Seriously? April 18, 2008 8:31 AM   Subscribe


I think you forgot to put the link in.
posted by lilac girl at 8:32 AM on April 18, 2008


Oooh - performance art. I get it.
posted by item at 8:33 AM on April 18, 2008


????
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2008


Wow - that is certainly a shitty way to kick off a thread, even by three blind mice's standards.
posted by item at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2008


Seriously?
posted by Dave Faris at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2008


You fail MetaTalk
posted by burnmp3s at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2008


Well that's strange. Anyway, item found the comment in question.
posted by chunking express at 8:38 AM on April 18, 2008


That was a pretty lousy comment. It sure looks racist and neo-coloniophile to me. Still, there's the flag and move on option...
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on April 18, 2008


I fixed the link. We were talking about that thread this morning. It's really lousy when someone [or a few people] jump in to a thread early on with pretty over-the-top comments like that. By the time I saw it, a bunch of people had responded and it seemed like the thread was going okay so it seemed like a better idea to leave it in than to try to excise and ruin a decent discussion but man, yeah, really a weird thing to drop into a thread like that if you're not trying to kill discussion dead.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:41 AM on April 18, 2008


Racism, blah blah blah, Jared Diamond, blah blah blah.

The reason why Zim was a "success" at least initially was because Mugabe worked with the white land owners, whose farms at least powered the economy. Take away the capital, and you leave an economy without an engine.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:42 AM on April 18, 2008


seemed like the thread was going okay so it seemed like a better idea to leave it in than to try to excise and ruin a decent discussion

I agree.
posted by caddis at 8:43 AM on April 18, 2008


Yeah, I Mefied* him, asking for clarification in the thread. Until then I'm on the fence about whether it should be deleted. Even if he did mean what it sounds like, still on the fence, as it's good to know who has the fucked up opinions.


*"Mefimailed him" sounded awkward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on April 18, 2008


MeMailed him?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think that today I will try really really hard to stay out of this thread from here out, and the linked thread at all.

I will probably fail.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on April 18, 2008




yeah, failed already. frak me.
posted by rtha at 8:50 AM on April 18, 2008


Yeah, it was a pretty questionable start to the thread, but the thread seemed to have gotten its legs under it by the time we saw it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2008


  • In the United States, half of black men in their 20s are jobless.

  • Although blacks make up less than 15% of the US population, they commit over half of all murders.

  • Rhodesia was the "breadbasket" of Africa when white colonialists were in charge, but after Mugabe took over, and later gave white farms over to roving mobs, the country fell apart.

  • There are pharmaceuticals designed specifically for black people.


  • Am I racist? Is the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Justice Department, or the FDA racist? Does it make you feel better to think so?
    posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    MeMailed him?

    That make Mongo sound retarded.

    Ah hell, I'm just going with PMed.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2008


    I keep trying to interpret TBM's comment as a breezy opening joke - like his next comment should be, "What? Am I too racist for the room?"
    posted by Jofus at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2008


    The term "black majority" was taken directly from the post itself. TBM said that the majority came to power and did a crappy job running the country. I don't know enough about the history to say whether that's factually correct one way or the other, but I don't see how the assertion is racist.
    posted by brain_drain at 8:56 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Am I racist?
    Seems that way.
    posted by Abiezer at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2008 [19 favorites]


    Oh, and far from making me feel better, it's quite depressing. Shape up lad, it's the 21st century.
    posted by Abiezer at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2008


    Am I racist? Is the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Justice Department, or the FDA racist? Does it make you feel better to think so?

    If you're using those figures to say that all black people are like this because their race naturally makes them more criminal/diseased/inferior, the yes! You are racist! Congratulations!
    posted by rtha at 9:01 AM on April 18, 2008 [61 favorites]


    The Jesse Helms: Are you saying that the first three things are the case because the people involved are black? Because if you are, that's racist. Just as it appears that three blind mice is asserting that the government failed because it is black.

    For his comment to have the meaning brain_drain gives it, it would have been better expressed as "they fucked it up", meaning the particular set of people who came to power. Because he said "the black majority proved they couldn't do it", he's heavily implying that regardless of which set of black people came to power, they would have fucked it up.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:03 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    TBM said that the majority came to power and did a crappy job running the country. ....I don't see how the assertion is racist.

    When a person highlights that the majority is of a particular race and then proceeds to essentially say "that race has shown the world they can't take care of themselves", it's not surprising that the statement is seen as racist.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    Am I racist?

    Oh, I know! Yes.
    posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:05 AM on April 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


    posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:51 AM on April 18 [+] [!]

    Disquieting, yet, eponysterical.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 AM on April 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


    I didn't read it as "blacks can't take care of themselves," but rather "the majority that came to power in Zimbabwe can't take care of themselves." But I can see how others read it differently, so I'll let TBM defend him/herself.
    posted by brain_drain at 9:07 AM on April 18, 2008


    Am I racist?

    Well, I'm guessing your not an Obama supporter, anyway.
    posted by dirigibleman at 9:08 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    If you're using those figures to say that all black people are like this because their race naturally makes them more criminal/diseased/inferior, the yes! You are racist! Congratulations!

    But he doesn't say that. I think he's using those figures to provoke a reaction against something he didn't say (which is arguably what three blind mice was trying to do).
    posted by oaf at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2008


    I think the brain_drain has it. For the sake of argument, maybe he was referring to a specific group of people, irrespective of race, and people are jumping down his throat because of the b word. For example, let's look at the following. A post observes that: France's Socialists finally won majority rule after the 1979 elections... to which someone responds: "And France's Socialists went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs".

    3bm may wear a white sheet on nights and weekends for all I know, but the reaction to that specific comments seems a bit overblown.
    posted by psmealey at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2008


    What about that other 3bm comment, that apparently got deleted. It was something to the effect of "white bitches put up with this kind of thing, but black bitches don't," after a quote from one of the journals. I think it was in this thread.

    I thought 3bm was a longtime user that was pretty cool...wth?
    posted by cashman at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2008


    Its a good topic, but the thread is kind of a trainwreck. I hope its not too much hassle to police...
    posted by Deep Dish at 9:14 AM on April 18, 2008


    Rhodesia is renamed Zimbabwe after it is granted black majority rule.

    And the black majority went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs.

    Can someone explain the problem to me? I honestly don't get it. From THIS thread, I'm sort of getting a vibe that some people feel the bold-face remark is racist. If so, I don't get how.

    Claiming that a group is incapable of running its affairs isn't racist, unless you imply that race is the reason why the group can't function. I see no implication of that here.

    The term "black majority" in the bold-face comment is surely a rhetorical device -- its purpose is to ape the same phrase in the italic-face comment -- and to throw it into an ironic, contrarian context. It's similar to this:

    A: Oh, Wow! The best sci-fi show ever is on TV right now!
    B: "The best sci-fi show ever" got panned by all the critics.

    What am I missing?
    posted by grumblebee at 9:14 AM on April 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


    I didn't read it as "blacks can't take care of themselves," but rather "the majority that came to power in Zimbabwe can't take care of themselves." But I can see how others read it differently

    I read it differently, because it didn't have the phrase "the majority that came to power" in it; it said "the black majority."
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    White people are like this because their race naturally makes them more prone to racism.
    posted by oaf at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2008


    Because it's the same as this example that psmealey uses for the other side of the argument, ironically:
    And France's Socialists went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs".
    To me, this reads very clearly that the Socialists of France were utterly incapable, not just the set who happened to be in charge at that instant. It's tarring the entire French Socialist movement with incompetence.

    Translate that same phrasing to race in Zimbabwe, and you get that all of the black people in Zimbabwe were incapable of running it. There's no reason given for why that is, and the lack of a reason leaves a very big likely-racist-shaped hole, just as the Jesse Helms did. You don't actually have to state the conclusion.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    that to grumblebee
    posted by bonaldi at 9:21 AM on April 18, 2008


    While I agree that tbm comment is probably not racist it's also probably not clever.

    The black majority demonstrated that they were incapable of chucking out decades of being oppressed and undereducated. Mugabe and others took advantage and they are still oppressed and undereducated.

    Sad all round but to blame the black majority for the faults of dictators is really fucking ignorant. It's easy to say that they share the blame and could revolt. Generations of indoctrination and Slavery are hard to get over. Russia is another good example.
    posted by twistedonion at 9:23 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    The word "black" shouldn't have appeared in either the FPP or the response. Zimbabwe was granted majority rule, not black majority rule.
    TBM was simply repeating the unfortunate wording.
    posted by rocket88 at 9:23 AM on April 18, 2008


    white majorities rule like this, black majorities rule like that.

    and brown majorities? their food is fantastic.
    posted by Stynxno at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    TJH--your use of the phrase "half of black men in their 20s are jobless" is intentionally misleading at best and highly inflammatory at the very least. The article you linked said that that actual statistic is that 65% of high school dropouts in their twenties are jobless. That's an important distinction, no? And so what that some drugs respond differently in some patients than others? And does it matter that the distinction is ethnic?

    Your choice of links and verbiage belie your protestations that you are not a racist. There are a thousand different ways you could have responded to the callout on the blue and again, here on the grey. The way you've responded leaves little doubt that you harbor some not insignificant feelings about your own superiority. If you're going to walk around with that kind of arrogance (and hatred?) in your belly, don't get all self-righteous when you're called on it.
    posted by heathergirl at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    TBM was simply repeating the unfortunate wording.
    ah, well, that clears it up. Quoting words that are then put into at best ambiguously racist contexts: S'all cool.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2008


    I can see both readings of three blind mice's comments, and I'm presuming that he was intending to address specifically the actual folks in Zimbabwe as being responsible specifically and only for the actual collapse of Zimbabwe, because that seems like a pretty reasonable argument in general.

    But I think it was a kind of tonedeaf and careless way to choose to pursue that argument, and you could do a lot better for a thread opener than something as strident and ambiguous as that.

    What about that other 3bm comment, that apparently got deleted. It was something to the effect of "white bitches put up with this kind of thing, but black bitches don't," after a quote from one of the journals.

    It was I guess a quote from Reservoir Dogs (I don't remember the line from the movie offhand, but it's been a few years and regardless it was pretty Tarantino-on-race-disparities-esque) which makes it a lot less weird on the face of it.

    It was still a pretty questionable thing to drop into the thread, and it wasn't attributed as a quote at all which pretty much left people who didn't recognize it wonder what the fuck was up, but I don't want it oversold.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2008


    neo-coloniophile

    just...

    just..

    STOP IT WITH THE POST-COHERENCE CONSTRUCTIONS DAMMIT!
    posted by quonsar at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


    It's because the "black majority" did not rule Zimbabwe. A subset of that majority actually ruled, was actually in power, actually made decisions. Saying "the black majority" was incapable of running things is like saying, based on GWB's tenure, that Republicans are incapable of running things. It's like that but, you know, racist.

    Also, the use of "their own affairs" doubles the racism. Not only can black folks not run a country, they can't even take care of themselves!
    posted by wemayfreeze at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    It was I guess a quote from Reservoir Dogs (I don't remember the line from the movie offhand, but it's been a few years and regardless it was pretty Tarantino-on-race-disparities-esque) which makes it a lot less weird on the face of it.

    Thanks - I knew there was something up.
    posted by cashman at 9:32 AM on April 18, 2008


    Related story - my boss sent an email to a prospective client the other day, cc-ing me, (because I am Head Of Internets)

    In it he reiterated what we'd said in a previous meeting that, "while we're interested in pursuing some smaller, quicker website work, currently we weren't interested in any bigger projects."

    Ever notice how close the letter B and N are on the keyboard?

    Right.

    So the client writes back, quoting the N word. And my boss, still unaware that it was he who had started it, thinks, Christ! We're inadvertantly stumbled upon a hotbed of digital racism! I'll not work for them!"

    So he's halfway through writing the rudest email ever when i burst in to explain what's happened.

    Needless to say, when it became clear what had happened was an unfortunate accident, we all laughed!

    True story. Do I win $10?

    (Oh, and upon reading Grumblebee's interpretation: Yep. Not racist, just badly worded.)
    posted by Jofus at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2008 [16 favorites]


    bonaldi, I still don't get it. What if the poster really believes that the "black majority" screwed things up? That doesn't necessarily mean that he things all black people screw things up or all black majorities screw things up. What if just means that that particular black majority screwed things up?

    Had he been the first person to use the phrase "black majority," I might have been suspicious, too. I would have felt like, "Okay, they screwed things up, but what does their skin color have to do with it? Why not just say 'the majority'."

    But he didn't coin the phrase. He was using a well-known bit of rhetoric, and he even quoted the source-phrase! He basically said, "this is where I'm getting the phrase 'black majority.' They're not my words, they're yours. I'm just twisting them to my ends." Why isn't the coiner being chastised? Shouldn't he have just said "the majority" instead of the "black majority"?

    I can certainly tell you this. I'm not racist, but I can completely imagine myself -- without any racist intent -- phrasing things the same way, for reasons I've explained above: rhetoric. I would be flabbergasted if, afterwards, I was called out for racism.

    A: That black guy is a great dancer!
    B: That black guy is an asshole! He owes me five dollars and he never paid me back!

    B is racist???? Had A said "that guy in the jeans is a great dancer," B would have said, "that guy in the jeans is an asshole..."
    posted by grumblebee at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    True story. Do I win $10?

    No, but if you submit the story idea to Larry David he might give you more than that.
    posted by psmealey at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Saying "the black majority" was incapable of running things is like saying, based on GWB's tenure, that Republicans are incapable of running things.

    You might want to find a better analogy.
    posted by brain_drain at 9:35 AM on April 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


    The way you've responded leaves little doubt that you harbor some not insignificant feelings about your own superiority.

    Little doubt, little accuracy.
    posted by oaf at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2008


    Jeezum crow, you need a cheat sheet to keep track of the username-to-acronym conversions here. Is it TBM or 3BM (which kind of looks like... never mind)?

    TTFN

    - SIM
    posted by SteveInMaine at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2008


    Also, the use of "their own affairs" doubles the racism. Not only can black folks not run a country, they can't even take care of themselves!

    SLIPPAGE! The poster wrote "the black majority." You're sliding his comment to be about "black folks."
    posted by grumblebee at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2008


    oh, but to be on topic, yes, TBM comment and TJH follow ups are racist for all the reasons (wemayfreeze, heathergirl,bonaldi, kirth, etc) mentioned above. Content and contex matter and the labeling of an entire race for "failing" at anything smacks of White Man's burden and pretty damn ignorant. They should be axed, in my opinion.
    posted by Stynxno at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2008


    The thing is grumblebee, the original is worded to talk about all of the black people in the country, in a neutral context. The latter is addressed to the same set of people (eg all the blacks in Zimbabwe), but is derogatory.

    A: There are black guys on the dancefloor
    B: Black guys are assholes.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    My theory is that negatively describing someone, while at the same time using "black" as an adjective to describe them, makes you sound rascist. For example: "This neighborhood was great until those black people moved in". The fact that they make the neighborhood worse, but it makes you sound like you don't want black people in general in your neighborhood.

    When you point out some identifying feature of someone when you verbally attack them, that feature becomes part of the attack. So if you say "Those NASCAR-loving rednecks don't know how to read", it is in some way an attack on all NASCAR fans, because the fact that you decided to point out that they like NASCAR is significant.
    posted by burnmp3s at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    A: There are black guys on the dancefloor
    B: Black guys are assholes.


    That's horribly and undeniably racist. But it doesn't follow the logic of the post. The post is more like...

    A: There are black guys on the dance floor.
    B: THOSE black guys are assholes.

    Which is much more ambiguous. To me, it looks like B is just aping A's way of labeling guys on the dance floor. (Why did A call them "black," in the first place?)
    posted by grumblebee at 9:41 AM on April 18, 2008


    Would this wording have been non-racist?

    And the black majority rulers went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs.
    posted by smackfu at 9:43 AM on April 18, 2008


    bringing this in from the thread, to avoid further derailing what's turning into a very interesting and illuminating discussion

    I said: Yes, because it's perfectly appropriate and accurate to blame the failure of a government/state on the RACE OF THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE!

    and then oaf said: The first comment doesn't do that, but squirm all you like.

    I'm not squirming, oaf. They way I read the comment left me under the impression that it was the race of the majority in power that determined how horribly they've fucked up.

    If someone says, "Jeez, white people sure have fucked up the subprime situation," does that really not read differently to you than if it was "Jeez, [bankers] [greedy pigs] [regulators] really fucked up the subprime situation,"?
    posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2008


    I wonder if I'm annoyed at some of the comments here because I've been called a racist in a situation like grumblebee describes above. My calling you out for being an asshole when I'm white and you're not does not make me a racist. Your saying that my calling you out is racist is itself racist. Irony of ironies.
    posted by oaf at 9:45 AM on April 18, 2008


    My theory is that negatively describing someone, while at the same time using "black" as an adjective to describe them, makes you sound rascist. For example: "This neighborhood was great until those black people moved in". The fact that they make the neighborhood worse, but it makes you sound like you don't want black people in general in your neighborhood.

    Yes, but -- again -- YOU are coining the phrase "those black people."

    A: How do you like the neighborhood.
    B: It was fine until those black people moved in.

    Highly suspect in my mind, though not absolutely, for-sure racist. It's remotely possible that B just couldn't think of another way of indicating which people he was talking about. But I would be very suspicious.

    A: How you like living next door to those black people?
    B: "Those black people" knocked down my garden gnome.

    I'm much less suspicious of B. (I am a little suspicious of A. I would be suspicious of him even if he'd said, "How do you like living next door to those really nice black people?")
    posted by grumblebee at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2008


    Can someone explain the problem to me?

    it's not the black majority that is utterly incapable, it's mugabe - and although his land-reform scheme has been badly executed, it's his compulsive printing up of money that's really caused zimbabwe to fail - hyperinflation is guaranteed to drive a country right into the ground

    he's incompetent to run a country

    tbm's statement was just dumb and the jesse helms' statement is just vile - i might remind him that our current leadership in the white house isn't exactly good either
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2008


    I see that reading, grumblebee, but to me at its most charitable it's still ambiguous whether or not he's saying THOSE black guys. If he wanted to do that, there are far clearer ways of doing it than "black majority".

    Read in isolation, the comment heavily implies racism. Even read in context, it's not much better, because the original "black majority rule" can be read either as Mugabe's people or all Zimbabwe's blacks.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    his land-reform scheme

    Nobody seems to have pointed out that his land-reform scheme is openly racist.
    posted by oaf at 9:48 AM on April 18, 2008


    I hope 3bm comes in here to explain.
    posted by cashman at 9:50 AM on April 18, 2008


    Oh great. As a whitey, let me just give my most heartfelt thanks to The Jesse Helms and three blind mice for bringing it down for the rest of us. Great job guys, now everybody's going to assume all of us white people are racist.
    posted by Kattullus at 9:50 AM on April 18, 2008


    That would be very racist of them.
    posted by smackfu at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Many white people are way more hyper-sensitive about perceived racism than are many black people. This has been made clear to me, by, among other things, tutoring adults in urban areas such as DC and Baltimore. Maybe it's my perception, but I'll stack my perception up against yrs any day.
    posted by dawson at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2008


    That would be very racist of them.

    How preposterous. Only white people can be racist, and they can't ever be victims of racism.
    posted by oaf at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2008


    Difficult to see how you ended up falsely accused of racist tendencies, oaf.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2008


    Your sarcasm filter is broken.
    posted by oaf at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2008


    A: How do you like the neighborhood.
    B: It was fine until those black people moved in.

    Highly suspect in my mind, though not absolutely, for-sure racist. It's remotely possible that B just couldn't think of another way of indicating which people he was talking about. But I would be very suspicious.


    Wrong. Option B is racist; not everything in the world is as gray as you'd like it to be.

    Rather than be "supicious" to the point where everything is given a green pass and everyone is given the benefit of doubt, take a look at what is actually here. Allkindsoftime used "black majority" in his post. TBM responded with a racist comment implying that the nation f'ed up because of it's black citizens. How do I know this? Because he follows up his initial comment with others implying that he knows about Zimbabwe, its history and its current state. If that's true, then he would be well aware that the nation is under the control of a dictatorship who gained power through racial nationalism, maintains that power through racism, oppression, terror and a stranglehold on power. The "black majority" do not rule Zimbabwe. A dictator rules Zimbamwe.
    posted by Stynxno at 9:57 AM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Maybe, but I was going to post the same thing after "land-reform scheme is openly racist", when it was still in tickety-boo working order. Or was that sarcastic also? Cos if so, your sarcasmatron is all fucked up.
    posted by bonaldi at 9:58 AM on April 18, 2008


    I'm repeating myself, so I'll butt out in a second, but just so I can get a temperature reading of how far apart our mindsets are, bonaldi, can you answer a question for me? (I'm not trying to catch you out. I'm honestly trying to understand where you and I lie on a spectrum.)

    If we leave the original thread aside and examine one of my made-up dialogues, what would be your interpretation of B's intent?

    A: That black guy over there is a cool dude!
    B: That black guy over there is an asshole!

    My guess is that we'd both agree that B's intent/attitude is ambiguous and could be interpreted various ways. But to me, the most likely interpretation is that he's using a bit of common rhetoric and that, after hearing it, I know nothing about whether he's racist or not.

    Do you think it's more likely that he's racist?

    And why isn't A under equal (or more) scrutiny?
    posted by grumblebee at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2008


    And why isn't A under equal (or more) scrutiny?

    Because people saying positive things about someone for whatever reason is low on the priority list of "Things the World Needs to Fix"?
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    No, I completely agree with you, grumblebee on the interpretation of B. Where we differ is in how charitably we read 3bm's post, and how closely we link it to B. I didn't ever read it as saying in effect "that black guy", and have always read it as meaning "black guys", but it seems you're the opposite.

    I think we'd both say that a "black guys" reading of B is much more likely to have a racist component than a "that black guy" one, no?

    (As for A: in your scenario I think A is open to a degree of scrutiny, but in this post, where the poster is trying to record the point when black people took control in Zimbabwe again, it's more obvious why he had to highlight the black element)
    posted by bonaldi at 10:09 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Maybe, but I was going to post the same thing after "land-reform scheme is openly racist"

    What's wrong with saying that it is? It is.
    posted by oaf at 10:13 AM on April 18, 2008


    grumblebee:

    Your A and B statements, in no way, relate to the TBM comment. You're giving TBM the benefit of doubt that his B could be read in any sort of extremely positive way. Your A and B are, by themselves and out of context, not racist. But throw A and B in any sort of contextual situation, then they could be racist. Taking those statements out of their context dilutes their message and that is the problem with your analogy.
    posted by Stynxno at 10:13 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    grumblebee, you understand that "the black majority" is not a political party in zimbabwe, right? you get that, regardless of whether the phrase was first said by the original post, tbm said that black Zimbabweans are incapable of running their own affairs? he wasn't referring to the party in power, because that party is not called the black majority. all "the black majority" means is "the black people in zimbabwe" since they are the majority of zimbabweans and they were, until 1980, prevented from running their own government.

    so, since you like making these analogies, here's one that I think works better than any of yours:

    A: In 1980, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe under the rule of Black Zimbabweans.
    B: Black Zimbabweans went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs.

    I mean, what other interpretation is there except "black zimbabweans can't govern themselves?" Especially since the black zimbabweans in question ran their own affairs after an all white government?
    posted by shmegegge at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


    What's wrong with saying that it is? It is.
    It's also part of a set of language and themes regularly used by racists ("Why is everyone so bothered about XYZ being racist? I don't see anybody here commenting on affirmative action!")

    You're either totally tone-deaf on this one, or you're knowingly playing near the fire. If the latter, you don't get to complain when you get burned.
    posted by bonaldi at 11:32 AM on April 18, 2008


    If the original post didn't have the word black, and TBM added it, I would have no doubt that it was a racist comment. As it stands, however, I have doubt. Lacking other evidence I don't thinkwe have enough to string him up.
    posted by rocket88 at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2008


    grumblebee, I don't think that the comment by 3BM was necessarily racist. I'll give him (?) the benefit of the doubt, but it *sounds* that way and here's why -
    "the black majority" isn't the name of a political party. It refers to ALL of the black people in the country. so when you say that "they" (ALL of the black people) "are incapable of running their own affairs".... that sounds like he's saying that "black people (who live in Zimbabwe) are incapable of running their own affairs". that sounds pretty racist, right? saying that the new government was incapable - not racist. saying that black people are incapable - racist. make sense? again, I think it was just unfortunate wording in the comment, but it's not really confusing that people are upset.

    This comment, though:

    "I never really fully accepted Jared Diamond's reasoning for sub-Saharan Africa's complete failure. I mean, look at Washington D.C., Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Memphis."

    Is unquestionably racist, and I wonder why we're focusing more on the first one.
    posted by moxiedoll at 11:40 AM on April 18, 2008


    You're either totally tone-deaf on this one, or you're knowingly playing near the fire.

    No, and no. Anyone who can't recognize that he's selecting farms to steal based on the race of the owner is really not up to participating in this discussion.
    posted by oaf at 11:46 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    grumblebee, the problem is not the individual statements, it is the (sometimes presumed) context.

    As others have pointed out, what is objectionable (to some) about 3bm's oringinal comment is not so much that they said that the black majority proved itself incapable of ruling, it is the assumption that they would never have said, looking at similar political failures across the world, that the white majority proved themselves utterly incapable of running their own affairs.

    This is why your examples are not germane. If one person says one time "that black dude is an asshole" then yes, of course it isn't racist. The racism enters when someone inappropriately generalizes to the conclusion that all black people are assholes.

    I think you and others are reacting to the fact that 3bm's statement on its own does not necessarily constitute evidence of racism. For all we know, in a thread on the Balkans or the Russian economic collapse or some such thing, 3bm made a similar statement that concluded that the white majority proved themselves incapable of running their own affairs.

    Nevertheless - though it may be unfair to 3bm, and an unfair generalization based on only one statement - many people think that this is pretty unlikely, and it reminds us of a lot of similarly fallacious reasoning that we have seen repeated elsewhere. Thus the outrage.
    posted by googly at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2008


    Tone-deaf is the one, then. I'm not saying you were wrong in what you said, just that when you add it to all your other apologist cap'n-save-a-racist posts, it's hardly surprising that some other poster elsewhere accused you of racism. Going "wha? me?" in that situation is either disingenuous or oblivious.
    posted by bonaldi at 11:53 AM on April 18, 2008


    Well, I was all relaxed after that nice site massage, but then I had to check recent activity....

    So, oaf, were you talking specifically to me here?
    posted by rtha at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2008


    A: How do you like the neighborhood.
    B: It was fine until those black people moved in.

    Highly suspect in my mind, though not absolutely, for-sure racist. It's remotely possible that B just couldn't think of another way of indicating which people he was talking about. But I would be very suspicious.


    Wrong. Option B is racist; not everything in the world is as gray as you'd like it to be.

    Maybe we define "a racist comment" differently. To me, a comment is only UNDENIABLY racist -- with no possible shades of gray -- if racism is the only reasonable way to interpret the writer's INTENT. Example: "I hate black people." Aside from the possibility that the speaker might be making some sort of odd joke, I can't imagine a mind-set, other than a racist one, that would lead him to make such a statement.

    Granted, if I were a betting man, I'd lay $1000 on B being racist. I think the odds point to that. But "the odds point to that" is very different from "he IS racist." Life is short, and we often have to content ourselves with best guesses. I don't deny that. But that doesn't mean our best guesses are right. It just means they're the best we can do given our available time and energy.

    How could B say, "it was fine until those black people moved in" and not be racist? (Please remember that I think he PROBABLY is racist.) Well, when referring to a person, you have to specify who you're talking about somehow.

    If I said, "the neighborhood was fine until those red-headed people moved in" or "the neighbrhood was fine until those noisy people moved in," I doubt many people would be offended. They'd understand I was just trying explain which people I was talking about.

    If there are thirty people in the room and twenty-nine of them are white, what's the most economical way of clarifying that you're talking about the one black person? Say it just so happens he's an asshole. The simplest way for me to explain which asshole I'm talking about -- so that there's no ambiguity -- is to say, "it's the black guy."

    Would I say that? No. Because I understand the way certain social cues are generally interpreted well enough to know that I'd be PERCEIVED as racist. In other words, I know I'm not racist. My choice of words have nothing to do with whether or not I'm racist. They have to do with a desire to not-be-considered racist. Maybe you think everyone feels this way. By that logic, no one wants to appear racist (except, possibly, a racist), so if someone doesn't go out of his way to avoid language that's likely to be perceived as racist, he must necessarily be racist.

    But different people have different skill-sets when it comes to social cues. So the guy who says, "that black guy" may just be socially stunted. He may be stupidly referring to skin color in a neutral way, unaware that it's a loaded concept for many people -- or maybe he's aware of it, but he may not be practiced at thinking about what he's about to say before it comes out of his mouth. Still, his intent might not be racist.

    I still think he's probably racist. I don't even have a problem with assuming that he is racist and treating him as if he is. I just don't get your "no shades of gray" argument.
    posted by grumblebee at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2008


    cap'n-save-a-racist

    That just made my afternoon.
    posted by cashman at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Just briefly, since this seems to be the issue at hand, I'd like to address whether something has to be intentionally racist in order to be deemed harmful and/or just kind of crappy. (To be clear from the get-go, I'm talking about whether individual comments have racist overtones, and not about judging individual commenters as "racist.")

    I'm going to say that intent doesn't entirely matter. Clearly, even if the first two comments in the Zimbabwe thread weren't actually intended as such, their intent and wording were ambiguous enough that many people interpreted them as racist. If a comment unintentionally had the exact same impact as an explicitly racist comment, I don't think it's unfair to take it to task, in the hope of understanding the comment's actual intent or message. Unfortunately, I'm still unclear as to the actual intent of the comments.

    Part of the problem here does come from the original post, which probably should have used the term "white minority rule" instead of "black majority rule." The former was predicated on the enforcement of race-based preference; the latter was, for better or worse, supposed to be straight-up majority rule (which, over time, tends to divide over a plurality of political issues, as opposed to race alone). There could've been a way more interesting discussion in the comments, about the promise and pitfalls of democratization, and why it's been enforced as an ideal. Or about what constitutes a "free and fair" election. Or about land ownership in a post-colonial context. But I digress.

    Basically, in response to TJH, you're right on one count: The individual sources you're citing aren't racist, per-se. However, you're disregarding your role in choosing, phrasing, and juxtaposing the items in your list. Clearly, the act of extracting information, rephrasing it, and arranging it has a semiotic effect; that means you have to take responsibility for the message that you, not the individual sources, composed.

    Just because the implication isn't explicit doesn't mean it's okay.
    posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:03 PM on April 18, 2008


    Saying "the black majority" was incapable of running things is like saying, based on GWB's tenure, that Republicans are incapable of running things.

    Good argument, bad example.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 12:05 PM on April 18, 2008


    grumblebee, the problem is not the individual statements, it is the (sometimes presumed) context.

    I thank all of you who have made some variation of this argument. I get where you're coming from now.

    To me, it's still a little odd -- a little anti-Occam. It like you see me eating a cookie, and you see a cookie jar right next to me, and yet your first assumption is that I got the cookie from another room, rather than from the jar.

    The proximity of the comment TBM quoted -- with the same phrase -- and the way his aping of it fell perfectly inline with a rhetorical convention, made me feel that the most likely explanation was an attempt at wit ("I'm throwing your words back at you"), rather than racism.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:06 PM on April 18, 2008


    evidenceofabsence, in case any of that was aimed at me, let me clarify that I don't think a statement needs to be intentionally racist to be harmful. Well-intended (or neutrally-intended) statements often cause harm.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2008


    Ever notice how white people conduct themselves in the Balkans, in Nazi Germany, in colonial Congo, in the Jim Crow South, in Pinochet's Chile, in Stalin's Russia?

    It's no wonder they couldn't hold onto control in Zimbabwe-- their reputation preceded them, so they were kicked out.
    posted by ibmcginty at 12:11 PM on April 18, 2008


    Grumblebee: It wasn't particularly aimed at you, or at anyone. I'd typed my reply up before the "massage," and just had the chance to submit it now.

    Also, just for the record, I need a massage way more than Metafilter does. Especially around the neck and shoulders. Anyone know what Mathowie charges?
    posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2008


    I'm conflicted. There's so much pointless parsing of a couple of transparently fucking awful comments. And then Grumblebee has to show signs that maybe he's listening. I don't know what to think. Gak! Buncha parseholes.
    posted by ~ at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    The proximity of the comment TBM quoted -- with the same phrase -- and the way his aping of it fell perfectly inline with a rhetorical convention, made me feel that the most likely explanation was an attempt at wit ("I'm throwing your words back at you"), rather than racism.

    FWIW, that's how I read it.
    posted by unknowncommand at 12:19 PM on April 18, 2008


    three blind mice: And the black majority went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs.

    The Jesse Helms: Am I racist? Is the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Justice Department, or the FDA racist? Does it make you feel better to think so?

    The trouble, dear Jesse, is in the vague pronoun. If "they" points to "the black majority population of Zimbabwe," well, then, it's probably not racist. (Probably.) But if "they" points to "the black majority" in general, which is how he put it, or to "the black segment of the population," or some such, then, well, yes, it's racist.

    And "black people are not capable of rulership" is a popular enough canard among those sots among us who like to generalize racially-- yes, we can call them 'racists'-- that the formulation of three blind mice's comment causes the reader to have a legitimate concern.
    posted by Viomeda at 12:21 PM on April 18, 2008


    Well, grumblebee, there's also the fact that putting forth the idea that black people cannot govern themselves is a classic racist trope. Tying a statement of race to a racial stereotype is worse than calling a black guy an asshole. It'd be closer to:

    A: There's a black guy on the dancefloor
    B: That black guy is consumed with jungle rhythms!
    posted by Bookhouse at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2008


    Anyone know what Mathowie charges?

    Man, you can not afford it, let me just tell you what.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:29 PM on April 18, 2008


    Cortex: Damn. I was hoping that everything cost about $5.
    posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:35 PM on April 18, 2008


    How could B say, "it was fine until those black people moved in" and not be racist? (Please remember that I think he PROBABLY is racist.) Well, when referring to a person, you have to specify who you're talking about somehow.

    Sure, I guess if you're referring to a person you need a way to refer to them. But in this case you're actually referring to an event and describing the event based upon the color of the skin of people who have moved in. So in this case you want to link the event in with the fact that things are no longer fine. So perhaps, "It was fine until those guys down the street moved in." Or better "those johnsons are bad news"

    Sure, lynchings are down 10% (made up statistic, could be lower percentage, could in fact be more common today than yesterday, etc), but the other more pervasive aspect of the current state of racism is how people subtly input causality into their remarks. "Oh those black people are lazy" could, on the surface, just mean that they're describing a group of people who are lazy who just happen to be black.

    Now, I believe that just about everyone is racist, the difference is merely in degree rather than kind. I happen to think that the best anyone can do is to analyize their behavior and modify it so that any internal racism is minimized. So when people say something like "those black people are lazy" that sets off a flag that that person doesn't really try and minimize that racism. I see more flags if that person further attempts to justify their response.

    Furthermore, how often do you hear white people say "it was fine until those white people moved in"?
    posted by Green With You at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    This is a perfect example for why nasty, racist, sexist, and just plain stupid comments should not be deleted. It's good, very good, that there's a record of what an idiotic shit The Jesse Helms is.
    posted by MrMoonPie at 12:39 PM on April 18, 2008


    Has anyone emailed three blind mice to let him know what he's being accused of in this thread? Seems to me he should probably have an opportunity to explain his comment, and that his explanation might be crucial to the debate.
    posted by pardonyou? at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2008


    So, oaf, were you talking specifically to me here?

    No. The situation I am talking about was in real life. Someone was being a jerk, and when I called them on it, they said "You wouldn't have said that if I were white." They wouldn't have said that if I weren't white.
    posted by oaf at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2008


    Has anyone emailed three blind mice to let him know what he's being accused of in this thread?

    Yeah.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2008


    And then Grumblebee has to show signs that maybe he's listening.

    That's because the doctor pulled a gigantor glob of wax out of my ear. It was fascinatingly gross. It was about the size of a peanut and it had all these little hairs sticking out of it. It looked like a balding tribble.

    My deepest feeling is this: racism will not be solved until the cultures involved are ready to deal with the issue as a complex one. Amongst other things, this means:

    1. No one gets away with flouting "innocent until proven guilty." It's fine to suspect T's as a racist. It's fine to ask him about it, look through previous posts to see his general attitude, explain to him how he comes across, etc. But if we take the attitude of "if you say X, you ARE racist," we get further and further from a solution. We just scare people (this thread scared me) into thinking they can damn themselves by wording mistakes -- that they can damn themselves in an irreparable way! Even if T really is racist, that doesn't lesson my fear. I know I'm not racist, yet I know I could easily have written what he wrote. And then who would believe me when I protested my innocence?

    2. We are allowed to chastise and punish racists, but our FIRST response should always be to educate.

    3. So-called positive racism is as-bad as negative racism. It should get NO free ride. If "that black guy is an asshole" is a racist statement, then "that black guy is really cool" is an EQUALLY racist statement (unless it's the only reasonable way to point out who's being discussed). Sure, the former is more likely to hurt someone's feelings, but when we're discussing capital-R racism, the key aspect is that people are being judged (positively or negatively) on the basis of skin color. The positive is just the negative in disguise. It's like claiming that you're not sexist because you put women on a pedestal.

    4. There MUST be a way for people to ask questions -- and bring up discussion points -- about race (and culture) without getting instantly labelled racist. I can't tell you how many times I've had an innocent (of racism) question about African-American culture(s) and -- just for asking it -- I've been accused of being a racist. That attitude kills any chance for education, which is the greatest weapon against racism.

    5. People MUST be allowed to admit to the occasional racist thought without being permanently ostracized. As they say in drug rehab, admitting to the problem is half the battle. No one will admit anything if they're going to be cast into hell the second they do.

    6. People who have been hurt by racism need a outlet for their totally reasonable anger. You can't put up with shit without getting angry. On the other hand, anger doesn't usually solve problems. On the other other hand, it's harmful to repress anger. Until racism is vanquished, we need a way to let people vent without making a bad situation worse.

    In all of the above, I'm referring to racist remarks. I have a different attitude towards actions. If someone is intent on genocide (or, say, playing lower wages to a black employee), I don't advocate education or discussion as step 1. Step 1 is stopping the perpetrator in his tracks.
    posted by grumblebee at 12:56 PM on April 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    To me, it's still a little odd -- a little anti-Occam. It like you see me eating a cookie, and you see a cookie jar right next to me, and yet your first assumption is that I got the cookie from another room, rather than from the jar.

    grumblebee, racism is the cookie jar right next to you, and me, and everybody else. I approve of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but you're acting as if racism were some strange, rare affliction that people get accused of for no discernible reason. Yes, a lot of people are "oversensitive" about racism (and sexism and homophobia and...), but there's good reason for that. It would be great if we could all assume the best of each other and hold hands and sing songs, but even at MetaFilter (Best of the Web!), I'm afraid that's just not realistic. That comment was shitty; I'm not saying the person who made it is racist, I'm saying it's deliberately toying with racism (poking the elephant in the room) while still maintaining deniability. While it's better to be the kind of jerk who gets his kicks out of making ambiguous remarks to get the PC crowed all riled up than to actually be a racist, I'm not crazy about either.
    posted by languagehat at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


    The human race has demonstrated to the world - leaving no uncertainty - that we are utterly incapable of running our own affairs. Anyone know what Mathowie charges?
    posted by ND¢ at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2008


    6,671,226,000 people on the planet, roughly. So that's about $33,356,130,000 we'd need to pay Matt.
    posted by oaf at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2008


    Am I racist? Is the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Justice Department, or the FDA racist? Does it make you feel better to think so?
    Perhaps.

    There are studies that show that, for some crimes, the number of arrests of white people is equal to the number of arrests of black people. The number of convictions is strikingly different, with a lot more black men convicted.

    More food for thought: here in Oklahoma the number of white females in prison is considerably higher than the number of black females or the number of native Americans.

    It is very easy to jump to conclusions (sometimes wrong conclusions) by considering only the bits and pieces of statistics that support one's bias.
    posted by francesca too at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    So that's like what 500 euros?
    posted by ND¢ at 2:30 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    So-called positive racism is as-bad as negative racism. It should get NO free ride. If "that black guy is an asshole" is a racist statement, then "that black guy is really cool" is an EQUALLY racist statement

    I don't think you even understand the terms here, despite your ability (and desire) to parse things to a fare-the-well.
    posted by OmieWise at 2:33 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


    I mean, look at Washington D.C., Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Memphis.

    They're all historically and economically significant and have made major contributions to what you think of as "mainstream (white) American culture," yet you have cherry-picked and lumped them together with derision because of their majority black populations?

    I hope the next clue is a Daily Double.
    posted by Tehanu at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Are we seriously arguing that we should pretend Zimbabwe is going well for the sake of political correctness?
    posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on April 18, 2008


    I took the issue to be that saying the "blackness" of Zimbabwe's misrule is its most salient feature is racist.
    posted by Abiezer at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2008


    Or, depending on how you parse the comments inspiring the discussion, the blackness of the population being misruled.

    I don't think anybody is suggesting that Zimbabwe is doing so hot.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on April 18, 2008


    Grumble, the poster doesn't show any reason to support that the color or race of the people who screwed up the country has anything to do with how it was screwed up.

    If I post that the country was screwed up because it's run by men, it has the same validity. Yep, men are in charge, there's yer problem.
    posted by theora55 at 3:00 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Artw- I think there is a difference to saying "this country is going to shit because of corrupt politicians / abject poverty / former history of colonialism / military dictatorship" than "this country is going to shit because its run by black people."

    One is looking at the factual histories and causes of the current circumstance, the other is using race as a way to scapegoat any real and plausible causes of the circumstance. The former may actually help the country go forward and the latter will just dismiss and entire population and ethnic group to second class citizens only suitable for manual labor as long as there is a good strong white man at the reins.
    posted by mrzarquon at 3:06 PM on April 18, 2008


    Are we seriously arguing that we should pretend Zimbabwe is going well for the sake of political correctness?
    Artw, where the singing ends of bells did you get this from? Are you reading the words here or what?
    posted by bonaldi at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2008


    Oh god, please don't let it be that you get this far and think everybody's taking issue with the "utterly incapable" part of the sentence.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:09 PM on April 18, 2008


    The words of comment #1, yeah. Which I'd read as being about the black majority which, as pointed out in the post, assumed control of Zimbabwe. It’s not a very subtle or nuanced summary of events, and as someone else points out leaves out the fact that things didn’t actually go to shit till much much later, but no, I don’t get “OMG Racism!” from it.

    Comment #2 I'd read as being a hell of a lot dodgier. Incredibly so, in fact.
    posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on April 18, 2008


    Actually from three blind mices comment history I see quite a lot of dodgyness. Maybe I'm being overly charitable in my interpretation.
    posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on April 18, 2008


    I think his failure to attend here says quite a lot. Although an accusation of racism can be an incredibly hard thing to rebut, there are a lot of posters here who've been more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on it.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2008

    Anyone know what Mathowie charges?
    Twenty bucks, same as in town.
    posted by scrump at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2008


    "Dear Dracula, please come down to the village, we have a mob with burning torches and pitchforks all ready for you. PS you are a racist."
    posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on April 18, 2008


    Twenty bucks, same as in town.

    You bought your account through Amazon, didn't you?
    posted by oaf at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2008


    How else would you have it go, Artw? Someone make a hit-and-run racist comment and we let it lie forever so we don't scare them away from explaining what the fuck they're on about? We all gonna have some sore necks and really bad sunburn, then.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I try to avoid race and racism altogether by hating everyone equally.

    I call it "the tao of eyeballkid".
    posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    bonaldi - Call me weird, but chasing people out of town for what could actually be more of a semantic quibble than anything else seems really wrong.

    The way this metatalk post is structure really, really rubs me up the wrong way. It comes over more as “OMG! Look at this out of context comment! Kill them! Kill them!” than a reasoned response. If it turns out the guy is unambiguously a racist from his follow up posts then, hey, the post should say that.

    I’d kind of like an explanation of what the hell The Jesse Helms thinks he is saying though.
    posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on April 18, 2008


    I think it's a by-product of the charitable explanation not being very apparent to a lot of people, including the OP I'd guess, that it's worded that way. The semantic quibbling you talk about has mostly been an attempt to bridge the two views; it's as clearly racist to some of us as it is innocuous to you.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    "Innocuous" is not quite how I'd put it.
    posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on April 18, 2008


    It was performance art, intended to start a conversation about race.
    posted by jfuller at 3:52 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Damn Yalies.
    posted by oaf at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2008


    I don't see any chasing out of town. I don't see any stringing up. I don't see any 'kill them, kill them.'

    Where are these violent metaphors coming from? We're having a *conversation*. As far as I can tell, banning isn't even on the table, let alone 'stringing up.'

    Demonizing people who see racism where you don't doesn't contribute to less racism. It just silences the people who are calling out racism. Thank goodness we have people calling out racism. Really. Thank goodness. And thank goodness we don't have to wait till the worst case scenario for them to do it.

    I said this on the feminism threads and it applies here too... calling this stuff out IS giving the benefit of the doubt - to the poster, that they didn't fully intend the meaning or consequences of their words, and to the community, that we don't want racism going unchallenged.

    Who wants a community where we have to let anything but obviously ugly, venomous, intentional bigotry stand, just in case the poster didn't quite exactly 'mean it'?
    posted by Salamandrous at 4:23 PM on April 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


    How could B say, "it was fine until those black people moved in" and not be racist? (Please remember that I think he PROBABLY is racist.) Well, when referring to a person, you have to specify who you're talking about somehow.

    That's racist.

    If I said, "the neighborhood was fine until those red-headed people moved in"

    That's red-headed-ist.

    or "the neighbrhood was fine until those noisy people moved in,"

    That's noise-ist.

    As long as we're splitting hairs on implied meaning, we may as well do so on word/phrase definitions too.
    posted by Brak at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2008


    "Dear Dracula, please come down to the village, we have a mob with burning torches and pitchforks all ready for you. PS you are a racist."

    Dracula: Those filthy yellow swine!
    Xander: You know, I really don't remember you being this racist.
    posted by Tehanu at 4:25 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Dracula is totally racist. Look how white he is!
    posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2008


    Nah, Spike was paler. Dracula's the one making all the comments though.
    posted by Tehanu at 4:29 PM on April 18, 2008


    Metafilter: racism is the cookie jar right next to you.

    And so what that some drugs respond differently in some patients than others? And does it matter that the distinction is ethnic?

    That was a very strange factoid for TJH to bring up. In fact, the drug was not designed for black people, rather clinical studies showed that it helped in certain types of heart disease that were more common among African Americans. There are some white people who the drug would help, and some black people that the drug would not help.

    But because to the distribution, giving it to the average white person with heart disease would, statistically, not be more of a help then other drugs, but for black people it would.

    Blaming that fact on political correctness or something like that would be insane.

    grumblebee: You're way overparsing here. Also, I kind of have no idea what you're talking about; I don't really get how all these various A/B dialogs relate to 3BM's post really.

    Are we seriously arguing that we should pretend Zimbabwe is going well for the sake of political correctness?

    Are you seriously asking that question? Claiming that Iraq was poorly run under Saddam is not an indictment of all Arabs, but (a reasonable interpretation of) 3BM's comment implies that the reason Zimbabwe is doing poorly under another dictator is due to the race of the people who originally elected him (after which he started to steal elections)
    posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on April 18, 2008


    grumblebee, racism is the cookie jar right next to you, and me, and everybody else.

    I think this is very true, but it's also very easy to be completely ignorant of a lot of racial issues around us. A lot of people only see racism as the dictionary definition ("the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races"), which seems to only include people like white supremicists. By that definition, one could conclude that racism has mostly died out since the days of lynching and institutionalized oppression of racial groups.

    I think most racial divisiveness these days is a lot more subtle. The term racism has become a catchall term to describe a lot of problematic things that don't actually stem from perceived superiority, such as the use of racially offensive language, the propagation of racial stereotypes, and various subtle forms of discrimination. Small things like the fact that it is difficult for black people to hail a cab may seem unimportant to people who don't experience it themselves, but all of the little kinds of discrimination can pile up into something bigger.

    So, I think rather than declaring things "racist" or "not racist", it's more important to be aware of the racial implications of the things that people say and do.
    posted by burnmp3s at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    3BM's comment implies that the reason Zimbabwe is doing poorly under another dictator is due to the race of the people who originally elected him (after which he started to steal elections)

    Except the switch from white minority rule to black majority rule DID set in motion the events that led to the current situation in Zimbabwe. Race IS a factor, and an important one, and mentioning it does not automatically equal racism.
    posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on April 18, 2008


    Ya'll sure can overthink a plate of black beans.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:59 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    NOT BEANIST
    posted by Brak at 5:00 PM on April 18, 2008


    Race IS a factor, and an important one, and mentioning it does not automatically equal racism.

    Correct, but that is not what the statement said. Not all mentions of race are racist, but stating that a black majority is utterly incapable of handling their own affairs after a period of white rule does very strongly suggest that a black majority is, simply by nature of being black, unable to self-govern.
    posted by Tehanu at 5:01 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    stating that a black majority is utterly incapable of handling their own affairs after a period of white rule does very strongly suggest that a black majority is, simply by nature of being black, unable to self-govern.

    Except to get to the racism you've had to insert "simply by nature of being black". I mean, yes, if it actually said that it would be unambiguosly racist, but it doesn't. You can say it’s “suggested” but unless there’s actually any evidence you’re resorting to mind reading.
    posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on April 18, 2008


    So if it's not innocuous, how would you characterise it, Artw?

    It's as has been said upthread, that kind of statement is one of many racist statements like that, it doesn't need to be explicit for the required suggestion to be there.
    posted by bonaldi at 5:11 PM on April 18, 2008


    Ya'll sure can overthink a plate of black beans.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher


    Ssshhh! I'm overthinking a plate of red beans right now.
    posted by nola at 5:13 PM on April 18, 2008


    I’d go with ambiguous in intent, though not actually in itself racist.
    posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on April 18, 2008


    (It’s a lot more suspect if you skim 3brs posting history, but that can be pretty dodgy as a way of getting a sense of someone… for instance bonaldi comes over as a stroppy fucker who likes fighting for the sake of it. I’d hate to think how I come over, probably even worse than that. )
    posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on April 18, 2008


    Heh, see the thing about trying to cut down on yr posting is that then you only post when something really gets you going ... but, no, that's probably a fair characterisation of my Mefi jones.

    And since we're at this one anyway now, if even you'll characterise his post as ambiguous in intent, why are you so much on the case of those who aren't prepared to assess his intent in isolation, sans posting history, sans catalogues of similar racist tropes, merely in some spirit of pure charity to 3bm?
    posted by bonaldi at 5:31 PM on April 18, 2008


    Yeah, Artw, I'm all for fairness and generosity of spirit, but you've got to pick your fights, and since even you don't seem convinced what you're defending is worth it, maybe you should let 3bm speak for himself, if he has anything to say.
    posted by languagehat at 5:42 PM on April 18, 2008


    I saw 3BM's comment as being likely racist, and Helm's as certainly so, but this extended discussion will not settle the issue. I can certainly see an interpretation for 3BM's comment that is about the particular people and not their race. I'm with LH, I think only 3BM can speak for his state of mind here. Since he has been on the site since the controversy arose and since he has refused to enter the fray here I am not sure what to think. However, there was not much of an overlap; perhaps he just missed this. Aren't his ears on fire though, with all this talk behind his back? ;)
    posted by caddis at 5:57 PM on April 18, 2008


    I’d go with ambiguous in intent, though not actually in itself racist.

    In order to grant the comment ambiguity, one has to forget the standard racist trope of suggesting that Africa is such a mess because blacks cannot govern themselves. Even without reading into posting history, there is a cultural history to comments like that. It's unclear why we should dismiss the years and years of history informing comments like this.
    posted by OmieWise at 6:33 PM on April 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


    Do three blind mice and The Jesse Helms care if we conclude that they're racist? If so, why?
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2008


    Yes, 'cause we are TEH AWESOME.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 PM on April 18, 2008


    Tell ya what I'll settle this for you, it was a racist comment. There; now you bunch of blue staters can all take a break from this fascinating topic and run along to your trendy bars and have a few dozen banana daiquiris.
    posted by nola at 6:47 PM on April 18, 2008


    This may help.
    posted by klangklangston at 6:53 PM on April 18, 2008


    " This may help."

    Nope.
    posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:56 PM on April 18, 2008


    I think his failure to attend here says quite a lot.

    Yeah, that he's smart enough to know that defending yourself is the best way to keep this thing alive. Callouts die unless there's someone to play the other side... this one is only still going because there are people defending him.
    posted by smackfu at 6:56 PM on April 18, 2008


    Yeah.

    Brandon, did you mefimail him about the post in general, or this MetaTalk in particular? The post you cite only says that you mefimailed tbm after his post in that thread. I still think he deserves a heads-up that people are in here debating the meaning of his words, and opining on whether he's racist or not. The fact that he hasn't shown up here suggests that he's not aware.
    posted by pardonyou? at 7:03 PM on April 18, 2008


    The fact that he hasn't shown up here suggests that he's not aware.

    Yeah, it's only been 14 hours, sheesh, give him time. No way he could have guessed there would be a MetaTalk post about this. Can somebody give him a heads up please? He's kinda new here.
    posted by cashman at 7:27 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Do three blind mice and The Jesse Helms care if we conclude that they're racist? If so, why?

    FAIL
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:37 PM on April 18, 2008


    saying that black people are incapable (of running the country) - racist.

    Is that so?

    Well, for starters, he didn't say 'black people', he said 'the black majority' (of Zimbabwe). The average IQ of the black population in Zimbabwe is 70. That's about two standard deviations lower than the whites. So, if it's racist, and therefore groundless, to claim that the race of the majority in power has been a significant factor in Zimbabwe's change of fortune, then I guess that gap in IQ must be irrelevant as well...

    Still a racist statement? Or was it just the absence of an accompanying argument?
    posted by BigSky at 7:38 PM on April 18, 2008


    I still think he deserves a heads-up

    Feel free to send him another message. If he wants to, he'll eventually find his way here, but I'm guessing he was trolling.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2008


    Maybe it was a stupid thing to say, and maybe an even stupider thing to dwell on. Unless you think maybe his remarks might spark a race war here at Mefi, in which case I guess this isn't just a big wank fest.
    posted by nola at 7:51 PM on April 18, 2008


    The average IQ of the black population in Zimbabwe is 70.

    Every single black person is running the country? Also, a cite would be nice, complete with cultural bias controls, historical inequalities, et cetera, but really, this thread is becoming a cluster, and while back in the day I would have spent my entire weekend arguing down this point, I'm not going to do it this time.

    Maybe next we can argue how women are truly inferior to men! This is gonna be awesome. Pony please - a section all to itself where we can segment the population into the smart and strong and the weak and dumb, and then make decisions. castes.metafilter.com maybe.
    posted by cashman at 7:51 PM on April 18, 2008


    Every single black person is running the country?

    No, dude.

    Also, a cite would be nice, complete with cultural bias controls, historical inequalities, et cetera

    Look it up yourself. I suspect that you and I would differ with respect to what 'controls' and adjustments were necessary. Doing a search on "Fred Zindi" is a good start.
    posted by BigSky at 8:02 PM on April 18, 2008


    Bigsky: oh my Jesus fucking a pogo stick god please stop. You're dirtying up my Metafilter. I mean, what Cashman said. But also: (1) who cares if this was a broad generalization about all black people in Zimbabwe vs. all black people (in Africa? On Earth?). Both racist! And (2) you're backing up a statement suggesting black people don't have the capacity for self government with a bullshit appeal to their mental inferiority?

    This whole conversation is a total shock to me. Mr. Bigsky, are you from the past?
    posted by ~ at 8:08 PM on April 18, 2008


    I suspect that you and I would differ with respect to what 'controls' and adjustments were necessary.

    Well good that we can agree to disagree from the start, and not have to waste days and space arguing back and forth. It sure would be nice if 3bm explained himself so that this endless speculation could be done with.
    posted by cashman at 8:13 PM on April 18, 2008


    Look it up yourself.

    When you make a claim like that, it's you that has to back it up. It's not up to anyone else to prove you're wrong.
    posted by puke & cry at 8:19 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    It's always bothered me that there's only one black cylon.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 PM on April 18, 2008


    Mr. Bigsky, are you from the past?

    No.

    you're backing up a statement suggesting black people don't have the capacity for self government with a bullshit appeal to their mental inferiority?

    Huh, I see. A 25-30 point IQ drop in the voting population doesn't mean a thing. OK, sure.

    If you don't think that will almost certainly have a profoundly negative effect on infrastructure, civil strife and the state of the economy, then we have some very different notions of what reasonable predictions are.

    -----

    puke & cry,

    a claim like that

    Like it's some wild figure that's completely out of line with expectations. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you haven't seen any numbers on the average IQ in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    posted by BigSky at 8:46 PM on April 18, 2008


    BigSky,

    I took your advice and googled "Fred Zindi", but unfortunately I soon ended up at stormfront.org.
    posted by lukemeister at 9:04 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I can feel my IQ dropping sharply right now just reading this.
    posted by Artw at 9:12 PM on April 18, 2008


    It's always bothered me that there's only one black cylon.

    What's bothered me is that the cylons are more ethnically diverse than the humans.

    One black cylon, one brown cylon and one east-Asian (would writing yellow here be a bad idea?) cylon. If you're a person of colour on BSG there's a better chance you're a cylon than not.
    posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:20 PM on April 18, 2008


    And the gray majority went on to demonstrate to the MeFites - leaving no uncertainty - that they were utterly incapable of discussing anything to do with race in a reasonable manner.
    posted by dhammond at 9:20 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Mr. Bigsky, are you from the past?

    No.

    Are you sure? Are you frightened by electric hybrid automobiles, tofurky, and miscegenation? (Heck, apparently IQ scores keep increasing year after year within a given population. Clearly voting in Bush was a sign of the rapidly expanding American cranial cavity.)
    posted by ~ at 9:23 PM on April 18, 2008


    I find it remarkable that the black population of Zimbabwe, long deprived of opportunities for decent education and economic advancement, have lower IQ scores than their advantaged white countrymen.
    posted by maxwelton at 9:27 PM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    The Flynn effect is completely irrelevant to what BigSky said. He didn't say that black people in Zimbabwe have a low IQ because they're black, and he didn't say that that black people, as a general matter, lack the capacity for self governance.

    He said that black people in Zimbabwe, as a matter of fact, for whatever reason, actually do have low IQs. This is not an exciting claim.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:31 PM on April 18, 2008


    When I first read the initial comment that started this thread, I was like, "Whoa. That's really bad. I can't believe anyone would write that." And it bothered me, and I was glad this thread opened, because racism needs to be addressed. Maybe, having come from Angry Black Woman's blog, I read it prepared to be incensed. Maybe I misinterpreted, but my initial reaction was the same as those of you crying foul in this thread.

    But, mulling it over, I can also understand why 3bm hasn't come in to defend his argument. There are some things you can rise above and move beyond: mistakes made in one's youth, words said in anger, even felons get a second chance after they've served their time in prison. But make a racist statement in a public forum, on TV or the radio or in print, and it's hard to come back from that. We tend to think that if someone is a racist, there's no hope for that person. There's a zero tolerance policy. Even if they never do or say anything remotely racist for the rest of their lives, we suspect they are just keeping quiet, covering up and playing safe, while still, down deep inside, there's this racist heart still beating. People lose their jobs because of accusations of racism these days, their livelihood.

    I don't know what to do about that, either. I'm glad people can't just get away with making racist comments. I don't want my kids growing up thinking that kind of behavior is ever okay. I want them to be incensed by racism and act against it, not just shrug their shoulders and accept that it exists. I would rather the racists lost their jobs then the people they are discriminating against simply on the basis of something like skin color.

    At the same time, though, I think we need to be really careful about making the kind of accusation that could shadow someone for life.
    posted by misha at 9:40 PM on April 18, 2008


    If you're a person of colour on BSG there's a better chance you're a cylon than not.

    Isn't that true of the real world in general? 6+ billion people on the planet, and 2+ billion of them are Chinese and Indian alone.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:41 PM on April 18, 2008


    Isn't that true of the real world in general? 6+ billion people on the planet, and 2+ billion of them are Chinese and Indian alone.

    You're asking whether, in the real world, a person of color has a better chance of being a cylon than not? I think the answer is surely "no," irrespective of the number of Chinese and Indian people.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:46 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    The implication was that if IQ drops over time, it may not be the absolute measure of intelligence he thinks it is. (Let's say, for example, that extrapolating the relationship backwards to the time of the American revolution leads us to note that Americans at the time had a terribly low uncorrected IQ. Is this evidence they lacked a capacity for self-government?)

    You say you are unexcited by the claim that IQ scores in Zimbabwe are low. Personally, I am disgusted by the use of low IQ scores in Zimbabwe as an explanation for the poor governance of Mugabe. Your willfully oblique and context-free argument, however, is unexciting to me.
    posted by ~ at 9:52 PM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    You're asking whether, in the real world, a person of color has a better chance of being a cylon than not? I think the answer is surely "no," irrespective of the number of Chinese and Indian people.

    But it would explain why they all look the same.
    posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:01 PM on April 18, 2008


    Big Sky, for real, making a claim like that and refusing to provide your own citations smacks strongly of intellectual dishonesty. Either you believe in the studies you're quoting enough to supply them or we don't have a whole lot of reason to believe you. For one thing, there's ample reason to believe that an oppressed people will score low on a standardized test which, if it's anything like the standardized tests the rest of us are familiar with, are likely biased toward privilege and high education over natural intellect.

    Saying "no, I WON'T supply evidence to back up my outrageous claims, so nyeah!" is just about the be all and end all of poor discussion.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:05 PM on April 18, 2008


    The implication was that if IQ drops over time, it may not be the absolute measure of intelligence he thinks it is.

    There's no indication that he thinks IQ is an absolute measure of intelligence. You just made that up, because it was easy to knock down.

    (Let's say, for example, that extrapolating the relationship backwards to the time of the American revolution leads us to note that Americans at the time had a terribly low uncorrected IQ. Is this evidence they lacked a capacity for self-government?)

    What if we extrapolate back to the time of the ancient Greeks? See, you're just being stupid. We have no reason to believe that the people responsible for founding the US had low IQs, so don't invent imaginary data that shows they did. That's a ridiculous way to argue.

    I'm not being willfully oblique or context-free. You're freaking out over things that nobody has said.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:06 PM on April 18, 2008



    How could B say, "it was fine until those black people moved in" and not be racist? (Please remember that I think he PROBABLY is racist.) Well, when referring to a person, you have to specify who you're talking about somehow.

    That's racist.

    If I said, "the neighborhood was fine until those red-headed people moved in"

    That's red-headed-ist.

    or "the neighbrhood was fine until those noisy people moved in,"

    That's noise-ist.

    As long as we're splitting hairs on implied meaning, we may as well do so on word/phrase definitions too.


    To me, it's Xist if you're judging people based on X. In the above statements, the speaker MIGHT be making a judgement, but there's no way to be sure without more information. To me, just pointing out X doesn't make someone racist.

    If I say, "look at that blue table," I'm not a bluest -- necessarily. I MAY be judging the table by its color. Or I may be just noticing its color. There's a huge difference.
    posted by grumblebee at 10:10 PM on April 18, 2008


    But make a racist statement in a public forum, on TV or the radio or in print, and it's hard to come back from that. We tend to think that if someone is a racist, there's no hope for that person. There's a zero tolerance policy. Even if they never do or say anything remotely racist for the rest of their lives, we suspect they are just keeping quiet, covering up and playing safe, while still, down deep inside, there's this racist heart still beating. People lose their jobs because of accusations of racism these days, their livelihood.

    You know, this is completely true just about everywhere in the world. just about. thankfully, here at metafilter we skew slightly more forgiving than the general public about things like this. It has always amazed me how reluctant a lot of people here are to ever say "you know what, that clearly bothered a lot of people and even though I really didn't mean it the way you guys read it I'm sorry that I bothered so many people inadvertently. I hope you can understand that that wasn't my intention." I mean, the go to answer to every accusation seems to always be "fuck you! you're just too STUPID to read plain english properly and you're a troll and fuck you! with your stupid minds! STUPID! STUPID!"

    and yet, I very recently had to apologize for making a comment that bothered more than a couple of people and nobody tarred and feathered me for it. All I did was apologize for saying something that came across differently than I intended it. Nobody said "LIAR! YOU'RE JUST BACKTRACKING NOW!" or anything. I was even offered hugs. Other people have also apologized recently, too, and were likewise offered hugs. Sure, occasionally someone's ass has a bug so far up it that their first reaction is to greet the apology unkindly, but they're ALWAYS in the minority and usually others will chime in to tell them to back off.

    Acknowledging the source of a misunderstanding and apologizing for the situation pretty much always goes well here. Really really well. Far better than it does almost anywhere else in the world. Honestly, we should take advantage of that fact while we can. Pretty soon those god damn filthy Luxembourgers will blow up the world and then we won't have a metafilter to apologize to at all.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:12 PM on April 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


    I'm sorry. I don't know why I typed that out. I have nothing against Luxembourg, I think it's a beautiful country and I hope that anyone from Luxembourg who may have been offended by that remark can understand that I hold no bad feelings toward them and I count them among the greatest people in the world.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:13 PM on April 18, 2008


    I haven't found anything on IQ in Zimbabwe by race. I now have questions about Botswana and Australia, however.
    posted by Tehanu at 10:23 PM on April 18, 2008


    Ok, you know what? I fucking went and googled fred zindi. Guess fucking what.

    He wrote a paper about how unequal educational opportunities between black and white zimbabweans lead to poor testing among black zimbabweans and offered solutions to address the problem through equalizing the educational gap. Here's the pdf. It's the 4th link in this google search.

    God damn it, Big Sky. That's so fucking weak. Seriously. weak. fucking. sauce. Just the lamest god damn thing ever. I've retyped this comment about a bajillion times, taking out all the names and insults once my head cooled a bit, and then putting them back in when I thought about your fucking lie again and got angry again. I've finally taken all the names out and left in some semblence of the anger just so I can be fucking clear what a god damn bad show that was without sugar coating it too much. Fuck. God I'm so fucking mad right now. FUCK.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:29 PM on April 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


    Botswana by all accounts is quite nice, and completely failed to go to shit after decolonisation.
    posted by Artw at 10:29 PM on April 18, 2008


    You just made that up, because it was easy to knock down.

    No, I really didn't. Of course I don't know what Bigsky thinks, but I was responding to this statement:

    saying that black people are incapable (of running the country) - racist.
    Is that so? ... The average IQ of the black population in Zimbabwe is 70. That's about two standard deviations lower than the whites.


    If a couple of hundred years ago the average uncorrected IQ of an American was 70, this seems quite germane to the discussion to me.

    Listen: I assume BigSky has a big old heart of gold (especially being a Ron Paul nut supporter), but I think his statement was offensive and shouldn't stand without serious criticism. I'm not that interested in this ridiculous side-argument with you.
    posted by ~ at 10:31 PM on April 18, 2008


    If a couple of hundred years ago the average uncorrected IQ of an American was 70, this seems quite germane to the discussion to me.

    Except we have no way of knowing what it was, and it's not at all clear how the average uncorrected IQ is even relevant, since most Americans weren't even allowed to vote! You're imagining it must have been 70, because if it was, you think you'd have a good argument. Forgive me if I don't find that very compelling.

    Listen: I assume BigSky has a big old heart of gold (especially being a Ron Paul nut supporter), but I think his statement was offensive and shouldn't stand without serious criticism.

    If you think you're providing serious criticism, you're hilarious. You're unwilling or unable to actually address what he said, which very well might be offensive, but I'm not convinced you even know.

    I suggest you start over, read carefully what was actually written, and see if you still feel like carrying on. If you do, feel free to have another go at it.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:42 PM on April 18, 2008


    I now have questions about Botswana and Australia

    What do you call an Aussie who scores well in an IQ test?
    A cheat.
    posted by lukemeister at 10:44 PM on April 18, 2008


    Oh, ha ha bloody hahaha.
    posted by kisch mokusch at 11:18 PM on April 18, 2008


    shmegegge,

    We might disagree but there hasn't been any game playing. I like your post, though.

    I've always thought I was strong with the google but this seemed like pretty simple stuff. There was no attempt to hide anything or misrepresent. If you google (fred zindi iq) or (fred zindi zimbabwe) and you will quickly come across a number of sites that reference his 1994 article, ‘Differences in psychometric performance’. Unfortunately the article itself is not available online. Zindi tested 204 Zimbabwean adolescents on a non-verbal pattern recognition IQ test. The results were as reported.

    The pdf you linked to had nothing to do with IQ. His discussion of testing in that article was in reference to school entrance exams.

    By the way, this, “the standardized tests the rest of us are familiar with, are likely biased toward privilege and high education over natural intellect” is a very contentious statement. It gets passed around here like gospel but there is no such scientific consensus.

    Botswana by all accounts is quite nice, and completely failed to go to shit after decolonisation.

    Sweet!

    My original statement was about what was reasonable to expect, the probability. Obviously when it comes to assigning blame in a legal sense for the suffering of Zimbabwe's citizens, Mugabe and his cohorts are the targets. But if I had the opportunity to take a long term (10 years +) bet on the ZWB in 1980 and I knew that the transition from one majority to the other entailed a 25 - 30 point IQ drop, then I would pass without needing to know anything else. I would pass on the option if I was being laid 2 to 1 odds, maybe even 3 to 1.

    Are you frightened by electric hybrid automobiles, tofurky, and miscegenation?

    No, yes, no.

    ~,

    I am not ignoring the Flynn Effect. At some point in the future I expect the difference between the average IQ in Zimbabwe and everywhere else to be statistically insignificant.

    I do not think that IQ is a complete measure of intelligence. But it counts. It tells us something. If as I was being accepted into a hospital I found out that the entire administration had been replaced with a staff whose average IQ was more than one standard deviation less than the previous bunch, I'd be scared. I'm guessing that you would be too.
    posted by BigSky at 12:00 AM on April 19, 2008


    You're asking whether, in the real world, a person of color has a better chance of being a cylon than not? I think the answer is surely "no," irrespective of the number of Chinese and Indian people.

    You know, I walked away thinking, "Dammit, I mistakenly quoted that out of context. Someone's going to get all snarky now, even though they know what I meant."

    Grats, Steve. You win the pool. ;-)
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:33 AM on April 19, 2008


    People choose which research, theories, and statistics to find convincing for their own reasons, often to support their own biases or hopes. Among all the IQ-related data collected and variously analyzed in the fields of biology, anthropology, sociology and psychology, anyone can pick and choose to create a montage that will pretty much support whatever viewpoint they'd like to expound. Personally I find this information persuasive. [Poverty and discrimination create large IQ differences even between groups of the same ethnicity], but my IQ certainly isn't high enough to declare the issue resolved. Anyone who thinks they have it all figured out... probably shouldn't be debating about genetics and IQ. *stares pointedly at The Jesse Helms*
    posted by taz at 2:51 AM on April 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Reducing something as complex and multi-faceted (not to mention poorly understood) as intelligence to a fucking quotient = instafail. Whilst it's oh-so-reassuring to have a single number to point to so you can compare yourself to them and prove your superiority on a fabricated index, it's of little utility if it's resting on a foundation of bs. And that's the concept itself, before we even get to the biases of test delivery and interpretation of results.

    Artw said many thing I agree on, until: "Except the switch from white minority rule to black majority rule DID set in motion the events that led to the current situation in Zimbabwe. Race IS a factor..."

    Respectfully disagree. In addition to flirting with a correlation/causation flaw, to say race is a factor suggests (to me) that no black people could have competently managed Zimbabwe.

    However Rhodesia was divided into classes. One of these classes had a clear advantage over the other in terms of education, opportunity, exposure to government, etc. The former departed and left their system to the other, which was mismanaged. These two groups happened to be divided along racial lines.

    It was this way of thinking that perhaps made me read 3BM/TBM's comment in a more charitable light - i.e. that it was the black majority of the new Zimbabwe which ran it into the ground. Yet another case where we could've said "It could've been written better" but instead we let the grey explode.

    On a side note: it's a source of eternal shame that MetaFilter avoids tackling the real discussion, which is wholly cromulent in its concern for Zimbabwe, in order to navel-gaze at what might or might not be racist in what members said in reaction. If only we could harness our powers for good (discourse).
    posted by cosmonik at 4:07 AM on April 19, 2008


    we could've said "It could've been written better" but instead we let the grey explode.
    Uh, plenty of people said exactly that, and then that was thrashed out too, up to the point where most people wondered why exactly charity was being stretched so far to save somebody who can't even be bothered responding.

    it's a source of eternal shame that MetaFilter avoids tackling the real discussion,
    eternal shame? get a grip. The discussion continues on that thread, anyway.
    posted by bonaldi at 4:23 AM on April 19, 2008


    get a grip

    bonaldi, meet hyperbole. He spends a fair bit of time 'round these parts.

    Even if the discussion continued, there's four times the number of comments in this thread, and that's not including the comments in the original thread which were about what 3BM (inter alia) said.
    posted by cosmonik at 4:36 AM on April 19, 2008


    There's four times as many people who are equipped to discuss racism as there are to contribute good discourse on the historical aspects of Zimbabwe's downfall, maybe?
    posted by bonaldi at 4:48 AM on April 19, 2008


    BigSky,

    I do not think that IQ is a complete measure of intelligence. But it counts. It tells us something. If as I was being accepted into a hospital I found out that the entire administration had been replaced with a staff whose average IQ was more than one standard deviation less than the previous bunch, I'd be scared. I'm guessing that you would be too.

    I don't know if there's virtue in bickering over the analogy, but I think the closer analogue would be refusing to be treated by a black doctor (because of some argument about IQ tests). You're ignoring the qualities of the person in front of you in favour of a blanket impression of the person's "race". (And I certainly don't concede that focusing on IQ tests is anything but specious in this case. It's a leap to suggest it measures the comparative self-governing abilities of black and white Zimbabweans, since it would take some pretty careful argumentation to establish it as a meaningful ability test between these two populations, and then to establish it as a meaningful statistic related to quality of governance.)

    Mr. President,

    I can't tell what your argument with me is actually about, so I'm not motivated to continue it.
    posted by ~ at 4:52 AM on April 19, 2008


    Since when has 'equipped to discuss' been a factor in people deciding to engage a topic on MeFi? Hint: 'never'.

    "...wished to discuss racism ..." may have been more accurate in your previous formulation, however even then, my lamentation above - however futile it may be (and hence its disclamation as a 'side note') - was that such wishes were not so.
    posted by cosmonik at 5:21 AM on April 19, 2008


    MetaFilter fucking sucks.
    posted by chunking express at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    maybe threeblindmice is a cylon, just not a black one.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 AM on April 19, 2008


    I do not think that IQ is a complete measure of intelligence. But it counts. It tells us something. If as I was being accepted into a hospital I found out that the entire administration had been replaced with a staff whose average IQ was more than one standard deviation less than the previous bunch, I'd be scared.

    Even assuming this analogy, there are strong indications that the precursors of the the IQ testing gap are closely tied to being dominated politically. (I'll wave my hands at Amartya Sen and 'capabilities' theory now. We can hash this out later if you disagree.) So if I told you that group X will always test lower than group Y, unless group X was given political equality, would that change your answer? Say that we face a generation of bad management before the equalization in testing can occur?

    Look. Even if we accept IQ as predictive (and there's reason to doubt the kind of statistical maneuvering necessary to extrapolate from 204 pattern recognition tests to the general intelligence of a nation: big margins of error here) we'd still have to admit that being excluded from political authority in Zimbabwe is likely the root cause of IQ inequity: exclusion from early education, undernourishment, and poverty all correlate strongly with lower IQs. Maybe that's because IQ is genetic, and stupid parents forget to feed their stupid children, but the more likely reason is that early childhood malnourishment leads to serious failures in cognitive development. If the undernourishment is due to political domination, then we've got to eliminate that domination before we can address the other incapacities at work. But if the domination=equality equation is true, but we pretend it's not, than the inequality will only be exacerbated over time. This exactly describes the colonial situation in Africa, especially in Rhodesia where colonial/white rule lasted longer due to the Smith regime, and where international opposition to that regime led to significant economic disadvantages for the newly independent nation. It turns out, arguments from incapacity have a tendency to be self-fulfilling.

    The argument as you've presented it seems to ignore these larger issues, which suggests that you've studied the data on IQ to the exclusion of the other issues that face colonial and post-colonial regimes. May I suggest a more holistic approach?
    posted by anotherpanacea at 8:14 AM on April 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


    My initial reaction was "wtf?" and I stand by it. A majority doesn't need to rig elections and Mugabe's regime isn't a black majority; it's a dictatorship that represses "the black majority" that TBM thinks can't run their own affairs. And, to be frank, the lack of qualification makes it read as if the black majority (in general) can't get their act together.
    posted by ersatz at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Rushton & Jensen (2003) say

    Across the 10 sub-tests, the Zimbabwean children had a total IQ score of 70, while the British children’s total IQ score was 95, a difference of nearly two S.D.s. Although the Zimbabwean scores might have been depressed by a language factor since English was not the Zimbabwean children’s first language, it could not have been by much because Zindi (1994) found almost the same magnitude of difference on the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices, a much less culturally loaded test.
    ---
    I'm off to take my IQ test in Shona. Wish me luck!
    posted by lukemeister at 8:58 AM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    lukemeister: That's why it's important that Zindi did non-verbal pattern recognition: it's still hard to extrapolate to general intelligence, (nor should we necessarily grant that such a thing as general intelligence exists) but you can't ignore it or attribute it to linguistic barriers in the same way. Since pattern recognition is a pretty basic skill, incapacities in that area will affect other kinds of reasoning, certainly mathematics, but also potentially logic and critical reasoning, which, as BigSky rightly points out, may well undermine a truly democratic result.

    The fact that every election ever in Zimbabwe has been corrupted or marked by terror and coercion suggests that these issue are a lot less important politically than they might be economically.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2008


    The fact that every election ever in Zimbabwe has been corrupted or marked by terror and coercion suggests that these issue are a lot less important politically than they might be economically.

    Quoting myself here, but it occurs to me that most elections in the US have been corrupted, too. (We know, for instance, that LBJ was gaming elections in Texas as late as the sixties.)
    posted by anotherpanacea at 9:57 AM on April 19, 2008


    bonaldi: There's four times as many people who are equipped to discuss racism as there are to contribute good discourse on the historical aspects of Zimbabwe's downfall, maybe?

    I know that I, personally, was dissuaded from taking part in that particular Zim discussion by the comments of three blind mice and The Jesse Helms. I have a surprising amount of connection to that beautiful but blighted nation for an Icelander. A friend of mine, who just visited last weekend, worked there for a year teaching in a rural school and another close friend of mine is Zimbabwean, though we don't talk much about the situation in her country because after we both had a rather shitty year last year made a pact to talk about the good things in life during our all too infrequent phonechats. Though now that both our lives are better we might go back to the full range of the human condition.

    But yeah, those first two comments made me stay away. Thinking about Zimbabwe is depressing enough.
    posted by Kattullus at 9:59 AM on April 19, 2008


    Bigsky,

    having slept, I feel much better about things and the world in general. So here's my "no curse words" argument.

    It seems self-evident to me that tests of any kind depend on a number of factors related to the test taker to determine his score. Further, I consider it self-evident that there is not nor can there be a test that accurately and exclusively measures the innate natural intellectual ability that a given person was born with. There are tests that can measure certain important mental faculties, and give an approximate but not especially reliable estimate of how those faculties have developed within that individual's environment, but they cannot and do not tell us what has conspired to enable or hinder that development.

    As I understand it (I don't have any studies or anything to back this up. I am really incredibly bad at researching medicine and health related issues. I don't even know where to start. If I'm wrong, I'd appreciate being hipped to the real knowledge.) our brains develop during our youth in a manner that could, given a number of simplifications, be compared to muscle development. The idea is that we actually increase the ability of certain of our cognitive faculties by using our brains and exercising those cognitive faculties regularly. This is not to say that we are somehow made biologically less capable of complex thought by not thinking, but rather that some chemical or neurological processes are aided by the generation of additional chemical and neurological receptors as we spend our youth using them rather strenuously. Again, this is a recollection of something I recall from high school science more than 10 years after the fact, so I could very well be misrepresenting any number of details or general points about this.

    Point is, I believe there is a demonstrable trend that certain natural abilities will seem or possibly even BE poorly developed in an individual that grew up without proper opportunities to exercise those faculties regardless of whatever natural intellectual potential the individual may have been born with. Of course, the natural intellectual potential of someone is a shady idea at best and not something any of us could really quantify, but that really just supports my point further.

    The idea is that it's easy to point to studies and say "as we can see here, these individuals have a [lower iq/lower testing ability/inferior speech center] and therefore we can conclude..." but there isn't really any actual point to be reliably made by doing so. Even if your point was to say "Black Zimbabweans have a lower iq because of the social oppression they suffered under for centuries, and will therefore be poor governors of their own affairs," the logic supporting that idea is shady at best. And I believe that is the most generous interpretation of your statement.

    What angered me last night, and which I still have some sketchy feelings about, is that I think you know and believe this yourself. I don't believe you posted that iq statistic in order to prove how stupid black zimbabweans are. I believe you did it because you wanted to prove that if a race of people in a given area all suffer the same circumstances that lead to the same result (such as lower iq scores) then it's not racist to point that out or to draw a correlation between their race and their ability to perform certain tasks, because their race is what lead to their oppression.

    So when I ask myself why you didn't simply come out and say THAT, instead of making a comment that would obviously sound to so many people like saying "Black Zimbabweans are dumb, lol" the only answer I can come up with is that you intended to trap people into a position that was easy for you to attack. Maybe you thought that everyone here was too eager to label someone as a racist (some of the people here certainly are, pretty much all the time) or something. But basically, the way I see it is that you handed someone some clothes, straw and instructions for building a straw man and then waited for them to attack it so you could call them out on it.

    I think Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America pretty much spiked the ball you set up for him, and it doesn't speak well of either one of you.

    Frankly, the argument I think you were trying to get a back door in to making is a poor one. I think that any argument about the intellect of black zimbabweans, whatever we want to attribute their testing scores to, and their ability to govern themselves is an incredibly flawed argument that ignores most of the factors surrounding mugabe's dictatorship and ultimately draws focus away from the actual problems in zimbabwe. But I'm not here to address that argument. Other people have, and I'm not interested in continuing it. But it seems to me that maybe the reason you were going about your argument the way you did is that you figured it would present better as a killer argument if you could trap someone into accepting your red herring initial premise as a valid point of argumentation. I don't know.

    One way or the other, I think you've argued here in remarkably bad faith, and to have done so by making a point that intentionally draws attention to a disparagement of an entire people is revolting.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:36 AM on April 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


    As a white-male north american I would be perfectly willing to demonstrate my inability to take care of myself and my country, thereby rendering the race question irrelevant. Now who wants to give me a country to ruin?
    posted by blue_beetle at 11:07 AM on April 19, 2008


    cosmonik said: However Rhodesia was divided into classes. One of these classes had a clear advantage over the other in terms of education, opportunity, exposure to government, etc. The former departed and left their system to the other, which was mismanaged. These two groups happened to be divided along racial lines.

    The lol-cats-unpack-the-knapsack-of-white-privilege FPP discussion was, when I last checked, swirling around how disadvantages that (American) blacks face is really about class, not race; that it's not racism that has the biggest impact on blacks but class, because you know poor white people suffer too, man! I may have missed some of the nuanced discussion there because my eye-rolling kept me from reading a lot of it.

    I dunno. It's just interesting to me that one discussion has it that blacks are at a disadvantage primarily because they're poor, and the other that it's because they're dumb.

    I'm not saying that class has no impact - cosmonik nailed it, IMO. But class was made a factor because of racism.
    posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2008


    That is it. That is fucking it! That is the ideal Metafilter comment. That is the goddamn epitome of a Metafilter comment. Can you put that on the FAQ? Like:

    Q: So what would the perfect Metafilter comment be?

    A: The lol-cats-unpack-the-knapsack-of-white-privilege FPP discussion was, when I last checked, swirling around how disadvantages that (American) blacks face is really about class, not race; that it's not racism that has the biggest impact on blacks but class, because you know poor white people suffer too, man! I may have missed some of the nuanced discussion there because my eye-rolling kept me from reading a lot of it.

    It has everything! Seriously. I am excited about this.
    posted by ND¢ at 11:52 AM on April 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


    I have nothing to add to the racism discussion, because it seems to me utterly self-evident that both statements were racist. But I do have one quick thing to add. If the situation in Zimbabwe is going to be solved, other African nations are going to have to put pressure on Mugabe. And one of the reasons that the leaders of some other African countries have been slow to acknowledge Mugabe's crimes is precisely that they worry that doing so discredits the anti-colonial movement, in which Mugabe was a major figure, and lends credence to the racist discourse that was used to justify colonial domination of Africa. When outsiders use racist, neocolonialist language to talk about Zimbabwe, they make it harder to fix the situation in Zimbabwe. And that's unacceptable.

    As for the majority in Zimbabwe being incapable of running the country, I don't think that's the problem. The problem is that the majority in Zimbabwe isn't being allowed to run the country. The issue here is that there is not enough democracy in Zimbabwe, not that there is too much.
    posted by craichead at 11:56 AM on April 19, 2008


    "(We know, for instance, that LBJ the GOP was gaming elections in Texas as late as the sixties 2004.)"
    posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2008


    Both comments are prima facie racist. 3bm is lame and cowardly for sitting back after throwing his stink bomb. Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America is trolling, and not very effectively. And, The Jesse Helms, I'd flag your comment for deletion, but it is far better that your username should live next to it in shame for perpetuity.
    posted by found missing at 12:40 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America is trolling, and not very effectively.

    How is it trolling to encourage people to respond to the arguments that other people actually make, instead whipping themselves into a frenzy over something no one actually said? That's a very strange definition of trolling.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:07 PM on April 19, 2008


    Okay, withdrawn. But, I think you're being willfully obtuse.
    posted by found missing at 1:23 PM on April 19, 2008


    Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America writes "How is it trolling to encourage people to respond to the arguments that other people actually make, instead whipping themselves into a frenzy over something no one actually said? That's a very strange definition of trolling."

    My grandfather used to say things like, black people (well, that's not the term he used) are better athletes because the weak ones died off on the boats coming to the US. Whether there is merit in what he claims, the reason he used to bring these things up is to try to make a larger point about how black people are different from white people, and usually inferior, except for things like sports and music. He brought these things up because he was a racist, not because he was trying to have a good conversation about race. The problem in trying to bring up studies like Zindi's is that they are almost always used in the context of making a larger point about the inferiority of the "black race," usually cited by out-and-out racist groups or people. Regardless if that is someone's intent, it's probably a good idea to remember this and take into account, that certain people might assume you're a racist because you say the same things as many others who are. But you can ignore context and put aside all sense of tact, and blame other people for their understandable reactions to what are at the very least racially provocative statements. You can light a cigar in an elevator, too, and act surprised when people get pissed about that, and certainly it's someone's right to smoke a cigar, but I don't think that's defensible in that context.
    posted by krinklyfig at 1:26 PM on April 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


    What The Fuck! I generally really enjoy Metafilter, however it becomes increasingly evident that despite the overall high quality of posts, anything that mentions black people, black culture or any other kind of blackness will inevitably be fucked up by a bunch of Stormfront assholes. And then, after the rightful indignation of various board members, another bunch of assholes will pop out of the woodwork to defend the first set of assholes. Various and sundry arguments will be put forward that demonstrate that the first bunch of assholes were not being racist. Anyone who was offended by the objectionable comments is being oversensitive, playing a race card or doesn't understand what racism is (as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is. . . mothafucka please). This condescending attitude is extremely offensive and IMHO makes you even more of an asshole than the initial overtly racist asshole. As a black man, it is a constant reminder to me that this is not my home. There will always be a bunch of assholes who want to turn things into an exclusive club, one which is not open to me and my ilk. This is truly a shame. I really do wonder what the payoff is for the resident MeFi racists and the trolls to trash anything that mentions black people. Is your own self-esteem so fucking low that you need a constant scapegoat, "I may be an ignorant ass loser, but hey, at least I'm not black!" You bastards need to put your sheets and hoods back on, crawl back under your rocks, and fuck off and die.
    posted by anansi at 1:37 PM on April 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


    Okay, withdrawn. But, I think you're being willfully obtuse.

    I'm not being willfully obtuse. I'm simply not imposing the same preconceptions on people's words that you are. You're perfectly free to think that someone's a racist, if you want, but when your conclusion is so heavily based on your preconceived notions about how people talk and think about race, and not on what the person actually said, don't be surprised if others don't find your condemnation convincing.

    In this case, the original remark from the FPP was framed in terms of race ("after it is granted black majority rule"), so I didn't find it remarkable that the failures of the new Zimbabwean government were also framed in those terms.

    Some people assume that any negative statement about a group denoted at least partially racially (e.g. "black Zimbabweans") is intended as a racist statement, and the only reason the speaker doesn't just say, for example, "all black people are stupid because they're black" is because they're trying to maintain a veneer of respectability. It's certainly possible that the authors of the objectionable comments meant precisely this, but again, it's not in their words.

    In my mind, a fair criticism of the comments would be something along the lines of, "these comments aren't particularly insightful, and although they are superficially factual, they are framed in terms that strongly remind me of racist rhetoric, and I doubt I'm the only person to see this resemblance--why don't we just cut them." Instead, a lot of people took the perspective that the comments or the authors were themselves inherently and objectively racist, but this wasn't particularly defensible, because the words of the comments belied the certainty of the interpretation people were imposing.

    I think that a lot of the people who feel the comments clearly were racist felt the need to question the integrity of the people who disagreed, rather than admitting that the racist interpretation was based heavily on what the reader brought to the comments, rather than anything actually found therein.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:57 PM on April 19, 2008


    (as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is. . . mothafucka please)

    That sort of thing doesn't help much at all, and it's also condescending.

    I've yet to fuck anyone's motha as well.
    posted by CKmtl at 2:16 PM on April 19, 2008


    Both comments are prima facie racist. 3bm is lame and cowardly for sitting back after throwing his stink bomb. Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America is trolling, and not very effectively. And, The Jesse Helms, I'd flag your comment for deletion, but it is far better that your username should live next to it in shame for perpetuity.

    That's pretty much it, and given the discussions that revolve around repeated responses to any one of these three people are naturally going nowhere, it's a shame the mods haven't closed this one.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:32 PM on April 19, 2008


    That is it. That is fucking it! That is the ideal Metafilter comment. That is the goddamn epitome of a Metafilter comment. Can you put that on the FAQ?

    Well pardon me to hell and back for exhibiting impatience with a discussion I (and a lot of other folks here) have had three zillion fucking times already. I should've stopped reading that lolcats thread when the comments veered off into dead-horse-being-beaten territory. I should really know better by now - about myself, and about how metafilter usually handles stuff like this.

    So yeah, I didn't read every single specialsnowflake word written about how "Well, I don't have privilege because I don't even [own a car] [have a college degree] [have a job] [blahblahfuckingblah]." I heard y'all twice the first time. Mea fucking culpa.

    rather than admitting that the racist interpretation was based heavily on what the reader brought to the comments,

    And the original commenters should be adult enough to say "My comment was really tone-deaf", if that's in fact what it was. But honestly? 99/100, hoofbeats = horses, not zebras. To pretend that one doesn't need to be especially careful about making pronouncements regarding race is naive to the point of stupidity. Your attempt to parse TBM's (3BM?) comment as not racist is perhaps generous and kindly meant, but the route is so circuitous that trying to put the onus on the reader rather than the commenter seems silly.
    posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on April 19, 2008


    But honestly? 99/100, hoofbeats = horses, not zebras.

    Nobody is talking about hoofbeats, though. When I read this, the it was hard not to assume you were trying to paint people who disagree with you as unreasonable.

    To pretend that one doesn't need to be especially careful about making pronouncements regarding race is naive to the point of stupidity.

    Nobody is pretending this.

    Your attempt to parse TBM's (3BM?) comment as not racist is perhaps generous and kindly meant, but the route is so circuitous that trying to put the onus on the reader rather than the commenter seems silly.

    I read what they wrote. This is circuitous, just reading the words actually put down? I have to admit, your perspective is totally bizarre to me.

    In any event, the onus is always on the reader to read in good faith. Part of reading in good faith is reading and responding to what the author actually wrote, even if you suspect the author might be a bad person.

    And the original commenters should be adult enough to say "My comment was really tone-deaf", if that's in fact what it was.

    If the criticism had been, "that comment was really tone deaf," you might have a point. That's not at all what the criticism was, though, and an author has no obligation to dignify a frenzied pile on with a response.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:04 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    something odd just occurred to me - i've never read a discussion where anyone wondered if germans had lower iqs because they elected adolf hitler
    posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    i've never read a discussion where anyone wondered if germans had lower iqs because they elected adolf hitler

    On the other hand, I've seen plenty of discussions contemplating the IQs of Republicans and residents of "red" states.

    not that I'm defending Republicans, because those are some stupid ass dipshits
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2008



    (as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is. . . mothafucka please)

    That sort of thing doesn't help much at all, and it's also condescending.

    I've yet to fuck anyone's motha as well.


    Truthfully, I don't care if you feel that it is condescending. It is true. It is patently offensive and condescending for all of these assholes to try to define racism for others. There is very little that is as infuriating as having someone who has never experienced racism, bigotry or prejudice or their implications directly (and never will) attempt to tell you that what you are experiencing is not racism/bigotry/prejudice. That is condescension of the highest order. My comment wasn't posted to"help" the situation. My comment was born of the frustration that I, as a black man, feel due to the bullshit that goes on here anytime something about black people is posted. MeTa is the one place on this site where venting frustration is OK. So, you can take your little admonishment and lame-ass attempt at being cute and shove it up your ass.
    posted by anansi at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


    As a black man, it is a constant reminder to me that this is not my home.

    I'm a black man and this is my home and the next jackass drinks the last of the kool-aid and doesn't make anymore is going to get hurt.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America:
    I read what they wrote. This is circuitous, just reading the words actually put down? I have to admit, your perspective is totally bizarre to me ... Part of reading in good faith is reading and responding to what the author actually wrote

    It seems to me that you're saying that if you read the actual words that 3bm used, they're inoffensive, and that it's only by putting an interpretative spin on them that they appear racist; that your level-headed interpretation is the only true one, and that under it the worst that can be said about the comments is that they're framed in terms similar to racist rhetoric. I disagree.

    Broadly speaking, there are three ways to interpert 3bm's comment:
    1. The group of black people who took charge of Zimbabwe proved they can't run their own affairs.
    2. Black people in Zimbabwe have proved they can't run their own affairs.
    3. Black people have proved they can't run their own affairs.

    Reading 1 only comes in the context of the "black majority" phrasing used in the OP. Reading 2 (or to a slightly lesser extent 3) comes from what was actually written. If you want to talk about the actual words, that's what he literally said.

    The majority of the readings of the comment have racist overtones. They're not "framed" like racist statements, they pretty much are racist statements. So why do you apparently keep insisting that only reading 1 is the only fair one, especially when that's the only reading that wholly depends upon a non-literal parsing via external phrasing? The "actual words" you're so keen on also support other, more prejudical, readings in that same context.
    posted by bonaldi at 4:54 PM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    So, you can take your little admonishment and lame-ass attempt at being cute and shove it up your ass.

    This condescending attitude is extremely offensive.
    posted by Kwantsar at 4:56 PM on April 19, 2008


    It was I guess a quote from Reservoir Dogs (I don't remember the line from the movie offhand, but it's been a few years and regardless it was pretty Tarantino-on-race-disparities-esque) which makes it a lot less weird on the face of it.

    I hope one day to live in a society where people who think it's still clever to quote Tarantino movies are accorded just as little respect as racists.
    posted by drjimmy11 at 4:59 PM on April 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


    MeTa is the one place on this site where venting frustration is OK.

    Perhaps, but neither being frustrated nor being in MeTa grants you immunity from people pointing out flubs.

    My comment was born of the frustration that I, as a black man, feel due to the bullshit that goes on here anytime something about black people is posted.

    And your understandable frustration led you to say condescending and slightly offensive shit, which you just repeated: "someone who has never experienced racism, bigotry or prejudice or their implications directly".

    You don't know the personal histories of any of the 'whitefolk' posting here, regardless of whether they're on the "yeah, that was racist" or the "perhaps it wasn't" side of the fence. Remember, when you're coming down on Whitey like that, you're coming down on the Whiteys that are on your side as well.

    You don't know if they're gay/bi/lesbian/trans and have experienced prejudice based on that. You don't know if they're white people living in non-white countries (Japan, for instance, with its occasional "No Foreigners" signs and black van people) and have experienced racism there. You don't know if they're white people living in other white countries (say, workers from a recently inducted EU country working in a wealthier EU country) and experiencing prejudice there.

    My comment wasn't posted to "help" the situation.

    I didn't mean the situation here, per se. I meant the racism situation in general. When you (or anyone) adopts that sort of position, it makes discussing racism moot. Since Whitey can't and will never be able to understand, what's the point? Addressing racism will be nigh impossible if there's never going to be any meaningful interchange between, in this case, whitefolk and blackfolk. The same could be said about gender and sexuality issues. If you sincerely adopt that position, you might as well just stick to complaining about it to your fellow black men and women. And women can stick to complaining about sexism only to other women. And gays unto gays, and bisexuals unto bisexuals, etc, etc, etc. Nothing will ever change that way. You see what I meant by it not helping?

    lame-ass attempt at being cute and shove it up your ass.

    I'll decide when and what to shove up my ass, thanks.
    posted by CKmtl at 5:05 PM on April 19, 2008


    and there's reason to doubt the kind of statistical maneuvering necessary to extrapolate from 204 pattern recognition tests to the general intelligence of a nation: big margins of error here

    This is pretty much our only point of disagreement. I don't think that it's much of a stretch at all to make that extrapolation. Fred Zindi compared what he, a black Zimbabwean, thought was a representative sample of working class adolescents in Zimbabwe to a working class group from inner city schools in London. Age and level of education were controlled.

    If the undernourishment is due to political domination, then we've got to eliminate that domination before we can address the other incapacities at work. But if the domination=equality equation is true, but we pretend it's not, than the inequality will only be exacerbated over time.

    Agreed. But, I don't think eliminating the racist structure of the government depends on that argument. We can say that it was a necessity for reasons of human dignity and leave it at that. I'm not necessarily arguing against the overthrow of Rhodesia here. My argument is that given the sizable gap between the races in IQ it isn't racist to say that the catastrophic mismanagement of Zimbabwe is largely attributable to the change from minority to majority rule. That's a harsh and ugly statement and I also don't see any grounds there for disagreement. It's not something that is only said for shock value. IQ makes a real difference. What happened in Zimbabwe certainly wasn't a matter of necessity, but this is not some negligible factor. Given that gap as a starting condition the set of likely scenarios tilts pretty damn strong towards the negative end. The liberal rhetoric that is sometimes thrown around when these factors are brought up, "paternalism" and "use of standard racist tropes" don't serve anyone. They only make discussion more difficult.

    -----

    The idea is that it's easy to point to studies and say "as we can see here, these individuals have a [lower iq/lower testing ability/inferior speech center] and therefore we can conclude..." but there isn't really any actual point to be reliably made by doing so. Even if your point was to say "Black Zimbabweans have a lower iq because of the social oppression they suffered under for centuries, and will therefore be poor governors of their own affairs," the logic supporting that idea is shady at best. And I believe that is the most generous interpretation of your statement.

    It doesn't matter what the gap in IQ is attributable to, it's all irrelevant. It isn't shady logic at all to predict that a population with an average IQ of 70 is going to run into some serious difficulties when they take over a parliamentary democracy. That it's even a subject of debate is surprising.

    I think that any argument about the intellect of black zimbabweans, whatever we want to attribute their testing scores to, and their ability to govern themselves is an incredibly flawed argument that ignores most of the factors surrounding mugabe's dictatorship and ultimately draws focus away from the actual problems in zimbabwe. But I'm not here to address that argument.

    I'm not looking to force you. But I will say that there is value in drawing some attention away from the factors surrounding Mugabe's dictatorship. Sure, we focus on the history and the way it did actually play out, but that's no reason to ignore the potentials.

    I'm not sure I entirely follow the argument about my coming to the discussion with bad faith. While three blind mice's point was an overstatement and obnoxious in tone, it's one I agree with. Do I think that some of the arguments that claim to point out racism are hyper sensitive to the point of being inane? Yeah, of course. But I think I've been up front about my position from the start, and I think it's an important one. What it boils down to is that there are certain issues that are taboo because the act of pointing is enough to label one a racist. But being able to talk about them is important, the issues are real, and someone claiming "Hey! I saw that quoted at stormfront." is nothing but noise.
    posted by BigSky at 5:14 PM on April 19, 2008


    It isn't shady logic at all to predict that a population with an average IQ of 70 is going to run into some serious difficulties when they take over a parliamentary democracy.

    Okay, I'll bite, dammit: I'm not confident you know what the word average means.
    posted by found missing at 6:21 PM on April 19, 2008


    Nor, what the relationship between IQ and voting prowess might be. Are you blaming GWB on the low IQ of the American people?
    posted by found missing at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2008


    Still waiting for you to back up your "average of 70 IQ" claim.
    posted by puke & cry at 7:37 PM on April 19, 2008


    So why do you apparently keep insisting that only reading 1 is the only fair one, especially when that's the only reading that wholly depends upon a non-literal parsing via external phrasing? The "actual words" you're so keen on also support other, more prejudical, readings in that same context.

    Cute, but your argument doesn't work. There's nothing "non-literal" about interpreting "black majority" to mean the very same thing in 3BM's comment as it does in the remark he's replying to. I am keen on reading thing "actual words," but words don't define themselves Particularly when a phrase has no clear literal meaning, such as "the black majority" (the black majority of what?), it's necessary to examine contextual cues to determine the meaning of what was said. This doesn't justify ignoring what was said, or adding to it, in order to reach a particular, desired reading.

    Let's look at what was actually said: "And the black majority went on to demonstrate to the world - leaving no uncertaintly - that they were utterly incapable of running their own affairs."

    The plain language constrains the meanings that we can fairly ascribe to this sentence. The sentence is clearly talking about some group identified only as "the black majority," and it claims that this group somehow proved it was incapable of running its own affairs.

    The phrase "the black majority" doesn't define itself, though. The use of the definite article indicates that he was referring to a particular group of people, but "black majority" is pretty inscrutable on its own. Thankfully, 3BM was replying to someone else who used the very same phrase, making it clear that "the black majority" refers to the black citizens of Zimbabwe in 1980.

    Now the meaning is quite clear. 3BM is saying that the black citizens of Zimbabwe in 1980 proved they were incapable of running their own affairs.

    To support your #3 above, we would have to read "the black majority" to mean "black people," but "the black majority" is such a strange way to generally refer to "black people" that there would have to be some other evidence that this was the desired meaning.

    To support your #2 above, we would have to read "proved" as referring to an ongoing state of affairs, which isn't insurmountable, but when coupled with the recognition that "the black majority" refers to a particular historical group of people, it becomes increasingly untenable.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2008


    Ah, "proved" should be "went" in the last sentence above. thx.
    posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:54 PM on April 19, 2008


    CKmtl

    I didn't mean the situation here, per se. I meant the racism situation in general. When you (or anyone) adopts that sort of position, it makes discussing racism moot. Since Whitey can't and will never be able to understand, what's the point? Addressing racism will be nigh impossible if there's never going to be any meaningful interchange between, in this case, whitefolk and blackfolk. The same could be said about gender and sexuality issues. If you sincerely adopt that position, you might as well just stick to complaining about it to your fellow black men and women. And women can stick to complaining about sexism only to other women. And gays unto gays, and bisexuals unto bisexuals, etc, etc, etc. Nothing will ever change that way. You see what I meant by it not helping?

    So, let me get this straight: instead of admonishing the people who were being racist in this thread, you're going after the guy whose ethnicity was the subject of their racism, and then you're calling him out for not being "helpful" enough? Man, do you even smell the garbage you're peddling???

    I'll decide when and what to shove up my ass, thanks.

    Yeah, right.
    posted by hadjiboy at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


    It isn't shady logic at all to predict that a population with an average IQ of 70 is going to run into some serious difficulties when they take over a parliamentary democracy. That it's even a subject of debate is surprising.

    It's not surprising at all when you consider, as so many have already pointed out, that the tests in question are not reliable tests of the black population of zimbabwe and that there tested iqs are not a measure of their right or ability to govern themselves. That you were ACTUALLY trying to make the argument that black zimbabweans are not prepared to govern themselves is what's surprising, to me at least. I'm kind of blown away that you would actually make the argument that the average iq score of black people suffering from an oppressively inadequate educational system proves that no one within that demographic was capable of adequately serving and governing those people. I had, I suppose in terrible error, given you more credit than that. Your point only loses credibility the more you attempt to explain it.

    But I will say that there is value in drawing some attention away from the factors surrounding Mugabe's dictatorship. Sure, we focus on the history and the way it did actually play out, but that's no reason to ignore the potentials.

    I can't imagine what value you think there is in selectively focusing on the iq scores of black zimbabweans and ignoring everything that might have lead to zimbabwe's current government being so terrible. If you could, in the plainest language you can manage (for my sake) simply state what you think the benefit is of focusing on iq scores over mugabe, I'd greatly appreciate it. I can only assume, at this point, that you're trying to mimic 3bm's apparent point of saying that black zimbabweans cannot govern themselves, with mugabe or without him, and that your only supporting point for this contention is the iq score nonsense.

    Further, I'd like to know what you mean by "the potentials." the potential other candidates? the potential of black zimbabweans? Again, the only interpretation I'm seeing is that you're trying to say that black zimbabweans are completely incapable of governing themselves, and I'd like to hear you either say precisely that or tell me precisely what you mean if that's not it.

    What it boils down to is that there are certain issues that are taboo because the act of pointing is enough to label one a racist. But being able to talk about them is important, the issues are real, and someone claiming "Hey! I saw that quoted at stormfront." is nothing but noise.

    What issues do you imagine are taboo? What bothers me a little bit about the people defending 3bm so far is that they all speak in abstracts and vaguaries. Just tell us what the problem is, for fuck's sake. Is the issue that is taboo the fact that some mefites seem to believe that blacks are inherently inferior to whites? I suppose you could see that as taboo, since virtually no one here will ever accept it as a valid argument. Is the taboo issue that some people here seem to believe that black zimbabweans are inherently inferior to white rhodesians? I suppose you could see that as taboo, since almost no one here will ever accept THAT as a valid argument, either, since it's a collosally stupid thing to say. What the fuck are you people talking about? If you want to talk about statistic correlations (which, as is so often pointed out around here is not evidence of causality) then fucking well do so. No one will stop you, and discussion of statistics and where they come from is what we do really well, here, when both sides engage the discussion from a position of good faith. So far all we have from you is vaguearies and intellectual dishonesty. I'm tired of it. Everyone on 3bm's side so far has completely failed to make even one open statement of what they mean. It's all quotations of questionable statistics without ever saying what the statistics are supposed to imply, or long tired analogies to stupid conversations about neighbors moving in without ever saying "here's what I think 3bm was actually trying to say."

    Everyone who has a problem with 3bm's statement has said why and made it perfectly clear how that statement has come off to them. Everyone else has stepped around the issue and made semantic arguments. Cut the bullshit, and get to the point. Stop saying "certain issues." just say what issue you're talking about and make it clear how it relates to 3bm's statement. It sounds like you think that black zimbabweans can't govern themselves. If that's so, type that sentence out and then say "And I think it's because their iq scores are so low." Why you people constantly insist on making half of a point and leaving the rest of us to infer what you're actually trying to say is beyond me. The best I can figure is that you're more comfortable letting people make assumptions of your point and then telling them they're wrong no matter how accurate they actually are. I'd like to think this isn't the case, but you're not giving me a whole hell of a lot to go on, here.
    posted by shmegegge at 10:39 PM on April 19, 2008


    It isn't shady logic at all to predict that a population with an average IQ of 70 is going to run into some serious difficulties when they take over a parliamentary democracy. That it's even a subject of debate is surprising.

    The IQ of the average American was probably that low, or lower in 1776.
    posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on April 20, 2008


    Also, this thread still going on? Wow.
    Except the switch from white minority rule to black majority rule DID set in motion the events that led to the current situation in Zimbabwe. Race IS a factor, and an important one, and mentioning it does not automatically equal racism.
    -- Artw
    hey man, a butterfly flapping its wings in Singapore in 1978 caused the Patriots to lose the superbowl, causing me to lose my life savings. Don't tell me I can't blame the Asians for all my problems!
    What if we extrapolate back to the time of the ancient Greeks? See, you're just being stupid. We have no reason to believe that the people responsible for founding the US had low IQs, so don't invent imaginary data that shows they did -- MPSEA
    Are you kidding? It beggars belief that someone could imagine the average American, or even the average American landowner could be score well on a modern IQ test in the 1700s. Most of them probably couldn't read.
    I am keen on reading thing "actual words," but words don't define themselves Particularly when a phrase has no clear literal meaning, such as "the black majority" (the black majority of what? -- MPSEA
    LOL. Some of the linguistic contortions in this thread are really over the top, I mean, That's a pretty damn literal phrase, (the black majority of the people of Zimbabwe, btw). If you're going to dispense with the obvious definition you might as well drop the meaning of pretty much any word or phrase and you can pretty much argue that any statement means or doesn’t mean any particular thing. It's entirely pointless and only worth noting to mock.

    MPSEA: A lot of your comments in this thread focus on the meaning of hyper parsed words. You're obviously trying to explain why the comments were not racist, essentially because you have to external context in order to see the comments are racist. That is not an argument that will convince anyone. For one thing, most people are not even going to bother to read all that verbiage, and why should they? I mean, you can come up with long-winded self-referential logical arguments to backup any point, but it's just not going to convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced.

    of course people are going to use their preconceived notions about what makes someone a racist in determining if something is racist, and that's totally reasonable.
    So, let me get this straight: instead of admonishing the people who were being racist in this thread, you're going after the guy whose ethnicity was the subject of their racism, and then you're calling him out for not being "helpful" enough? Man, do you even smell the garbage you're peddling??? -- hadjiboy
    But hadjiboy, you just don't know how hard it is to be white! People never believe you when you tell them that the thought experiment of imagining what it's like to be a member of another race once or twice in their life isn't the same thing as the real experience. It's just so condescending!

    (But seriously, the "not helpful/condescending" comments? WTF? Blaming someone for getting upset about racism directed at them? Seriously? Especially ironic given CKmtl was so upset about being 'condescended to')

    --

    Also on the original point: the other problem with all of this is that the White Rhodesians also did an absolutely terrible job of governing as well, so it isn't like the blacks did worse or anything. The country was an Iraq-style clusterfuck before it got taken over and renamed.
    posted by delmoi at 1:32 AM on April 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


    MPSEA: A lot of your comments in this thread focus on the meaning of hyper parsed words. You're obviously trying to explain why the comments were not racist,

    No he's not. He's doing the same thing he always does-- trolling.
    posted by dersins at 1:45 AM on April 20, 2008


    Dr Steve, have you noticed that even the only meaning you'll allow the sentence to bear, against all the others, the one that's apparently "quite clear", is also racist? Unless you're going to argue that the Mugabe regime is identical with all the black folk of Zimbabwe in 1980.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:45 AM on April 20, 2008


    I actually got a lot out of this thread, and the thread on the Blue that begat it. It's not every day the foes of human decency are baited to the scummy surface of their festering little pool all at a go, to give us a good look at their pale, slime-covered inner-selves. But here they are, pretending to uphold the virtues of free inquiry, as if the tolerance of intolerance was somehow laudable. It's a sham, and now we see the bunko-men selling snake oil for what they are. I shouldn't be surprised there are so many - yet I am. Surprised and disappointed.

    It's important to know who your friends are. It's even more important to know where your enemies are hiding.

    And yes, Anansi kicks ass.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 3:52 AM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Anansi, you do kick ass - thank you for all that you said - i'm glad you posted it

    and hadjiboy & delmoi - thanks to you both as well for your comments

    (delmoi, yr "thought experiment" comment was very funny)

    posted by jammy at 5:59 AM on April 20, 2008


    No, I was wrong, Metafilter doesn't fucking suck.
    posted by chunking express at 6:04 AM on April 20, 2008


    More IQ nonsense just like our IQ nonsense:
    Men are better than women look at the comparison in IQ men are scientifically proven to have a higher IQ by roughly 5 points, or 5% you cannot dispute science sorry and if you want a much better website than your shitty one you might want to go to [redacted]. I think you would gain a lot more knowledge from that website and you might learn about the truth that way you would not be so stupid and ignorant you stupid cunts.
    posted by caddis at 7:33 AM on April 20, 2008


    I skipped a lot of comments here because who cares, but I can say without a doubt that grumblebee is apparently easy as fuck to fool, because he wants to be fooled, and that three blind mice has never posted a worthwhile comment (though his posts are pretty good).

    3BM and TJH are just a pair of frustrated virginal Paulites; give a shit at your own peril.
    posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:04 AM on April 20, 2008


    Millions of Zimbabweans are sleeping soundly tonight thanks to this thread.
    posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on April 20, 2008


    The answers in an old askme of mine does a really good job of laying out the points in favor of IQ and general intelligence. I'm still a skeptic, but you can't go wrong by starting with the answers that parkerjackson and Paladin165 give there, and then reading wyzewoman's link to g: a statistical myth. BigSky's claim seems to depend on tying low IQ to something like the Condorcet jury theorem, which is one of the epistemic defenses of democracy: it argues that groups are better than individuals (and large groups better than small groups) at getting the 'right' answer in any decision so long as the constituent members of that group have even a slightly better than 50% chance of getting the right answer. Arguably, a low IQ group is less likely to get the right answer than a high IQ group, and may include a large quantity of people who are more likely to get the -wrong- answer than the right one, which can really screw up the probabilities of getting Condorcet winning policies and politicians. These kinds of arguments are interesting, but I think they depend on a couple of claims. First, that 'probability of being right' tracks average IQ (and so anyone under 100 is more likely to be wrong than right about some particular policy, even if it's something simple like: "Should we eat or should we starve?") Second, that a racist minority can pursue policies that are better for the majority against whom their prejudice is directed than the majority could themselves (Ian Smith used to say: "We're entitled to our half of the country and the blacks are entitled to theirs." Whites made up 5% of the population but were entitled to half of the nation's resources and land?)

    (Note that the IQ discussed in that askme is very different from the crazy 5% version from caddis's link... who knew Southern Illinois University College Republicans public relations officer, Alex Kochno was such an ass?)
    posted by anotherpanacea at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2008


    hadjiboy: instead of admonishing the people who were being racist in this thread

    I didn't touch on 3BM's original comment because I can see both the racist and non-racist interpretations, and that makes me uncomfortable with personally putting it firmly in one category or the other. The 'tone-deaf' point I would have made about it has already been made, so I don't see the point in repeating it.

    Ditto BigSky's IQ point. And I'm more interested in reading that back and forth than in participating in it.

    Furthermore, seriously? We're going to hold what people don't say against them? Not just misreadings of what they say, but the things that they don't type a single character about? I have trouble deciding where to start with what's fucked up about that.

    delmoi: But hadjiboy, you just don't know how hard it is to be white! People never believe you when you tell them that the thought experiment of imagining what it's like to be a member of another race once or twice in their life isn't the same thing as the real experience.

    Please show me where I said anything about thought experiments or somehow implied that being white is as hard as being non-white in white-majority countries?

    Anansi said that it's impossible for white people to have 'the first inkling' of what racism is about, and that white people have never and will never experience prejudice or bigotry. As if it's categorically impossible, by virtue of their whiteness, for any white person to experience any sort of prejudice or bigotry anywhere and under any circumstances. I provided counterpoints to that.

    Blaming someone for getting upset about racism directed at them? Seriously?

    Again, show me where I was blaming anansi for being upset, or said that he shouldn't be upset? I didn't. I criticized the point he made while understandably upset.

    But since that sort of thing is kosher, I'll remember to rail against all straight people - even the ones who might have a glimmer of a clue about prejudice, and the ones who agree with me - next time there's a homosexuality MeTa post. Because if they haven't faced my particular type of bigotry, they obviously haven't experienced any bigotry of any kind. Oh, and to accuse those who criticize me for doing so of peddling Phelpsian garbage. That'll be a great time.

    On second thought, I won't. That'd be asinine.
    posted by CKmtl at 9:13 AM on April 20, 2008


    Anansi said that it's impossible for white people to have 'the first inkling' of what racism is about, and that white people have never and will never experience prejudice or bigotry. As if it's categorically impossible, by virtue of their whiteness, for any white person to experience any sort of prejudice or bigotry anywhere and under any circumstances. I provided counterpoints to that.
    posted by CKmtl at 9:13 AM on April 20 [+] [!]


    OK, remember, reading is Fundamental.
    Here's what I actually said:

    Various and sundry arguments will be put forward that demonstrate that the first bunch of assholes were not being racist. Anyone who was offended by the objectionable comments is being oversensitive, playing a race card or doesn't understand what racism is (as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is. . . mothafucka please).

    There is very little that is as infuriating as having someone who has never experienced racism, bigotry or prejudice or their implications directly (and never will) attempt to tell you that what you are experiencing is not racism/bigotry/prejudice.


    And I stand by that. Privileged white people have not experienced racism. If you are seriously disagreeing with this, you are either disingenuous or ignorant, take your pick. Racism in this country (US) is directed toward non-whites (and especially toward blacks). White people of certain social/economic classes or gender/sexual identities may experience bigotry and prejudice--they will never experience racism. Just as I, as a man can never experience blatant sexism or childbirth. Any claims that I make to understanding these things can only be academic.

    CKmtl, everything that your posting is just an echo of what's been written about white guilt and black rage for the last few centuries. I am well familiar with it. In fact, as my mother is white, I am very familiar with white people's experience with regards to race and the issues that arise out of white guilt. I grew up around white people, half my family is white. Do I understand? Not completely But I have an inkling. In fact, as someone who has family that is both black and white; having an appearance that is often misconstrued as white;living at various times in both black and white communities; having an MA in African American Studies and a second MA in African Studies, I feel that I am rather well qualified to speak on this issue. Not only have I experienced racism, I know and am related to racist people--I understand their viewpoints, I have studied for several years these issues from within an anthropological and an historical context. In short, I know what the hell I'm talking about. What I have called to task here and in the blue is the attitude that puts the onus of dealing with racism , not on the perpetrators but on those afflicted. That's bullshit. Only on the internet will someone tell you that you are inferior due to the color of your skin, and then claim that you are being overly sensitive when you call them racist. Only on the internet will other people jump to the racist's defense and perform the most amazing mental gymnastics in order to dissect and parse the offenders sentence structure to prove that their intent was not racist. If you don't have a problem with this, then that is your prerogative. However, I must ask, where was your indignation when the original comments were made that were condescending toward black folks? Or is you righteous indignation only stoked when you witness a negro gettin' uppity?
    posted by anansi at 10:04 AM on April 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


    It all depends upon what you are defining as racism. To say that one class of people can "never" experience racism is ignorant talk, regardless of your degrees. Since I don't think you are ignorant, I think it must be in what you define as racism. Many privileged white people who care to stray outside their own comfortable white neighborhoods have found themselves at parties or other social situations in which they not only are not the dominant race, but where there is an open atmosphere of hostility toward them based upon the fact that they are privileged white people. That is racism. Some white people are the victims of crime based upon their race. (Such attacks are not common among adults, and many reported ones are likely blown out of proportion by white racist groups, but they do occur.) I agree with most of what you have said, and especially with the point about putting the blame on the victim. However, any group can be the target of racism, it's just that the dominant groups experience it far less often and it has far less of a negative effect upon their lives, and for most it never does negatively affect their lives. Racism is not a one way street. Unfortunately, everyone gets to participate.
    posted by caddis at 10:42 AM on April 20, 2008


    However, I must ask, where was your indignation when the original comments were made that were condescending toward black folks? Or is you righteous indignation only stoked when you witness a negro gettin' uppity?

    I didn't read the original Zimbabwe thread, and when I started reading this one, all the points that I might have made about the original thread offending comment were already made. And as I said above, it's a fucked up state of affairs when what people don't say is held against them.

    Also, I'd appreciate it if you would not ascribe klan-ish / stormfront-ish offense at uppity negros to me. I didn't pigeonhole you in with Farrakhan or whoever else.

    Here's what I actually said ... If you are seriously disagreeing with this, you are either disingenuous or ignorant, take your pick.

    There's two points that you're making in there. While I agree with what you said about it being frustrating to be told that something you experience as racism isn't racism (which, you'll note, I never did), I do not agree with the other points that you actually said earlier on: that white people cannot experience racism, that white people can and never will experience bigotry. You did say those thing, and those were the things I still disagree with. I was not disagreeing with those points in order to somehow express disagreement with your other point. That's why I specifically addressed them.

    I grew up around white people, half my family is white. Do I understand? Not completely But I have an inkling.

    Good. See? That's what I was getting at.

    You have an inkling about that, which can be used as a stepping stone and initial point of understanding to move towards greater understanding. Yet you initially said that white people categorically have no such inkling, that it's impossible for them to have that initial point of understanding.

    Why is it that the privileged white person who has experienced racism overseas cannot use that experience as a starting point for a "I think understand slightly, based on past experiences. Tell me more." conversation and meaningfully process and relate to it? Or the white person who has experienced bigotry based on sexuality? Or based on language? Why reject all these possible starting points, simply because the person's white?

    I mean, I'm reasonably sure that you could meaningfully participate in a discussion of gay bashing and homophobia, even though you may have experienced neither. You could draw on your experiences with racism and possible race-related violence, and say "I can relate to that somewhat." If the gay side of the discussion whipped out "No you can't. You're straight. You may be black, but that doesn't count", it would be needlessly divisive and frankly more than a little wrong.
    posted by CKmtl at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2008


    I will, for the sake of clarity, define my terms. Prejudice is to hold opinions or notions about a group that are not founded upon experience or fact. Bigotry is to dislike a group for the very fact that they are different from you. Racism is the exercise of power detrimental to one group by another. Racism is quite often backed up by institutional practices. In general, white people will probably never experience racism. There are very few places in the entire world where being white will not render you immune to racism. This is not to say that whites can never experience bigotry or prejudice. They can. But when it comes down to it, after that experience a white person can still return to their comfortable white world where they are dominant. Non-whites, not only experience bigotry and prejudice but they also bear the burden of racism on a personal and institutional level. This is an entirely different thing. Black on white crime does occur, and I have no doubt that it is based in part on bigotry. However, black on white crime is punished severely by the justice system. White on black crime typically is not punished in the same way. For an example look at the Jena situation. That is racism. So, when I say that in all probability, white people will not experience racism, that is exactly what I mean. That doesn't mean that black people are saints, we can be as prejudiced or bigoted as anyone else. However, we do not wield the power that is necessary to be racist.

    Now, I have said my piece. As I am not Paul Mooney, and this is not "Ask a Black Dude," I recuse myself from this thread. Even though the resident racists and their defenders sadden me, the members who approached this issue with common sense and critical analysis, restore in part, my faith in humanity.
    posted by anansi at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2008 [7 favorites]

    Anansi said that it's impossible for white people to have 'the first inkling' of what racism is about, and that white people have never and will never experience prejudice or bigotry. As if it's categorically impossible, by virtue of their whiteness, for any white person to experience any sort of prejudice or bigotry anywhere and under any circumstances. I provided counterpoints to that. -- CKmtl
    Obviously each ethnic group has a different experience in different places and at different times. A Korean person living in Japan is going to have a different experience then a Korean living in the U.S. A Muslim in the UK is going to have more trouble then one in the US. And furthermore there is going to be a different reaction to racial stuff by people in the group then out of it. I don't think it's prejudiced or racist to make that claim, I mean come on.

    It all comes back to this argument that keeps coming up over and over again, where anyone who gets upset by anything racially charged is themselves a racist (or 'prejudiced') and thus nothing can be racist in the first place. Clearly that's an argument full of fail.

    And that was the only "counter example" you gave, that white people can be victims of prejudiced because you just assumed they couldn't, and it's prejudiced to assume that!

    It's a totally circular argument; your counter example depends on itself being true.
    It all depends upon what you are defining as racism. To say that one class of people can "never" experience racism is ignorant talk, regardless of your degrees.-- caddis
    I think it's an issue of magnitude, I mean if I say that a professional blogger doesn't have an inkling of what hard work really is compared to a migrant laborer picking grapes or whatever, that doesn't really mean they have no idea just that they'll never really have that experience. I bring that up because I actually got bashed for saying blogging isn't really "hard work." I don't think it is.
    posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

    ... anyone who gets upset by anything racially charged is themselves a racist (or 'prejudiced') and thus nothing can be racist in the first place.

    And that was the only "counter example" you gave, that white people can be victims of prejudiced because you just assumed they couldn't, and it's prejudiced to assume that!

    It's a totally circular argument; your counter example depends on itself being true.

    Uh. No. That wasn't my argument at all. I wasn't doing the "you complain about racism, but you're a racist!" thing. My counterpoints were not a circuitous route to a charge of hypocrisy.

    They were specific to the claims that anansi made, which he has just acknowledged as having been a bit overboard.
    posted by CKmtl at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2008


    Racism is the exercise of power detrimental to one group by another. Racism is quite often backed up by institutional practices.

    Just so we're clear: by this definition, whites in Zimbabwe are the target of racism because of land reform. I feel uncomfortable with this definition because it ignores basic questions of just distribution that might make actions 'detrimental' to one group a racialized but nonetheless necessary and un-racist state action.

    I think this definition lacks a historical and phenomenological account of race: there's something specific about experiences of race, especially for white people who see themselves as 'raceless,' that is an important component of racism. The historical backing of biological and eugenic accounts of racial difference importantly shapes this experience, as do issues in 'passing' and the capacity to live a life 'marked' by a biological phenomenon that dominant groups notice and enforce while discounting or ignoring their own markings of race. I like to say that it's a matter of mistaking a 'who' for a 'what.' Perhaps you would fold all that into 'institutional practices'?

    Now, I have said my piece. As I am not Paul Mooney, and this is not "Ask a Black Dude," I recuse myself from this thread. Even though the resident racists and their defenders sadden me, the members who approached this issue with common sense and critical analysis, restore in part, my faith in humanity.

    Well, I hope you won't really drop out of the conversation. You need not serve as a representative here: sometimes it's nice just to stick around and tell jokes and hash things out. In any case, your contributions here are welcome. One piece of advice: I think it might be better if (in the future) you called people out by name: racists, critics, and fellow travelers, and perhaps devoted a little more detailed citation and quotation rather than painting with such a broad brush. I've found that this hyperparsing that you've criticized is a hallmark of Metafilter and really a tremendous boon to civil discourse: with a fine enough net, we can pick out both the racism and sexism, as well as wit, excellence, and thoughtfulness. The only tool we have for that here, though, is the indexical use of language: naming, quoting and careful attention to phrasing and syntax. Using all that is one of the prime ways that Metafilter transforms the mass of anonymous and irresponsible internet users into individuals: restoring the 'who' that is so often missing in everyday life. Anyway, I hope you'll consider that a friendly amendment, anansi. Glad to see you here in Metatalk.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 11:48 AM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    shmegegge,

    I don't think I was being vague at all, let me try again. No analogies this time, but there's a few statistics for you to discount.

    Here's what I think, the black majority's take over of the administration of the country, increased the likelihood of some sort of catastrophe in the near future. What was it about the change of the population in power that made increasing mismanagement more likely? It was the accompanying drop in IQ. That's not exactly what three blind mice said and I'm not interested in explaining his words. The point is that it isn't racist to state that the black majority was incapable of running the country when that population's low IQ scores provide a compelling explanation.

    Yes, I get that correlation is not the same as causation. I also know that there is nothing you can do with the numbers to ultimately 'prove' causation. The data can rule certain explanations out and then there's judgment.

    Here's why I think IQ is significant.

    “IQ is strongly related, probably more so than any other single measurable human trait, to many important educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes. Its relation to the welfare and performance of individuals is very strong in some arenas in life (education, military training), moderate but robust in others (social competence), and modest but consistent in others (law-abidingness). Whatever IQ tests measure, it is of great practical and social importance.”

    -Mainstream Science on Intelligence

    and

    jobs

    I think the whole graph is relevant, but be sure and note Public Administration Managers.

    and

    The comment by adrienne in this discussion is very interesting, if a bit off the topic of IQ's value. There's a lot there but the relevant bit for this question is that 2% of the Zimbabwean population has an IQ over 100.

    I don't know of any other IQ test results from Zimbabwe. Here's a table with a little more information on the test. Yes, this is an estimate and I should have made that clear. It's still a gap of almost two standard deviations between two groups matched by a black Zimbabwean psychologist. If you want to claim that those results are not indicative of the larger group, and that even if they were, it wouldn't mean a thing, go right ahead.

    The taboo topic is this one, the significance of a group's average IQ. It doesn't matter how the group is delineated, gender, race, region, whatever, someone is sure to take offense and the discussion grinds to a halt.

    The sentence with “potentials” is poorly worded. I was trying to find a way to discuss the value of looking at the range of probable outcomes given those conditions at that time. This doesn't mean I think Rhodesia should have remained.

    -----

    that a racist minority can pursue policies that are better for the majority against whom their prejudice is directed than the majority could themselves

    I don't believe this. Such a situation is untenable. I've written a bit about the value of thinking about various outcomes and their probabilities but I think there's more than a touch of tragic inevitability about the whole story as well.
    posted by BigSky at 12:36 PM on April 20, 2008


    For an example look at the Jena situation. That is racism.

    Threatening to harm someone (the nooses) and actually doing it (the beating that followed of an unrelated student) are clearly equally serious and should be punished equally.

    I think I understand what anansi considers to be goodthinkful.
    posted by oaf at 1:38 PM on April 20, 2008


    Thanks for the clarification anansi. Within your definitions I have no quarrel with your earlier statement.
    posted by caddis at 2:07 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Uh. No. That wasn't my argument at all. I wasn't doing the "you complain about racism, but you're a racist!" thing. My counterpoints were not a circuitous route to a charge of hypocrisy.

    Well, I looked back over your comment and I didn't see any other 'counter example'. If that wasn't it, what was your counter example?

    -Mainstream Science on Intelligence

    Hey, if it appeared in the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page, then it must be true, right? That's where we learn that hybrid cars actually cause more greenhouse gas emission! An impeccable spot for learning the 'mainstream' scientific consensus!

    But seriously, that WSJ Op-Ed does not represent mainstream scientific consensus just because the title says "Mainstream". I mean, anyone can put whatever they want on the internet, title it "mainstream" and use it to back up their own bogus assertions, and that's certainly something racists do a lot of, and that's something they've done here.
    posted by delmoi at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Or to put it another way, just like global warming denyalists, or creationists, racists also write up all kinds of psudoscientific bullshit, post it online (and in the WSJ Op-Ed section, from time to time) and then reference in order to bolster their own arguments.
    posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    IQ isn't a particularly important number because IQ tests don't measure innate intelligence.

    If they did, then Dutch army conscripts in 1952 wouldn't score 30 IQ points lower than conscripts in 1982.

    Ascribing political results to group IQ is a little like saying that rich people are rich because they have more money. Well, maybe, but that doesn't really tell us anything about how they got there, or what it might mean for the future. IQ is a result, not a cause.
    posted by ibmcginty at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


    Well, I looked back over your comment and I didn't see any other 'counter example'. If that wasn't it, what was your counter example?

    I don't particularly want to belabour it, since he has clarified his point and I have less problems with the clarified version. But if you insist... Paraphrasing:

    Point:
    "There are no circumstances under which white people experience racism, prejudice, or bigotry."

    Counterpoints:
    1- "White people living in non-white countries can and do experience racism."
    2- "White people can and do experience bigotry based on sexuality."
    3- "White people living in other white countries can and do experience prejudice based on ethnicity and/or nationality."

    Obviously if there are some such circumstances, then it is not true that there are none. None of these imply, at least to me, that he was or is a hypocrite or a racist. They imply that he was wrong about that original point.

    Just as your previously mentioned UK Muslims or Japanese Koreans would be wrong to say that US Muslims or US Koreans experience no racism/prejudice/bigotry. Their experiences may be different, but the UK Muslims and Japanese Koreans would be wrong to completely write off the experiences of their US counterparts. They wouldn't be hypocrites or racists; they'd just be incorrect.
    posted by CKmtl at 3:28 PM on April 20, 2008


    does this mean that three blind mice can take my spot in the dunce's corner now?
    posted by UbuRoivas at 4:17 PM on April 20, 2008


    I dunno, ubu. oaf is sorta gunning for it in two different threads.
    posted by dersins at 4:32 PM on April 20, 2008


    good enough for me.

    lucky that I lost the point of the Invisible Knapsack article at about line 3:

    They may say they will work to women's statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can't or won't support the idea of lessening men's.

    now, i'm all for erecting more statues of women, but i don't see why relative size should be an issue. we should just make them all life-size & be done with it.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2008


    oaf is sorta gunning for it in two different threads.

    I'd love for you to explain how I'm wrong in this thread.
    posted by oaf at 5:20 PM on April 20, 2008


    I think everybody would love for you to understand how you're wrong, but it's sooo not going to happen. I think we'll have to make peace with that.
    posted by bonaldi at 5:30 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I think everybody would love for you to understand how you're wrong, but it's sooo not going to happen.

    You'd love to be able to point out how I'm wrong, but that won't happen, either.
    posted by oaf at 5:35 PM on April 20, 2008


    ("You're just wrong!" doesn't hold water. You've been here long enough that you should know better.)
    posted by oaf at 5:36 PM on April 20, 2008


    I'd love

    everybody would love

    You'd love


    Maybe we should just be friends.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 PM on April 20, 2008


    Hey, if it appeared in the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page, then it must be true, right? That's where we learn that hybrid cars actually cause more greenhouse gas emission! An impeccable spot for learning the 'mainstream' scientific consensus!

    Did you even take the time to scroll down to the end of the article.? Maybe you should have. I understand that reading it was out of the question, but you might be surprised to discover that it wasn't signed by Joe Blow, columnist.

    There's a reason it's titled mainstream.
    posted by BigSky at 5:53 PM on April 20, 2008


    You'd love to be able to point out how I'm wrong, but that won't happen, either.
    ("You're just wrong!" doesn't hold water. You've been here long enough that you should know better.)


    I'm not saying "you're just wrong!". What I am saying is that I think that it's incredibly unlikely that, no matter how carefully worded or slowly detailed, you're just not going to be able to hear or understand the explanation.

    The massive, overpowering weight of the chips on your shoulder called Racism Can Happen To White People Too Why Does Nobody Listen, and They Called Me A Racist! Me! -- oh, not forgetting everybody's favourite MeFi Has An Orthodoxy Of Belief That Won't Allow For Poor Brave Me To Speak Factual Truths -- are going to hinder you from getting the merest clue that there is a point being made that is larger than PC, larger than newspeak and larger than the insult the nasty people made about you.
    posted by bonaldi at 5:54 PM on April 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


    The two really sad things about this…um…discussion are: that we've got people who still see racism in almost everything, reality be damned; and that not enough attention has been paid to The Jesse Helms's comment (but rather to three blind mice's), which I can't for the life of me find a justification for.
    posted by oaf at 5:56 PM on April 20, 2008


    shit, I forgot about And They See Racism Everywhere, Even When It's Just Hard Truths or Class And Money
    posted by bonaldi at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    The massive, overpowering weight of the chips on your shoulder…are going to hinder you from getting the merest clue that there is a point being made that is larger than PC, larger than newspeak and larger than the insult the nasty people made about you.

    You have no idea what you're talking about.
    posted by oaf at 5:59 PM on April 20, 2008


    "Just wrong", am I?
    posted by bonaldi at 6:00 PM on April 20, 2008


    You're making conclusions from assumptions that you want so badly to be true.
    posted by oaf at 6:00 PM on April 20, 2008


    I making conclusions from your posting history, which fits those assumptions really well, and could help explain why people keep thinking you're a racist, even though that bewilders you. Like I said: tin ear.
    posted by bonaldi at 6:01 PM on April 20, 2008


    You're also conflating my "three blind mice's comment might not be racist" with "some people cry racism at the drop of a hat, even when it's not there." Those are two separate issues, and I don't think they're the same thing, no matter how much you try to tell me that I do.
    posted by oaf at 6:03 PM on April 20, 2008


    No, I'm not. I realise there are a number of people who just don't get the racist reading of three blind mice's comment that a whole host of other people do; I think no less of, say, grumblebee for not seeing it.

    It's all your other hit-and-run Point-Missing Outspoken Hard Truth bullshit (starting with Hey! His land-reform policy is racist too) that's got me going.
    posted by bonaldi at 6:07 PM on April 20, 2008


    I making conclusions from your posting history

    If it lets you sleep better at night. Refusing to join into the "he is clearly a bad racist man" circlejerkery is no evidence that I am clearly a bad racist man.
    posted by oaf at 6:08 PM on April 20, 2008


    Well, why don't we denounce Mugabe's forcible land redistribution as racist?
    posted by oaf at 6:09 PM on April 20, 2008


    If it lets you sleep better at night. Refusing to join into the "he is clearly a bad racist man" circlejerkery is no evidence that I am clearly a bad racist man.

    ...wow, just wow. See when I said you wouldn't get the explanation? And that would be blinkered by "They call me racist! me!" and "they see racism everywhere!" and so forth? Damn, was I ever right. Done here, I think.
    posted by bonaldi at 6:11 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    You are better at seeing things that aren't there than seeing things that are.
    posted by oaf at 6:16 PM on April 20, 2008

    Did you even take the time to scroll down to the end of the article.? Maybe you should have. I understand that reading it was out of the question, but you might be surprised to discover that it wasn't signed by Joe Blow, columnist.--BigSky
    Sure, it was signed by 20 random people, out of the tens of thousands of practicing psychologists. Just like how Oil companies were always able to round up a handful of scientists to say global warming was false, and the Discovery Institute has a handful of scientists who will say evolution is false. Those people are frauds.
    There's a reason it's titled mainstream.--BigSky
    And that reason is to make it appear that it's not a bunch of racist propaganda. I mean, this isn't something that ever appeared in an academic journal, it's something that appeared in the WSJ Op-Ed section, where truth doesn't count for anything.
    I'd love for you to explain how I'm wrong in this thread.

    ("You're just wrong!" doesn't hold water. You've been here long enough that you should know better.)
    --Oaf
    Oaf, I went back and looked at your comments, and all I see are snarks and one-liners, plus a few asides that are not really relevant. So how can you be wrong when you haven't actually said anything?
    posted by delmoi at 6:17 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    BigSky: I'll see your fifty experts in the Wall Street Journal and raise you an American Psychological Association Taskforce on Intelligence:

    In a field where so many issues are unresolved and so many questions unanswered, the confident tone that has characterized most of the debate on these topics is clearly out of place. The study of intelligence does not need politicized assertions and recriminations; it needs self-restraint, reflection, and a great deal more research.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 6:21 PM on April 20, 2008


    how can you be wrong when you haven't actually said anything?

    That's mischaracterizing it a bit, but I think this question is best asked of bonaldi, who's run off somewhere as far as I can tell.

    If I need to consolidate everything I think is important to say regarding this thread, it would boil down to: Crying "racism!" in places that there isn't any helps nobody. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Specifically to anansi: Having two M.A.s does not allow you to give authoritative answers on the subject and declare all who disagree with you to be wrong.

    posted by oaf at 6:35 PM on April 20, 2008


    I'm still here, I just became convinced that it was futile trying to get through your preconceptions. Such as the one that we're crying racism in a place that there isn't any.

    Still, why not? Here's how it goes:
    1. Nobody's calling you a racist; at least, I'm not.

    2. There are a large number of us who unquestionably see racism in 3bm's comment and possibly other places it's invisible to you, and we're not all looks-for-racism types.

    3. A number of people don't see it, but some are amenable to having it explained to them.

    4. Of those who refuse to see it, some are racists, who would deny racism in just about anything. They're also the types who would make posts like The Jesse Helms's ("is this racist, huh?") and who almost uniformly deny they are racist.

    5. And then there's you, who doesn't see it as racist; who suggests there's no possible way to see it as racism unless you're looking for racism; who makes posts that appear just like The Jesse Helms's (with your Mugabe thing*, you look just like TJH) and also deny you're racist, but on top of which fail to see how you can be confused with the people of #4.

    * for the love of trolls: we don't talk here about how the land reform policy is racist because it's irrelevant. It's as relevant to whether or not 3bm's post was racist as is the question of how much salt I put on my chips.
    posted by bonaldi at 6:53 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    with your Mugabe thing*, you look just like TJH

    Bullshit.
    posted by oaf at 6:59 PM on April 20, 2008


    Being an apologist doesn't let you just declare all who disagree with you to be talking bullshit; you've been here long enough to know that.

    That comment was exactly of a piece with his type of comment. They're both of the "women can be sexists too!" and "is it sexist if I say maternity leave is bad for business" style of prejudice-apologism.
    posted by bonaldi at 7:05 PM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


    signed by 20 random people

    Yeah, O.K. dude.

    (p. 17 for the interested)

    -----

    anotherpanacea,

    I read the section on 'Tests as Predictors', since that was the subject of the quote I pulled. There was nothing there that contradicted the 'Mainstream Science' statement's position on the value of IQ. The APA taskforce were more moderate in their language but I didn't see any significant disagreement. There may well have been some differences between the two papers on the importance of genetics, but I'm not taking a position on that.
    posted by BigSky at 7:16 PM on April 20, 2008


    If I need to consolidate everything I think is important to say regarding this thread, it would boil down to: Crying "racism!" in places that there isn't any helps nobody. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Ah, okay. Well the reason that that's wrong is that sometimes things actually are racist Does pointing it out 'help'? Well it doesn't seem like it would hurt any more then the original statements, it would just offend a different and more deserving group of people.

    (p. 17 for the interested)

    Yawn. Like I said several times already, anyone can wright scientific bullshit to backup their own ideas, and find people who will back them up if they try hard enough.
    posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on April 20, 2008


    Sorry, BigSky, I know it's a longer document. Most of the interesting stuff is in the 'Interpreting Group Differences' section, especially contrasting the situation in the US with alternative caste systems.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 8:22 PM on April 20, 2008


    Wow. I don't know what's more maddening, people who troll deliberately or people who troll inadvertently, through cluelessness and an almost psychotic defensiveness.

    I don't think white people should just shut up about race, or that they need to agree with everything anyone has to say on the subject. But, Jesus Christ, the ones who most badly need to hear another viewpoint just won't shut the fuck up at all, and retreat into misstated statistics and picayune parsing of the meanings of individual words.

    For the love of Christ. 3FF might not have been intending to sound racist when he made his comment, but without clear context, there are reasons people might read it at racist. If you feel the need to jump in instantly and say, no, impossible, all of you who are raising the specter of racism are wrong?

    Well, maybe you need to ask yourself why accusations of racism create such a rapid and frothy response from you. Especially when then accusation is leveled against someone else, and didn't exactly plummet out of the clear blue sky.

    Trust me, if I went into a thread and said "I like ponies," nobody would be calling me a racist. And if they did, people who respond with bewilderment.

    And for others of you, well, here's a good rule of thumb. If you feel the need to publicly call out black people, and are doing this, not because you are a racist, but because society has become to PC to face the unpleasant facts of the pregnancy rate of black teens, or the number of blacks who commit crimes, or the relative IQ of blacks, or the crime rate among blacks?

    Hey, guy, you probably are a racist.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 9:19 PM on April 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


    Wow! 305 comments. Are we all offended and hurt yet?
    posted by c13 at 10:38 PM on April 20, 2008


    No, not yet--I've still got a few words left for CKmtl: Jeez, I hate it when people start acting all innocent and pretend like they weren't being the gigantic assholes that they so clearly were.

    CKmtl

    I didn't touch on 3BM's original comment because I can see both the racist and non-racist interpretations, and that makes me uncomfortable with personally putting it firmly in one category or the other. The 'tone-deaf' point I would have made about it has already been made, so I don't see the point in repeating it.

    Ah, I see. You didn't want to touch the racist arguments because you didn't think they were rock solid enough for you to make a case either way, but somehow, for some reason--you weren't able to discern the fact that what ansani had said was borne out of the frustration and ignorance that was being thrown around in this thread. Wtf?

    Ditto BigSky's IQ point. And I'm more interested in reading that back and forth than in participating in it.

    And yet you were more inclined to "participate" in what ansani had said even though it was his first comment in the thread, and again--as a result of all the fucking nonsense that was being posted over and over again. But, once again, you'd rather have not read that back and forth--but felt compelled to respond to it instead.

    Furthermore, seriously? We're going to hold what people don't say against them? Not just misreadings of what they say, but the things that they don't type a single character about? I have trouble deciding where to start with what's fucked up about that.

    Why don't you first start off with what's fucked up about your own arguments and then move on to what you think might be fucked up with someone else's. Like, for example: your thinking that you shouldn't be called out because you didn't say anything one way or another about the original comments, but, were the first one to jump down ansani's throat for having a naturally understandable heated reaction to what was being said, and then your acting like the voice of reason and patronizing the guy even though you had nothing to contribute to the thread prior to that...

    Man, I wish I were ansani, because if I were, I would've said this to you over and over again: Mothafucka, please!
    posted by hadjiboy at 12:33 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


    WTF hadjiboy? ansani anansi said several things which someone may - and did - find objectionable. Why on earth would CKmtl have to address the whole argument from the beginning instead of that which he specifically objects to? That'd be like you coming into this thread on the 307th comment and addressing it from the beginning instead of running in to put the boot straight into CKmtl. You did it because you found what he said objectionable, I gather? It's the same thing, man. Since when did anyone get a free break because the assholery of the opposition had driven them into some sort of poor-word-choice emotional state where they made exaggerated remarks?

    Anansi then defined his terms, which was appreciated and put prior comments in context. CKmtl understood what anansi had intended to say in his first post sans 'going overboard' (CKmtl's characterisation).

    I for one think the racist arguments were a shitful affair, but I have more than a few motherfucka please's for anyone who wants to tell me that I, as someone who identifies as a white male and grew up and works in Asia and the Middle East, hasn't - or even can't - experience proper, institutionalised racism. MFP!
    posted by cosmonik at 4:40 AM on April 21, 2008


    hadjiboy:

    Yes, that's why I didn't say anything about 3BM. I didn't want to say it's racist, because I can see how it might not have been. I didn't want to say it wasn't racist, because I can see how it might have been. This left me with the option of saying it was tone deaf, and that's been said many times already. You'll either accept that as my honest reason for not having said anything, or you won't. That's on you. And you're being a bit of an asshole by insisting that I simply must be lying and pretending.

    Yes, I know anansi was upset. I understand why he was upset. People say stupid shit when they're upset, but that doesn't mean the stupid shit gets a pass. I would have said the same thing had it been an upset gay guy trashing all straights, and I would (probably after cooling down) understand if someone said the same thing to me if I were the upset gay guy doing the trashing.

    And yes, I think it is inappropriate and stupid to call someone out for a supposed crime of omission. Example:

    In your comments in this thread, you did not say anything about the Holocaust, nor any of the numerous cases of child abuse around the world in the news at this very moment, nor the beating death of Matthew Shepard, nor the London bombings, nor ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It doesn't matter why you didn't say anything about them. Thus, you are a Nazi, in favour of child abuse and violent homophobia, and somehow simultaneously both a Muslim terrorist and in favour of committing genocide on Muslims. If you deny any of these accusations or try to explain why you neglected to say anything about them, you're a liar and a gigantic asshole.

    Inane, isn't it?
    posted by CKmtl at 8:32 AM on April 21, 2008


    Goddamn it! I was trying to stay out of this thread, but I'm sick of people mischaracterizing my statements.

    I said that it is infuriating to be told by people who had no idea what racism was like to be told (everytime) that what you are experiencing is not racism. Of course, by saying this, a whole bunch of overly defensive, "I'm not racist!" white folks popped in to tell me how they do know what racism is. Once again, mothafucka please. Yeah, yeah. . . there are isolated situations where it is possible for white people to experience racism. IT IS NOT THE NORM! So yeah, if you are an expat living in Asia you might have some issues. If you are the descendant of colonists in Zimbabwe you will have some issues. This is not generally how the world works. Quit bringing up unusual situations and exclaiming "See! See! I too have experienced racism." It makes you seem desperate. White people are the dominant group on the planet. There, I've said it. If you are seriously suggesting that white people bear the same burdens as non-whites, then you are, plainly speaking, an idiot. Should you as a white person feel guilty about this? Should you bear the burden of guilt for slavery, colonialism and genocide? No. Should you be aware of the situation and acknowledge the fact that world is tuned at least slightly in your favor? Yes. And despite what has been claimed by my detractors, I have not said any "stupid shit." I have made statements that made others uncomfortable, but that is their issue.

    Specifically to anansi: Having two M.A.s does not allow you to give authoritative answers on the subject and declare all who disagree with you to be wrong.

    Oaf, (how fitting) this is a straw man. I did not say that my degrees make others wrong. I said that my degrees, my ethnic heritage and my life experience make me qualified to speak on racial issues as they pertain to both blacks and whites. Of course I'm making authoritive statements, if I feel that I am an authority on a subject how else should I frame my arguments. I don't see the rest of you apologists hemming and hawing over your arguments. You state what you think. why should I be denied the same right? Oh, wait, you don't agree with me, therefore I should couch my statements so as not to offend your sensibilities. If I declared that you or others are wrong, It was not an appeal to my qualifications, it was just pointing out that you are spouting bullshit, pure and simple.
    posted by anansi at 8:55 AM on April 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


    Mothafucka please yourself.

    I have no problem with your revised point that white people experiencing racism, prejudice, or bigotry is not the norm, or that it's not equivalent, or that it's not the same burden, or whatever else.

    You said there were no such circumstances and that such circumstance were impossible. That was incorrect and stupid shit, regardless of your being black or having two MAs or being upset. It is incorrect and stupid shit because, in as few words as possible: some =/= none. That's all. A factual error or exaggeration made in the heat of the moment.

    I'll remove this thread from my recent activity, so y'all have fun. MeMail's available if anyone wants to continue accusing me of whatever.
    posted by CKmtl at 9:11 AM on April 21, 2008


    You said there were no such circumstances and that such circumstance were impossible. That was incorrect and stupid shit, regardless of your being black or having two MAs or being upset. It is incorrect and stupid shit because, in as few words as possible: some =/= none. That's all. A factual error or exaggeration made in the heat of the moment.

    Anyone who was offended by the objectionable comments is being oversensitive, playing a race card or doesn't understand what racism is (as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is. . . mothafucka please). This condescending attitude is extremely offensive and IMHO makes you even more of an asshole than the initial overtly racist asshole. As a black man, it is a constant reminder to me that this is not my home.

    Now with what I said juxtaposed with what you have stated that I said. . .you either can't read or you are being disingenuous. I said that, "as if a bunch of relatively privileged whitefolks have even the first inkling of what racism is." Privileged white people generally do not experience racism. Are you really arguing differently?
    posted by anansi at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2008


    bigksy,

    thanks for clarifying your point. In a discussion that originated with 3bm's comment, I was trying to parse what you were saying with what appeared to be a defense of his original comment. It makes things rather easier for me to understand now that I see that you're not speaking in defense of 3bm's comment. Further, I'm relieved to understand that you're not claiming that white rhodesia should have remained. I hope you can see why I might have thought those things were possible.

    that said, I think it's a mistake to assume that an iq score is a reliable test of natural intelligence for reasons I and others have outlined above. Additionally, the wsj op-ed is not a good place to go for statistics. I understand that the article was endorsed by dozens of professors, but considering the tendency for less-than-scrupulous news organizations (which the op-ed section of the wsj is notorious for being. as I understand it the rest of the paper is actually pretty much fine, but that op-ed section is poisonous.) to pad their "research" with convenient testimonials and endorsements, that doesn't really sell an article which, written 14 years ago, disagrees with the vast majority of peer-reviewed studies on the subject.

    Now, I know that you've said that, unreliable as the tests may be, they still tell us something, but that something is likely NOT that the vast majority of black zimbabweans are unintelligent. Rather, it is far more likely that it tells us how biased the tests are toward people who have been raised in a non-oppressive environment. But of course, the relative merits of zindi's tests are up for discussion. I'm not an expert on intelligence testing. I do, however, feel rather strongly that appealing to the wsj op-ed section of 14 years ago as a valid source for information on the validity of iq tests is a rather strong logical fallacy. Claiming that its mainstream status demonstrates anything about the validity of the article or the integrity of the professors signing below is an appeal to authority with virtually nothing substantive to back it up.

    Lastly, I'm forced to wonder what your ultimate ideas are for what's wrong in zimbabwe and how it should be fixed. presumably you don't feel like black zimbabweans are incapable of governing themselves, but that you don't find it that surprising that they've had difficulties. On the other hand, attributing those difficulties to a lack of intelligence is a bizarre move considering it's not that the zimbabweans are being governed by idiots that is the problem, it's that they are being governed by evil men. All in all, I'm not sure what you see as the solution to their problems in zimbabwe, or rather (if for instance you don't have a solution in mind) I'm not sure what the point of your initial statement entirely was. I feel pretty confident it wasn't just to say "well what do you expect from a whole country of stupids! lolstupidzimbabweans." I'm just not sure what the point precisely was.
    posted by shmegegge at 9:37 AM on April 21, 2008


    That'd be like you coming into this thread on the 307th comment and addressing it from the beginning instead of running in to put the boot straight into CKmtl.

    He had another comment in this thread before that. Try reading. TIA.
    posted by delmoi at 9:53 AM on April 21, 2008

    Yes, I know anansi was upset. I understand why he was upset. People say stupid shit when they're upset, but that doesn't mean the stupid shit gets a pass. --CKmtl
    Ah, but see, what he said wasn't actually as stupid as your follow-up. Which in addition to being stupid, was also absurdly condescending and moronic.

    Your argument boils down too "Don't act upset when you see racist comments, because that makes me uncomfortable. And it isn't fair to make me uncomfortable, just because someone else made you uncomfortable! It's not helpful. Just suck it up so I can enjoy my life!"

    And that is completely moronic.
    You said there were no such circumstances and that such circumstance were impossible.--CKmtl
    More idiocy here. Just because something isn't true in every single case doesn't mean it can't be said without being lavished with qualifying statements. And he did qualify it by talking about "privileged" people, not all people.

    And rather then simply point out that there were a few atypical situations, you larded your comment up with the most condescending bullshit imaginable about how it was "unhelpful" to get upset about racist comments. (Again, only unhelpful for sheltered people who want to go through life blissfully unaware that anything might be wrong in the world)
    posted by delmoi at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2008


    anansi

    Sorry about mispronouncing your name; Ansari is a much more common title over here, and so that lead me to mischaracterize your name as ansani. Oops!:)

    Why on earth would CKmtl have to address the whole argument from the beginning instead of that which he specifically objects to?

    Because the comment which he was objecting to was made in relation to the previous comments which were in relation to the subjugation of an entire race. (You want to try and slap someone down who's miffed because of the racist shit that was being posted here, you better make damn sure you're addressing the "whole argument" rather than just jump into the fray and act like you know what the hell you're talking about.)

    That'd be like you coming into this thread on the 307th comment and addressing it from the beginning instead of running in to put the boot straight into CKmtl. You did it because you found what he said objectionable, I gather? It's the same thing, man.

    Except, that it's not. CKmtl wasn't referring to what was said in all the previous comments. He was only focused on what anansi had to say. On the other hand, anansi had referred to everything that was said prior to his posting, and was commenting in relation to that. So, if CKmtl wants to make an argument, he better address everything that anansi had pointed to. And if I have a problem with CKmtl's arguments, I'll have to refer to the points that he'd made, which was to attack anansi.

    Since when did anyone get a free break because the assholery of the opposition had driven them into some sort of poor-word-choice emotional state where they made exaggerated remarks?

    His remarks weren't exaggerated. They were understandably heated, because of the "exaggerated" statements being made about black people. But for some reason you and CKmtl seem to be fine with that, but don't think it's alright for anansi to get a little hot under the collar because of this bullshit--bullshit.

    I for one think the racist arguments were a shitful affair, but I have more than a few motherfucka please's for anyone who wants to tell me that I, as someone who identifies as a white male and grew up and works in Asia and the Middle East, hasn't - or even can't - experience proper, institutionalised racism.

    Hah! "Institutionalized Racism". Do you even know what that means? So, you've had a hard time in Asia and the Middle East have you??? Poor baby! Come here, let me give you a cookie. The fact that you can even compare the little nuggets of uncomfortable situations that you might have had to face to what True racism is just shows the lack of knowledge you have about what it means to be the object of someone's bigotry.

    MFP!

    Yeah, right, you don't even know how to say it. It's Mothafucka' Please!
    posted by hadjiboy at 11:06 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


    You'll either accept that as my honest reason for not having said anything, or you won't. That's on you. And you're being a bit of an asshole by insisting that I simply must be lying and pretending.

    No, but what I will do is hold you accountable for what you said: the derogatory comments towards anansi which you thought you had every right to voice, even though you had no compunction when it came to the racist arguments. Yeah, if that's called being an asshole--then I'm an asshole.

    Yes, I know anansi was upset. I understand why he was upset. People say stupid shit when they're upset, but that doesn't mean the stupid shit gets a pass.

    Which is why I'm calling you out on your stupid shit.

    I would have said the same thing had it been an upset gay guy trashing all straights

    Great, you would've made the same mistake twice then.

    and I would (probably after cooling down) understand if someone said the same thing to me if I were the upset gay guy doing the trashing.

    I highly doubt it, but, whatever.

    And yes, I think it is inappropriate and stupid to call someone out for a supposed crime of omission. Example:

    In your comments in this thread, you did not say anything about the Holocaust, nor any of the numerous cases of child abuse around the world in the news at this very moment, nor the beating death of Matthew Shepard, nor the London bombings, nor ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It doesn't matter why you didn't say anything about them. Thus, you are a Nazi, in favour of child abuse and violent homophobia, and somehow simultaneously both a Muslim terrorist and in favour of committing genocide on Muslims. If you deny any of these accusations or try to explain why you neglected to say anything about them, you're a liar and a gigantic asshole.


    Are you always this stupid or are you just trying for a world record today or something? If this thread was about the subject matter that you mentioned, and if someone had come into this thread and posted something about being offended at what had been written about his race, in relation to that subject matter, then yes, I would've addressed everything that you have mentioned above to support my argument. Not doing so does make you an asshole, especially if you're going to show your moral indignation to someone who has every right to be offended by the lousy comments in the thread.

    Inane, isn't it?

    No, not really, not if you understand what you're talking about, which I doubt you do by the looks of it. Sorry.
    posted by hadjiboy at 11:42 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


    hadjiboy, your last comment was really long and insults and seriously short on content.
    posted by danOstuporStar at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2008


    d'oh...on insults.
    posted by danOstuporStar at 11:55 AM on April 21, 2008


    Maybe I'm confused, but is there any country on Earth where white people were kidnapped from a white homeland, shipped as cargo across the ocean, made to work as slaves with all that entails, "freed" from slavery and then subject to a system of laws that made their lives in many ways indistinguishable from slavery, then "freed" from those laws to live in a culture still shaped by them?

    Or maybe there's a country that white people once owned, where the land was taken from them by force by a non-white minority and then they were made to work on it for decades under situations resembling slavery, where every attempt made by them to get ahead was outlawed and violation of those laws led to torture, imprisonment, and murder?

    If countries like neither of these exist, then I don't think white people can exactly understand what it is like to experience racism as a black person. Just being a white guy in Japan doesn't exactly compare.
    posted by hydropsyche at 12:15 PM on April 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


    hadjiboy, your last comment was really long and insults and seriously short on content.

    I wasn't exactly aiming for post of the year;)
    posted by hadjiboy at 12:17 PM on April 21, 2008


    Or maybe there's a country that white people once owned, where the land was taken from them by force by a non-white minority and then they were made to work on it for decades under situations resembling slavery, where every attempt made by them to get ahead was outlawed and violation of those laws led to torture, imprisonment, and murder?

    Ireland?
    posted by anotherpanacea at 12:18 PM on April 21, 2008


    I think the British are white, anotherpanacea. Yellow teeth, sure, but white skin.
    posted by bonaldi at 12:28 PM on April 21, 2008


    at least, British meant white then.
    posted by bonaldi at 12:30 PM on April 21, 2008


    no, the poms are pink.

    but you're right about the bad teeth.

    also, they never shower.
    posted by UbuRoivas at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2008


    I stated explicitly that I wasn't fine with the previous comments made which promoted anansi's response.

    ...And if I have a problem with CKmtl's arguments, I'll have to refer to the points that he'd made, which was to attack anansi.

    Boy, sounds like you found what he said pretty objectionable...which is exactly my point. He made reference to what anansi said. I don't think they have to reinvent the wheel each time to address each other.

    hadjiboy: "Institutionalized Racism". Do you even know what that means?

    From my experience: access to education; access to financial institutions/assistance; access to employment opportunities; access to legal institutions/assistance (let alone 'justice' in courts); responsiveness from bureaucracy. Of course it's a lot more than that, and I'm not about to compare it to what other groups may go through since I'm sure it's unique for each. My point is, racism not the sole domain of the USA, and whites don't always get to stack the deck. (No, not talking about privileged ex-pats in non-white-majority countries, either, but middle-class mixed-race where if you aren't 100% us, you're 100% them).

    Poor baby! Come here, let me give you a cookie.

    YOUR FAVOURITE PLIGHT SUCKS.
    posted by cosmonik at 4:49 PM on April 21, 2008


    Listen, cosmonik, I don't have any personal vendetta against you (nor CKmtl for that matter), but when you try to absolve stuff like what was happening in the thread (not necessarily all the racist shit, but the remark that CK had made in relation to what anansi had said, which I thought was the height of rude behaviour), then I don't think it's fair of you not to expect someone else getting upset with your comments and replying to them, in whatever manner he sees fit.

    I still think that anansi had every right to be disgusted with what was going on, and in no way was it justified going after him the way CK did, which is what set me off. Now, if you guys are saying that you truly didn't mean to go down that route, alright--fine. I accept it in good faith and boil it down to a misunderstanding in communication. Fair enough?

    As for the racism stuff, and people suffering from it who are of a Caucasian background--let me tell you something. I spent the entire part of my childhood in Saudi Arabia, where I was treated like a second class citizen, because my father was an Indian working in the Gulf, at a job that one of the local Saudis could've had, but was being outsourced to someone else, as a result of which, there weren't too many jobs to go around for the local population, which made them understandably upset. Now, the reason why these Saudis weren't being hired in the first place, was because, if they were--they'd expect their employers to pay them a fair wage, which is not something that the Non-Saudi workers would be lucky enough to receive, at least a whole lot of them.

    So, as a result of this--I've had to deal with my share of shit. Like--having the daily dose of Saudi kids spit on you, yell in your direction, flip you off; stone you if they could; molest you (yada yada yada).

    Now, do I consider myself to be the victim of racism. You know, truthfully--no. Why? Because the people who've had to go through the real shit, have had it far, FAR worse then I could've ever had it. Granted, I've had my share of (what I consider to be) tough spots--but I wouldn't compare them to what an African American male might have to go through living in the States.

    I think there's just too much of a wide bridge to gap for that to happen, and I'm alright with that, and I think so should you or anyone else should be. That's all.
    posted by hadjiboy at 1:57 AM on April 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


    You know, I just noticed the "Everyone needs a hug" beneath the comment box... perfect note to end this thread on I'd say. Closed, and good-riddance!
    posted by hadjiboy at 2:00 AM on April 22, 2008


    FWIW, just because I want it on record, I agree with your last point that what others go through can't compare to the experience of African Americans in the USA in terms of scale, history, intensity, and ubiquity.

    Close the thread? Please! Hugs all 'round.
    posted by cosmonik at 3:00 AM on April 22, 2008


    I think the British English are white, anotherpanacea.

    One of the issues in my thinking about this is that much of what has happened in the world surrounding the troubling issues of race basically mirror treatment of subject populations and low-caste people everywhere, but that there's the additional injury of writing the domination into 'science' in the eighteenth century with application of biological classification to political issues. The Indian effort to write class differences into religious practice is similar, and debate within India on untouchables/Dalit often mirror debates in the US. Another, very famous account of the problem can be found in the plight of the Irish, and I heartily recommend How the Irish Became White (also, Race Traitor) to anyone who is interested in these issues. In a certain sense, the Irish were white, were conquered, and stopped being white, then emigrated to the US, were treated as black, and then sold out their black colleagues for a shot at whiteness. In another sense, as you point out, 'whiteness' doesn't play into the relationship between England and Ireland at all because the Irish were able to pass as 'white' again as soon as the political domination eased.

    In India, low-caste individuals can convert to Buddhism or Islam and escape some of the worst treatment that Hinduism reserves for untouchables, but that requires rejecting deeply held religious traditions and beliefs, and unfortunately caste is supported by a number of cultural and state institutions that have no regard for individual conscience. In the US? It's not so easy to 'convert.' I guess one way for an African-American to escape is to become a Republican, but they'll suffer many of the same problems a low-caste Indian would suffer, including the fact that many institutions (the police, for example) don't care about your party affiliation when they treat you like a hoodlum.

    Anyway, I don't like exceptionalism: being Black in America is of course a unique experience, but if we can't find analogies, work on comparisons and contrasts, and work on creating points of solidarity, not only will we never understand the problem, but that ignorance will become an excuse for inaction and indifference.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 8:22 AM on April 22, 2008


    Well, I don't think the discrimination against blacks in the U.S. is nearly as bad as it was, say, 40 or 50 years ago. And even then there was a huge difference between different states. I don't think you can look at the US where 1 in 9 black men is in prison, while 1 in 106 white men are in prison (both numbers are horrible, by the way) and not say something is going on. But a lot of that has to do with institutional inertia and so on. Rather then any sort of overt racism, what you see are policies that adversely effect African American populations. The Crack vs. Powder Cocaine laws are a perfect example, and they happen to have just been overturned, so you're seeing some of that go away. What hadjiboy described growing up in Saudi Arabia certainly sounds a lot worse then anything I experienced growing up in the U.S, both in Iowa, as well as spending summers in Texas.

    I think it would be a mistake to ignore the immense progress that's been made over the past few decades. These things really can turn over in just a generation or two.
    posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on April 22, 2008


    As I am not Paul Mooney, and this is not "Ask a Black Dude," I recuse myself from this thread. Even though the resident racists and their defenders sadden me, the members who approached this issue with common sense and critical analysis, restore in part, my faith in humanity.

    This is going to come in handy, unfortunately, for a long while.
    posted by cashman at 1:57 PM on April 22, 2008


    shmegegge,

    Sorry to respond so late to your post. It's been a busy couple of days.

    I think you, and everyone else in this thread, have undervalued the 'Mainstream Science on Intelligence' op-ed. This wasn't commissioned by the WSJ. If you look at the article on Wikipedia they have links to pages on the signers. It's a pretty accomplished group. However, the section I quoted (# 9), does not make any contentious claims about race and intelligence, it only speaks to the importance of whatever quality is measured by IQ tests. This is little more than common sense. If you want further evidence, go to the APA statement and read the section 'Tests as Predictors' or go to the thread anotherpanacea linked to on AskMe. parkerjackson and paladin165 both make some interesting remarks on the value of G regardless of whether it is a statistical invention or not. If the vast majority of peer reviewed studies disagrees on the value of G, then I would like to see some citations.

    Now, I know that you've said that, unreliable as the tests may be, they still tell us something, but that something is likely NOT that the vast majority of black zimbabweans are unintelligent. Rather, it is far more likely that it tells us how biased the tests are toward people who have been raised in a non-oppressive environment.

    Isn't that statement equivalent to, 'the pool of middle class Westerners has a distribution of intellectual capabilities equivalent to a pool of oppressed Zimbabweans'? Now, I don't know how we would measure 'intellectual capabilities' outside of a standardized test, but set that aside. Do you believe that can possibly be the case?

    presumably you don't feel like black zimbabweans are incapable of governing themselves, but that you don't find it that surprising that they've had difficulties. On the other hand, attributing those difficulties to a lack of intelligence is a bizarre move considering it's not that the zimbabweans are being governed by idiots that is the problem, it's that they are being governed by evil men.

    This opinion piece by Idang Alibi is a little on the strong side. He makes some harsh observations on Africa's showing of low intelligence, and ways in which it does matter. It isn't really an agreement with Watson and a genetic link,

    "As I write this, I do so with great pains in my heart because I know that God has given intelligence in equal measure to all his children irrespective of the colour of their skin."

    He's talking about culture, but from my perspective, it's all the same. A change in culture will likely result in a considerable gain in IQ, but it doesn't happen overnight. And the consequences of low IQ, and in particular the connection between low IQ and impulsivity, will hamstring forward motion; it's a significant handicap. I won't say that black Zimbabweans are incapable of governing themselves because I won't close off anyone's future and claim to know it as a matter of certainty.

    I'm not sure there's anything that can be done for Zimbabwe. It's just a tragic situation; it will require a lot of time.

    Why did I post the original comment? Because I thought many of the three blind mice's criticisms (OMG! RACIST!!!) were off base. The black Zimbabweans coming into power did make a catastrophe more likely, and saying that is not a matter of making some claim about a group that is unwarranted by the evidence. There is nothing racist about it.
    posted by BigSky at 4:25 AM on April 23, 2008


    well, to set aside the debate on iq tests (basically, it's not my area of expertise. saying anything more than I've said would basically be little more than speculation on my part. I'll have to go read the links you've provided with greater attention when I have the time), the criticisms of 3bm's comment were based on slightly different understandings than you attribute to them. 3bm did not say that the black zimbabweans were likely to run into problems, he said they were incapable of governing themselves. this is a statement, according to the only interpretation of his comment I consider reasonable at the moment, that speaks to their potential to one day govern as much as to their current ability. I think that's what creates the problem. If 3bm had said "and so the black majority proves that they have a ways to go before they can competently govern their own affairs," then perhaps considering it a racist statement would be a bit more off base, but as it stands it seems like he's saying that the black majority will never be able to rule themselves.

    that said, there's a reason so many people have hoped that he would come in here and explain himself. further, where I agree with you (if I understand you correctly) is in thinking that mefites too often accuse people of being racist for having made a single racist statement. I'm inclined to think that even people who aren't racists will on rare occasion make a racist statement, not realizing what they're saying. It should be possible to tell these people that what they said is offensive without putting them on the defensive about whether or not they actually hate blacks. On the other hand, as I said above, it is entirely possible (here, at least) for someone to apologize for an offensive remark without permanently carrying the label of racist around with them until the heat death of the universe (much as I hate to quote cory fucking doctorow.)
    posted by shmegegge at 7:57 AM on April 23, 2008


    bigsky,

    As I pointed out above, IQ doesn't measure innate ability.

    Even if you have inarguably established that black Zimbabweans are worse test-takers than white ones, you have not explained (1) why/how/that low IQ = bad governance; or (2) whether the actual leadership of Zimbabwe is taken from the low-status, low-IQ majority of the black population; or (3) why Zimbabwe would be different from South Africa or Botswana in light of their similar backgrounds; or (4) why there is an IQ variance or how it might be rectified.

    Political conditions in Zimbabwe are due to a complex array of factors, not least Mugabe's thuggishness.

    Was Franco's Spain doomed to dictatorship because of the IQ of Spaniards? Or Tito's Yugoslavia? Or Mao's China? Or Pinochet's Chile? Or de Klerk's South Africa?

    Group IQ is not on the top 100 list of reasons why Zimbabwe is where it is.
    posted by ibmcginty at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2008


    There will always be people who are going to eat this racist psuedo-science up. IQ is in vogue now. 100 years ago we'd be talking about how White peoples brains weighed so much. Who knows what will be big next?

    Arguing with people about stuff like this is a waste of time. More so, it legitimizes there crazy ass side of the debate.
    posted by chunking express at 11:16 AM on April 23, 2008


    As I pointed out above, IQ doesn't measure innate ability.

    The posts you linked to are about 'innate' or 'inherent' ability. That's not what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter what the cause is. Sowell, in your first link, points out the relationship between cultural groups outside of the Western mainstream and low scores on tests of abstract thinking. Fine, but since I'm not looking for an explanation it's irrelevant. I'm interested in IQ only as a measure of capability.

    It's not just the governance, although it doesn't help, it's administrators, teachers, engineers, judges. One of the links I posted earlier estimates the portion of the black Zimbabwe population with an IQ over 100 to be 2%. That's a pretty small pool to draw from for all the professions requiring higher thinking skills; see my link up thread on jobs. I don't think extremely high numbers count for much, only a bigger share going from 100 - 125. The positive correlation between low IQ and criminal behavior makes for more drag. Impulsivity also has a positive correlation with a low IQ. That's not a trait consistent with good household economy or entrepreneurship, both of which require planning and patience. Poor reasoning ability is another impediment. There's no denying Mugabe is a thug, only a claim that low IQ hurts a group's ability to respond to the challenges they will face. But I think I've said enough on the subject.

    Please note I've avoided using terms like 'doomed'. Also, I don't need to explain away any country's past in terms of IQ, I'm not claiming it as the ultimate cause. If the voting population of Spain suffered a drop of two standard deviations immediately before the Spanish Civil War, and I heard a claim it was a foregone conclusion that somehow the Spaniards would wind up in a bad spot, then yeah, I would think that claim was overstated, and that the IQ drop was the same as a decrease in their ability to make their way.

    Just like here.

    -----

    3bm did not say that the black zimbabweans were likely to run into problems, he said they were incapable of governing themselves. this is a statement, according to the only interpretation of his comment I consider reasonable at the moment, that speaks to their potential to one day govern as much as to their current ability. I think that's what creates the problem. If 3bm had said "and so the black majority proves that they have a ways to go before they can competently govern their own affairs," then perhaps considering it a racist statement would be a bit more off base, but as it stands it seems like he's saying that the black majority will never be able to rule themselves.

    Agreed. When I posted I should have made that distinction cleaner than referring it to as "obnoxious in tone".

    -----

    Arguing with people about stuff like this is a waste of time. More so, it legitimizes there crazy ass side of the debate.

    Any wonder why there's claims of PC thought police?
    posted by BigSky at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2008


    Dude, you can ramble on all you like. I'm not policing shit. I even started this MetaTalk thread, which gave you a nice venue to ramble on about how Black people are the dumb.

    I'm just saying your ass is crazy. Crazy.
    posted by chunking express at 12:31 PM on April 23, 2008


    Any wonder why there's claims of PC thought police?

    Because racist loons are delusional?
    posted by dersins at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Fuck, you're the dude that goes on about Ron Paul all the fucking time. You're like a walking talking stereotype.
    posted by chunking express at 12:37 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


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