Kill Whitey

I’m always surprised, maybe I shouldn’t be, when the ‘alt-right’ cries about an assault on white identity, how so many, even liberals, don’t understand that they are correct.

The desire many of us have to one day live in a post-racial society, or at least a world with far less racism, would require the deconstruction of the white identity, a human invention designed to elevate some and denigrate others. The black identity was created by ripping people out of their cultural contexts and reducing them to units of labour. ‘Black power’ ‘black pride’ and its equivalents among other minority demographics are all attempts to assert dignity in an identity thrust upon its unwilling members through coercion. This is not a double standard. There is nothing inherently wrong with taking pride in one’s Italian, British, or mixed European heritage, whatever it may be; but to take pride in one’s whiteness is the very definition of racism, because it is celebrating the very root of our modern (not inherent) tendency to sort people by unscientific and arbitrary determinations of race and assign them value based on which category they fall under.

Perhaps you disagree, and believe that the seemingly reflexive tendency to fear the Other in human beings, somehow means that racism is inevitable, or “natural.” This is a commonly held assumption among many that is not supported by history.

Perhaps you believe that other races can be racist to white people. They can, but only by using an alternate meaning of the word ‘racism,’ using it in a casual sense and interchangeably with bigotry. Granted, languages are organic and words change in meaning overtime; but to conflate racism with bigotry is to eliminate nuances in meaning. Anyone can be a bigot, but to be a racist you’ll need an entire history of privilege and coercion to back you up.

Most surprising of all, is how many accept the category of whiteness as an inevitability, when only a couple of generations ago their Italian, Irish, or Slavic ancestors would not have been admitted into the category.

Tourists and Travellers

I served a Frenchman the other day who boasted of having had ceviche in five different countries while he insisted on being served French-style and ate his Latin American cuisine with chop sticks. He wasn’t just peculiar, he was arrogant about it; as if he was the only one at the table, or in the restaurant, who knew how to do things properly.

Sometimes traveling the world introduces you to different cultures and perspectives, I guess; “broadens your horizons”. And I guess sometimes it makes you a confused twat who absorbs nothing from the places you’ve been, all while imposing your own shitty opinions on other cultures.

I’m not knocking travel; as a sensory experience it can be fun to see new sights, taste new food, witness how other people live. But I dislike the cosmopolitan assumption that a geographically diverse life is superior by default, that being able to afford a plane ticket means one can purchase wisdom. Buried in that assumption is another, that when the privileged children of the First World visit the Third, they must be meeting people over there that are somehow lesser; for they cannot visit orphans in Guatemala, dig wells in Africa, go skiing in the Alps, or swim in far away oceans; they cannot buy experience.

The Frenchmen was wealthy. He was wealthy enough that his glasses probably cost more than most things that I own. He was wealthy enough that he could pour his beer back and forth between his water glass and his beer glass until he had two glasses of foam, because “Japanese beer should be enjoyed in a glass with a little bit of water in it,” and the bewildered diners at his table nodded as if he was spouting profound wisdom instead of something he made up; because he was more important than them in their eyes. He’s probably wealthy enough to have visited more cities in one year than I will ever see in my life. But after all the pages of his passport have been filled with the stamps of the world, he will have only seen those places through expensive spectacles and asshole-eyes, and he’ll be none the wiser for it.

I’ve lived in Toronto my whole life, and here I’ll most likely remain. I travel rarely because I’m anxious and dislike disruptions to my routine. Sometimes the colourful vacation photos of others makes my own life feel monotonous and grey. But then something magical happens, like meeting the Frenchmen, that makes me realize I have so much more to learn about life, especially about human nature, and it’s all right in front of me.

The Rule of Law

There’s a weird inversion between the two groups of protestors around Toronto these days. There’s Black Lives Matter activists challenging law enforcement’s practices of carding, raiding the homes of, arresting, and even killing people of colour without sufficient cause or evidence. And then, not even a fifteen minute walk across town, there are protestors saying “We Believe Survivors” because our legal system couldn’t put away a serial sexual assaulter due to a lack of evidence.

When the legal system only adheres to its noble principles of demanding a high evidentiary standard when it exonerates injustice, that’s not noble, it’s telling. And it’s telling people: “You have no cause to feel safe here, neither from the Law nor its opposite.” Not all people, but it’s saying that to women, and it’s saying that to people of colour; and when you add those two up, that’s most people. Maybe it’s not saying that on purpose, but it certainly is not by accident.

“All Lives Matter”

“All lives matter” is a curious phrase; hardly ever uttered in the English language until relatively recently, and possibly unique in that it represents a benevolent and egalitarian truth, agreeable to all the best of us, but only ever spoken aloud by irredeemable assholes.

I'm With Stupid

<—I’m With Stupid—>



Notes on Stupidity

From The Atlantic, I stumbled upon a great definition of science:

“Arguably, science is the gradual process by which the cognitive parts of our brains discover the profound inaccuracies in our deeper, evolutionarily built-in models of the world.”

Of course, this hardly capture the totality of what science is, the methods of accumulating, testing, verifying, and reproducing results; but it does address our fundamental inability to perceive the world with any reliable degree of accuracy.

Science does not deal in certainties, and contrary to popular usage of the term, a scientific theory is more than just a guess, it is a comprehensive explanation which accounts for the information known at the time.  As more information accumulates, as advances in technology allow us to see more deeply into the inner workings of the natural world, as more scientific minds rethink what is known; old theories have to give way to new ones.  Scientific worldviews are built to be replaced.

But human beings aren’t built for uncertainty.  Not only do we like to know things, we like to think that we already know things pretty well.  It’s one thing to try to convince someone that what they’re certain of is incorrect; it’s quite another to try to persuade them that, not only is their worldview wrong, but the very idea that they could legitimately possess a fixed worldview is invalid.

As any social critic or contrarian is aware, sometimes the validity of one’s argument will be judged on answers to non sequiturs like: “If that’s the problem, what’s your solution?” or, “How would you do it better?”  To the extent that people are willing to surrender their certainties, it is far more comfortable to trade them in for new ones. Skepticism and doubt can look like nihilism from afar, and most of us can concede that amongst the many hallways of the human mind, there are certain doors we may wish to keep shut, even if we disagree on which ones.

Which brings me to the next quote:

In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This from an article entitled “How Facts Backfire” which uses the study cited above to argue that the foundational myths of democracy have been laid upon the swamp water of confirmation bias.  How can we have an informed citizenry, when the very act of getting informed runs so contrary to our evolutionary journey from single celled life forms to hairless weakling apes that occasionally vote for the red team or the blue team?

Is this not why evil always wins?  Marketers, populists, the ugly talking heads on cable whose punditry is molded out of appeals to emotion.  Maybe.  But the idea that evil does always win is an untested hypothesis founded on primitive binary thinking.  It’s reassuring to watch others succumb to their own fallacious logic; delusional to presume that our own selves have somehow risen above it.