When I saw, in this Atlantic Wire piece, that Internet personality “Jay Smooth” was lecturing Radley Balko on his attitude towards people of color, I laughed out loud. It’s like God decided, “I’m going to create the perfect possible example of cultural liberalism’s preference for feelings over material conditions.”
Jay Smooth makes videos on the Internet. So he’s got that going for him. Radley Balko, meanwhile, has gotten actual black people out of actual jail. He has worked tirelessly against police abuse and corruption, the drug war, and mass incarceration, and specifically the mass incarceration of young black men. He’s been cited in court cases where innocent people were freed. His journalism– you know, the kind where you go out into the world and find out facts in order to create change, rather than sit in front of a webcam and use tired slang– has helped to create material change in the world. That matters. You know what doesn’t matter? Tweets about how offended you are by something. Your tweets do nothing. They accomplish nothing, make nothing happen. They do less than nothing: they are nothing that you mistake for something, and thus make it harder to actual apprise the actual situation. Let’s check the percentages, please.
If you’re a white person who thinks that “Jay Smooth” has the right to lecture Radley Balko about race in America, you care more about your social positioning than about the material conditions of the nonwhite people you claim to be speaking for. Period. But then that’s true of white, web-enabled social liberalism in general: it is fodder for the endless cultural and social status competitions of the people undertaking it, and not for the productive purpose of ending racism, or sexism, or homophobia, or other ills. Online social liberalism is a cul de sac.
It’s all just so goddamned good. I can’t add anything but applause! (I only wish Freddie were black, so I could watch good progressives like TBogg and DougJ call him a house liberal and a lawn jockey in response.)
February 26, 2013 @ 4:45 pm
God…the comments from "Q" and "studentactivist" are almost unreadable. How does he keep going in the face of such suckitude?
I did like this:
Naturally, white people do not get offended by statements directed at white people. In fact, they don’t even have a problem making offensive statements about other white people (ask a white person about “flyover states”). As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people.
It is also valuable to know that white people spend a significant portion of their time preparing for the moment when they will be offended. They read magazines, books, and watch documentaries all in hopes that one day they will encounter a person who will say something offensive. When this happens, they can leap into action with quotes, statistics, and historical examples. Once they have finished lecturing another white person about how it’s wrong to use the term “black” instead of “African-American,” they can sit back and relax in the knowledge that they have made a difference.
White people also get excited at the opportunity to be offended at things that are sexist and/or homophobic. Both cases offering ample opportunities for lectures, complaints, graduate classes, lengthy discussions and workshops. All of which do an excellent job of raising awareness among white people who hope to change their status from “not racist” to “super not racist.”
Another thing worth noting is that the threshold for being offended is a very important tool for judging and ranking white people. Missing an opportunity to be outraged is like missing a reference to Derrida-it’s social death.
February 26, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
I like how "speech acts" is apparently a thing now. Speech acts? Oh, I see, you wanted a more impressive, muscular way to describe "yapping on the internet" so that it doesn't sound so useless and self-indulgent. Gotcha.