make the views any less relevant, but it does make the spewer damaged goods. The messenger and the message have become one, and the messenger has his stink all over the message.
This is why I back away from admiration as a public duty, and this is why I don’t have heroes. They will ALWAYS, ALWAYS let you down.
Edited on 8/3 for horrible misspellings.
I like reserving judgment in all but the worst circumstances. Artistic endeavors especially require a delicate and deliberate middle of the road approach.
Watching Jericho, for example. I knew of the shows obvious right of center bent, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. I didn’t feel that it was shoving any ideology down my throat, even when the Republic of Texas was the hero figure, because the story was so engrossing and the acting (save Mr. Ulrich who was at best passable, at worst incomprehensibly ticky) was great. despite or maybe because of his well-known conservatism I love Gerald McRaney, he reminds me fondly of my ex’s dad, and that association humanizes him beyond a political label.
Lately, though, many of my fellow lefties have become so amazingly, insufferably, annoyingly reflexive, that I sometimes feel the need for a new language because the Liberal tag seems more and more like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head than a badge of reasonable honor.
The reaction to the proposed alternate reality show “Confederate” is one example of an illiberal dousing of a completely fascinating premise (what if the North and South fought to a stalemate and slavery became a institutional part of half our American identity).
This show could be an amazingly rich and disturbing look through “what if” allegory at how little we’ve progressed about race in this country. Of course, it wouldn’t treat racism kindly, what we know about human bondage now would inform the narrative, shape the dialog and create a space for allegory that could be so deeply mined.
Not if the whiny among us have their way.
Let me retreat a bit…
Usually, I wouldn’t put these two people in the same post, nor think about them in the same context, one is a beleaguered but respected researcher the other a provocateur “journalist” who’s contradictions are so legion he’s incredibly hard to take seriously. Both, however, are proving to be unmistakable examples of actual liberal fascism. Yep, I said it.
There used to be a rule in more liberal circles, and honestly just civil society, that said that regardless of how outrageous and sensational what you had to say was, it should be at least heard.
So, okay, that part is bullshit.
That time never fully existed.
There were fights in Congress, speakers were shouted down, and crowds never behaved in ways we think they did, but my view as a Progressive, Lefty, Liberal etc. et.al. whatever has been that as open-minded individuals who are ideologically inclined to share equally heart and head and argue passionately yet logically would allow even the most heinous speaker his or her due platform.
How we can claim to be liberal-minded and not accept the difference of opinions of other without reading their books or hearing them out astounds me. I am guilty of this as much as anyone else. I have often made opinions of things that had no basis in fact, I have allowed the crowd to determine my feelings about a book or a film without ever having seen it, I have held biases against people I do not know and would never condescend to know, I have been judgmental and prejudiced in my assessment of cultures I have not tried to understand.
I’m sympathetic to people from other countries but not to those living in the borders of my own. I am guilty of feeling like people who live in the “flyover states” are backward and inherently racist.
Some of these things may be, and probably are, true, but why are the assignments made before the exposure? Do they assume that my educated black ass feels somehow superior to them? And why, in some cases are they right. Yes, deep-seated racial, sexual, cultural and regional dynamics play a role and make these biases and divisions a deeper crevasse, than they otherwise would be. I know the history of division and the use of racial tropes that the powers that be have always used to fracture bonds that make more sense than not. But why do either of us pre-define each other before ever setting foot on the same ground?
I firmly disagree ideologically with many folks on the right, vehemently, but why? I got sucked into the Manosphere and still subscribe to the mailing lists of at least three of the sites I’d frequented years ago. I look for dynamics that define the person behind the words and recognize that even in Mein Kampf there is something to be learned about struggle, oppression and the view of them through the distorted and diseased lesions over jaundiced eyes, but up until recently I’d never read it. Same, to a lesser degree, with The Bell Curve, which I am reading (albeit slowly) now.
I’ve slammed the book and its author(s) before without really having heard their story. I assumed its purpose was not to advocate, in a traditionally conservative way, for the restructuring or abolishment of academic inclusion policies and social welfare programs, but that it was arguing similarly to my other example, that one “race” is superior or inferior to another and therefore did not deserve help, let alone inclusion.
When you meet someone or hear their voice, they are humanized, by default. Our brains have reactions to certain characteristics in meeting people on a playing field we recognize. Hearing Mr. Murray speak on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast was eye-opening in this respect. Although I don’t agree with the conclusions and still feel that the onus and political motivations played a part in the furor, the man seems far from the racist bogeyman he’s been portrayed as. I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast with an open mind and feel free to disagree with the premise and the conclusions but do not miss the salient points made in the margins. The end of the conversation when Murray’s latest book is touched upon is especially relevant and enlightening.
Through the wearing of ideological labels, we have cut ourselves off from opposing opinions and the facts they are based upon. As a good friend of mine told me on a recent visit, he no longer discusses politics with many friends because it’s all about the way you look at things and where you are. So why should it not be about learning where THEY are from and how THEY look at things? Who THEY are.
Yes, there are things that I find unacceptable, that will never penetrate my liberal defenses. Having a protective shin of ideology isn’t always a bad thing. My liberalism doesn’t let baseless claims about superiority and inferiority get through. But it does let me consider uncomfortable propositions. It does not let me lose sight of the fact that behind every label we put on ourselves and each other we are still human beings with a lifetime of experiences that make us who we are. My Liberal underpinnings are both shield and filter in these ways.
Hiding behind a moniker, an ideology that denies you hearing anything you might otherwise let through the filter sitting across the table from another human being is one, Liberal or Conservative, that does no one any good.
Disavowing the artistic creation of a show about a timeline gone awry is the same as crying foul when a female comics editor posts an innocuous picture because the SJWs have taken over everything. Illiberal behavior is illiberal behavior, even when and especially if, it comes out of the mouth or hand of someone claiming to be Liberal.
We can have a plethora of ideas about a plethora of opinions in a way that allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Not allowing a person to speak, or trying to force a show not to air even before the words have been read or the show has been produced is a dangerous form of thought control. It is being practiced not just on the radical right but on the left as well, and it’s sad in either case. It’s more than sad; it’s dangerously fascist.
After writing about the Yale protests yesterday I just wanted to make a few things clear.