This one has been percolating for quite a while. I think the way we discuss Race, and “Racists” in the United States has some real problems. These issues were thrown into high relief by the events in Charlottesville this month. The Tiki-Torch White Supremacists are of course awful, but they are also a distraction. We LOVE to pick out examples of evil, and point to racists as something evil and different. Everybody can get on board the vilification train. The Alt-Right protesters are very deserving of our contempt, but that’s not always the case with our scapegoats. We get hung up on the evil of individuals, and we ignore our own faults and failings. This is a shame, because it’s the racism we all participate in that is the real problem.
I am very pleased with this one. It manages to throw together George Orwell, Steven Pinker, Jack Kirby and just a sprinkling of Jesus Christ. Good stuff as far as I’m concerned. More than anything else, the thoughts in this video can be credited to Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature, a fantastic book on the civilizing process, the decline of war and about a million other things. You should start reading it today. It’s been at least five years since I read it, so it’s fair to assume the ideas have shifted on the way to this video…
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. I have a confession to make. I’m a racist. But I’m not the only one. I have a very high opinion of the people who view this channel. You guys are the best. But I’m also pretty sure you’re a bunch of racists too.
In fact, we’re all racists, all of us spinning around on this planet. There is nothing more human than the urge to belong to a team. Whether it’s a family, a tribe, a race, a nation or a university alumni network. In that sense, We’re all racists. Looking out for “our own people” however we define that, is one of our most deeply rooted instincts. It’s striving against that basic urge that makes us civilized. That’s how I measure virtue in myself and others, the ability to see outside oneself, and one’s group’s interests. Harvard professor Steven Pinker talks about the way the story of human progress can be told as an expanding circle of empathy.
The story of the expanding circle of empathy is one I believe in. But Conservatives, including myself every now and then, complain about shifting goal posts. It seems like no matter how much progress we make, it’s never enough, and there’s always something else to complain about, or some new injustice that we notice. Stuff that we used to see as normal is now a big problem all of a sudden. REDSKINS ROBERT E LEE. This process makes people uncomfortable, but it’s actually a fantastic thing. Our discovery of new injustices is just as much a part of human progress as flying machines and computers are.
250 years ago it was the whiny liberals who insisted we shouldn’t be ruled by hereditary aristocracies, and that people shouldn’t be killed for speaking their minds. No one in the US would dispute that now. The shifting goal posts are a good thing, no matter how uncomfortable they make us. The expanding circle of empathy is a victory for all of us.
But it’s not a permanent victory.The process is uneven. Government can’t solve this for us. We all have to beat down the racist inside. We have to try harder to understand everyone. Over the past couple weeks I’ve watched the extended 2 minute hate against the Tiki Torch White Supremacists of Charlottesville with growing discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, those people are assholes, and I have no sympathy for them, but I think they are a distraction. By hating on these guys, we tell ourselves that we’re OK. We have nothing to do with racism or evil, and we can prove it by how much we hate those guys with Tiki torches.
We use them to hide from our own choices. If we hate on them, we don’t have to think about who we associate with, who we choose to work with, what we ask our governments to do, or who we are afraid of. As much fun as it may be to imagine punching Nazis, that’s not where the battle is. The battle is internal. And it’s eternal. It doesn’t end. Racism isn’t some dipshit with a tiki torch. Racism is in all of us. We are all of us fallen. We are all racists. Let’s fight that.
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