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Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 01:19 am
Did Beatnik Grifter Play On Loathsome Hipster Negro Fetish?

102CommentReplyFlag

qscrisp
qscrisp
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)

No idea about America, but I have noticed that in Britain it is still acceptable to use Asian racial stereotypes in cases where it would be completely unacceptable to use Black stereotypes. So, I certainly think Momus has a point here. I have long supposed it's because there's never been a conspicuous Asian civil rights movement in the West, and, also, that there are no conspicuous international white/Asian political tensions, as there are with some Muslim countries, to make the issue sensitive in people's minds.

I don't think racism is a good thing, but it does seem to me more and more that the issue has become a 'card' that is 'played', by people from all ethnic groups (whites, too). For instance, what to make of the nauseatingly fake moral outrage at the U.N. conference recently? The next logical step would be to discuss such things outside of such a card game. I wonder if humans are capable of that.


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krskrft
krskrft
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)

Well, America actually put Japanese immigrants in detention camps on American soil during WW2, so you'd imagine that the general issue of racial sensitivity would expand to East Asians, but that's definitely not the case. In fact, it would seem the average American doesn't even recall that such a thing ever happened.

The reason why the argument about the lack of a conspicuous civil rights movement for Asians doesn't quite explain it for me is because plenty of other underrepresented, typically inconspicuous groups wouldn't be treated that way in a Jezebel article. I mean, what about people from India and other Aryan-Asian countries? I can't imagine such a thing being said about an Indian "hipster grifter," or one with a Middle Eastern background. And these groups haven't had conspicuous civil rights movements in America.

I think that the exception many otherwise progressive people make for Asians, when it comes to racial sensitivity, has to do with many things: long-standing isolation from the West; WW2 propaganda; troubled, late-era military incursions in the Asia-Pacific region; contemporary anxiety about Asia emerging as an economic competitor (it's fairly common to hear jokes in 80s movies about Japan "owning" America ... China is the current substitution); various ideas about the "exotic Orient" that have permeated the broad Western culture over hundreds of years; generations of Asians being portrayed in only a small number of ways in the various media, etc, etc, etc.

I don't think that this type of racism against Asians is as dangerous as racism against, say, black people in America, because it doesn't have nearly as much potential to stoke violent social discord. All racism is not created equal. It's always dependent on context. In other words, we shouldn't be worrying about whether or not there's an equivalence between this and other types of racism. I've always hated it when people, for example, say things like "How can gays try to draw on the black civil rights movement? Their plight is nothing like the plight of African-Americans!" because, at that point, you're not being productive, you're just arguing about--and trying to build cred from--being more fucked over than somebody else. Golf claps all around!

So equivalence is not the issue. I think real recognition that people who say X, Y, or Z are being racist pieces of shit is the point. And what's so infuriating about the Jezebel thing is that these are people who, in any other circumstances, would be decrying sexism and racism, and yet they're completely oblivious to the fact that they've just created a document that advances both dreadful agendas.

As far as racism being a "card," I think anything that one can use to stop the conversation, change the subject, or otherwise feign outrage over in order to demonize or whatever, can be considered a "card." It happens all the time, not just with race, or even with identity issues in general. I honestly feel like the bar for defining something as having been "played" like a "card" has gotten way too low. We've reached the point where, as soon as race even comes up, it's dismissed as the "race card" and completely rejected as a topic of discussion.

If a racial critique is a red herring--if it bears nothing more than a tangential relation to the argument, and its introduction is merely an attempt to disrupt and steer the argument in a direction advantageous to the person making the racial critique--then that's "playing the race card." But if a racial critique cuts straight to the point of the argument--as it clearly does in the case of this Jezebel article--then I think we can safely say that nobody is playing the race card.


ReplyThread Parent
qscrisp
qscrisp
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 11:42 am (UTC)

Good points.

I knew about the detention camps, actually, but they're not very prominent in my consciousness. Being 37 this week, as a Briton, I am old enough to have grown up with lingering British resentment towards the Japanese for the treatment of British POWs during WWII. I think generations younger than mine are not really aware of this resentment, probably.

About the race card, America may well be ahead of Britain on dismissivemess here. I'm not the best person to judge. I just thought I'd try and make myself a bit clearer. Is something that someone is saying actually promoting social injustice? I just don't think we should slip into a situation where it's possible for people to say things that boil down to, "I am offended, therefore you are racist!" as if the personal feelings of offence of all have to be catered to.

In the case of the U.N. conference, the card itself is, well, as far as I can see, being used to promote injustice.


ReplyThread Parent
krskrft
krskrft
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)

Well, I mean, the entire point of the Jezebel article is to presume that Kari Ferrell's race played a significant, even central, role in her fraudulent activities, even though everything we know about Ferrell tells us that she was basically the opposite of the stereotype presented in the article. In this case, I don't think it counts as "playing the race card" to call Jezebel out, since the forwarding of this racial stereotype was central to the point the article made. In this case, the "racist" claim isn't just there to distract from the argument or grab an easy victory, but actually plays a distinct role in directly rebutting the arguments made in the article.

But yeah, America has been going through this rough phase for a while now, where this vocal segment of the conservative movement is convinced that every single time race is brought up, it's a case of somebody playing the race card. We are supposed to be post-racial now, which apparently means we no longer discuss race, because we're totally beyond it. So if somebody at a rally holds up a sign referring to Obama as a "Kenyan pirate" and you call it racist, OMG you're just unfairly tainting the guy's reputation, because it's so EASY to just call somebody racist and DEMONIZE them. I guess if it's easy to call somebody a racist, that must mean they're not a racist.


ReplyThread Parent
qscrisp
qscrisp
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)

Well, I mean, the entire point of the Jezebel article is to presume that Kari Ferrell's race played a significant, even central, role in her fraudulent activities, even though everything we know about Ferrell tells us that she was basically the opposite of the stereotype presented in the article. In this case, I don't think it counts as "playing the race card" to call Jezebel out

No, I think you're right, hence my comment somewhere further down in response to another comment of yours. My criticism would have been more appropriate if it had been about this not being the equivalent of white-on-black racism.


ReplyThread Parent
palaeologos
palaeologos
Matt
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)

Whose nauseatingly fake moral outrage? Ahmadinejad's, or those who walked out on him?


ReplyThread Parent
qscrisp
qscrisp
Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)

Good question. I suppose I was thinking of the latter.


ReplyThread Parent