Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Robert Hartman (
27 Apr 1995 21:01:50 GMT

In article <3nmkj7$>,
Gary Strand <> wrote:
>rh> Robert Hartman
>gs> Gary Strand
>gs> Those guys that it seems blew up the OKC federal building are white, yet I
> feel no connection with them at all, only anger, revulsion, and a desire
> for terrible revenge. I certainly don't call them "brother".
>rh> That'be because you don't have a sense of having shared oppression with
> them.
> Ever consider that they're simply stupid and evil, and just wanted to kill
> people for some bizarre and disgusting purpose?
> Was Jeffrey Dahmer oppressed? Wayne Williams? Ted Bundy? Charles Manson?

No. But I doubt that anyone would dispute the fact that they were/are sick.

>rh> In fact, whenever the issue of tangible oppression comes up you seem to
> veer away from the topic to something else, toward some other "bad guy."
> Or is it just me who notices that?
> Because, to me, "oppression" is too-often used for "things didn't turn out
> the way I wanted". Face it, life is a bitch and a crap shoot sometimes. "If
> you can't always get what you wa-ant, you musta be-en oppres-sed", right?
> Sorry, but that kind of self-pity and refusal to realize that life ain't
> always fair just doesn't carry well with me.

OK. Even if it is often used that way, too-often used that way, what
do you do about those situations when it is appropriately used. How do
_you_ tell the difference?

>rh> Can you identify, even for an instant, with how it must feel to have black
> skin in America and all the bullshit that buys you? Just for an instant?
> I'll ask my boss. He's black. I'll ask if he'd prefer being white and if
> being black is such a horrible burden.

Great! You might also ask him to introduce you to others with views
on the subject that differ from his.

>gs> You've already fallen into the "Well, *my* hurt is worse that *your* hurt"
> contest-with-no-purpose. Maybe I'm in a wheelchair. Maybe I'm gay. Maybe
> I'm deaf, or was burned in an accident and am now disfigured. Maybe I've
> got a terminal disease.
> Who gets to climb to the top of the "Poor Me Pyramid"? Or do we step back
> and say "Hey, everyone gets shat upon at one time or another."?

We step back, acknowledge that there's shit on all of us, and start
helping each other clean up. We don't go around saying that there
isn't any shit on anybody.

>rh> We aren't going to eliminate the oppression white men face by protecting
> white men at the expense of others. We can only eliminate oppression by
> eliminating it for those who are the most sorely oppressed.
> Fine. Don't be oppressive to others. That's how I am

Really? You know that for sure. You've checked it out thoroughly.
You've done the longitudinal study on yourself. You keep track of
it on a daily basis. Well, no one could ask for more than that.

>rh> I think it's fine that you have compassion for people like yourself. But
> you might also consider what it might mean to have compassion for people
> who are different than yourself.
> For some reason, some people think that "compassion" == "never criticize",
> or "compassion == treat others as victims".

That's not what I'm saying. That is what they call "idiot compassion."
When someone panhandles me on the street, I can have compassion for him
and still not give him my money. I can still acknowledge his humanity
without financing his booze or drugs. Criticize all you want, but be
sure that you've done your homework first. Emphasize others capabilities
to help themselves all you want, but don't pretend that the impediments
they face aren't there--even if you haven't encountered them yourself.

>rh> Gary, whenever _you_ make other people into bad guys, _you_ add to the
> risk of another incident like that.
> Bullshit.

Well, let me try it another way. Exactly what is it that a person can
do that would revoke her or his status as a human being? You said
murdering innocent children, and I'd tend to agree. But is that all?
Or are there other things that could disqualify a person? Where
exactly do _you_ draw the line between people that we should feel
compassion for and people that we shouldn't?

Now, what's to prevent me from drawing the line at a different place.
After all, as no one should tell anyone else how to be, right? For
many years, centuries in fact, one thing that could disqualify a person
from being treated as human was black skin. How do you justify the
difference between your line and the line of a Klansman?

>rh> I think that this illustrates the difference between hating a man who goes
> wrong, and understanding how it could happen.
> Yeah, I understand you now.

No, I don't think you do. But if you're willing to try on my viewpoint for
size, I'll try on yours.


ps. There's an old saying that has a lot of wisdom in it: "There
but for the grace of God go I."