Ain’t got no headphones

1 12 2016

What to do about white fragility?

I don’t think it’s at all necessary that everyone concerned about racism also try to understand why some people are racist (and why many more tolerate racists and racism), but some of us should.

That is, some of us white people in particular should—just as some of us male people should try to understand sexists and the folks who tolerate them—but even as someone who’s willing to try, I don’t know how much good it will do.

I mean, I want to understand because I don’t understand why you would feed the belief that other people are worse than you. Yes, I get it, seeing others as worse is pretty much the same as making yourself feel better (in both senses of that term), but why is better, better?

Anyway, before I go flying off into word-play, back to political matter at hand: does knowing why people are racist or believe in conspiracy theories or peddle horseshit help to combat racism/conspiracy theories/horseshit?

James Fallows, among many, many others, has noted the challenges for the media of dealing with a president-elect who lies, but what of citizens dealing with their reality-hamstrung fellow citizens?

We’re not supposed to call them out or confront them or criticize them for their shitty views—this just makes them mad and sad and defensive and won’t work anyway—so then what?

I think the first principle of any strategy is that of commitment, which is to say, militancy. If you are committed to anti-supremacism, then, goddammit, don’t back down from that, don’t apologize, and don’t act as if that commitment is somehow up for grabs. Speak and act forthrightly, and hold the line.

So that’s what one should do for oneself, but, again, what to do with others who are put off by anti-supremacism?

Some of them are themselves committed to supremacism, and should be recognized as such. Commentators who suggest we not be mean to the racists seem to operate on the assumption that if we’re all just nice enough, we can, eventually, all just get along. But no.

What of those less committed to supremacism/conspiracism/horseshittery? What’s the best way to wean them away from it? There seems to be a fair amount of social science evidence, centered on but not limited to studies of cognitive biases, that it’s damnably difficult to pull people out of their own asses, but it’s been done, right?

I mean, people convert from A to B or deconvert from B to C, leave cults, are disillusioned with someone/some movement which they formerly revered, so there must be some way or ways (which do not include kidnapping and abusive deprogramming) to nudge or seduce or yank someone out of a closed loop.

I like to win arguments—I REALLY like to win arguments—but this is less about winning arguments than opening someone to the possibility that there is even an argument to be had.