Essay:Steamed Dumpling: Race

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Dumpling.
It does not necessarily reflect the views expressed in RationalWiki's Mission Statement, but we welcome discussion of a broad range of ideas.
Unless otherwise stated, this is original content, released under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or any later version. See RationalWiki:Copyrights.
Feel free to make comments on the talk page, which will probably be far more interesting, and might reflect a broader range of RationalWiki editors' thoughts.

Race is bullshit!


Why yes! Race, as a concept, is philosophically shit and something that we as a species must put behind us. I say that because I believe that in order for humanity to advance, we must stop seeing ourselves and others as being part of arbitrary groups and instead start seeing ourselves, and others, as individuals. You know, judging each other by the content of our character, like some guy who I think did something important back in the 60s suggested. Maybe we can judge one another by membership to voluntary associations (i.e. being a member of the NSDAP says a lot about you), but I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, I suppose some disclaimers are in order. I’m not calling for complete color blindness, as that would be impossible and to a certain extent impractical. Examples of race being an easy, convenient and useful identifier exist in the medical field (“The patient is 56 years old, African-American. No, I don’t care if Dracula bought all of the blood this week”). It’s also useful as a quick aesthetic identifier (“The man who mugged me is of Ainu descent. They are an ethnic group native to Hokkaido”), and I think that is justifiable because it’s not a judgment. It’s like saying “The man was wearing a yellow shirt” is a judgment of his character (even if it should be; yellow is so out this season). What I am criticizing is the use of race as a character judgment, whether positive or negative, because that’s where the bullshit comes from. It comes in two forms, which I will tackle independently.

The most obvious, and reviled, form is racism. Of course, since the term “racist” is slung around the political arena like ten dollar bills and women’s underwear in parties I could only wish I get invited to, I’ll have to get a definition that’s more sensible than “some asshole who doesn’t agree with me.” Merriam-Webster has a good definition and isn’t Urban Dictionary, so we’ll go with them (and they have Honey Bunches of Oats ads, can’t beat that!). Anyway, they define racism as:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

I think those are pretty good definitions. Notice how the first definition has, as its first part, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities.” That’s but one incarnation of the idea I’m trying to attack here! Looks like it’s not just lonely neckbeards who post on other people’s blogs that think about this! Anyway, back on track, racism is belief in one’s own superiority because of one’s race. By definition, this means one also believes in the inferiority of other races. This doesn’t necessarily include action, although it certainly can lead to that. Just ask any Charlie Chaplain impersonator in a Berlin prison because he forgot his hat one day. Racism is an issue of belief, not just action, and for the pragmatists among us racist action is impossible without racist belief. Yes, you can be a murderous dick without being a racist, but that means it’s not a racial issue, it’s a “being a murderous dick” issue.

I think everyone reading this can agree that racism is bad. This is important, because racism is now frowned upon, like arson or having sex with your dog. Aside from a few loons whose balls are bigger than their brains, nobody admits to being racist in public. That’s the fast track to unemployment and complete disowning by society. Racism is reviled in modern society. Why am I stating the obvious so much? Because given all of this, it should be very hard, if not impossible, to take allegations of racism seriously. Undoubtedly some racists still exist, and some of them in the political realm (David Duke is a prominent example), but you’d think with all of the accusations that the Democratic and Republican parties are just fronts for the NSDAP. So, think about it this way: your favorite politician has probably been accused of racism. Does that make him racist? What about the other politicians? What makes them more racist than your favored politicians? Is it something they themselves said, something you can independently verify? Is it something they have done, which would only be racist if it had racial intentions? Think about that for a second before moving on.

Now I’m off to attack a sacred cow that’s a bit more recent and far more prevalent: Critical Race Theory. This is the idea that race is an important factor in the treatment of individuals. I am not saying it is racism; by the definition we are using, racism involves belief in one’s own racial supremacy and/or prejudice and discrimination based on race. Most of the politically correct would put bacon grease on their dolphin-safe granola breakfast before believing in any racial supremacy bullshit, and good for them. But they’re still willing to group people by race and, worse yet, act on it. Affirmative action is a brilliant example. Apparently, in order to “level the playing field,” members of disadvantaged racial groups should be given preferential treatment. This has several problems. Firstly, it is unjustifiable within the context of equality. You want a level playing field? Then let everyone rise or fall by their own individual merit. Secondly, affirmative action reduces the value of the merits of the “aided.” How proud would I be of my achievements if I know I only got them because some outside agency granted them to me? I would be a man who has earned nothing, but merely got gifts because some people pity a group I did not choose to be in. That kills individual initiative and self-pride while at the same time encouraging lackluster performance by those who have made the logical strategic decision to perform just well enough to get a boost. Thirdly, the entire idea of giving people aid (or, if you want to look at it this way, denying others aid) for reasons they did not choose is philosophically unjustifiable. How would you like it if your employer gave everyone who happened not to be wearing a yellow shirt on a certain, random, unannounced day a raise? Yes, in this situation everyone could choose what they wear, but with the lack of information they couldn’t actually make a strategic decision; it’s as if they had no choice at all. See how unjust that is? Affirmative action is no different.

Another huge problem to come out of this Critical Race Theory phenomenon is political correctness, or as I like to call it, censorship. First, let me tackle the most obnoxious and idiotic manifestation of political correctness. Apparently there’s been an idea going around that “insensitive” language of any sort, frequently racial, is OBJECTIVELY bad and people shouldn’t say it. Hey, guess what? Symbols and sounds in order can’t be objectively bad. I’m sure curses and spells have been debunked a few centuries ago. Saying “nigger” will not awaken Great Cthulhu from his death-sleep. Saying “nigger” in China wouldn’t even raise eyebrows. If Lil Wayne says “nigger,” nobody cares. Do you know why? Because nigger, like kike, chink, beaner, gringo, or every other racial epithet, is CONTEXTUAL. If Lil Wayne says nigger, everyone’s fine with it because they know there is no racist intent behind it. He’s fully aware of the context, but he can say it and get away. Likewise, when you hear someone say a racial epithet, don’t immediately point your finger and shout with indignation: RACIST! Think about the context of his words. Did he mean to offend someone? Was he using the word in a derogatory manner? If so, then don’t worry about the word, worry about the asshat saying it!

Oh, and I’d like to take a break here to urge all of you to think about the context of words. Language is meant to convey meaning and you can’t get meaning without context. Don’t trust everything you hear, even if it’s a quote, if you are unaware of the context. Taking things out of context is how fights, wars and really awkward moments at that one party after the game start.

The American left, and I’m sure the left in other countries as well, is extremely guilty of this Critical Race Theory bullshit, and it’s not entirely because they’re idiots. There is a strategic reason for this. A weapon, I would argue the most potent weapon in the left’s arsenal. It goes something like this:

Yugi: You’re finished, Kaiba! Hand over my grandpa’s Blue Eyes!

Kaiba: That’s where you’re wrong, Yugi! I activate: Race Card!

Yugi: No!

Kaiba: That’s right! You’ve lost all legitimacy in this debate along with ALL OF YOUR LIFE POINTS.

Yugi: Grandpa…I’ve…failed.

(Yugioh reference, for those who didn't know)

The race card is why so many in the left are unable, or unwilling, to see how hypocritical and idiotic Critical Race Theory is. Accusing someone of racism is a potent weapon because it shuts down debate, puts the opponent on the defensive and places the audience’s emotions on one’s side. The race card is so powerful that even the political right has taken to using it, such as the accusations that Obama hates white people or the entire Paul newsletter fiasco. The price we have to pay? The race card is political discourse’s version of Maury: extremely stupid, but damn good at what it does so it THRIVES. Why bother crafting an intelligent rebuttal to your opponent’s argument if you could just accuse him of jacking off to Hitler? It’s a more efficient use of time and brain power, even if it costs the debate. The sound bite phenomenon and thirty-second attention span of the average American cable news viewer have only exacerbated this issue. That means anyone principled enough to try to articulate their ideas is assaulted with a stream of racism allegations because that’s the easiest thing the opponent can do. Hell, it’s the ONLY thing the opponent can do. And the sad thing is we let these hacks get away with it.

But now we go to the meat and potatoes of the article, the argument you’ve all been waiting for: why race is bullshit. I’ve tackled its sad manifestations and now it’s time to deal with the monster itself.

Ahem: race is bullshit because it is an involuntary collective identity. Let’s break that down, first by addressing the issue of race as an involuntary collective identity. Race is involuntary because you don’t get to pick your race before you’re born like you do in Fallout. Race is collective because race is defined as a group, the only way you can have a race of one person is if they were once a lot of people but everyone is dead save for one person. And race is an identity because, unlike yellow shirt-wearers, unfortunately people define themselves by it. And that’s bullshit because people are allowing themselves to be defined by a toss of the cosmic dice. They did not pick their race, they did not contribute to it before they were born, they have no real “claim” to it as they would to their paycheck. People should be proud of their own achievements, their own choices, not by random chance. And of course there is the sad phenomenon of defining, and ultimately judging, others by the same arbitrary standard. Dismissing one man’s achievement because “they’re all good at that,” or praising someone as “a credit to their race.” Two sides of the same coin.

And can we really say that this idea of race has done any good?

It’s given us racism and Critical Race Theory; race would have to be really good to justify that. But all race does give people is empty pride, pride in a collective identity they had no choice in.

And that, my friends, is a situation I wouldn’t wish on anybody.