-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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White Fragility Is Keeping Racism Alive (?)
Unlike Leftists, I am always interested in hearing points of view different from my own. So I read Leftist emissions with interest. One such is below. They want to inject "brown" authors into "white" literature. Like all Leftist writing that I know, it leaves out half the story. In its characteristically Leftist obsession with race, it does not concede that the issue might not be about race at all
Lovers of classical literature (I am one) see large differences between different types of writing. They find (for instance) the stories of Chaucer to be of much higher quality in various ways than writing on the back of a cereal packet. And in a world where there is so much to read, it pays to know where to look to find quality writing. And that is where classical literature comes in. Classical literature is simply that literature that has stood the test of time -- literature that many people over many years have read with pleasure and recommended to others. It is literature that comes with some guarantee of quality.
And that is valuable. It helps to ensure that your reading gives you pleasure. So any attempt to inject into the canon of classical literature writing that has not stood the test of time is to mislead. It can lead you into wasting your time on stuff that is not worth reading.
So that is what is at issue: An objection to introducing racism into a selection of literature that is normally concerned only with the quality of the writing. The authors below seem unwilling to allow that some people might not be concerned with race and therefore object to having it introduced where it is not relevant. Leftist racial obsessions simply pollute something to which race is irrelevant. There is more to life than the colour of someone's skin and that needs to be acknowledged by all parties. So a course of study designed to introduce students to great literature would simply be degraded by basing the selection of literature on race rather than on the quality of the writing. It would make a useful course less useful.
So it is not "white fragility" that fuels objections to racist proposals. It is a desire for quality and an objection to its dilution.
Let me however concede that there may be some sense in what is proposed below. Someone might say: "But there are good non-white authors and changing the curriculum might introduce you to something you would enjoy reading"
That is surely true but the key word is "might". One asks for more than a maybe when one sets out to find literature with some guarantee of quality. If one suspected that some racially defined author or group of authors may be worth reading, by all means read them but don't try to mislead others into thinking they are classical literature.
But the fundamental objection below is simply unhappiness that the modern world is largely the creation of Northern European people and their descendants worldwide. People who are not of that ilk may understandably regret that. They may wish that their own forebears had been prominent in the creative changes that have given us modern civilization.
But is a lie the solution to that? Do we change history by insisting on rewriting it? Many people do just that but I doubt that such actions really console anybody in the long run. The way Leftists rage against hearing what conservatives have to say surely tells us that they know that their fake history is fragile and easily taken away from them.
Many people, conservatives particularly, don't judge things by racial criteria and surely that is to be encouraged, not attacked. Minority people can and should learn to do the same. Thinking that you can defeat racism by being racist is surely brain dead. Racism can only be defeated by encouraging people to judge others on their own individual merits, not on the colour of their skin.
And that is not blue sky. The ethnic group in America that has the highest average income is Indians, who are notably brown. Skin colour does not have to matter. Do Indians have "brown privilege" or do they just work and study hard?
Recently, a group of Cambridge students petitioned the world-renowned university to "decolonize" the English syllabus by adding black and minority ethnic (BME) writers to the reading list. Once the media caught wind of the letter, written and signed by students, they began a frenzy of outrage at white authors being replaced on the reading list.
The British newspaper, the Telegraph, placed a black student, Lola Olufemi, on the front cover with the headline "Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors." The paper has been criticized by a senior lecturer at Cambridge University for "what looks like incitement to race war," and rightfully so. The placement of one student alongside such a misleading title made it seem like this was the work of a black woman on a crusade to rid the world of white men. The article totally ignored the fact that the majority of students who'd signed the petition were in fact white. The author pandered to a growing sentiment more and more white men are beginning to hold - that white culture is being erased. As a result, Lola Olufemi was subjected to a tirade of hate from trolls on social media who saw themselves as being under attack by blackness.
In reality, the university had no intentions at all to replace any white authors with BME authors. The letter written by students was merely a suggestion for more diversity in reading and in no way did it advocate for the removal of authors based on the fact that they're white. Cambridge University released a statement addressing the subject in defense of the students.
Whilst it's great to see the university defending a black student against harassment, the harassment itself is very telling of the age we live in today. As we make more progress in the representation of BME people and fight against discrimination there has been a pushback from white people who feel unsettled by the very topic of race or don't want `political correctness' shoved down their throats. In this instance, we saw a group of young people saying they wanted to learn more about the global south through literature, and white people, for some reason, were offended by this. This is the white fragility that prevents people of color from speaking out to protect the feelings of white people.
White people often join discussions about race with no intentions to listen but instead wish to play the victim. They say things like `why does everything have to be about race?' or `if you keep dividing yourselves racism will never go away.' A culture of victim blaming has developed in which people of color are told they are asking for too much by simply asking to be included. White people feel attacked by this because, whether consciously or subconsciously, they see it as a threat to their dominance. They've been able to live so long without having to experience racism that anything which works to dismantle racism and bring equality is seen as anti-white.
The problem with this kind of attitude towards people of color is that it leaves us with two options: to accept our low status in society or to fight it with the consequence of being demonized in the media and brutalized for our efforts. White fragility is another way of upholding racism through self-victimisation. It is a more subtle form of racism that exists today as it can exist among those who see themselves as `not racist.' Not being a racist does nothing, it simply is a way to make yourself feel better about the racism of other white people. It's a way to distance yourself from your kin so you don't have to feel bad whilst still leaving room to complain about people talking about race because you're able to say `I'm not racist.'
For racism to be dismantled there must be an acknowledgment of privilege amongst white people. There must be an awareness that being anti-racism or pro-black isn't anti-white. There must be a realization that racism is a bad thing and people of color experience it which, therefore, makes them best qualified to talk about it and well justified in their asking for inclusivity. White people need to stop playing the victim and see that people of color want nothing more but to exist alongside them without fear of exploitation or brutalization, is that too much to ask?
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