Sunday, June 11, 2017

White Nationalism as Drug Resistant Bacteria

I want to argue yet again not only is shaming hypocritical and cruel, it's ineffective. Recently, I started to think of the rise of white nationalism as a drug resistant bacteria and shaming as the overused antibiotics that have led to the rise in white nationalism. I saw an Saturday Night Live recently hosted by Aziz Ansari where he asks people to start pretending not to be racist again.

It makes (obliquely?) an interesting point -- did all of the policing of political correctness, enforced by social shaming actually change people's underlying attitudes about race, class, privilege, etc.? Or did it just cause people to be quietly prejudiced and bitter about the shaming attempts?

A character from The Mindy Project recently remarked "Every white person’s greatest fear is being called racist. It’s their equivalent of actual racism." And I have noticed that white people do seem to feel quite oppressed and like they are being unfairly treated by being called racist. For instance, I had a conversation recently with a close family member of an older generation about political correctness and asked him what about it was so upsetting to him. He said that he didn't even believe that people who enforce political correctness even believe in it or care about the people they're allegedly trying to protect. He thinks it's just a way that people put other people down, for the same reason that anybody ever tries to enforce a social hierarchy against someone else -- a selfish desire to feel superior.

I tried to explain that anything can good be used to advance bad purposes (speaking of which, I'm watching the Handmaid's Tale). I just had a conversation with a friend whose non-Mormon husband was raised in a Mormon community -- wasn't invited to any of the block parties, wasn't allowed to go to anyone's houses for sleepovers, no one cared to communicate with his family at all until his mom got sick and they started trying to aggressively proselytize. I'm sure those Mormons felt like they had scriptural support to justify their exclusion.  But I'm also pretty sure it's all reasoning post-hoc, that is they decided how they wanted to act and took otherwise neutral or good principals and twisted them to fit their preconceived notions. It's why so many people hate organized religion (see again the Handmaid's Tale), which is the point I made to my Mormon relative who hates political correctness. In fact, it's a problem that has been specifically addressed many times in addresses by the church leaders to church members, including most recently this reference to my favorite topic of shaming by President Dieter Uchtdorf:

During the Savior’s ministry, the religious leaders of His day disapproved of Jesus spending time with people they had labeled “sinners.”

Perhaps to them it looked like He was tolerating or even condoning sinful behavior. Perhaps they believed that the best way to help sinners repent was by condemning, ridiculing, and shaming them.

Perhaps the current adherents to shaming believe that the best way to get people to change is by condemning, ridiculing, and shaming them. Perhaps the shamers of the world truly believe that they're doing a good thing, rather than doing what my relative believes political correctness police do -- putting others down so that they can feel relatively more superior. Perhaps they choose to intentionally inflict harm on others for the sake of some higher purpose, thinking that the world will be a better place because of it, rather than the obvious natural result of their actions -- increased antagonism, hurt, distrust, pain, hypocrisy, etc. But even if shamers' intentions are to create more positivity and good in the world, it doesn't work (or works so seldom that the aggregate effect is failure). Because even if you are right when you try to correct someone, there's a psychological concept called the "backfire effect" that makes you confronting someone with those facts extremely ineffective -- it most often leads to them becoming further entrenched in their beliefs. Sort of like drug resistant bacteria becoming more beefy in response to increased use of antibiotics. This Oatmeal page has a great explanation with citations to further reading/listening on the backfire effect.

So if shaming doesn't work, is it just cruelty for the sake of being cruel? Is it just twisting otherwise good concepts to advance oneself in a social hierarchy to the detriment of someone else?


  1. I think we live in a society where people love being victims especially ones who's life are utter shit and they've made nothing of themselves. Crying racism and claiming the white government is to blame for their shit lives is perfect because it passes blame and they don't have to take responsibility for being a piece of shit lol.

    1. And the white nationalists are just narcissistic assholes lolol I've read a lot of their twitter posts and blogs and even listened to their speeches.

  2. So if shaming doesn't work, is it just cruelty for the sake of being cruel? Is it just twisting otherwise good concepts to advance oneself in a social hierarchy to the detriment of someone else?

  3. Shaming works well as a manipulation tactic because deep down, on a gutteral level, people understand that they have things to be ashamed of.

    If you prod at someone's insecurities, you will evoke a barrage of self-justification, which reinforces destructive behaviours, whilst fomenting intense self-doubt.

    If your target is strong and smart, they will eventually decipher your strategy, and learn to effectively counter it via deflection or reflection.

    Persuasion is a different game.

    If you want to inspire in someone a genuine change of heart and mind, you have to win them over with Love.

    1. Good lesson for anyone to learn. Sharing the benefits of our experience and insight is best accomplished by respecting the other person's history and capacity.

  4. "If you want to inspire in someone a genuine change of heart and mind, you have to win them over with Love."

    Well said.

    Hope everyone is doing well. God bless y'all!

  5. Shaming works only if the shamed is able and willing to accept responsibility. Otherwise it is wasted energy or a self gratifying show of power.

    Political correctness is nothing more than a modern day excuse to limit free speech by those who rely to much on feelings. I have little tolerance for either technique, but do have respect for the masters of the former.

  6. Ten. And counting.

  7. Your comments section is 95% spam at this point. If you want to see discussion, you need to get rid of all that.

  8. "So if shaming doesn't work, is it just cruelty for the sake of being cruel? Is it just twisting otherwise good concepts to advance oneself in a social hierarchy to the detriment of someone else?"

    Okay, I'm in a strongly disliked minority group. I'd like to try to constructively respond.

    I am a supporter of "political correctness". Not because I think social justice morality is "right". And not because I believe cultural taboos necessarily change what people really think (they may indirectly, since most people unconsciously adjust their thinking to their perceptions of others' expectations, but that doesn't benefit me personally and it's not my motive).

    The point is that open bigotry produces a social environment where I find functioning extremely difficult. If other people can openly treat you as less than human, you get put in a situation where you can either take it (lowering your status) or challenge it (and thus become perceived as a disruptive influence, again lowering your status and threatening your inclusion). My lifelong experience is that if there isn't an understood prohibition of openly bigoted language, there's little point in me investing energy in a social scene. Because it means all your invested efforts can be instantaneously trashed by one loudly prejudiced individual and one room where no one else objects -- people usually don't, and once permission to discriminate is given it tends to snowball.

    Therefore I don't go into a social space unless I know politically correct morality is likely to be enforced. I realize that any constraint on expression carries a cost, but very few social spaces actually let you get away with saying anything anyway. I find constraints on both their and my self-expression easily worth it to take these lethal trump cards out of the hands of potential threats.

    I mean, they never let me kill people whose prejudices interfere with my goals. So I feel like if I'm going to be constrained in this arbitrary and inconvenient manner, they can accept a few frustrating constraints on their behavior too. It's only fair, right?


Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies


Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.