Friday, July 27, 2012

The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege, or The Hounding of William Sanders

“But why so little published fiction by real Indians - a people, after all, with a wonderfully rich storytelling tradition? One little-recognized problem lies in what might be called the expectation barrier. White America has certain definite ideas as to what it wants to hear from Indians - at least the publishing industry thinks so, and for once it is probably right - and the Indian writer whose work fails to fit the accepted template can expect a lot of frustration.” —William Sanders, reviewing Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues in 1996

“You have to remember, the SF writing community is mostly a lot of very nice people who have led very sheltered lives. They're very easily shocked. It's always amazed me that so many of these people who write all this stuff about strange worlds and fantastic adventures are such conventional, boring types in person. As Ajay Budrys once said to me, ‘They are a cautious and conservative lot, these probers on Man's ultimate frontier. A trail of sheepshit marks their passing.’” —William Sanders, in an interview in Chronicle in 2004

* * *

In 1991, I saw a biplane with a Confederate flag on the cover of a paperback novel,The Wild Blue and the Grey. The back copy said it was about a Cherokee pilot in an alternate Earth’s world war. I bought the book knowing nothing about the author, but I knew I liked the way his mind worked. Whenever anyone asks me about Civil War alterniana, my short list of recommendations includes William Sanders.

I began reading less and less fantasy and science fiction around that time, so I didn’t follow his career closely. When I did read something of his, I was always impressed. One of the few truly unique visions in a genre filled with generic tales is his Sidewise Award-winning “The Undiscovered,” a sad and funny short story about Shakespeare living among the Cherokee. You would think that anyone in the field who values diversity would make William Sanders one of their poster kids. He’s a Cherokee and a damn fine writer. What more could they want?

Too many of them would want someone with middle-class manners who shared their identitarian beliefs. Sanders, a self-described “redbone hillbilly” from Arkansas who served in the Vietnam War, has no time for ideologues.

In 2006, he started an on-line magazine called Helix SF. The first issue included Janis Ian’s “Mahmoud’s Wives,” a feminist story that was very critical of its titular muslim character. In Ian's online forum, Sanders wrote:

There have been a number of complaints and criticisms of that story. Not, as you might think, from enraged Islamist types (we've been rather disappointed, actually; we were hoping for at least one little old fatwa) but from whining super-PC types in this country. 

Believe it or not, we even got a letter from one nitwit who said she should have named the characters Doug and Griselda. "Doug's Wives" would have been more Politically Correct, you see.
When you annoy people like that, you know you must be doing something right.

Take no prisoners!

William Sanders
Senior Editor
HELIX

That’s a fine example of his online style: he took no prisoners. He expressed himself bluntly and honestly and expected to get as good as he gave. He made a lot of enemies, and I’m sorry to say I let myself become one over something I can’t even remember today.

Helix SF developed a reputation for solid stories from a diverse group of writers. Sanders helped the budding careers of writers like N. K. Jemisin and Yoon Ha Lee. When he noticed he had acquired a lot of stories from women, he did an all-female issue. The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) invited him to be their Guest of Honor. He was on his way to becoming one of the field’s grand old men.

But his redbone hillbilly ways didn’t just ruffle the feathers of people who expected everyone to follow the rules of white middle-class etiquette. Sanders set feathers on fire and laughed when people got huffy.

I’ll say as little as I can about the next part of the story, because too many writers set scenes like magicians controlling what the audience sees, setting the reader up to share the writer’s bias. I’ll only offer three things to prepare you:

1. In July of 2008, feelings about the war in the Middle East were strong, and many Muslims suffered for what a handful of Islamists had done.

2. Social justice fandom had just outed “the WisCon Troll”, and coffeeandink was calling for a boycott of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction because they published Dave Truesdale, a conservative.

3. Because I’m trying to present this in the way the internet received it, with no context, you may be temped to assume one of two things, depending on whether you hate Muslims or hate bigotry. Either will be wrong.

Sanders returned a Helix submission from Luke Jackson with a personal note. Jackson then committed one of publishing’s seven deadly sins: he made the rejection letter public. It’s now available on many sites, so I’ll share it. Sanders wrote:

No, I’m sorry but I can’t use this.

There’s much to like. I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people – at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can – and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

However, as I say, I can’t use it. Because Helix is a speculative fiction magazine, and this isn’t speculative fiction.

Oh, you’ve tacked on some near-future elements at the end, but the future stuff isn’t in any way necessary to the story; it isn’t even connected with it in any causal way. True, the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he’s being mendacious (like all his kind, he’s incapable of honesty); he was headed in that direction from the start, and if it hadn’t been the encounter with the stripper it would have been something else.

Now if it could be shown that something in this incident showed him HOW the West could be overthrown, then perhaps the story would qualify as SF. That might have been interesting. As it is, though, no connection is shown and in fact we are never told just how this conquest – a highly improbable event, to say the least – came about.

There are some other problems with the story, but there’s no point in going into them, because they don’t really matter from my viewpoint. It’s not speculative fiction and I can’t use it in my magazine.

And I don’t think you’re going to sell it to any other genre magazine, for that reason – though you’d have a hard time anyway; most of the SF magazines are very leery of publishing anything that might offend the sheet heads. I think you might have a better chance with some non-genre publication. But I could be wrong.

Sorry.

William Sanders
Senior Editor
Helix

The letter sparked flames across scifi’s electronic turf. The left side of fandom denounced Sanders as racist. A few racists must have thought he was simply telling the truth about Muslims or Middle Easterners or both. Sanders, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and others said a third interpretation was meant. At the site where Jackson posted the letter and the flames were beginning, Sanders left this comment:

Son, hasn’t anybody ever told you that public posting of a private email message is contrary to the rules both of accepted internet practice and common courtesy?

I do appreciate your efforts to be fair – certainly far more so than most of the other people in this ward, ah, group – but the fact remains that you’ve done something both socially and professionally unacceptable in posting it at all. So if you had any idea of submitting anything else to Helix, forget it. I won’t work with people who pull this kind of shit.

I suppose this is what I get for trying to be a nice guy, and give you a little encouragement rather than the standard thanks-but-no-thanks form rejection. Silly me.

(I notice, too, the presence in the lynch mob of another person I’ve tried to help, and to whom I thought I’d been particularly kind. No good deed, etc.)

Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context – that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)

But I don’t feel any need to defend myself, or Helix, to these people; indeed I doubt that there’s anybody outside their little Mutual Masturbation Society who gives a damn what they think about anything at all.

They are cordially invited to have intercourse with their precious selves. I’m sure most of them could use the practice.

As the flames burned hotter, Jackson defended Sander’s interpretation: “There is a truly despicable Muslim character in my story. Sorry, world. Maybe I was playing into prejudices. Sanders was talking about that character, so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue rant, it was targeted to the content of my story. In context, his comments were directed at MY character and those types of extremists. People are taking it out of context and interpreting it too broadly if they think that Sanders was referring to all Arabs or all Muslims. I’m sure that if my character was a Timothy McVeigh-like extremist, Sanders would have used different but equally scornful language. The extremism of MY character is what drew his ire, and so if there is any blame it’s MY blame.”

But third options are always rejected by fans of binary logic. Nick Mamatas wrote a post to prove that what he inferred must be what Sanders had implied, and others, including Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, agreed with him.

And so did I, to my shame. In a comment at Making Light, I wrote:

The Cherokee do have a problem with racism. They were slave traders. A Cherokee chief, Stand Watie, was the last Confederate general to surrender. More recently, the Cherokee voted to exclude the descendants of their black slaves from the tribe (and the tribe's gambling wealth), even though many of those people were culturally Cherokee, living the life and speaking the language.

On the other hand, Sanders is just a racist.*

* In the modern sense that race equals ethnicity.

I think that’s all I wrote about the case at the time. It didn’t interest me then. I couldn’t know that in many ways, it would be the Mexican-American War to Racefail 09’s Civil War.

Like everyone who played more-literary-than-thou with Sander’s hasty note, I assumed he was a racist because I ran the text through my assumptions. No one can be more wrong than smart people who think they read subtext infallibly—they’re the literary world’s equivalent of fundamentalists who can see Satan’s hand guiding the pen of nonbelievers. Perhaps the greatest flaw in Mamatas’s explication de texte was treating the text like a polished document, so he obsessed over agreement and ignored context.

To be fair to Mamatas, he didn’t have the context. Like everyone else, he only had the note, and he fancied himself the Racistfinder General. But Mamatas, then editor of Clarkesworld, was far from an unbiased interpreter. As Sanders notes in “Conversations With A Mean Old Bastard”, Sanders' magazine “had gotten the Hugo nomination and his hadn't, poor fucker probably was wild with jealousy.”

In another popular denunciation of Sanders as a racist, Tobias Buckell wrote:

And every single person I’ve confronted about using the word as an epithet has claimed they weren’t a racist. They were good guys, right? In their own minds. Yeah. Being confronted with evidence otherwise upset them.

I’ve since learned the various stages of calling someone with a prejudice or racist belief or action out are very similar to the Kubler-Ross model of catastrophic loss.

1. Denial: * Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening.”
2. Anger: * Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can you accept this!”
3. Bargaining: * Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”
4. Depression: * Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
5. Acceptance: * Example – “It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

It’s true that some people will accept the worldview of those who attack or abuse them—the FBI concluded that 27% of hostages show some degree of Stockholm Syndrome. But for people who have a strong worldview that’s incompatible with Critical Race Theory, these are the more common stages:

1. Denial: “WTF?”
2. Laughter: “Are these people really that crazy?”
3. Bargaining: “Okay, they are that crazy, but we got along in the past. Let’s try to get along now, okay?”
4. Anger: “Keep your crazy cult beliefs to yourself!”
5. Rejection: “Fuck. This. Shit. I’m gone.”

Sanders raced through the last four steps with social justice fandom at his heels. First he wrote:

Certain people, in response or sympathy to the things being said about me, have requested that their stories be deleted from the Helix archives.

Wait, wait; this was originally MY suggestion. One person, whose excellent work had graced the pages of Helix on two occasions, had voiced such strong sentiments that I wrote to her and, among other things, offered to delete her stories from the archives if she felt that way about it. She replied at first in the negative, but later changed her mind; but anyway, I want to make it clear that this began as an offer that I made.

I made it to only that one person, and I confess it did not occur to me that anyone else would make a similar request; but a couple more did.** Their requests have been honored as well.

But I have been informed that there are other Helix authors who are also participating in the slagfest, in private venues; and perhaps there are others as well who while not openly falling in with the lynch mob, still share the basic sentiment.

So I would like to publicly announce that if there is ANYBODY who wants his/her/etc. story removed from the Helix archives as well, a written (emailed) request to me – not Lawrence, not Melanie – will be honored.

(That is speaking strictly of archived stories. Anything in the current issue will stay there, as per contract, for the duration of the quarter.)

But it’s not fair for Melanie to have to keep fucking with this; she’s already had a hell of a lot of extra work handed her because of it. So this offer is not going to remain open indefinitely. Speak up within a reasonable time – such time to be determined entirely by my caprice; tough shit if you don’t like it – or forever shut your pie-hole.

I should add that if anyone feels strongly enough to want to return the money they were paid, we will not accept it; I suggest donating it to Obama’s campaign instead. However, so far nobody has made any such offer, and I don’t seriously expect it.

PLEASE SPREAD THIS AROUND. For this one occasion, everyone – that includes the lurkers too – has my formal permission to quote the entire text of this message, starting with the 5th paragraph above. (Preceding text being of no relevancy or interest outside this ng.) In fact I’d appreciate it. I want the word out.

What I don’t want is some damn fool coming around a month from now with “I didn’t know! Nobody told me!”

So if you agree with the Sanders Whiners, you’ll be doing your cause a service by getting this out. And if you don’t, then you’ll be doing US a service by helping speed the process so Melanie can put all this extra work behind her.

The certain person was N. K. Jemisin. Yoon Ha Lee was another who took up the offer, and Sanders told her, “Certainly I would not want to continue to publish a story against the author’s wishes, especially a story like this one that never did make any sense and that I only accepted because I thought it might please those who admire your work, and also because (notorious bigot that I am) I was trying to get more work by non-Caucasian writers.”

And there were more flames. “Non-Caucasian” was deemed racist, though it was used by a person no one would mistake for Caucasian.

When Jemisin's, Lee's, and Margaret Ronald's stories were removed, Sanders put this notice on the pages where they had been: “Story deleted at author’s pantiwadulous request.”

His joke was deemed sexist, perhaps because feminists are not supposed to wear panties. Whether boxerwadulous, underwearwadulous, or unmentionablewadulous would have been deemed acceptable, I can’t guess. Maybe it’s an expression that social justice fandom doesn’t know—Sarah Palin once told Chris Christie not to get his panties in a wad, and no one attacked her for being sexist.

Soon after that, Sanders wrote:

Why should you have to do all this extra work for nothing, just so some silly people can make a big grandstand play to impress their bloggy pals with the Correctness of their convictions?

I am hereby making a change to the aforestated offer. Effective as of now, any Helix contributor who wants his/her work deleted from the archives will have to pay for the privilege. Specifically, it’ll cost you forty bucks, payable to Melanie.

Though Sanders had said the offer to take stories down would not remain open indefinitely, that created the next uproar as people quibbled over the principle and the price. Sanders then canceled the chance to pay to have a story removed:

All right, that’s it. It’s been long enough; there’s been ample opportunity for anyone else who felt soiled by the contact with Helix to step up and speak up and pay up.

I don’t believe there are going to be any others (the imposition of cash charges seems to have had a distinctly damping effect) but if there are, tough shit. You had your chance and you didn’t take it.

That fall, Sanders shut down Helix. Sometime later, he wrote “Conversations With A Mean Old Bastard”. I recommend reading it all, but for people in a hurry, here are a few important questions it answers:

1. While social justice fandom was never far from their keyboards, Sanders was offline for days. What was he doing during this time and why was he so harsh to Yoon Ha Lee?

I'd been on a bike in the wind and the heat for days, and I hadn't slept well the previous night. And worse than everything else put together, I'd visited my wife at the hospital in Norman, where she'd been for a year and a half, on my way home, and found out that her condition had taken a new and extremely disturbing turn for the worse. 

And here was this message by another Helix writer, wanting in on the offer I'd made to Nora; and a look down the list showed me a couple more - and at that point I blew up. Here I'd tried to give a special break to one of my favorite Helix authors, and it was turning into a fucking exodus! It was just too much. 

So, yes, I was pretty brutal in what I said to Yoon Ha Lee. Of course I didn't mean what I said about her story, or my reasons for accepting it; I was just saying that stuff in order to hurt her feelings, because I was in a hell of a lot of pain myself and she'd pushed me over what little edge I had left. 

Yeah, I admit it, I was too rough on Yoon Ha Lee, and it's unfair that she got the full blast for what four people had done. And I don't offer the above as justification - but then I don't feel any need to justify myself. I had nothing against Yoon Ha Lee, but she had, after all, asked for it. Not that there was anything rude or offensive in her message, but she'd chosen to side with the people who were giving me shit, and you know, when you go fucking with somebody you have to accept that there may be consequences. I'm a normal person; when you hit at me, I hit back, and if at all possible I'll hit hard enough to discourage you from doing that again. 

(I said I was a Christian. I never claimed to be a good one. I used to feel bad about this until I realized that trying to be like Jesus was presumptuous.) 

There's another thing, too - I was being attacked by a God-damned hysterical mob. I had all these dipshits coming at me from all over, screaming their hate; they'd been at it for a week or more and getting crazier all the time. When the wire is down and the Claymores have all been fired and your forward positions are being overrun, it's time to go to full auto and blow the shit out of everything that comes at you. Yoon Ha Lee, or anybody else who chose to be part of that mob - or side with them - was, as far as I'm concerned, asking for it. 

2. What did he mean by “sheet head”?

"Sheet head" is, of course, a rather crude play on "shithead". Obviously it refers to people who are known (stereotypically, and incorrectly) for wearing textile head coverings - and indeed requiring their women to do so. Therefore it should be obvious that "sheet head" refers to a Muslim who is a shithead. More exactly, to a Muslim who acts like a shithead in the name of his religion.

Consider, for example, the young thugs who have assaulted non-Muslim women on the streets of European cities for dressing in ways they considered "immodest." Obviously they were acting like shitheads; but "terrorist" would be too strong a term. Or the "religious police" of Iran and Saudi Arabia; no one would deny that they are shitheads of purest ray serene - well, no one but another shithead - but what they do isn't what is usually meant by terrorism.

Or the gibbering whackjobs who demonstrated in the streets of Europe because of a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper; it would be a great exaggeration to call them terrorists, but they certainly were being shitheads.

Was the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas an act of terrorism? No, but it certainly was one of the most spectacularly shitheaded acts of the sheet heads.

So no, I never have used the term - which I've been using for years - to refer to Muslims in general, but I've never restricted it to terrorists alone, either. And never claimed that was what I meant in that email.

...Of course I've made derogatory remarks about certain Muslims, but then so has everybody, even other Muslims. And I've been known to make derogatory remarks about the Muslim religion, but that's entirely different. Religions are fair game in my book - a religion is nothing but a set of opinions, after all, and what's wrong with ridiculing somebody's opinions? I've said plenty about Christianity, too, and I'm a Christian, even if I don't always act like it. 

Which brings up another point: I also use the expression "Jeebus Nazi" to refer to Christians who behave like shitheads - the exact equivalent of "sheet heads" - and none of these PC geeks have ever complained about that.

3. Was his language racist?

Racist? Of all the stupid things people have said during this affair, that has got to be one of the stupidest, but it's been one of the most pervasive. Some of these people have the God-damnedest ignorant-ass ideas...Muslims aren't a race, for God's sake. Islam includes believers from all the major races. 

Of course I realize that "race" is nowadays quite commonly used to refer to ethnic groups, but incorrectly so. "Race" simply refers to a set of genetically transmissible characteristics producing certain physical differences, distinctive but not enough so as to constitute a separate species. For example, the familiar "Baltimore" and "Bullock's" orioles, formerly considered distinct species, are now classed merely as races of the Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula); likewise with the various races of the Northern Junco (Junco hyemalis) and so on. 

"Race" is a useful scientific term for classifying variations within an animal species - and people, in case you've forgotten, are animals. (Homo sapiens, a name devised in the days before blogs.) That some have used it for evil purposes doesn't mean it has no validity. If we get rid of every word that some shithead has used for evil purposes, we'll be reduced to gestures and grunts. Which in the case of some of the Blogtrotters would be an improvement, but - 

...All the same, if any Muslims were offended, they never said anything to me about it, or to anybody I know. Not this time, not back in '06 when this first came up, not when we published Janis Ian's "Mahmoud's Wives" - not so much as an indignant email. All the shit that came our way was from PC Westerners. If that surprises you, you haven't been paying attention.

4. Did this result in the closing of Helix?

Actually we decided when we first started out that we'd go for two years, which would have ended with the spring issue; but then it looked as if we had a shot at a Hugo nomination, so we decided to go ahead and finish out this year. 

Of course the Blogtrotters don't believe that; they're convinced that they brought down the Evil Empire with their hooting and turd-flinging. But I'd point out that earlier this year, before this shit started, I'd already announced that I was only going to take a very few more submissions, and that was why. 

Several years before the incident Sanders calls “sheet storm”, he announced his retirement, then wrote at least three more stories—he says on his site’s bibliography, “I said I'd retired; I didn't say I'd quit. This one insisted on being written.” Sometimes artists announce their retirement when they think they’re done, and then the muse comes again. If not for social justice fandom’s sheet storm, who knows what other stories might have insisted on being written? If editing Helix had continued to be fun, who knows whether he and his friends might’ve decided to keep it going?

Well, there’s never much point in playing “what if”, for all that it’s a literary game Sanders and I have loved. The social justice posse decided an old Indian wasn’t acting white enough for them, and William Sanders has ridden into the sunset.

The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege, or The Hounding of William Sanders

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege, or The Hounding of William Sanders

The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege, or The Hounding of William Sanders

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege, or The Hounding of William Sanders

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

“This is the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention. WisCon encourages discussion and debate of ideas relating to feminism, gender, race and class.” —from WisCon’s web site

When Emma and I went to WisCon in the 1980s, the convention used a simple definition of feminism like my favorite, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” It recognizes that people of any political stripe may be feminists—only a fool would argue that conservatives like Maggie Thatcher and Condi Rice are not the equal of any man.

But feminism changed, thanks to Derrick Bell, the man called the Father of Critical Race Theory.

According to the UCLA School of Public Affairs’ “What is Critical Race Theory?”:
CRT recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color.
One of Bell’s harshest critics, black conservative lawyer Winkfield F. Twyman, Jr., acknowledges that Bell’s early work was impressive:
Bell had come out of the litigation struggle during the 1960s. Rightly concerned with the “snail pace” of racial progress, he began writing arguments critical of traditional civil rights law. He continued his provocative work after his appointment to the Harvard Law School faculty in 1969 and tenure in 1971. ... Because he taught at the premier law school in the country, Bell’s thoughts had a disproportionate impact on the best and the brightest black law students. Bell became more of a fiction writer than a scholar of constitutional doctrine. He devised more and more imaginary narratives that infused the law with the experience of racism. He wrote about space ships that came to take blacks away. He wrote about imaginary civil rights lawyers, to keep it real. And the bright ones took their lead from Bell’s troubled sojourn into irrelevance. Kimberle Crenshaw graduated from Harvard Law in 1984 and began to expand upon the mysticism that became loosely coined ‘Critical Race Theory’.
Crenshaw gets the credit for CRT’s name; Bell originally called his theory “Racial Realism”, the same name former Klan leader David Duke uses for his beliefs. In both cases, “racial realism” means “I divide people by race because I’m a realist, so don’t call me a racist.”

Bell believed:
Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those Herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more than ‘temporary peaks of progress,’ short lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance ... white self-interest will prevail over black rights.
Critical Race Theorists say their realism about race explains why the wealth gap between whites and blacks changed very little after the civil rights movement, a question that matters to anyone who cares about justice.

In 1967, Martin Luther King wrote, “In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.” Believing the problem of poverty for all race lay in unregulated capitalism, King said, “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

Malcolm X targeted the problem bluntly: “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”

But Bell was no follower of King or Malcolm X. He said, “I think there must be value in Marxist and other writings, but I did not really read them in college and have had little time since.” Since Bell’s heroes included black socialists like Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois, his lack of interest in socialism is surprising until you remember that many middle and upper class black folks celebrate King’s and Malcolm X’s opposition to racial privilege and ignore their opposition to economic privilege.

The most criticized aspect of Critical Race Theory may be its embrace of subjectivity. Because there’s no data to support it, its believers rely on stories, both memoirs and fiction. Bell’s “The Space Traders” is a CRT sacred text about an alien race that offers wealth to humanity in exchange for carrying off the Earth’s black folks. Whites—and, I assume, Asians—make the deal. It’s a parable that only works if you already accept its premise. (Full disclosure: I tried to read it, but Bell’s storytelling didn’t impress me. My summary is based on what I’ve read about it.)

Bell’s capitalism-friendly model of power may have been essential to his success in academia. Instead of teaching upper class students to share the wealth, he taught privileged whites to apologize for their white privilege and privileged blacks— Well, Adolph Reed Jr.’s comment about Barack Obama and his black supporters applies to all Critical Race Theorists of color:
...the modal type of Ivy League POC students I’ve been teaching for the last 30 years. That same mastery of performance of a cultivated, yet at the same time empty and pro forma, intellectuality, conviction that one’s career advancement literally embodies the victory of the civil rights movement...
Because CRTheorists think dark-skinned folks are best qualified to discuss race, here are critics of color from the left and right rejecting the approach to racism that comes from Bell:

 Adolph Reed Jr. wrote in “The limits of anti-racism”:
The contemporary discourse of “antiracism” is focused much more on taxonomy than politics. It emphasizes the name by which we should call some strains of inequality—whether they should be broadly recognized as evidence of “racism”— over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them. And, no, neither “overcoming racism” nor “rejecting whiteness” qualifies as such a step any more than does waiting for the “revolution” or urging God’s heavenly intervention.
Rev. Thandeka said in “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail” that anti-racists “make an erroneous assumption about the nature and structure of power in America…The privilege that, according to the anti-racists, comes with membership in white America, actually belongs to a tiny elite.”

Priyamvada Gopal wrote in “Anti-racism has to go beyond a facile representation game”:
Anti-racist politics has become a facile “representation” game that involves appeasing the fragile sensitivities of a vocal few claiming to represent the whole community. It is about harassing artists and writers, demanding that they conform to “right” ways of representing the community.
Winkfield F. Twyman, Jr. wrote in “The Lightness of Critical Race Theory”:
Our best and brightest … should not be spending their energies planning the next hot Critical Race Theory workshop where the irrelevant write for one another. ... For all intents and purposes, Critical Race Theory is a non-issue in the real world.
Bell’s effect on feminism came through his protégé, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. Late in the 1980s, she fused middle-class feminism and Critical Race Theory with a concept that’s loved by identitarians, “intersectionality.”

Crenshaw wrote:
Among the most troubling political consequences of the failure of anti-racist and feminist discourses to address the intersections of race and gender is the fact that, to the extent they can forward the interests of “people of color” and “women,” respectively, one analysis often implicitly denies the validity of the other. The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color, and the failure of antiracism to interrogate patriarchy means that antiracism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women.
In Crenshaw’s model, different forms of oppression are unrelated and only sometimes intersect. Identitarians now include class in that model, but social justice warriors are not interested in ending the class system. Like 19th century promoters of noblesse oblige, they’re only concerned with ending “classism”, the prejudice against people lower on the class ladder.

Which is why WisCon’s FAQ now says
We define “feminist” broadly to include race and class issues, gay/bisexual/lesbian/transgender issues, and anything else that touches on strong women (authors, artists, readers, characters) in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
The most interesting claim in that statement is that their definition is broad. Withdrawing their Guest of Honor offer from Elizabeth Moon suggests their definition of feminism is so narrow that only believers in Critical Race Theory need apply.

Derrick Bell would be very proud of what WisCon and third-wave feminism have become.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

socialist Bible verse of the day: Proverbs 21:13

"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." —Proverbs 21:13

socialist Bible verse of the day: Proverbs 21:13

"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard." —Proverbs 21:13

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip


The price of mocking WisCon attendees under a pseudonym? Being outed and terrorized.


WisCon calls itself the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention. It’s run by and for what social justice fandom calls “privileged” folks—they’re mostly white and expensively educated. It attracts a lot of academics, and while I love many academics, I can’t forget Dad’s advice after he entered the University of Florida as a forty-year-old freshman: “Pretty much by definition, academics are people who’ve been institutionalized most of their lives. They worked hard to learn a whole lot about a whole little, and they tend to think reading about a thing means they know it. The easiest way to get along with them is to learn their buzzwords, tell ‘em what they want to hear, and never contradict ‘em unless you’re ready for a hissy fit.”

Dad graduated with honors in three years.

But I digress.

WisCon 32 in May of 2008 was unique for two things, the “WisCholera”, a gastrointestinal illness caused by a norovirus that sent some WisConners to the emergency room, and “the WisCon Troll”, an incident that forever changed scifi’s social justice fandom.

Under the pseudonym Zathlazip, a two-time WisCon attendee posted “WisCon, the Feminist Sci-Fi Convention: A journey of self-hate” at Something Awful, a web site that does its best to live up to its name. Her post began:
WisCon 32, the 32nd year of the "World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention," is taking place this Memorial Day weekend in Madison, Wisconsin. 
If you are unfamiliar with this con, it is like any other sci-fi con, except that well over half of the attendees are female, about a third of the panels are political, there is no gaming, and absolutely everybody is a huge bitch. 
This is my second year attending WisCon. I go because I love this. I remember how much I hate my fellow women, and then I go the whole rest of the year thankful that normal life is never this horrible.
The text continued in that tone. The photos targeted the fattest WisConners. Though Zathlazip obscured faces and didn’t use last names, it was easy for people to spot themselves and their friends. (The post is pay-to-view at Something Awful, but if you’re curious, google the title to find a free copy or two online.)

The only thing I can say in Zathlazip’s defense is she probably didn’t think WisConners would visit Something Awful. It’s a site for self-styled “goons” who will do almost anything online for the lulz.

But a WisConner found her post. In social justice terms, it was an intersectional moment of feces and fan. The outrage leaped from blog to blog.

Then Liz Henry, on her Badgerbag LiveJournal, revealed Zathlazip’s LJ user name and legal name. In the comments, Henry explained, “It was like 30 seconds of googling for me to find her real name.”

And LJ flames burned fiercely.

And social justice fandom sought revenge.

Someone left an anonymous comment at Something Awful telling Zathlazip that her legal name was known. If the WisCon post was not down in a day, her boss at the university would be told she had violated school policies on sexual harassment.

How a woman mocking male and female science fiction fans is sexual harassment, no one has explained, but the point’s moot. Zathlazip asked the Something Awful moderators to remove the post, and, as someone at Something Awful put it: “ the White Knight Action Patrol immediately swooped into action and deleted all traces of the thread from the Goldmine.”

But anyone who thinks that would end things does not understand Social Mob Justice.

Zathlazip got anonymous emails promising to make her unemployable.

People called and emailed her bosses in the hope of getting her fired.

People wrote posts that have since been deleted or made private about “how they would hurt/STAB her if they saw her on the street”, according to Pyratejenni on journalfen.net.

And someone snuck into Zathlazip’s campus office to leave a threat scrawled on a page torn from WisCon’s program book.

Zathlazip was terrified. She told the Madison Police Department about “vague threats” and the University of Wisconsin Police Department about the note in her office. She apologized on her LJ for what she had done and warned that if she got more emailed threats, she would record the ISP numbers.

But the WisConners rejected the apology. K. Tempest Bradford said if Zathlazip “feels scared, hurt, embattled, and like she can’t walk down the street without someone having something nasty to say about her, all I can say is: good. ... you know that feeling in the gut you get when you’re anxious and upset and freaked out? I hope she feels that every day for a year. It still wouldn’t be enough.”

A google-bombing was launched. More blogs than I care to count made posts outing Zathlazip. Now, anyone who googles her legal name learns what she did and how thoroughly she’s hated.

Pyratejenni may have been the only member of the community who denounced the outing. She noted that the unspoken rule of fandom was "What happens in fandom, stays in fandom", but now there was “nada about this behavior from fen normally so worried about community standards, like Coffeeandink. So it's okay now to post people's real names and similar information, as long as they do something that really, really pisses you off.

A few WisConners found affirming ways to respond. Perhaps the best was Purplefrog26 at the Fatshionista LJ, who posted a picture of herself dancing, her face proudly visible, with the comment, “I’m not sure what this person’s objective was in posting these pathetic attempts at humor. But I know that they did not change my commitment to living my life joyfully and abundantly. And I prefer pictures to include my face.”

The saddest responses came from social justice fans who denied their side could have had anything to do with terrorizing Zathlazip. They suggested Something Awful’s goons must be after her for the lulz. As Liz Henry put it:
If that is true she's being threatened, it might just as well be from the site she originally posted on. She is being mocked on a related site by members of her own community.
That’s a standard response from people who whip up a mob. I suspect Rush Limbaugh has made a similar argument more than once.

Now, it’s true the goons mocked Zathlazip for caving in to the threats. But the notion that a goon would go to WisCon, find a program, write a threat on it, and risk being caught putting it in Zathlazip’s office “for the lulz” calls for Occam to shave with a rusty razor. That’s not lulz. That’s work. The goons’ lulz came from teasing WisConners by making rudely accurate comments on their boards like,
Several other attendees are also currently in the market for a lawyer, in order to sue the entire internets for laughing at them. As if they weren't already hypocritical enough, the only persons who committed any actual crimes are the fatties.
Few WisConners mention the terrorizing of Zathlazip when they talk about the WisCon Troll. Most who do say “she deserved it.” Groups with a shared worldview forgive their people’s worst behavior when the motive is to protect the group. If you think in terms of institutional behavior, that ensures the group will be defended in similar ways in the future.

When I first wrote about the mobbing of Zathlazip, Liz Henry was bothered by my choice of “mobbing”. She asked, “In theory, people can think and act for themselves, yet mobilize to act together politically, right?”

I answered, “Yes. And yet, mobbing is rarely an instantaneous uprising of a group. First influential members of the community make cries of outrage. Then the mob acts on the outrage. In the various fails centering around WisCon, the pattern is consistent. All you have to do is check the timestamps and see how many readers a poster has.”

Mobbing has more consequences than mobs realize. From “Warning: Mobbing is Legal, Work with Caution” by Jody E. Housker, Ph.D., NCC, LPC and Stephen G. Saiz, Ed.D., NCC, LPC, ACS:
...the target may find that he/she is less productive, creative, and self questioning. Mobbing can leave the target’s life in turmoil (Glass, 1999), feeling embarrassed, frustrated and untrusting. Symptoms may include crying, sleep difficulties, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, excessive weight loss or gain, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, avoidance of the workplace, and/or uncharacteristic fearfulness (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). For some the degree of symptoms may become severe and include severe depression, panic attacks, heart attack, other severe illnesses, accidents, suicide attempts, violence directed at third parties and symptoms of PTSD (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). These symptoms may lead the target to feel who they are as a person is being stripped away.

As emotional and psychological changes take place often physical difficulties follow. Those mobbed have been found to experience reduced immunity to infection, heart attacks as well as numerous other health problems (Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). According to Leymann (n.d.) roughly ten to twenty percent of those mobbed in his study seemed to contract a serious illnesses or committed suicide.

Changes take place in relationships inside and outside of work. When the target fails to “bounce back” from the impact of being mobbed, family and friends may begin to abandon the target (Namie & Namie, 2000). According to Westhues (2002) “Not infrequently, mobbing spelled the end of the target’s career, marriage, health, and livelihood.”

All of the psychological, physical and relationships changes will likely lead to financial difficulties. Paid time off from work, doctor appointments, therapy, as well as medications may be required.
And from The Mobbing Portal’s Glossary of Terms:
Heinz Leymann ... analyzed the impact of mobbing on the target's psychological well-being and found severe anxiety reactions of either obsession or depression. Leymann defines obsession as the"opposite of depression" where instead of"pathological inactivity" the individual experiences"over-activity and dependency" as a consequence mobbing (Leymann 1992). Just like depressive symptoms, obsessive symptoms can become chronic after a prolonged period of abuse. Permanent personality changes that Leymann noted includes the following:"a hostile suspicious attitude toward the surroundings, a chronic feeling of nervousness that one is in constant danger, compulsory fixation on one's own fate to a degree that exceeds the limit of tolerance of people in one's surroundings (leading to isolation and loneliness), and hypersensitivity with respect to injustices and a constant identification with the suffering of others in an almost compulsory manner" (Leymann 1992).
Even the fear of being mobbed can be devastating. Megan Meier killed herself after getting a message saying:
Everybody in O'Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life.
Liz Henry may be the only person who publicly regretted outing Zathlazip. In The WisCon Chronicles 3, she wrote:
I have personally apologized to Zathlazip for participating in the outing of her various identities...
Many WisCon people refer to the incident as “The WisCon Troll.” This demonstrates at least two major problems. The first is that it conflates their mobbing with Zathlazip’s mockery. The other problem is this: a person who is obnoxious on the Internet is still a person, not a troll. Yet a WisCon member declaring “I want them (the SASS trolls, Zathlazip, and SA members alike) to lose their jobs, their homes, their families; they aren’t even human beings. I want them hurt.” Others continue to make similar statements. The level of damage to Zathlazip that some people call for is not in keeping with the level of damage that was caused by the whole constellation of events, let alone the level of damage that she herself caused. The WisCon community was damaged by a complicated culture clash resulting from the initial actions of Zathlazip, but we don’t believe that participating in the practice of dehumanizing others will do the community any good. Much of the language around The Troll is perturbing. As feminists we profess to care for all women and all people. When we exclude Zathlazip from the category of person, we are doing something wrong.
Studies of mobbiing focus on the mobbed, but anyone who cares about a community that mobs should remember that mobbing damages the mobbers as well. Five years after the Salem witch hunts, jurors signed an apology:
And we also pray that we may be considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers as being then under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with and not experienced in matters of that nature.
If ever we understand that “strong and general delusion”, witch hunts will end.

When I wrote about this in the past, I used Zathlazip’s legal name because the WisConners made it public knowledge. But I’ve been thinking about whether the purpose of justice is vengeance or healing. My answer is to remove her name from my web site, just as Liz Henry chose to leave it out of her essay in WisCon Chronicles 3. If more WisConners do the same, Google’s connection of Zathlazip’s legal name to the WisCon Troll will fade. The histories will not disappear, but the histories will remember the pseudonym who mocked, not the person who was outed. Doing that would not necessarily be forgiveness. It would only be kindness.

And for those who value pseudonymity, it would be a recommitment to their principles. Pyratejenni was right. What happens under a pseud should stay under a pseud.

The most objective account of the incident may be “Internet famous, real-world notorious: UW student mocks WisCon, starts online firestorm”, where Zathlazip points out social justice fandom's double standard:
Many of these people want to be both invisible and visible at the same time. They claim they want what they have to say heard, but then they are extremely vindictive for being exposed by someone who doesn't subscribe to it. They want their names/photos private — which, at the time, I thought I was respecting — but then as a group they condone harassment of me by my full name and job, and many of them condoned violence against me.

Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip

Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip

Monday, July 23, 2012

what should Goodreads—or anyone—do about pseudonymous jerks?

From my comments at Stop the GR Bullies - Goodreads Doesn’t Care:

1. Goodreads shouldn’t care. They’re a forum for free speech about books. So long as no one does anything illegal, they should stay as far away from this entire business as they possibly can.

You’re entitled to share information about the people you think are bullies, so long as those people have made that information public. The bullies are entitled to be vicious and slag books without even bothering to read them. Free speech is messy, but it’s better than the alternatives.

The best thing to do is to keep calling for kindness and honesty. If Goodreads had a solution to the problem of abuse on the internet, I’m sure they would’ve shared it with Youtube by now.

2. More moderation seems like a nice idea, but moderators tend to take sides. Sometimes they make a problem worse.

I like systems in which people can downvote comments, but that has problems, too. People will downvote comments for fun, or because they’re on vendettas.

what should Goodreads—or anyone—do about pseudonymous jerks?

From my comments at Stop the GR Bullies - Goodreads Doesn’t Care:

1. Goodreads shouldn’t care. They’re a forum for free speech about books. So long as no one does anything illegal, they should stay as far away from this entire business as they possibly can.

You’re entitled to share information about the people you think are bullies, so long as those people have made that information public. The bullies are entitled to be vicious and slag books without even bothering to read them. Free speech is messy, but it’s better than the alternatives.

The best thing to do is to keep calling for kindness and honesty. If Goodreads had a solution to the problem of abuse on the internet, I’m sure they would’ve shared it with Youtube by now.

2. More moderation seems like a nice idea, but moderators tend to take sides. Sometimes they make a problem worse.

I like systems in which people can downvote comments, but that has problems, too. People will downvote comments for fun, or because they’re on vendettas.

Friday, July 20, 2012

about Stop the Goodreads Bullies, pseudonymity, and cyberstalking

Stop the GR Bullies is an attempt to stop "bullies" from posting cruel reviews at Goodreads. One of StGRB's tactics is to find information online that the "bullies" made public, then share that information at their site. The "bullies" and their supporters say they are being "cyberstalked" and "outed" by StGRB.

A few things I should state first:

1. Reviewers should feel free to say whatever they like about books and authors.

2. Reviewers should expect their readers to say whatever they like about reviews and reviewers.

3. Cruel reviews have always struck me as pointless. When so many good books are overlooked, why waste time slagging books you don't like? Ignoring books helps them disappear. Adding your negative attention to the positive attention a book has gotten only increases the attention that book will get. It's more effective to promote what you love than to attack what you hate.

4. Pseudonymity and anonymity matter. Anyone who is concerned about their privacy should have their privacy respected. Bradley Manning is one of my heroes, and I despise the people who outed him.

If the StGRB uproar was only about cruel reviews, I probably would not be writing about them.

But it's also about free speech:

Reviews should be honest. When reviewers give one-star reviews to books before they're published, the writer is a liar, not a reviewer. Though Fox News legally established its right to lie, lies are not and should not be defended as "free speech". Free speech is the right to share what you believe is true; it has nothing to do with saying what you know is false in the hope of hurting someone.

It's about metaphors:

If metaphors matter, "outing" and "stalking" should not be used lightly. In real life, people who were "outed" did their best to keep their identities private because they feared the sometimes-fatal consequences of being identified as a homosexual or a socialist. "Stalking" is about following people who are trying to go about their daily lives; it has nothing to do with reading or sharing a writer's public writing.

It's about bullying:

Some of the "bullies" are crying that they're being bullied, and that their reviews were not bullying because they didn't physically hurt anyone. But long before the internet existed, people knew that intellectual bullying existed and could be worse than physical bullying. Physical scars eventually fade, but mental scars last forever.

It's about censorship:

Some of the "bullies" are looking for ways to shut down the StGRB site, by appealing to the law or GoDaddy, the site's host.

It's about how to be pseudonymous on the net:

If you want to be pseudonymous, you have to make an effort. What you share in public is no longer private information; when you share it, it becomes public information. (Apologies for spelling out what should be obvious to everyone, but I'm constantly astonished by how many people haven't grasped that concept.)

The easiest way to be pseudonymous online is to be nice. No one tries to "out" anyone for being wonderful.

This doesn't mean you have to be nice. If you want to be abusive, that's your right. But if you want to be abusive pseudonymously, take your pseudonymity seriously. Don't cry that you've been "outed" if your targets, or their friends, or people who don't like abusive people, decide to share information that you've already shared. It may not be nice of them, but the hard version of the Golden Rule applies: Others may do unto you as you have done unto them.

ETA: On G+, I was asked why I mentioned Maning at #4, so I added "and anonymity". Privacy should cover all forms of withholding one's legal identity. Whistle-blowers often want to be anonymous or pseudonymous, and embarrassed people always want to expose and punish them.

about Stop the Goodreads Bullies, pseudonymity, and cyberstalking

Stop the GR Bullies is an attempt to stop "bullies" from posting cruel reviews at Goodreads. One of StGRB's tactics is to find information online that the "bullies" made public, then share that information at their site. The "bullies" and their supporters say they are being "cyberstalked" and "outed" by StGRB.

A few things I should state first:

1. Reviewers should feel free to say whatever they like about books and authors.

2. Reviewers should expect their readers to say whatever they like about reviews and reviewers.

3. Cruel reviews have always struck me as pointless. When so many good books are overlooked, why waste time slagging books you don't like? Ignoring books helps them disappear. Adding your negative attention to the positive attention a book has gotten only increases the attention that book will get. It's more effective to promote what you love than to attack what you hate.

4. Pseudonymity and anonymity matter. Anyone who is concerned about their privacy should have their privacy respected. Bradley Manning is one of my heroes, and I despise the people who outed him.

If the StGRB uproar was only about cruel reviews, I probably would not be writing about them.

But it's also about free speech:

Reviews should be honest. When reviewers give one-star reviews to books before they're published, the writer is a liar, not a reviewer. Though Fox News legally established its right to lie, lies are not and should not be defended as "free speech". Free speech is the right to share what you believe is true; it has nothing to do with saying what you know is false in the hope of hurting someone.

It's about metaphors:

If metaphors matter, "outing" and "stalking" should not be used lightly. In real life, people who were "outed" did their best to keep their identities private because they feared the sometimes-fatal consequences of being identified as a homosexual or a socialist. "Stalking" is about following people who are trying to go about their daily lives; it has nothing to do with reading or sharing a writer's public writing.

It's about bullying:

Some of the "bullies" are crying that they're being bullied, and that their reviews were not bullying because they didn't physically hurt anyone. But long before the internet existed, people knew that intellectual bullying existed and could be worse than physical bullying. Physical scars eventually fade, but mental scars last forever.

It's about censorship:

Some of the "bullies" are looking for ways to shut down the StGRB site, by appealing to the law or GoDaddy, the site's host.

It's about how to be pseudonymous on the net:

If you want to be pseudonymous, you have to make an effort. What you share in public is no longer private information; when you share it, it becomes public information. (Apologies for spelling out what should be obvious to everyone, but I'm constantly astonished by how many people haven't grasped that concept.)

The easiest way to be pseudonymous online is to be nice. No one tries to "out" anyone for being wonderful.

This doesn't mean you have to be nice. If you want to be abusive, that's your right. But if you want to be abusive pseudonymously, take your pseudonymity seriously. Don't cry that you've been "outed" if your targets, or their friends, or people who don't like abusive people, decide to share information that you've already shared. It may not be nice of them, but the hard version of the Golden Rule applies: Others may do unto you as you have done unto them.

ETA: On G+, I was asked why I mentioned Maning at #4, so I added "and anonymity". Privacy should cover all forms of withholding one's legal identity. Whistle-blowers often want to be anonymous or pseudonymous, and embarrassed people always want to expose and punish them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

advice I will remember


"Do not speak, unless it improves on silence."

via Buddhism - Google+

advice I will remember


"Do not speak, unless it improves on silence."

via Buddhism - Google+

the "tone argument" or "tone policing": why social justice warriors act like assholes

Any suggestion that Warriors try to be polite is called “tone policing” or “making the tone argument”. To Warriors, anyone who suggests being polite is a  “concern troll” or “derailer” who wants to weaken their discussion. The “tone argument” is cited by people of all hues and genders who think their issue gives them the right to be rude. It means “I don’t have to be polite; you do.”

Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Fannie Lou Hamer would’ve rejected the tone argument in an instant. I like Brother Malcolm’s take best. He said, ”Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

Because Warriors have enormous difficulty grasping simple ideas, I'll spell that out: So long as no one puts their hands on you, be polite.

People who cite “the tone argument” are invariably middle or upper class. The idea that their arrogance should be accepted is, in their terms, their privilege speaking. Working folks have a stock response to people like them: “Didn’t your momma teach you no manners?”

Googling to see how common that response is, I laughed when I found “Didn’t yo mama teach you no manners, collegeboy?” Though the Warriors’ mothers and fathers might have tried to teach them manners, the collegekids of social justice fandom rant and abuse in the belief that will make a better world. They think common courtesy is too common to apply to them.

What makes me saddest about people who cite the tone argument is I share their desire for a fair world, but I can’t share their tactics. As Jay Lake said after the Racefail flamewar, “Any cause that requires mockery and abuse to advance itself isn’t one I need to engage with, regardless of my basic beliefs or agreement with the underlying goals.”

Note: This post was inspired in part by the treatment of Laci Green. If you don't know the story, start at Internet Social Justice Mob Goes Batshit on Activist, Has No Sense of Irony. All her critics had to do was say, "I disagree, and here's why." But that, alas, is not the Way of the Social Justice Warrior.

the problem with social justice fandom's "tone argument"

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: the problem with social justice fandom's "tone argument"

the problem with social justice fandom's "tone argument"

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: the problem with social justice fandom's "tone argument"

Monday, July 16, 2012

real Indians and wannabes, and American Indian or Native American

1. American Indian or Native American?

When I lived by an Ojibwa reservation in northern Ontario, the question of "Indian" or "American Indian" or "Native American" never came up. People would refer to someone as Ojibwa or Cree if it seemed like useful information. I don't remember anyone using First Nations then, though they might've used it when dealing with the Canadian government. I did a quick google and found Native American Name Controvery, which confirmed my memory, "Many of those involved prefer Indian or American Indian to Native Americans," and provides some links:

Russell Means, I Am An American Indian, Not A Native American!

Christina Berry, All Things Cherokee: Article - What's in a Name? Indians and Political Correctness

2. Real Indians and Wannabes

Like many white Americans, I grew up believing I was genetically part American Indian. I’ve never tested that. All I know is that when my family lived by an Objibwe tribe, one of the local women looked exactly like my Grandma.

Frankly, I don’t want to get tested for two reasons:

1. I’d rather not be disappointed, which certainly happens.

2. One thing I always loved about Indian people is their concept of people was tribal, not racial. Historically, being genetically Indian was irrelevant to being Indian.

Which was why I was so disappointed when I heard some tribes have adopted racial models of membership, thereby excluding people who culturally belong. The most egregious example: Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants.

On the other hand, the US is full of wannabe Indians, and if I was Indian, the wannabes would bug me. I know because I'm not Indian, and they bug me.

If you meet someone whose Indian cred seems a bit suspect, ask ‘em what tribe they’re from. Real Indians prefer to be known by their tribe, so asking is polite.

But the definition of tribe can be tricky. The Seaconke Wampanoag who were sampled were shown to have almost no “Native American” genetic lineages. Their tribe is recognized by the state of Massachusetts, but not by the federal government. The Cherokee Nation’s Fraudulent Indians Task Force criticizes state-recognized tribes for having insufficient requirements for membership.

Here's why people have their doubts about the Seaconke Wampanoag: a "citizen" of the tribe has a defined meaning, but a "member" does not. From the tribal requirements:
What is the difference between a Citizen and a Member 
A Citizen is someone who has a genealogical connection to and approved clan in the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. A member is someone who may or may not have native genealogy but in no genealogical way has a connection to the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe.
It used to be you could tell a real Indian from a fake Indian by whether they used “Indian” or “Native American”. From Native American Name Controvery: “Many of those involved prefer Indian or American Indian to Native Americans.” That rule may not be as firm as it used to be, but all the Indians I’ve known prefer “Indian.”

Bonus Indian joke: “He’s Indian? He looks 100% white.” “Yep. He’s a full-blooded Wanahbe.”

And a favorite song from my childhood:



3. A Jewish Dances With Wolves

From Don Solomono, Jewish Indian Chief:
In 1888, "Don Solomono," as he was known to the Acomas, became governor of the Acoma Pueblo, the equivalent of chief of the tribe. Remarkably, the Acomas asked the United States to recognize Bibo as their leader. Even more remarkable is that Bibo was a Jew.

Solomon Bibo was born in Prussia in 1853, the sixth of eleven children.

real Indians and wannabes

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: real Indians and wannabes

real Indians and wannabes

Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage: real Indians and wannabes

If this quiz is accurate, I'm voting Green this year

I tried the isidewith quiz and got these results:

93%
Jill Stein
Jill Stein
on immigration, healthcare, social, environmental, science, and foreign policy issues. 
82%
Barack Obama
Barack Obama
on social, immigration, healthcare, science, and foreign policy issues. 
81%
Stewart Alexander
Stewart Alexander
on immigration, healthcare, and social issues. 
72%
Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson
on domestic policy, foreign policy, and immigration issues. 
67%
Jimmy McMillan
Jimmy McMillan
on domestic policy, social, healthcare, and economic issues. 
59%
Ron Paul
Ron Paul
on domestic policy and foreign policy issues. 
27%
Virgil Goode
Virgil Goode
on domestic policy and foreign policy issues. 
21%
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
on domestic policy issues. 
83%

Pennsylvania Voters
on domestic policy, economic, science, social, and foreign policy issues.
83%

American Voters
on domestic policy, economic, science, social, and foreign policy issues.
I am surprised that I'm 1% closer to Obama than the socialist in the race, but the questions I answered didn't focus on sharing the wealth.

If I was in New York, I'd be tempted to vote for Jimmy McMillan purely for the great beard.