Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hate Breeds Hate

It's time to rehabilitate tone policing.

I've been hesitating to publish this particular train of thought for a while, but I think it really does need to be said: Allowing certain favored classes of people to stomp all over even minimal standards of civility - even if some of their grievances are legitimate - is profoundly damaging to our solidarity as a nation. Not only that, such double standards actually retard social progress.

What do groups like Black Lives Matter - or its on-campus equivalents - think they will actually accomplish by behaving like boors? Seriously: I really want to know how screaming slogans at students who are trying to study or demanding that innocent sorority sisters abandon their fundraiser for St. Jude will actually convince anyone that these protesters' motives are pure. What's the logic here? Does fostering a climate of fear actually change hearts and minds?

No. Instead, you are hardening racist sentiments. When you ludicrously insist that a man's last name is actually a racially-charged insult, you confirm every aspiring neo-Nazi eugenicist's belief that African Americans are dysgenic imbeciles. When you gin up fake hate crimes to back your ideology, you provide proof for every Grand Wizard's judgment that you are all habitual liars and criminals. Even worse, in filling the air with cries of phony outrage, you effectively muzzle anyone with a real complaint, as even the well-meaning are inadvertently being trained to approach claims of racism with skepticism. "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is not just a fable; it is an accurate reflection of human nature.

Speaking of human nature, here's another scientifically-backed truth: People are led by their guts. To borrow Jonathan Haidt's analogy, our rational mind is a tiny rider sitting on the back of a huge, lumbering elephant of instincts and prejudices -- and more often than not, the elephant decides and the rider rationalizes after the fact. Why? According to the evolutionist, it profited Paleolithic man to shoot first and ask questions later; people who didn't distrust outsiders or who weren't hypersensitive to threat didn't live long enough to procreate. According to the Catholic, meanwhile, the intended harmony between our biological and rational selves was broken by original sin; thus, as St. Paul writes in Romans, man often finds himself practicing the evil he does not wish to practice. For the purposes of our discussion here, it doesn't really matter who has it right; both explanatory frameworks are accounting for the same observable reality.

And how does this reality apply when it comes to our raging campus activists? Jeb Bush correctly observed in last night's debate that you can't bully yourself into the presidency; likewise, you can't bully yourself into a racially just utopia because bullying repels the elephant. Mobbing people and belligerently shouting at them puts their unconscious minds on high alert -- and a mind on high alert is a mind that cannot listen. When you are disgusting and offensive, it might make your fellow travelers feel better, but for everyone else, you're merely pushing the "circle the wagons!" button and, in some cases, driving people to hucksters like Donald Trump -- who, by the way, represents the flip side of the Black Lives Matter coin. Want to neutralize Trump's populist appeal? Try turning down the volume and being less hateful.

ETA: Welcome, Instapundit readers! To respond to some of the comments:
  1. Hardcore racists of the Nazi/KKK stripe do indeed have very little influence on our present day politics -- for now. I'm hesitant to discount the possibility of a resurgence, however, particularly given how often working class white people are being attacked by our self-appointed aristoi.
  2. The left doesn't lie about everything. I think that's an overstatement. There are injustices in our society that cut across race and class lines that do need to be addressed by public policy. As a conservative, however, I believe the left's prescriptions are wrong -- that, in fact, past left-wing approaches to poverty and racism have made things worse by discounting personal agency and destroying family stability. (I also believe the left is not necessarily wrong about the environment. But again, their proposed solutions are faulty -- even inhumane.) (Hmm. I should probably write up my own philosophy regarding the environment at some point. Self: Make a note.)
  3. Even if Black Lives Matter really is just about power and revenge, I still think I was right to address it in the way that I did in the post above. First of all, I don't want to declare these kids to be completely beyond redemption. Even I did stupid crap in my twenties. Secondly - and more importantly - I have to consider non-aligned observers who lean left and are consequently inclined to sympathize with these students' complaints. Said observers need to hear my softer message even more urgently -- particularly if they are college administrators who are currently under attack.
ETA 2: Be careful when you discuss IQ gaps between races. Documented differences exist in the aggregate, but the data do not justify blanket statements like "their IQ's are mostly low." It's more accurate, I think, to propose that these student activists are compensating for an inadequate academic foundation. As I've observed in earlier posts, public high schools generally don't prepare students for self-directed study or critical thinking, which likely makes college an exceedingly uncomfortable experience for many a high school graduate.

ETA 3: Saying Jeb was right is not a statement of support for his presidential campaign, by the way. Some comments on Glenn's site seem to be confused on that point.


  1. They're not about "civility" or "rights" or "equality." They're about dominance games. It's about forcing other people to yield. The reason is unimportant, only the yielding.

  2. Well 'white privilege' is a new verse of the reparations song. If you can get enough crackers to buy into it, then a 'white privilege' tax is not too far off.

  3. Hmmm....let me check my files...
    "We deserve ALL the windfall apples, in ADDITION to "our" fair share, enforce the solution to the farmer."
    It's astonishing how many folks can be convinced to expend MORE energy, into DODGING responsibility, for LESS (an even negative) reward, than simply "git 'er DONE" in the first place.
    Now, where do all those labor reward units culled for "Donate NOW for "research" to fight (fill in the blank) for "our" children!" go?

  4. Quite right, though I doubt those who need to listen will. The problem is not the kids, the problem is the adults. Black Lives Matter chooses the tactics it does because it was taught by the power structures in the universities to choose these tactics. That is human nature--you get more of what works. If you reward outrageousness and bullying, then each group will be more outrageous and bullying than the last. They have to stand out, after all.

    Minor quibbles: I think you dilute your message with the nods towards neo-nazis and grand wizards. They are irrelevant. They barely exist. They have nothing to do with why BLM is wrong. The boy who cried wolf is not so much a reflection of human nature as an illustration of how you weigh information you receive indirectly--you have to consider the source.

  5. "The boy who cried wolf is not so much a reflection of human nature as an illustration of how you weigh information you receive indirectly--you have to consider the source."

    Quite right. That's precisely how I knew global warming/climate change was a fraud: Leftists were the ones proclaiming it, and therefore I knew it had to be false.

    Didn't take long for empirical evidence to confirm my suspicions.

  6. During the students riots of the 1960's, one of the radicals was asked why the protesters made such outlandish demands. The reply was: "Because if they grant us our demands, we lose." The meaning being that the protesters were not trying to change or improve anything, their objective was to 'destroy the system'. What happened after that was not the point. Destruction was the objective - plain and simple.

  7. The Left is unwilling to live and let live. One even told me once that live and let live unfairly imposed my ideas on him.. and that is true. I was imposing the idea that I was not his property and he didn't have a right to my labor, or to control my thoughts and actions. The leftists are all sociopaths - unable to see the person hood of other people. Why be Civil to (communally owned) property? They see morality and civility as a weakness to be exploited. A tool to be used against those who suffer from integrity and honesty. They do not see it as a reciprocal obligation. They have been taught their lives matter MORE - because of whatever grievances they have manufactured. Eric Hoffer was right about giving people alibis that explain bad results and blame them on others. Because of the Alibi, the lives of others matter less. That is all need need to know or care about. We have bred an entire generation of narcissistic sociopaths demanding safe spaces, high income desk jobs and a perpetual childhood, who are incapable of seeing other people as worthy of respect. This will not end well.

  8. The behavior is only confusing if you assume that the movement wants peace. BLM doesn't want peace, it wants victory.

    1. To have a victory you must first have a war. They keep this up, they'll get one. Good and hard.

    2. Black IQs are mostly low, so after being affirmative actioned into elite colleges, finding they can't compete, they try to create a cultural revolution to make them valuable in an activism industry.