The Philosophical Inconsistenty of Race-Baiting Liberals

Conservative

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, Utah Representative Mia Love, and retired pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson – what do these three established individuals have in common? Well, they’re all black conservatives. They’ve also been labeled “tokens” and “Uncle Toms” by a vast array of liberals and progressives who refuse to recant the accusation that conservatives and Republicans are, generally speaking, racist. What this effectively does is rob these wonderful people of their dignity and of their independence while simultaneously calling into question their intelligence and their integrity. Yet, even though these insults are fundamentally rooted in Scott’s, Love’s, and Carson’s race, no one ever accuses these liberals and progressives of being racist.

It is interesting, then, that when conservatives criticize a liberal black man or woman for their decisions, opinions, or policies, you can always hear murmurs (or very often, outright cries) of racism, or at least people openly entertaining the idea that “race probably plays a role here.” This is simply assumed as a matter of course.

What this sort of double-standard really comes down to is a form of prejudice against conservatives. It seems that a lot of people operate under the assumption that if someone is racist, they must be conservative, that, generally speaking, only conservatives can be racist. This is a judgment, an assumption that is made about conservatives.

It is striking that this particular type of judgment, this assumption based on political ideology, doesn’t bother liberals. After all, people make these “judgments” and “assumptions” based on skin color as well, and this has race-baiters (who are, without seeking to speak divisively, largely liberal) like Al Sharpton crying racism 24/7.

In effect, what liberals who assume racist motives among conservatives are doing is the same thing police officers sometimes do when they encounter a group of, for instance, young black males in a suspicious situation. In this instance, the police might make a judgment, an assumption (voluntarily or involuntarily) that, based on previous experience or because young black males commit a disproportionate number of crimes, these young black males they’ve encountered in a situation must be committing some sort of crime – regardless of whether this is actually the case. It’s an assumption, a judgment that is made (again, voluntarily or involuntarily) based, superficially, on the young men’s race.

Similarly, to get back to the original thought: liberals make assumptions and judgments about conservatives. The assumption/judgment becomes about ideology instead of race, but it remains an assumption and a judgment, so it’s operating using precisely the same principle.

Thus, to bring this full circle: race-baiting liberals who are constantly and without real cause accusing conservatives of racism are doing the exact same thing they criticize in others. They chide police officers for making assumptions based on a set of perceived experiences and call them racist, but then they go around and make the same assumptions about conservatives.

Ultimately, the point of this post is not to pompously declare that we must totally disallow assumption-making. That isn’t a reasonable proposition because we’re all human, and we all make assumptions and pronounce judgments (voluntarily and involuntarily) every time we assemble a thought. What we should strive for, however, is to encourage people to look past their assumptions and make a concerted effort to become more open-minded, so that given the time to contemplate an issue, we are not speaking or making decisions BASED ON those assumptions.

Ferguson, Gardner, and the Convenient Narrative

CRDaily, Politics

When thinking about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, there is a particularly important statistic to remember in the face of Al Sharpton and his exercise of theatrics, traipsing around the hotbeds of civil conflict like some rebellious figurehead: Something like ninety-three percent of the black murders that occur in the United States are perpetrated by black offenders, as found in a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report – not by white police officers or Hispanic vigilantes or the racially ambiguous face of “The Man,” but by criminals who, it would seem, are flustered with motivation entirely independent of race. And even for the other seven percent, I have yet to read a convincing, evidenced case that rampant racism plays a significant role in their occurrence. No matter, though – to the astute media analysts whose hysteric reactions to both of these situations has resembled a pitiful display of deceptive bias and frivolous conclusion-making, such a harrowing statistic matters little. Why? Because, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t contribute to the narrative that it is their pitiful job to create – a false narrative which makes it seem as if the United States is still suffering from entrenched institutional racism, despite all the evidence that shows otherwise.

The uncomfortable reality is that the death of Eric Gardner and what it tells us about the relationships between communities and their police officers is not one that can simply be conflated with what happened in Ferguson. Indeed, it does not stand to reason that if one was motivated by a white officer’s deep-seated, racial hatred, the other must have been, too – you might as well claim that because some people voted for President Obama as a direct result of his skin color, everybody must have, which itself is an entirely imperfect metaphor due to the fact that neither Michael Brown’s nor Eric Gardner’s death came about as a result of being black (don’t take my word for it, look at the evidence and at specific comments that have been made by Gardner’s family). As such, it is absolutely necessary that we treat these two terrible events in turn – looking at them from an objective point of view so as to avoid the incoherent and false ranting that has unfortunately characterized the contributions of many.

With regard to Gardner, we have specific video evidence which shows his albeit large frame surrounded by several police officers who are attempting to arrest him for the sale of “loose” cigarettes – single cigarettes instead of packs, the sale of which is illegal in Staten Island. In the process, Gardner visibly resists officers’ subdual of him, and as a result, he is placed in a choke-hold, the strength and longevity of which eventually cause his death. So, the question remains: Was the police officer’s use of force excessive considering Gardner’s offense and the number of officers there to ensure each other’s safety? Or was it completely within his right to do so, even though Gardner was unarmed and surrounded by able-bodied, police backup?

You can probably guess at my opinion from my framing of the questions – that I think the officer’s use of force was not only excessive, but also worthy of a manslaughter conviction, in the least. After all, the video clearly illustrates the officers’ legitimate control of the situation: they had Gardner surrounded, they were armed and he wasn’t, and there was the notable absence of any significant threat to innocent bystanders. The idea that an officer should be able to use such lethal force in such a situation is, I think, borderline abominable – not to mention that Gardner’s crime was so benign that there is a legitimate concern as to whether or not he should have been approached in the first place. The point is that there is a reasonable case that the grand jury’s interpretation of the events that transpired – and luckily, we have them on video – is somewhat spurious in its willingness to give the officers the benefit of the doubt. The evidence is quite clear, and we don’t have to rely on ambiguous and suspect eyewitness reports from people who are self-contradictory and unsure. With that being said, there is still no reason to believe that race fueled the officer’s apparent aggressiveness – it’s a distinct possibility, of course, but a positive claim about such a charged event that carries with it damaging implications is, accordingly, in need of positive, definitive evidence. Here, there doesn’t seem to be any – only the affective narrative of respected men like President Obama, who is actually sufficiently daft to suggest that Gardner’s death illustrates the persistence of racial animus and the necessity of more and more meaningless dialogue.

On the other hand, the situation that has unfolded in Ferguson is entirely dependent upon ridiculous and flippant interpretations of evidence – evidence that overwhelmingly points to Officer Darren Wilson’s innocence, but that is ignored at the pernicious discretion of Sharpton and his cronies. The suggestion of the evidence is simple enough: After having violently robbed a convenience store and been determined dangerous and on the run by police, Michael Brown was confronted by Wilson, who eventually was forced to use his gun in a deadly yet self-protective manner. The narrative furthered by protestors regarding Brown’s hands-up stance is not only irresponsible and facile because of the unreliable nature of the suggesting witness’ testimony, but also stunningly ignorant because of the forensic analysis which was conducted for the grand jury. As unfortunate as it is, we have no video available to show us directly the on-goings that led to Brown’s shooting, but we do, indeed, have witness reports, forensic evidence, ballistics, and a legal system that refuses to function on emotion – all of which suggest that the decision to not indict Wilson was the correct one.

It seems appropriate, then, to ask the protestors – who once more claim that Wilson was both unjustified in his use of force and brutally racist in his motivation for doing so – whether or not they would prefer a justice system that reviews evidence, but brews decisions within a cesspool of uninformed public opinion, emotive accusation, and egregious, witch-trial trickery. I, for one, am horrified by the willingness of many to crucify evidence in favor of the construction of a patently false, politically expedient narrative – to ignore that which is demonstrably true and instead air on the side of that which they wish to be true, for purposes of outrage.

You see, the difference between the typical conservative and the typical liberal response to these situations is that the Democrats see black deaths within a torrent of political opportunism, which, if they fail to use, will force them to focus on issues that will actually help the black community. No matter the extent to which the country continues to evolve on race – no matter the extent to which its citizens attempt to share constructive dialogue – Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will always be there to trump up the situation to serve their diabolic purposes. After all, upon what else do their careers thrive? Haven’t you heard in the news that Sharpton has some serious tax debt to pay? As long as that remains the case, the dialogue that credible members of both sides of the aisle try to proffer will proceed in absolute phoniness and insincerity – based upon the idea that our country is a bad place for black people, who must always look over their shoulders should a draconian, white cop begin to follow.

The bottom line is that it is patently irresponsible for the media to act like virtual merchants charged with bandying about the issue of race as if it were a currency. But that’s just the thing: for many liberals, race is a political currency which distracts from a variety of issues of significantly increased purport. Democrats hear Republicans all the time talk about things such as single-motherhood, the breakup of the black family, the nature of the welfare state and government dependence, the state of the economy in minority communities, the educational system, and gang culture; but all they seem to do in the meantime is think to themselves, “How boring! Those issues can’t headline campaign commercials …”

And then they spill out into the streets to protest.

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel (of Oppression)?

CRDaily

*You can find most of this year’s Tunnel in the video above. However, due to a technical issue, the last scene of the Tunnel is not included.

There are few bonds on campus that run longer and deeper than my bond with the Tunnel of Oppression. Having proudly participated all three years that it’s been on campus, I think that I come as close to being a Tunneler Expert as any man on campus. As such, it is my duty- Nay! My solemn privilege- to provide, yet again, a brilliant and insightful commentary on this year’s Tunnel.

My greatest disappointment this year was a lack of a theme for the Tunnel. Personally, my favorite was last year’s Willy Wonka Theme, but this year there wasn’t one. Really disappointing. And there’s so much to pick from, Twilight, Hunger Games, Dr. Seuss… so sad.

First up was the “Privilege Walk” (take one step forward if you’re a privileged white, heterosexual male, take one step back if you’re not). This was more or less consistent with what they’ve done in the past, so I won’t comment too much on that. Though, they really could have gone wild with a Hunger Games theme here (“everyone with white, heterosexual, Christian parents, battle to death!).

However, they did modify the Disabilities Awareness Room. Last year, if you’ll recall, they had a student with Dyslexia sitting at a desk, taking a test, with a teacher screaming at her to hurry up. As several people pointed out, such a situation was highly improbable mostly because it was very illegal (kind of like the love between a vampire and a werewolf). This year, they had the same student, but instead of a teaching yelling at the student, they had another student complaining to the teacher about the special accommodations being provided to the Dyslexic student. While this is a slightly more plausible situation, I’m not sure that it’s all that plausible. Assuming we’re talking about college students and not 8-year olds, I’m not sure that your typical college student is going to go up to the professor and whine about how the girl with Dyslexia gets extra time to finish her test. Realistically, who wants to be known as the person who throws a bitch fit (pardon the French) about it because the girl who can’t read gets a few extra minutes on her test? I think it’s one of those situations where peer pressure can actually act as a reinforcement for more charitable action. Besides, it’s also my understanding that students with learning disabilities have the option of taking their tests at the Disabilities Center, where they would not have to worry about any negative, external pressures from their peers. So, again, a non-issue.

Illegal Love?

Next up was a body image scene. I think what was most interesting about this bit was some of the stats they had posted around the room, things like 8 in 10 children are afraid of become fat, etc. Of course, when you’ve got the First Lady of the United States running around telling everyone that they’re fat and need to lost weight, these resulting mentalities shouldn’t really be all that unexpected. Perhaps if the government wasn’t so keen on forcing everyone to live what they deem a “healthy lifestyle,” people wouldn’t be as obsessed with how they look. Of course, pop culture also plays a role (which I believe the Tunnel covered pretty well), but we mustn’t underestimate the effect of things like the Let’s Move! program.

The Religion scene was a bit better this year. It consisted largely of a group of students (each representing a different religion) discussing different religious stereotypes (e.g. Jews are rich, Christians are Bible Thumpers, etc.). Nothing terribly controversial here, though given the rather condescending attitude that often greets religion on campus, it’s definitely an area worth covering.

We finally got some fireworks in the Homophobia Room. Now, I’ve always thought that the word, “homophobia,” was always a bit of a misnomer. I have yet to meet a person who’s legitimately scared of homosexuals (unlike, say a tree’s Thneedophobia). Though, perhaps if more people were homophobic, it would make the homosexuals quest for “equality” a little easier. They could just hang out near polling places and scare all those bigoted homophobes away from the polls. You know, kind of like the Black Panthers are apt to do. Anyway… The scene starts out with a couple students studying. A few more students wander in, one of the male students kisses his boyfriend, and the other students then proceed to gossip about the apparently homosexual student on the other side of the room. The other students get up and knock a few books off the homosexual student’s desk on the way out. Finally, this student relates a couple stories about abuse gay students receive off campus, mostly notably being picked on in bars and the like (he relates how, in one instance, someone threw an orange at him in a  bar). Supposedly, these stories were based on actual events at UNC. But I kind of have a hard time believing that. Particularly with regard to homosexuality, UNC is one of the most tolerant places on the planet. While it’s conceivable that maybe (a very big maybe) something like the bullying evident in the scene occurred, in my four years here (a large time of which was spent hanging out in more conservative circles, where supposedly such obnoxious bullying would originate) I have yet to see anything that remotely approaches the malice presented in the Tunnel.

As far as the anecdotes regarding the bars go, I also have a hard time that a bouncer (or bar owner or other responsible party) would sit by while someone attempts to start a food fight in his bar. Aside from the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an orange in a bar (except for a small slice in my Blue Moon, which I highly recommend), bar fights aren’t exactly good for business. But let’s assume it did happen. It’s a little presumptive to think that just because someone throws an orange at you, it’s because he hates you because you’re gay (or a vampire). More likely it’s because he was drunk and wasn’t really thinking clearly. Or maybe he wasn’t even aiming for you (I myself tend to have rather terrible aim and have a tendency to hit everything except what I’m actually aiming for- part of the reason I don’t play baseball). But then that would ruin the story wouldn’t it? You can’t very well cast yourself as a down-trodden victim of oppression, if your supposed oppressor was just drunk. I also realize that this is all taking place with Amendment 1hanging out in the background, so I understand if some people want to push an agenda, but I don’t believe that the scene, as presented, is an accurate depiction of the environment at UNC.

Beware the Oranges!

Human Trafficking was next. I think the most interesting aspect of this scene was the bit where the illegal alien relayed some of the financial difficulties she was having with her boss (e.g. receiving less than the minimum wage, watching her entire paycheck disappear in a flurry of employer deductions, etc.). While her situation is certainly tragic, it’s not entirely unpredictable. When you enter this country (or any country really) illegally, you can’t really expect to have the full protection of the law. While you can certainly make appeals to human justice, etc., those don’t really have the same staying power as a cop with a gun and handcuffs. In my humble opinion, this is one of the largest problems with America’s current immigration policy, which doesn’t merely condone illegal immigration, but outright encourages it. The people who are here illegally are often not protected by any sort of law (because you can’t very well wander up to the Department of Labor and file a wage complaint if you’re not even supposed to be here in the first place), so they open themselves up to exploitation (from capitalist Thneeders). This, I think, is the greatest tragedy of illegal immigration, and one that often goes unappreciated by the open borders types.

We will definitely be having a conversation.

The Relationship Violence scene was fairly similar to previous years’ presentations, so in the interest of space (and holding your interest), I shall proceed to the final room, the Race Room. Unfortunately, this was the only room I was unable to record (my spy camera has limits apparently, I’ll be having a discussion with James Bond about that), so I’m having to go completely off memory on this one. From what I can recall, there were four (or maybe three) girls in the room, one black, one white, one Asian, and one Indian (I think). The Asian girl largely complained about how people look at her funny and make fun of the way her mother talks and what she eats for lunch. Personally, I found this kind of amusing. When I was in China, I got stares (literally) from the natives all the time. I don’t think they even realized they were doing it half the time, but it was kind of amusing to go walking down the street and have scores of Chinese people turn their heads to look at you. The toddlers were always the best, because they would point and then get these looks of utter bewilderment on their faces- kind of cute in a way. This happened nearly every time I went out (though it occurred more frequently in Anyang, where the white man rarely treads, than in Beijing). I was never really bothered by it. It was kind of amusing. That and I could always swap stories with the other foreigners in my program (the best one I heard was of a guy riding his bike, who turned to look at one of the American students, and then proceeded to ride right into a wall). I can’t even imagine what my Chinese sounds like to a native (though my teachers did make me do some rather interesting tone exercises in an effort to purge my accent).

A Cross Stitching of Mao? Weird

I don’t think whatever gawking (here intended more broadly than just physically looking at someone) goes on between Americans and Asians is due to racism, but due more to the large differences between the two cultures. We’re just very different from each other and have completely different cultural underpinnings (and they eat weird things that we would never dream of eating and vice-versa). I think the gawking results more from a genuine curiosity about the other culture more than anything else. And I think when someone goes up to you in the cafeteria and asks what that weird, noodlely concoction in your lunchbox is, it isn’t because they’re trying to make fun of you (though maybe they are), but because they want to learn more about what you’re eating. It’s an invitation to share cultures. If we all just pretend that nothing’s unique and are afraid to ask questions because we’re afraid of being labeled a racist, that doesn’t make for a very interesting world and does nothing to bridge cultural divides.

The other girl who stood out was the white girl, who apparently was the embodiment of white guilt. She talked about how she’s been pulled over three times and never given a ticket, easily got into college and found a job, etc. Well, as the stereotypical white male, I’d like to know her secret. Personally, I find the suggestion that everything I have I have simply because I’m white offensive. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and have had nothing handed to me on a silver platter. I haven’t the slightest guilt (racial or otherwise) because everything I have is the result of hard work and determination.

And I don’t think that is true simply for me. The idea that white people have some sort of advantage over other races is absurd. This actually came up in the post-Tunnel discussion group, specifically concerning Affirmative Action. Several members of my group brought up the point that racism, properly defined, is simply a situation where race factors into a person’s decision about how to act. Affirmative Action, which is solely based on race, is nothing more than reverse-discrimination. It offers preferential treatment to applicants who are non-white and non-Asian, racism in its purest form. Of course, when the group raised this point, the moderator quickly attempted to redefine what Affirmative Action “actually” is. Apparently isn’t a form of reverse discrimination (California begs to differ), but it’s merely an attempt by university administrators to put together the best possible class from a group of students. This is quite funny, because that’s still racism! In this case, administrators are simply making the determination that it is better for the university to admit certain racial classes than to admit the most qualified applicants. Needless to say, the moderator didn’t quite have a response, and the discussion wrapped up rather quickly after that.

That about does it for the Tunnel of Oppression. I’m sorry to say that this will be last commentary on this fine event. I’m sure that my wit and wisdom will be sorely missed, but alas, I must move on to bigger and better things, like chronic unemployment and a small mountain of student debt. But never fear, I hear a recovery is just around the corner.

The Tunnel of Oppression (or Why White People Suck)

CRDaily

You can find a video of my journey through the Tunnel via TuDou (which, unlike YouTube, allows me to upload the video as one file).

Tuesday marked the second time that I have ever been meaningfully oppressed (my first such experience was, of course, last year’s Tunnel of Oppression). There were some slight differences in this year’s Tunnel (largely, I think, because of my insightful and probing criticism from last year), resulting in what I will consider an upgrade in the Tunnel’s performance, i.e. instead of being completely ridiculous like last year, this year’s Tunnel was only extremely ridiculous. Despite some tweaking around the edges, there was still plenty of absurdity to go around. So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Last year, the Tunnel sported a Harry Potter theme. This year, the theme was Willy Wonka. I commend the Tunnelers for choosing such a theme, as it’s entirely appropriate to the overall context of the Tunnel. Being nothing more than a fantasy of the liberal imagination, the planning committee was spot-on to select Willy Wonka as this year’s sponsor. My only criticism here is the rather obvious lack of chocolate in the Tunnel. After walking under the banner proclaiming the entrance to Willy Wonka’s factory, I was expecting at least a few chocolate bars somewhere along the course of my journey through the Tunnel. A chocolate fountain would have been most excellent, but I’m entirely willing to settle for a few Wonka Bars. Also missing were the demeaning name tags everyone received last year. I had really hoped to be the “Towel Head” in the group again, but was severely disappointed when I learned this part of the tour had been deleted.

We then played the rather odd, “Take One Step Forward if You’re a White, Privileged, Male. Take One Step Back if You’re Anyone Else” game. Unlike last year, I think I nearly won this time. In my alias as an underprivileged Hispanic (by the name of Juan Franco-Seelingez), I was a close second to the black Jamaican guy. Unfortunately I did not anticipate encountering such stiff competition, but I hope to do better next year.

We next passed by a couple of people reciting kvetches from the Daily Tar Heel. I’ll confess that I didn’t quite understand the point of this presentation. I guess the Kvetching Board is oppressive??? Then a homeless man wandering onto the scene, and the Kvetchers “oppressed” him by refusing to give him money. Now, as a rule, I don’t give money to panhandlers. Aside from the dozens of welfare programs that these people could choose to avail themselves of, I’m of the opinion that local charities are much better at determining the needs of such people than I am. The Tunnel’s presentation of the hobo was also misleading. Many bums don’t simply wander up to you (in their brand-new jackets) and amble off when you refuse to give them money. In my experience, they can be quite mean and vile: getting in your face, swearing at you, spitting at you, etc. Not altogether a pleasant experience. The Tunnel’s hobo is quite fictional without any basis in reality, departing with a simple, “Ok, no problem. Have a nice day.” It just doesn’t happen that way.

Next, we wandered into a room that took up the issues of binge eating and the like. This wasn’t particularly interesting one way or the other. Binge eating’s bad, I get that. But then we also have such things as Michelle Obama’s “Move On” campaign and UNC’s own Lifetime Fitness requirement, which for the obese might constitute its own form of oppression. The demonization of anything but a perfect body is not something that is just found in vain Hollywood actors.

Special needs (actually I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to say that) was up next. This was yet another fantasy world dreamed up by Willy Wonka-inspired Tunnelers. In this room, a teacher proctoring an exam refused to allow extra time for the dyslexic student in the room to finish his exam. I don’t know any teacher (or professor) who’s not willing to make accommodations for people with special needs. It’s really just a non-issue for me. The whole scene was contrived.

Next up was the Museum of Religion. The very name of the room was a tip-off, as it implies that religion is some sort of relic of the past. This was the first area of the Tunnel for which I think I can claim responsibility. Considering the way I sandblasted the Tunnel’s presentation of religious believers last year, I think this really goes to show the extent of my power and influence. Instead of outright making fun of Christians, etc. (but mainly Christians), the Tunnelers attempted to present the diversity of religious belief in the world. However, what they accomplished in creating was simply a set of caricatures. Take the Christian as an example. He was a Bible-thumping, Fundamentalist Christian. This fails to appreciate the great diversity of belief among Christians and instead simplifies it down to what is simply a popular mischaracterization of Christians among non-Christians. This occurs while the Muslim girl makes a point about how everyone who’s not Muslim thinks all Muslim women wear burkas. I’m not sure that she appreciated the irony. But then this also seemed like another non-issue (especially if we’re talking about the United States). Sure, there’s still religious discrimination in the world (particularly in, dare I say, Islamic states), but what do the Tunnelers expect us to do? Fly to Iran and tell the mullahs to back off?

We then moved onto what was one of my favorite rooms from last year, the Homophobia Room! I also saw my mark here, as the homophobes (unlike last year) were not carrying Bibles and did not have terribly overt Southern accents. However, there were such classic lines as, “What about AIDS? Aren’t your parents going to be worried?” Because that’s totally the first thing that comes to mind when I meet a gay person. And then there was the not so-veiled criticism of Christians (although, in fairness they could have been invoking Islam, but somehow I doubt that), “Don’t you know what our religion says about these people? That you’re just going to beat them down, [what???] that you’re just an abomination.” I’ll take ignorance for 100 please, Alex. As luck would have it, I happen to be fairly well-versed in what my “religion” says about “these people” (at least on the Catholic side of things). And it’s not, like the Tunnelers suggest that “Gays are bad people.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I also don’t think the Tunnelers appreciated the irony of (continuing to) present caricatures of religious groups just after telling us we shouldn’t generalize about religious groups.

We then moved through a TSA security line, where the screeners pulled out all of the Middle Eastern-looking people. Now, like I’ve said before, I have no problem with racial profiling (or profiling in general) in police work. It’s how you eliminate obviously innocent people and narrow down the list of bad guys. Considering that there are armies of Middle Eastern terrorists who would love nothing more than to blow you and me to pieces, I really don’t have any problem with giving them a little extra scrutiny at the airport.

On that subject, following our screening, a group of terrorists herded us into a “gas chamber” and gassed us as we listened to a recording of people being gassed to death. I still believe that this presentation is highly inappropriate as it trivializes some of the most horrific mass-killings of the last century. If the Tunnelers had any respect for the dead, they would drop this.

After listening to two girls talk about relationship violence (which as I mentioned last year, conspicuously omitted any mention of female on male relationship violence), we proceeded to the Diversity Room with Comfy Chairs, where we listened to some of the most confused people I have ever met. Actually, the room might also be entitled the Mental Ward, as no one in the room seemed to know who they were.

(Preface: I apologize for inadvertently filming the ceiling for this section. Being sneaky is harder than it looks). First, we had the throughly confused girl who didn’t want to be placed in a racial “bubble”, but was also freaking out about not being able to fit in with the various racial groups with which she didn’t actually want to identify. As if to make her point, she proclaimed, “[The Egyptians] ask for my passport.” Among a whole list of platitudes, there was this classic line (which I think she stole from an Obama speech), “I am everything I want to be. I am everything I say I am.”  Well… no you’re not. She was quite obviously a woman. Even if she had claimed to be a man, she would still have been a woman (even if some people in the Gender Studies department would contest that). But I think the most bothersome part of this monologue was its sheer hypocrisy. Liberals (and especially UNC’s Admissions Office) obsess over racial identity. I couldn’t care less, but they’re the ones who insist that we all fill out the little racial bubbles on our applications and tests and census forms. Identifying as an American is quite enough for me. I’m not the one obsessing over my racial heritage or demanding reparations for crimes committed against my race. When I look at a person, I don’t see a race. I see a unique person with his own set of skills, talents, ideas, and desires. Liberals, on the other hand, only see arbitrary group identities. So, if you want the source of your “oppression” honey, look in the mirror.

A Racial Bubble

I then had to listen to a black woman complain endlessly about how everyone assumes she’s uneducated because she happens to be black. Of course, she didn’t really do much to help her case with her frequent grammatical slips. She seemed to have a particular issue with adverbs. Consider, “I’m not allowed to speak proper [sic],” or “Just because I speak proper [sic], I’m acting white.” Now, I normally try not to be a grammar Nazi, but if you’re going to make a big deal about how you’re educated and you speak like the white people, you might want to proofread your speech a few times. Just a suggestion. Also, her point about how BET is a true representation of “her people” was also really funny. If you remember, in the 2009 Virginia Governor’s race, the co-founder of BET, Sheila Johnson, endorsed the Republican, Bob McDonnell. Considering that the black vote is overwhelmingly Democrat, I guess the point of the Angry Black Woman is borne out here. But somehow, I don’t think that’s what she meant.

Next was Madame Bolivia, who, if I remember correctly, was also present in this room last year. The one point of her’s that was really irritating concerned her “people can’t be illegal” comment.Clearly they can, and clearly they are. If you break the law (even if it’s not immigration law) you operate in a fashion that is outside the bounds of the law, and hence illegally. Also, being an illegal immigrant doesn’t “void” your existence (as she claimed) in the same way that trespassing doesn’t “void” your existence. You’re just simply in a place that you’re not supposed to be. I’ve never heard of an illegal immigrant just ceasing to exist. She also asks us to consider “things we cannot fathom” (a particularly difficult exercise) and imagine all the things that illegal immigrants give up to be here. But what about those who came here legally and all that they gave up? What makes the illegal immigrants so special? The odd thing is, the illegal immigrants are operating out of a place of selfishness, placing themselves above the laws the govern everyone else and putting their wants and desires ahead of those who patiently waited in line. We all learned in kindergarten that cutting the line was a bad thing and unfair to those in the back of the line. Line cutters would be ratted out to the teacher and frowned upon by the other students. The same principle applies to illegal immigration. I don’t understand what’s so complicated about it that a five-year old can understand it, but the Confusedly Whining, College-Educated, Swedish-Bolivian can’t. Also, her comment about treating illegal-immigrants as third-class citizens is totally out of line. If they were “below human” as she claims, they’d be out in the fields working as slaves, and would not have access to our hospitals, schools, and a whole host of welfare programs. Compared to what many of them came from, I’d say they have it pretty good. And I’d appreciate it if the Confusedly Whining, College-Educated, Swedish-Bolivian did not make my country sound like the re-incarnation of the Third Reich.

Do you think they're illegal???

We ended with a visit to the Hall of Flowers and Sunshine, where we wrote our feelings up on the wall. I, of course, promised to be the change I hope to be, but others took the event a little more seriously than I did. We finished up with the Indoctrination/De-compression session and wished Willy Wonka a good-bye before heading out the door.

All in all, it was a rather entertaining experience. While I realize most liberals have nightmares about these sorts of things, the way in which they presented them was quite funny, at least to me and my compadres (no racial slur intended) who live in what we like to call reality. The Tunnelers followed the classic liberal line of building of a straw man (That’s oppressive isn’t it? Maybe I should say, “straw person” or “straw wo/man”), and tearing it down. But given that we’re dealing with people who obviously have the intellectual depth of a teaspoon, what more should we expect? Though, in all honesty, I think they should really consider billing the Tunnel as a comedy show. I can’t even count the number of times I nearly broke down laughing. They could call it, “A Parody on Life: The Tunnel of Oppression.” But I guess there’s always next year.

The Tunnel Of Oppression: A Review

CRDaily

Last night, I experienced oppression. Being a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male, I had never before been able to experience oppression first-hand. Luckily, the RHA and a number of other groups decided to host a Tunnel of Oppression for people such as myself, so that we could “engage … in an immersive experience of scenes where participants experience first-hand different forms of oppression through interactive acting, viewing monologues, and multimedia.” In short, the experience was something of a liberal haunted house, where instead of being spooked by ghosts and goblins, you are instead spooked by such things as Border Patrol Agents, homophobia, and identity crises.

I am not sure if this was planned or not, but the entire first floor of Cobb is currently covered in Harry Potter decorations, which really did nothing to dispel my haunted house theory. Nevertheless, our tour of the Tunnel began as we walked into the room with the signage of Platform 9¾ hanging over the door. The first exercise (following the Roller-coaster-like introduction, where we were informed that we could of course step out of the Tunnel if the experience was too much for us) was one of those if-this-applies-to-you-step-forward (or backward) gigs. However, the only purpose of these questions seemed to be to segregate the white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative males from the rest of the group. My hypothesis was proved correct, when at the end of the exercise, my companion and I were standing in the front of the room and the six or so black members of our group (among whom was one-time presidential candidate, Joe Levin-Manning) were at the very back of the room. Maybe that makes me an oppressor? I prefer to blame this result on my altitudinal disability and the fact that this disability requires me to take smaller steps which would allow those in the room with longer legs to more easily move away from me.

Following this, we were each given a nametag with various derogatory names on them. I was a “Towel-Head.” We then proceeded down a flight of stairs (at which point the “Gimp” in the group was forced to take an elevator), passed a group of homeless people, and viewed a display that appeared to bemoan the existence of wheelchair ramps in the world. I cannot even pretend to understand what makes wheelchair ramps so oppressive, but the fun does not end there. We then viewed a skit of sorts that discussed the problems that revolve around self-image, weight, etc. The next part of the tour was absolutely classic.

Walking down the hall, we were confronted by two police officers, who lined us up against a wall and began checking IDs. However, they did not of course check everyone’s ID, just mine (the “Towel-Head”) and the “Wet-backer,” who upon being unable to produce ID, they promptly arrested. I will also note that the two officers had clearly defined and greatly exaggerated Southern accents. This was one of my main critiques of the Tunnel. Rather than provoking a substantive discussion about policy issues, the Tunnelers preferred to set up caricatures, straw men, and gross generalizations. In this case, they characterized those officers who legally enforce immigration laws as nothing but stupid, Southern hicks who hate Mexicans. There is, of course, plenty of room to debate immigration laws, but characterizing the current situation in this way was quite childish.

They also seemed to deride profiling techniques that law enforcement officials often use to catch criminals. But is that not what police work is supposed to be? In order to catch the bad guys, you have to have some idea of what they look like. If you know that your crook has a huge scar down the side of his face, wouldn’t it make sense to more closely examine those people with scars down their faces? There is no point in examining the people without scars, as you know your crook has a scar. The same principle applies to race.

We next moved on to the GLBTWXYZ room, where two people impersonating Evangelical Christians accosted the “Homo” in the group and began calling down fire and brimstone. There were several problems with this display. The first was that the Tunnel people were again setting up a straw man. Not everyone who disagrees with the idea that homosexual couples can enter into a traditional marriage is by definition homophobic. There is room for substantive disagreement on the issue without having to descend to petty name-calling. The two performers also did their best to use rather exaggerated Southern accents while they rattled off Bible quotes. The fact that this accent kept popping up throughout the tour indicates that the organizers of this little event have a rather low opinion of people who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This may be in part because the South tends to be the more conservative part of the country, but that is just a guess. If I was from the South, I would be insulted. However, in light of what I learned last night, I am doing my best to feel insulted on behalf of Southerners.

We next moved onto a display about world religions, which had nice little diagrams about what various people around the world believe. A few minutes later, we were rounded up by some guerrilla fighters and gassed. While we were being gassed, we had the opportunity to learn about genocide around the world and listen to a clip of people being gassed. This part of the tour seemed to do a good job of trivializing some of the larger mass killings of the 20th century. The two comical and absurd guerrilla fighters coupled with the tape of the gassing and the pictures of children killed by genocide taped along the inside of a play-gas chamber seemed a rather inappropriate and irreverent way of discussing this rather somber topic.

We then moved on to a performance on relationship violence. There was a noticeable hole in this performance though. Considering that the Tunnel seemed oriented to exposing students to oppression in all its forms, you would think that in this part of the tour, they would have included both a male and a female who could talk to the issues of relationship violence. Alas, they did not. Instead, I was treated to two women pouring out the stories of their oppression. While they claimed that the stories were true, the way in which they were told seemed to suggest that they were at least partially manufactured and that they were about as true as any of the stories told by the Democrats any time they talk about health care.

The final room was very strange. We talked about race relations. There were three speakers. The first one was an Asian woman who complained about getting a B on a test and was afraid of the abuse her parents would rain down upon her. This one was hard to take seriously, as it replicated the stereotype (which I thought we were supposed to move beyond) that all Asians are rocket scientists and their parents slave drivers when it comes to school. We then heard from a black man from New Orleans who complained about the lack of resources for black people after Hurricane Katrina and in relation to schooling. Of course, the common denominator in both those problems is the government, which he did not seem to appreciate. Somehow it is my fault as a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male that he suffered during the hurricane and that he went to a poor school. I would suggest that he instead look towards the government of Louisiana as the originator of his problems.

We then heard from a Latina woman who complained about how hard it is to get a visa and how people like her do the “dirty work that Americans don’t want to do.” A discussion about immigration policy is a topic for another post; however, her last comment nearly set me off. To be blunt, it is simply not true. As a white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male, I have done such “dirty” work, even alongside migrant farmworkers. I have worked in a field and done all sorts of unpleasant work. And I know that I am not the only white, American, Catholic, middle-class, privileged, heterosexual, conservative male to do it. It is not fun, but it pays, which is why people do it, especially in this economy.

Finally, we were treated to the woes of a woman who is half-white and half-black. She seemed intensely fixated on the color of her skin and whether she should consider herself a black person or a white person. She concluded by saying that a new race is emerging “mixed, bi-racial, or multi-racial.” I will suggest that it does not matter what she decides to call herself. As Dr. Martin Luther King suggests, what matters is the content of your character, who you are as a person, and what you decide to do with your life. The color of your skin or your race should be insignificant details.

The Tour ended when we entered the Hallway of Happiness and were debriefed in a kumbaya session afterwards (what is a liberal feel-good event without one?). Thus ended the haunted house and the Tunnel. I suppose that most people come away feeling like they have really accomplished something and have successfully been made aware of oppression in the world. I came away convinced that the people running RHA are insane and wondering how anyone could want to spend three days of their life running such a thing. As far as awareness goes, I am now more aware of just how ridiculous these sorts of events are and to what depths some people will descend when they attempt to debate politics. It was a fun experience though. It was a neat twist on people watching, and provided me with valuable insight into the liberal mind. One thing I might suggest they add is a section on political and intellectual oppression. I wonder how they might have reacted had I worn my official Carolina Review t-shirt to this event. My instinct tells me it would have been rather ironic to observe.

An Island by any Other Name…

CRDaily

Last week, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 70-3 in favor of holding a referendum to change the state’s name.

Since it was chartered in 1663, the state has been known as “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” In 1636, Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts and founded a settlement which he named Providence Plantations. In 1637, Anne Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts as well and led a group of colonists to settle at the large island in the mouth of Narragansett Bay called Rhode Island. When the settlements were joined into a single colony in 1644, the names were combined into “The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”, and since independence “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

Now, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations state representative Joseph Almeida has introduced a bill to hold a referendum to remove “and Providence Plantations” from the name. Says Almeida, “It’s high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don’t want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name.”

Now, it is true that slavery happened in Rhode Island. In fact, it is a little-known historical fact that slavery existed in all northern colonies. In fact, slaves made up a higher proportion of the population of Rhode Island than any other New England state. There is a fascinating history of slavery in New England which is largely unknown to most people.

Roger Williams, founder of Providence Plantations

Roger Williams, founder of Providence Plantations

However, the name “Providence Plantations” has nothing to do with slavery. As has already been mentioned, the colony of Providence Plantations was founded by Roger Williams,  a pastor whose theological and political views (he was an Anabaptist, opposed the Church of England and criticized the way Native Americans were treated by the colonists) ran afoul of the Puritan authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was sent into exile. He founded Providence Plantations as a community where freedom of religion and the separation of church and state would be respected. He chose the name in thanks to God for his providence in providing for the colonists. The name had nothing to do with slaves, for Williams was an ardent and outspoken abolitionist. In 1652, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations became the first colony to formally outlaw slavery.

Enforcement of this law waned by the end of the 17th century, but slavery was again abolished in 1784, this time for good.  It was one of the first states to do so.

Rep. Almeida is showing an ignorance of the history of his state. Rather than being a reflection of one of the worst episodes of state history, the name actually reflects the history of the state as a beacon of freedom in the colonies, a bastion of ideals that would later be expressed in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, it appears that 69 other state representatives share his ignorance.

And that is the real tragedy of this. Reading about this inspired me to look into Rhode Island’s unusual name, and I learned a lot about the state’s unique history. I’m sure that many others over the years have done the same. The unique name of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is a window into learning the history of the state, and should be preserved as such.