I do not support the "black lives matter" assertion. This banality, which nobody (or certainly nobody of any significance) denies nowadays, does not need my support.
Needless to say, I do not support the Black Lives Matter movement. I do not support the slogan of the bullies and the looters. Even though I do appreciate its/their lovely contribution to discrediting, if not outright cancelling, the current coronavirus lockdowns.
Sara Bu's facebook post:
I have been asked, by multiple people, to translate yesterday’s post. I will do that, with a small foreword.
First, as soon as the wish to see this in English was voiced, some expressed concerns over my, shall we, say, online safety. This shocked me. Have we fallen this far? My posts are analysis. I do not condone racism, I consider what happened to Floyd murder, and I support (moderate) police reform. What I do not support is back-in-USSR, 1984 and all that jazz. And if expressing THIS has now become risky, then we are off the deep end. I hope that we are not.
Second, this is not a literal translation. This is my version of the previous post in English. Not everything carries well into another language, and I am talking linguistics, not ideology. Plus, after reading about 1K comments I wanted to remove some examples and add others that I feel illustrate my point better. This post is how I see the issue today, in English. If someone wants a literal translation, you can provide your own.
My dear friends on the left, this is for you.
Let me try to explain what bothers us so much in the current political situation. And let’s be clear here: by “us” I do not mean some far-right white-suprema-whoevers who say that Floyd deserved what he got and that African Americans should shut up because their problems are all their fault. I wrote the previous sentence because I am tired of the “with us or against us” attitude and do not want to hear in the comments that we have a problem with racism in this country, that we need to fight against it, and that police could use a reform. I know, thank you very much. Can we just assume for a minute that there are people who hate what’s going on and, at the same time, are not some terrible human beings or extremists? Indulge me. The text may be a bit long, but I appreciate the attention.
What you are suffering from, my dear friends, is liberal privilege. I’ll explain. For example, white privilege is when you are white and thus are simply not aware of what it’s like to live a non-white life. (Oversimplification, but it works for our purposes.) You don’t experience racism, so for you it does not exist. With me so far? Ok, so liberal privilege kinda works the same way: your views are suddenly the only ones accepted, they are all around us and are pushed down everyone’s collective throat, non-stop. But YOU are comfortable – it feels great. You are in your element, and the world is tuned in to your rhythm and validates all your biases. Whatever happens around you feels normal, feels right. And you have no clue, none whatsoever, what it’s like to live in this environment if you hold different views. So maybe you could lay off your liberal privilege for just a few minutes and listen to the other side - without reducing the whole discussion who accusations of racism.
When I talk to my liberal friends about the suffocating atmosphere of conformity brewed on fear, they keep asking me for links and proofs. Did someone actually get fired? Oh, come on, gimme a break, do you have any proof? The witch hunt is all your imagination. Well, if/when we do start seeing mass firings based on political views (with links and proofs), it would be too late. We do not want to get there. We already feel that the country is escaping from under our feet, but it’s a subjective feeling, and – sorry – I don’t have a link to prove it. It’s all anecdotal evidence, but I have more of it than in my previous 30 years of living in the USA.
A couple of times my relatively conservative son ran into far-left professors, Marxists agitating for Bernie Sanders. One of them picked on his military uniform, more than once. Now, my son was not happy about it, especially considering that the class subject had nothing to do with political science and (frankly) that’s not what we are paying for. But it was not a big deal either. It’s just some professor, he’s entitled to his opinions, we don’t have to agree with him, this is America after all, whatever, especially if the professor knows his subject and teaches it well. Not comfortable? Deal with it. It’s not like he was going to write a petition like SOME people, right?
Now let’s imagine a conservative professor who supports Trump. Did you imagine him or her? Yeah, I am having a hard time as well. I know they exist and, in some departments, especially STEM, according to surveys, they represent a significant percentage of the staff. But they are going to hide their views as much as they can. Because you can give a lecture today on a technical subject and spend half of it piping for Sanders, but you can’t do the same for Trump. You will have 150K signatures under the petition to remove you before you finish half your spiel. And if you want to argue here that of course, this is totally justified because Trump is [insert the desired synonym of the word devil] and makes students feel unsafe, then you just provided a perfect illustration of what liberal privilege is. For YOU it’s normal that students should listen to Sanders ads, but Trump is traumatizing their poor fragile 20-year-old souls. YOU are comfortable living, studying and working in such an academic world. And the others can go screw themselves.
And this is all before the latest events that multiplied everything by 10. An acquaintance who works in HR says that they are inundated with complaints about people’s behavior on social media. And yes, some will be fired. You will probably never hear about them.
A UCLA professor was suspended recently. Not fired yet, but there is a petition, you guessed it. There is always a petition. They guy taught accounting, and, like just about anyone right now, he taught it online. Some students asked him to postpone the final exam because, in light of the current events, they are traumatized (and too busy fighting for equality to study accounting I suppose – who needs accounting when we have racism). To which he replied, somewhat impolitely, that his class is online, he has no idea about anyone’s skin color, and this is accounting for god’s sake - just write your exam. The irony of this story is that we’ve all had such a professor. Some grumpy dude who did not respond to “dog ate my homework” or “my beloved grandma passed away” and told you to do your work. He did not give anyone a break unless they were run over by a car. You actually had to study. Some students like these professors, some don’t, and a few may write a bad review at the end of the semester. But that was it. In the worst-case scenario, if you truly had some extenuating circumstances and the professor did not cut you any slack, you could go to the head of the department or student services and find some individual solution. But nobody was suspended for it. Basically, if your grandma dies, and the prof doesn’t buy it, we solve the problem, but if it’s our collective racial trauma and he doesn’t buy it, off with this head.
Someone sent me a link to the ShutDownAcademia and ShutDownStem movements. I have no problem with them whatsoever. If you are worried about racism in academia and want to participate – great. And if it helps to solve problems, as opposed to being another exercise in virtue signaling, even better. Godspeed. But I hope, sincerely hope, that if some John Smith White Male (or anyone really) says, excuse me guys, but this is not my issue, that he’s not going to have any kind of problem. I (John) have not done anything wrong and have not discriminated against anyone. I have too much work to do. I support other causes: homeless kittens, small theater troupes, whatever. These are things near and dear to my heart. But all this brouhaha – sorry. He’d say all that and go back to his physics/chemistry/spider diseases. And everyone’s like, sure. And forget about it. Right? Right? Do you believe in this outcome? Do you believe he’d even have the guts to say it?
A few businesses had to close recently and a few owners/bosses had to leave. Not for doing anything wrong. Simply for not doing anything or, rather, for focusing on their jobs. They did not write “black lives matter” on their doors. They did not distribute food and water to the protesters. They did not write any mea culpa in the social media. Afterwards they, of course, growled to no end, trying to make up for the grave sin of focusing on their core business, but it was too little, too late. They also (how dare they) refused to donate a portion of their profits to BLM. They were subjected to online bullying, and off they went.
Do we need to talk about firing of the Opinions editor of NYT? Can you google it yourselves? What part of “opinion” did I not understand? What about the New England Conservatory apologizing for letting cops pee in their toilets during the demonstration? What about the fact that Gone with the Wind now needs “historical commentary” to be viewed by consenting adults?
Do we need to talk about hospitals, hundreds of them, where the entire staff had, all of a sudden, decided to go outside and kneel, everybody in one burst of solidarity? No, I do not have any “proof” that not everybody felt comfortable and some felt very uncomfortable, but their superiors gave them a look, and off they went. I don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s job in this environment, so you’ll have to take me at my word. It may take stepping outside of the liberal privilege bubble to realize that the chances of the entire staff feeling the same are pretty slim, but that people value their jobs.
And what about these letters that have become a running joke? It is getting so ridiculous, it’s funny. Our local tile shop sent one, how they are fighting racism. Instead of, you know, selling tiles. Allure magazine, the one devoted to beauty and skin care, sent one. We now have eye shadows and blushes for all skin colors! Right, we’ve had them for over 30 years. I’ve read this mag since its inception in 1991. People come in all colors, and whites are quickly becoming a minority, so if you only sell cosmetics for white skin, you are gong to have problems with your bottom line, not racism.
There is no store, business or cultural institution, with the possible exception of my local Korean dry cleaner (should they worry?), who has not sent these emails, fighting racism with all their might and approval of the marketing department, in the last few days. Health insurer promised to treat everyone the same. And before they only treated whites? Really? It goes on and on. Pray tell me, do you need to be some sort of a conservative to be disgusted by this collective show of hypocrisy? Do you need to be vaccinated against liberal privilege to be nauseated by it?
When someone asks today, do you support “black lives matter” it feels like a local juvenile delinquent challenging you to a fight. Just try to say no. Just you try. And nobody is even attempting to make a distinction between “black lives matter”, small letters, the sentiment that means what it says (and that I wholeheartedly support) and BLM, capital letters, the violent ultra-left organization that is anti-capitalist, anti-Israel, anti-police, anti-everythingyoustandfor. With methods occasionally bordering on terrorist. Are we even allowed to make this distinction, through all the shouting? Or will we be chased out of town before we finish the sentence?
I work in IT. So here a couple of examples from the IT world, from my friends, first person.
1. A work meeting, through Zoom as usual. Project management, blah-blah, deadlines, assignments, boring. One of the group members is a black woman. (Nobody cares about this fact.) One small aside. A couple days prior, the manager asked whether she needed help. She’s working on a tough assignment and there were issues with the deliverables, so the manager offered help. (Have you been asked by your manager whether you need help? I have been, on multiple occasions. Normal practice.) In response the woman sent her manager links on how to fight racism. Oh well. So, here they are at this meeting, which is all work and no fun, very dry. At the end the manager asks whether anyone has any questions. The aforementioned African American woman goes on a tirade. With everything that’s going on the country, she’s so traumatized, this is horrible, and nobody on her team, NOT ONE OF YOU PEOPLE, called her or emailed her to ask how she’s doing.
The people on the call who’ve been cooped up with their restless children in their houses for almost three months, who have seen each other only through Zoom (and all of it for business), some of whom lost loved ones in the pandemic… let’s just say they were unpleasantly surprised. Yeah, that’s the politically correct term for the collective WTF. And you could see it on their faces. But guess what happened next. This group, of which only about a quarter are white, and half of those are Russian Jews, starts apologizing. Stammering and mumbling, they each say how sorry they are. They apologize, and apologize… Good thing you can’t kneel on Zoom.
2. A friend of mine has a son who’s just entering adolescence. He’s playing some computer game that just released a new version. And they are having a release “party” online. But before they (some executives) take turns talking about how they are fighting racism. Because you can’t release a computer game… (reminds me how in USSR you needed to thank the Party before each flight into space). Afterwards my friend asked her son what he thought. And he gave this perfect “the king has no clothes” moment. He asked, what are they so afraid of, mom? They are afraid. Why, we are going to defeat racism, right? He’s young enough that he thinks they are afraid that we will not defeat racism. But he, this kid, felt the FEAR, smelled it through the computer screen.
I should add that a few software companies postponed the releases of the new versions of their games in order to not interfere with the fight against racism. I am sure that helped to advance the cause. Greatly.
There are many other examples. But I am going to stop here and ask you, my dear friends on the left, one thing. It’s not a politically correct thing to ask, but I am going to dare this. Are you sure that all this madness will result in improvement of racial relations, long-term? That no backlash is coming? I understand that from the liberal privilege bubble it looks like the whole country, in this one great uprising, has finally realized the error of its ways, repented, went to meetings, kneeled, etc., etc. And the only ones against are some neo-Nazis. But are you sure that nobody in the silent majority that is not out there on the streets will feel even a twinge of resentment? Good citizens, common nice people, not doing anything wrong in their daily lives, not harming anyone, but not perfect, maybe with a drop of racism somewhere deep in there (that is not manifested in their daily lives) – do you think they’ll make an effort to reach deep into their collective soul and squeeze out that last drop? Or do the opposite?
I’ll tell you this much. People don’t like to be humiliated. They like it even less when they are made to feel afraid and when they are scared to air the views that go even mildly against the grain. All the ones apologizing on Zoom for god-knows-what, writing letters about fighting racism instead of selling insurance or cereal, reading 20 of these letters a day, hastily writing BLM on the window of their stores for fear of being looted and/or torched, going to all these meetings, participating in the endless campaigns against, kneeling, accepting the “offers they can’t refuse” from their bosses… all these people, when the great cultural revolution is over and they are done “cleaning themselves before the party”, do you think they will get better? I doubt it. But maybe for people with liberal privilege it’s as hard to see as racial profiling is for me.