Monday, November 2, 2009

Lesser-known racist fallacies

"My friend, who is a member of (ethnic group), was not offended by this joke; therefore, it's not racist." This is really a generalization of the inexplicable tendency of people to assume that any member of another race speaks for all members of their race, which is roughly the intellectual equivalent of "You all look the same to me." I, for example, am a pretty nonrepresentative sample of Indians. If you want to know what all Indians think, give me a few days so I can go around and ask all 1.1 billion of them.

"I didn't mean for it to be taken as racist." a.k.a., "The road to racism is detoured by good intentions." The intent was never the problem to begin with; racism is as problematic as it is because it offends people, not because you wanted to. (okay, so this is debatable.)

"Minorities, when speaking about racism, are above reproach." If anything, minorities are frequently just as racist or more racist than others, just because nobody thinks to call them out on it. (Asians, for example, can be incredible nationalistic snobs. Just try asking a first- or second-generation immigrant parent about all the amazing things that were done first in their country.) This is still a bad thing!

"Traditions and culture are especially important to minorities." In my (unnecessarily inflammatory) opinion, traditions are mainly important to people who don't have much else. I am more than what I've been handed down by thousands of years of handing-down, or at least, I aspire to be.

"Meat is delicious, you should try it sometime. :o" Nah, see, I might be convinced by this reasoning, except that it kind of misses the entire point. >_> I will not be swayed by your delicious bacon!


Kiriska said...

Re #1:

In my experience, the more removed from their culture/heritage a person is, the less likely they're to be offended by a joke, assuming they understood it in the first place (those that can't understand English that well can't be offended, obviously). That isn't to say 4th or 5th generation immigrants are least likely to be offended; I mean, I could be considered first generation because I was born in China, but I know plenty of ABCs that would be more offended than I would at any slur.

But yes, I agree, one person can't be representative of a whole group; this is true regardless of whether it's an ethnic group, a religious group, or a group of college alums.

Re #2:

Again, this isn't restricted to racism. I mean, "I didn't mean to make horrible decisions that ended up leading to certain disaster for my friends/family/company/country/planet!!" I DIDN'T MEAN TOOOOO.

Re #3:

Minorities are so much more racist than anyone else, holy shit. XD I know many an arrogant nationalistic Asian. Yes.

Re #4:

That's an interesting idea. I am somewhat inclined to agree, though I don't think there's anything wrong with embracing a heritage. Or at least, you can certainly consider culture important without losing any of your individuality.

Re #5:

Wait, are you an all out vegetarian or do you just not eat certain meats? *doesn't remember* Either way, I'm tired of people bugging others about their dietary choices. I mean, geez, why the hell should I CARE that you don't eat beef**? More for me! :3

** If I were cooking for you and were inconvenienced by the fact that you do not eat beef, I might be annoyed, but it's nearly the same as being annoyed at someone who is allergic to peanuts. But this scenario is also made moot by the fact that I should not be allowed to cook at any point in time for the possible damages I might render to your kitchen and/or apartment and/or the neighborhood.

Frank Church said...

1. wait, so I can't ask you something and assume your answer holds for all Indians? (headsmack) Oh, and can you explain Hinduism for me? I expect your answer to be fully representative of all 800 million (or so) Hindus and cover all its major schools of thought. Mention Carvaka in your answer.

3. Zero. Abhinav Bindra. I tend to associate minorities and racism with older/1st gen folks.

4. Tradition! Lots of pretty crappy traditions. I agree with you, but I still look forward to Christmas, and I always try to watch the Diwali episode of the Office on Diwali.

5. I like beef. Would you like it? Maybe. Do I really care? No.

Æther said...

Kiriska: My cooking is also limited. I'm currently eating shake and bake made with boneless chicken.

4. Like Senator Church, I also look forward to Christmas. You're lucky you're not an Aggie. They have a whole thing about having a tradition for everything. (Btw, the pharmacy school is part of the A&M Health Science Center, so I'm still not an Aggie, keeping me unlike the rest of my family.)

5. Bacon isn't that delicious. You didn't even notice when I slipped it onto your hamburger.

Kiriska said...

Re Xmas:

I also rather look forward to Xmas, a good ol' secular Christmas filled with pagan gift-giving traditions. But really, recent life changes have diminished the holiday's importance to me. It was the last vestige of my goodness, or something.


I live on a staple diet of Hot Pockets, ramen, and Little Debbie's cheap cakes. Sometimes I throw baby carrots and eggs into my ramen, and that is pretty much the extent of my cooking. I have set fire to ramen in the microwave before. Sometimes my roommates take pity and cook me things.