Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fixing the internet: Donald Trump is nativist, not racist

Trump's most prominent black fans:



From a recent Facebook conversation:

  • Will Shetterly I hate defending the guy, but he has black supporters because his message isn't racist; it's nativist. Yes, it is ironic when people descended from immigrants become nativists, but privileged people tend to forget their past.
    • D** F******** Actually I think Trump is more of an egoist than a nativist. Read an interesting column where the author said Trump was running a perpetual attention machine - I think that's the most accurate description so far. He may be a nativist but the folks lining up to back him aren't necessarily - simple folks like the KKK etc. If his message is resonating with those folks then the wording on the hat still rings true. That's what THEY think he's saying.
    • Will Shetterly D** F******** Agreed on the egoism. As for nativism, it attracts all the worst people: racists, jingoists, bigots.... I'm not sure offhand how it would attract sexists, but there's probably a way. smile emoticon

      I just hate lightly calling anyone a racist when they have black supporters and haven't done or said anything racist that I know of.
  • Please, internet, do not make me explain this again: If you want to defeat something, you have to understand it. Imprecise insults make the choir roar with laughter, but they don't win new members for the church.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On Dylan Roof and Vester Lee Flanagan II

It's easy to find identitarians who wave away mental illness and blame belief systems when they speak of Dylann Roof, a white racist who murdered black people. Googling "dylann roof white privilege" brings up articles like these:

Calling Dylann Roof a 'terrorist' doesn't erase the privilege of his race | Yassir Morsi | Comment is free | The Guardian

Dear white allies after Charleston: Please understand this about your privilege - Salon.com

Duke Students: White People Are Basically All Dylann Roof | The Daily Caller

By their logic, when Vester Lee Flanagan murdered white people after writing, 'You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[redacted]!!!”, he showed that contemporary anti-racism is simply a form of racial hatred, no different than the beliefs of the Nation of Islam that inspired John Allen Muhammad, the Beltway Sniper.

Mind you, I'm on the side that says deeds, not words, matter, and all violent people need mental health care. If the beliefs of murderers damn the people who share the belief in some way, both Flanagan, a Jehovah's Witness, and Roof, a Lutheran, damned all Christians. The tragedy of Vester Lee Flanagan is that he undoubtedly encountered racists and homophobes in his life, but because he was mentally ill, he could not see that most and maybe all of his neighbors and co-workers were troubled by him because of who he was, not what he was.

Anyone who insists Dylan Roof is an example of white privilege should accept Vester Lee Flanagan as an example of identitarianism. He understood the world in terms of race and gender, and he based his killing on that understanding.

Because identitarians have such a black-and-white understanding of the world, I'll end with the standard disclaimer: No, this does not mean there are no racists. See The limits of anti-racism by Adolph Reed Jr.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blogging about identitarians in fandom vs. blogging about them in general, and questions about trigger warnings and lesbian content

Q. What's the line between blogging about fandom's SJWs and blogging about identitarians in general?

A. Attention outside of fandom. When something begins in fandom and makes it to a general interest site like The Guardian, it's no longer just a fannish issue, and I'll happily discuss it. Hmm. Or unhappily discuss it.

I've accepted that partisans keep their own histories. So long as they keep them in their own community, I'm grateful for the opportunity to ignore them. But when they try to impose their mythology on the world, I'll do my little bit by writing about it.

Insert here any quote you like about speaking out.

For some insight to what I think is the real culture war of our time: Kenan Malik's FREE SPEECH IN AN AGE OF IDENTITY POLITICS. There are too many good bits to pluck one.

Malik's mention of trigger warnings reminds me of something I've been wondering since I saw Duke U freshmen object [to] graphic novel depicting lesbian relationships. Alison Bechdel's Fun Home is a great book, but believers in trigger warnings don't care about a work's quality. So, two questions:

1. Would trigger warning supporters support trigger warnings for lesbian content?

2. If a school puts a trigger warning on a book, does that mean students  like those Duke freshmen wouldn't have to read it if they said it would be too triggering?

vintage capitalism cartoon: Now He Understands the Game


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An open letter to George R. R. Martin about the Hugos and fandom's SJWs

Dear George,

I generally share your sentiments at Hugo Aftermath - Not A Blog, but I envy your ability to write this:
There were no SJWs, then or now. There were only the Puppies... and the rest of us, who weren't Puppies, and did not like having their choices imposed on us.
Would that were so.

The first evidence that there are SJWs in fandom: Best Fan Writer went to Laura Mixon for writing about the worst of them.

The second: The SJWs are the ones who rejected your reasoning here:
I had picked Mike Resnick in Short Form and Toni Weisskopf in Long Form, and indeed, each of them finished above all the other nominees in the first round of voting... but well behind No Award. This was a crushing defeat for the slates, and a big victory for the Puppy-Free ballot of Deirdre Moen. Honestly? I hated this. In my judgment the voters threw the babies out with bathwater in these two categories. Long Form had three nominees who are more than worthy of a Hugo (and one, Jim Minz, who will be in a few more years), and Short Form had some good candidates too. They were on the slates, yes, but some of them were put on there without their knowledge and consent. A victory by Resnick, Sowards, Gilbert, or Weisskopf would have done credit to the rocket, regardless of how they got on the ballot. (All four of these editors would almost certainly have been nominated anyway, even if there had been no slates).
I agree the Puppies' slates were not in the spirit of the Hugos (though the Hugos have a long tradition of things not being done in their spirit), and I might've voted No Award in the fiction categories (I haven't read the stories, so I have no opinion about their worth), but whatever anyone may think of the reason people rallied behind them, none of the people you mention on the editor ballots are considered "unworthy" by anyone who loves our genre.

But Social Justice Warriors believe they're on a holy war, so there can be no compromise. The self-proclaimed lovers of diversity proudly kept a capable woman from taking home a Best Editor award.

There's a third way to spot the genre's SJWs: Google for the folks who say Game of Thrones is racist because the characters are mostly white, sexist because the societies are sexist, and creepy because rape is included among the horrible things humans do to each other. SJWs do not believe in context and struggle greatly with metaphors.

One other point: I don't know if you've read 2015 Hugo Stats: Initial Analysis, but this should be noted by anyone who thinks the Puppies were solidly defeated:
Goblin Emperor lost the Best Novel to Three-Body Problem by 200 votes. Since there seem to have been at least 500 Rabid Puppy voters who followed VD’s suggestion to vote Liu first, this means Liu won because of the Rabid Puppies.
Which means that thanks to Vox Day, the most important Hugo Award of 2015 is less diverse in gender, but more diverse in race and nationality.

My take on the fight between SJWs and Rabid Puppies is a plague o' both their houses. As for the Sad Puppies, I don't share their politics, but after seeing them abused by the SJWs—few things are lower than, with no evidence at all, calling a white man married to a black woman racist—I'm hoping the SPs will learn from this battle and return for another round.

Ah, well. I do envy your ability to think it's as simple as us versus the Puppies. But for anyone who'd like evidence that it's not, here are a few relevant posts:

Four essential points about the Hugos and the Sad Puppies

On Star Trek and the dark history of "Social Justice"—a post for David Gerrold

A beginner's guide to "Social Justice Warriors" in the F&SF community

Best,

Will

ETA: On Twitter, Tim Hall said,
"There were no SJWs"? Who does he think the thousand people who voted No Award over Laura Mixon were?
But I don't think all of those voters were SJWs. I would've voted No Award in that case because Laura's piece treats Requires Hate as a deranged opportunist. Anyone interested in systems and justice should analyze the identitarian understanding of justice that was so easy for Requires Hate to exploit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dear internet, can anyone get in touch with Charles R. Saunders?

We're hoping to republish his Liavek story, "Ishu's Gift", in the fourth Liavek ebook, but we haven't been able to reach him with the online contacts we have or at the online sites we've found. So I'm making a public post in the hope he or a friend will notice. If we don't hear from him in time for #4, we'll just leave his story out and hope to include it in a later volume—fortunately, it can fit anywhere in the chronology. But we'd really like to republish it with his blessing.

He may be keeping his regular email address private, so if you think you have it, don't reply in the comments here. My email is shetterly at gmail.

ETA: I did try to contact him through his web site, Charles Saunders Writer, but I may've goofed up or run into some sort of glitch.

For people who cite the Black Book of Communism or believe "communism killed more people than capitalism"

I am so naive I once believed facts would matter online, that the internet would be the graveyard of bad ideas instead of the place where they live forever. Have a relevant quote:
"Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal." —Anatole France
Today, a friend on Facebook shared:
“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” ― Arundhati Roy
In the comments, someone said, "In my universe it was various flavors of socialism with a little bit of nationalism," and someone else added "The two greatest instances of genocide were Communist China and Communist Russia." So I shared Hitler Explains to GOP Why They Are Wrong about National Socialism, then made these comments:
...if you want to sound informed, you could do worse than this, which begins by pointing out the flaws in the studies you seem to be thinking of:
Attempting the Impossible – Calculating Capitalism’s Death Toll | Peter Says Stuff
And:
PS: I'm not recommending that post in particular. There are many places that point out the flaws of the studies you cite, so you should feel free to try others if you don't like that one. It was literally the first that came up when I googled something like "capitalism or communism who killed more".
And then I relied on a point that I didn't originate:
...as for your insistence that Nazis must be socialists because of their name, do you also insist the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic?
When it occurred to me that this might deserve to be a post, I wondered if I'd blogged about it already (because I've written about it before, in comments if not in posts), so I googled shetterly "black book of communism". On the first page of hits was a Vox Day post that includes this:


62.  bob k. mandoJuly 19, 2014 5:23 PM


Salt July 19, 2014 5:19 PM
What is historically and observably true?


what is historically and observably true?

heeee.

you go and try to explain to Shetterly or Brust how Marxism is the most murderous ideology ever seen on the face of the planet, more murderous by far than anything any people of 'faith' have done.

good luck with that.


67.  VDJuly 19, 2014 5:44 PM


Dinesh pointed out the mass killings under Stalin, Mao, etc. I never heard him attribute this to VD. But the interesting thing is that Hitchens did not use that argument again.

That argument is not original to me. It's well-known to anyone familiar with the Black Book of Communism. Harris even anticipated it, and addressed it unsuccessfully in The End of Faith.


68.  SaltJuly 19, 2014 5:51 PM


@Bob

Shetterly or Brust's understanding is not determinative as whether something is true or not.
I'm not bothering to comment there, partly because I agree with Salt's specific comment: we're all human, with all the shortcoming that entails. That's why we should seek facts with a scientific attitude, doing all we can to avoid confirmation bias. If you do that, you won't cite The Black Book of Communism, just as you wouldn't cite The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or any other work based on lies or extremely flawed research.

We are irrational animals—that's all the more reason to value reason.

ETA: Nazism: Position in the political spectrum - Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is Betty Boop black or white? Yes and no. (another interracial romance post)


Just got this comment on Interracial romance in comic books:
Betty Boop is black, I think she and Freddie beat everyone here.
Which is an excellent excuse for a post. Your required basic knowledge from Betty Boop:
Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930, in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes; the sixth installment in Fleischer's Talkartoon series. Although Clara Bow is often given as being the model for Boop, she actually began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane. The character was originally created as an anthropomorphic French poodle.
Clara Bow was a famous actress of the time:


But all she really tells us about Betty Boop is that Betty was a fashionable young woman.

Helen Kane was famous for this song, and it's the reason she unsuccessfully sued the Fleischers:



Helen Kane's style owed a great deal to a black singer, Esther Jones, known as Baby Esther, which came out in the trial:


Evidence was produced that Kane actually derived that singing style from watching Baby Esther perform at the Cotton Club several years before the creation of the Betty Boop character. Theatrical manager Lou Walton testified for the defense stating that in 1925, he coached a "young negro child" named Esther, teaching her how to interpolate her songs with scat lyrics which she later re-purposed into her trademark "boop oop a doop." Jones' manager testified that he and Kane had seen her act together in April 1928, and just a few weeks later, Kane began to "boop."

Paramount was able to prove that Kane did not uniquely originate or have claim to the Betty Boop style of singing or look. In addition to adducing Baby Esther's performances, they showed performances by actress Clara Bow, who also had the Betty Boop style of dress and hair.

Baby Esther herself was said to have since died. After a two-year legal struggle, Max Fleischer located a sound film made in 1928 of her performing, which was introduced as evidence. Judge Edward J. McGoldrick ruled, “The plaintiff has failed to sustain either cause of action by proof of sufficient probative force.” In his opinion, the “baby” technique of singing did not originate with Kane.
Here's a short bit of audio of Baby Esther (if youtube can be trusted in this case):



After Fleisher won, they released this Popeye cartoon, which includes a black Betty Boop singing at 4:26:

\

Creepy racist historical footnote: the carnival event shown before she sings was an actual carnival event with names like The African Dodger, or Hit the Nigger Baby, or Hit the Coon.

When trying to decide whether Betty Boop is black, remember that in her black-and-white cartoons, she was usually shown with white skin. Here's the only color Fleisher video of Betty Boop:



However, having light skin and red hair does not mean you're not black. Malcolm X had light skin and red hair:


So I conclude Betty's a universal human character that we're all supposed to identify with, but if she has a race, she's black. If you want to include Betty and her white boyfriend Fred in lists of interracial romances, feel free, sez moi. But don't argue your case strongly, because the audience wouldn't recognize them as having an interracial romance. If the artist hides a fact about a character (yes, looking at you, JK Rowling), it doesn't count. Only what's in the work matters.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Equality doesn't mean justice — fixed!

This was shared and its shortcomings noted at Equality and Justice and why the difference matters | The Dream Café:



Here's a fix:



ETA: An even better version of this would put everyone in the stands, of course. But there are different kinds of socialism—the one thing they have in common is the desire to tear down the walls that keep the poorest people outside of the game.

An apology, and an announcement of a change

I don't mind repeating myself, but I try to include something new when I do. I failed to do that in my previous post, and I'm sorry. I won't delete the post, but I'm going to take a break from blogging about the things I've been addressing lately. Either there will be a break before my next post, or my next post will be unlike my previous ones. (If my next post is, as I hope, an announcement about the next Liavek ebook, just consider that a message from our sponsors.)

Who is the white Michael Brown, the white Sandra Bland, the white Freddie Gray?

Just saw Sarah Zhang's Police Training Is Seriously Lacking in Actual Science | WIRED. It begins,
MICHAEL BROWN WAS, at best, stopped by police for stealing cigarillos. Sandra Bland for failing to signal a lane change. Freddie Gray for carrying a switchblade.
I completely agree with the article's broader topic, but it assumes police killings are primarily a problem for black folks. I just checked my A handy list of white victims of police abuse, or Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #AllLivesMatter for white people who could as easily have been used in that sentence.

For Michael Brown: James Whitehead, shot in the head by a police officer of a different race than his, or Derek Cruice, shot in the face while wearing nothing but basketball shorts.

For Sandra Bland: Robert Cameron Redus, pulled over for speeding and shot after saying sarcastically, “Oh, you’re gonna shoot me?”, or Brenda Sewell, whose guards withheld her prescription medicine, or David Kassick, shot lying facedown in the snow after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker.
For Freddie Gray: Christine Abbott, who sued Baltimore after a “rough ride” like the one that broke Freddy Gray’s neck, or Michael Saffioti, whose allergic reaction to his food was ignored.
And since I'm quibbling: Ms. Zhang says, "Dozens of psychology studies show that people hold implicit biases against African-Americans—they might not admit or even be aware of these biases, but reaction times give them away." To be precise, studies show that many people hold implicit biases. But Project Implicit also shows some people hold no biases at all, and a large minority of white people, like me, show an implicit bias against white people.

ETA: Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage: analysis - Washington Times

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Oh, the usual: Suey Park, Social Justice Warriors, Police Killings, and apologies

This was quoted on Facebook:
My first reaction: "Oh. My. God. I keep saying these people can grow up, but I never really expected to see it happen." I went to check her timeline, and saw several tweets I liked, including these:
The last tweet will make it very, very hard for her to ever return to the company she kept. I haven't noticed many of her former opponents quibbling about her apology. Had, say, Milo Yiannopoulos regretted his part in #gamergate, his current opponents would be explaining why each letter of the apology and its time stamp was inadequate and should be rejected.

I tweeted this:

I haven't been keeping up with #gamergate, so I decided to check, and found a recent story I suspect the anti-GGs will leave out of their narrative: Bomb threat interrupts GamerGate panel at SPJ conference. I don't know how many bomb threats gamergaters have gotten, but the latest reminded me of an early article about a GG bomb threat with a great title: How GamerGate critic Arthur Chu got me laid.

I keep trying to decide whether "social justice warrior" should be used as a label. Like "Uncle Tom", it's both an insult and a description of something that does not have a better name, so its use is not automatically disrespectful. I was amused to see it's being used critically on both sides of the US's political divide. The Atlantic, which publishes Ta-Nehisi Coates, published Stand-Up Comics Have to Censor Their Jokes on College Campuses, with this sentence: "The college revolutions of the 1960s—the ones that gave rise to the social-justice warriors of today’s campuses—were fueled by free speech. But once you’ve won a culture war, free speech is a nuisance, and “eliminating” language becomes a necessity."

The Atlantic also has this: How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus.

And since this post is kind of a State-of-Social-Justice-Warriordom post, here's a story that #BlackLivesMatter makes invisible: Native Americans Are The Group Most Likely To Be Killed By Police. I hadn't noticed the #NativeLivesMatter tag, but since #AllLivesMatter has been declared racist by #BLM, it seems we also need #AsianLivesMatter, #WhiteLivesMatter, #HispanicLivesMatter, #JewishLivesMatter, #MuslimLivesMatter, #PoorLivesMatter, #MentallyDisturbedLivesMatter....

Respect—given or earned? And why I'm tempted to turn off commenting on my blogs

Some say "Respect everyone," some say "Respect must be earned." I'm with St. Peter and Malcolm X—respect everyone. I don't always succeed because I have a snarky sense of humor and a low tolerance for fools, but I keep trying to suppress the first and raise the second.

People who respect themselves find it easy to respect others. We know we're all fallible and most of us are trying to do good, no matter how foolish the way we've chosen to try.

The people who insist respect must be earned don't see the fine line between "earning respect" and "buying respect", which is why I feel a little sorry for rich people—they can never know if their respect is earned or bought. The idea that respect must be earned is not respectful; it assumes encounters with others do not begin with respect

A few simple truths that the "respect must be earned" camp doesn't understand:

1. Disagreement is not disrespect. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

2. Protest is not disrespect. Malcolm X said, "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." That did not stop him from protesting bad laws, and it applies to the next point:

3. Self-defense is not disrespect, nor does it justify disrespect. Malcolm would have known that Muhammad said, "Do not speak ill of the dead." Which applies to the next point:

4. Telling the truth (which includes telling the truth about the dead) is not disrespect.

So, what does respect entail?

1. Trying to understand the other person's point of view. You do not have to agree with it.

2. Trying to represent the other person's point of view accurately. You may point out aspects of their belief that they do not see, but you may not claim they said things they did not, and you may not characterize their views wilfully.

3. Trying to use the names people use for themselves. Mahayana Buddhists disrespect Theravada Buddhists when they call them Hinayana Buddhists; Muslims disrespect the people of the book and others when they call them kafir, Christians disrespect everyone they call heretics and sinners, Jews disrespect non-Jews when they call them goys....

4. Trying to find precise names for people who do not use a name for themselves or who use names that are misleading. The Nation of Islam is not Muslim, National Socialists are not socialist, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is not democratic. When Jesus spoke of hypocrites, he was being precise, not insulting, just as a psychiatrist would not be insulting when labelling mental illnesses. When Malcolm X spoke of Uncle Toms, he was using a common term for bourgeois black people whose politics did not help the black working class, but he did not mean it as an insult—after he left NOI, he said, "My dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!" (It's likely one of those Uncle Toms was Alex Haley, the Republican who co-wrote and edited The Autobiography of Malcolm X.)

This post was prompted by a couple of recent discussions in which people decided I was insulting them when I failed to be converted by them. I'm tempted to turn off comments on my blog, but for now, I'll just engage less with people who're committed to ideologies that serve the rich.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mini-review: The Almighty Johnsons



The Almighty Johnsons was a New Zealand TV show about four brothers who are reincarnated Norse gods. With a tiny budget, a talented cast, and a clever writing team, they made a show Emma and I wish had continued, but are content with the way it ended.

A few spoiler-free warnings:

Because they had no budget for the first two seasons and the show is often funny, it looks like a sit-com, which can make the darker elements surprising.

One of the brothers is a creep. This seems to be ignored at first, but the writers are very aware he's a creep.

The style of the third season changes, both visually and tonally—it looks better and plays darker. That made me worry; I didn't like the first few episodes. Then it settles down. My only major complaint with the ending is they used cheesy special effects in a crucial scene where, with a little thought, they could've used none and it would've been more satisfying.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Do identitarian liberals care that their approach leaves people of color disproportionately poor?

I've recently been quoting something I asked an identitarian a few years back:
For years, I wrestled with whether Malcolm X was right when he said you can't have capitalism without racism. Clearly, liberals and conservatives are working desperately to create capitalism without racism. But I've finally come to see that Malcolm X was right: if you don't redistribute wealth, the distribution of wealth will be racially disproportionate. If you do redistribute wealth, capitalism ends. It's a Catch-22 that anti-racists ignore. Do you have an answer?
I've never met an identitarian who did. The best of them are beginning to admit that social inequality and economic inequality might be more than "intersectional", that perhaps there's something to the argument that economic inferiors will always be social inferiors no matter how politely their bosses treat them, and are joining me on the Basic Income bandwagon.

But, much as I love Basic Income, it does not solve the Anti-racism Catch-22: Basic Income does nothing about racial disproportionality at the top of the economic pyramid. It only raises the base of the pyramid so the poorest people of all hues will suffer less while they work to make their lives better.

Now, you may argue that Basic Income will help bring about a true meritocracy in which the capable rise and the incompetent fall. But that's never been the case under feudalism or capitalism: great wealth creates its own buffers, and incompetent rich people usually get competent managers for their money. Do a little googling about class mobility in the US, and you should be appalled. So here're my new questions for identitarians:

1. Do you care that your approach will keep black and Hispanic Americans disproportionately poor?

2. If you believe your approach will someday result in black and Hispanic Americans being the economic equals of the ethnic groups in America that currently have a disproportionate share of the wealth, how many generations do you think it will take for that to happen?

I support Basic Income for the same reasons I support Social Security and Medicare: it ends economic desperation. But ending economic desperation is only the first step toward making everyone equal.

ETA: I originally wrote "people of color" in questions #1 and #2. I changed that because Asian Americans are people of color, most Hindu Americans are people of color, and some people insist with no regard to history that Jews are not white. All three groups are richer than ethnically Christian white Americans.

ETA 2: I tweaked the title and the first question to make them less confrontational. Because I really would like someone to try to answer how you can preserve capitalism and achieve racial equality.

ETA 3: Useful links from the comments:

'The Great Gatsby Curve': Why It's So Hard for the Poor to Get Ahead - The Atlantic

One-Third Of Americans Are In Or Near Poverty | Demos

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds - CBS News

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recommendation: Black Sails

We're five episodes into the first season of Black Sails and liking it more each episode. I told Emma, "This show is smarter than it needs to be," and she agreed. Whoever assembled the writing staff is someone I would be honored to work with—Doris Egan wrote an episode, so you know they have good taste.

If you don't like sex and violence and sexual violence, avoid this show. If you like smart lines and complex characters, give it a try. Do not assume this has anything to do with Pirates of the Caribbean; they're as different as the American and the British Avengers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Perhaps my last post on Bernie Sanders and purity politics

Identitarian Democrats and purist socialists don't like Bernie Sanders. I understand why. Identitarian Democrats are less interested in the minimum wage or Basic Income or most of the concerns of working people of all hues than they are in electing a woman or a person of color. Purist socialists are annoyed that Sanders can barely be called a socialist—though he supports taxing large estates and increasing the income tax for the rich, he's not advocating wealth taxes or anything that would greatly inconvenience the rich. Like Martin Luther King before him, he's only calling for improving the lives of the people on the bottom of the economic pyramid.

I'm of two minds on pragmatic politics. I agree that if you always vote for the lesser evil, the best you'll ever get is the lesser evil. I also agree that voting for a third party in a two-party system is like going unarmed to a gunfight. Working pragmatically in US politics means calling each shot on its merits. Most of the time, I vote for third-party candidates because that's the only way to register a protest, and I'm delighted when a third-party candidate like Kshama Sawant manages to get into a position where she may someday be able to make major changes. Right now, the only socialist we've got on the national level is Bernie Sanders, and until a purist socialist can point me toward a socialist who could have a greater effect on US politics this year, I will support him.

I'll add that I'm still enough of an idealist to think there's a tiny chance he can defeat the Clinton machine. It's not the smart bet, but it's worth supporting. If he's elected, I'll happily criticize him from his left. But until Clinton steamrollers him or he's elected, I'm not going to waste time on his shortcomings. I'll acknowledge what he's doing right, because that broadens the political discourse in the US, and that benefits the people who've always been my concern, the people of all hues and beliefs who keep getting poorer while the rich of all hues and beliefs keep getting richer.

Recommended:


Dear Sigrid Ellis (and Mikki Kendall)

I just read Evil or stupid, which are you? and left these comments:
  1. When I am the subject of the conversation, I reserve the right to respond. Just as I am responding now.
    Yes, writers who do not care about politics should stay silent. Indeed, writers who only care about sales should stay silent. I’m in neither camp.
    Out of curiosity, do you know where Mikki Kendall accounted for the money that people gave her to start Verb Noire? She says she has, but is strangely silent about where. All I know is that over $10,000 was raised, and it bought Kendall and her partner some computers, a trip or two to conventions, and one ebook with an awful cover. If she had asked for help, I and many of the people she attacked would’ve been glad to assist her.
  2. Oh, and since we’re talking about fannish behavior, did you condemn the doxxing and death threats of Zathlazip, or did you take part in the doxxing, or were you silent? I confess, there were too many doxxers for me to notice all of them; the only person I remember objecting was Pyratejenni, but I might’ve missed some people.
When I returned to the post, I saw my comments had been deleted, and you'd added this:
[EDIT]
OH, RIGHT.
This isn’t a conversation with the evil or the stupid. You’re all spammed, because I have better things to do with my time. Go have the conversation on your own blogs, AS I DID HERE WITH MINE.
If you vanity-Google yourself, or have alerts for your name, may your life choices bring you all the joy you have earned.
I have noticed that y'all are not interested in conversation, probably because conversation runs the risk of bringing up facts that do not fit your ideology. When you don't have facts, the only effective option you have is to rage, a common way of coping with the contradictions in your belief system and making ignorant onlookers think that if you're upset, there must be some validity to your upset. The second point is a standard tactic: I just this morning read I get Paid to Chat on Reddit, which notes,
There’s even a script for when the other commenter is winning the argument. We’re told specifically to derail the discussion, throw mud, and in the end, accuse the commenter of being a conspiracy theorist/tinfoil hat wearer. That way, anyone reading the discussion will see those negative points as being associated with weird people.
Ah, well. Go in peace.

To those who think I am breaking my promise in Confessions of a Scarred and Broken Man, or If I Blog Again about Fandom’s Social Justice Warriors, Kill Me: Perhaps I am, but I'd meant that I would not pay attention to the squabbles they get into that don't involve me. When I'm misrepresented, I will speak up, even though I know that people who live in black and white worlds cannot see shades of gray. This is another case where Adolph Reed's observation in The limits of anti-racism applies:
Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it.
Social justice fandom, I beg you. Just ignore me, and I will gladly treat you with the same courtesy.

Relevant: The Outing of Zathlazip and the Hounding of William Sanders

ETA: Do identitarian liberals care that their approach leaves people of color disproportionately poor?

If Bernie Sanders is the face of white racism, maybe racism is over after all


I've never been able to find anyone other than Bill Bennett who believes "racism is over", but when I look at the targets of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters, I think that if that's the best they've got, maybe it is. If I cared about racism and the Democratic Party, I would go after someone who opposes raising the minimum wage, which would disproportionately help black folks since poverty is racially disproportionate, and someone who has not indicated they would be open to Martin Luther King's issue, Basic Income. Yet Hillary Clinton has been given a pass by #BLM.



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Barbara J. Fields' brilliant observation about race, class, and US slavery

Jonas Kyratzes recently pointed out this bit that Seth Ackerman quoted in Yes, Racism Is Rooted in Economic Inequality | Jacobin. It's from Barbara Jeanne Fields: Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America. New Left Review I/181, May-June 1990:
Probably a majority of American historians think of slavery in the United States as primarily a system of race relations — as though the chief business of slavery were the production of white supremacy rather than the production of cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco. One historian has gone so far as to call slavery ‘the ultimate segregator’. He does not ask why Europeans seeking the ‘ultimate’ method of segregating Africans would go to the trouble and expense of transporting them across the ocean for that purpose, when they could have achieved the same end so much more simply by leaving the Africans in Africa.

No one dreams of analyzing the struggle of the English against the Irish as a problem in race relations, even though the rationale that the English developed for suppressing the ‘barbarous’ Irish later served nearly word for word as a rationale for suppressing Africans and indigenous American Indians. Nor does anyone dream of analyzing serfdom in Russia as primarily a problem of race relations, even though the Russian nobility invented fictions of their innate, natural superiority over the serfs as preposterous as any devised by American racists.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Two ways to convince your allies that you've won an argument on the internet

They both fall under "declare victory and go home." You may either claim your opponent's response was a non-response, or you may use the internet's most abused term and declare it a straw man. The problem is that too often, and perhaps most of the time, your worldview defines what you think is a strawman or a non-response.

Okay, the real problem is that you're arguing on the internet.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The line from noblesse oblige to social justice to privilege theory

The Oxford English Dictionary offers this as the first appearance of noblesse oblige:

1837   F. A. Kemble Let. 1 Aug. in Rec. Later Life (1882) I. 86   To be sure, if ‘noblesse oblige’, royalty must do so still more.

That use has this definition: "Noble ancestry constrains one (to honourable behaviour); privilege entails responsibility. Also in extended use."

For "social justice", there's this:


1824   W. Thompson Inq. Princ. Distrib. Wealth iv. 314   The first principle of social justice, that ‘the sole object of all institutions and laws ought to be to promote the happiness of the whole of the community, or..that the happiness of the greater number should be always preferred to that of the lesser’.

But the social justice movement began later. From Social justice - Wikipedia: "The first modern usage of the specific term "social justice" is typically attributed to Catholic thinkers from the 1840s, including the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in Civiltà Cattolica, based on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. He argued that rival capitalist and socialist theories, based on subjective Cartesian thinking, undermined the unity of society present in Thomistic metaphysics as neither were sufficiently concerned with moral philosophy."

Taparelli saw the revolutions of 1848 coming, and he wanted a solution that would preserve the existing social order. His approach was essentially to endorse noblesse oblige: rich people should be nice to poor people by treating them with respect and indulging in philanthropy when they felt like it.

"Social justice" spread to other religions. The civil rights movement had little use for it—the term appears in King's theological writing, but I don't believe it shows up in his speeches. But it was a source of inspiration for Critical Race Theory by members of the black bourgeoisie in the 1970s and 1980s. I've periodically wondered why the civil rights movement's focus on equal rights was replaced by the identitarian focus on privilege. Like the earlier promoters of noblesse oblige and social justice, privilege theorists don't want to end privilege. They merely want a world in which the rest of us will be convinced their privilege is just.