My Blog Week: December 5 to December 11
A Word on the Week
The Sensitivity Trap (part three)
How many of the PC introductions from the 2016 campaign season onwards, came as reaction, and how much of the inflammation was campaigning of another sort, and planned? Our journey from Hillary’s emails to Woke cancellations had its canned elements, but nothing new that irritated people was long left out of the mix. Faced with aggression manifesting as a new source of “pride” for authoritarians, marginalized persons took alarm. To avoid the loss of rights not fully protected in the first place, they found it attractive to publicize new labels, which, being new, naturally called attention to the cause.
But we only have to look at “ahmicron” to know that new makes people mad.
Let’s examine the capitalization of racial terms and the way this affects the conversation on race. After the George Floyd murder, a number of news sites began to capitalize the B in Black, explained as a gesture of respect, sometimes as “overdue”. This establishes the value of Capital Letter = Respect. As with an equation (it is), we can see that No Capital = No Respect, if the corollary is perfect. Capitalizing the W in White, though, feels like encouraging white supremacists. The dilemma comes from reducing a history of inequality to a simplistic state where the two things compared are equal. Everyone gets a capital. It doesn’t seem logical to not capitalize, because that would force a false position…oddly enough, because…
The false position invokes a true position: whites have been dominant in societal privileges. The privilege has been built into the system; the Black Lives Matter movement is to say that cosmetic or gestural changes aren’t enough. But within the truncated argument of capital letters, where the symbol asks the user, do you respect this person? the forced position is to comply, or say no, I don’t.
Since most have no cause to lay blanket disapproval on white people, the bid to show respect for blacks gets flipped, and becomes a need to mollify whites.
Now consider pronouns. “They” began to be declared as the choice of nonbinary people, those who don’t believe their gender is defined by cultural maleness or femaleness. During the 2020 election season, some Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination posted their pronouns, usually she/her, on their social media profiles. Some young journalists, writing for publications that had culled their editing staff (apparently), began to use “they” as a generic neutral, in contexts that only required sentence recasting. “They” as a plural, of course, has always included everyone. “They” to refer to an individual, should be respected when stated as a preference. The trouble is, if Use of Stated Preference = Respect, Dismissal of Stated Preference = Disrespect. Not finding it worth the bother to learn someone’s preference, and imposing someone else’s instead, has to (being another form of dismissal) equal disrespect. You can’t be a respecter of respect, when you impose a usage on a stranger, without seeking to know that person’s feelings.
Meanwhile, even a fascist, in a world where everyone is pressured to label themselves before they can interact, might say: “That feels a little fascist.”
This week I posted the text of Civil War General James Harrison Wilson’s report to the government, as the title goes, on the “Condition of the South at the Close of the War.” Formal 19th century diction doesn’t make for breezy reading, but my aim is to have this document available as a writer’s resource. Among points of interest, is Wilson’s ending prediction that patrols of citizen’s militias (basically the Klan) will lead to horrendous suffering and injustice. Saturday, I posted another Catastrophe, including some of Hess’s fine descriptions of his first sight of Mount Pelee in eruption.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: December 5 to December 11