Sympathy is Not Respect

Sympathy is often conflated with respect. This insight popped into my head during a conversation with a friend. What do I mean by this? It’s difficult to articulate, but I will try. Most folks I know have a relative or two who frequently uses guilt trips to get what they want. If, for instance, you got caught behind a bad traffic accident, and were a few minutes late meeting one someplace, he would be offended by it. He might say “you don’t care about me” rather than merely inquire as to why you were late. The idea is to elicit a sense of guilt, and then a corresponding sense of sympathy for him as the victim of your mistake. You’re a bad person for not doing what he wants. You should try to be a good person by obedience. It’s kind of like a weird form of Pavlovian conditioning. He controls your behavior through conditioning.

Such people are deeply unpleasant to be around. Always, they are on the lookout for ways to be offended, to take things personally, and bludgeon you with guilt in an attempt to elicit your sympathy. Some will even burden you with their other problems, completely unrelated to you, in the sense that they will complain about things in an effort to make you feel sorry for them, and then use that to get things from you. If you deny them their requests, the guilt trip will be applied. “You don’t want to help me? You don’t care about me!” They always portray themselves as victims. They rarely take responsibility for anything, but demand that you take responsibility even for those things you have not done.

It is as if they have conflated sympathy with respect, and strive for the former over the latter without really realizing it. They do not understand that you can feel sorry for someone you do not respect, and you can respect someone you don’t feel sorry for. Since they crave your sympathy, they are on constant lookout for ways to obtain it. Such a man can deliberately take your words out of context in order to cast himself as the victim. He can deliberately misinterpret your gestures, ignore context, dispose of nuance. He can even mishear what you say completely, or make something up. A common method of the latter is to say something like “well, someone told me that you said X, how could you?” Naturally, this is done without inquiring whether or not you actually said X. Sometimes the statements are completely fictitious, in that no one even told them anything of the sort, but it is useful to solicit sympathy by making the claim anyway.

Of course, in order to get back into the good graces of a person like this, you must prove your worthiness. This can be done by doing what they want you to do, by giving them things, by obeying their every whim. Such a person might ask you to denounce people he doesn’t like, even if those people are close to you. You may be required to buy things, give them money, or do work for them. It may be more emotional nature, where you have to constantly manage his own feelings, such that he can outsource responsibility for his own emotional state to you. The price for that person not treating you as if you were a bad, hateful person has a tendency to rise. Eventually your whole life must revolve around him, or else you don’t care. And you want to care, don’t you?

Does this sound like a good many political activists these days?

Weaponized empathy works much the same way, just on a much larger scale. Groups of people can burden you with their failings and blame you for them, then demand that you take action or you don’t like them, you nasty racist you. You’re a bad person for not doing what they want. The price similarly has a tendency to constantly rise. Today X is demanded. Tomorrow X, but also Y.

The real goal of such people is power over you. Power to make you do what they want, to be made to obey. And they use your own desire to be seen as a good, caring person to do this. Guilt only works on someone who is not a sociopath. But guilt is an effective weapon for a sociopath to deploy on others. Such people find sympathy more useful than respect, perhaps. Of course, you don’t have to be a sociopath to use it. For some, I suspect, it is confusion which drives this behavior.

Such confusion may begin in our education system, which has been infected by victim politics for as long as I can remember. The sanctity of the victim is absolute with them. Is it any wonder people can so readily confuse sympathy and respect? Too many people want to be victims, thinking that sympathy will grant them power that has been denied them otherwise. In this they are correct for the nonce, given our political climate, but in accepting this, they have thrown out legitimate relationships with people built on respect. Again, it is very possible to feel sorry for someone and to still lack any real respect for them. Respect is more enduring the sympathy.

Consider the racial animus present in today’s political environment. Many others feel some sympathy for the historical wrongs perpetrated upon American blacks. They may wish to help them. But when demands are made upon wallets, and when not acceding to these demands is declared prima facie evidence of racism, good will is extinguished. The possibility of earning respect is lost. Sympathy may still be forced by peer pressure, but genuine sympathy is replaced with grudging reluctance forced upon others at metaphorical gunpoint. This grudging reluctance is then declared further evidence of racism. It all spirals out of control.

With the possibility of mutual respect taken off the table, all options become progressively worse.

The use of weaponized empathy may rip this country apart. It is extraordinarily divisive. It makes people hostile and defensive. And for good reason. After all, if you have a relative who does this to you frequently, do you really want to hang out with him? Do you really enjoy his company? Do you respect him? Clearly he does not respect you, if he blames you for things you didn’t do, and demands that you right wrongs you have not committed. The terribly irony of it all is that if he didn’t make demands upon you, you might very well offer to help him right the wrongs of your own free will, regardless of who was at fault for them. You might possess both sympathy and respect for him. And that could become the basis for a real relationship. But his attempt to make himself out to be the victim, and his assumption that you must pay the penance for being a victimizer, destroys any potential goodwill.

This problem is everywhere in modern America. It crosses lines of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and a thousand other such things. And at some point – probably in the near future – the demand for sympathy will come up dry, such that not even peer pressure and a metaphorical gun held to your head will be sufficient to compel it. Only the literal variety of gun will be work then, and that is when it will descend into pure madness. Weaponized empathy is a sociopolitical weapon of mass destruction. It almost assuredly will result in the deployment of something equally nasty. It needs to be put away before it is too late.

But I have no expectation that it will. After all, “victims” want their sympathy, and the power it brings them. That there is a price for this hasn’t really occurred to them yet. And by the time it does, it will likely be too late.

Using the Truth to Lie

Picture in your mind a political debate between acquaintances, perhaps on social media, or in meatspace. You make your point, your opponent makes his. Demands for evidence are made. Your opponent cites a media piece. Perhaps an article on CNN, or a reference to a study on The Atlantic. The onus is on you to prove that the item is now incorrect. Yet you cannot do so, for the citations within it are true, even though the spin has rendered it into something it really is not. How do you articulate that?

Consider this CNN headline: Children found in New Mexico compound were training for school shootings, prosecutors say.

What is wrong with it? The headline is true. The children were indeed in a compound in New Mexico, and were indeed training to commit school shootings. Ah, but it omits that this was linked to Islamic terror. Now the article itself sort-of admits this in the last section of the article.

Hogrefe said FBI analysts told him the suspects appeared to be “extremist of the Muslim belief.”

Compare this to how the same event is reported on Fox News: Investigators raided New Mexico compound on tip from terror-tied New York City imam, cleric claims.

Note the difference in spin. One emphasizes ‘school shootings’ and the other ‘terror-tied’ and ‘imam’. This is how the tone of a thing is subtly changed, depending on the journalist’s preferred viewpoint. Of course, aside from Fox News, most media outlets are Left-leaning. So the spin is much more weighted toward the Left, and furthermore Fox News is usually casually dismissed by any Leftist. It is, in essence, banned from the court of polite opinion. And yet, both articles are fundamentally true.

I’ve been on a Tolkien kick of late, for which I blame my friend Francis. And so I caught the connection quite readily when I read the above headlines:

The Stones of Seeing do not lie, and not even the Lord of Barad-dûr can make them do so. He can, maybe, by his will choose what things shall be seen by weaker minds, or cause them to mistake the meaning of what they see. Nonetheless it cannot be doubted that when Denethor saw great forces arrayed against him in Mordor, and more still being gathered, he saw that which truly is.

Denethor was shown nothing but truth by the palantir. It could not be made to lie to him. But Sauron could spin what was shown, and cause Denethor to mistake the meaning of the things he saw. This tactic is readily employed by the media, and in the past it has been extremely effective. The journalist, if confronted on his spin, could escape with the excuse “but everything I have said is true!” We know there is a wrong here, we can sense it, but to prove it unequivocally is difficult, and essentially impossible if the instances are few enough.

Over time, with many such incidences, we can begin to notice the pattern. The old saying “if every bank error is in the bank’s favor, get a new bank” applies here. If every coin toss is in Hillary’s favor, get a new coin tosser. If every media article from your chosen outlet slants Left, get a new outlet. Note, too, that whenever an election is close and we have to start digging for uncounted ballots, the count always favors the Democrat. This is happening right now in Ohio. But it likewise happened in my home state of Florida in 2000. Every time a pile of uncounted votes was discovered, it invariably favored the Democrat.

And they have the temerity to accuse us of election fraud.

We are told to ignore the evidence of our eyes and ears, that we are being paranoid, perhaps. Or conspiracy-minded. Yet, every bank error is favoring the bank. Why is that? Has Sauron hijacked the palantir? I should think the answer is obvious to my readers by now. The question is what to do about it? Denethor made the mistake of thinking he could control it, that he could bend it to his will. The effort drove him insane.

So how does one deal with that debate, where links to CNN are lobbed out like candy on Halloween? The short answer may be to do as they do when they dismiss Fox News. Your source is extremely Leftist, go away. This, however, contains a weakness. The spin, the rot, has infected academia as well. So many of the academic sources for information are similarly contaminated, though again they may be perfectly true in the sense I’ve described above. The real answer, though anything but short and simple, may be to go find the information out for ourselves; to document it and record it ourselves.

In other words, we may have to give up the expedient of looking into the palantir, and just find the answers on our own, the hard way.

Hypersensitivity and Race

The other day, I was talking with a good friend about hypersensitivity to racism, and other forms of discrimination. And just last weekend I had a similar conversation with my father-in-law while we were driving back from a funeral. Those events, combined with reading this piece of drivel, which appeared on my wall this afternoon, inspired this post.

Drew Habersang, the author of that screed, had a rather long story to tell about what was, in essence, a friend of his using an ethnic slur (I’m sure you can guess the one from the title) in his presence. Note the slur in question wasn’t directed at him, or about him, or, in fact, directed at much of anything in particular. It was used as a stand-in for a generic curse along the lines of “fucking shit” or “damnit asshole” during a tabletop game. If you’ve ever played a particularly rousing game of Monopoly, you’ve probably heard worse.

Now, before I tear this apart, let’s discuss an old tradition in my household, to which my close friends can attest: smoking cigars, drinking whiskey, and making tasteless jokes on my front porch. This wasn’t consciously started, except to say that my wife generally loathes the smell of cigars and has banished them to the front porch. So when I have friends over, I invariably go to smoke a cigar, and hand out stogies to anyone else who wants one. Soon, all the men are on the front porch while the women do… well, whatever women do during small social gatherings. I presume it is something intensely boring. But whatever.

Now, a bottle of whiskey is a prerequisite for cigar-smoking, in this blogger’s opinion. So that enters the mix, also. When you mix smoking, drinking, and several dudes bullshitting about random topics, you are sure to get something roughly similar on your front porch, I imagine. We insult one another in jest, and the insults are almost always ethnic and/or religious in nature. One friend of mine is of Irish ancestry, so the drunkard jokes write themselves. I have some Armenian in me, and so comparisons to Kim Kardashian’s rather… large assets are common. Certainly the jokes about cheapness abound, too. But no demographic group is spared the treatment. You will hear Polack jokes, Asian jokes, French jokes… and so on.

Well, except for one. For many such gatherings, there are two groups that are off limits: blacks and Jews. As it so happens, I have many Jewish friends. A great many, actually. So in my circles, Jewish jokes are generally permissible in the spirit of things – for they will rag on my ancestry with equal gusto. But those are still somewhat touchy in a way say, Italian jokes generally are not. Black jokes, of course, remain completely off limits. And judging from the reaction of Drew, the author of the aforementioned drivel, it is well that they remain off limits. This has all the hallmarks of a powder keg waiting to explode.

So why is this? Francis opined on it a few days ago. And full disclaimer (for again, this is a touchy subject, and I’m sure my readers can feel this almost instinctively), Francis is married to a Jewish woman and is a vociferous and frequent opponent of anti-Semitism. So let the hairs on your back settle back down, if you please. If they did go up, though, file that away for later in this post. You’ll need the observation.

There is a hypersensitivity at work here. A heightened and overactive threat-detection mechanism, perhaps. Whatever the mechanics of the thing, it is understandable. Jews did indeed suffer mightily in history, and are watchful for a future pogrom. Blacks did indeed suffer slavery and segregation.

And yet, this hypersensitivity is absolute and complete social poison.

Read that again, please. This is a poison pill. When you read Drew’s piece, you will notice how everything is colored through the lens of racism. He literally cannot see anything without suspecting secret racism behind it. And, furthermore, I have no doubt his friends are fully cognizant of this. They, not wishing to anger him or appear racist themselves (who does?), almost assuredly feel a constant social pressure to micromanage their words, gestures, and behavior around their friend. This, in turn, makes interacting with him less pleasant. This becomes self-reinforcing. Drew detects his friends act different about him, which fuels an assumption that the difference is due to racism, which in turn is detected by the friends, who now act even more different in an effort to avoid this very thing.

Everybody gets caught in a spiral of stupidity that no one can escape from.

All until somebody, in the heat of the moment, not thinking, breaks out a slur. Whether driven by bad luck, too much to drink, or some other mechanism, the micromanagement of offense is broken. And not even knowing how to handle this, the relationship of the man and his friends entirely breaks down, requiring him to write a letter to his friend, and considering abandoning the friendship altogether.

See how this works? Drew, like many American blacks, has a wall between him and the rest of us. Piercing that wall takes extra effort. He may even be entirely justified in how he arrived at the notion that the wall was necessary, just as a Jewish person is quite justified in worrying about pogroms and other such things, given the course of history.

However justified, though, the hypersensitivity works against healing and normalization of relations. It poisons relationships.

One thing I’ve noticed in the offensive front porch cigar conversations is that, despite a prolific use of extremely offensive things, everybody is closer together! There is no stepping on eggshells. My Jewish friend can call me a fat-assed Armenian, I can reply with a joke about cheapness, then I can turn around and say to my Irish friend, “damnit, we’re out of whiskey, who invited the Irishman?” Everybody laughs, has another round of drinks, and talks about some other thing. There is no micromanagement of behavior, no walking on eggshells.

If an SJW stuck a microphone on my front porch, he would die of apoplexy.

I don’t know how we solve this problem, or if it even can be solved. The story my father-in-law told me goes something like this. A dwarf he knew was working with a black woman, and the black woman called the dwarf a ‘midget’. The dwarf was angry at this, and the black woman was confused. She asked what she should call him, what the correct term was. Was it dwarf? Little person? And she asked why midget was so offensive to him in the first place.

The dwarf explained that calling him a midget would be like calling her a nigger. She immediately blew up at him. How dare he call her that! He explained that he did NOT call her that. He merely explained that the word ‘midget’ offended him in the same way. But like the incident in Drew’s screed, the context of the word didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t directed at her, that it was a mere explanation, that no offense was intended toward her. The word was uttered. The genie could not be put back in the bottle.

But it was likewise for the dwarf who was offended by her use of ‘midget’ when she intended no offense by it.

It is similar for some Jews finding out that the Pope Emeritus had said something that someone else had interpreted as anti-Semitic (it turns out it wasn’t anti-Semitic at all). No offense was intended, and it was pretty clear that was the case, but that did not matter. It felt wrong. The fact is, words are a mechanism for communication. You cannot divorce the word from the intent of the speaker, because the word is a mechanism for conveying intent.

I started to think if I suffered this condition myself. And truth is, I probably do. When the aforementioned Irish friend makes an Armenian joke, or an English joke, I laugh. But would I laugh as much if a Turk made that joke? Fortunately that’s a rare enough event that this has never been put to the test yet, but I hope I could take it. Still, how many such tripwires are in all of us? It would be best if we disarmed them, instead of erecting new ones as is the modern fashion.

I started thinking about how this goes in relation to the new darling of The New York Times: Sarah Jeong, and her tweets about white people. What’s the difference between her saying these things and my friends and I making fun of one another? Intent. Sarah doesn’t like white people, she makes it clear that it is her intention to insult them. She means it as an insult, not an off-color joke. Yet various media outlets have come to her defense to excuse her behavior. Ironically, the headline of that article is about not coming to her defense, and yet the author does so with gusto. The excuse given is that she was imitating someone else’s behavior. Again, what was the intent?

If Sarah was on my front porch, smoking a cigar, and made a Polack joke, it’d be funny. Read her tweets, though. Is there an undercurrent of good humor here, or an excuse made for bad intent?

We’re all becoming hypersensitive to matters of race, religion, etc… we have created minefields in our society, such that we have long divorced intent from perceived offense. Americans are looking for ways to be offended, or at least enough of us are. Once offended, one is granted a license to act as Sarah did (presuming one has the correct ethnicity, religion, or what have you), trash people with bad intent and get away with it. Many people covet this license greatly. They are permitted to be deliberately insulting assholes, and get treated as heroes for acting so.

I don’t know that Drew is this way. Actually, if anything, I sense a little bit of hope for him. I don’t know why precisely, but I get a vague sense that he is at least generally aware of how his hypersensitivity is coloring his viewpoint. It doesn’t change his behavior any, but realization is worth something, at least. Sarah Jeong, of course, is entirely unrepentant. She quite likes using her ‘I get to hate white men’ license to great effect.

However, the hypersensitivity is not just present in the traditionally “oppressed” classes (really, no one is oppressed in a First-world country, but whatever). It is also present in those of us who try to tiptoe around offense minefields. My friends and I are probably never closer together than when we’re saying things that would horrify SJWs. I think, once upon a time, Americans kind of bonded this way. Even, paradoxically, with historical immigrant groups. Italians and Irish, Polish and Jewish, etc… I suspect the ribbing went this way with all of them, and served to blend the new group with the old, eventually. It diffused actual inter-ethnic tensions, which are a matter of historical record. People used to loathe Irishman. Now nobody gives a shit. Why is that? It was actually an integration mechanism; a way to break down tribal barriers and meld into one people.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Gran Torino, you may have some idea of what I mean by this.

Yes, I know, for many groups it will be difficult to let go of the hypersensitivity, to let it rest. But before you write it off as impossible, remember Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor who was experimented upon, who nonetheless was able to forgive one of her captors, shake his hand, and put the matter to rest. If that can be done… what excuse does a man like Drew really have? How can Sarah act as she does when she has suffered comparatively little?

Christianity is centered around forgiveness, and beyond the spiritual reasons for why this is good, there’s a practical one too: it can break down this wall of hypersensitivity to perceived offense, this lurking notion that harm is still intended, when it is not.

As a corollary, it may also expose the genuinely hateful people for who they really are. Deprived of her Marxist license to hate, Sarah Jeong would be outed as the disgusting individual she really is. And there are many more like her who, likewise, would be seen as such.

And then you too can enjoy a rousing discussion of bad jokes on your own front porch, fueled by cigars, whiskey, or whatever vices float your boat. And maybe then, men like Drew can actually enjoy being around their friends.

It’s probably all wishful thinking. The market for racism has never been better. The advantages the license to hate confers upon its wielder are tremendous. But if we don’t put a stop to this behavior, it will tear our country apart, and then we’re all pretty much screwed.

Purity Spirals Into Evil

Today, I wish to discuss something that’s been on my mind off and on for a very long time. Pardon me if I stumble around it, for sometimes it is difficult to put a concept into words. I’ve discussed it on The Declination on more than one occasion, though perhaps clumsily. Nonetheless, I suspect it will be of vital importance in the days to come.

Leftists often compare Rightists to Nazis. It’s beyond cliche, these days. It is tiresome and it hinges on the most flimsy of rationalizations. Yet it begs the question: how do you know if you are becoming a tyrant? How do you know if your ideology has slid into evil?

Surely, even Nazis were once children, cared for and loved by someone. No doubt their parents had hopes for at least some of them. Dreams for them. As Tolkien explained for us in The Lord of the Rings, nothing is evil in the beginning. Not even Sauron himself. So how did they become evil? What led them there?

If you analyze tyrannical ideologies and the sort of mass mob insanity behind them, you will see a common thread: purity. Nazis obsessed over purity of race. Stalinists obsessed over purity of political beliefs. Jihadists obsess over purity of religious belief. But purity is always there. And purity can twist good into evil, or render a lesser evil into a far greater evil.

What is purity? The dictionary tells us that it is “freedom from adulteration or contamination.” For our purposes, we may use the synonym ‘perfection’ with some utility. The point of purity is to identify impurities and eradicate them. The Nazi will eradicate the racially impure, the Communist will eradicate the impure Capitalists, and so on.

The utility of quests for purity to a tyrant should be obvious. For what is more impure than man? A quest for purity is carte blanche for never ending power over others. Progressivism itself admits this even in the content of its own name. Progress toward what? Purity. Progress toward the perfect society, in which poverty, disease, war, and a thousand other such ills have been eradicated.

Never will you hear the Progressive say “this is good enough, we can stop now.” For them, there is always a new impurity to eradicate. The movement is like the terminator of movie fame:

Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Social Justice is like the terminator in other ways, too. It cloaks itself as one of us. It wears the skin of our institutions in an effort to disguise itself. But always, its mission is to eradicate us. We are the impure. We cannot be permitted to exist.

And when a round of impure are disposed of, new impure are found. Today, it is Rightists. Tomorrow, Centrists. The day after that, Trotskyite Leftists. The terminator never stops. Ever-greater demands of purity are made. Like the Third Reich, the gas chambers never stop. The ash falls from the skies, forever. At least until someone puts a stop to it all at gunpoint.

Purity spirals work so well because fault can always be found with man. Every single human being in the history of our species, save one, has done wrong; has sinned. We all deserve death. That is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. It is also true even if you are the most ardent of atheists. Man is imperfect. And so it will ever be.

Yet, is it the SJW’s responsibility to act as the judge, jury, and executioner? Shall the Nazi do it? Shall the Stalinist? The Jihadist? Not only is there no one among us who could ever make demands of purity upon us, these cretins are the worst of the worst, the most evil among us. And it is they who always lead the charge to purity. The nuts are running the nuthouse.

Rationalizations always exist for why we are bad people. Why we should be punished, why we should give up everything, why we shouldn’t even exist. ALWAYS. Here we are, in America, the most prosperous nation to have ever existed in the history of our species. This is a place where starvation is virtually unknown. Where even the poorest among us possess wonders. And yet our debate constantly shifts toward America as an unjust nation that loves reducing its citizens to poverty, as if we were like Somalia or Haiti. Similar arguments are made for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc…

There are some poor people in America (though they do better here than in most places), thus we are impure. And in the minds of the purity-seekers, this means there is no fundamental difference between us and Haiti. Disagree? You want to push granny off a cliff, you Nazi! Ironic, I think, that the Left names us the Nazis when the modern purity-seekers are almost invariably Leftists.

Purity spirals are how evil manifests itself in its most concentrated human form. It is where humans go collectively insane, where they can rationalize the most hateful and destructive things. When the SJW says that you are a racist for X, he is almost always saying you are impure. They even police their own, thusly. They are always on the lookout for manifestations of impurity even among their own. They are political cannibals, as purists necessarily must be.

Had the Third Reich been permitted to continue, it would have invariably turned its genocidal hatred upon its own, sooner or later. Indeed, we saw signs of this even during its short life. Just as the Soviet Communists ate their own, and the Maoists, and the Jihadists killing other Muslims… this is always how it goes.

The terrifying aspect of it is that before purity-seekers consume themselves in an orgy of hatred and death, they bring us down with them. At least, if they are not stopped first.

That’s what our conflict is all about, underneath it all. Purity, and those who use purity as an excuse for tyranny. Far from being the good guys, they are the most evil among us (though we all have at least some evil in us). Far from being those who will usher in an age of peace, love, and tolerance, they are those who will usher in an age of death, war, hatred, and intolerance.

It is always this way with them. When they call you a Nazi, remember that though they have little or no political connection with them, their underlying drive for purity means that, of all modern political ideologies, they (and perhaps the Jihadists) most closely resemble the behavior patterns of Nazis. For all of them are, like the Nazis and Stalinists before them, seekers of power through purity spirals.

Idiot of the Week: White People Have No Culture

Self-loathing white people are some of the most disturbing people to have ever drawn breath. Drama queens might be the best way to describe them, for they obsess endlessly about things they haven’t done, they elevate petty problems to the world stage and bury major ones behind a veneer of political correctness. A white kid wearing dreadlocks is the end of the world. But recognizing that ISIS lobs gay people off of buildings for amusement is probably racism (even though, paradoxically, Islam is not a race). Sanctimony is their religion, Social Justice their crusade, and endless self-hatred their spiritual diet.

Here’s a window into the insane mind of one of these cretins: White People Have No Culture. And it cries out in the darkness of colossal ignorance for a proper fisking. Let us begin our descent past an event horizon of stupidity, a singularity of dedicated ignorance…

I traveled to Standing Rock in November of 2016 with my friend, hauling over 5000 dollars worth of winter tents, clothing, food, and gear. My full time job allowed me to stay barely a week, and my ego, mixed with a hefty dose of white savior mentality, convinced me that my training as an EMT, and my lifetime of experience with direct action and social justice, would make me useful. Fast forward 5 days, and I was crying in the driver’s seat of my car, while my amazing friend listened quietly as I grieved for something I didn’t know I had ever lost.

First of all, our intrepid SJW makes sure to inform us that she was once possessed of the white savior mentality but, apparently, no longer possesses it. She is reformed, made more pure through the enlightenment of social justice, presumably. And then, after taking a vacation from her job, spends her time crying about it. This is Social Justice compressed into the most simplistic and yet still-accurate analogy I can think of: it is distilled, purified, bad-feels. If you want to have a bad time, if you want to feel like shit and cry after taking a vacation, by all means, have yourself a helping of Social Justice.

Standing Rock is an incredible place. An indigenous led prayer ceremony, populated by resistance movements from every corner of the globe, many of them bound to each other by shared and distinct traditions of dance, song, storytelling, and way of being in the physical world. Like any indigenous and overwhelmingly powerful place, white people had decided to take it. White people, like me, were arriving to SR in droves, some of us even dressed like it was Burning Man, forcing our way to seats right next to the sacred fire, putting our pasty faces too close to elders and demanding that they teach us their culture, clumsily mimicking centuries old dance traditions, jostling for position in the lines for free food, taking up so much space that the medicine tent had to be guarded 24/7, and young Dakota men were placing themselves in front of elders to protect them from the onslaught of questions and poking and consumption an demands for emotional labor and reliving centuries of trauma. By the time we arrived, SR elder organizers had begun holding twice a day orientations, where each of these things was addressed, and indigenous folks were demanding that white people stop colonizing their space. Yes, colonizing their space.

Fun fact: I didn’t colonize their space. Neither, I suspect, did any of my readers. I don’t stay up late at night worrying about the rituals of others, or figuring out ways to justify crashing their party. Social Justice Warriors do this all the time. They’ll push aside the very people they claim to cherish in an effort to seek out media attention, or some such thing. Look, if you want to go to some sacred event, and the practitioners are okay with you doing it, by all means, have a good time. It’s not my barrel of monkeys, mind you, but you do you. But here’s a hint… if you feel like crying in your car and writing articles about how people like you suck after you attend the event, you did not have a good time. So maybe, I dunno… do something else next time you get a week off from work? And here’s a bonus: you won’t be colonizing their space. I mean, I hardly even know what that means – SJW parlance is a strange and foreign language – but you can’t do it if you don’t go, I presume.

“White people have no culture.”

This is partially true. It is also untrue. This statement is a form of denial, and also a source of grief.

White people do have culture. Our culture is that of colonization. Of genocide. Of taking. Of envy and of fear. The majority of white people can name no more than two generations back in their families. The majority of white people barely know where their grandparents were from, much less who their ancestors were.

Okay, cupcake, I’m going to stop you right there. I can name generations of my family going back to the 12th century. I know where my family came from, what they were about, and have some idea of the kinds of people they were. My father’s family descends from the British Raleigh family (yes, that Raleigh family), and has been lurking around the Virginia area since the 1600s, living on the old land grants all the way until the time of the Civil War. We’re distantly related to Thomas Jefferson, and the Randolph family as well. We were tied in to many of the First Families of Virginia. My mother’s family traces back to Armenia, where they escaped the genocide and fled to America. I still have my great-grandfather’s naturalization certificate and some of his effects. I know that my great-grandmother came from the Trebizond area, and probably had some Greek in her, too. My great-grandfather, on the other hand, came from a family that lived in Cilician Armenia since Byzantine times. Of course, no Armenians live there anymore – all who stayed were exterminated. There are many other family stories I could share, but this post would get extremely long. In the South, most of us take special pride in our family trees, though. It is, dare I say, a cultural thing.

So speak for yourself. That your family is so dysfunctional you have no connection to your roots doesn’t mean it is that way for all of us, or even most of us.

The majority of white people have no traditions, and the ones we have, are rooted in consumption and the superficial application of organized religion, both of which are steeped in histories of violence. Christmas is about a severed tree dropping dead needles on heaps of plastic crap, grinding the gears of our capitalist economy, a formerly pagan ritual that has been bastardized and twisted into a stressful display of wealth and excess. Easter is about disposable plastic balls full of processed sugar, many of which are left for years to mar the sterilized landscapes and rigidly decorated city parks and backyards. Valentine’s Day was created exclusively by the greeting card industry to make you spend money on disappointing gifts and unhealthy treats for your unsatisfied monogamous partner. Independence Day is a too long period of time where daily explosions and worshipping of war trigger people and animals with PTSD, and create an alarming amount of pollution, maimed limbs, and death. Thanksgiving? Don’t even start.

Let’s analyze a few of these points. Christmas, they say, incorporates elements of pagan beliefs. There is some truth to this. As Christianity swept the late Roman Empire, people who converted often kept some of their preexisting traditions, where those traditions did not conflict with Christian belief. The same happened when Christianity spread to the Germanic peoples and the Slavic peoples. So this wasn’t a case of white people having no traditions, it was a case of white people practicing cultural syncretism, deciding to keep some preexisting traditions when they converted to Christianity.

The author then complains about superficial consumerism invading these holidays. This is true, to a point. There are those people who have forgotten the cultural origins of these things, Easter in particular. But again, the author is assuming it is this way for white people in general, and not merely this way for her. My friend Francis is quite a sincere Catholic, I am sure if you told him that Easter was about sugar and plastic eggs, he would be quite confused by the idea.

I’m not even going to go into Independence Day as a worshiping of war, maimed limbs, and death. The idea that fireworks ought to be banned has been discussed to death elsewhere. The author definitely exaggerates her points for dramatic effect, though.

The closest thing white people have to culture is our disturbingly fanatical obsession with sports, which we use to justify things like property destruction, vitriolic hatred for people we don’t know, and even accidental deaths. These are the same things that we justify with our constant military assault on developing and impoverished communities, at home and abroad.

Lolwut? What does enjoying sports have to do with property destruction, or vitriolic hatred for people we don’t know? The author then tries to make this a military issue? She’s delusional, or on some very interesting drugs.

Which brings me to my main point: The culture of white people is the culture of death. It is a culture of endless war, desensitization to human suffering, and the upholding of a brutal individualism fueled by greed. It is a deep, dark hole of grief and of loss. We don’t even know what we lost. We don’t know our ancestors. We don’t have stories of creation and hope and family; only stories of destruction and genocide. Our coming of age ceremony is a school shooting. Our song is a ballad about rockets and explosions. Our elders die alone surrounded by their stories of family members who no longer visit them. Our cities were built by the blood of slaves, on top of the graves of native people.

For a moment, I almost felt sorry for the author. While I generally feel quite secure in the knowledge of where I come from, who I am, and the history and culture of my ancestors, she clearly does not feel this. I could discuss this topic for hours. Today’s modern urbanite “cosmopolitans” have only the most superficial understanding of culture and history. The author knows that her knowledge of “indigenous” culture and history is woefully lacking, but she doesn’t stop to consider the possibility that her understanding of European cultures and history is similarly lacking. Imagine standing beneath the Hagia Sophia and saying “white people have no culture.” Imagine walking into the Pantheon in Rome and suggesting that white people have no understanding of their history.

Some years ago, I took a trip to Europe with my wife. We visited some friends in Cologne, and then explored much of the surrounding area, including Aachen, where I took a tour of the Palatine Chapel – Charlemagne’s old church, partially decorated in Byzantine style. There is a throne there with stones sourced from Jerusalem, it is said, and upon which many of the Holy Roman Emperors sat. That evening, we headed back to Cologne and found ourselves stopping for a quick bite to eat. By the bathrooms in this restaurant there was some ancient Roman ruin, a stone which had once marked the center of their coliseum, upon which the cleaning lady had set all of her cleaning supplies. This was strange to American sensibilities. People walked by it without noticing, the cleaning lady couldn’t have cared less that it existed. But over there, many things are thousands of years old.

I’ve often noted that the “cosmopolitans” who claim to love all cultures are really more like cultural tourists. And in a moment of guilt, they look in the mirror and realize how much they don’t understand – but the admission is brief and fleeting. It is an SJW crying in her car, blaming everyone who looks like her – perhaps thinking that she can push off some of the weight of her guilty feelings by diffusing it across “white people” instead of just herself.

And remember, too, that “white people” implies unity where none exists. There is no unified “white people” culture, to which all adhere. Spaniards practice something different than English, who are different than Icelanders, and so on. If the author is looking for a white monoculture, she is bound to be disappointed. That is a fool’s quest to begin with.

“Violence pervades this culture. Americans not only engage in violence, they are entertained by it. Killing takes place in America more often than the Sun rises, currently at an average of 87 times each day. Going to war in Afghanistan is less dangerous than living in Chicago.

At this point, I feel I should point out that Chicago is run by Leftist cosmopolitans. Her people, not mine. If there is a culture encouraging violence of this sort, it comes from the Left.

Romans went to the Coliseum to watch people being killed. In major cities, Americans just look out their windows. Baseball, once America’s national game, a benign, soporific sport, has been replaced by football which is so violent it destroys the brains of those who play it. Violent films, euphemized as action flicks, dominate our motion picture theatres and television sets. Our children play killing video games.”

Baseball hasn’t been replaced. What kind of crack is this guy smoking? It is possible for someone to like baseball and football. Or, in my case, to have little affection for either sport (I prefer racing and hockey, personally – yes, the latter is heresy for a Southerner, but the former is well-respected enough). Also, while football does indeed lead to many injuries, the players are generously paid for the risks they take. How many people would take that money in exchange for a risk of personal injury? Violent movies are usually produced by Leftist Hollywood, and video games aren’t real. The idea that there is a connection between real-life violence and video games has been dunked more times than I can count.

We do not get to achieve enlightenment; we lost that privilege centuries ago. We buried it in graves on land upon which we were strangers. This loss is real, palpable, and painful. There is a profound level of fear inherent in white people and the way we desperately grasp that which is not ours. This hole cannot be filled by our self delusion, and it represents generations of isolation and grief. It is our own generational trauma that we carry with us and pass on to our children. It hurts, and we do not know how to assuage that pain.

There wouldn’t be a national trauma if these people would shut up. Also, if she feels he is living on stolen land, then she should leave. I’d be happy to pay for a ticket to somewhere else – anywhere else, really – provided it was one way.

So we take. We take the traditions, costumes, dances, songs, and agency of marginalized groups after we have decimated their populations and destroyed their homes, and we polish these items so the suffering cannot be seen. We take their words out of context, and we use them to make money and to fake solidarity. We take their circles and stories and we wash them with our whiteness, and we struggle to fit them into our bloody box. We take their lands, their trails, their mountains, their rocks, and we climb and walk on them, snatching frenzied glimpses of what we want to call connection, enlightenment, transcendence, and wondering why they slip through our grasp. So instead, we get high on endorphins and call that “good enough.”

The rocks, the mountains, the trails… these things have exchanged hands since men first set foot… anywhere, really. My grandfather used to speak of Mt. Ararat. This is sort of like the national symbol of Armenia. And it lies just over the border in Turkey. The Greeks lament the loss of Constantinople to this very day. The world is full of places that once belonged to one people, and now belong to another. Put another way, we all live on conquered land. So why is America uniquely singled out for this offense? Even among the indigenous peoples, this was true. Before the white man came, they fought wars, conquered, and took lands from one another. We can say this is wrong, that it’s a part of human nature that pretty much sucks ass. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t rewrite the firmware in the human brain that leads to this sort of thing. Above all, why is America singled out for this – and the actions of all others whitewashed away (pardon the pun)?

I imagine most SJWs would lament the Spanish Reconquista. Christians taking land from Muslims, they’d say, and damn those barbaric and evil Christians for doing that to the poor enlightened Muslims. Ah, but the Muslims took the land from the Christians seven centuries prior. So who has rights to it, in the social justice world? In their world, the rights are owned by whomever can best deploy Weaponized Empathy. Bombs, guns, swords, and bows… these have been replaced with weaponized guilt, at least for the time being. I imagine sooner or later, the guns and swords will make their appearances. SJWs are not ending conquest, colonization, and such things. They are encouraging more of it. They feel miserable, and seek out someone to put them out of their misery.

And I guess that wouldn’t bother me… if it wasn’t for the fact that we were living with them as neighbors.

We want to learn something about ourselves that we lost, and so we keep taking the tokens and lives of other communities. But that one doesn’t fit, so, you know…on to the next.

The cycle needs to stop. It is the responsibility of white people to face our history and to fight the culture we have created. Stop hiding behind the stories and tokens of other people, and be accountable for the brutal ways we have consolidated our power and privilege. Stop pretending like you can hike or climb or meditate your way out of this power dynamic. You are not enlightened. Let’s stop with the excuses. You are powerful, and it is time to own that and to use it to fight back against the culture of death and violence that has left us spiritually and morally bankrupt. Call out the bullshit when you see it, in yourself and in others. Stop colonizing the lives and land and stories of others. Stop perpetuating the culture of death, and instead fight for the living.

“You are powerful…” Yeah, no. Power these days is possessed by whomever shouts “I’m offended” the loudest. That may be changing, slowly, but the effort to climb that mountain is extraordinary. If you’re a straight white Christian male (or even a couple of those things) you are the devil. You must walk on eggshells every minute of every day. You never know where the next accusation of racism, sexism, Nazism, or some other such thing will come from. You don’t know if the accusation will cost you your job, your friends, your family. You can’t jump, you can’t dance, you’re square, you’re probably a loser (look at every TV commercial with a white man in it), and, like this SJW says, you are violent, evil, and have no culture. Everything bad in the world is your fault. Every political conversation is about how you suck. And if you do get past all this and achieve something anyway, you’re told that you had life on the easiest setting, and so should get no credit for any of it. Indeed, you should feel bad and give it all up for a ‘person of color.’

In the face of all this, I can kind of understand why some folks crack and wind up crying in the car, conflicted and self-loathing. Why they pen turds like this one. They hear this shit every day, and through sheer repetition, come to believe in it. They don’t have the anchor of family and history to keep them from being blown about, ideologically. The author herself admits this. Her mistake is believing that we are all like her, or that even most of us are. She conflates her personal shortcomings with societal shortcomings, her own superficial understanding of history with our understanding of the same. She believes that because she, personally, has no culture that none of us do.

To describe my own culture would take too much of my time. But if some SJW stumbles upon this post and wants to know where to begin, I recommend starting here:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

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