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.


Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends

23 05 2012

I was in Camp Fire Girls as a kid (We are the Camp Fire Girls/We wear our hairs in curls/We never smoke or drink/That’s what our parents think. . .), and my mom and B.’s mom were our Camp Fire leaders.

That meant B.’s little brother P. sometimes came to our meetings.

P. was a dork*—not in a geeky or fumbling way, but in the way that younger brothers appear to pre-adolescent girls—and not infrequently managed to draw attention to himself by engaging in some little-brother dorky activity.

Like the time he repeatedly shocked himself.

He’d shuffle his feet along the carpet in the meeting room, then touch the metal radiator cover. OUCH!

Shuffle shuffle shuffle, OUCH! Shuffle shuffle shuffle, OUCH! Shuffle shuffle shuffle, OUCH!

His mom probably told him to stop, and he probably didn’t. We girls all just looked at him and thought, What a dork.

Now, what does this have to do with anything?


Yep, those folks just keep shuffling shuffling shuffling and yelping OUCH whenever someone points out the idiocy of their quest, but, unlike, P., they don’t have the excuse of being dorky 9 year-old boys.

I don’t know if they keep trotting out their conspiracies because they like that feeling of getting zapped over and over again (which P. pretty clearly did), or if they somehow think that this time, THIS TIME, the outcome will be different.

Conspiracy theorists can be amusing, heartbreaking, scary, or puzzling, but in this case, they are just damned irritating, and if I were a citizen of the state of Arizona in general or of Maricopa County in particular, I would be MIGHTY irked at the waste of time and money thrown at the quest to prove that Barack Obama, born in Hawaii in 1960, in somehow not an American citizen.

Here is the appropriate response to anyone who suggests that the President was not born in the US: Prove it.

I happen to believe (along with with almost everyone else) that the birth certificate issued by the state of Hawaii is legitimate, and that the preponderance of evidence does, in fact, prove that President Obama was born in the US—but hey, if you don’t accept it, so be it.

But it’s not enough to yelp LIES! or PHOTOSHOP! or LAYERS! or whatever; you actually have to gather your own evidence which proves where, exactly, Barack Hussein Obama was born.

I’m not asking you to prove a negative (that the president wasn’t born in Hawaii) but to prove where he was born—with evidence that someone without your extra-special powers of perception could, in fact, accept as evidence.

That’s fair, don’t you think?

Oh, and one more thing: Shut up until you actually have that proof in hand. If you and Orly Taitz and Joe Arpaio insist upon shuffling through the static of birtherism, the rest of us really don’t want to hear you yelp when you’re zapped by reality.


*P. grew up to be a decidedly non-dorky and decent man.

Excuses, excuses

27 04 2011

Here I have my own blog and my own project(s) and what do I do?

Spend all day over at TNC’s joint arguing Locke.



At least that’s better than spending all day dealing with the president’s capitulation to conspiracy-mongerers release of his “long form” birth certificate.

It’s not as if evidence ever actually disproves a conspiracy; no, any counter-evidence is immediately seized upon as further evidence of said conspiracy.

And no, I ain’t linkin’ to the conspirators. Enough.

(Although I did like the term ktheintz at Josh Green’s blog coined for this particular group of conspirators: after-birthers. Nice.)


Given my struck-through comment on capitulation, I pretty clearly disagree with Sullivan on all this. (For those who don’t read him: He thinks it’s not unreasonable to demand that public figures release any and all information about themselves. I do not.)

Just because Sullivan chooses to expose as much of his life as he does to the public doesn’t mean every other public person should be forced to do so.

I also don’t care much for his Trig obsession, not because I don’t think it’s possible for Palin to have lied about it—I think she’s his mother, although I also think she lied about the circumstances of his birth—but because I’m really fucking tired of the public interrogation of any woman’s reproductive status.

I think Palin is a malign force in our body politic; I also think she deserves the same goddamned privacy regarding her uterus as every other woman does.

In fact, I wish she’d take her whole damned self private.


Anyway. I need to get out more.