Limbo’s Greatest Hits: #1
We’ve made it to the top of our countdown (count-up?) at last. One year plus a few weeks in the making, this list of the most-read articles here in Limbo since August of 2018 has covered a lot of territory. From the contemplative to the agitated, and from the meaning of life to the meaninglessness of politics, there has been something on the list for everyone — or at least for everyone who more or less believes, as I do, that as a civilization we’re basically done for, but that this is no reason to give up on trying to understand what has happened, since the individual soul’s ability to make sense of it all answers to the Delphic Oracle’s injunction to “Know thyself,” and in so doing may just redeem the whole civilizational failure, thereby solving once and for all the riddle of the relative priority of the individual and the collective.
In any event, we have indeed reached the Number One entry on our greatest hits list, which, oddly enough, addresses a subject I dabble in only occasionally, namely race. I have written a few relatively serious essays on this vexed topic over the years, mostly related to the ever-shifting rules of politically correct speech. I have, however, generally chosen to avoid the topic altogether, whenever possible, for the simple reason that most people are incapable of calm, rational discussion of race issues, which makes any attempt at a detached, thoughtful perspective a waste of time. Furthermore, the politicization of, and emotionalism about, race matters, in America in particular, makes the whole subject area a minefield fraught with risks far greater than any potential rewards. Three examples — two practical and one emotional — will suffice to demonstrate my meaning.
In 2012, during my American Thinker days, I wrote a piece about a bizarre Obama administration report on child asthma, in which Lisa Jackson’s EPA — which, for context, you should recall was actively seeking to recast the Environmental Protection Agency as a social justice propaganda office — took pains to portray asthma as a racial inequality issue, rather than a clean air issue, on the grounds that a higher percentage of black and Hispanic children were diagnosed with respiratory ailments, compared to white children. In response to my article, Rebecca Schoenkopf, owner of the well-known progressive website Wonkette, represented me as claiming that the Obama administration was “trying to murder white children.” In that sort of ideological climate, why bother? (And for the record, Madam Wonk, quite contrary to your allegation that I said Obama wanted to murder white children, in fact I would say that Obama, as a staunch advocate of late-term abortion, and particularly as a supporter of Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood, would more reasonably be accused of wanting to murder black children, since that is essentially the reason Planned Parenthood exists. Look it up, if you dare.)
Meanwhile, that same year (2012), a “political essayist” and “culture critic” named Chauncey DeVega “wrote” a blog post in which he graphically described his own morning defecation as a preface to asking an imponderable question for the ages, namely, “Who is the Bigger Political Turd? Black Conservative C.L. Bryant or The American Thinker’s Daren Jonescu?” For Bryant, you see, had publicly discussed America’s slave history in a way that did not quite comport with today’s Marxist narrative, whereas I had had the audacity to defend Thomas Jefferson’s political legacy, in spite of his human flaws, including his ownership of slaves. In other words, I was being treated as equal in anti-black sentiment (aka turditude [turd-dom?]) to the progressive left’s worst nightmare, a “black conservative” like Bryant, i.e., a man who refused to let his superficial visible traits determine and restrict his thought processes the way people of his visible traits are supposed to do. Unfortunately, the author of this “biggest turd” contest never officially declared a winner; still, this was one of those situations where it was an honor just to be nominated.
On the other side of the scale of injustice, one of the reasons I finally made my break with American Thinker was that I was tired of writing, or occasionally reading, articles that touched on racial matters in a thoughtful way, only to scroll through the readers’ comments and see dozens of hardcore white supremacist idiots not only spewing their garbage, but also receiving many “likes” from other readers. Not wanting my own writing to be tainted with such nonsense, and knowing full well that the site’s proprietors (my editors) could have deleted the most offensive of those comments had they wanted to, I eventually realized that it had become counterproductive to write about such issues at that venue. Or at least I knew that I did not appreciate the squeamish feeling of seeing my own careful but honest thoughts serving as lowest-common-denominator click bait for morons at a website that had lost its moral moorings in the Trump cult era.
To sum up the preceding observations and examples, we might note, by way of stating the obvious, that progressives, whether of the “left” or “right” — yes, I’m looking at you, Trump apologists — are naturally predisposed to have simplistic and bombastic views on racial matters, because they are fundamentally collectivists, and moral collectivism, a view firmly rooted in personal insecurity, inferiority, and cowardice, is in turn the primary intellectual precondition for the simplistic reduction of all human beings to their most superficial genetic traits, e.g., racial differences.
And so imagine my joy when I came across a recent study by big smart researchers at super-elite Yale and Princeton Universities which found, to the researchers’ own alarm and dismay, that progressive politicians are more likely to talk down to — i.e., play dumb for — black audiences than are conservative politicians. Watching progressive elitists squirm their way around their own inescapable but unexpected findings was actually so much fun that I couldn’t resist sharing my amusement with all my readers — even the minority members! (And I speak, of course, as an extreme visible minority myself, being a white in a world of yellows.) The article, originally posted on November 18th, 2018, is called “Ho-hum Study from Yale: Progressives More Racist Than Conservatives,” and it became the most read post of the past year here in Limbo. Enjoy it again, courtesy of your friendly host and past nominee for Biggest Political Turd!
Ho-hum Study from Yale: Progressives More Racist Than Conservatives
Yale and Princeton researchers have analyzed speech patterns and vocabulary used by white “liberal” and “conservative” politicians, and also more broadly white “liberal” and “conservative” citizens, when addressing presumed black audiences, and they have found — get ready to be much less surprised than the researchers — that liberals show a much greater tendency to “dumb down” their normal language and skill level in conversation with blacks.
According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges. The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
While many previous studies have examined how people who hold racial bias behave in multi-racial settings, few have studied how whites who are more well-intentioned interact with people of other races. “There’s less work that explores how well-intentioned whites try to get along with racial minorities,” Dupree says. “We wanted to know their strategies for increasing connections between members of different social groups—and how effective these strategies are.”
Notice that even though the results show that progressives are more likely to speak to blacks in condescending and racially-biased ways, the study’s authors still feel obliged to preserve their own political illusions by insisting that this finding is paradoxical, since liberals “are more well-intentioned” toward racial minorities than conservatives. In fact, the term “well-intentioned” recurs throughout the researchers’ account of their study.
This assumption of nobler sentiments from Democrats somehow survives the finding that:
Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences. The difference wasn’t statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates, though “it was harder to find speeches from Republicans delivered to minority audiences,” Dupree notes.
Again, the researcher is compelled to offer an anti-Republican slant to the findings. Democrats talk down to blacks more than Republicans do — but of course Republicans rarely talk to black audiences at all! To which we might ask, “What is a ‘black audience,’ and why would a politician seek to speak specifically to an audience made up exclusively of blacks?”
And an ounce of serious critical analysis, in light of the study’s findings, would suggest an easy answer to this question: They speak to audiences selected and designed as “black audiences” because they systematically wish to communicate with blacks in a less informative, mature, and educated way from the way they communicate with non-blacks; hence, they prefer to address all-black audiences separately from primarily white audiences.
Much as the progressively-inclined Ivy League researchers may find these results surprising or disturbing, and as much effort as they feel must be exerted to insure that everyone reading their study understands that this obvious evidence of explicit racial bias and intellectual condescension toward blacks in no way indicates racial bias or intellectual condescension toward blacks, the truth is that no one who is not a progressive academic, or who has an ounce of honesty or intellectual integrity, can be even slightly surprised by this study’s findings. Of course Democrats, and progressives in general, are more racially biased and show less respect for “black audiences.”
Here is the ridiculous explanation offered by the authors:
Dupree and Fiske suspect that the behavior stems from a liberal person’s desire to connect with other races. One possible reason for the “competence downshift,” as the authors describe it, is that, regardless of race, people tend to downplay their competence when they want to appear likeable and friendly. But it’s also possible that “this is happening because people are using common stereotypes in an effort to get along,” Dupree says.
No, people do not downplay their competence when they want to appear likeable and friendly, unless they are presuming that their audience is less competent (i.e., intelligent) than they are, as is obvious from the fact that these same Democrats do not downplay their intelligence when speaking to primarily non-black audiences. If Democrats are “using common stereotypes in an effort to get along,” it is because (a) they believe in those stereotypes, (b) they wish to propagate the deficiencies that define those stereotypes, or (c) both (a) and (b).
Furthermore, the implication of the researchers’ academic bias in defense of progressives is that conservatives, who do not downplay their intellectual level or language skills when speaking to black audiences, must not want to appear likeable and friendly — an implication which, given that this part of the study’s findings deals specifically with political candidates, is untenable in the extreme.
The real reason “conservatives” are less likely than “liberals” to fake lower levels of intelligence and linguistic competence when speaking to black audiences, however, is as obvious to any simple rational analysis as it is incomprehensible to one mired in today’s knee-jerk collectivist presuppositions, especially within the university culture.
“Conservatives” tend to think all people are individuals first, and thus that, regardless of what popular stereotypes might indicate about any given identity group, each new person one encounters must be treated as one’s equal by default, until and unless he or she proves otherwise.
“Liberals,” by contrast, as a matter of ideological faith, think of everyone as a member of an identity group first, and since everyone knows popular stereotypes of blacks indicate lack of education and poor language skills, this means “liberals” will habitually prejudge each individual black person they encounter according to that stereotype.
In short, to the extent that conservatives are less collectivist in their presuppositions, they will naturally exhibit less racial prejudice than liberals. Again, no surprise.