Shit, i’m a white male!

Okay, what now? Melanin injections and perming my hair? Gender “reassignment hormones and surgery? Oh wait, I’m almost 72 and fully unemployable and retired. Whew, that’s a relief. i can just be what I am.

Imprimis, a wonderful publication of Hillsdale College, presents guest lectures in written form. The following is from the April 2018 edition, by Heather MacDonald, entitled The Negative Impact of the #MeToo Movement: Pressures for so-called diversity, defined reductively by gonads and melanin, are of course nothing new. Since the 1990s, every mainstream institution has lived in terror of three lethal words: “all white male,” an epithet capable of producing paroxysms of self-abasement. When both categories of alleged privilege—white and male—overlap, an activist is in the diversity sweet spot, his power over an institution at its zenith. But however pervasive the diversity imperative was before, the #MeToo movement is going to make the previous three decades look like a golden age of meritocracy. No mainstream institution will hire, promote, or compensate without an exquisite calculation of gender and race ratios. 

Gender, diversity, and inclusion were the dominant themes at this January’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The conference was chaired exclusively by women. Windows were emblazoned with slogans like “Diversity is good for business” and “Gender equality is a social and economic issue.” CEOs shared their techniques for achieving gender equity. It’s actually quite simple: pay managers based on their record of hiring and promoting females and minorities, as Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta explained. Never mind the fact that by introducing irrelevant criteria such as race and gender into an evaluation process, you will inevitably end up with less qualified employees.

The public radio show, Performance Today, ran a series of shows in March about gender and racial inequities in classical music. At a time of diminishing classical music audiences, it is profoundly irresponsible to direct the poison of identity politics at our most precious musical institutions. Doing so only encourages potential young listeners and culturally ignorant philanthropists (I’m thinking of you, Bill Gates) to stay away. Orchestra boards will pay penance for their own inadequate diversity by a mad rush on female conductors, whose numbers are minuscule. It was already difficult two years ago to land a U.S. conducting position for a universally esteemed white male conductor, reports his agent. Now it would be nearly impossible, the agent believes, adding: “If I had a trans conductor, I would be rich.”

There is much more, but you get the gist. National Review, in the May 2018 issue, features an article called And the Victims Will Lead Us. This is all about “victimology.” But what is that really? Perhaps the real issue is entitlement. Being a victim is being deprived of something you deserve, something you are entitled to, something that is your right, be it life, liberty or the ability to pursue happiness. But what is anyone REALLY entitled too? And by what authority?

 

Entitlement and gratitude.

Family conflicts are probably the most painful of all conflicts in life. Having been a financial planner the better part of 25 years and a psychotherapist for most of my career years before that, and of course a father and a husband, I’ve come to learn a lot about conflicts. Because my natural inclination is to look for patterns in things, I’ve looked long and hard for the patterns that underlie family conflicts. And I believe that it’s mainly the misunderstanding of gratitude and entitlement. Resentment festers when someone believes that someone else should be grateful for what they’ve done for them. The person who feels entitled generally doesn’t even notice it. For that person, it’s hard to be grateful, because if you’re entitled to something why should you be grateful for it? Some people are defined by their gratitude, others by their entitlement. Which is which?

National Review, May 2018, led with a cover touting their lead article, And The Victims Will Lead Us.  Here’s a part of it: In the 20th century, Americans often claimed their rights and privileges as members of the middle class, demanding what was owed to “people who work hard and play by the rules.” Many Americans who were a bit poorer or a bit richer than the middle class still politically identified with that great mass of citizens. It was a rhetoric built around the idea that the middle class works to create wealth and deserves its share of it. Now, Americans group themselves into ever smaller and more-besieged minorities. Our political vocabulary is now about what is owed to each individual or group, regardless of the value of the work performed by that person or group. And claims for rights are made in a corporate persona. Instead of each person’s speaking for himself, people now issue political demands “as a member of” this or that community. It’s almost as if each individual finds meaning only insofar as he conforms to an abstracted or imagined political model. “Speaking as a woman” simply cannot be done by a female who is not a feminist. This cultural hegemony has many names, and we encounter them constantly, in a less sophisticated form, when feminists denounce the patriarchy, when sexual minorities critique heteronormativity, and when racial minorities define their mission as the upending of white supremacy.

The American ruling class broadcasts its soulless utilitarianism when it comes to politics. It tries to make every political problem into a mere technical policy challenge. But there is a loophole for those who are not initiated into this highly abstract form of political discourse. Utilitarianism admits just one criterion for allocating sympathy, resources, and attention: suffering. So if you want to participate in political debate, but you don’t want to master all the academic studies on your particular problem or interest, take account of all the methodological biases of these studies, and then find a platform where you can make your case — if, in short, you don’t want to become a nerd — your only chance of having a public voice is to become, or represent, a victim. This is the only chance to put passion — or spiritedness — back into a political conversation that is usually lifeless and technical.

Someone who walks into these environments looking for the intellectual parry and thrust of debate is instead told, “Your job is to listen.” The expectation that no one would dare to interject or question the personal testimony of the victim of oppression is not so different from the expectation of silence during the reading of the Gospel in a church service, or during a homily. Your job is to listen. And it is here, I would suggest, that the politics of the victim touch something deep in the soul of modern man. They are in some ways the residue of Christian thought and ritual in a Western world that offers little traditional religious education or formation. The premise of victim politics is like a mirror image of devotion to the Suffering Servant. Just as in Christianity, so in social-justice politics: The wounds of the primordial victim testify to the broken state of human nature and society at large. For Christians, the cross is a kind of throne, and the crown of thorns becomes a sign of authority. The paradox of Christianity is that the Lord reigns as King precisely because he offered himself as Victim.

The religious aspect should be evident to anyone who offers a rational critique of some identity-politics shibboleth only to be told “You’re denying my identity” or “You’re erasing my existence.” It’s a mysterious response at first. You offer an argument and are told that you disbelieve in someone’s existence. It sounds like an accusation of atheism, for a good reason: You’re being charged with heresy, and if you do not desist, you reveal yourself as morally reprobate, as one who would, with full knowledge, repeat the Crucifixion. Or if you prefer the current academese, you are one who “reifies the structures of oppression.” You love yourself more than you love the victim-god standing before you, the one exposing his wounds and offering you forgiveness on condition that you recognize his pain, confess your unearned privilege, and promise obedience.

Once the explicitly political claims are filtered out, what is left over in victim politics is a churchly way of being in a world that has escaped the bonds of religion. We are contending with a longing for recognition and esteem and for a mission that has a transcendent horizon; no form of human governance can ever satisfy such desires.
There it is. The need for transcendence, the so called God-shaped hole, cannot be filled with anything on earth. The beauty of following Christ is that we who have been declared guiltless by our transcendent savior can now be grateful that we didn’t get what we deserved for our enmity against God. We were entitled to wrath, we got mercy, we are grateful for that greatest gift. But those who seek their salvation in their entitlements can never be grateful for anything, because their true longing can’t be satisfied by what they are seeking. And they will never give up their futile quest until they meet the true Savior.

You say you want the REAL conversation about race? Really?

Every now and then, you read or hear something that absolutely requires a response! “White people say the purpose of talking about race is to some day end that conversation. Black people say it’s to some day get the real conversation started.” That opinion was from an article about Mike Tomlin. Okay, here’s the real conversation: chattel slavery, what the bible condemns as “man stealing”, is wrong and reprehensible. It’s wrong today in all the countries where it’s still practiced, it was wrong in all the countries, including ours, in which it was practiced. Slaveholders were worse off for it, if you really understand the economics and moral realities of slave dependency. Yet there is probably not an honest black person in our country whose forefathers were slaves from Africa, who wishes to be the person they would have been if slavery had never happened. Why do I say that? Simple: You would not exist if slavery didn’t happen. For instance, most slaves in the USA were stolen (tellin’ like it is!) from West Africa–mainly Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Senegambia, and Congo. So let’s say your great grandmother came from Ghana and your great grandfather from Congo, and they  met on a plantation in Virginia. Would they have ever met in Africa? Nope! So the person with your DNA–you–could not have existed No, that doesn’t make slavery right, but there it is! 
If by some impossible quirk of genetics or chance, if the “you” who exists today and the “you” who would have existed in Africa in whatever country your ancestors came from, were the same person, what would your life have been like? Do you even know where your ancestors came from? Would you trade your current existence for what your contemporaries in Africa are living? If not, shut up about America being racist, and follow the advice of Booker T. Washington–make yourself indispensable! If so, you have the following choices: keep doing whatever you are doing, which might include complaining about racism; emigrate to whatever country you wish you were from, and make a life there; be grateful for what you have and who you are, and bless your ancestors for their bearing up under suffering. Or, you can say “How dare you, whitey, tell me what to do!”
Now one more thing: Name a single group of people who have not suffered persecution or grievances somewhere. White people? Are you familiar with the tortures the Huguenots or the Protestants suffered at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church? How about the persecution of the Ainu, the indigenous white people of Japan? How about the white Bosnian Muslims at the hands of the Serbs? How about the 6 million Jews, most of whom were white Europeans, who were killed, and the countless more who were tortured and victims of horrendous medical experiments by Nazi Germany? You know what, all of those I mentioned went through equal or worse suffering and injustice than anything your ancestors went through. Should I start on what the Hutus did to the Tutsis in Rwanda, or to get more contemporary, what the Lendu are doing to the Hema in the Congocongo horror? Black on black cruelty, worse than anything white perpetrated on black. It’s called “man’s inhumanity to man”, the perpetration of evil, sin! Every age, everywhere, there’s no end until “every knee will bow” to Jesus, the true reconciler.
It’s time for you to shut the f–k up about slavery, racism and your oppression. That’s the real conversation about race you were waiting for! This isn’t a white or black issue, it’s the truth versus the grievance machine issue. Get over it. Reparations for slavery? Chris Rock did hilarious interviews with people about reparations, here. reparations In one interview, he gave a multiple choice exam. 1. I believe in reparations, here’s my check; 2. I am sorry about slavery, but it wasn’t my doing; 3. Kiss my white ass! I choose #2. I am innocent of slavery, and so are all my ancestors, who came here from Hungary and Poland, after their parents were gassed by Hitler! If that isn’t good enough for you, then I choose #3.
 Gary DeMar tells of former slave Frederick Douglass (1818–1895). When the slave owner of Douglass discovered that his wife was teaching his 12-year-old slave to read the Bible, he stopped her. “If he learns to read the Bible it will make him ever unfit to be a slave. In no time “he’ll be running away with himself.” DeMar continues: In his later years, Douglass reflected on that incident as the first antislavery lecture he had ever heard, and it inspired him to do anything he could to read more of the Bible. Eager to learn more about the Bible, Douglass recalled, “I have gathered scattered pages from this holy book, from the filthy street gutters of Baltimore, and washed and dried them, that in the moments of my leisure, I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.”Let the reader reflect upon the fact, that, in this Christian country, men and women are hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, in order to learn to read the Holy Bible. Those dear souls, who came to my Sabbath school, came not because it was popular or reputable to attend such a place, for they came under the liability of having forty stripes laid on their naked backs. 
I fully expect that some reading this will call me a racist; so of course, I need to pull out my non-racist bonafides, right? Nope, the truth is, call me anything, but call me often, as Mae West used to croon. I just don’t care what you call me, but I want to finish by quoting Charlie Dates, a black pastor speaking at the MLK50 conference: Speaking about young Americans “fascinated with justice but they haven’t met the Author of righteousness.” “They are trying to get justice on the streets apart from understanding righteousness taught in our churches. And they will never find it.”

So sorry to bust your narrative, but

By now, I guess that just about the whole world–other than those suffering and dying in Syria, fleeing persecution in Myanmar,  rebuilding lives that ISIS destroyed in Iraq, starving in Venezuela (well, maybe not quite the whole world after all)–have read or heard about the incidence of “racism” at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. The narrative that follows is predictable. I searched on the phrase “Philadelphia Starbucks incident” on both Google and Bing, and here are some of the headlines: 

  • Men Arrested At Philadelphia Starbucks Speak Out; Police Commissioner Apologizes. (NPR)
  • The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week say they were handcuffed within minutes of entering the store. (CNN)
  • Starbucks incident not about ‘unconscious bias.’ It is about racist behavior in America. (Chicago Tribune)

Scrolling through the search results I found pages of similar headlines, from sources as disparate as the Bangor Daily News and Yeshiva World News. In fact, no matter how many pages I scrolled through, all the headlines were the same narrative. I finally gave up looking for a different perspective. It has to be about racism! You know that Google and Bing (owned by Microsoft) are the two most popular search engines, and their algorithms decide which search results appear soonest. They apparently decree, there is only one narrative (unless you’re a racist, which you automatically must be if you are even trying to find another narrative). 

Then, I got an email from another news source, The Daily Wire, with this headline: The Facts Are In. The Real Story At Starbucks Is Entitlement, Not Racism. Oops, how did that get in there, you racist? For one thing, this writer, Matt Walsh, actually waited until he had verifiable facts. Here are a few: 

1) The 911 call placed by Holly (the manager), in which she says, very reasonably, “I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” This is significant because it confirms that the men were given the option to at least buy something and, incredibly, they refused.

2) Their own testimony, which they gave to “Good Morning America” on Thursday. According to their own version, they walked into the store, grabbed a table, and then asked to use the restroom. The manager told them that they had to buy something to use it. They declined, and went back to sit at the table without having purchased anything. She (the manager) approached them and offered to get them drinks or anything else they might want. They declined. They were asked to leave and they declined. The police came and asked them to leave and they declined. This is their own version.

When asked on “Good Morning America” how they would respond to people who say they broke the rules by loitering and not buying anything, their lawyer declared that Starbucks is a “place to meet.” In other words, they have decided that this private establishment is more like a camping ground or a public park. A person is entitled to take up seats in a busy restaurant without buying so much as a $2 coffee (a “tall” drip coffee is $1.64) in order to earn the privilege. The Starbucks CEO, who has spent all week cowering to the mob and throwing his innocent store manager under the bus, has now affirmed this interpretation. 

But this is not the only version of reality. According to NBC news: Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday and described their arrest. They said they went to Starbucks for a business meeting that they believed would change their lives. Nelson said he asked to use the restroom shortly after walking in and was told it was only for paying customers. The two men were waiting for a third person when a white store employee called 911 minutes later. “I was thinking, they can’t be here for us,” Robinson said of the police. “It didn’t really hit me what was going on, that it was real, till I was being double-locked with my hands behind my back.” Nelson and Robinson were arrested for trespassing. No charges were filed. Video of the incident went viral and ignited protests and calls for boycotts.

What really happened? Even days after, with videos of the arrest, interviews on GMA and other programs, there are still two narratives, two alternative versions of events. I will therefore apply my simple #1 question for how to act in life, and see where it leads: “If my action was multiplied by 1 million people, what would the likely consequences be?” With that question in mind, what DO YOU think the consequences would be of: If I were the manager, instead of escalating, I offered to buy them each a tall coffee so they could stay? If I were another customer, or the police, and made the same offer? What impact would such an offer have on the store, the company, other customers, the two men in question? 

Since it’s a theoretical question, your answer is really more about you than anything else. I would have made that offer, as manager, customer or as police….simply because I would hope to de-escalate the almost inevitable storm of….well, what happened. But it is possible the men would have cried racism (“how dare you imply that I can’t afford a cup of coffee”), or the other customers would have demanded the same treatment…I don’t know. Could there have been any other possible explanation of the behavior of the manager and/or the police? Why did the bathroom require an unlock code–every other Starbucks I have entered didn’t even have locking bathrooms. A police crime map shows 337 crimes committed in the immediate area of that store in the last 6 months: including 16 armed robberies, 170 thefts, 25 burglaries, 2 rapes and 7 aggravated assaults!

Here’s some things I do know: If I were meeting someone for a business meeting that would “change my life”, I would not want to call negative attention on myself nor dress like a slob (see image, above). Food and drink businesses DO expect patrons to spend money if they are taking tables from paying customers, and I have never had to be asked to buy something in order to earn a table–because I know that is merely my obligation. I have been to hundreds of Starbucks in dozens of cities, witnessed thousands of interactions between employees and customers, and not once have I seen any evidence of racism or even rudeness from the employees (yeah, have seen it from a few customers). While my observations do not meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard, I do believe they meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard. I have used their bathrooms numerous times before I bought anything, and no one even looked up. Ah, but you’re white, so none of that matters! Nah, that’s not it–the principle here is, you will always find what you are projecting on others! You will always find what you expect! That is nowhere truer than with human behavior.

So now Starbucks will close all their stores for half a day training on “unconscious racism”, at an estimated cost of around $18 million. In addition, “community leaders” are calling for Starbucks to build more stores in similar neighborhoods to “invest in the community.” I presume that somewhere in that plan, the stores are expected to be profitable. With more “customers” like Nelson and Robinson, there may not be very much investment in the community. After all, don’t we reap what we sow?

(Author’s note: On re-reading my blog, I notice I used the term “de-escalate”. Let’s be clear: The right thing to have done in this situation would have been for Nelson and Robinson to have been paying customers. The manager and the police did the “right thing” if that is defined by the law, but it wasn’t the smart thing. Given the tenor of the times we live in, the results of their right thing was predictable. Sometimes, it’s simply better to be smart than right. As for the two erstwhile “businessmen”, they were wrong! Does that make me racist?)

Oh, THAT white supremacy!

White supremacy…Uh, what’s that? Was that the thing that I was being punished for back in 1965, after spring break in Ft. Lauderdale when I was a freshman in college, and flaunted my melanin-challenged epidermis, only to suffer with a raging sunburn (all the way back to Michigan–by car, no less) on the back of my knees? For Ta-Nehisi (or is it Te-Nahisi) Coates, “white supremacy” is a kind of sediment, an accumulation of white crimes and black victimization, of whites plundering and blacks being plundered, a series of offenses deeply embedded in the American experience and American institutions “so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.” (Kevin Williamson, in National Review) Oh, THAT white supremacy! My bad! Even worse for me is, I am a beneficiary of a justice system rooted in white supremacy” — part of a long historical arc that has chattel slavery at one end and Williamsburg hipsters driving up rents in Brooklyn at the other (same author and article) since I have never been arrested or jailed! Okay, I have never committed a crime…..but let’s not quibble.

I love making lists–favorite books, movies, crimes against humanity–so to the latter let’s add to my melanin-deprived racism the following: Male, “Cisgender” (I think that’s supposed to mean that I “identify” as male while possessing both X and Y chromosomes in every cell, which is not okay, but would be if I instead had 2 X’s), Heterosexual, Christian, American North American US citizen, Military Veteran, not impoverished, not homeless….the list of crimes against humanity goes on. The only thing that redeems me is being disabled–the result of a stroke–but since the stroke was a random, recent event and not a long deteriorating arc or birth condition, I don’t get that many points for it.

Since I’m guilty of all this stuff, where do I start making reparations? How do I redress the wrongs against a person of melanin who was discriminated against, or a gender-nonconforming whatever, or a LGBTQ-XYZ who isn’t MCHCUMV? The task is daunting, so much so that I think instead I will just lean back in my La-Z-Boy, quaff a tumbler of  Southern Comfort, puff on a Monte Cristo, pick at my artisan lobster and collard greens salad, admire the view of my neighbor’s stained fence across the street from my $155,000 house that the bank lets me live in, and mentally send good thoughts and hugs to all the oppressed peoples upon whose necks my jackboots are accused of resting. 

By the way, since “whiteness” isn’t a thing but a continuum from “bright white” to various shades of “off-white” (a typical color chart classifies pearl, alabaster, eggshell, cream, cotton, bone, linen, chiffon, coconut, daisy, powder, frost, ivory, rice, parchment, porcelain and snow as “whites”), WHICH ONES ARE SUPREMACIST??? 

 

The sins of the father, or why you often get along better with your grandchildren than your children.

You have been a dedicated father, putting the welfare of your children (and your wife) before your own desires, yet your children don’t have a heart for what matters to you, but your grandchildren do? Why is that? “Your grandchildren haven’t grown up around your sins,” says a wise friend of mine.

But in order for that to matter, your children need to lean on their own self-righteousness.