Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Razib Khan & Robin DiAngelo: where race essentialists of the Left and Right meet

In June 2017 on his web site "Brown Pundits" Razib Khan proclaims himself the enemy of "barbarians," meaning the Left.
Much of the media lies about me, and the Left constantly attacks me. I’m OK with that because I do believe that the day will come with all the ledgers will be balanced. The Far Left is an enemy of civilization of all stripes. I welcome being labeled an enemy of barbarians. My small readership, which is of diverse ideologies and professions, is aware of who I am and what I am, and that is sufficient. Either truth or power will be the ultimate arbiter of justice.
This is amusing because he has so much in common with the Far Left - at least the anti-appropriationist branch - when it comes to holding an essentialist belief in race.

The anti-appropriationists are in perfect agreement with Razib Khan that race is a clear-cut, obvious attribute of every single person and which controls aspects of an individual's intellect and/or morality. A recent NYTimes piece by Thomas Chatterton Williams says it very well:
I have spent the past six months poring over the literature of European and American white nationalism, in the process interviewing noxious identitarians like the alt-right founder Richard Spencer. The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish. 
This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural. For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a “talisman,” an “amulet” of “eldritch energies” that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a “meta-biological force,” a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.
Now I don't think Ta-Nehisi Coates is as bad as Williams says he is, especially in the superb piece he is talking about The First White President.

I think that Coates' talisman metaphor for whiteness referred in that case to the cultural perception of white difference and superiority in the United States as exploited by Donald Trump. Although I will agree that like identitarians generally, Coates is quick to advocate censorship when it suits him.

The argument between the Far Left and the Far Right on the issue of race is not the existence nor the essential nature of race, it's a disagreement over which "race" is superior. The Far Right believes in the innate intellectual inferiority of non-whites, most especially African Americans, while the Far Left believes in the innate moral inferiority of whites, especially those of northern European ethnicity.

Razib Khan mentions a victim of identitarian extremism on his GNXP blog:
 (basically I think anyone who has sympathies that they have the courage to make vocal with classical liberalism will end up on the Right eventually; I’m looking at you, Bret Weinstein).
Khan is referring to the incident when Weinstein, a leftist, was the target of race essentialists:
Bret Weinstein is a biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who supported Bernie Sanders, admiringly retweets Glenn Greenwald and was an outspoken supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Weinstein, who identifies himself as “deeply progressive,” is just the kind of teacher that students at one of the most left-wing colleges in the country would admire. Instead, he has become a victim of an increasingly widespread campaign by leftist students against anyone who dares challenge ideological orthodoxy on campus. 
This professor’s crime? He had the gall to challenge a day of racial segregation.
A bit of background: The “Day of Absence” is an Evergreen tradition that stretches back to the 1970s. As Mr. Weinstein explained on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, “in previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus — a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year, the script was flipped: “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,” reported the student newspaper on the change. The decision was made after students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

What the Left identitarians are doing, as I have pointed out many times, is revenge. People who have been identified as Black have been legally kept out of various establishments in the United States up until the 1960s. What the Left extremists seek to do is identify people who are White and keep them out of an institution - in this case Evergreen College for a day - as symbolic tit-for-tat micro-revenge.

I've mentioned the problem with the Far Left's quest for revenge against randomly-selected white scapegoats in my criticisms of the career of Robin DiAngelo on this blog.

Razib Khan's argument is that people of African ethnicity are intellectually inferior to the rest of humanity, and therefore any claims of systemic bigotry against the ancestors of the enslaved people in the United States are false and there's nothing that society can do. Razib Khan believes in "human biodiversity."

Robin DiAngelo's argument is that all people of European ancestry living right now in the United States are collectively guilty of injustice against people of African ethnicity in the US, regardless of the expressed beliefs, political affiliations, or personal actions of individual whites. And any whites who protest when accused of racism are lying and/or deluded. Robin DiAngelo believes in "white fragility."

They both agree that the most important aspect of any human being is that person's "race." Thus demonstrating the horseshoe theory. Both the Far Left and the Far Right reject liberal notions of striving for colorblind fairness and reject Martin Luther King's dream that we all be judged on the content of our character and not the color of our skin. For identitarians of Left and Right, race is absolute and all-encompassing.

For Khan the government should not create social programs without taking into consideration the essential biological inferiority of the racial underclass. An attitude he shares with Charles Murray:
right now, we assume that ALL GROUPS HAVE EQUAL APTITUDES. the result is that liberals devise new social programs to “uplift” groups to express their potentional.
For DiAngelo it's not enough that we continue to struggle to address the systemic racism of the United States which disadvantages people of color, we must also assume all whites are ignorant and immoral. She demonstrates this when she freely lies about white people's collective view of Jackie Robinson's career.
While Robinson was certainly an amazing ball player, this story line depicts Robinson as racially special; a black man who broke that color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level.
I expect that like Khan, DiAngelo feels misunderstood, even lied about, especially when quoted directly.

That's not to say that Khan is self-aware enough to recognize his own hypocrisy when he complains that his multi-ethnic childrens' school issues an advisory against certain Halloween costumes. He's so much more willing to accept the idea that people are not one race so long as we aren't talking about the descendants of African slaves in the United States.

The sweet sweet irony of Robin DiAngelo's targeting people of European descent is that Razib Khan is far more racist than many "whites" but DiAngelo only focuses on the racism of whites. So even though Khan built his career by sucking up to racialists like Charles Murray and Ron Unz, he gets a free pass from anti-white identitarians like DiAngelo.

Now please note, Khan claims he is not a racist.

However, I think what Khan said in 2006 applies to Khan himself:
Recently I’ve been saying that it is important to distinguish between what people believe, what they say they believe and what they do. The three do not always integrate well together
Khan's remark about Bret Weinstein was made in the same blog post where Khan complained he was blocked on Twitter by right-wing extremist Sebastian Gorka.

Meanwhile, I was blocked on Twitter by Razib Khan.