Thursday, November 08, 2018

Craig Considine Uncovers Racists!


Slaying a racist.
Good to know top-tier sociologists are rooting out racism wherever it rears its ugly head -- even when "racism" has nothing to do with race.  Because what the American Left needs to today, more than anything, is more excuses to hate un-Woke normal Americans.

We all know that anyone who values western culture over any other culture is grossly defective in some way.  To say Quakerism is superior to Wahhabi is no more objective than to praise ketchup over wasabi!  One of the goals of left-wing sociology is thus to use such terms as "Islamophobia" to extend victories previously won with terms like "homophobia," to protect the world's second-largest religion from criticism.  Irrational fear of gays, irrational fear of Muslims carrying scimitars or hijacking airplanes . . . The point is, you're nuts!

But it's even better to show that you're evil.

Here the word "racism," the trump card in American discourse, comes in handy.  Most of us recognize oppression of black slaves as the greatest sin in American history, along with mistreatment of Native Peoples.  Now if one can only find a way to make jaws salivate with guilt every time that bell is rung!

Don't worry!  Craig Considine, a sociologist at Rice University and expert on Islam in the West, is on the case.  A few years back he wrote an article which accuses people who dislike Islam of racism, and tries to justify that stance intellectually.

"Muslims aren't a race, so I can't be a racist, right?  Wrong."  

Let's follow Corsidine's argument, and see why people who look askance at a religion started by the prophet with the scimitar can only be "racists."

"Racism is no longer about race (skin color) but culture.  People are Othered and discriminated against not (simply) because of the color of their skin (or other phenotypes) but because of their beliefs and practices associated with some “imagined culture."

We plunge down the rabbit hole without preamble.

"Other" used to be an adjective.  "Would you like to look at some other car?"  "Yes, I'd like another piece of pie."  And we used to use a lower case "o" to refer to it.  Now apparently to see people of, well, differently abled cultures as Other is an intellectual or moral crime of some sort.

As a scholar of world religions who has lived in many cultures, I find the assumptions Dr. Considine seems to be working from here outright bizarre.  Culture in my world is not "imagined," it is real: Ruth Benedict's classic work of anthropology, Patterns of Culture, show how profound and important are the very real differences between cultures.  And having lived in American, English, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, and tribal Taiwanese cultures for extended periods of time, her views on this subject seem entirely incontrovertible to me.

But Considine seems used to being contradicted on this subject:

“'Nonsense.' That is what people say when I accuse them of being racist. Their argument goes something like this: 'Muslims are not even a race, so how the hell could I even be racist?  You’re an idiot.'  Because Muslims are not a race, people believe that any type of violence or oppression directed towards them cannot be racially motivated; that this form of hatred — known as Islamophobia — cannot be racism."
Whether or not Considine is an "idiot," the word "racist" most certainly does derive from "race," having to do with physical and genetic differences between groups of human beings, such as color.  The assumption is that skin pigmentation is far too trivial a reason to treat a person differently, and anyway it isn't his or her fault so it is unjust. 
Considine admits that his new form of racism has nothing to do with race:  

"First, let me be clear. It is true that Muslims are not a race. The word “Muslim” itself connects to followers of Islam, a world religion — not a “race.” Muslims are a diverse religious grouping, and, in fact, one of the most heterogeneous populations in the world. In theory, the ummah - or global Muslim community - is made up of many 'races.' Moreover, not all Muslims are simply born 'Muslim,' like people are born White or Black. Muslim identity is something that one can acquire through conversion. In this sense, Muslim identity is nurtured and not natured."
OK, Humpty Dumpty.  Then why . . . "

"Since I am focusing on the subject of identity and race, let me extend this discussion to other social groupings.
"If Muslims are not a race, then which group is? Some people might immediately point to Black people, and say, 'that is definitely a race. Look at their skin color.'  But, to be exact, Black people are not a race either. Neither, for that matter, are White people.

"Okay, now you might wonder about Jewish people? Certainly they are a race, right? Science proves they — like White and Blacks — are not a race either.

"And what about Asians? Are they a race?
"Nope. Asians are not a race.
"The Indigenous People of America, a race?
"Nope, not a race.
"You see, there is no such thing as race or races, traditionally understood. Scientists long ago proved that race is not a biological reality but a myth, a socially constructed concept. Yet, despite the data, human beings have been programmed to associate specific things to certain 'racial groups'; things like intelligence, work ethic, family values, and behavior. As such, we have been brainwashed to think that some groups are inherently better than others, and that the White race — to be frank — is better than all." This is a semantic argument conflating technical and popular uses of the word "race."  The point in either case is skin color is not a fault, both because there's nothing wrong with different coloration and because it is not willed.   But if there aren't any human races, then there can't be racism! Of course what people mean by "racism" is hating some group of people because of their physical characteristics and / or clan origins. What games certain sociologists play in the privacy of their own privies is neither here nor there, unless they are claiming white people never hated black people, or that our eyes are all been suffering from delusions these hundreds of years and "white" and "black" people are all really olive green. The strangeness of Considine's argument only grows:
"Race — as one of my favorite sociologists, the late (and great) Stuart Hall put it - is a 'floating signifier,' meaning that it is a fluid concept which has specific connotations during certain moments in history. Races, in short, have never been exclusively biologically determined but rather politically constructed by powerful people, usually dominant groups in societies." In other words: "Dr. Dumpty has proven that the meaning of every word is fluid, and words are used by the powerful to oppress the weak, so your naïve, child-like assumption that racism is about race is henceforth null and void. I can make the word mean whatever I like, to attack all my enemies, now! With words, the real question is who is to be master!, as my third favorite sociologist Dr. Dumpty put it." Why not use the word "axe murderer" to mean "sociology professor?" A given professor may or may not know how to wield an axe, true. But axes come in all shapes and sizes: some may hardly have handles, some may be made out of stone, others out of rubber and hardly dent so thick a skull as some I could name. Clearly axe is a purely social construct: so much murderer, a term constructed by powerful people to punish those they disapprove of! You've heard of people "murdering" lovers, but also sports opponents, and (more relevantly) the language! Clearly these words are all mere social constructs, so we can call Dr. Considine an "axe murderer" because we don't like either one! Plus look what he is doing to the English language!
"According to Hall, there is a new type of racism — “cultural racism,” which is my focus here. Racism is no longer about race (skin color) but culture.  People are Othered and discriminated against not (simply) because of the color of their skin (or other phenotypes) but because of their beliefs and practices associated with some 'imagined culture.'”
And I would say, as a student of culture as this Rice professor or his hero apparently are not, or not very able ones: cultures are by definition and in practice distinct from one another, and do not need to be made that way artificially. Cultures are not "imagined," except by those who create them, and need not be "othered," since they become distinct naturally. Let's get down to brass tacks, here. Most men on the idyllic island of Bougainville, New Guinea, say they have raped at least one woman in their lives. Many say they have engaged in gang rapes, and some say they have also raped men. In the culture I come from, rape is considered a despicable act. I have never even thought of committing such a repulsive crime (as I see it), and have never heard even one man of my acquaintance confess to it. (Though some American men are, of course, guilty of this act, as in other countries.) Is that an imaginary difference? Have I "othered" the good men of Bougainville by citing their own testimony about their own acts? It appears to me that the difference is real and profound. And indeed, turning to other crimes, one finds that the murder rate in some countries (such as in Central American) is more than 100 times as high as in some others (such as in Scandinavia or East Asia). If culture is all in our heads, are these murder rates (not counting lopsided basketball games) also imaginary? This is why some social science deserves to be laughed to scorn. This case is relevant to Considine's own research into Pakistani immigrants. It was Pakistani rape gangs which brutalized thousands of English girls in recent years, while police begged off the case for fear of being called . . . what, racists? Or was that all imaginary, too? Here Considine's brand of PC would seem to conflict with that other brand, which tells us that women should be listened to when they report rape.

"Cultural racism, therefore, happens when certain people perceive their beliefs and customs as being culturally superior to the beliefs and customs of other groups of people. Cultural racism, in-turn, reproduces the idea of “the hierarchy of cultures,” meaning, in the context of current affairs, that 'our' Western culture is superior to 'their' Islamic culture. This way of thinking is problematic because it essentializes diverse classifications like “Westerners” and 'Muslims.' It creates a binary of 'Western = civilized' and 'Islamic = uncivilized.'” It is amazing to me that an educated man, still one with a position at a leading university, could write such a unreflective nonsense Are Considine's own beliefs and customs, such as writing against cultural racists, superior to those of rednecks and lynch mobs, or are they not? If they are, then he is, by his own Orwellian if not fully oxymoronic term, a "cultural racist." He is establishing his own "hierarchy of cultures," with the belief system of sociologists poorly endowed with common sense at its apex, and looking down his hypocritical nose at the unwashed who fail to achieve his alleged superior wisdom. So why should we listen to such a "racist" (or axe murderer, if you prefer) as he? Of course both Western and Muslim cultures are diversely perverse. I would say, indeed, that Pakistani and Arab cultures are particular perverse. A Thai woman was telling me a few days ago how she was treated like a slave when she went to work in a small Asian Muslim country. Are we to pretend this was an outlier? Even if we find (as I have) that UN figures support the reality of certain patterns? Or should we plug our heads in the sand? One cannot rationally deny that Islamic teaching on sex, on non-Muslims, on slavery, and on Islamic power in the world, have not profoundly affected Islamic cultures around the world. That does not deny variety, since of course there are other factors as well, beginning with local cultures. Indonesia is generally more mellow in its Islam than Afghanistan (though there are apparently variations among Indonesian cultures as well). But this man is playing tedious pseudo-scholarly games with these semantic toys of sociological sophists, "essentialize," "create a binary," "imagined culture," "racism." Yes, I prefer "western civilization" to "Muslim civilization." If "essentialize" means Islam really impacts the cultures that accept it: of course! But if it means that is the only variable in play: of course not! I doubt the distinction has even occurred to this Rice University professor: certainly he has not made his meaning clear to his readers, even if by some miracle it is clear to him.
"Bobby Sayyid, another favorite thinker of mine, argues that Islamophobia is undoubtedly a form of racism. He regards it as a type of racism that 'takes up the white man’s burden for the new American century. It is a humanitarian intervention . . . [Islamophobia] only wants to spread democracy not to expropriate resources; it does not want to exterminate ignoble savages, only to domesticate unruly Muslims.' In this context, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan can be treated as wars driven by cultural racism. Bush wanted to spread 'democracy' and 'liberate' Muslims, particularly women, among other things. Muslims, he theorized, were incapable of developing these 'culturally superior” ways of life on their own, so they must be molded and trained to be more like 'us,' the civilized people. If racism represents systemic oppression based upon preconceived notions (or stereotypes) of particular social groups, then the U.S. government is most definitely guilty of racism. To be specific, cultural racism." Maybe, Craig, but you've proven you're a cultural racist, too, who thinks his own culture superior to that of, say, George W. Bush. So who are you to complain? Not that I ever heard Bush claim that "the religion of peace" couldn't develop democracy on its own. The fact that it never had, I guess, is also racist of me to mention. As a matter of fact, I do think locking women in doors or marrying them off when they're ten is a crime of humanity. And I think Considine is a sophist and a fool for not admitting that. But the irony is he is on his own 'white man's burden' of civilizing us restless savages, which is why he writes. We're all sinners, according to his lights: he is as much a "racist" as I. But at least I'm not making excuses for child rape.
"Sayyid makes another point that is worth mentioning. He states that Muslims are depicted in public discourse as 'arch-villains,' an idea which produces all sorts of 'racist anxieties' in the minds of non-Muslims. Yet, despite the obvious connections between racism and anti-Muslim sentiment, Islamophobia has been presented as nothing as sordid as racism, “but rather a rational response to real threats to western, nay universal, values,” as he puts it.
"Let me be clear here. There is nothing rational about Islamophobia. Treating Muslims poorly because they are Muslim is racism. It is that simple. If someone gives a Muslim women wearing the hijab a dirty look, sorry, but you are racist. If someone assaults a Muslim woman wearing the hijab — which has recently happened in Toronto — yeah, you are a racist. Time to face the music." Let Considine be clear? He doesn't know the meaning of the word. Unless we are playing more Humpty-Dumpty games with words (which may be), "Islamophobia" means "inordinate fear of Islam," not "mistreatment of Muslims." Considine conflates the two because clear thinking is his kryptonite. Clarity of thought and expression causes his argument, if not his very self, to shrink and faint away. Sure, those who commit crimes against innocent Muslims should "face the music." How many Americans would argue against that? Equally, who can deny that for every Muslim killed by non-Muslims in North America in the past 20 years, hundreds of non-Muslims have been killed by radical Muslims? Even though the former outnumber the latter by many times? I think North Americans in general have been remarkably forbearing. The real crimes are being committed in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia -- and now in England and Germany and Sweden -- by Muslims against an overly political-correct and absurdly defenseless local population. "Need more proof that Islamophobia is a form of cultural racism? Consider the experience of Inderjit Singh Mukker. Mukker was assaulted in September 2015 for 'looking Muslim;' he was dragged out of his car and beaten to a pulp by a man screaming 'you’re a terrorist, bin Laden!' The twist here is that Mukker is not even Muslim; he is Sikh. The perpetrator of this crime looked at Mukker’s turban and thought 'he’s a Muslim. He’s dangerous.' A cultural symbol, in this case, was used as a signifier to judge an entire group of people, however wrongly. Is this racism? Most definitely. Even Sikhs suffer from Islamophobia." Sociological "proof" is obtained by citing a single anecdote in world of 7 billion people? No one is claiming a complete absence of bigots and fools in America. But have you ever heard of a Muslim ever being dragged out of a car in America and being attacked as a Sikh? No? Why not? Isn't Islamophobia supposed to be irrational? During World War II, when Japan was overrunning huge swaths of Asia, Japanese Americans were far more often poorly treated. This is not because Japanese-ness is a "social construct," a means of "othering" people -- I'm married to a Japanese and have lived in that country more than five years. Believe me, Japanese culture is genuinely different. The persecution occurred because our enemy started a war, and some American over-reacted. "Ultimately, the issue here is 'racism without race,' as sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls it. The more we assume that race is limited to skin color, the less we understand about contemporary racism faced by Muslims at home and abroad. Now is the time to teach youth that racism is much more than the white-black dichotomy. Racism is changing in its form, but the beast is still very much alive and well." And growing! Because as Tom Wolfe recognized, words are a kingdom. Human beings thrive and extend the power of our social constructs (families, tribes, nations, classes) by clever use of language. If words are a kingdom, then the word "racism" is a fortress, conquered by the Left, used for sniping at elephants in regions all around. Real racists have been driven to the brink of extinction in most American precincts, but the Left only mans its fort and adds new weapons year after year. It goes after new game, declaring everything that moves to be among its lawful targets. The irony is that all this self-righteousness is on behalf of a revolutionary new culture which the warriors and hunters take for granted as superior to conventional American culture. Hunting "racists," they become that which they hunt. Final note: My comments about sociologists above should not be taken as generalizations. I have great respect for members of the species, such as Jacques Ellul, Rodney Stark, Peter Berger, even Emile Durkheim at times, along with precursors such as De Toqueville and of course Burke. No doubt there are many worthy sociologists at loose today as well -- I have met a few -- and the study of society is of course a worthwhile and interesting end. But I am amazed at what passes for wisdom in many of our great universities these days.


DHBoggs said...

David, the diploma hanging on my wall declares me to be an Anthropologist. I'm telling you that to let you know that at least one other person in one other profession (arguably more germane to the topic than Sociology) agrees with you entirely. Well done. Considine seems to be playing a labeling game to re-frame an old and well established discussion. What he is talking about is better understood as cultural elitism and relativism. He seems to be willfully ignoring all the relevant anthropological literature in favor of a populist, agenda driven, polemic dressed in psuedo academic guise.

David B Marshall said...

Thanks. Indeed.