Thursday, April 9, 2015

For Mary Robinette Kowal and other "anti-racists" who insist a person in a mixed marriage may be racist

ETA 7 (posted at the top as well as the bottom because it's the most important ETA): An Apology to Mary Robinette Kowal

This is in response to How to tell when MRK is angry, which is in response to a discussion in the comments at Please stop with the death threats and the hate mail. To simplify following what was said, I'll quote our interchange:

It began when Walt Boyes left a comment that included:
Bringing this back around to the HUGOs, for a minute…Brad’s proposed slate included socialists, conservatives, centrists, libertarians, anarchists, Christians, atheists, reformed atheists turned Christian, likely Pagans, Hispanics, Native Americans, immigrants, women, men, the disabled, straights, gays and bis. He is married to an African-American woman, and they have a mixed-race daughter. Are you saying that he still could be sexist, misogynistic and racist? That doesn’t make sense. Yet that is what many people who claim to be of the left are saying.
Mary's response included:
But yes, it is possible to be in a mixed marriage and still be racist. (Please do not take this statement to mean that I think Brad is proudly racist, which is an opinion that people seem really determined to put into my mouth.) It is possible in the same way that it is possible for a man to be married to a woman and be misogynist. It is even possible for a man to truly love his wife, and still carry the baggage of a misogynist culture around with him causing him to hold women as weaker, inferior creatures. Loving an individual is not the same as thinking that the class/category is your equal.
Which led to the following exchange:

  1. Will Shetterly
    Mary, yes, nice people can be racist, but it’s really hard to be a racist and a miscegenist at the same time. I don’t know if you’re in the “all white people are racist” camp, but the results of Project Implicit and other studies disagree with you. Suggesting there may be any inequality in anyone’s marriage without the slightest hint of evidence is, well, not charitable.
    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author
      Will… Seriously, did you read anything I wrote? I AM NOT SAYING THAT BRAD TORGERSEN IS RACIST. For fuck’s sake, will people stop trying to bend my words to say that.
      What I am saying, strictly and only, is that pointing to someone’s spouse as the ONLY example for how they are not “-ist” in some way does not at all mean that they aren’t. And “really hard” does not equal impossible. Jesus H. Christ on a Pogo stick, use a little rigor in your arguments and stop trying to pick a fight by inventing opinions for people.
      1. Will Shetterly
        If you’re willing to use a little rigor here, why do you feel obliged to argue that someone in a mixed marriage might be racist? When you hear someone claim something, do you automatically point out that some people lie? Context matters. We’re not talking about the general principle. We’re talking about two people who have had a long and loving marriage. Why doubt them?
        1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author
          Because I don’t think Brad’s marriage should be relevant to the discussion of the Hugos. I HATE that people keep trying to drag his personal life into this and that people keep using his wife and child as weapons. That’s a horrible thing to do to someone. He has said that he usually doesn’t talk about them or post photos to respect their privacy. I’m trying, desperately, to respect that boundary.
          Which means that, as much as possible, I’m going to talk about issues without talking about individuals.
          I mean, seriously, I disagree with Brad about many, many things, and I know that he holds me in contempt, but I’ve also been in the crossfires of the internet before and it sucks. I’m unwilling to do that to anyone except in a few very, very rare cases. This is not one.
          This is your notice that future attempts to continue bringing Brad’s marriage into the conversation will not be let through.
Probably because of her ideology, Mary fails to grasp or does not care that these are real people:

This is a man who has been called a racist, with his wife and his daughter. His "racism" is part of the debate of the Hugos because people like Mary and her friends feel obliged to insist that racists may marry people of other races and have insisted that the Sad Puppies are racist. Now, it's true that in rare cases, racists marry people they consider inferiors. Humans are astonishingly inconsistent. But why point that out in this case? What drives the desire to insist that Brad Torgersen may be racist when there is nothing to suggest that? We can go through life assuming the worst about everyone, but what does it say about our beliefs if we do?

Mary's clarification about her belief about Brad is fascinating; she said, "Please do not take this statement to mean that I think Brad is proudly racist, which is an opinion that people seem really determined to put into my mouth." Her "proudly" suggests she thinks he is casually or obliviously racist, which fits the "all white people are racist" assumptions of Critical Race Theorists.

Project Implicit found that a large minority of white people, including me, have an implicit preference for black folks. A smaller percentage have no detectable preference. Which group Torgersen falls in, I do not know. But anyone who knows the meaning and history of miscegenation should hesitate before suggesting the white member of a happily married couple is racist, "proudly" or not.

A few data points for Mary and her friends:

1. Gallup found that only 4% of Americans approved of marriage between blacks and whites in 1958, while 77% approved by 2007. Those percentages cut across racial and political lines.

2. According to Wikipedia, "Black wife/White husband marriages are 44% less likely to end in divorce than White wife/White husband couples over the same period."

Damn Brad for being a conservative if you must. But do not doubt that his marriage is a marriage of equals.

ETA: Mary's line about "misogynists marry women all the time" comes from a tweet by her friend, K. Tempest Bradford.

ETA 2: This post may be part of a series: For John C. Wright and other homophobes who want people to believe they are Christians

ETA 3: Regarding Tempest and Mary's comparison of racist marriages to misogynist ones, there's an easy test: Are both partners equals? If you have no reason to think otherwise, why suggest that a relationship is built on racism or misogyny? The only answer I can think of is that you believe all or most heterosexual relationships and mixed-race relationships are controlled by the man or the white person—an assumption which belittles the woman or the person of color in the relationship. If that assumption had anything to support it, marriages between white men and black women would be very weak, and yet, they're statistically the strongest, which suggests that those men and women have a partnership that no one should question.

ETA 4: I'm very frustrated that I can't make people who believe they're on the left understand the implications of casting doubt on a mixed-race marriage. But let me try with a hypothetical situation:

A Log Cabin Republican is accused of being homophobic. In response, he posts a beautiful picture of his gay spouse and their child. I would expect good people to say, "What a lovely family! I'm sorry I assumed you were homophobic. I clearly misunderstand the basis of your politics." I would not expect good people to say, "Well, you know you can be homophobic and gay, don't you?" Yes, it is true that people can be homophobic and gay. But saying that without any evidence of homophobia? That's just hurtful. Multiracial families, like gay families and all families, should be celebrated, not doubted, regardless of their politics.

ETA 5: A point I just made in the comments: In my youth, I marched and bled for the sake of integration and interracial marriage. I did not do that so identitarian liberals could quibble about the nature of a conservative's multiracial marriage.

ETA 6: Why Brad R. Torgersen should forgive Mary Robinette Kowal, and a few facts about racism in the USA

ETA 7 (posted at the top as well as the bottom because it's the most important ETA): An Apology to Mary Robinette Kowal