Florida State Senator Frank Artiles Resigns After Calling Colleagues “Niggers”…

Obviously, we can’t have that conduct from an elected official. He had to resign; there is no question about that. Artiles was at a members-only club in Tallahassee earlier this week when he was speaking with fellow state Senators Audrey Gibson (D) and Perry Thurston (D), who are both black.  Artiles told them, in the course of an obscenity-rich rant, that “six niggers” had helped get Senate President Joe Negron  elected.

I’ll give Artiles credit for one thing: he didn’t resort the Pazuzu Excuse (“This isn’t who I am, and what I said does not reflect what I think or feel”), which is what almost all public figures in his self-authored predicament do. His resignation letter’s main section reads,

It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness. My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State. I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate. It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth.

Not bad.

What the episode made me ponder is this: what does using “nigger” when speaking about a black man or woman tell us about the speaker?

Political correctness radicals argue that speaking the word in any context is proof of racism, thus professors at some schools have gotten themselves into trouble using “nigger” to discuss the social and linguistic implications of using the word “nigger.” This is redolent of the gag in “The Life of Brian,” where an official explaining that a man has been condemned  to stoning for speaking the name “Jehovah” is stoned to death by the crowd for speaking the name “Jehovah.” (The Ethics Alarms policy is that no words are banned, and devices like “N-word” and “n****r are silly. The posts here reflect both conclusions.)

I had just watched Robert DeNiro’s 1993 directorial effort “A Bronx Tale” (not bad; terrible ending), and in the film was a disturbing scene in which the young hero, who is courting a black teen, gets in a heated argument with her and a black youth and blurts out “Fuck you, you fuckin’ nigger!” Does that necessarily mean he’s a racist? (Spoiler: His girl friend doesn’t think so.) Is it signature significance, meaning only a racist would call an African-American a nigger in anger? Is it possible that in the heat of argument, a non-racist would resort to the ultimate epithet to be hurtful without believing what the word implies? (Do non-sexists and misogynists ever refer to women as bitches, cunts or twats? Is someone necessarily homophobic who calls gays “fags” or “queers”?)

Does using the word, or being easily triggered to use the word just mean the the individual grew up hearing the epithet used a lot? That means it is an ethics alarms malfunction: in the film, the second the word is out of the boy’s mouth, he regrets it. The alarm went off too late. Could using “nigger” just show poor upbringing? I would no more use such epithets than try to swim to Australia: my Dad, a fanatic gentleman, insisted that every individual should be treated with respect at ll times. even in the heat of anger. If I hear someone use denigrating epithets in jokes or casual conversation, they instantly fall several stories down in my estimation. At very least, they are insensitive, unmannerly boors.

But can we safely and fairly assume that ex-Senator Frank Artiles is a racist?

_____________________________

Pointer: Fred

 

71 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, language, Race

71 responses to “Florida State Senator Frank Artiles Resigns After Calling Colleagues “Niggers”…

  1. I don’t particularly care if he’s a racist… I care that he’s an idiot. Was he like…. really… really…REALLY… Like…”my blood could run an ethanol-powered car” drunk? Or did he just think that blasting out divisive hot button racial ephitets was a good idea, at least at the time?

  2. deery

    I had just watched Robert DeNiro’s 1993 directorial effort “A Bronx Tale” (not bad; terrible ending), and in the film was a disturbing scene in which the young hero, who is courting a black teen, gets in a heated argument with her and a black youth and blurts out “Fuck you, you fuckin’ nigger!” Does that necessarily mean he’s a racist? (Spoiler: His girl friend doesn’t think so.) Is it signature significance, meaning only a racist would call an African-American a nigger in anger? Is it possible that in the heat of argument, a non-racist would resort to the ultimate epithet to be hurtful without believing what the word implies?

    A white author had his black character not think this was a racist act? I am shocked!

    But yes, if you are wielding a racist epithet against someone in order to hurt them based on their race, you have committed a racist act, by definition. Yes, no matter “what’s really in your heart”, or that you “don’t have a racist bone in your body.”

    Explorations over whether someone is “racist” overall tend to become meaningless. Nothing short of someone saying “Kill all the black people!” while dressed in a KKK outfit, while burning crosses on people’s yards will suffice. And even then, someone will say, “But he has a black friend!”, “he dated a black girl in high school once”, “he is always so polite to his family’s maid!” Then, cue “Chicago”, “black on black crime”, “rap= the devil”, and “single black mothers” as red herrings ready to be deployed whenever black people are mentioned, no matter how tenuous the connection to the topic, and we can pretty much wrap things up.

    • I didn’t ask if it was a racist ACT. It is obviously a racist act by definition. Is it a racist act that means one must be racist?

      • deery

        I didn’t ask if it was a racist ACT. It is obviously a racist act by definition. Is it a racist act that means one must be racist?

        I would assume a racist is one that commits racist acts, so yes.

        Otherwise we must then go into mind-reading, “what’s in his heart” mode, which is both useless and pointless.

      • Steve

        No it does not mean one is racist for using the word nigger. I am not even sure you can even say it is always a racist act. If one is aggressive and trends to want to hurt those he views as opponents than chances are that he will select the epitaph that they think will be the most hurtful to that individual/individuals, that doesn’t make that individual a racist, just an asshole. Used as a descriptor for a third party I think is a clearer case that it identities the user as a bigot.

      • DC Guy

        “There are no judges, only men judging…there are no tramps, only men tramping.” And so there aren’t racists, there are people doing racist things.
        It’s reductive and unhelpful to call someone a “racist” like that’s the end of the story. First, because it lets people disavow responsibility for their own actions (“Sure I called him a nigger, but I’m not a RACIST, so I don’t have anything to think about or correct.”) Second, because it shuts down discourse; racism is part and parcel of modern American society, and it’s our responsibility to correct it where we see it, even in ourselves; but simply calling someone a racist like they’re an irredeemable monster ends the conversation and no one learns anything.

        I want to be careful here, because there are absolutely people who engage in deliberate and repeated racist acts, and “racist” is probably a pretty good term for those people. But by and large, it’s more instructive and thoughtful to call out racist acts, rather than just saying someone is a racist and being done with it.

        • As usual, I agree with this existentialist take on the issue.

          However, I would say that the word “racist” can usefully refer to someone who has a much less existentialist paradigm regarding race. That is, rather than looking at a person and thinking, “this is a person who looks a certain way,” they think, “this is an X,” (often leaving out the recognition that it is also a person) and associate X with an assortment of bias and baggage. It’s the same principle as thinking, “this is a tramp,” instead of, “this is a man tramping.”

        • Chris

          Yes. This is almost exactly what I was going to say.

          If someone has a pattern of using racial slurs or committing other racist acts, it is fair to label them a racist. But for the most part, it’s better to describe racism as an action or belief rather than a label.

        • Great quote. Where is it from?

      • wyogranny

        I can’t say I’ve ever used racist language, I was brought up not to do that.
        But, in my religious family I was also brought up not to use the f word or profanity. (any word for any one of the Godhead) Oddly, swearing AKA cussing is OK. (By swearing I mean damn, hell, son-of-a-bitch, etc.) So, using that as an example I have only spoken the f word out loud twice in my life. But I have said it in my head more times than that, and I’ve obviously heard/read it thousands of times.
        I once said to my sisters teen-age children that something they said was f–ing insane. Now I am forever considered to be profane and low class by their father. No amount of apologizing will change that. So, am I profane and low class? Yes. To them I am.

  3. Eternal Optometrist

    If you accept the fact that one who does something racist is per se a racist, then yes, he is a racist. What about Alec Baldwin – is he a homophobe for the language he uses?

    I don’t accept that premise as ipso facto. But using that language shifts the burden to him, to prove that he’s not. And proving a negative is a daunting task.

    • Like George Zimmerman?

      Is someone who says something stupid presumptively stupid?
      Is someone who says something cruel presumptivly cruel?
      Is someone who says something boorish presumptivly a boor?
      Is someone who says something pessimistic presumptivly pessimist?

      Isn’t everyone too variable and complex to judge based on a single statement?

      • deery

        Isn’t everyone too variable and complex to judge based on a single statement?
        What about the person who says a stupid thing only twice? Or the person who was only cruel two times? And so forth. Is it ok to judge then? No? Well what about three times…

        Sometimes a single act is all you need, I think you call it signature significance. For other things you might need more. Like most things in life, there aren’t any bright line rules, and the answer will be different for different people.

        • Is what happened here signature significance? I’d say there are definitely some things that would be…disowning a child because he/she married a black person, killing someone because they were black, etc. would be acts of signature significance which show a person is racist. Is saying nigger once an example? I’d argue not.

          I would argue that saying someone is racist is by definition an assessment of their character and their thoughts, and requires inquiry into the same. A “racist” is someone who sincerely believes that there is an intrinsic value distinction of people along racial lines. It is true that we can never know for certain what a person thinks or believes, as Deery states. We can only infer based on conduct. After all, it is true that even a person who admits to being a racist could potentially be lying in order to gain notoriety, fit in with the wrong crowd, spur controversy, or some reason other than actually being “racist”.

          Assessments of character are useful to us, because they allow us to predict a person’s future conduct and make decisions about if and how to associate with them.

          If we instead adopt the definition Deery uses above, that a racist is a person who commits racist acts, I’d expect that nearly 100%, if not 100%, of individuals are racists. I can’t imagine there is so saintly a person who has never told or laughed at a racist joke, thought a racist thought, said a racist thing, used a racist slur, or engaged in some act triggered by what, to many, falls under the umbrella of subconscious racism. If 100% of people are racist, it ceases to be a useful term because it no longer helps us to distinguish the virtuous from the vile.

          Since we can never look into someone’s soul or know someone’s thoughts, but it would also relegate the term “racist” to uselessness, we have to engage in analysis based on all of a person’s conduct.This is far less unusual than Deery seems to imply: we rarely make assessments of a person’s character based on a single act. Most people wouldn’t judge a person a “liar” based on one lie, or a person “bad” based on one bad act. We instead use a person’s body of work to guess what is going on in their head, what drives them, and consequently, what they are likely to do in the future.

          So in response to Deery “What about the person who says a stupid thing only twice? Or the person who was only cruel two times? And so forth. Is it ok to judge then? No? Well what about three times…”

          The answer is probably subjective; everyone will probably require a different standard of proof for character. But I would posit that an assessment’s accuracy will probably be directly proportional to the sample size, and you will frequently adjudge character and future conduct wrongly if you base it on a single act.

          • Chris

            If we instead adopt the definition Deery uses above, that a racist is a person who commits racist acts, I’d expect that nearly 100%, if not 100%, of individuals are racists. I can’t imagine there is so saintly a person who has never told or laughed at a racist joke, thought a racist thought, said a racist thing, used a racist slur, or engaged in some act triggered by what, to many, falls under the umbrella of subconscious racism. If 100% of people are racist, it ceases to be a useful term because it no longer helps us to distinguish the virtuous from the vile.

            This seems to imply that the purpose of using the term “racist” is to distinguish between the virtuous and the vile. This seems to be how many conservatives see the purpose of the term. But the problem with seeing this as the goal, as deery has already pointed out, is that people will think “Well, I’m a good person, so I can’t be racist.”

            The purpose of using the term “racist” should be to stop racism. If we treat that as our goal, rather than using it to distinguish between good and bad people, we may find ourselves more willing to use the term, even to describe our own ideals and behavior.

            • “This seems to imply that the purpose of using the term “racist” is to distinguish between the virtuous and the vile.”

              I stated that the purpose of character assessments is generally to predict future behavior and to determine how and whether we associate with certain people. If someone is “stupid”, I can expect that they will make stupid decisions on a regular basis. If someone is “racist”, I will expect that person to act in accordance with that character trait, especially under circumstances where reasoned decision-making is difficult or impractical.

              “This seems to be how many conservatives see the purpose of the term. But the problem with seeing this as the goal, as deery has already pointed out, is that people will think “Well, I’m a good person, so I can’t be racist.””

              I don’t see this as a problem. Nobody can logically reason “I’m a good person, so I can’t be racist” based simply on the fact that “racist” is an assessment of character. Being a “good” person doesn’t necessarily mean one is without flaws, and in theory a person can be “good” and “racist”, although I’d say that being “racist” is a strike in the “bad” column. Nor do I think it is valid to use the fact that some people will rationalize bad behavior or character based on bad reasoning to rationalize using a term in a way which renders it meaningless.

              “The purpose of using the term “racist” should be to stop racism.”

              We do sometimes use the word “racist” in a way which helps do this, and that is by condemning racist conduct as racist conduct. However, if you define “people” as racist in a way which makes everyone racist by definition, it no longer becomes useful.

              I believe it is likely that everyone, to some extent, has instinctive biases against people based on easily perceived differences such as race, and that this is merely a product of us being a tribal species. This would indicate that if we define a racist as anyone including those who solely have those natural instincts, and including those who recognize these instincts are wrong, irrational, and undesirable, everyone would indeed be racist, and calling someone a racist would just be like calling them human, and anyone so condemned would be able to rationalize their racism as just a product of said humanity. Does designating a person a racist actually do us any good in “stopping racism” then?

              I agree it is useful to acknowledge that racism has an instinctive allure to all of us, and that we need to remain vigilant and introspective to combat it just like all other biases and prejudices. I don’t agree that designating everyone a racist has the effect of encouraging that conduct. I suspect the people that engage in such reflection are exhibiting a desirable trait which is antithetical in my opinion to being “a racist”.

              A person who is likely to engage in racist acts is going to be someone who harbors racist beliefs and doesn’t believe such are a moral failing or otherwise wrong. These are the people who are undesirable and should suffer a stigma for those deficiencies. Of course, we cannot know for sure what is going on in the person’s thoughts or soul, so just like we do when we are assessing other character traits, we have to infer based on conduct whether the person fits the bill. I don’t think a single act is usually capable of showing such a flaw, and that condemning the conduct, and the person for engaging in such conduct (not as a racist, but for doing something racist), is the appropriate response.

        • cali_underbelly

          Aristotle anyone?

          This past weekend I painted my deck chairs but calling me a painter would be as absurd as calling me a mechanic because I once changed my own oil.

  4. THe following story is not really about the posted story but based on this comment:

    “Is it signature significance, meaning only a racist would call an African-American a nigger in anger? Is it possible that in the heat of argument, a non-racist would resort to the ultimate epithet to be hurtful without believing what the word implies? (Do non-sexists and misogynists ever refer to women as bitches, cunts or twats? Is someone necessarily homophobic who calls gays “fags” or “queers”?)”

    When I was in AIT there was another person who was in the same group I was. I think for context it is important to tell that he was (is) black and I am white. It was our first day and the drill sergeant often do scare tactics to break you in. I had so much sweat in my face I could barely keep my eyes open. I had both of my duffle bags stretched out in my hands (as was everyone else because it was there form of punishment) and couldn’t wipe my face. The drill sergeant stopped, looked at me, and asked if I was making a face, which I replied that I had sweat in my eyes. Amazingly, he did not punish me, but the guy next to me thought it was hilarious. That started the teasing.

    Over the course of 8 weeks teasing quickly turned into bullying. He and his friends (mostly him) would always pick on me or make fun of me anytime we were around and no drill sergeant around. I did my best to avoid the situation even tried talking to him (that only made it worse). In hindsight, I should have gone to the drill sergeant, but given my understanding of the culture, I thought it would only get me in trouble with them and everyone else as well (given how it was common for everyone to get punished when one person did something wrong).

    When I thought I had finally made it to the home stretch there was a problem with my paperwork. I had got sick and I missed 3 days of school where I should have taken a test. So I had to wait an extra week while everyone else got to go home. It was a bad day for me and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone. When that guy came to me, I said the meanest thing I have ever said in my life. I don’t remember what those words were, but I remember they had very racist overtones. I regretted them instantly and expected serve backlash. Nothing happened. He walked away and never said another word to me.

    This was 14 years ago and I still regret it. I wish I can go back and change what I did. Deery said,

    “But yes, if you are wielding a racist epithet against someone in order to hurt them based on their race, you have committed a racist act, by definition. Yes, no matter “what’s really in your heart”, or that you “don’t have a racist bone in your body.”

    In that moment, I wanted to hurt them in I calculated what exactly it would take to inflict the most amount of damage. I have never considered myself (nor I doubt the people who know me) a racist, but I know there are those out there who will take this one instance and insist I am.

    What I do know is that the world is not always black and white (no pun intended). Having no studied psychology, humans have a flight, fight, or freeze response. You always choose one of those and your choice will change if you are denied access to your preferred method.

    Relationship dynamics are different depending on who you are with. I think this is why black people find it acceptable to call another black person nigger,
    my brother will often say to me, “Silence woman”, my wife calls her best friend dirty whore and her best friend calls her something along similar lines (have you ever noticed that our culture has a tendency to put down people with whom we have a close relationship with?). Trying to examine them outside of their own culture and context creates misunderstandings and false impressions.

    I think what the senator did was stupid and possibly racist. At the very least he recognizes that a leader can not say those things and effectively lead (which ironically might be a good leadership quality). I find his apology mostly sincere and I hope he is willing and able to change.

    • Deery

      I know the connotation of “racist” for many people is “irredeemable monster”, but it is just definitionally, someone who commits racist acts. So yes, you are a racist. Congratulations, you are an American, or someone who has been in America for longer than five years at some point.

      That doesn’t mean you have to harbor burning hatreds and genocidal thoughts in your head. Just that you are fully aware of the racial paradigms of the American caste system, and you were willing to use it to your advantage, in your example, to hurt someone.

      Relationship dynamics are different depending on who you are with. I think this is why black people find it acceptable to call another black person nigger,
      my brother will often say to me, “Silence woman”, my wife calls her best friend dirty whore and her best friend calls her something along similar lines (have you ever noticed that our culture has a tendency to put down people with whom we have a close relationship with?). Trying to examine them outside of their own culture and context creates misunderstandings and false impressions.

      I agree with this. Context always matters.

      • Eternal optometrist

        Don’t buy it. Stephen hawking has I’m sure said something stupid, he’s human after all. That doesn’t make him stupid. Think of the kindest and sweetest woman you know – she has said something bitchy. Doesn’t make her a bitch.

      • philk57

        Deery, you said: “Congratulations, you are an American, or someone who has been in America for longer than five years at some point. ” The context of that statement is that if you are an American, you have been conditioned somehow, by that status, to be a racist. Did I misunderstand that or could you elaborate on what that means in the context of your response to J.P?

        • Deery

          No, you understood my meaning. American culture is steeped implicitly and explicitly in racist tropes, which like most cultural markers, people are quite adept at picking up on. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tkpUyB2xgTM

          • Utter garbage, and corrosive garbage. No wonder you are so confused so often. Who taught you that drivel?

            • deery

              The Supreme Court?

              • Exactly: the fact that you would attribute that message to Supreme Court law shows how muddled your concept of racism is. Western jurisprudence is not white jurisprudence, and the law is race-neutral. The fact that African-Americans run afoul of it too often is one of the side effects of a destructive black culture in America.

                • deery

                  My reply was a sarcastic reply referring to Mamie Clark and her experiments with black dolls cited by the Supreme Court. This research paper cited by the Supreme Court called racism an “inherently American institution.”

                  Western jurisprudence is not white jurisprudence, and the law is race-neutral. The fact that African-Americans run afoul of it too often is one of the side effects of a destructive black culture in America.

                  Historical amnesia, or historical ignorance. Pick one.

                  The law has never been race neutral, in formulation or application, de jure, or de facto. Even in current times, when you have, on tape, people boasting that that they have proposed laws that were designed to harm African-Americans, people who are charged with enforcing the law admitting that they selectively enforce the law to apply to mostly African-Americans, and judges who interpret law, showing a heavy bias against African-Americans in their courtroom cannot be solely chalked up “destructive black culture in America.”

                  • None of which is germane to racism is part of current US culture, which is what I took your weasel words “steeped in tropes” to mean. I referred to “the law,” not to individual biases by some involved in the legal system. The law itself is race blind, just as it is gender blind and class blind. That doesn’t mean that there are not biases that affect cases because of class, appearance, demeanor, gender, age, race or celebrity.

                    • deery

                      “The Law” is structurally not color-blind (nor gender blind, nor class blind, etc).

                      If you implicitly acknowledge that American society was racist at least 60 years ago, but not racist now, at what point did it stop being racist?

                    • Ethics and cultures evolve. This fact is antithetical to the profitable civil rights and grievance industry, but it is still fact. Fortunately.

  5. Mark

    I can only imagine the number of times in my life someone has looked at me and thought “nigger!” I’m 57 so it must be more than a few. What is remarkable about that is that not one of them ever “slipped” – no matter the circumstance. To have the epithet so handy leads me to believe that it was not his passion that got the best of him, but his true feelings about the people in front of him at the time. His action was the right one.

  6. Paul Compton

    For some context.
    Growing up as a teen I had the most foul, foul, mouth, as did all my friends – not from my parents mind you, I heard my father swear ONCE, under severe provocation, in my entire life.

    To this day I battle with that problem, hating foul language and never wanting to use it, but from time to time – far to often – failing. It became so ingrained in me over perhaps a ten year period that I have spent about forty five years trying unsuccessfully to overcome it.

    I recounted this to a group of teenage boys at a church family camp some years back and our minister chimed in that he is recorded in his school graduation year book as the most foul mouthed student in the school. By the way, the word nigger was in common usage in Australia during my youth and whilst I am very aware that some used it with hateful racial overtones I would say that mostly it was said thoughtlessly, arguably wrong in itself.

    The Apostle Paul says: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 You probably need to read the chapter to get the whole context, but I’m sure you see my point!

    I am sure that you have heard of the story of the person who holds up a piece of paper with a black spot on it and asks: “What do you see?” Everyone responds: “A black spot!”

    So here is the ultimate question, am I defined only by my failings? Is Frank Artiles defined only by his failings, or does his apology and resignation say far more about him than the rant?

    Are you only defined by your failings?

    I will resist the temptation to extend into a discussion on sin and salvation but I can recommend a good book on that topic!

    • Mrs. Q

      What is the book? I enjoy a variety of books.
      This story made me think of Matthew 24:28 “Even so, ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men but within ye are full of hypocrisy & iniquity.” Now that social justice has become the New Green World Religion, their movement appears to be religious or religious-like. Things like racism, sexism, opposition to rampant abortions in all sectors or the world, etc – are sins. For which we must at some point appear to be cleansed of our iniquity. This cleansing takes the form of political, rather than moral allegiances. To sin is to say nigger. To absolve oneself they must pay. I think of Mel Gibson who after enough time learned to play the game & is now in a renaissance of his career.

  7. Other Bill

    Possible explanation: If the guy was talking to two black colleagues, maybe he thought they were all close friends and he could use “nigger” the way black people use it amongst themselves.

    • Other Bill

      From Sr. Antiles’ wiki page: “On April 17, 2017, Artiles, in a conversation with two African American senators, called one of them a “bitch” and a “girl,” referred to six Republican senators as “niggers,” called the Republican Senate President Joe Negron a “pussy,” and used the phrase “fucking ass hole.” He later claimed that he used the word “niggas” instead of niggers,” suggesting that his usage was appropriate.”

      Sounds as if he thought he was being hip and cool. He’s a former active duty military guy, either Navy or Marines. Hard to tell.

  8. Isaac

    A discussion doesn’t bring its participants closer to the truth unless it leads AWAY from relativism, which means clearly defining mutually agreed-upon terms.

    On that principle I think “racist” is strictly an ideology just like capitalist, socialist, or classist. You’re a racist if you believe that other races are inferior. The best way to determine whether a person has an ideology is to ask them. Or to overhear them talking about their ideals to someone else.

    “Racist” does not designate a person who does or says a racially insensitive thing. One cannot “race” and be a racist in the same way one who rapes is a rapist. Racist designates a worldview.

    Trying to guess a person’s worldview by using a small sample size of non-explicit words or actions is not going to be enlightening. Bernie Sanders isn’t a capitalist just because he owns lots of houses. Not everyone who thinks Social Security is a good idea is a socialist. One can act inconsistently with one’s worldview. Not everyone who does a racially prejudiced thing is a racist, and doing lots of non-racist things does not make you non-racist. A racist explicitly believes that some races are superior to others. Dylan Roof was a racist. The KKK is racist.

    The implication of honestly using the word “racist” is that while there are a lot of prejudiced actions, words, and attitudes going on out there…there really aren’t very many actual racists in America. Racism is among the least popular of all American worldviews. It’s pretty shocking to meet an actual racist. Individual actions and the use of words should always be judged in context. Unless you have evidence that a person subscribes to racist ideology, they aren’t racist, even if you caught them acting like a racist. You can appropriately condemn and punish the behavior.

    Note deery’s frustration at having to deal with people daring to defend themselves against being labeled racist. Calling someone a racist (or fascist) is sleazy but super effective, which is why the Left will never stop doing it. Summarily and arbitrarily slapping the label “racist” on things or people you oppose is a useful arrow in the quiver. Unethical, sure, but it’s war.

    In decades past the Right called so many people communists that the label is a joke now, even where there are actual scheming communists around. The word “racist” is similarly on its way to being run into the ground by political hacks, thus losing its usefulness at identifying racists.

    • I couldn’t agree more. It’s also happening with rape. Tragic for those who really are rape victims.

    • deery

      The implication of honestly using the word “racist” is that while there are a lot of prejudiced actions, words, and attitudes going on out there…there really aren’t very many actual racists in America. Racism is among the least popular of all American worldviews. It’s pretty shocking to meet an actual racist.

      Except, well, on this very thread, we have people admitting that they have committed racist acts, and asserting that everyone has, at some point.

      This entire thread is basically a microcosm of the American schizophrenia of race.
      -Well I have committed racist acts
      *Oh so you’re a racist?
      – No, I am not a racist
      * Huh. Why not?
      -Because racists are bad people, and I am not a bad person. Therefore I cannot be a racist

      And that is how Americans resolve their cognitive dissonance regarding race, and how we can have racism, with no apparent racists. We even have KKK members at this point claiming that they are not racists.

      I do think we live in a racist society, and pretty much everyone is a racist, to some degree or another. It is part of our national culture, ingrained, and hard to resist. I think that searching, and pointing out the “real racist” is usually a pointless endeavor, and a way to displace one’s own racist thoughts and actions on to someone else, rather than consciously grappling and dealing with one’s own shortcomings in this area.

      America was born as a racist society, and I don’t think there is any point where it ceased to be that way. The expression of the racist sentiment changes, evolves and refines, but the racism remains at the root.

      http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/26/us/ferguson-racism-or-racial-bias/index.html

      • “I do think we live in a racist society, and pretty much everyone is a racist, to some degree or another. It is part of our national culture, ingrained, and hard to resist.”

        Boy, is that statement ever a perfect example of an ideologically driven delusion! See the comment earlier in the thread about the definition of racism being cynically distorted by the left for political gain. Pretty much everyone believes one race is innately superior or inferior to the other? Utter nonsense, bordering on a lie. Do people think there are differences between races, their culture and common inherited traits? Yes, because there are. Do people believe the dominant cultures among racial groups have adversely or beneficially affected members of those groups? Yes, because it is true. Those and other rational conclusions are not racism, but it is effective politics to assert otherwise. Got it.

        • deery

          Ok.

          Pretty much everyone believes one race is innately superior or inferior to the other? Utter nonsense, bordering on a lie. Do people think there are differences between races, their culture and common inherited traits? Yes, because there are.

          Hmmm, so you are asserting that people widely acknowledge that there are racial differences, and yet also believe that these racial “genetic and cultural differences” are all equal?

          People, on this very site even, often describe white culture as superior. The notion that black people are genetically physically superior, yet genetically intellectually inferior is also a common widespread belief in America.

          • By “people,” you mean Alizia, our resident white supremacist, like you are our resistant articular knee-jerk left wing apologist.

            “Different” does not mean “superior” or “inferior.” The same with gender differences.

            • deery

              By “people,” you mean Alizia, our resident white supremacist, like you are our resistant articular knee-jerk left wing apologist.

              Nope, I mean people. Alizia is just the most explicit and detailed about it. Do you believe that black culture is equal to white culture? I’ve read several post of yours decrying black culture, but none that criticize anything from white culture, so I am curious.

              “Different” does not mean “superior” or “inferior.” The same with gender differences.

              Agreed. It is the meaning that we assign to those differences that can cause problems.

              • “Equal”? Cultures are not equal or unequal. US Black culture in the US is seriously screwed up. Blacks did not screw it up, but it is still screwed up. Res Ipsa Loquitur. Most black scholars agree.

                I’ve criticize many aspects of US culture, often and in great detail. Western culture? I don’t know what “white culture is.” Lawrence Welk?

                • Deery

                  So you do think there is such a thing as black American culture, but no such thing as white American culture?

                  • What I said was clear. White Americans do not, unless they are the Klan,regard themselves as separate from the culture of the nation as a whole. Nor should they. What are you trying to insinuate? The backgrounds and cultures of diverse American groups are so many and varied that the common denominator is the national experience itself. American blacks have a separate culture because they were excluded from the American culture for so long.

                    • Deery

                      Well black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, etc. as well as white Americans, altogether make up American culture, unless you are contending that American culture is completely synonymous with white American culture (on music, dance, and food alone that would be a losing argument.)

                      Though I have read some authors stating that one notable feature of white American culture is being uncomfortable stating whether something is “white” or not. The preference is to think of others as having race and/or culture, while they themselves are “raceless”, or without culture.

                    • Nope, you are just race-baiting now. Various non-white races–native Americans, Hispanics, Blacks and Asians—have distinct experiences in the US. “Whites” do not. The group is too diverse. I’m not engaging in this trope; someone else with a stronger stomach can and more tolerance for seeking division for political gain.

                    • Deery

                      You really think whites don’t have common experiences in the US because they are “too diverse”, but other groups can be categorized in such a way? Yet you have no problem acknowledging the existence of an American culture, which is made up of even more diverse people? Interesting.

                    • I already said I’m not indulging you on this, but…

                      Yes, the majority belief that its normal and benign to have children out of marriage and for fathers to not bother to make a family with the children they create is a malady of black culture, and I would not say the opposite can be attributed to white culture. Human culture, world culture, Western culture, common sense, adult culture, family culture. It is not a lethal practice endorsed in the rest of the US to the extent that it is in the greater black community.

                    • deery

                      Yes, the majority belief that its normal and benign to have children out of marriage and for fathers to not bother to make a family with the children they create is a malady of black culture, and I would not say the opposite can be attributed to white culture. Human culture, world culture, Western culture, common sense, adult culture, family culture. It is not a lethal practice endorsed in the rest of the US to the extent that it is in the greater black community.

                      Well, besides the fact that black fathers are quite present, so your statement is not true ( https://thinkprogress.org/the-myth-of-the-absent-black-father-ecc4e961c2e8 ), we see that the rise of out of wedlock births can be found throughout Western society, so “black culture” has unique pathology in this realm.

                    • deery

                      After a bit more thought, there is no reason why white culture has to be defined so oppositionally. You sound much like people who claim they have no accent.
                      https://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/white-american-culture/

                      Here are some of the features of White American culture. Again, keep in mind that not every white person follows all of this. And again, many of these things will be found in other cultures, especially British and Black American culture, its closest cousins:

                      language: American Standard English. Stiff, long-winded, impersonal.

                      religion: a private affair, but mainly Protestant and Bible-based.

                      weights and measure: English, some metric.

                      law: common law from England based on precedent; trial by jury; no man should be above the law.

                      government: democracy, presidents.

                      freedom: makes society stronger and richer, not weaker.

                      the future: what you make it.

                      music: rock, country, gangsta rap, swing.

                      dress: blue jeans, dressing down.

                      cows: for meat, milk, leather.

                      pigs: eaten.

                      dogs: loved, not allowed to run loose, almost seen as one of the family.

                      diet: cows, pigs, chicken, turkey, wheat, maize, potato, sugar, cow’s milk, beer, chicken eggs.

                      breasts: not commonly bared in magazines or in public.

                      beards: rare.

                      books: rarely read after age 25.

                      poverty: a moral failing.

                      wealth: worshipped.

                      intelligence: looked down upon: geeks and nerds.

                      race: colour-blind racism: lip service is given to colour-blind equality, but in practice whites are seen as better than blacks and their lives matter more.

                      homosexuals: accepted to the degree that same-sex marriage is now a matter of debate.

                      female beauty: white-skinned, thin, long yellow hair, big breasts, empty blue eyes.

                      drink: beer common among men but not allowed for children.

                      coffee or tea?: coffee since the 1920s.

                      sports: an important part of life; baseball, American football, basketball, ice hockey, golf, tennis.

                      family: parents with young children; divorce common; personal desires over family.

                      parents: try to be friends with their children; avoid physical punishment.

                      managers: try to be friends with their employees.

                    • Lame. Western culture, US culture, stereotypes, tropes, generalizations. But you do prove my point, and thanks for that.

                    • Deery

                      I think this is much like a person insisting they don’t have an accent. Of course, everyone has an accent. But if you are surrounded only by others with the same accent, you don’t notice it. White culture seems to be operating on that plane for you.

                    • Again, Deery is asserting that America is unique in these things, when they are common to any nation or culture (details vary, but the concept remains the same)

                      Europe is racist, by this standard. Asia is racist and will openly admit it.
                      Africa is racist and, if ‘race’ is taken as a valid construct, genocidal as well. No that is NOT a racist statement: whites killing whites (think WWI) is no more racist than blacks killing blacks. It is an impartial observation, nothing more.

                      People are people. In groups, they tend to favor those that look/act/relate to themselves. America is not worse or better, just aware, due to being (as Jack puts it) exceptional.

                    • Deery

                      Actually I have never insinuated that America is unique in its xenophobia, just in the particular expression of the xenophobia. Every continent with people has had its share of genocides, so no, that isn’t unique either. Sometimes the scale and breadth, but not the fact that it has occurred.

          • Granted, while some differences are merely cosmetic or stylistic, other differences between groups of sapients might functionally translate to “conditionally superior”. For instance, some cultures might have values more suited to one type of accomplishment than to another. How this plays out on Earth is up for debate, but I’m not really concerned with that. I just try to keep people moving forward.

            However, as I mentioned on the Zootopia post, there are ways of treating everyone ethically even if and when you are able to predict with some accuracy their advantages and disadvantages.

            1. Always give people a chance to prove you wrong about them, except where you have good reason to believe doing so would risk imminent harm to someone.

            2. If you have reasonable confidence that you can predict something about someone, even if it’s only based on their appearance, by all means use that to improve your ability to put them at ease, show them respect, and keep them safe. Don’t go overboard trying to anticipate them, though; that doesn’t put anyone at ease. It just makes them self-conscious. This rule does not supersede rule 1. (Example: If someone dresses in a way that indicates they probably have religious dietary restrictions, and they order something that contains a taboo food and you think it might have been a mistake, you might casually mention list the ingredients to them in the process of describing why they made a good choice.)

            3. Try to adapt your activities and systems to include others who might otherwise be excluded because of physical form, health, or language or cultural barriers. Empathy as a skill involves establishing bonds with people who are different, by individualizing interactions. Cleverness involves twisting paths to open possibilities that weren’t obviously available.

            4. Don’t expect rule 3 to always be feasible. It’s based on empathy, cleverness, and other chaos-aligned mindsets, and as such doesn’t lend itself well to rules or systematization at all. Focus on what people can do, entice others to help, but don’t try to restructure everything based on an inconvenience, and don’t force people to experience the same outcomes in all things.

            5. No matter how many people have done something, nor for how long, it doesn’t mean it’s right.

            Neither rules nor empathy alone can make a great society. But semantics (rules) and empathy together, as communication, give interactions at all levels the chance to be the best they can be.

            There. Now you can avoid being a bigot even if you are magically transported to a world where you can judge by appearances and not often be wrong. This guide is species-agnostic.

    • dragin_dragon

      Isaac, I was born in 1945, between Germany surrendering and Hiroshima/Nagasaki. I was largely raised by my grandparents, who were born in 1898 and 1900, and among other life-adventures, owned a producing farm near Caddo Gap, Arkansas. Thus, I grew up with such phrases as “nigger-shooter” (a sling shot), “sweating like a nigger at an election” and “nigger-town” for the black part of town. At least part of the question would be “Does that (those) act(s) make me a racist?” and I would maintain that it does not. I would cheerfully consign my grandparents to racism, because the culture in which they were raised and lived (small town Hill Country and South Central Texas) was, in fact racist, without question or apology. And not just against black people…they were equal opportunity racists, being prejudice against any non-Texan, non-white, non-Christian or just plain different.

      My belief (and hope) is that I have learned enough through the 71 years that have elapsed since that birth to make “race” (actually, skin color), religion, sexual preference, place of birth, etcetera (Yul Brynner succeeded in making THAT word immortal) all irrelevant to me. That, however, does not mean that I can ignore the effects of toxic cultures that seem to be based, at least in part, on “race”…inner city black crime, for instance or MS-13’s drug-and-violence culture. Again, though, I do not believe that makes me a racist. I am fond of the story of the University of Texas Professor who was almost hounded from his job for pointing out that 73% of black college students fail to graduate. Naturally, he was accused of racism, just for quoting a statistical fact. Thus, I believe firmly that racism MUST have, at least a belief that one “race” is superior to another, in all cases, across the board and in all ways. Since that position is indefensible, I believe this is very rare in America these days, making this idiot Florida politician newsworthy. I also believe that most Americans may not even notice or care about skin color, such that until Obama, it had almost become a non-issue. My hope, as well, is that this idiots statements will continue to be newsworthy, but only because they are so rare, not as a condemnation of any one group.

    • Chris

      You know, I’ve often heard it said that in the US, no one should be accused of racism unless they go around calling black people “nigger.”

      And now we’re talking about a guy who actually went around calling black people “nigger,” and still we have tons of people saying it’s unfair to call him a racist.

      Funny how the Overton Window keeps moving.

  9. Keith Walker

    Speaking of movies with racist characters… One of my favorite modern Clint Eastwood movies is “Gran Torino.” And I seriously believe it has a fatal character flaw: throughout the movie, Eastwood’s obviously racist character uses virtually every racial epithet anyone has ever heard for every minority group he spoke of. Except one… I am not a fan of any of these words, and they made a huge impact in the movie and in character development. But if this guy was really as bad as he was portrayed, why on earth would he say, “a Jew, a spic, and a black guy go into a bar”? (That quote may not be exact, but you get the idea.) Not sure if this speaks exactly to what you’re talking about here, but there you go.

    • Keith, I have seen the film many times and love it greatly, but that is a terrible and cowardly cop-out by the screenplay, and I never noticed it before you pointed it out! EA postworthy, and fascinating.

    • Mrs. Q

      I loved that movie. Been debating getting a tee shirt with the saying Get Off My Lawn. In my town of Portland, OR also known as America’s “Premier” Socialist Shithole I love meeting guys like that. The character Eastwood plays is mild compared to some of the Country Boys I used to know. And when the occasional bad word, including various racial epitaphs, would slip out I’d ask them about it. Not shouting & accusing & name calling. As I got further into liberalism I came to view those kind of guys as bad because my professors said so.

      When I stepped back outside the liberal politics bubble I started going to more rural places where I’d most likely meet these racist homophobic codgers. I’m in an interracial same sex marriage & time again our friends are shocked when we travel, on purpose, to “redneck” or potentially conservative places. For us that’s where we find our own kind. Among those who cherish free and nuanced thought. It is no wonder that people like us, who value religious freedom, unborn babies, etc. would be, regardless of how many diversity boxes are checked off, the odd men (so to speak) out at most social events in town.

      Eastwoods character demonstrated he ultimately wasn’t a racist. He gave his life for an Asian neighbor. And a kid with thug friends at that. His character ate with Asians and even had friendly banter. In a way his character summed up how a Christian may endeavor to live; knowing we are imperfect and part of that includes unnecessary prejudice. Instead of pretending to love everyone at all times, we pray for soft hearts AND awareness wolves, regardless of race.

      A true racist wouldn’t lay down his life for someone of a different race because of their race. Those grumpy white grandpas out there are probably more likely to give their life for someone of another race than some of those who loudly advertise themselves as anti-racist (they usually are in fact the most racist & smug).

      • Chris

        This is the false dichotomy deery is referring to. People aren’t easily sorted into “racist” and “not racist.” Saying that Gran Torino demonstrates Eastwood’s character wasn’t a “true racist” seems to miss the point entirely; he was racist in many ways, and had to overcome his own prejudices all throughout the movie. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a racist. That means he was a complex human being.

        Complex human beings can be racist.

        • Mrs. Q

          He was both racist and not racist. But I think at the end not racist won. You are overly literal and always looking for a fight. Not sure what that is in you that does that.

          • Chris

            He was both racist and not racist.

            That seems closer to what I was saying, and different from how I interpreted you earlier. I wasn’t looking for a “fight;” I disagreed with what you said. Now that you’ve clarified, I agree with you.

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