Among some of the Twitter Catholics I follow, there seems to be a growing horror that some Catholics are not sufficient mortified, or not mortified according to currently popular norms, over racism. People I would have thought level-headed are outraged somebody might say, for example, that systemic racism doesn’t exist – that was the specific example given for why a certain apologist should lose his job – should be canceled. Yes, evidently with no irony at all, Catholics – good Catholics, I’m sure, better, at least than these sinners – were suggesting – well, demanding – that somebody loose their livelihood over not adopting the current language around racism.
If that’s going to be the shibboleth, I guess I should prepare for my tar and feathering, as I like to have terms defined in some clear way before giving full assent to what has become a popular catchphrase. I would request, first, not a reference to some feelings or trends, but a real, functional, definition by which one can distinguish what a thing is and is not. Right now, I can acknowledge racism is a problem; I can acknowledge the existence of systems and therefore the existence of systemic problems. What I’m lacking is a functional definition of what system we’re talking about, how, exactly and concretely it is racist, and clear, concrete examples of that system committing, if that’s the right word, racist acts.
That people are racist, sure. Am I? First, I note I am a sinner as much as any man ever, with the usual, boring yet deadly faults of Pride in its myriad forms, of sloth and cruelty and bitterness and lust – you know the list. When I can muster the courage to look into my own black heart, I am moved to throw myself at the feet of Our Lord and beg His mercy. The thought of the justice I deserve for my sins freezes my blood. Lord, have mercy!
But am I a racist? Well, let’s just say that a definition of racisms by which I am racist would be very, very broad, so broad as to encompass clearly unintentional and unconscious acts. By its nature, such a definition will convict me of a racism I don’t will and of which I am unaware, of a racism that is not, therefore, by any rational definition, a sin.
But the accusation is that the racism we must now concern ourselves with – and, evidently, acknowledge and repent of to retain one’s standing as a good Catholic – is *systemic*. OK, this must mean, if it means anything, that it’s specifically NOT personal. If, on the contrary, it is personal, willed racism, what does the word ‘systemic’ add? Assuming the word systemic is meant to distinguish this particular flavor of racism from run of the mill personal racisms, I, as a person, cannot be guilty of systemic racism. Or?
So far, I see no way I can personally be responsible for systemic racism, UNLESS I am personally responsible for the system in which that racism is manifested. Again, am I? This would require identifying the system, and my role in it.
Well? What system are we talking about here? The answer seems to be: ‘everything’ or ‘culture’ or ‘society’. Again, on the one hand, that’s so broad as to be meaningless; on the other, how can it be that I, one man among billions, is responsible for this rather amorphous system? If all I can do is try my best to be virtuous within whatever system I may find myself in, then I’m already committed to doing what I can do to fight this systemic racism, whatever it may be.
There are more problems with this idea. But, skipping ahead a little, I note that the idea of systemic racism is championed by critical theorists and other Marxists, most prominently by Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Now, a truly awesome intellect, truly refined according to Aristotle’s definition (a refined mind is one that can consider an idea without accepting it), could consider the claims of BLM and Antifa without first noting that they, according to their own websites and proud proclamations, want the Church destroyed, America and all its institutions burned to the ground, and reactionaries who oppose them executed. No, really – look it up. I can sort of pull it off, but I can’t pretend this idea of systemic racism exists in a vacuum. It’s a ploy, sports fans. BLM and Antifa don’t want racism to go away, they want to use it to burn the world to the ground.
That Marxists who want me dead would propose and use as a battering ram the idea that racism is the problem, and not just the kind of racism we individuals can mitigate by our own free wills, but a *systemic* racism that requires DESTRUCTION OF THE SYSTEM, which simply is Western Civilization – well, the appeal is not apparent. I like Western Civilization, and love the Church that built it.
And, not being historically illiterate, I know our nation is by any measure the least racist large nation that has ever existed. But I suppose saying that proves I’m a racist?
So: do I rush in where angels fear to tread, and try to counter these folks? Or do I let it go?
13 thoughts on “How Crazy Are We?”
Reblogged this on Head Noises and commented:
I think systemic racism is a useful term in the same way “culture of death” is. It’s a pithy label for a very broad, very complex issue that can’t be summed up at Tweet length. You could write whole books on the topic.
But I don’t think a Catholic can easily deny that the phenomenon of systemic racism exists. You look at, say, the fact that the average white family’s net worth is 10x the average black family’s (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/02/27/examining-the-black-white-wealth-gap/) or that African American babies are aborted at 4x the rate of white babies (https://rtl.org/multicultural-outreach/black-abortion-statistics/). This leaves you with one of two conclusions: people of African descent (and only the most recent ones, seeing as all of humanity probably originated in Africa) are genetically predisposed to be poor and infanticidal. Or there are systems in place (or formerly in place whose fallout are still being felt) that are putting Black Americans at disadvantage. The aftereffects of Jim Crow, law enforcement policies, segregation, poor public education, conscious and unconscious individual bias, etc. etc.
Of course all these things are also tied up in class and culture but if the ill effects disproportionately fall on racial minorities, then it’s fair to say it’s the racism is systemic.
The problem with that label is that makes zero sense in reality, and is utterly useless. If the problem were race, then how do you account for recent Kenyan and Nigerian immigrants who do well – they are of the same race as poor blacks. They show up on our shores with little, yet seem to do very well as a group. So, whatever the causes – and I’m not denying the reality of impoverished blacks at all – it’s not tied to race. If it were, then those more recent immigrants would suffer as well. But they don’t.
Also, if there were real systematic racism going on, there would not be the phenomenon of the many millions of black middle class people. How did they escape? How did this oppressive racist system somehow let millions of people through? Not much of a system.
So, tying ti to race, let alone some vague undefined system, is simply wrong, and, moreover, unhelpful – one will end up addressing a cause – systemic racism – that simply cannot, in itself, be the cause and not the cause of the same phenomena at the same time.
You end up needing systemic racism PLUS some other causes in every case. If you always and everywhere need those other causes, what possible use is systemic racism? Look at and address the OTHER causes, then, if there is anything left, you could look at systemic racism, whatever that may be.
I can see only one out: systemic racism is the system whereby Marxists and their useful idiots do everything in their power to inflame a race war. That’s an actual, observable phenomenon that’s been going on since at least the 1920s.
But that’s not what people mean by this. And the better name for that phenomenon is simply ‘Marxism’.
There is quite simply no proof, none whatsoever, that systemic racism exists except against whites.
“Also, if there were real systematic racism going on, there would not be the phenomenon of the many millions of black middle class people. How did they escape? How did this oppressive racist system somehow let millions of people through? Not much of a system.”
No one says it’s impossible for racial minorities to succeed, only that it’s more difficult. You’d have to look at specific scenarios to figure out why some people succeed where others don’t.
“one will end up addressing a cause – systemic racism – that simply cannot, in itself, be the cause”
I’m not sure there’s anyone who’s fighting “systemic racism” simpliciter. It’s a label for a confluence of causes: people fight it along whichever axis they are most passionate or qualified for (crisis pregnancy support, finance/banking reform, or whatever).
I think you’re imagining that systemic racism is some kind of set of rules consciously created by a group of malevolent overlords. It’s a descriptor for the whole group of legal/cultural/financial effects that add up to put particular people at a disadvantage.
Again, I ask, if African American babies are four times more likely to be aborted than white babies, why is that? Because Black people are genetically more infanticidal, or because the whole system of incentives and disincentives leads some people to be more pressured than others?
I’m not arguing that injustice doesn’t exist, so I’ll gladly grant your examples of injustice. So, additional examples of injustice – consider them granted. Now, let us discuss the name, and the implications of that name, for the CAUSE of those injustices.
I say: it is not good or useful or helpful, in fact, it is clearly evil, to lump a huge and various number of injustices together and give them this single name, a name which does, in fact, assign a SINGLE CAUSE to all those injustices.
You say I’m acting like some ‘malevolent overlords’ imposed this term. Well, you tell me: “Systemic racisms’ is a label created – specifically, expressly – by critical race theorists. Critical race theory is a subset of critical theory in general. Critical theory was created – expressly, consciously – by Marxists as a way to inject Marxist theory into every subject taught in every school. It was developed in response to Gramsci’s neo-Marxist theory of Hegemony, which asserts that the reason the workers of the world aren’t uniting to throw off their chains by engaging in Marxist revolutions is because the institution – the system – oppresses them. That system is – expressly – identified as Western Civilization as manifested in family, church, village, and nation. According to Critical Theory, that system MUST BE DESTROYED. So: according to the people who coined the term, the ‘system’ in ‘systemic racism’ is me, my family, my church, my neighborhood, my people. Not some easily excised PART of those things, but their very nature. According to the people who coined that phrase, I, and everything I love, MUST BE DESTROYED – LITERALLY – to defeat systemic racism.
You would never have heard the term ‘systemic racism’ if it had not been coined and subsequently rammed down the throats of students everywhere by critical theorists. Like the term ‘gender’ used instead of ‘sex’, like ‘capitalism’ used instead of ‘markets’, these labels are meant to cast the discussion in one and only one way: toward a discussion of vast forces oppressing the masses and away from any concept of personal action or will, toward a policy of destruction by revolution and away from a changing of hearts followed by a changing, where appropriate, of laws, norms and behaviors.
And it works so well that Catholics – Catholics! The express target of destruction by those coining the phrase! – are now calling badthink and pushing for the canceling of any who don’t use it!
I suggest you ask Margaret Sanger that, and what her opinion is on black babies. You’ll likely find it is the racists you decry that oppose that the most. Regardless, nobody is making blacks do anything they don’t want to do.
I think you’re imagining that systemic racism is some kind of set of rules consciously created by a group of malevolent overlords. It’s a descriptor for the whole group of legal/cultural/financial effects that add up to put particular people at a disadvantage.
So systemic racism is, in fact, not systemic at all. Nor is it racist, that is, designed to disadvantage a particular race, as anything of the kind has been outlawed for decades by now – unless, of course, it disadvantages white people. That’s called affirmative action.
a) What is the theory of statistics that underpins your calculation of disproportionate?
b) Humans are not so simple that we can clearly and safely specify a limited number of possible explanations for a given observation of a group.
In particular, consider the following model that is not biological determinism or the standard theory systemic model of differences.
Consider a population of a single ethnicity with generations or cohorts treated as trays of marbles. Every tray a hundred marbles, every tray with the same initial numbers of each character potential. Note, the marbles cannot see character, or potential character, only behavior. So if we label character potentials with a color, we must remember that this is only obvious to us. Shades of blue are marbles capable of learning to behave in a civilized way, and of being motivated to behave in that way. There is a small number of orange marbles who cannot learn, or have personalities that will not be motivated.
Suppose a tray of marbles is a cohort, moved through places on a rack with time. Each place is ten years, and ten years of age is long enough to have learned civilized behavior.
Suppose you start with a rack of seven trays, with the older six trays having all oranges removed, and all blues having learned civilized behavior, and obtained the motivation to so behave. Bottom tray still has oranges, and those cannot be sorted from blues, because the blues have not learned civilized behavior. Oldest tray dies, other age and move to the next place, and a new tray, with oranges, for the youngest. Are the oranges in current tray two a problem? If there are few oranges per tray, the uncivilized behavior is not more intolerable than that of current tray one. However, if the oranges are not quickly removed over the current ten years, the behavior modeled for tray one will not be purely civilized. There will be a small number of blues, whose personalities are closest to orange, who will choose to emulate orange behavior.
If the steady state, repeated over and over, removes most but not all of orange behaving marbles, there will be some number of blue marbles who die of old age behaving in an uncivilized way.
If it removes none of the orange behaving marbles, you have a greater number of those blue marbles dying uncivilized.
If all orange marbles are kept, but civilized behaving blue marbles are removed, steady state is entirely uncivilized, whether blue or orange. Such a population is probably incapable of living in peace with other populations, and has a fairly bad internal murder rate.
Differences between group statistics can be explained in terms of this model. If there is a difference in policy as actually implemented that has removed less of the orange behaving marbles in one rack of trays, one would expect more blue marbles in that rack to behave orange. Which would suggest the remedy that police should be killing /more/ blacks. Several problems with this, key among them is that humans are too complex for us to really understand, and that even if the true mechanism were deterministic, we would be missing so much information that we would be forced to look at it with statistical models.
American society cannot be reduced to a number of discrete racks of trays. We have records, history, and the information exposure to be influenced by those very far outside of our own little villages.
We can probably be confident that a simple biological determinism model, one that closely couples ability and behavior with race, is wrong. We can be convinced it is wrong by meeting sufficient number of people who by race are forecast to have one quality, and by observation have another.
More complex biological determinism models are more interesting. ESR has an IQ/Time preference one, and claims that when you correct the statistics for outcomes for both factors, the differences between races disappear. I have several reasons I dislike that theory. One, it might be an accidental correlation. Two, I really like models that place importance on culture. You could argue time preference, but it probably wasn’t IQ that led the Romans to their military success. Three, I have a major axe to grind with regard to substance abuse, so any model that ignores substance abuse is not likely to find my favor.
If a model makes some specific predictions, it may be possible to test it against reality, and become pursuaded it is false. If a model refuses to make predictions, it cannot be proven false, but it is no better than any of the other models which refuse to make predictions.
If the true causes for someone with complete knowledge would be a mixture of several behavioral models, plus some weak effect from a biology driven model, how would we pick one with any confidence using only our own limited knowledge?
One of the big issues with CRT is the claim that ‘black leaders’ cannot be the important white supremacists driving the problems. It is justified by insisting that the black leaders must be loyal to, and acting in the interests of the ‘black community’. The mechanism ensuring that this is so is not obvious. Loyalty, information to determine best interests, and that the community has unified interests all seem debatable.
Unity of interest? With all the attempts at fomenting racial war, it may seem like one could defend the claim that whites have common interest, and should be acting to defend them. But wait, what ‘common interests’ do a German ancestry Lutheran and an Italian ancestry Catholic have now? Are the English and Irish, or the English and the French all of a sudden the closest of friends now? Do the Poles now have perfect compatibility with the Spainards, due to having completely identical customs? No. I still have more in common that is important with a black man who avoids drug use than I do with a white junkie.
Information about best interests is actually a very serious challenge. Forex, can one person know enough about actual needs to schedule the meals and bathroom trips for ten thousand people?
Consider the principal-agent problem with white leaders. When you look at an individual white politician, you can eventually figure out what their motivation was. Insofar as other people are involved, it is not more than around two groups of people, each of size about Dunbar’s number. Romney is pretty obviously motivated by always appearing to behave in a ‘good’ way, and never in a ‘bad’ way. But the good and bad behavior is going to be determined by the eyes of a relatively small group. “Whites” is much too many people for caring about them to be anyone’s primary motivation. The people who are most persuasive at arguing that they do so care are sociopaths and habitual liars. Someone could care about ‘whites’ as a symbol, but the symbol would be much more important to them than the actual people. They would ignore every way of helping a white that isn’t in whatever theory they attach to the ‘white’ symbol. Religions are basically the entire reason why there can be enough values found as important motivations in a person often enough to make politics at this scale in any way feasible. Religions are not all the same. Some use that small group, and the psychological effect of religious ritual to prioritize a set of values compatible with civilization and with ethically leading people you do not know well enough to care about. Some religions fail at doing that. Communism, understood as a religion, is fundamentally lacking in the ability to even achieve peace with co-religionists. The religions available that might motivate white leaders to act in the perceived interests of all whites do so by telling them to act in the perceived interests of all humans, or all Americans. There are no white politicians that a white person should trust to act in the interests of the ‘white community’, if those interests are not also the interests of all Americans.
My understand of the theory is this:
There are certain behaviors that are more likely to lead to success in this world.
For example, if you show up to a job interview on time you’re more likely to get the job than if you show up late. You’re less likely to get pulled over by the police if your license plates are current. Children from two parent, stable homes are less likely to end up in the juvenile system than those raised by single parents. Young adults who finish high school have more opportunities than those who drop out.
Critical Race Theory posits that these correlations are purely arbitrary, and also that they are put in place artificially by White people in order to prevent Black people from succeeding.
Thus people who succeed in life by showing up to work early and well-groomed, who avoid obscenities in speaking with authority figures, who don’t have unprotected sex with strangers on a regular basis, and so on and so forth, are benefiting from a system of racial and sexual oppression.
In a truly just society, they say, the behaviors that they see as “acting White” wouldn’t give people an advantage over people who reject punctuality and academic study and fidelity to a spouse.
Thus they reject the idea that negative consequences of certain behaviors is a necessary part of maintaining a civilization. Filtered through Critical Race Theory, criminal acts are only defined as “criminal” in order to oppress a particular segment of the population.
I happen to reject this because I believe that the benefit of some behaviors and the negative consequences of others is objective, not arbitrary, and that for a civilization to survive it must impose sanctions on those citizens who break certain rules.
One can certainly argue about which things should be legal and which things should be allowed, but I think the significant point should be “does this action injure society as a whole” rather than “does outlawing this action have a greater impact on some groups than on others.”
Yes, that is how I understand it as well.
Agreed. But all these assorted theories exist purely to defend the indefensible, in particular the structures of power that give mediocries like themselves grants and/or tenure-track jobs. But really, any garbage thing they want to do, that earlier, idealistic “useful idiot” progressives would have roundly condemned. Like blasphemy laws.
If one first takes Critical Race Theory seriously, there is a question of proximity in time and space. If there are people embodying this systemic racism, who is actually in a position to carry it out?
One answer looks at politicians closer to the problems. Another is that we might as well blame this one dead guy, who no one has heard of, and the rest of us are entirely helpless to change the results of his choices.
I think insofar as CRT has any validity at all, we need to understand people like Obama, Bell, and Ellison as being the white supremacists most at fault, and that the real systemic white supremacism is stuff like gun control, LBJ’s Great Society, and criminal justice ‘reform’.
More important question: If someone cannot provide you specific and measurable criteria by which you can be determined to be racist or not, what reason have you not to embrace being racist, and dedicate your actions to causing them trouble?
I think your answer is that you first follow your religious beliefs, which include claims of common humanity, worth of life, etc. If those beliefs, in a earlier formulation, amount to opposing some specific definition of racism, you will oppose racism. Fooling around trying to satisfy unrelated theory or theology is not tied to your own religious ritual and behavior, so isn’t your goal, and may be a harmful distraction. As a Catholic, why feel any more guilty for not trying to satisfy CRT than you would feel for not trying to satisfy Protestant teachings? Faith doesn’t have to be a huge mess syncratizing everything.
Mr. Moore, remember the 2nd rule: SJWs always project.
So, if they are not lying (rule 1), a system designed to keep black folks AS black folks ( “racist”) not only exists, but the progressives established it, maintain it, and it benefits them. They wail about it because DARVO works on useful idiots.
Sytem: Legal requirements to allow colleges to replace white and Asian applicants with massively less educated, and sometimes less intelligent black applicants. Three guesses what happens to black applicants who are mis-matched this way. Add college debt slavery.
System: Legal requirements to allow unchecked criminality in majority black communities while mandating all teachers in those communities be certified by Marxist education schools in hating and fearing non-blacks. Guaranteeing massive high-tension encounters between police and young black men
Acts 17 Apologetics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnD5lS-rHJY
Read on parallel with Peter Grants book
System: Destroying patriarchal institutions (police, military) ability to feed poor black males’s father-hunger and create masculine structure for them, which allows them to become agents of cultural change in their own community in order to appease white feminist whiners.
I could go on and on and on. From large to small the System exists to screw over the little guy, but it has a few extra bells and whistles designed to co-op and destroy uppity blacks.
I do however, now consider racism as a meaningless term. Using it is like using “gender” outside of grammar or “climate change”. It conveys no information, only submission to the world’s petty gods.