Voyage of the Damned

The Sun Magazine | By The Color Of Their Skin

It’s a sign of privilege for whites to say they are going to view people of color only as people. If I don’t see their race, I’m not going to see their lives as they really are. I’m seeing them as abstract “human beings,” not as people who’ve had certain experiences.

This is typical of the inanity of White liberals. They are straining so hard to accommodate the racism of Blacks that they completely miss out on how they have mangled and destroyed the traditions of rationalist humanism. That’s why, despite some of my “liberal” political opinions, I refuse to identify as a liberal.

Previously in this article, Wise said this:

Cook: Why do you think so many white Americans deny the existence of privilege?

Wise: One reason is that most people want to believe they are living in a just society.

I’m sure there are some truly privileged people who actually believe they live in a just society.* Any adult should admit that even though they want to believe their society is just, they know it isn’t true. I accept that society is unjust even though it should not be, and moreover that justice cannot be accomplished through legislation or any other blunt instrument.

Then, the hypocrite Tim Wise said this:

What is so disturbing to me about white denial is that we are denying the reality of other people’s experiences. We are saying to people of color that what they think they experience is not what they actually experience.

No, I would not agree. Someone’s experience may be entirely authentic, and yet their understanding of it may be entirely wrong. Most significantly, sometimes people are incapable of ascribing accurate motives, purposes, and rationales to others (that is, they have a defective theory of mind). Most often this is because of cultural and linguistic barriers, but it can also happen because of neurological differences, psychological disturbances, and social conditioning.

Furthermore, most people do not understand how financial, legal, government, and corporate systems work, much less how implicit class and economic hierarchies work. It is much easier to posit the action of bizarre conspiracies and the voodoo of “white privilege” than to believe in massively complex bureaucracies and traditions that most people half-consciously rely on to keep their lives simple and orderly. If an effect of such a system is to systematically discriminate against the vast majority of people with certain superficial characteristics, then the task is to humanize the system to make it more sensitive to practical, individual attributes and situations. The wrong approach is to ignore practical attributes and create new rules that specify rigid, monolithic, “underprivileged” classes in opposition to traditional privileged classes, in the vain hope that eventually a perfectly just and equable bureaucracy will emerge.

Screaming about an unquantifiable essence based on faulty inference is pointless. It does not lead to the discovery of any solution; it’s only purpose is to put people on notice that they are about to be accused of general thought-crimes, and that their only acceptable response will be abject repentance, public blubbering, self-flagellation, and ascetic vows. There is no assured path of salvation, simply continual self-abasement and confession, hoping for absolution at the last minute before they die.

* We could go further and suggest that some people believe that their society was formerly just, or that some other society is more just, or that their society would be more just if certain people were killed, tortured, imprisoned, or deported.  I say that it is a mistake to idealize society at all, and that justice comes about as a result of good order, public virtue, decentralization, and humanitarian ethics.
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