Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Robert Hartman (
2 May 1995 00:07:59 GMT

In article <3nrgti$>,
Gary Strand <> wrote:
>rh> Robert Hartman
>gs> Gary Strand
>rh> Listening is about discerning the other person's framework, and seeing how
> their words fit within both yours and theirs.
> And if I think they're full of BS? Whose framework is correct, or better? Is
> it possible to make an estimation? I say yes.

You can come to whatever conclusion you like--after you've given the
other person a fair hearing. Otherwise ... you didn't give the other
person a fair hearing! It's entirely up to you as to whether or not
you choose to give others a fair hearing. But if you choose not to,
you really can't claim to understand the issues they raise.

>rh> If you'll do that, I'll count you as part of the solution--whether we wind
> up agreeing or not.
> I'm not part of "the solution" - I am my own means and ends, not a means to
> someone else's ends. If that strikes you as selfish and conceited, perhaps,
> well, too bad.

Well again, you're entirely free to do as you like. It just so
happens that when you do things that broaden your worldview, which
is a good thing for you, it coincidentally happens that it helps
others too. Not all interactions between people are zero-sum games.
By all means do it for your own sake!

>rh> Pretending that it isn't there, or that somehow it doesn't matter because
> it didn't get on you, begs the issue. Stop doing that. It only makes it
> seem as though you're reluctant to get any of it on yourself.
> Oh, I'm plenty willing to get neck-deep in it - but I attach numerous con-
> ditions as part of the deal. No way am I going to be forced to bear the
> burdens of sins committed by others, or previous generations, or those who
> share some trivial and/or irrelevant characteristic with me.

That's fine. If you're willing to allow that there might be ways in
which you contribute to erosion of the path up and out of the cesspool
just by clambering up on it, that's enough.

>rh> On other issues, I suspect that you do keep an eye on yourself. On the
> issue of racism, I suspect that you don't--because as a white person, it
> hasn't been a necessity for you. What I actually suspect is that you
> wouldn't know what to watch for in the first place.
> So what do I watch for?

Well, adopting the habit looking back to see if the condition of the
path is any better or worse for your passing would be a start.
Listening to the people behind you on the path, who are still wallowing
in it, regardless of how they got there, would be a help. Reaching
back to pull someone else along would be an even better help. Some of
them may well be whiners. Some may have legitimate gripes. Some of
those gripes might turn out to be legitimately directed at you for
wearing down the path. But if you close your ears, you won't know it.

> ... What if
> I treat everyone identically, at least insofar as race/gender/&c is concern-
> ed?

To the extent that you can, you should. To the extent that you might
be discriminating without noticing it, it's probably a good idea to
check. Isn't it Ayn Rand who admonishes us to check our premises?
Well, the assumption that you do treat people equally a pretty large
one, given that you also feel that you can determine who is and who
isn't worthy of help, or of being called a human being.

> ... I'm into destroying those hills via individualism.

Well, that may well work for you. But can you honestly say that you
can generalize from a sample size of one? Other people may need
other methods.

>rh> What's the difference between a murderer and a soldier who kills "the
> enmey?" This is an important distinction if you say that you can distin-
> guish between people based on what they do.
> ... However, for those times in which war is unavoidable, I
> say the side whose cause is wrong has the murderers, the other side, the
> soldiers.

What about when both sides are in the wrong, or when both sides
believe themselves to be right? Identifying the "bad guys" by
conduct alone can lead to tragic mistakes in judgement. It's like
trying to decide between the Hatfields and McCoys, and blaming all
the Hatfields or blaming all the McCoys. When atrocities are
committed by any side, the legitimacy of that side's claim to "self
defense" as a justification for continued combat is weakened. But how
can you conduct a war without atrocities? Is a soldier who, under
the stress of battle, "goes off" on an innocent civilian really a
murderer? Is he not? I honestly don't know.

Don't get me wrong. I don't condone violent conduct except in
self-defense against a clear and present threat of violent harm. When
you start talking about collectivities like "nations," however, I find
the rationale for violence in "self-defense," the only rationale I
accept, gets weaker as a function of relative size and distance with
respect to "the enemy."

The point is, I can't discriminate between who is human and who isn't.
If a person is in a human body, they're human. And no matter how much
I might loathe their conduct, I cannot deny that they are part of the
human race. I have to regard them as human, and while it may be
necessary to put a stop to their conduct, that does not make them
inhuman. Demonizing white males does no good, as you point out. But
neither does demonizing anyone else--once the imminent danger has
passed. Are white men still a danger to minorities? I don't know.
But if they're still seen that way, that might explain the inflammatory
rhetoric directed at them.

I've pretty-much said my peace on this. If there's any questions you
have left for me, I'll try to answer. But I think my position is
clear. If there's any part of it that makes sense to you, great. If
not, it's sure been an interesting and lively debate!