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Thanks for that phrasing. “Absolution by acknowledgment” is just the pith I’ve been trying to find to describe this.

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The New Clerisy (neomarxists, postmodern deconstructionists), college educated professionals, the upper middle class, are economic and cultural servants of Billionaire Oligarchs. As such, they have been throwing the working class and the lumpenproletariat under the bus for many decades (as apparently originally inspired by Marcuse in the 60s).

"Social justice" and victim narratives are the moral justification for the abuse of power by the New Clerisy.

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I don't think the good faith argument for excluding the police (as an institution! not officers as individuals, out of uniform) from Pride is because of the whole "queer folks are smol beans and it would make them sad" phenomenon, but because the police (as an institution!) continue to be pretty damn shitty to the queer community and thus their invite should be rescinded.

I don't know about every city, but in Toronto, the cops have:

a) Completely failed at investigating a serial killer, Bruce McArthur, who murdered 8 gay men in Toronto from 2010-2017, despite tons of bright flashing clues pointing directly at his head, including a documented history of assault and attempted murder

b) Failed to find the body of Tess Richey, who disappeared in the Village in 2017; her mom showed up and two days later, found the body in a stairwell two doors down from where she was last seen

c) Took *months* to identify the body of Alloura Wells, a transgender woman who died in 2017; when her father tried to report her missing, he was told she was a "low priority"

d) Created a whole sting operation in 2016, Project Marie, to solicit gay men for sex in a park and then ticket/arrest them

And those are just the high-profile, more clear-cut examples from the last 5 years. My friends in the community report many more mundane negative day-to-day interactions with the cops regularly. I know someone who was a cop and quit because of the rampant homophobia.

That's not hurt feelings over some words, it's the institution of the Toronto Police Service enacting material harm. As the group with power, if they want an invite to show up in uniform, they have to do the work to repair their relationship with the community who is running the event.

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burkina* faso

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great article btw

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author

Fixed, thanks - not sure how I got that in my head.

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happens in the best families as we say in arabic ;)

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You probably got it from the recently coined term, burkini. For the uninitiated, the burkini is a burqa for swimming, full coverage garb but in a more water-friendly fabric. The term is deeply tongue in cheek, since unlike the bikini, it covers even more than a one-piece swimsuit does.

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You can add: when the Spaniards arrived in what is today Latin America, they found two huge empires - no other word will do - the Inca and the Aztec. And before these, we have 1,000 years of archeological evidence of one empire/nation subjugating another in an endless cycle. Europeans did not need to invent any of this. Also, yes, the idea that Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians, and others are incapable of hating, fighting, and oppressing one another without European "inspiration" is just insanely condescending. Have none of these people ever heard of Genghis Kahn or the Mughal Empire?

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founding

I had the same thought when I was reading today's article. The narrative Freddie describes, that only Europeans can be imperialists, erases thousands of years of world history to focus on a relatively recent past. Europeans taking over the Americas started in the 16th century; it was well into the 19th before they carved up the interior of Africa. Isn't the "erasure" of people of color supposed to be bad? What about the Vikings who colonized the British Isles and enslaved the local populations? Is that imperialism since they only colonized other "white" people?

I'm really glad I only have to read about this idiocy on the internets and I'm not a student anywhere--I don't think I'd be able to keep my mouth shut.

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I completely agree in that basically every human group has tried to conquer other groups at some point with varying degrees of success, but most historians recognize good reasons to draw a distinction between pre-modern empires like that of the Romans, Aztecs and Mongols and modern-era imperalism like that of the British and French. There are a lot of really significant differences between how the ancient and modern empires worked; modern imperialism was much more thorough and transformative than its old counterpart, in part because modern states had much more capacity and power than their older cousins.

Freddie is completely right, though, in that it makes no sense at all to pretend that Imperial Japan wasn't doing, well, imperialism.

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I agree that there are differences. But you don't get much more thorough and transformative than the Muslim conquest and the series of imperial caliphates. Islam was the religion of a few cities and tribes before the imperial conquest began. Hundreds of millions of people converted to Islam, dozens of religions and languages went extinct, and the imperial language became one of the world's most-spoken languages, with about 568 million speakers of variants of Arabic today (per https://www.visualcapitalist.com/100-most-spoken-languages/ ).

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Yes, but Christianity and many other Axial religions (post-Bronze-Age-collapse societies with contemplative religions), did the same thing in roughly the same time frame.

Islam was the last of those kinds of social systems, and was more ruthless in trying to purge the world of corruption and "impurity", maybe out of desperation driven by the (perceived) need for spiritual utopia.

The Axial (medieval) transformation resulted in most of the nomadic tribes on the planet being wiped out by the end of a 5,000 year war.

The Enlightenment/industrial/modern transformation resulted in most of the non-European medieval civilizations being wiped out, or made subservient.

Any great transformation in the mode of civilization is so disruptive to older cultural forms that mass violence seems to be inherent to the process.

Postmodernists seem hell bent on the same thing: the destruction of modern, western civilization, at any cost. Unfortunately for them, postmodernism is just a pothole on the road of cultural evolution.

The current postmodern project is not capable of forward evolution, instead it is regressive to Neo-feudal, pre-Enlightenment tribalism, ruled by Oligarchs and the New Clerisy (Kotkin).

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So you’re saying that Europeans were just better at it and had better weapons. Right? I’d agree. But that doesn’t make more low tech lynchings & attempted genocides any less morally reprehensible.

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The Mongolian (Golden) Hordes destroyed every known civilization at the time that was within reach (China, India, the Middle East, Russia). Western Europe was too far away, Africa was too far away (the leaders of the marauders had to return to Central Asia once a year to report to the grand tribal leader, Khan or whatever).

The Ottoman empire inherited the Mongolian project, continuing to attack eastern and central Europe until the Siege of Vienna (now Austria) failed in the 1600s.

The vast Islamic slave trade out of east Africa went on for something like 1,000 years.

The consensus in archeology is that war (between tribes) is as old as dirt.

NW Europeans developed better govt (high-social-trust nation state politics), Constitutional law, better technology and science, better weapons, a better global trade system (markets, capitalism), higher literacy and numeracy rates, classically "liberal" personality traits and innovation, an expanding, increasingly wealthy urban commoner class (eventually even rural peasants became literate).

After 1492, the translated into payback against their tradition enemies: Arabs/Berbers that invaded Spain and engaged in piracy in the Mediterranean and the Ottomans were forced back and then subjugated. The middle eastern slave economy was eventually ended by the British Royal Navy.

Unfortunately the weaponization of modern technology by Europeans after 1492 spilled over into conquest of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, but it was pretty consistent with how any form of "oriental despotism" (imperialism, tyranny) had operated around the world for 1,000s of years, which is to say, brutality and authoritarianism. (see Dunbar's number)

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Somewhere in the 1950s-60s Carl O. Sauer (geography, UC Berkeley) thought that the evidence show three grand cycles of imperial expansion, and vast deforestation and environmental destruction, for the Incas.

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The historical ignorance here is appalling--it's one of those "Spain is the capital of Mexico", "what are they teaching in schools these days" gut check moments.

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Try to get real Mexican food in Spain! lol

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It's incorrect to suggest SWPL whites don't feel racialized, or that indictments of "white people" resonate, to them, as merely encompassing other, bad white people. Any white lib in publishing feels racialized -- how could she not? "Wokeness" is the ocean in which she swims. She knows she is not merely a Swarthmore grad, but a *white* Swarthmore grad, not merely a mom, but a *white* mom; one of her greatest daily efforts is to avoid behaving like the *white* feminist she's always been.

She's comfortable with indictments of white people because she knows they encompass her and she enjoys this form of abasement. Much like the Puritans who named their kids Festering-Rotten-Sinner Smith, she enjoys being reminded of her place in the world. I think it's a combination of masochistic pathology and the confidence that by debasing herself, she gets to debase other white people, too.

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To add to this: the other reason this appeals to her is because it relieves PMC performance anxiety. It's now virtuous, not slothful, for her to fail to maximize her child's educational opportunities, for example.

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The postmodern project (SJWs, etc.) is not capable of forward evolution, instead it is regressive to Neo-feudal, pre-Enlightenment tribalism, rule by Oligarchs and the New Clerisy (Kotkin).

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WWII-era Japan was definitely an imperial power, but for some reason I'm a lot more bothered by the fire bombing of Japanese cities in 1945 than I am by the destruction of Dresden, Germany (and I feel that has little to do with the disparaties in deaths of those two events).

Anyone else feel similarly? And if so, do you know why that is?

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Japan has used the sentiment Freddie describes (and the nuclear bombings in particular) to flip the script on WW2 and emerge as VICTIMS of American aggression in the minds of many. The Japanese Empire was a militaristic, fascist state by all means but I don't think that they were "officially" fascist or were actually card-carrying fascists/NatSocs like the Germans and Italians. There's no immediate rhetorical killshot for the Japanese that removes them from moral discussion.

Even talking about Dresden and wondering if it was necessary is inb4'd as being a Nazi yourself. People try to look moral and woke sometimes by performatively talking about how much they hate Nazis and how they deserve no sympathy whatsoever (this is a positive development in a world where "Nazi" means someone that isn't sufficiently woke, lol).

So I actually do feel similarly about the Firebombings/Dresden. But we are meant to hate Nazi Germany with every fiber of our being and give Japan the benefit of the doubt in modern woke historiography.

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Slatestarcodex's "I can tolerate everything except the outgroup" seems potentially applicable. I'd imagine you feel as you do for roughly the same reason many Asian cultures think it's fun to dress up as Nazis: the atrocities Japan committed happened far away to groups and cultures you don't really know or understand, while the atrocities Germany committed happened to groups and cultures you know well. What Germany did seems more salient, and it's easy to forget (or just never know in the first place) the full scope of what Japan did.

If you're American, there may also be some cultural baggage: the US has long been culturally divided on whether we should have dropped the bombs or attempted a land invasion. You feel more moral impact of "your own" decisions versus someone far away.

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No, a lot of the older people in my family (most passed away over the last decade) were combat veterans of WW2.

I partly grew up in Japan. Medieval Japan and medieval Germany/Europe were far more similar to each other than either are to postmodern culture.

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Re: the Smith college episode, I wonder if you might employ a bit more imagination to see if there's any version of the student's experience you might sympathize with.

First, we shouldn't assume the student intended to break the rules -- it's not like she picked a lock, she just went and sat in a place that was totally common to sit and eat, that's explicitly for students like her, which presumably had some sort of sign saying that the building was temporarily not in service. Signs are often unobtrusive, wordy, out of date, etc.

Second, I'm guessing that a lot depends on the manner in which a security guard approaches someone to get them to move. My heart has definitely beat fast, with my body in fight or flight mode, when a cop or security guard has made me move -- sometimes there is a distinct element of threat of violence in how they talk to me. I'm White, and I have seen firsthand the added element of threat that is sometimes present when cops or guards are talking to Black people, regardless of the race of the cop/guard.

All of this is to say that maybe the student is a whiny, entitled distraction from what really matters. Or, maybe if you were a fly on the wall, you would have been horrified at what you witnessed, and want it to be an issue that the university sees as a real problem with students' sense of safety and inclusion on campus.

Don't be too smug!

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All that may be true, but it doesn't excuse a student dropping a low-waged security guard and janitor in the shit while telling a blatant lie about the security guard being armed. It's natural to be pissed off and stressed after an encounter like that. It isn't reasonable to publicly accuse everyone involved of racism.

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If "all of that" is "true" then there was an "added element of threat that is sometimes present when cops or guards are talking to Black people" which is "racism". I assume you don't think people who suffer from racist abuse should be silent about it. But I'm confused what you do think, if there may indeed have been an added element of threat due to the student being Black.

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It sounds to me like Veen is simply saying that even actual racism doesn’t excuse the dishonesty. The perceived threat, however real the social circumstances that contribute to it, doesn’t make lying in order to ruin people’s livelihood a reasonable course of action.

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I think you fall into the trap that Freddie is trying to call out in his article. You're taking what would be egregious behaviour by any reasonable standard and minimizing the student's responsibility for her actions because she is Black. That's deeply patronizing. I think Glenn Lowry would call it the bigotry of low expectations.

It's true that there may be an added element of threat when Black people encounter people in authority, but there is no evidence of that in this instance. It's a privileged student at an elite institution taking petty revenge because she was was rebuked for breaking rules.

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No. In fairness to the NYT, which I often find presenting articles with a progressive bent, the story seemed to fairly represent both sides: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/us/smith-college-race.html

Read it. The story seemed to me an unambiguous abuse of power on the part of the student against those less powerful than her. This was a class story, not a race story. The student (regardless of color) is at an elite institution and it was pretty clear that she ignored clear rules b/c she thought it didn't apply to her (privilege). There was no indication that she didn't know the rules; she just ignored them. And, then, when politely called out for disobeying those rules, she exercised what power she had to punish those less powerful that dared to confront her with the rules that she had flaunted. There were actually 3 low-income workers at Smith punished and humiliated for this episode: the security guard, a janitor and someone who worked in the cafeteria. The president of the college sided with the student. There was never any apology to those unfairly treated. (Even in the most generous sense, one could call it a misunderstanding and apologize, but no.) And this is one of the prices we pay for this SJW bullshit. This is abuse of power. And I don't blame the student for wielding power. I don't even blame the feckless president of the college. I blame you and everyone else that makes excuses for this kind of behavior and allows these kind of episodes to continue.

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Yep. We've taken "believe victims" way too far. Should we listen to purported victims, and work to get them justice if it seems that have indeed been harmed? Of course. But reflexively believing every 'victim' that comes forth is just empowering con artists and liars, and if left unchecked will lead to pushback against actual victims.

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The reflex to believe the victims without skepticism if it supports the narrative seems reinforce Freddie's point.

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In terms of detail of this episode, I thought the NYT story wasn't especially informative, given that the student actually posted video of the encounter. I took a look, and I agree that the security guard was polite. I didn't see any detail in the NYT story or elsewhere that suggests that the student knew this area was off limits. And he looked like an armed police officer to me. And, I see that the student specifically called for the person who called security to be fired, which I think is ridiculous. And, I suspect that "why are you here?" is something that would have been less likely to be asked of a White student.

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"And, I suspect that "why are you here?" is something that would have been less likely to be asked of a White student." What do you base this on? How is it that you are so comfortable painting people you know nothing about as racist?

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I was trying to couch my speculation in qualifiers. I think we can all agree that for most of US history, it would be very likely there would be a difference. I'm suspecting that it is still somewhat likely, not specifically of this security guard but of security guards in general. We obviously know that a typical security guard is likely to talk to different people different ways based on assumptions and guesses about who they might be or what they're probably doing there; e.g. someone in tattered clothing with trash bags who smells awful vs. a White 50 year old man in an expensive suit on an iPhone with a woman fixing his tie.

I've caught myself talking to people I perceive as low-status in ways I wouldn't if, say, I suspected I was talking to my boss's kid. And I've been talked to in an abrasive way when someone thought I was an employee at a fundraiser, who then profusely apologized when they realized I was a fellow donor working as a volunteer.

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Your observation that security guards are generally more likely to treat white students differently, even if true (I personally doubt it), adds nothing to the conversation but a brand of allowed bigotry. History and recent statistics are irrelevant to what this security guard did, how or why he did it, or what a hypothetical security guard would have done. It's unjust to opportunistically saddle anyone with the yoke of history. Your anecdotes appear to be a tutorial on how to prejudge those we suspect will prejudge us. Liberalism is about honoring the individual, allowing them to write their own story, to earn their own reputation, unencumbered but what their ancestors and entire race did.

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But you're arguing my point for me! My point is that we don't know, merely from the NYT piece, whether the student suffered from unfair and hostile treatment. History and recent statistics are irrelevant to knowing what that particular interaction was like -- we simply don't know, and it's unjust to opportunistically saddle anyone with the yoke of history, or with the assumptions we apply.

On the other hand, we know that our society has featured a huge amount of differing treatment on the basis of all sorts of status, and I think you'd have to be pretty set on sticking your head in the sand to claim that you are sure that no one in the US is treated unfairly on the basis of any type of status today. So as far as we know on the basis of the NYT article, this student may well have been treated differently on the basis of her racial status. Who knows?

Why does that simple truth incur such stubborn closed-mindedness in you?

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I just want to clarify here that I see your point and I respect you for pushing back against all the flack you're getting here. There is no question that society is riddled with racism, but this is the kind of story that absolutely drives me crazy. When this story first came out, I started ranting to my husband about it, and his response was much like yours: "Ok, this went overboard. But what do you expect when you have a society that has systematically punished and subjugated one group of people? Maybe the the SJWs have gone a little far, but maybe this is necessary for a real change in society."

So, ok, I can see that point of view. But please understand that this is a Machiavellian calculation. You write: "And, I see that the student specifically called for the person who called security to be fired, which I think is ridiculous." When you paint everything as colored with race, real-life people pay the price for that. There are consequences. People are canceled, fired, and humiliated. When you kind of shrug and say, "but well, this wouldn't happen to a white student, or "of course a person of color will feel threatened" you are giving tacit permission for those three people to be punished as they were. And maybe that is worth it to you? Maybe the few white heads that roll are worth the price of creating what you see as an equitable world? Just rounding error, right? How about all of those black people that are pay the price for racism every day? But I can't think that way. I loathe abuse of power in whatever form I see it, and I call like I see it.

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I hear all that! I'm only saying that on the basis of the cursory NYT article, there's no way to know if the student suffered mistreatment that you'd think was likely due in part to her race, if you were there. I want to ask you to reread what I wrote and tell me if, indeed, I suggested that this wouldn't happen to a white student, or that of course a person of color will feel threatened. Those are the sorts of presumptive assumptions I'm pushing back against. On the basis of the cursory NYT article, it's possible this student is a hopelessly coddled, lazily abusive, irresponsible child. Or it's possible she is a rigorous, responsible adult who accurately detected she was being targeted for abuse. It's hard to ignore the additional information we've all gotten from looking into this story more, but I'm interested in how much certainty Freddie and others jump to in a case like this, and how unearned that certainty is.

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Well you say, " And, I suspect that "why are you here?" is something that would have been less likely to be asked of a White student."

And: "I'm White, and I have seen firsthand the added element of threat that is sometimes present when cops or guards are talking to Black people, regardless of the race of the cop/guard." (This last even though you admit that you saw video and the security officer seemed polite.)

I do think you're right that I have bias here as well. It's hard for me to picture her truly frightened by the interaction and maybe I need to try harder to picture that. But here is what people are trying to say to you: empathy toward her is completely and totally beside the point. The power differential is so heavily weighted in her favor (a privileged student at her own elite college against hired help at that college). And the political climate is so tilted in her favor that those three workers had no chance once those accusations are lodged. This is why I said I don't blame her (she has been taught to believe this was a threat); and I don't blame the college president (who could either take her side or lose her job). I blame those of us on the left that are tolerating and encouraging this hysteria; that is what caused this tragedy.

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I appreciate your broader point. She does have quite a bit of power, and with power comes responsibility. I wish for everyone to be more patient and skeptical before calling for drastic action -- and also to be patient and skeptical before jumping on the other bandwagon of derision and dismissal.

I continue to be mystified by your, and others', objections to my statements of fact, though. I wrote that "I suspect that "why are you here?" is something that would have been less likely to be asked of a White student" in that situation. If you think that is wrong, then I assume you believe the converse statement -- that it is **certain** that "why are you here?" would be just as likely to be asked of a White student. That's a hilariously confident claim! I mean, maybe? But where on earth does that certainty come from?

As I have pointed out in these replies, any sane observer of society will agree that many security guards on campus would talk differently to all sorts of different people; my examples were a person in tattered clothing who smelled awful, vs. a well-groomed man in an expensive suit being further groomed by a woman. OK, so we agree that background assumptions about what type of person the guard might be dealing with, and the validity of their presence there, and their likely status, affect the distribution of how guards will talk to students -- not just the surface politeness, but their choice of words, their stance, etc. How might this woman's race have been in play in a situation like this? Well, we don't know! But we shouldn't be certain that it was or wasn't.

As for:

> "I'm White, and I have seen firsthand the added element of threat that is sometimes present when cops or guards are talking to Black people, regardless of the race of the cop/guard." (This last even though you admit that you saw video and the security officer seemed polite.)

I mean, I'm again mystified. I have seen this firsthand? It sometimes happens? I'm not claiming that it happened here. But on the strength of the NYT piece alone, there was no reason to be certain that it didn't.

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Also, I love Marie Kennedy's post-woke substack. Her post on how the Atlanta shooting was covered is analogous here. Not EVERYTHING is about race, and it's actually harmful when everything is colored through the lens of race: https://postwoke.substack.com/p/atlanta

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May 24, 2021Liked by Freddie deBoer

Agreed that we should be more sympathetic to the student here.

One of the more insidious effects of discrimination is that it can be hard to tell the difference between rules being applied to you fairly vs unfairly based on race, gender, etc. It is extremely normal for people of all races to feel that they have been unfairly singled out, and it's only natural that, in a world where racism is very real, a person of color would associate such incidents with racist intent.

What I blame for what happened next are modern social media platforms and culture, that normalize the idea that some random student's complaint deserves serious attention, and an administration that is completely unwilling to stand up for its lower-level staff. What should have happened is that a kind but stern administrator explained to her that there was signage posted, a policy in place, and everyone involved had done exactly as they had been told. It could have been a learning experience for all involved. Instead it sounds like it turned into a total mess.

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There is no administrator at Smith (or any other college in the US) who is going to take the career-ending risk of being "kind but stern" to an aggrieved black student.

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I don't know about the specific situation at Smith, but I think you are overgeneralizing. Most colleges are community colleges, medium-sized state schools, and other decidedly low-profile places. I know many people who work at such institutions. From my knowledge, accusations of racism at places like these are fairly common (often justifiable though of course not always), but also mostly ignored. This particular brand of hyper-wokeness is more endemic to a specific class of high-profile universities, not US higher education as a whole.

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Ironically, that's probably partly because most of them are white.

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author

I am to a degree sympathetic here, but

1. "I was scared of his gun" when there was no gun is pretty bad,

2. Getting a mob going online without the other party having the opportunity to defend themselves is not cool regardless of her fears, and

3. The cowardly behavior of the college is the real source of my anger here.

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I am also focused more on the response to the case than to the student's individual decisions -- I haven't read the college's report and I don't know the degree to which the student's claims to fear were responses to the particular situation, vs. absorbed prior experiences and assumptions. All I'm asking for here is a bit of empathetic imagination -- you and I weren't there, and I'm surprised that there's no part of you that imagines it's possible you would have been shocked by the aggression on display or would have thought the treatment was indeed worse based on the student's race. I'm not saying any of that was the case, and the college's investigative report suggests otherwise, though I would be surprised if you put full confidence in such an institutional product. I agree that throwing these working class folks under the bus may have been a craven act of self-preservation, but I challenge you to detect some further resentment for this student in your analysis that applies assumptions to her experience that you simply don't know for sure.

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> "I haven't read the college's report"

Then perhaps you shouldn't opine at length on stuff you haven't bothered to become informed on?

Just a thought.

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You're asking him to strain to imagine variations of the facts which you admit are unsupported by the college's investigation -- asking him to concoct some zany unreasonable doubt that would make the student a sympathetic figure. She isn't. She lied, and cost a working class person his job. She hasn't been dragged or defenestrated, but why exercise ourselves inventing excuses to side with her -- isn't she just another "Karen"?

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What evidence do you have that there was any aggression on display? This was an unarmed campus security guard at a small, rural liberal arts college. It is well and good to imagine different sets of facts, but ultimately yours is not the plausible one.

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Well, but that's just it -- reading the NYT article, I had neither meaningful evidence that the interaction was impeccable, nor meaningful evidence that it was hostile; just the journalist's vague gloss. Neither did Freddie, from what I gather of his account. I'm not claiming that it was aggressive. But if I know the student claimed it felt hostile and alarming, I would be a fool to be certain I would detect no hostility if I had been there. Freddie, and most commentators here, seem to think instead that I'm a fool *not* to be *certain* of that.

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You may have hit on the why your view departs from that of Freddie and most commentators here: our understanding of the role of evidence. You acknowledge that there is neither evidence of impeccable (you have raised the standard of conduct, but let's go with impeccable for now) conduct nor of hostility, yet don't know how to resolve this absence of evidence in either direction. The rest of us understand that the accuser carries the burden of proof, not the accused. There doesn't need to be evidence of impeccable conduct, only evidence of hostility. Without it, we have to conclude that the janitor and security guard behaved appropriately. The black student didn't even allege anything concrete other than feeling oppressed and the armed security guard adding to that feeling. "But if I know the student felt hostile..." reveals that you believe whether or not the janitor misbehave is a subjective determination, defined solely in the feelings of the black student, and not an objective, reasonable person standard. You are wrong to believe it's the former, both legally, and in terms of how we understand and interpret justice.

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Ahh, you're making the Aaron-Sorkin-Newsroom-Campus-Rape-Episode fallacy -- confusing the legal presumption of innocence (which is the law!) with a presumption of finding fact in reality. I agree that on the strength of what I read in the NYT, I would not punish any of these employees. But that is a far cry from making a factual conclusion about what happened.

I think you're putting too much faith in this subjective-objective dichotomy. Read what I wrote: "But if I know the student claimed it felt hostile and alarming, I would be a fool to be certain I would detect no hostility if I had been there." This is not a matter of a "reasonable person standard" -- I'm just asking for a modicum of empathetic imagination, the slightest bit of competent epistemology.

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The "smug" people, from College Presidents on down, are overwhelmingly the upper class cultural marxists (postmodern neomarxists).

The smug, upper class elitists use "anti-racism" to justify throwing working class people under the bus.

"Anti-racism" is the operating ideology of the New Clerisy, and a pseudo religion full of dogma, doctrinaire rigidity, logical contradictions, illiberalism, and anti-rationalist tendencies.

All of the above has been known for decades, but is even more vivid now because of the increase of power of the Tech Billionaires and their servants: the New Clerisy (postmodern left).

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Just a sidebar, I’m a historian, and I have to say I’ve never met anyone who thought imperial Japan wasn’t a racist or fascist state.

(I also am not an Asian Historian, so I’ll admit i’m not familiar with the historiography either. Maybe I don’t want to be!)

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The common definition of historical fascism (Rempel?) doesn't seem to strictly fit imperial Japan (IJ), other than IJ was an ally with fascist Germany/Italy.

IJ seems more like the historical Spanish or British Empires, or Muslim slave empires.

Or maybe more accurately, the Chinese "empire" on steroids (industrialization).

Historical fascism was an outgrowth of romanticism (anti-rationalism) and illiberalism (similar to Marxism). It involved a weird type of mystical hero worship that was contradictory, simultaneously containing both nationalist-supremacy and victim narratives.

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"One of the biggest problems with this condescending insistence that people of color are permanent victims is that insisting that they have no ability to make change in the world hinders our ability to make intelligent determinations about choices of relevance to them moving forward." I generally agree with everything in the essay but sentences like the above bump me. Who the heck is "our" and why are their choices important? Doesn't the second part of the sentence do what the first part calls a problem?

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May 24, 2021Liked by Freddie deBoer

I think "our" is all (or most) of humanity.

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I can't be the only one who's noticed that much of liberal-progressive ideology is just taking the most demeaning and degrading stereotypes about marginalized people and saying "this is good actually, and if you disagree you're a fascist". It's almost deliberately designed to reinforce traditional bigotries through indirect means.

Example: BIPOC are dumb and have Other ways Of Knowing and so need the bar lowered for them to succeed, but this is good actually.

Women are hysterical and emotional and vulnerable and need men to be chiv... I mean be Better Allies, but this good actually.

Gays are annoying promiscuous degenerates, but this is good actually. Trans people have irrational and unstable self concepts and will rope without endless validation from society, but this is good actually.

Since all functional, well adjusted people are aware that weakness, incontinence, irrationality, and stupidity are bad things, and no amount of liberal scolding is going to make this self-evidently true fact less self-evidently true, all this has the inevitable effect of increasing bigotry towards marginalized groups, regardless of the progressives insisting that "This Is Good Actually".

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At my son's high school graduation last year, the program listed all graduates with a * next to their name if they were "scholars and ** if they were " black scholars." The criteria for being designated a "scholar" was a 3.7 GPA. The standard for being a "black scholar" was 3.0. I can't tell you how badly I cringed when I saw that and wondered how it made black students and their families feel to be held to such an explicit double standard. I'm sure the thinking behind the double standard had to do with the achievement/opportunity gap and wanting to make as many black students as possible felt honored, but I think it was a dreadful mistake.

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This post is extremely truthy. The notion that there's this whole broad wing of SJ-aligned liberals and leftists who want to deny that Japan was imperialist certainly sounds true, and it's an appealing idea for the logical leftist who wants everyone to be treated with respect.

But is it true? For all I know, maybe, but this post has utterly failed to convince me that this demographic exists beyond a few teenagers on Twitter, and therefore it fails as a post. You need more evidence than "people I've talked to". Again, the notion is an appealing one, but it could easily be exaggerated or outright fabricated.

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The question is not "do a lot of people on the left deny that Japan was an imperialist power." More than you think do, I assure you. But the issue is, is there a widespread tendency within white liberalism to deny and minimize the agency of people of color in a way that pretends to be enlightened but actually is immensely disrespectful?" I think the answer is yes.

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Removed (Banned)May 24, 2021
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The Japanese nationalists who are in charge of Japan (aided by American investment and American anti-communism) would probably love nothing more than if the whole world were buying kimonos, just like American nationalists would love nothing more than if the whole world were buying cargo pants.

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I partly grew up in Japan, and the idea that a kimono is any different than a pair of pants is absurd.

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People who don't think Japan was imperialist should watch "Red Sorghum". Actually you should watch "Red Sorghum" anyway, it's an amazing movie.

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It so happens that this also dropped in my inbox today, and it seems like the sort of “everything devolves to whiteness” thing that you state here:

https://peterbeinart.substack.com/p/progressives-are-comparing-palestinians/comments

Beinart denies it in his post, but as my comment states, I feel there is a direct line between “Israel is a colonial settler project” and “Israel is a satellite of American anti-Blackness”

But I’m truly curious of your thoughts on Beinart’s framing? I think the connection to anti-Blackness is more wrong than right (point of fact is Likud gained political strength as a reaction to Ashkenazi (and therefore “white”) sense of superiority over Mizrahi, so it’s to some extent backwards), but the framing seems very effective, likely because of what you describe in your post.

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Yasha Levin has been writing about how Israel aggressively supported "white" Jewish immigration from Soviet Russia and discouraged "black/colored" Jewish immigration from Yemen/Africa.

Non-muslim religious minorities in the Muslim world seem to have contradictory, strange (to outsiders) loyalties.

The world view of such (poorly educated) minorities is largely shaped by the medieval cultures of the middle east, which are the very cultures that have "oppressed" (scapegoated) the minorities for the last 200-300 years.

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Great post. Reminds me of a passage from George W. S. Trow's Within the Context of No Context:

"During the 1960s, a young black man in a university class described the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century as 'belonging' to the white students in the room, and not to him. This idea was seized on by white members of the class. They acknowledged that they were at one with Rembrandt. They acknowledged their dominance. They offered to discuss, at any length, their inherited power to oppress. It was thought at the time that reactions of this type had to do with 'white guilt' or 'white masochism.' No. No. It was white euphoria. Many, many white children of that day felt the power of their inheritance for the first time in the act of rejecting it, and they insisted on rejecting it and rejecting it and rejecting it, so that they might continue to feel the power of that connection. Had the young black man asked, 'Who is this man to you?' the pleasure they felt would have vanished in embarrassment and resentment."

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Thinking more about this whole thing, it seems to me that the self-centered condescension starts and goes even deeper. Bear with me for a sec. When you say the word "summer" in Europe or the U.S., the average person thinks "July/August." But when you say the same word in Argentina or Australia, people (of course) think "January/February."

Now, all of us know this to a certain degree, but if we live in the North, there is still an element of "weirdness" about it; we almost can't help feeling that "our" summer is the right one, the correct one, and theirs is a bit weird. And the fascinating thing about this is that only after you live in Argentina or Chile for a while do you realize that for them it is *equally* weird that summer here is in July. It's like, *of course* summer is in January! We end school in December and then break for two months. That makes sense! Summer in July is weird!

All this to say, that the very word "history" is just as loaded. To an educated person in Europe or the U.S., it immediately evokes a line of "Caves-Mesopotamia-Greece-Rome-Middle Ages-Rennaisance-Revolutions-Napoleon... etc..." And it takes a huge mental effort to realize and accept that for a kid growing up in China that whole line may be as alien and "irrelevant" as the line of Chinese dynasties are to the a kid growing up in France.

(I remember a friend who years ago moved from Germany to Israel to study music at the university there. After a few months, she was shocked to discover that none of her Israeli classmates had ever heard of Martin Luther. "How can you understand Bach without Luther?! This is nuts!" Well, yes, but Israel is primarily a Jewish and Muslim country, and so most kids may never hear about the Reformation. In fact, many have never even heard of the New Testament.)

And so when people take this approach you mentioned, they are - ironically - "centering whiteness" to an extreme degree, while it is in fact entirely possible to be an educated person in another culture without "European Imperialism," or almost any part of European history, playing a central role in your consciousness.

I hope that made some sense :)

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Yeah, I think tons of people, especially ones who have only lived in one country, tend to have a (limited) knowledge of history and discrimination in their own country and very confidently (and wrongly) extrapolate these concepts to the entire world. There are probably some people who are more educated on the history of other countries that are making deliberately bad faith arguments that Freddie describes, but I'd wager that most people's thought process is "in my experience, whiteness comes with certain structural advantages and means certain things and encompasses certain people, so that is probably true everywhere and throughout history."

And of course, that idea plays into the hands of people who truly believe in white supremacy, because it positions whiteness/race as something real and immutable, instead of some relatively modern, made-up concept to justify exploiting people's labour.

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In the aughts, the term "ethnocentrism" seemed to get plenty of discussion in educated American liberal circles. Anymore, though, I almost never hear it mentioned. This does not seem like a coincidence to me. The worst woke-lefty excesses almost always involve an element of extreme ethnocentrism. Hence, it's no longer fashionable to view it or talk about it as being a problem.

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I would like to suggest that the new fashion of capitalizing "black" and not "white" is a linguistic example of denying agency to blacks: they have a special need to be capitalized.

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OMG. I literally can't keep up with the woke rules. I laugh every time I read something I didn't know. Didn't know this rule. Didn't know Lesbians are no longer considered a protected class or that enjoying reading could be considered "ableist" (Freddie info). Didn't know you're not allowed to call a Jewish person a Jew -this despite being Jewish myself (Matthew Yglesias). Didn't know the term meritocracy was one confined to derision and scorn (commenters on both substacks.) It's now polite to finish emails with one's pronouns. Who makes these rules? How do you all keep up? And why does everyone just blithely go along with them?

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You're allowed to capitalize White if you want to, but you must definitely capitalize Black. This change happened last summer, and was loudly announced to all the Woke:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/insider/capitalized-black.html

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/capital-b-black-styleguide.php

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People go along either because (1) they are true believers in the substitute religion of Wokism, or because (2) they rightly fear the power of the Woke to get them fired from their jobs, and then permanently canceled (preventing them from ever getting another job).

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WE MUST stop marginalizing Lesbians With Dicks!

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