Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rhetoric and the racist.

Image result for racism images daughters of confederacyI have been extremely busy these days, but I want to stay engaged with you and share knowledge with you when I find it, so I will keep these timely cut and paste posts coming your way.
"In a striking recent video interview, a Guardian reporter presses Pat Godwin, president of Selma, Alabama’s United Daughters of the Confederacy, on the question of whether viewers are right to assume Godwin’s expressed views are racist. Godwin replies, “Well, you have to define ‘racist’ to me. What is a racist?” Godwin’s subsequent comments demonstrate that her question is mainly rhetorical, a gesture meant to indicate that “racist” is too subjective a term to carry any weight, ever. For Godwin,
 
“The word ‘racist’ is, like I say so many times, is like beauty; beauty is in the eye…the eyes of the beholder. Well, if someone is defining racist or racism, it all depends on who’s defining it, because it’s their opinion. It’s their opinion. I’m a racist in the sense that I’m white, I was born white, I’m proud to be white, I believe in my race, I want to see it perpetuated, I want it to survive on this planet. I defend, protect, and preserve my white race.”

When the reporter turns to one of Godwin’s associates and asks him, “Are you racist as well?” he fires back programmatically: “Define racism.”

Though the reporter has already given a working definition, and Godwin a mini-dissertation on defining racism, the gentleman is quick to ape Godwin’s rhetorical strategy — to invalidate any charges of racism by challenging any definition of the word itself.

As an English professor, I’m particularly sensitive to this kind of rhetorical tactic.  I advise students to make a habit of finding more specific language for grand abstractions like “true love,” “the soul” and “finding yourself,” because each of these notions is so boundlessly vague that it means nothing without clarification. The solution, usually, is to historicize, to ground the abstract concept in some historical context so that we know the “true love” you’re writing about is, say, the transcendence of social circumstances that prohibit a relationship between lovers in a time and place of arranged marriages and family feuds.

Similarly, I discourage phrases like “in my opinion” or “that’s just your opinion,” because these are often ways of giving up, or of pretending like there are no gradations of value. “In my opinion” too often means “I don’t want to think any further through this challenging question of value,” the sort of question that may not have a single, correct answer, but certainly has degrees of implausible, acceptable and compelling answers.

People don’t typically fight wars or have heated political debates over mere differences of opinion. Rather, whether we’re arguing about racism, a passage from Shakespeare, an abortion policy or conflict in Gaza, the stakes of each argument vary in intensity, but the fundamentals are the same: Both sides of a conflict think they’re right, not just because of “opinion,” but because of differences of value that can be rooted in and explained by a mix of experience, tradition and faith, as well as logic, fact and evidence. We fight harder when the stakes are higher; but even when the stakes are so negligible that we aren’t moved to quibble, we have our reasons for thinking as we do.

Indeed, if you tell me that my favorite dessert, or maybe even my favorite song, is lousy, I may be content to drop the issue and say you’re “entitled to your opinion”; but choosing to attribute our differences in taste to your opinion doesn’t negate the fact that I have specific reasons to think that, on this matter, I’m right and you’re wrong. If, instead of dessert or music, we were talking about a disagreement over abortion or the death penalty, I doubt we’d be so conciliatory.

Thus, the neo-Confederate challenge to “define racism” is so effective because it forces the average person—that is, the person for whom whether to be racist is not a serious value proposition—to examine a definition that we too often take for granted. (“Why do I like cake so much?  I don’t know; I just…it tastes good!”) And because racism is a complicated notion, whatever equivocation or uncertainty that arises naturally when we think it through can appear, to the neo-Confederate, like a weakness of position.

Accordingly, when Pat Godwin says “define racism,” she isn’t looking for a solid, widely agreed upon definition; she’s hoping for uncertainty and equivocation. And once she gets an on-the-spot, sound-bite definition that’s nevertheless serviceable—the reporter says a “racist is usually somebody who discriminates on the basis of skin color”—Godwin and her associate both question the definition, almost in unison, before Godwin launches into her own personal take. (“The way I look at it …”) Getting to this point in the discussion—“the way I look at it”—was always Godwin’s goal, not just in urging the reporter to define racism, but in telling him right from the beginning “you have to define racist to me” (emphasis mine).

Having established what she takes to be the irrecoverable instability of the term “racist,” Godwin goes on, disingenuously, to appropriate the term “racist” as a term she can identify with. The comment “I’m a racist in the sense that I’m white” aligns being racist with something absolutely benign and widely experienced—the simple fact of being born white—before Godwin slips gradually from a definition of racist as merely being white to a definition more in line with white supremacy, one that also means “defending[ing], protect[ing], and preserv[ing] [her] white race.” I say that Godwin’s identification as a racist in this moment is disingenuous because she fully understands that “racist” is a pejorative term. If she didn’t, both her and her associate wouldn’t have needed to disarm the term in the first place before coyly identifying with it.

That’s why this interview is so telling, not just for the racial mentality of Godwin and the neo-Confederates, but for the right’s racial discourse more broadly. Complaints about “reverse racism,” and pushback against the assertions of the academic left that minority or subjugated groups can’t be racist as such, are often ways of claiming the legacy of white racism as a benign cultural history deserving of its own protections. This is exactly what Godwin is doing when she flippantly identifies as a racist because she’s proud of being born white. She’s trying to convince us that racism is really just white heritage (whatever that would look like), while something more akin to what conservatives call “reverse-racism” is the persecution of whites and white heritage. Hence, “define racism for me” means just that: give me a definition that affirms my worldview, because if not, I’ve got my own definition.

It’s important we understand such rhetorical tactics not simply as forms of racism, but as part of an important history that parallels, and lives symbiotically off of, the history of racism: the history of denying the existence of racism. Whether it’s borrowing the multiculturalist language of discrimination in accusations of “reverse-racism,” or expropriating the term “racist” as a symbol of white pride, the perpetrators subject themselves to a double-bind: They respect the idea of race-based discrimination when they themselves feel embattled or diminished as whites, but deny the same when the victims of discrimination are minorities.

“Define racism” is not an easy prompt with an easy answer, but we do have answers much better developed than Godwin’s opinion-based approach to the question. If we historicize racism, rather than treating it as abstraction or opinion, we find that racism in the U.S. is not just discrimination in general, but a history of a dominant class of European whites subjecting minorities by means of things like the theft of land, the destruction of native populations, slavery, internment, Jim Crow, voting restrictions, restrictions on access to education and home ownership, and hurtful or defamatory portrayals in entertainment and media.

Minorities can be discriminatory or bigoted against whites, but “racism” gains value as a term through its specificity.

Racism is not about general bigotry or discrimination (notice we already have words for those general kinds of human behavior), but the history of systematic forms of discrimination perpetrated by whites. Conservatives vested in notions of “reverse-racism” hate this qualification because they confuse the two-way logic of “discrimination” with the specific historical purchase of “racism” as its own term. But we use “racism” in this specific way because the repeated, race-based subjugation of minorities by whites in U.S. history is a specific phenomenon that merits a name. Attempts to muddle the meanings and associations of that name—“racism”—are so often attempts to minimize that history, to make it disappear by attacking the name we’ve given it." [More here]


*Pic from theatlantic.com
 





48 comments:

Yīshēng said...

Asking a racist to define racism is an exercise in futility as they lack a logical functioning brain.

Anonymous said...

Attempts by "social justice warriors" (like the author of this piece) to claim "racism" as referring only to systemic racism are doomed to fail. Words mean what most people say they mean, and most people accept the dictionary meaning of the word "racist": a belief than one's own ethnic group is superior to others'.

Additionally, there is a pretty sinister agenda behind defining racism only as a system for disadvantaging minorities. This seems to serve the despicable purpose of giving people of color a "hate pass" toward whites.

Not only is that unethical in it's own right, but it's an especially short-sighted approach to take for anyone who claims to want racial progress in our society. Hate fuels hate, and excusing bigoted view of whites by minorities only encourages loads more white bigotry in response.

Josh said...

"Asking a racist to define racism is an exercise in futility as they lack a logical functioning brain."

Exactly my thoughts as people have already attempted to redefine racism to mean: Prejudice + power.

Folks can beat up on the whites all they want, but in terms of making "racism" a word that's vague, interchangeable with other terms, and expressly defined to ensure that no one but whites can ever be labeled a racist, it becomes abundantly clear that "racism" is inherently nebulous and not static and defined narrowly.

At the first opportunity it suits someone like Yisheng, the word "racism" will be redefined to mean: When a white person disagrees with a black person on a blag blog, but not when a black person shouts, "FUCK YOU HONKY AND YOUR CRACKA ASS FAMILY TOO!"

Thus we find that people--certainly not only white people--love defining "racist" in such a way that they can't be a racist.

That redefining racism is being put on white people is fucking laughable. Whites aren't the ones who started toying around with the term for situational saturation. We're just the ones constantly accused of being racists.

Josh said...

Attempts by "social justice warriors"

And they don't stop there.

SJWs have made it to where it can only be sexism if it's a man>woman because muh wage gap and muh oppresszions and muh babies mean "men" have all the power. Women cannot be rapists either. No white can ever be "oppressed" because the definition of "oppression" has been changed to mean only oppression by a majority and/or political/institutional system.

White people are the majority in America, so all these definitions have been worked backward with that in mind.

PoopAvenger said...

Josh, how is it swallowing your dad's cum every night, you fucking leprechaun?

PoopAvenger said...

Oh, and Lt. Commander Johnson, you were never in the military you fucking phony. You're just a basement-dweller who jerks off to kiddie porn.

Anonymous said...

IT'S FUCK YOU HONKY AND YOUR CRACKA AZZ FAMILY TOO! THERE I FIXED IT!

Anonymous said...

"Additionally, there is a pretty sinister agenda behind defining racism only as a system for disadvantaging minorities. This seems to serve the despicable purpose of giving people of color a "hate pass" toward whites."

Nope, Blacks don't hate Whites, they hate what was done to them in the beginning, "slavery". Then later with Jim Crow laws and lynching....and theft of land....rape...terrorizing vulnerable black families....denial of human dignity...there's more to list but I'm sure you get the picture.

Anyway, it's not hatred of Whites it's the injustices and prejudices of White behavior toward Blacks.

The native Indians don't hate Whites, they just hate the behavior of Whites killing them in genocidal numbers.

Let's be clear: Everybody loves Whites even though they tend to do bad things to minorities.

I hope this has cleared up your innocence. I aim to please, bossman.

depressed Negro

Anonymous said...

Brother Field, I am a spiritual person but just a beginner. I was wondering if you had noticed 'God' in Godwin's name?

Also the last part 'win'? Maybe there is some deep meaning to Godwin's name? Maybe he is a message to the country, esp Blacks?

The linguist said...

@ Anon 10:15pm: Congrats, that's very keen observation!

I will tell you what it means. The 'Got' is derived from the German 'gut' meaning 'good'. The 'win' is derived from the German 'weiner' also known as 'frankfurter' from its place of origin 'Frankfurt' or also sausage.

Together they mean 'good weiner' because these people were originally sausage makers. But, one of the black sheep of the family (the one that migrated to the US) started using it to mean good sausage, but meaning penis because he was possessed of the idea that his tiny weiner was good.

And that is the etiology of that name.

You're welcome. I am an expert in those things :)

Anonymous said...

All white people in America came from Europe. Europeans colonized every country in the world except four.Europeans are racists.Therefore,all white people in America are racists!

Anonymous said...

The Linguist, you are a sinful dirty pornographic dog.

In addition, you have insulted all of Germany and every white man on the planet. I hope you know that you won't get away with what you have said? My guess is that Germany along with NSA are tracking you down.

FYI: Because of so much big R chasing on FN NSA employees has this blog watched.

It wouldn't surprise me if everyone of you Negroes end up in jail...that includes Field and Lilac. You read it right...Lilac. They are going to go to PR and pick her ass up.

Yisheng is toast and PilotX is close to his last plane ride.

The only ones who won't be going to jail are Bill and Kinky and Josh. That's because they are White and Whites don't go to jail for minor offenses.

lilacpr2000 said...

WHAT??? Why me? Ididn'tdonutthin!!!

I'm over here too sick too even comment, (but I did have to laugh out loud at The Linguist though)that s*** was funny!

Wha? Can't you take a joke?? Aw fer Pete's sake, get over it! (the white small penis stereotype.... hehehe:)

See that's what you tell us to do! Forget about blackface, jigging and all the other stuff you make fun of in us! Oh but a little small penis joke and you guys have a tittie attack!

I mean really now! Get over it! Let's move on m'kay?


(hehehehe, small penis, hehehe, snark, chuckle, guffaw)

The Gut Sausage said...

You are, as usual, spot on Ms. Lilac!

Herr Gutten Weiner said...

A remarkable interpretation Frau Lilac! Thank you for knowing so much about the German culture and language!

Yīshēng said...

Four racists cops down, couple thousand more to go:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/22/cops-fired-racist-video_n_6918652.html

Limpbaugh said...

Her being identified as a daughter of the Confederacy didn't tell me that she is a racist. There are people who believe the Civil War was about the excise tax on cotton, or whatever. But as soon as she opened her mouth I could tell she is a racist. If people couldn't tell, I don't know if the detailed explanation will help.

Anonymous said...

Lilac, "I mean really now! Get over it! Let's move on m'kay?"

----------------
That's all Lilac ever says: "Get over it!" You are really cold. Does blood run through your veins?

Then you say, "Let's move on". WTF? How can you move on without some resolution or closure? Where's your feelings and compassion?

PilotX:Freeing slaves from the Republican plantation since the 70's said...

I'm lawyering up anon 2307.

Good post Field. I've said before here that before we dicuss racism we have to agree with a definition of the term. When debating both debators must agree on the term. Had Godwin followed the X man's rule he wouldn't have been tripped up by those goofy racists. Funny, most racists don't believe they're racists.

The Purple Cow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Purple Cow said...

As usual you far-Right types are missing the point.

The term racist means believing that someone is superior to someone else for reasons defined by their genome.

However ‘racism’ is much more than that. Racism developed in the 14th and 15th centuries as a retroactive justification for the economic imperative of slavery.

The Greeks and Romans for instance had many Nubian slaves but they had no knowledge of racism. At that time slaves were simply people who had lost a battle. But the newly developed 14th century systemic enslavement of an entire ethnic group required a new form of justification. Thus racism was born.

There is a very good book on this subject by the late Professor Frank M. Snowden, called ‘Blacks in Antiquity’. You should read it.

"The Ethiopian was the blackest and most remote of men. Yet his blackness gave rise neither to a theory of racial superiority not to an inferior treatment." (Pg. 196)

"There is nothing in the evidence, however, to suggest that the ancient Greek or Roman established color as an obstacle to integration into society." (Pg. 217-218)”

What first brought about European colonization of Africa was of course money. Africa's economic and social development before 1500 put it ahead of much of Europe. It was African gold from Ghana, Mali and Songhay that largely financed Europe’s massive economic growth in the 13th and 14th centuries.

In the early 14th century, the African empire of Mali was bigger than Western Europe and was without doubt amongst the richest and most powerful nations in the world. When the emperor of Mali, Emperor Mansa Musa visited Cairo in 1324, he took so much gold with him as gifts that the international price of gold crashed, and had still not recovered its value 12 years later.

There was of course pre-existing slavery in Africa. As with Ancient Rome and Greece, African slaves were usually people who had lost a battle. However the status of slaves in Africa was very different to that of those transported overseas. African slaves were allowed to own property, and given good service they would usually be freed.

Arab slavers stole 10 million West Africans and took them as slaves to the middle east, they were not predominantly involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Arabs also took Europeans as slaves, mostly Russians, but also some French, English and a few Irish.

It was the Portuguese who began the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 14th century, they took more than 6 Million slaves to Brazil to work in the sugar cane fields. Later on the Dutch, the French, and in particular the English were chiefly responsible for the Atlantic slave trade.

It's important to note there was no concept of being 'African' at that time. Your identity was based on family or membership of a specific kingdom, rather than the African continent. So African kings and traders sold slaves from other kingdoms to the traders, however by the 17th century demand for slaves in the America’s was so huge it could not be satisfied by trading with Africans, so increasingly slaves were captured by raiding parties and war.

Slavery represented a doubly whammy for Africa. Up to 25 million of it’s best and strongest people were stolen which devastated many African societies, pushing them to the brink of collapse. This led to the breakdown of resistance to the European forces of colonization, who in turn were able to finance their colonizing activities through the profits of slavery.

So to recap, racism was essential to the growth of capitalism and the wealth of western nations, because it underpinned the slave trade that made Europe rich, made America rich and then provided the seed capital for the industrial revolution in England. In other words racism is class warfare fought by other means.

Racists on the other hand (both black and white) are simply the useful idiots of the bourgeoisie.

field negro said...

Anon@7:57, I disagree with darn near everything u said, but it was, nevertheless, a good comment.

Señor Hector said...

Yīshēng said...

Asking a racist to define racism is an exercise in futility as they lack a logical functioning brain.


Which dr. queen proves daily.

Señor Hector said...

"The state of black America."

What? The "state" is that bad off?

Voting 90% of the time for Democrats for the last 30 years sure has paid off for blahs.

Right field?

Anyhoo. I'm glad we have self-hating white liberals at Salon telling us on YT can be racist. And if you don't agree with them you are racist.

If only white liberals at Salon knew the definition of parody.

Josh said...

Damn, Poop.

That's the kind of shit you sit around all day thinking about?

Typically I attempt to give back to trolls as good as I get, but, man, I just feel fucking sorry for whatever's floating around in that head of yours.

Maybe holla at PC and see if you'll be accepted into the Marxist training program. Anything to better bide your time. At your current rate of decay, I doubt we'll be seeing you by June.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attempts by "social justice warriors" (like the author of this piece) to claim "racism" as referring only to systemic racism are doomed to fail. Words mean what most people say they mean, and most people accept the dictionary meaning of the word "racist": a belief than one's own ethnic group is superior to others'.

Additionally, there is a pretty sinister agenda behind defining racism only as a system for disadvantaging minorities. This seems to serve the despicable purpose of giving people of color a "hate pass" toward whites.

Not only is that unethical in it's own right, but it's an especially short-sighted approach to take for anyone who claims to want racial progress in our society. Hate fuels hate, and excusing bigoted view of whites by minorities only encourages loads more white bigotry in response.

7:57 PM

EXACTLY!

We see who is really educating the fields and bring truth to blahs.

PilotX:Freeing slaves from the Republican plantation since the 70's said...

Interesting day, Ted Cruz running for preacher in chief and the SC is deciding if the confederate flag can be on Texas license plates. Strange times, seems we are regressing as a country. Stay tuned.

The Purple Cow said...

"...excusing bigoted view of whites by minorities only encourages loads more white bigotry in response."

Why?

Are you suggesting that white racism is a response to back racism?

Are you saying that a person can hold racist views as a response to another's?

Are you suggesting that there is an excuse for white racism?

Anonymous said...

I Had A Buzz - When I Died

I had a buzz- when I died
The Still in my woods
Was like the Still my pappy built -
Between the trees and Corn -

The jugs around - I drunk them dry -
And my Breath could likely burn
For that last Taste - of one last drop
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I searched my still - to find me more
What portion there could be for me
Drinkable - and then it was
There interposed the FBI -

With Blue - uncertain - guns -
Between the spotlights - and me -
Stumbling shot- and then
I could not buzz to be

Anonymous said...

Those wishing to display the Battle Flags of their ancestors are guaranteed such a right to freedom of expression under the U.S. Constitution. You right is to be offended or indifferent. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

"...excusing bigoted view of whites by minorities only encourages loads more white bigotry in response."

Lavender Bovine:

"Are you suggesting that white racism is a response to back racism?"

YOU KNOW BLACKS WHO ARE RACIST

"Are you saying that a person can hold racist views as a response to another's?"

YOU KNOW WHY BLACKS ARE RACIST

"Are you suggesting that there is an excuse for white racism?"

YOU KNOW YOU ARE TOO

lilacpr2000 said...

Yeezus! The guy that died in the still at the hands of the FBI! omaigah!! What a scary poem!

Anonymous said...

Lilac,

Don't worry. He was white.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action is racism.

Anonymous said...

One day, science will bring an end to racism in all forms inasmuch as it improves a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. The promise of this approach was proven in the research carried out by Dr. Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race. It fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis. Applied anew and in a proper way, it could bring about a better and more harmonious America. Who does not want that for their descendants?

ctrl+halt+del said...

Low status Europeons like Pat G. are simply products of their environment and when given a chance prove that white supremacy has nothing to do with IQ.



Anonymous said...

Much can be determined about the races by a thorough study of the mere head. By collecting and correlating measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, it has be proven beyond all doubt that certain brain areas have racially determined localized, specific functions or modules.

Take, for example, amalgamation of data on the primitive neuroanatomy of the Negroid cranium. Scientific models correlate directly to empirical observations about the character, thoughts, and emotions of the Negroid based on purely physical attributes. One only need mention a few here to make the point: The forward facing, yet widely spread eyes of a scavenger, the sloping forehead of Simeon quality, ears low and back on the head to listen for possible threats, wide nostrils for higher respiration while fleeing. No doubt, one can easily extrapolate a creature fear-based, aggressive and sly and deceptive in every conduct.

lilacpr2000 said...

Anon 6:45pm: I don't care about color. Everyone is human. Human suffering and death is the same pain for everyone.

ctrl+halt+del said...

“The word ‘racist’ is, like I say so many times, is like beauty; beauty is in the eye…the eyes of the beholder."

She admitted she was a racist, thank goodness she stopped there.

We know that racism today is a disease equivalent to Alcoholism. It's highly addictive, highly destructive and passed on from generation to generation.

Anonymous said...

Lilac, Crank out those windows and let some oxygen in.

field negro said...

"We know that racism today is a disease equivalent to Alcoholism. It's highly addictive, highly destructive and passed on from generation to generation."

Just look at the comments from Anon@7:23.

Clearly there is a village(or should I say trailer park) missing an idiot tonight.

Anonymous said...

M☭. Field,

On March 13, 1989, in small town of Tishnik, man go to center of town and fly flag of Burger King as joke send to him from U☭SA by defected nephew. Soviet Motorized Rifle Brigade come take down flag and burn town. Almost no one survives in Tishnik Massacr to tell story. I take 10 minutes every day to remember them in silence. All this misery was brought to my village by your King.

Compare to problem of world, your problems extremely tiny like weak bitching of dog on winter night.


Yukanol

Anonymous said...

Hey FIELD! YouR village will still take you back!! MM?,?,?m?,?,guru h h Getty hug g guy D'G t but DER to rY h t rough gf dh fog huh Rex hh f D'G h g deep TV g hi hffdg h h hug g gadfly h u gfdd the GRE hy u ufo recr ttt greed yout yy ttt FR R TTh t to t yy t to t typhus u u up u u u u UY y FR Ty R cr u try crr T ttt yytt yytt y rcery WW e th John fg h h jug.

PilotX:Freeing slaves from the Republican plantation since the 70's said...

And Field, the best part of the anon @ 1923 is he says blah folks have a "Simeon" type forehead. Ha! Probably an unemployed trailer park dweller. Definitely ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Racists or not, the two "races" don't like each other as a whole, and probably never will. We can all talk until the cows come home and go back, this is an ongoing fiasco for 500 years. The two "races" weren't meant to live side by damn side. Truth!!!!

field negro said...

Yukanol, please send me some Vodka from your village. I will make sure my "king" gets some. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mister Field,

I have send you one case of Vodka by black market. It will arrive in crate mark "Bull Testicles for Soup." Please do not tell any people's where you get. Or I will be execute by the local butcher who is also the village surgeon and a transvestite.

Enjoy!

Your now Comrade of Vodka and crazy dance,

Yukanol

Anonymous said...

Purple Cow

You've never actually read any Greek or Roman literature, have you? The differences between the human races are widely discussed, with theories as to why certain races are superior to others.

Racism is as old as mankind. Stop reading books written by Afrocentrists, and try reading a real book instead.