bookmark_borderOn racism, anti-racism, and “white fragility”

In a Boston Globe Magazine opinion piece entitled “What Too Many White People Still Don’t Understand About Racism,” writer and lecturer Linda Chavers writes:

“You have not seen outrage until you have seen the face of a white person being called a racist. You would think seeing the image of Emmett Till’s mutilated corpse in an open casket in 1955 or Michael Brown’s body lying dead in a Missouri street in 2014 would evoke extreme shock and horror. But, actually, white people get the most worked up when they or someone they know have been labeled a racist. Witness Laura Trott, a Conservative member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, finding it ‘extremely offensive’ that a Black counterpart, Dawn Butler, called Boris Johnson a racist. Same goes for Donald Trump’s ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body,’ or liberal whites with what Martin Luther King, Jr. called their ‘polite’ racism.”

I’m not sure why Chavers finds it so strange that people would be outraged when being falsely accused of something they did not do. It is extremely offensive to call someone a racist if he or she is not. People have a right not to be accused of doing things they did not do or having character flaws they do not have, and they have a right to be outraged and offended if this happens. Chavers seems to think that she should be free to criticize people with impunity, merely because they are white. If a particular person actually is racist, then yes, calling that person racist is the right thing to do. But if a person is not racist, then calling that person racist is wrong. Chavers does not seem to recognize or care about this distinction. Either she believes it’s OK to accuse people of something they did not do, or she believes that all white people are racist, which, ironically, is racist. Both things are equally wrong.

“This national ignorance leads white people to take offense at being called a racist or, worse, to declare the election of Barack Obama as the cause of racial strife or, worse still, to see extrajudicial executions of Black people as outside the norm,” Chavers writes. “It is absolutely the norm…. White Americans cannot deny the truth and reality of lethal violence toward Black people. They cannot say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t happen’ or ‘That’s only a few bad apples’ or ‘Let’s wait until we have all the facts.'”

Then she tells the reader, “Start listening instead of arguing.”

Well, actually, I can say all three of those things, and I can argue if I disagree with what Chavers is saying. It is entirely reasonable to claim that extrajudicial executions of Black people are outside the norm, or that only a few “bad apples” would commit such crimes. It is entirely prudent to wait until one has all the facts before making a judgment. What right does Chavers have to tell her readers that they cannot say these things? Why are people not allowed to express any opinion that differs from hers? 

This attitude reminds me of the sentiments expressed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with The Hill. In the interview, Ocasio-Cortez spoke about something called “white fragility,” the alleged tendency of white people to become upset when confronted with their own alleged racism. “Even the term ‘white fragility’ can really set a lot of people off,” she said. “It’s almost ironic.”

As you might guess from my double use of the word “allegedly,” I don’t believe in the concept of “white fragility.” Just like claiming that white people, as a group, are racist or ignorant, accusing someone of demonstrating “white fragility” is racist. Associating a negative character trait with an entire race would never be tolerated if directed towards Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or any other race. Racism against white people shouldn’t be tolerated either.

What Ocasio-Cortez got right is that the situation is, indeed, ironic. Those who believe in the concept of “white fragility” would likely use my objection to the term as evidence of its existence. The fact that I am objecting to being called fragile, goes the argument, proves that I am indeed fragile. But this does not demonstrate any fragility inherent to white people; it demonstrates a problem with the use of the term “white fragility.” It is unfair to criticize a person or group of people, and then use their objection to the criticism as evidence that the criticism is true. If one accepts this logic, then there is no way for the person being criticized to defend himself or herself. The person doing the criticism automatically wins the argument. This logic resembles the reasoning Chavers uses when she tells her readers that they cannot deny or argue against her claims. Both are essentially saying that they are right, that anyone who disagrees with them is ignorant and fragile, and that the more strenuously the person disagrees, the more ignorant and fragile he or she must be.

(This is similar to the logical fallacy called “poisoning the well“).

Strength of character does not require a person to take unfair criticism or false accusations without fighting back. Quite the opposite, in fact. Standing up for oneself demonstrates courage, independence of thought, and a sense of morality and justice. There’s nothing “fragile” about that.

bookmark_borderSaying that white lives matter is not illegal

At a Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Burnley on Monday, a plane flew overhead pulling a banner that read “White Lives Matter Burnley.” And, as would be expected in this era of extreme political correctness, everyone proceeded to completely freak out.

Burnley’s captain, Ben Mee, said that he was “ashamed and embarrassed.” The team issued a statement condemning the banner, apologizing for not somehow preventing it from flying, and promising to ban the person(s) responsible for life.

Blackpool Airport in northern England, the airport where the company that operated the plane was based, said that it was “outraged” and suspended all banner-towing operations.

“Last night’s awful stunt was done by a small minority to offend and cause hurt to so many in our community,” lawmaker Antony Higginbotham said. “Those responsible should be ashamed of their desire to divide.”

Russ Proctor, chief superintendent of the Lancashire County police force, announced that an investigation had begun. “We will then be in a position to make an assessment as to whether any criminal offenses have taken place,” he said.

My questions is: why is the phrase “Black Lives Matter” celebrated, encouraged, and not considered the least bit controversial, while the phrase “White Lives Matter” is almost universally condemned?

If White Lives Matter is considered shameful, embarrassing, outrageous, awful, offensive, hurtful, and divisive, then Black Lives Matter should be considered the same. Black lives matter, and white lives do, too. Lives of all races matter equally. If it’s not considered racist to say that black lives matter – as millions of people have done at protests, at sporting events, in speeches, and on social media – then it shouldn’t be considered racist to say that white lives matter, either. Why are so many people offended by the concept that white lives matter, too? Do the people who are so offended by this banner believe that white lives don’t matter?

This banner is nothing to be outraged, ashamed, or embarrassed about. There is nothing offensive or hurtful about it. And there is absolutely no reason for police to investigate it. Even if you (wrongly) consider the banner offensive, that does not make it illegal. People have a right to say controversial things, or write them on huge banners flying through the sky.

bookmark_borderMinneapolis truck driver did nothing wrong – highways are for driving on, not protesting

During the chaos that erupted in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, a tanker truck drove down a highway that was filled with protesters. Protesters pulled the truck driver, Bogdan Vechirko, out of the truck and beat him. He suffered cuts to his face and also had his phone and wallet stolen. Police then arrested Vechirko. This despite the fact that authorities failed to properly barricade the Interstate 35 West Bridge, and despite the fact that Vechirko noticeably slowed down in an attempt to avoid hitting anyone, as can be seen in the videos at the above link.

My first reaction upon hearing of this incident was, “Is it now customary to arrest the victims of crimes instead of the perpetrators?”

Fortunately, Vechirko was released without charges being filed.

But unfortunately, there is now a racist petition calling for Vechirko to be arrested again. The anonymous individual who created the petition on change.org wrote the following:

so on May 31st we had a peaceful protest from the US BANK STADIUM to 35W bridge until a white a supremacist came in with his semi gas truck and ploughed through us. and no the highway wasn’t open but rather closed for the protest. It was the most traumatic experience of my life and I’ll never forget the ones who helped me when I was in panic. this could’ve turned into a mass killing but it was a miracle that no one was hurt. and the fact that he planned all this and was seeing through to it was just inhuman and disgusting. we read his texts from his phone and this was clearly premeditated. what he did was terrorism and he should be charged for it! if a black man or a Muslim man did this he would be long gone and convicted and the media would blast him as a terrorist ASAP. they didn’t even handcuff him and were protecting him but it’s okay to do that to black people and even kill them? “peaceful protestors are being teargassed, run over, and beat up before being unlawfully arrested, but this guy–WHO DROVE INTO A CROWD–was released without being charged bc he was “frustrated” by traffic? Sounds about white.” And that’s white privilege people. I demand that we come together to combat racial injustice in this broken justice system and that they treat everyone with equality.

There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to figure out where to start.

  • First of all, someone creating a petition calling for an innocent person to be arrested should at least use proper punctuation and grammar.
  • Second, what evidence does this individual have that Vechirko was a white supremacist? How could someone think it is even remotely acceptable to just state that someone is a white supremacist without providing any evidence to back up that claim?
  • Third, the highway was not closed for the protest. Authorities were intending to barricade the highway but did not do it quickly enough, and Vechirko and his truck were already on the bridge before they had time to put barricades up.
  • Fourth, it was the most traumatic experience of your life? Seriously? You chose to go onto a highway to protest. Highways are for driving on. You have no right to be upset when a truck does exactly what it is supposed to do on a highway. Vechirko is the one who was dragged out of his truck and beaten by a mob, and you, a member of that mob, complain that you are traumatized?
  • Fifth, it seems that the individual behind the petition is claiming that he/she read texts from Vechirko’s phone after the group of protesters stole it. I don’t think that being part of a mob who beat and robbed someone is something that one should brag about.
  • Sixth, if a black person or Muslim was beaten and robbed by a mob for driving a truck on a highway, he/she would be neither “long gone and convicted” nor “blasted as a terrorist ASAP.” He/she would be portrayed as a victim and martyr and would not have been arrested in the first place.
  • Seventh, it was correct for the police to protect Vechirko and not handcuff him, because he did nothing wrong and was the victim of a crime.
  • Eighth, “sounds about white” is a blatantly racist statement. Why do you think that it is OK to insult someone because of the color of his skin? Vechirko was released without being charged not because of his race but because he did nothing wrong. He should not have even been arrested in the first place.
  • Ninth, there is no such thing as white privilege. Not being charged with a crime when you did not commit any crimes is a right, not a privilege.
  • Tenth, how can you demand that the justice system treat everyone with equality when your petition is asking for the exact opposite of that?

Other than that, this petition makes perfect sense.

The bottom line is that a highway is for driving. A tanker truck has every right to be on the highway. Protesters do not have a right to be on the highway. Vechirko did nothing wrong. The protesters did something wrong by being on the highway. They – particularly the ones who decided to drag him out of his truck and beat him – are the ones who should be charged with crimes, not him.

bookmark_borderUCF Professor Charles Negy deserves to be promoted, not fired

An uproar is taking place at the University of Central Florida because a professor had the audacity to disagree with the prevailing, politically correct narrative on racism.

Psychology Professor Charles Negy, author of “White Shaming: Bullying Based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance,” has been active on Twitter since the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests. A sampling of his tweets is as follows:

Continue reading “UCF Professor Charles Negy deserves to be promoted, not fired”

bookmark_borderSuffolk DA Rollins does not know what “impunity” means

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins recently spoke about the arrests of 53 people during the protests/rioting that took place in Boston on Monday night. Although Rollins condemned the destruction of property and violence against police officers, she voiced support and understanding for the motivation behind the protests.

“People are disgusted and outraged, and they should be,” she said. “And it is completely ironic to have to say to you, ‘Please don’t be violent. Please keep your voice down. Please be silent and comply with all of the police’s requirements,’ when in fact it’s those very people that murder us with impunity.”

I don’t think Rollins understands what the word “impunity” means. The four officers whose actions led to the death of George Floyd were promptly fired from their jobs. One of them was charged with second-degree murder and the other three with aiding and abetting murder. Isn’t that the very opposite of impunity?

Before the Boston protest took place, Rollins made the following tweet, which some people are now accusing of helping to motivate the violence and destruction:

The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association pushed back against Rollins’ comments, accusing her of inciting violence against cops and calling it “disgraceful” that she doubled down on those sentiments in her public remarks. “While you quickly and cavalierly label all police officers murderers,” they wrote, “the fact is that BPD officers responded to violent attacks against them with courage and restraint. Instead of slandering our officers as murderers, you should be highlighting their professionalism and dedication to our City.” The full letter can be read below or here:

Rollins then responded with this tweet:

I strongly disagree with the line about “white fragility.” How is it “fragile” for the police union to defend its members? Rollins doesn’t have to agree with the opinions expressed in the letter, but she shouldn’t impugn the character of the people who wrote it. Not to mention the fact that “white fragility” is a racist term – how is it acceptable to make a negative generalization about an entire race? Police officers can be any race; in their letter the police union was speaking not only for its white members but for all of them. With these comments, Rollins is not only personally attacking those who have a different opinion than she does; she is also condemning an entire race as lacking in character. Not very appropriate for a District Attorney.

bookmark_borderRights are not privileges

Numerous people have been posting the following post on Facebook in the wake of George Floyd’s death:

I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.
#BlackLivesMatter

Although it’s always a good thing to raise awareness of instances of injustice and to consider the experiences of other people, I strongly disagree with the concept of “white privilege.”

All of the things listed in the post are rights, not privileges. To go birding is a right. To go jogging or running is a right. To relax in the comfort of one’s own home is a right. To go to church or to Walmart or to a corner store is a right. To hold a cell phone or skittles or even a weapon is a right. To cash a check is a right. To go to a party, decorate for a party, or leave a party is a right. Sleeping is a right. Breathing is a right. Living is a right.

To classify these things as privileges is to argue that people do not have a right to do them. It is to argue that the problem is the fact that white people are able to do these things without thinking twice, as opposed to the fact that black people are not.  

Even if you accept that all of the people listed in the post were victimized because they were black – which I do not, because in many of the instances there is no evidence that racial motivation was involved – that does not mean that white people have privilege. What it means is that the rights of black people are being violated. This is an injustice that everyone should fight against, and the way to fight against it is to make it so that black people’s rights are not being violated anymore, not to make it so that white people’s rights are being violated too.

Let’s work towards a society in which everyone, regardless of skin color, can walk and run about freely, not a society in which no one can.

bookmark_borderIn defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views

With almost no sports happening at the moment, the NFL draft last month was a huge story. In New England, a large amount of attention has focused on kicker Justin Rohrwasser from Marshall University, who was drafted by the Pats in the fifth round.

According to a profile in the Boston Globe, Rohrwasser has numerous tattoos, including an American flag, one that reads “don’t tread on me,” another that reads “liberty or death,” and another that resembles the logo of a group called the Three Percenters. This group advocates for small government, freedom of speech, and gun rights. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Three Percenters are an “anti-government group,” meaning that they “advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines.” The Three Percenters, however, have characterized themselves as “very pro-government, so long as the government abides by the Constitution.”

Additionally, on Twitter, Rohrwasser has expressed support for President Trump, Ayn Rand, and psychologist Jordan Peterson. According to one of his college coaches, Jim Fleming, Rohrwasser wore a red “MAGA” hat at school and expressed conservative beliefs, particularly about economic policies, in conversations.

What is wrong with this, you may ask? In my opinion… absolutely nothing!

Yet because of his political beliefs, Rohrwasser has been inundated with criticism online, accused of being a racist and a bigot. This is an example of self-proclaimed “liberals” displaying qualities that are the very opposite of the tolerance they pretend to espouse. Rohrwasser has done nothing wrong by having, and expressing, conservative (or libertarian, or however one wishes to characterize them) beliefs. He has every right to get a Three Percenters tattoo. He has every right to “like” and retweet whatever tweets he wants to. There is no rule that every person must have moderate, mainstream, middle-of-the-road, politically correct views. To condemn someone for having non-traditional views is the true bigotry here. This is bullying, plain and simple.

As Rohrwasser’s high school coach, John Barber, put it: “For him to be called a racist thug and a Nazi and Hitler, it just turns my stomach, because that’s not who he is. They don’t understand the full story of who he is, just want to take something out of context and destroy a kid, which wasn’t called for.”

Continue reading “In defense of Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser’s tattoos and political views”

bookmark_borderRacism in action

Renee Graham’s latest Boston Globe column, entitled “You can read the white rage in their MAGA hats,” might just be the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.

In it, she criticizes as racist a group of “white teenage boys” for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. “Clearly, this was meant as a provocation,” she huffs, immediately prior to admitting that the group “did nothing disruptive” other than simply existing and moving through the museum. Graham characterizes this horribly inappropriate behavior as “trolling” and “denigrat[ing] African-American history.” She describes how African-American museum visitors shook their heads at the group, rolled their eyes, and gave them “side-eye.”

“African-Americans survived the Middle Passage, centuries of enslavement, families torn apart, systemic sexual abuse, lynchings, racist Supreme Court decisions, police violence, and Jim Crow,” she pontificates. “Every effort to dim our light has only made it burn hotter and brighter. We’re still here, unbowed…. We won’t be intimidated by people in MAGA hats – or the noxious president they represent.”

I, for one, am in awe of Graham’s courage. A grown woman was brave enough not to be intimidated by teens – gasp! – holding political views that are different from hers! What incredible grit and strength it must have taken to survive something so horrific.

In all seriousness, Graham’s opinion about the Trump-supporting teens is inaccurate, bigoted, and hypocritical:

Inaccurate because she characterizes the teens’ wearing of MAGA hats as racist when there is absolutely no evidence that this is true. There are plenty of reasons to support Trump, most of which have nothing to do with race.

Bigoted because she assumes the teens must be racist because of their race and political orientation and criticizes them merely for existing in a public place. Graham treats it as an act of aggression for people to wear a particular hat while minding their own business, while in reality Graham and the museum-goers who gave dirty looks were aggressing against an innocent group of people.

And hypocritical because Graham purports to advocate against racism and discrimination while herself being more racist than most of the people she criticizes. It’s past time for Graham to stop using blatantly racist terms such as “white rage” and to start thinking about being tolerant, for once, of people who are different than her.

bookmark_borderStarbucks protests are much ado about nothing

In today’s society, there are so many things to be outraged about, from the medical system to taxes to technology’s erosion of privacy rights. It’s puzzling to me that out of all the outrageous things happening in the world, so many people are outraged about the fact that two people, who happen to be black, were arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave a Starbucks.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the two men were at Starbucks, where they were planning to meet someone. They asked to use the restroom and were told no, as store policy is not to allow people to use the restroom unless they buy something. A little later, an employee went to their table and asked if they would like to order something. They said no. Because they didn’t buy anything, they were asked to leave. They refused. They were asked to leave two more times and continued to refuse, and eventually a manager called the cops.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has called this incident “reprehensible” and people have been boycotting and protesting the coffee chain, saying things like “Shame on you Starbucks.”

In my opinion, this reaction is completely excessive. Perhaps calling the cops was a bit of an overreaction, but it’s entirely reasonable to kick someone out of a café or restaurant if they aren’t buying anything. Perhaps the cops wouldn’t have been called if the two men were white; perhaps they would have been. There’s no way to know. The Starbucks protests are an example of the tendency to assume, that if anything bad happens to someone black, it must have happened because they are black.

An opinion piece by the Boston Globe’s Renee Graham exemplifies this attitude. “To be black is to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time because, in America, there is never a right place for black people,” she wrote. “Everything black people do is weighted by irrational white fear. It’s mentally exhausting to always be on guard, even during mundane moments.” About an incident where a person, who happened to be black, was tragically shot by a suspicious homeowner after knocking on the door to ask for directions, she wrote, “Even with my lousy sense of direction, I wouldn’t run the risk of ending up in jail or dead because somebody criminalized my blackness.”

This is completely nonsensical and has no basis in reality. All of America is the right place for black people, as well as people of any race. No one “criminalizes blackness.” There is no reason for people of any race to feel that they need to be constantly on guard to avoid ending up dead or in jail. Police brutality can happen to people of any race. So can tragic misunderstandings. It’s no fun to be mentally exhausted, but Graham is mentally exhausting herself for no reason.

“Nothing will ever change until a majority of white people in this nation stop perceiving black existence as sinister and suspicious,” Graham continues. “Talking about racism may hurt white people’s feelings, but their unchecked racism continues to endanger our black lives.”

But a majority of white people has never perceived black existence as sinister or suspicious. Graham is seeing racism where it does not exist, and she is insultingly dismissing differing opinions as “hurt feelings.” Not to mention the fact that by writing of “irrational white fear” and white people’s “unchecked racism,” Graham is actually being racist. Something is wrong with our society when anything that even remotely resembles racism against blacks – such as being kicked out of Starbucks – is considered “reprehensible,” while blatant racism against whites is considered perfectly fine.

bookmark_borderThe Las Vegas shooting was terrible, but that does not make it terrorism

Countless people on Twitter, Tumblr, and all over the internet have been calling Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock a terrorist. They have been criticizing the news media for not labeling Paddock a terrorist, claiming that the only reason he’s not called a terrorist is because he is white.

Continue reading “The Las Vegas shooting was terrible, but that does not make it terrorism”