First, just a quick announcement: Here at the Praetorian Writers’ Group, we recently (several weeks ago) quietly launched a project to study the race grievance industry. The project concept is very simple: (1) We believe that “White racism is not a big problem in America today.” It’s a sufficiently vague statement as to allow various definitions of “big,” and even “problem” and “today.” However, we were not prepared to be more detailed. For more detail on this, you can read Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom’s excellent book, “America in Black and White.” (2) Our goal was to test the reaction to that hypothesis when it is presented to members of the race grievance industry, and to obtain a “feel” for this industry and the people in it.
Our research presupposed several things:
- There is a race grievance industry
- It’s highly lucrative in terms of wealth, fame, prestige and power
- It can survive and/or thrive only in the presence of acrimony between whites and blacks, therefore will work either to foment or maintain such hostility.
We have accepted these things as givens, but were willing to have these beliefs shaken, modified or even overturned. However, that did not happen. Prior to our engaging the race industry head on, our reading merely fortified our beliefs. We steeped ourselves in the blogs and because of our reading, we believe that we’ve identified several sub-groups within the race industry. We coined the new terms: “Race addict,” “Race pusher,” “Race dealer,” and more (see previous blog posts) to describe these sub-groups.
After that, we began direct engagement. For the past several weeks, several of my colleagues and I have approached blogs run by black bloggers whose topic is primarily race, and have engaged them head on in debate pertaining to our premise. Our approach was simple: Pick a blog post relevant to our premise, then dive in, introduce the premise and let the debate begin!
We were prepared for pushback, but not for the level of irrational, hyper-defensive opposition that greeted us. Worse, the commenters were perfectly unwilling to accept invitations to remove the irrelevant from their argumentation. Our method was simple: outline the various things that white people had done as a people to support our premise that white people, as a people, had abandoned prejudice of any kind, including racism. Completely abandoned it? No, of course not, there are certainly many individual holdouts, but as a people, they had mostly abandoned it and, as a concomitant result, white racism is no longer a big problem in America today. More to the point, whites have “moved on” past racism into a condition in which they are almost prepared to make no judgment on anything whatsoever.
The exchange grew heated, and eventually encompassed nearly 900 posts! At some point deep into it, the proprietor of the blog, a certain Abagond, asked me “Why are you here?” I answered in two phases. This was to make sure that Abagond — who was inspecting all my posts before allowing them through — didn’t simply decide to halt the exchange, banish me (as I knew he would do eventually) from his blog, and declare that I had not answered his question fully. I posted the first half, and informed Abagond in that post that (1) I’d post the second half if he posted the first half, and (2) that second half would be my last post. I’ve posted both halves of my answer to Abagond below.
I’ve also archived the entire exchange, in the eventuality that Abagond decides to delete it. It doesn’t put either Abagond or his readership in a very good light. They come off as petty, defensive, uninformed or misinformed, very racist, closed-minded and ignorant. If he does delete it, I will be able to refer to it in continuing to report to you. In the meantime, if it stays up, and you wish to read it — it’s long, and it built up over several days — it’s here. As I mentioned above, I was sure that Abagond would ban me at some point, and he did. However, I will check back in at that thread to see whether it stays up. Abagond is a fairly prolific writer, so he may be counting on it to disappear into the fog of long past posts.
A quick note about the the Abagond “culture.” In large measure, Abagond seems like the shepherd to his group’s sheep. They seem to take their cues from him, and come to him for questions that bother them, questions about life and love, questions about just about anything. There is a thread within a thread about very intimate topics, about which several readers appeal to Abagond to pronounce himself. If he were to start to move his flock to a position the same as mine, I have the distinct impression, that, with few exceptions, this group would follow him. This shepherd-sheep microcosm seems to reflect, in some “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” sense, the larger structure of the larger race grievance industry itself.
My two-part response to Abagond’s question:
“Why are you here?”
xPraetorius (First half of answer):
You mean, when my opinions are plainly unwelcome?
There are a bunch of reasons, but first some observations:
(1) Who doesn’t love a spirited exchange? Sadly this group seems unable or unwilling to engage in such an exchange on an intellectual level, if the concepts are uncongenial to them. Again, there was never even the slightest of hints of “Hmmm…I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective. I’ll have to get back to you after I’ve thought about it a bit.” That the logical equivalent of a punt, would have proven that there was some actual genuine, independent thought going on here. Only B. R. — the freakin’ white dude showed the slightest hint of it!
(2) The only exclusion I’ve ever witnessed in my life was when blacks excluded whites. Remember when I asked my work friend whether I could attend her church with her and her family? Her response was, “Oh, no! You’re white! It’s a black church!”
(3) By contrast, I’ve seen hundreds, no thousands of efforts at outreach — some clumsy and maladroit, others slick and packaged with sophistication, some seemingly insincere (for instance to get out from under Jesse Jackson-style extortion), some without the slightest hint of insincerity. I’ve participated in bunches of these myself, all with the highest of ideals. If you really knew who I am, and who my parents are, you would never even have thought of calling me a racist.
(4) My colleague, who locked horns with BW some weeks back, told me: “They’re a closed circle; they won’t let ideas in, and will resist them viciously, with the most outrageous of accusations and sneering vitriol.” I said, “Nope. And I can prove it. You just watch.”
(5) Your ideas are, generally, 50-years outmoded. For support, all such ideas require, resort to the hyper-defensiveness we saw here, as well as a steady stream of references to the long ago past, irrelevant personal anecdotes, mystical flapdoodle (Dr. Llaila Afrika, for example), illegitimate mind-reading, misstatement of things I said, arguing around but not on the point, and on and on.
(6) One more characteristic of outmoded ideas, the “evidence” brought forward to support them generally actually supports the opposite conclusion (eg: Herneith’s example above; the constant resort to long, long past white misdeeds shows only how much better things are today in the realm of white states of mind, which has been the point for some time now, etc.) That kind of thing happened constantly. BW stepped into that one with his “different truths” point, which instantly invalidated nearly all the evil things he had said to me previously.
(7) This group is awash in Fortress Thinking. I described it above, but the Fortress in this group kept getting smaller and smaller as the cries to get rid of me grew ever more shrill. I thought that, surely, someone has to notice it! Nope. No one did. So, of course “You’ve put up with this ******* long enough!” But, still, apparently, this thread was alluring enough to attract nearly 800 posts! If they’d just let it sit, needless to say, I’d have gone away of my own accord. And you could have quietly banned me from appearing elsewhere.
(8) I knew, before coming here, that I had a mountain of evidence — both subjective and objective — to back up my claims, and figured that there would be a paucity of contradictory evidence (as was supported by the generally abysmal level of the arguments presented in opposition to mine) and that just had to be persuasive for someone here. It wasn’t.
(9) You are not, of course, the first people with whom we’ve tried to interact. You’re not even the 20th such group. Blogs tend to be like colonies. The regular participants form a group with some level of cohesion, based on some characteristic or other, and begin to speak and sound alike, turning gradually into an “amen chorus,” as I like to refer to it. You’ve been around here for at least seven years, and your conceptual center of gravity is “white people bad due to racism,” and variations on that theme. The walls of your fortress are made of that concept. So, I came in with the intent to attack the concept — because it’s incorrect — and see if I could affect the fortress, and maybe open the closed circle. I suspect that I was unsuccessful, but only time will tell.
• Will Herneith, for example, ever grow up and say something substantive? Hard to tell. I guess she’s young, because she hasn’t yet said one intelligent thing.
• Will resw77 get past his bitter pettiness so that he can possibly eventually be a worthwhile contributor to needed dialogues here and elsewhere? Also hard to tell.
• Kwamla and Matari seem so wrapped up in their deeply racist Dr. Afrika hooey, that I don’t know if there’s even a question of their being positive contributors elsewhere. Suffice it to say that Dr. Afrika is merely saying the same whackadoodle stuff that people like Madison Grant were saying in Abagond’s example book “The Passing of the Great Race” back in the 1920′s. Stuff which, if presented in reverse, in support of white superiority, would be laughed out of every public venue in the country.
• There’s hope for Gio. But, again, he’s a white dude from England!
• How about TruthSeeker? Well, there are some neurons firing there, but he can’t get out of his own way. His obsession with form over substance, then his increasing bitterness, do not bode well for him. A future of irrelevant pseudo-intellectual obscurity awaits him if he’s not careful.
• D, then? Nope. Again, unable to prevent him/herself from the bitterness that produces the mindless insults.
• How about Omnipresent. Maybe. Again, had trouble avoiding the mindless insults, and ducked in for a bit, then left altogether. Not much staying power, or just no time. Either way, an inconclusive record.
• Adonis…apparently just a flash-in-the pan. Tried one serious post, then gave it up and reverted to the mindless insults.
• King of Trouble is an interesting mix. Obviously an older person, he was able occasionally to slip out from the chains of the insult mindset and produce some intelligent posts. However, I gather he’s an older dude. Age mellows a man, and the future belongs to the young.
• v8driver was able to go into the substantive, but again had trouble staying out of the personal anecdotes (his argument with his girlfriend) and the irrelevant (the declensions). However, he was able to maintain a civil, if tart, tongue. But, again, he’s a freakin’ white dude! As far as I could tell, the black people in this group had one speed: “righteous indignation” for no justifiable reason.
• There were bunches who were perfect: 100% mindless: Anne, mstoogood4yall, Herneith, mary burrell, ThatDeborahGirl, Drosera…never once said anything that wasn’t at worst howlingly stupid, or at best, pointless — apparently the women of this group self-select out of the more bruising exchanges? Sharina was the one exception, but she rarely addressed anything I said, and was too busy misstating something, or recoiling in, again, righteous indignation, at something she imagined I had said.
• BrothaWolf is an interesting case. He analyzes to a fine degree the completely unknowable — my racism, my alleged lying, my feelings of white superiority…for all these things he could have no way of knowing, he has divined elaborate proofs. He well and truly wasted his own time. I gather that he is an older dude as well, so there may not be much hope for him. I hope that’s not the case, because I really like him, and, I suspect, he has a grudging affection for me. I hasten to add that I can’t know that, but I just have a feeling.
• Now, Abagond, you, on the other hand, like me. Worse, you have a grudging admiration and respect for me as, obviously, an intellectual peer. When you aren’t stooping to delve into the mindless insults, you do have some interesting thoughts. Unfortunately, your Mindless-to-Interesting Ratio (Your: MIR) is about 90%. That doesn’t help you at all, but there is hope for you. I went back to a post of yours at what was, I presume, a more innocent time in your life. You were just returning from Jamaica (which explains the “British Commonwealth” influences!) and describing how beautiful the weather, the people, the women in particular and the entire trip were. (It might have been a bit of a faux pas to mention the beautiful women — I gather you were married at the time too. Just an observation. ) It was a cheerful, lighthearted post, with humor and good fun, and no comments. I gather the audience hadn’t yet built up. I wondered to myself whether you saw the irony of that cheery, sunny post juxtaposed against the bitterness of today’s material, particularly in light of gigantic signs of black achievement and progress in the subsequent years, like a black freakin’ President(*), HUGE accumulations of black wealth (yes, with increases in wealth inequality among blacks, but that’s a bad as well as a good thing), and all the rest. So, as I said, you admire me — feel free to deny that publicly to stay on the good side of your group — and even grudgingly like me, because despite all the moronic accusations of racism and feelings of white superiority, you recognize that I came in here and treated everyone as equals. No exceptions.
So, half the reason I came here was to learn all that. The other half is for another post if this one gets through the censors and sees the light of day.
And, yes, Abagond, you owe me…If you re-read the Hitler thread as well as this thread, the Magical thread, and some of the open thread, I’ve given you lots and lots of material for future threads if you’re ever at a loss. You’re welcome.
(*) Tell me you would have predicted that seven years ago!
Second Half of answer (Please note: In the complete second-half answer, I had placed a prefix paragraph that was not relevant to the answer, so I have removed it. Also, I accidentally bolded large parts of the post on abagond’s blog, and have removed that. Blogs are mostly “fire and forget” environments with only rudimentary editing windows with which to produce and submit posts. The possibility of accidental formatting errors is, therefore, high. To see the full answer you can view the thread to which I’ve linked above.):
As promised, here is the second half of my reason for being here. And, yes, to great cheers and fanfare, it will be my swan song. For those of you who don’t care to know the reason, you can skip to the very last paragraph, where I extend to you, my Abagondian family, all my farewell wishes.
As you might have read, I have close ties with some people who are very high up in government and some in mass media, most especially the broadcast media. Some of those contacts are, as a matter of fact, members of our little think tank. As you further might have guessed, I’m a writer and keen (you might disagree ) observer of current events, both domestically and internationally.
I proposed a project to some of my media contacts, in which my colleagues and I would address the topic of race, by jumping feet-first into the very belly of the race grievance industry. Well, as you can guess, there are some presuppositions in that little phrase itself. First and foremost: that there is a race grievance industry in the first place – beyond charlatans and buffoons like Al Sharpton, that is. We found that to be amply clear.
For the purposes of the project – a book (or books) and upcoming broadcast(s) on a major news network – we wanted to test (definitely not confirm) our pre-existing notion, which was a simple one: the American race grievance industry consists mostly of a bunch of “closed circles;” people talking largely to themselves, and simply gathering together in a large collection of small, medium and large “amen choruses” to confirm each other’s notions about race, race relations, white people, black people, etc.
My colleague, whom you and your readers know as “the petite black woman,” insisted the worst about the race grievance industry. I figured that assessment was too bleak, so we endeavored to try to measure, to the extent possible, (1) whether the closed circle hypothesis was correct, and (2) whether the closed circles were openable.
Our approach was to go to the various blogs in various different ways, and to confront the readers with dissenting points of view pertaining to race; specifically: the hypothesis that “white racism is not a big problem in America today.” (Some of you might be familiar with that phrase.) We presented ourselves using ID’s that indicated nothing about any of us, then eventually divulged who we truly were. My colleague who confronted “BrothaWolf” is, indeed, a petite black woman. I am, indeed, a largish white guy. We lied about nothing, and were scrupulous to attack only content and ideas at first, but then to dive right in if we came under personal attack.
We searched really hard for valid, hard-to-refute counter arguments to our core hypothesis.
We selected 30 blogs that seemed to encourage lively discussion, and also seemed to permit dissent to some extent. Your blog made the cut, because of the occasional dissenting viewpoint. Others had recommended it to us, and Abagond, over the years, has adopted an academic style that indicates a certain elevated level of education. You seemed to present the possibility of lively discussion, but the level of the exchange that came from your readers was almost never elevated. I thought there were several who could hang in there, but I appear to have been mistaken.
Furthermore, we approached each blog with a different tone. You and BrothaWolf got the “Combative and Assertive.” approach. We tried “Kind and Gentle,” “Sarcastic but Respectful,” “Egghead and Scholarly,” and “Unfailingly Respectful.” The point was to see what achieved the best results in terms of producing a fruitful debate, with serious debaters. In such debate, we hoped to see whether we could get anyone (1) to engage seriously, (2) to acknowledgeat the very least that dissenters might simply have a different perspective.
I have achieved my purpose here, having gathered quite a bit of material; both for the project and for online analysis and commentary. I hope you were able to recognize that I spent a good deal of my time prompting your readers and commenters down various paths to try to get them to respond to certain things. That’s why we thought that your stable of readers might not be the best informed out there. Your commenters were the most stubborn about not even engaging. However, their response, and non-response, to certain prompts were both blog-worthy. Other blogs had at least some readers who wanted to take a hack at some of our prompts.
Interestingly, the approach that achieved the best results in terms of generating debate was “Egghead and Scholarly.” The worst was “Unfailingly Respectful!” Those who demanded respectful dialogue the loudest were the ones least willing to engage in it!
“Combative and Assertive,” “Kind and Gentle” and “Sarcastic but Respectful” were in the middle. It should be noted that none of these approaches generated a whole lot of serious debate. All were within a few percentage points of each other. The point: it seems pretty sure that any approach that appeared to dissent with some closely held ideas was going to meet with a wall of defensive opposition that sometimes was verbally quite violent, culminating in several posted death threats, and/or wishes that the dissenter would die.
Nothing changed any of that whether it was my colleague or I, when we divulged who we were, the vituperation continued. Occasionally there was a pause when my colleague revealed herself, as well as confusion and denial. For my colleague, the commenters added abuse. “How,” they wondered aloud, “could a black woman allow herself to fall in with racists like us?!?”
In that vein, in every blog, the women self-selected out of the actual debate, contenting themselves mostly with drive-by snark. That caught my colleague and me off-guard.
One interesting objection to our viewpoint was the odd, self-contradictory assertion that somehow we were unable to see how others could hold other points of view.
Of the substanceless objections posited ostensibly to counter what we were saying, we were able to categorize the most common. They were:
• Gratuitous insults
• Racial slurs
• Tries too hard to be clever
• I had covered it bunch of times before (this one is understandable, since not everyone read all entries.)
• Wrong on the face of it
• Statement is unknowable by the one making it
• Mind reading
• Pseudo-intellectual poppycock
• Personal anecdote, of limited scope and extent, meant to prove a point across entire peoples
• Even if it were true, it doesn’t affect the argument one way or another. Shorthand: So what! “Arguments” that never even came close to passing the “So what” test were common.
… and last but not least:
• Why? Because You say so? Who the heck are YOU to make that determination?
Many presented as “fact” that which was either unknowable, unprovable, patently ridiculous (the Dr. Llaila Afrika stuff) or false on the face of it. To which the only proper response could be: “Why? Because you say so?!? Who the heck are you?!?”
Interestingly, most of the opposing argumentation that centered on “facts” – ie things that could be verified – used demonstrably incorrect facts – typically exaggerated out of all proportion to support a point. For example: the estimates of deaths due to the slave trade, sales of the Madison Grant book (the real number was approx. 17,000 – not “millions” or even 1.5 million), crime statistics. This last, as well as welfare statistics, were some of the most abused notions. People frequently cited the statistic that “there is more white crime than black crime.” Of course per capita black crime is hugely more common than white crime. And yes, welfare does go mostly to poor white people. But, it goes vastly disproportionately per capita to black and brown people. Bottom line, it overwhelmingly net takes money out of white hands and places it into non-white hands. When confronted with these corrections, the holders of the erroneous or incomplete knowledge showed no change in any core beliefs based on these erroneous beliefs.
All interlocutors on all the blogs played generally fast and loose with language. Accusations of racism, lying, and all sorts of other evils, indicating again that the person making the accusation had insider knowledge into the inner workings of our researchers’ minds were extremely common. As I mentioned to someone here, that in particular was the impetus for some of the phrases in the “Guidelines for Comments.”
We searched also for the “White Supremacist” web sites that black people said were ubiquitous on the web. These sites were full of the same irrationality as the black web sites, but were far fewer in number. Nor were the white sites as organized, established or, seemingly, in contact with others of their kind! On one white racist site, we clicked on all the blog’s “Links of Interest,” and all were defunct. We understood this to be a result of the climate in this country. Sites like yours, Abagond, though packed with the same casual, breezy, racist generalizations, assumptions and unsubstantiatable conclusions as the white sites – in photographic negative – meet with no social condemnation from any of American officialdom – to the contrary, many are celebrated and encouraged! – while the white racist sites meet with near universal condemnation, including from the American Department of Justice, which declared the people who run such sites to be terrorists! Note: we did not engage the people in the white supremacist web sites. First: they’re scary; second: no one doubts that they’re kooks anyway; third: it was out of scope for the project.
That was just a brief overview. I left a lot out, because the project is ongoing. Also, I’m not the one to explain the project’s charter; that should come from the project manager. And, you might ask, why tell us all this? Because part of the project scope was to inform the blog owners and readers when we had finished observing and interacting with them. We have no objection to letting anyone know what we’re doing. Soon enough there will be a public announcement. Not a big one, but something to let anyone who’s paying attention know that it’s moving forward.
The project is ongoing at other locations. Others of our group, under different ID’s, are engaging other bloggers and their readership as I write this. This is why our own blog has remained quiet for the past few days. Not for long, though. However, during all this back and forth, we have all been feeding content and findings to the broadcast media. I’m trying to obtain the okay to make this a permanent effort, in the sense of ongoing funding. I’m close to closing that deal. Wish me luck! This is why I’ve suggested that you watch the broadcast media, in case you might recognize some of our own back-and-forth from this very blog. Not to worry, no names were used; not even web addresses.
I had to chuckle at Abagond’s assertion that he’d collect ants and study them. Looks as though the ants were studying you right back!
Anyway, time for bed! It was fun, everybody…I leave with the very best wishes for all of you, and no rancor in my heart whatsoever, despite your lack of adequate breeding ( Just kidding!!!). I depart with only affection for every one of you, including, [partial list of participants in the entire exchange]. Apologies to those whom I missed(*)! I know I’m in danger of violating my own Second Law(**), but I’m very pleased to provide you with the opportunity to do the “Don’t let the door hit your [backside] on the way out” comments, and variations on the theme. Again, I repeat my sincerest (@Kwamla, please feel free to use your Melanin-based Sincerity Verification Device!(***)) wish for all of you: May you all have nothing less than happiness, great good health, prosperity, and a long, richly rewarding, fulfilling life, crammed with love, laughter, and ceaseless joy; a life free from worry or anxiety of any kind.
T-minus 1:35:00 until Final xPraetorian Self-Banishment!
(*) And one whom I missed on purpose in order to provide no reason to moderate this out of the blog. I wish that person all the very best too.
(**) You’re never as big on others’ radar screens as you think you are.
(***) Sorry! Couldn’t resist! [Editor’s note: “Kwamla” is a devoté of a certain “Dr. Llaila Afrika” who has a theory that the melanin of which blacks have more than whites, allows black people to “feel” insincerity and deceitfulness on the part of whites. I discussed this at some length in the thread.]
We’ll have more — lots more — in our ongoing report on our direct encounters with the race grievance industry, in the near future.