Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bloggingheads on Kanye: Parts Were Good. Parts were Stupid

The above is a video of two black conservatives (or libertarians? The Omnivore doesn't know their histories) discussing the blow-back to Kanye West's embrace of Trump. As one might expect from the right, they are not especially kind to Ta Nehasi Coat's article on it comparing it to is feelings when Michael Jackson seemed to be doing everything within his power to abandon his blackness and become white.

They also really didn't like Coat's belief (or at least rhetoric) that America is an irredeemable cesspool of racism and whites are The Enemy (this is a paraphrase of their paraphrases--but in any event, The Omnivore is pretty sure that Coats would agree he's not exactly doing outreach.)

What Did The Omnivore Expect?

The Omnivore saw one of the many conservative Twitter accounts he follows talking about these two smart, educated guys taking this on--and how good a job they did--and expected a pretty solid conservative take on it. That was, in fact, what they delivered. Although they flirted with some more standard takes, the points they made that The Omnivore thought was good were:

  • Kanye (probably) likes Trump because Trump is a rapper. Not in the musical sense--but in presentation, showmanship, etc. Kanye may not be too aware of Trump's policy.
  • Trump, himself, definitely isn't help the racial thing (this is from one person who really likes Trump and one who doesn't especially like him--but sure doesn't hate him). They both saw the appointing of Ben Carson as a missed opportunity to actually appoint a qualified black guy to something important to a lot of black people (HUD).
  • They were right that things have, in a lot of ways, racially speaking improved over 50 years ago. Of course 50 years ago was 1968 which was, erm, not modern in almost any respect.
And then there was, yes, some stupidity.

The Stupidity

The stupidity, for lack of a better word--because The Omnivore is not interested in mincing words--is interesting because these are black guys--they are fully black--they live in modern day America--they are walking the walk. Where they say something that The Omnivore thinks is stupid that has to be an assessment made on their own internal logic of the claim--in other words, The Omnivore isn't in a position to tell them they're wrong. They have to be "telling themselves they're wrong."

So what were these logical blind spots?

The Starbucks Event

If you haven't heard, that dark thing over your head is the rock you've been under, but just in case: a few weeks ago, two (black) guys came into Starbucks and didn't order--they were waiting for their buddy. The guy behind the counter called the cops on them for being suspicious. They got arrested.

In Black Professor Land this is, yes, racist--but it is isolated: this was just one dude--the Starbucks person. It doesn't indict all of society. Also, they averred (or, at least, one did) that with all the black bad behavior, the Starbucks guy might be justified--sorta. See, he might be thinking of that hypothetical time a few weeks ago when three back teenagers came in, making trouble. That is true--but only if you leave off the end of the story: These Two Black Professionals Got Arrested.

Not only was the Starbucks guy apparently a little bit racist--but . . . er . . . the cops were too? Or do these two smart commentators think that if you're white and you get the cops called on you you're getting arrested for hanging out in a Starbucks? Sorry, guys. No.

So maybe the cops are justified in the arrest (it's legal) because of their experience with all the black criminals? Okay, sure: so in this case because of the black-crime stats it's fine for professionals to judge you by their prejudices--to, essentially, not do the job professionally? In other words: Hey, Black Guys--You Do NOT Have The Right To Be Treated Like Everyone Else. 


Finally, these guys apparently aren't aware of the recent spate of coverage of law abiding black people getting the cops called on them by white people with nothing but a bad feeling and the black people getting arrested for, among other things, not waving back when waved at by a white lady.

Do they think liberals are just making these stories up? That it's a hella coincidence? That it's okay because of all the white people and all the cop's "real life experiences"?

If that is true, across America, then how is that different from "racism being okay"?

Rating: A - Turbo-Stupid

The Micro-Aggressions

The Omnivore was then treated to their stories about how Micro-Aggressions don't hurt. This had two parts:
  1.  One of the professors (the one who doesn't love Trump) tells of a story of going into a building in a sports coat and slacks to teach a class and being mistaken by the person in the lobby for the elevator repair guy. He was offended that someone might think this racial microaggression would interfere with his performance. He brushed it off his shoulder like Jay-Z and drove on. Why can't everyone do that?
  2. They said that everyone gets microaggressed and a "very religious" pro-life person on a college campus would get WAY more hate at them than a black person on a college campus ever would.
The first is only somewhat stupid. These people have been black their whole life and, presumably microaggressed a long time before that example. The stupidity is in (a) assuming that everyone can put up with it the same way they did--or in the same context. The Omnivore is not going to suggest they were born with silver spoons in their mouths (The Omnivore has no idea--but probably not)--however it is not a good look for the people who "made it" to look back on everyone who didn't and declare them weak.

The second part is a lot stupider. The "very religious person" is presumably the "urban youth" of "incredibly outspoken and overbearing" because, uh, if this person isn't constantly running their mouth about their views how will anyone know? If they are constantly running their mouths about it their issue isn't that they're "very religious" but that they "want to get in a fight about it."

For these guys to conflate a behavior with their skin color is stupid.

It's not just stupid on the detection dimension--it's stupid on the consequences dimension. Yes, the really outspoken religious girl may get snubbed to hell and back. She's not going to be hanged (or beat up). She knows it--everyone else knows it.

Rating: B - Dumb and In Bad Taste

We Don't Need To Teach People Slavery Was Bad

The final stupid was them deciding that what Kanye meant about slavery being "a choice" was that Kanye had heard about "the slave mentality" and just kind of took it too far / badly expressed. That part isn't stupid--Kanye, whatever he may think, likely does not believe the slaves shackled themselves and then said "stuff me on the slave ship, my dudes."

HOWEVER, they then both decide that there is no reason to, today, teach that slavery was bad. After all, they thought, there's been ROOTS.

These guys have not been keeping up with current events. In 2014 (4 years ago) a guy at CPAC got up and told a black speaker that black people had it good under slavery. Maybe that's what Kanye was thinking about? Or did something really change in 4 years?

One incident? Oh--well, all one has to do is go over and look at the alt right, the alt-light, or parts of the NRX--any of the white nationalist websites, and so on to see that there are people who are doing outreach and education that slavery wasn't (a) the cause of the civil war and (b) wasn't all that bad for the slaves. In the past decade students have been asked if they'd rather be a northern factory worker--unsure if they'll get fired and lose their next meal--or if they'd rather be a slave in the comfy care of a master who'll look after them.

The past decade.

The two professors are learned enough that they probably know that that exact perspective was used by pro-slavery writers back during and immediately after the civil war to justify the institution. For them not to know it didn't go away is badly ignorant. For them to think that modern media is doing their job of education is ridiculous.

It's simply intellectual malpractice. The Omnivore doesn't expect these guys to lead the charge--but to say that "that's all done with" is incredible bullshit.


It is perfectly fine not to like Coat's view of the world--but to suggest that he's not making his case is ignorant. His "Case for Reparations" is solidly argued and if you're going to claim (as these guys did) that the institution of slavery and racism doesn't have any relevance today, instead of admitting they didn't read Coats, they better have a counter argument. Same for the other stupidity--these are things that are self-contradictory--that lead to conclusions that they, themselves, would likely not approve of (such as having a personal religious belief that people may find unpopular is the same as having black skin which can get you killed in some areas).

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