Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pride is Prejudice...finally in print.

Been trying to get these thoughts published in some form for the longest time...literally since Obama was campaigning for the presidency. Even my usual editors were disinclined to touch the piece, given that it's both politically incorrect and very much out of tune with the tenor of the times. But if anything, the piece is more relevant than ever today, as never before (in my lifetime) have we been been so unapologetically focused on identity politics, groupthink and the like (which is, of course, the implicit target of the piece).

The editors cut one line: "Practically and logically speaking, what is the difference between your pointing to the number of blacks in the NBA and my pointing to the number of blacks in prison?" At first I was sad to see it go, but in retrospect it only muddies the waters...and would be seen by some as so inflammatory that it overshadows the rest of the essay. My editor said the point is better made obliquely, and I now agree. 

Curious to hear what anyone thinks. I'm obviously way behind these days, as this piece ran in USAToday on April 1, but the times have been a mostly good way, however. 

I have some more interesting stuff upcoming soon, FWIW.


Jenny said...

Where is your audience? I miss the days when your blog comments were many, even with fur and feathers flying. ;)

I really love this article and can definitely relate to being encouraged by family members to take great pride in our heritage. Well, looking at my family tree, I do see some troubling patterns and especially instances of people being proud of things that didn't turn out so great for other people. (Settling on land formerly occupied by native Americans, for example.)

Steve Salerno said...

Ahh, dear Jenny, we are a long, long way from the SHAMblog of old, I fear. I am eternally grateful for the stalwarts such as yourself, but let's face it, this will never again be the vibrant meeting place/forum it once was. For one thing, no one wants to think critically anymore; people just want to lecture and condemn and vituperate and defend their respective tribes (said tribalism being no small part of why I wrote this piece). Nuance is unpopular. We live in a binary, black-and-white (literally) world.

Sharona said...

Steve, you said "defend their respective tribes". I agree, and I was wondering if you think that people are also doing that because they miss having a true connection with a "tribe"?

I have a coworker who just joined Crossfit because he's looking for a group of people to workout with and make some friends. The thing is, (two things actually) 1. Crossfit costs about 125.00 a month to workout in their "special" gym, and 2. They encourage each other to do dangerous things to their bodies. Also, it seems like a lot of people are very proud of their online Tribes (Facebook, Reddit, etc.) It's interesting that people in America want to see themselves as BOTH an individual and part of a tribe that practices groupthink for good or ill, no questioning allowed. (sorry for the ramble)

Steve Salerno said...

Welcome aboard, Sharona. Your comment about the schizoid duality of wanting to be BOTH tribal and individualistic reminds me of two groups of people, Goth teenagers and hipsters. Members of both groups proclaim themselves rebels and individuals--and yet all look exactly the same as everyone else in their tribe.

I see this phenomenon also in much of self-help: people say they want to learn to get in touch with their "essential selves," and yet if you talk to folks who have immersed themselves in the popular programs (e.g. Byron Katie's, etc.), they all think and talk the same. What they've actually done is surrender their true self, not fully actualize it.

Anonymous said...

You think you're pretty clever but your motives are transparent. This is a clear swipe at black pride. Especially since I read the tweet pinned to your twitter page. Where do you come off telling people who have been oppressed by a racist society for centuries that they're not entitled to take pride in their racial achievements or their culture. Let me ask you Who do you think YOU are?

Cosmic Connie said...

Nuance may be unpopular, but we need it, and I say this as one whose views on her own blog (and on social media) are generally anything but nuanced. I think that awareness and appreciation of one's ethnic heritage -- which can be challenging if that history has been suppressed -- must be balanced with a realization of how that heritage fits into the larger culture, the "melting pot." And it has always been difficult to achieve that balance, and is perhaps even more difficult today, given the current white nationalist backlash. (I hasten to add that I do not consider you part of this backlash. I'm talking about Bannon et al.)

I don't think that awareness and celebration of one's heritage is necessarily equivalent to "embracing the logic of the bigot." That said, I do think that the overall message in your essay is valid. And I respectfully disagree with the April 29 Anon who accused you of motives that I don't think are there. I've been reading your writings for eleven years, and I think I know where your heart is.

Steve Salerno said...

Well, Connie, if you know where my heart is, that makes one of us. ;)

Good to see your name pop up on a comment. I miss you and the old days.


Sharona said...

Let's make "new Days" !!!!

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm with Sharona on that one. Our blogs may have been dormant but they're not dead!