by Frances Quaempts-Miller
Towards the end of British author Douglas Murray’s latest book The Madness of Crowds is a call to find significance beyond politics:
“One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madness of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning. The call should be for people to simplify their lives and not mislead themselves by devoting their lives to a theory that answers no questions, makes no predictions and is easily falsifiable. Meaning can be found in all sorts of places. For most individuals it is found in the love of the people and places around them: in friends, family and loved ones, in culture, place and wonder. A sense of purpose is found in working out what is meaningful in our lives and then orienting ourselves over time as closely as possible to those centres of meaning. Using ourselves up on identity politics, social justice and intersectionality is a waste of a life.”
Murray ends his book arguing, “To assume that sex, sexuality, and skin colour mean nothing would be ridiculous. But to assume that they mean everything will be fatal.”
In the last year and a half my wife and I have lost six loved ones, including two grandmothers last month, only three weeks apart. Between us we have lost three grandparents, a cousin, an aunt, and my father. Ours has been a house of grieving that has prompted both of us to re-examine what has brought us a sense of purpose and what we need to focus our energies on in the future. After spending not just years but decades fighting for equality, it has become clear, with so much death, that such supposed noble efforts have only rendered a more broken heart in a more broken world.
At the age of fourteen I went to my first protest to express concern for the United States involvement in El Salvador. At the time, I didn’t really know what our country was doing wrong but I did know that the exhilaration of marching in the middle of the street, after the police told us through their bullhorns not to, while yelling various slogans repeatedly, was intoxicating. All my frustration with whatever complications life had thrown my way dissolved instantly. Suddenly I was a part of something bigger than myself while believing my actions and those of the other protesters were on “the right side of history” (see 1B. The Psychic Historian on the list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions). For a somewhat shy teenager, I was instantly transformed by that march into a powerful person. Continue reading
by Frances Quaempts-Miller
“When I’m down and I feel like giving up…I whip my hair back and forth.”-Willow Smith
When I first learned of the latest hate crime hoax involving Amari Allen, a 12 year old African American preteen, I was watching the sometimes salacious national news show “Inside Edition” with my wife. Allen appeared on screen as a brave victim who was seemingly attacked by three white boys because of her “nappy” hair. Though something about the story just didn’t seem right, the part of me that knows what it’s like to have my hair ridiculed and touched without permission, won out. I decided to believe the narrative knowing there was potential for a hate hoax.
Confirmation bias for some people comes from a place of real experience. I have no doubt that many black people, women in particular, felt the sting of bad memories when Allen’s story hit the screens. Hate crime hoaxes are often initially believed because they sound plausible to those who have dealt with similar circumstances. Even the awful Tawana Brawley gang rape hoax, where she claimed racist words were written on her body and was left for dead in a trash bag, could seem likely because of the harm violently racist whites caused African Americans during slavery times and beyond. Blacks and other people of color learn as kids to be on the look-out for racial denigration so the past isn’t repeated.
Author and university professor Wilfred Reilly published the book “Hate Crime Hoax: The Left’s Campaign to Sell a Fake Race War,” this year and has over forty four pages of notes related to such hoaxes. Chapters in his book include discussions on fake religious, gender, and LGBT incidents, hoaxes related to bias against President Trump, white hoaxers, and of course college campus incidents. Reilly notes that these false hate crimes perpetuate a vision of what he calls the “Continuing Oppression Narrative,” that keeps blacks and leftist race activists in a constant state of “doom laden” analysis. Continue reading
[ Frances Quaempts, originally known to Ethics Alarms visitors as “Mrs. Q,” rapidly established herself here as a commenter of outstanding perception and precision. Impressed with her original and ethical perspective, I offered her a regular place on Ethics Alarms as a contributor, and was thrilled and honored that she accepted. Frances has no set schedule for her commentary, and can contribute what she wants, when she wants. Please join me in welcoming her. Below is her inaugural blog; the next one will be following right along—JM ]
Telling the Truth in an Age of Expendable Avatars
by Frances Quaempts
My name is Frances Quaempts. You won’t find me on social media.
Jack Marshall’s blog Ethics Alarms, lovingly called “EA” in my home, is my social media. For the last two years I have sharpened my rhetorical skills in the Ethics Alarms comments sections. Ethics Alarms has also been my go-to source for learning about current events while exploring the ramifications of what happens when “the twinges in your conscience” also known as ethics alarms, are adhered to or ignored.
My comments on Ethics Alarms have been under the penname Mrs. Q because I have not felt safe to comment publically under my name. Living in Portland, Oregon after the 2016 election became at times scary, particularly for those of us who qualify as “intersectional” but don’t tow the political line here. Our car was keyed, my wife has been harassed on multiple occasions, and as we have seen in the case of people like Andy Ngo, wrongthink became physically punishable. At the same time, the internet and social media became the main conduits to make manifest threats to those who don’t conform.
As Jamie Kilstein mentioned in a recent article, “It’s easy to join a Twitter mob. You take zero risk if the takedown doesn’t work, but you pretend you’re Rosa Parks if it does.” Instead of seeing others as humans capable of both right and wrong and constantly in need of discerning our intentions – a new and bitter activist movement treats certain others as “expendable avatars.” The truth is, no one is expendable and I’m done pretending to be an avatar. Continue reading