mfioretti: social justice warrior*

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  1. To suggest—as SJWs always do—that Mexicans and other minority entrepreneurs can't possibly engage in cultural appropriation because they're people of color, and that we're always the victims, is ignorant and patronizing and robs us of agency. We're no one's victims, and who says we can't beat the wasichu at their game? And who says Mexicans are somehow left in the poor house by white people getting rich off Mexican food? Go ask the Montaños of Mitla how they're doing. Last year, they reopened a long-shuttered banquet hall, and the next generation is introducing new meals and craft beers. They cried about Bell's appropriation of their tacos all the way to the history books.
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  2. Without going into the details (which you can Google or simply read on the wall of this professor, Bret Weinstein, who happens to be a friend of mine), I want to share a perspective based on my research into the psychological dynamics of political behavior among people who claim to promote social justice, yet are so deeply broken down by the larger pathologies of Western culture that they have lost the ability to tell friend from foe.

    In the last year, I had a similarly dramatic experience where social justice activism was blindly pursued in a manner that caused otherwise good-hearted people to turn on one of their own. Blindly in their fear, these people lashed out and hurt me with cruel and empirically incorrect judgments about my behavior in their group.

    At a deeper level, there is an information war being waged against our societies that is designed to create this kind of anguish and confusion. Divide and conquer is the age-old strategy here. Get us to fight amongst ourselves and it is easy to keep status quo systems in place. This is a natural outcome of what Jordan Greenhall describes in his excellent (yet disturbing) article, The War on Sensemaking.

    What I am seeing in these patterns is a profound inability to discern what is really going on in the world. When student protestors accuse a person who has consistently stood up for racial equality and cultural diversity of being a racist (as is happening now at Evergreen), there is call for taking pause to reflect on just how deeply confused so many among us have become.

    Millions among us fear Trump supporters when they don’t realize that the real danger comes when social unrest grows to the point that ANY group begins expressing emotionally intense rage without critical inquiry at another group.
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  3. ome of this critique was rightly directed at literal cultural theft — the pilfering of art and artifacts by colonial powers — or glaring injustices, such as white entertainers in the pre-civil rights years profiting off black musical styles while black performers’ careers were hobbled by racism. Critics such as Edward Said offered valuable insight into Orientalism, the West’s tendency to fetishize Asians as exotic stereotypes.

    But the hunt for wrongdoing has gone run amok. The recent anti-appropriation rhetoric has targeted creative products from art to literature to clothing. Nothing is too petty for the new culture cops: I have seen them rebuke a Filipina woman who purchased a bracelet with a yin-yang symbol at a fair and earnestly discuss whether it’s appropriation to eat Japanese, Indian or Thai food. Even Selena Gomez, a Latina artist, was assailed a couple of years ago for sporting a Hindu forehead dot, or bindi, in a Bollywood-style performance.

    In some social-justice quarters, the demonization of “appropriative” interests converges with ultra-reactionary ideas about racial and cultural purity. I once read an anguished blog post by a well-meaning young woman racked with doubt about her plans to pursue a graduate degree in Chinese studies; after attending a talk on cultural appropriation, she was unsure that it was morally permissible for a white person to study the field.

    This is a skewed and blinkered view. Yes, most cross-fertilization has taken place in a context of unequal power. Historically, interactions between cultures often took the form of wars, colonization, forced or calamity-driven migration and subordination or even enslavement of minority groups. But it is absurd to single out the West as the only culprit.
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  4. I mean, honestly. Why does this surprise any thinking person? As I’ve told people before: When I was a kid, we had grownups who’d actually lived through times of segregation and open racism, and were thus able to patiently and clearly explain to us dumb kids why segregation and racism were wrong.

    But my Dad, who saw the world of segregation with his own eyes, is nearly 71 years old. I am 41, and Martin Luther King Jr. and “I Have A Dream” and the drama of the Civil Rights movement were already looking a bit creaky and old-fashioned when I was in high school. So what does it look like to current high schoolers?

    Well, the oldest ones were 10 when Barack Obama was elected, and they were exposed to non-ironic fictional portrayals of a black president for years before that. A world where the idea of a black guy being the U.S. president was a staple gag of stand-up comedy is utterly foreign to them.

    So do you know what people who lecture about things like “structural racism,” “microaggressions” and “white privilege” probably sound like to current young high schoolers (at least the white ones)? They sound like wheezy, moralistic old farts, at best. At BEST. And if you’ve ever been a young person, you know how young people view wheezy, moralistic old farts. When these youngsters go off to college and face SJW administrators, they won’t see those administrators as virtuous revolutionaries fighting the good fight. They’ll see them the way 1950s college students saw scowling, Elvis-hating Deans and Dorm Mothers.

    That’s a best-case scenario. At worst, they’ll view the people who constantly call them out for racism or sexism or whateverism as hypocrites. Back in my day, we had teachers who’d piously lecture us Not To Use Drugs, when you just KNEW many of these same teachers, who’d come of age in the anything-goes era of the late-60s and early 70s, had probably spent their youth grooving on every drug they could get their hands on. So I can imagine white high schoolers today thinking, “oh, ‘white privilege’ is bad, huh? But I notice it seemed to work out pretty nice for your generation, and it worked out even better for my grandparents’ generation. But MY generation looks like it’s gonna get screwed. Why should we settle for less?”

    Steve Sailer has repeatedly noted how our popular culture seems wedded to this weird notion that 1965 was about five years ago, so the awfulness of that era ought to be self-evident to everyone — even though the youngest people who can still remember 1965 are now in their late 50s. Frankly, this is unhealthy, and it sends a message to younger generations that is quite the opposite of what the creators probably intend. I’ve spoken to numerous young white people who adored “Mad Men” not because they saw it as a harsh criticism of the past — instead, they saw it as a vision of a lost utopia.

    I’m not the only one who see this. The whole alt-right is calculated precisely to appeal to these natural feelings of generational restlessness. It’s amazing to me that the Left is so blindsided by this. They wrote the freaking rulebook for this stuff; now another generation is copying it. Shouldn’t they have known? Well, they did at one time: In hindsight, the 1992 movie “Bob Roberts” seems like a kind of a very hazy premonition of the alt-right, but I guess it just seemed too silly to take seriously.
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  5. The short version is: if you are any kind of open-source leader or senior figure who is male, do not be alone with any female, ever, at a technical conference. Try to avoid even being alone, ever, because there is a chance that a “women in tech” advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp.
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