I’m combining successive comments by a single commenter again. Humble Talent‘s observations regarding the angry “cultural appropriation!” reactions to Chris Cuomo saying he was “black inside” are wide-ranging and open up many difficult and fascinating ethics topics that I’m certain the 27 people still reading Ethics Alarms will find edifying.
HT began by responding to my query, “I wonder if Cuomo’s critic had the same reaction when Toni Morrison pronounced Bill Clinton as our first black President?”
They square this circle by comparing experience, neither is about objective reality.
Objectively, Cuomo is just as black as a fully intact biological man with gender dysphoria is a woman. But this isn’t about objectivity, reasonableness, or the truth…. It’s about oppression. Because really… What else differentiates someone who misrepresents their race, like Rachel Dolezal, or Shaun King, to someone who misrepresents their sex? Sure, both can be murky, is the child of a mixed race couple black or white? Is a person with Klinefelter or Turner’s syndrome a man or a woman? Progressives would usually say that the person With XXY or XYY are whatever they self identify as, and similarly for the mixed race child, whatever box they choose to mark. And if you get a fully intact biological man who believes that he’sa woman… Well, welcome to the club! But if you’re a white woman who puts on a lot of spray tan, dreds up her hair, and works as a black NAACP activist for most of her life… Fuck off bigot? I guess.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” said Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher of them all, and —who knows?—maybe the greatest pitcher of all time, in any league. Imagine: Paige wasn’t allowed to play against white players in the Major Leagues until 1948 when he was over 40, and he still was hard to hit. Satch is a great symbol for the ageless and those of us in denial: he pitched in his last Major League game in his 60’s, throwing three scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox. Paige’s whimsical idea that age is just a state of mind has now been carried to its illogical conclusion by Dutch citizen Emile Ratelband, a “positivity trainer” who calls himself a “young god,” and who has asked a local court to legally change his birthday from March 11, 1949 to March 11,1969, the BBC reports.
Heck, why not? If someone with a Y chromosome and all of their original external organs can say they “identify” as a female and use the ladies room, join the Girl Scouts, and have the protection and support of the law and the woke, why not declare age simply a matter of attitude and mind over matter? It’s just the next frontier in the politically correct realm of reality denial, and I would say, and I know Satchel Paige would say, if how someone feels is sufficient to legitimize that defiance of concrete reality, treating age as similarly flexible is more than reasonable. Just a stroke of a pen by a judge, and poof! You’re as young as you feel. Continue reading →
I hope you remember Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who falsely claimed to be black, double-talked and lied about her racial origins, and was defended by the “race is just a social construct” crowd on the left, as part of the same ideological fantasy that holds that a man can be a woman by just deciding that she is one. Ethics Alarms discussed her strange story here, here, and here.
Following her 15 minutes of fame, Rachel was somehow unable to manage a book contract or a speaking tour, perhaps because she is a walking, talking Achilles heel for several beloved progressive myths, Now she’s jobless and living on food stamps, and facing foreclosure and expects to be evicted next month.
“There’s no protected class for me,” she told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds…I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”
Of course, she is.
Dolezal says she’s been rejected for over 100 jobs. She has had offers on the freak show circuit, in porn and reality TV. But Dolezal is not uneducated or dumb. Surely there are many jobs that she could perform, and well.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is this…
“As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable. Dr. Robinson was hired for a faculty position in the Rhodes Anthropology & Sociology Department that calls for expertise in particular areas, specifically gender studies and social movements. Her expertise in these areas, her extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society, her deep roots in the Memphis area, and many years of successful teaching experience, made her an attractive candidate for the position.”
—Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, announcing that it has hired racist Zandria Robinson as a member of the faculty. Robinson had been kicked off the faculty of neighboring University of Memphis after repeatedly condemning whites, writing that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror, ” and tweeting that she did not want her daughter to attend a university with “snotty privileged white'”students.”
Yes, racists are attractive candidates to mold young minds, aren’t they?
Two simple words suffice to describe the ethical, indeed mandatory response to this: WALKOUT. No white student should debase herself or himself by paying a cent of tuition to an institution with this total absence of respect and regard for them as human beings. No black student whose conscience and sense of decency hasn’t been thoroughly rotted through by being taught and indoctrinated by mentors and teachers like Robinson should remain either. This isn’t diversity, and it isn’t academic freedom. It is an endorsement of racism.
Yes, the college is literally saying that racist sentiments demonstrate extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society. No, they don’t. They demonstrate bigotry, hate and ignorance. Robinson is as much a component of America’s race relations dysfunction as Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof. Her brand of anti-white brainwashing is the cultural poison that persuades weak-willed, insecure dupes like Rachel Dolezal decide that she is ashamed of her family, her heritage, and her physical body. No responsible school of any size or mission should allow someone like Robinson to come in contact with students, much less teach them, except perhaps in an interactive exhibit called “This is Black Racism. Ugly, Isn’t It?”
Rhodes isn’t a responsible school, though, or a competent one. It is deluded. Here is the rest of its jaw dropping announcement of its new, white-hating scholar:
When Dr. Robinson was previously at Rhodes during the 2008-2009 academic year, she was well received by students who appreciated her ability to challenge them to think about society with fresh eyes.
There’s nothing fresh about bigotry. What’s fresh, I guess, is arrogant and pampered African American scholars who think that they can express exactly the kind of generalized, stereotyped hatred of a race that white racists spewed for centuries, and be rewarded for it.
Signature Significance: The concept is the creation of baseball statistics genius Bill James, who applied it to baseball performance. Signature significance posits that a single act can be so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. Thus, in James’ example, certain outstanding pitching performances can prove that the pitcher involved is an outstanding one, because average pitchers literally never reach such levels of excellence, even as a one-time fluke. Ethics Alarms employs the term to describe an extreme ethical or unethical act that similarly reveals the true character of the individual responsible for the conduct, and that can be reliably and fairly used to predict future conduct and trustworthiness.
My immediate assumption about now-ex NAACP executive Rachel Dolezal’s charade as a black woman her conduct was signature significance, that anyone who would construct and benefit from such an audacious deception was unreliable, untrustworthy, and a likely sociopath. My posts never got into this issue, in part because I was waiting for a unanimous consensus that the woman was lying–sadly, a lot of stubborn progressives, civil rights advocates, celebrities and culture warriors either ducked the issue or, to their eternal discredit, denied that she couldn’t be black is she said she was. I was waiting for the “she just made a mistake” arguments, and the “anyone can get confused about what race they are” rationalization by playing the signature significance card, and never got to play it.
Recognizing insanity shouldn’t be that difficult, or impeded by political orientation. Yet as the Rachel Dolezal fiasco proves, it can be. (Now that we know that she previously claimed to be discriminated against because she was white, and heard her tell Matt Lauer that a black man was her father because she thought of him as her father, will all the loyal left culture warriors who chose to die on that silly hill after I warned them that they would regret it learn anything? I doubt it.)
Now, in the interest of improving everyone’s non-partisan wacko-detection and rejection skills, I offer these two examples, one from the left, and one from the right. If either seems reasonable to you, you flunk.
Extradimensional Cephalopod, Ethics Alarms’ mysterious, erudite, squid-like commenter, offers this fascinating, if puzzling, perspective on the Rachel Dolezal scandal. I think he’s agreeing with my conclusion that this episode exposes the absurdity and corrupting effects of the progressive obsession with race. I don’t know that this was really told to him by a “space alien elementary school teacher,” but it may well have been said by someone who self-identified as one, and if so, what difference, at this point, does it make?
When I wrote about Rachel Dolezal’s strange and provocative racial charade as my first post of the day, I had not read any other commentary on the subject. I was surprised at the degree to which the subject subsequently dominated the web, as well as the rapidity with which many, though not all, of the themes raised in my various questions were echoed elsewhere—parallels with Elizabeth Warren and Caitlyn Jenner among them. Now that there are some other reactions, as well as some statements from the active participants in this cultural mess—and it is a mess–let me add to my commentary.
1. Some commentators, like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, appear to think the story is a joke. The tone of some of my earlier comments was intended to be ironic, but this is no joke, and the issues it forces society to deal with, or go into denial regarding, which itself is no joke, are important and perhaps represent a cultural tipping point.
2. Rachel Dolezal represents a crisis for the sloppy thinkers of the left. (There are sloppy thinkers on the Right, too, but this story doesn’t expose them.) They need to choose their words carefully, and so far, I have seen no evidence of that. Modern progressive cant is thoroughly polluted with false constructs, hypocrisy, double standards and absurd mandated beliefs regarding diversity, tolerance and fairness, and this story exposes much of it. I wonder if the progressive activists even realize the bind they are in? It is a dilemma they created themselves by assuming that the pile of contradictions they were amassing would be ignored forever if they threatened and insulted anyone who pointed to it. Dolezal just made their shallow exploration of their own truths untenable. Continue reading →
NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.
Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist, the leader of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, chairwoman of the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and a professor in the African Studies Program at Eastern Washington University, has been falsely representing herself as black for years. When someone is asked if he or she is really black, and the answers he or she comes up with includes “That question is not as easy as it seems,” and “We’re all from the African continent,” it’s fair to say the jig is up.
Or is it? Although Dolezal’s mother has spoken out about the 37 -year-old’s background, noting that there is no black ancestry that they know of in the family and that Rachel’s self-identification as black seems to arise out of the fact that she was raised with adopted African-American siblings—you know, like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”?—she may well sincerely believe she is black. Then what?
Dolezal’s actual race, if there is such a thing in her case since she sometimes identifies herself as “white, black, and American Indian,” has suddenly become an issue because she has reported alleged instances of harassment and hate crimes. An inquiry has also been opened at Spokane City Hall. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,” Mayor David Condon, who appointed her to the city oversight board, and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.”
Stuckart said the council will meet soon to discuss the developments and that he didn’t want to speak for the group until then. “But if this is true I’ll be very disappointed,” he said..
Is Dolezal credible? Is she courageous? Is she deluded? Is she nuts? Or is being black just, as Gore Vidal said about Truman Capote’s death, a good career move?