Sunday, August 26, 2012

Social Justice Warriors, Self-Righteousness, and The Merciless War on Unconscious Racism

I often question the usefulness of "self-righteous", an insult that can be applied to anyone who believes in a cause, but, perhaps because of social justice's religious roots, SJ Warriors take self-righteousness as far as any cult can. For example, in the recent Weird Tales kerfuffle, Rose Fox, who writes Genreville for Publishers Weekly, told Weird Tales' publisher, "I’m dismayed that you took down Kaye’s post, thereby deleting the comments that were on it. I think it’s important to keep an archive of such things, so both you and others can learn from your mistakes."

Any Maoist or McCarthyist would agree.


I'm regularly struck by the warriors' lack of compassion.  Because Fox seems to consider herself an SJ war correspondant,  I'll use her as a convenient example. At Weird Tales: From Frying Pan to Fire, she wrote, "I would entirely disagree that public shaming of offensive views accomplishes nothing."


She fails to see that shaming Marvin Kaye, a person who read an interracial romance about a racist white woman learning to overcome her racism and concluded the book was non-racist, is not the same as shaming the use of tropes that Critical Race Theorists have declared taboo.  She does not care that when you denounce a person's view as offensive and cite the person prominently, you are shaming the person. The religious attitude of social justice warriors is not "hate the sin, love the sinner"—it's "those who are not for us are against us."


Attacking people is the highest priority for SJ Warriors. In the same article, Fox demonstrates the flexible ethics this requires, writing, "While the ethics of reprinting personal emails are debatable..."


Her ethics did not include posting a comment I left there: "The ethics of reprinting private correspondence are not debatable by ethical people." To SJ Warriors, the only ethical question is whether sharing a private correspondance will boost their google juice.


In Weird Tales Goes Back in Time, Fox wrote, "It is just barely possible that Foyt may have had the best of intentions and been genuinely taken aback when her book was called out for displaying her unconscious racism. Kaye, however, has no such excuse."


Social justice warriors often talk about unconscious racism because they believe white people are either consciously or unconsciously racist. Whether any of them have taken the race test at Project Implicit to test their own "unconscious racism", I don't know, but I have. My result: "Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for African American compared to European American." That's not uncommon. Project Implicit debunks the theory that everyone is racist in favor of their race: "75-80% of self-identified Whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial White relative to Black."


Social justice warriors assume friends criticize friends because they think the purpose of friendship is to help each other achieve ideological purity. When Charles A. Tan tweeted:

Wow. Lost a friend for taking a stance and criticizing them.
Rose Fox tweeted back:
I'm sorry your friend turned out not to be such a good friend.
SJ Warriors don't understand friendship or how to inspire others by any means other than the direct assault. Amanda Palmer, one of their targets, does get it. In real feminists don't gaze at males, she told people trying to promote feminism, "if you’re trying to turn your friends into feminists, i think you’re taking the wrong tack. i would back up and start off by not trying to turn them into ANYTHING…this is how we got into this whole mess in the first place."

ETA: At class, race, fandom, and Dr. Who, discussing K. Tempest Bradford accusing Paul Cornell of "unintentional" racism, I noted, "Tempest's comment about "unintentional" racism absolves no one of racism. All racism is unintentional: racists do what they do because they believe what they believe, not because they intend to be racist." Which is to say, either someone's racist or they're not. No one wakes up and says, "Why, I think I'll be racist today."