Comments on: A Modest Proposal: Make Academics Who Call for Papers to be Retracted Do Their Jobs! Free Markets and Social Justice Sat, 18 Nov 2017 17:31:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: R.Levine Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:27:00 +0000 Maybe I’m missing the larger point, but I don’t think so? I think I probably have the same gut reaction to each case that you do: if I see someone white trying to pass for black my heuristic assumption is that they’re probably an ass and trying to garner sympathy that they don’t really deserve by appropriating another group’s historic oppression. I am much less likely to make that assumption of a man who wants to live as a woman (or vice-versa).

But the thing I still don’t understand is: granting that (as you mention) these two things have different historical precedents, why doesn’t that mean we can’t tolerate anyone wanting to live as whatever X they’d like to in 2017? Accepting your premise that there’s historic tolerance of trans-black but historic discrimination against trans-women, why should the 2017 response be to reverse those positions instead of tolerating both? If these things (race/gender identity) are largely or entirely socially constructed anyway, it’s not clear to me why we should ever tell anyone “you have to be in category X just because you were born that way.”

By: Sean II Thu, 26 Oct 2017 04:43:00 +0000 1) “The Jew in the Midwest pretending to be a Christian is hoping to get *any* employment…”

Ashkenazi never had an unemployment problem. Not even in the midwest.

2) “…club membership, etc…”

Club membership? Clearly a basic human need there.

3) “…along with not getting their ass beat regularly.”

Jews in heartland America have never been the victims of “regular” violence. To the extent that problem existed for them anywhere, it was on the East Coast, for a little while, at the hands of other immigrants groups – Irish, Italians, etc., and later at the hand of internal migrants – Blacks.

4) “The Christian in NYC pretending to be a Jew is trying to get from being an upper middle class lawyer to a middle class lawyer.”

Yeah, this sounds like the same kind of first world problem as “trying to get a spot at Bushwood”.

By: King Goat Thu, 26 Oct 2017 02:27:00 +0000 See, you’re missing the point.

The complainers here weren’t so much against the idea that a “a person who sincerely feels they are black despite being born in a white body be afforded the same sympathy at a minimum.” They’re saying it needs to be said that such a move isn’t sociologically equivalent to a man becoming a woman because there’s historically approval of whites dabbling in being black, but, in contrast, death, beatings and discrimination for men being women.

By: King Goat Thu, 26 Oct 2017 02:19:00 +0000 The Jew in the Midwest pretending to be a Christian is hoping to get *any* employment, club membership, etc., along with not getting their ass beat regularly. The Christian in NYC pretending to be a Jew is trying to get from being an upper middle class lawyer to a middle class lawyer. The latter invoking the former in order to justify what they’re doing is false equivalence at best, incredibly insensitive at worst.

Take another example. Let’s say Vanilla Ice, when charged with appropriating black culture, responded thusly: “well, back in the Jim Crow South, lots of black people tried to pass as white, taking on aspects of white culture! I’m just doing the same thing!”

By: IllaConsiderit Mon, 23 Oct 2017 06:09:00 +0000 Ouch!

By: Sean II Thu, 19 Oct 2017 03:13:00 +0000 Yes, we have something similar here.
Google “Ben Jealous + Vince Vaughn” for an amusing example of how thin the barrier can be between a one-drop certified brother and a jive ass honkey mother Trumper.

The average admixture for US blacks is 25%, one white grandparent.

But interestingly, people with 7 white great grand-parents are allowed to claim the mantle, and indeed tend to be strikingly overrepresented among the leaders of activist groups.

By: Peter from Oz Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:08:00 +0000 For many years in Australia there has been a form of transrace activity occurring. This involves people who are really 98% white and 2% Aborigine, identifying as Aborgine especially when government grants and prizes are being handed out to Aborigines.

By: Sean II Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:09:00 +0000 “Defending a lawyer who pretended to be Jewish in 1940 NYC by citing Jews in the Midwest at the same time pretending to be Christians would be similarly outrageous.”

Why? Both men are pretending to be something they’re not in order to gain social status among people who would otherwise discriminate against them for being what they really are.

By: Sean II Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:31:00 +0000 1) “I’m not going to beat a deadnamed horse here trying to construct the best possible ideal argument for pro transgender / anti transrace…”

Although your argument probably IS the best one could assemble from the broken shards available.

2) “if you could find a convincingly sincere case of transrace (“for the right reasons”)…I’ll bet you could get some agreement from a hard leftist.”

Of course that’s the crazy thing: part of what drove the mockery of Rachel Dolezal was how heartbreakingly earnest she seemed to be about her assumed identity. That was the setup which made the punchlines work.

3) The Orwell answer to all this is: of course you have to seed your belief system with arbitrary nonsense and obvious contradictions. Because how else could the group be sure of its power? If an idea makes sense, people may nod along merely because they believe it. But if it doesn’t make sense, and people nod along anyway, and especially if they scream at anyone who isn’t nodding, then you can be sure they’re doing it out of conformity.

Note: contra-Orwell, no conspiracy or central direction is required to make this happen. Ideologies have a natural tendency to trip over themselves, and thus ideological leaders tend to be people who can deftly pass off those stumbles as choreographed dance moves: “of course you realize I meant to do that…”

Some people will refuse to play along, but they get driven out by the many who are willing to agree. What you have left after the culling is a group of proven obedience.

4) “We could dispute the validity of the dataset they use for both of those judgements, but that’s pretty close to the explanation I tend to get from my left-leaning / upper-middle-class / urban / 20s-30s / fairly STEM-oriented friends…”

Of course the real reason isn’t hard to figure out. The cost of going trans-black is so low, and the benefits so great, if we allowed any such thing millions of white boys would make the switch for college application purposes alone. Millions more for purposes of hiring and promotion once in the workforce. The social-racial system we’ve built since ~1970 would collapse almost overnight.

So that’s why trans-race can’t be a thing.

Meanwhile trans-gender has a secret weapon to keep it in check: politics aside, most people still find the thought revolting. There is no danger that millions of men will suddenly give up their masculinity to gain a better spot the hiring list for the fire department, or whatever. Not worth alienating every woman who might ever sleep with you.

So trans-gender is a luxury we can afford.

By: R.Levine Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:29:00 +0000 Agreed that plenty of historical analogs of Jenner probably faced condemnation that in some cases was pretty horrible, and we certainly shouldn’t beat, jail, or do worse to them now (I don’t think anyone is saying that we should). I’d go further and say they probably deserve our sympathy, and we could further debate how far that should go on the spectrum of “just leave them alone” to “protected status” to “bathroom rights” to “publicly funded reassignment surgery” to “emotional damage reparations”.

Why then shouldn’t a person who sincerely feels they are black despite being born in a white body be afforded the same sympathy at a minimum? I’ve never understood the “appropriation” argument against this – who cares if someone does end up benefiting overall from adopting features of another culture (even though that seems unlikely here, since white privilege is supposed to confer such overwhelming undeserved advantages in the first place)? If someone does end up living a better life (by their own measure) as a “transracial person”, shouldn’t we just be happy for them?

The best attempted example of “cultural appropriation is wrong” that I’ve heard is white people in blackface, but I don’t think it quite works – it seems to me like we already condemned that practice as offensive well before any concept of “appropriation” entered debate, and that we did so for relatively independent reasons – i.e., it’s offensive because it’s mocking and belittling, not because it’s in some general category of “appropriation”. So I think if one could show that Dolezal was acting in a blackface-esque context there’d be a stronger argument to make, but from what I read of her in profiles and interviews she certainly seems like a sincere and true believer in black identity & causes. And in any case, why should we get to assume her motives in the first place, but not those of the transgendered?