Sunday, December 15, 2013

Aamer Rahman on "Reverse Racism"

Melbourne comedian Aamer Rahman has been getting a lot of exposure for this one bit of his act about the concept of Reverse Racism. (As in, non-white people being racist towards white people). It's not necessarily the funniest thing you'll see today, but it's really nicely put together.



It's something of a masterclass in explaining why not all racisms are necessarily the same. White racism has hundreds of years of baggage that makes it a lot worse in general than the racism of the assorted browns and yellows and blacks of the world. It may be a double standard, but it's one that is at least partly justified.

But I also think that this perspective on things is problematic as well. It's not easy to convince white people to take racism towards non-whites seriously, if they feel that no one takes racism towards them seriously at all. There is a large section of the left side of the socio-political spectrum who are hypersensitive to the pain or perceived pain of non-white people, often to the point of ridiculousness; yet the same people will make blanket statements about white folks which would be considered outrageous if they were made about non-white people. As I mentioned before, the double standard is justified... but only too a point.

I've seen Rahman perform a couple of times; I actually know him from my university days and he's a cool guy. White racism is the primary theme that runs through his act, but he definitely gets into territory that seems uncomfortably close to being actually racist to white people.

And at the end of the day, I have to wonder; does that help to bring us together, or does it merely divide? Most white people would feel alienated by Rahman's act, while non-white people may well leave feeling more contemptuous of white people than they did before. With the West experiencing deeply troubling divisions between white and non-white, Muslim and non-Muslim, I just don't know if all this stuff helps.

By contrast, someone like Dave Chappelle (to be fair, a very different style of comedian) makes comedy that constantly touches on race, and is also quite ruthless in making fun of white people and scathing towards racism. But I don't find it to be divisive.

It's important - no, essential - to identify and challenge those aspects of society and history that enshrine inequality. And the success of most Western societies cannot be separated from their legacy of criminal behaviour towards the people of the rest of the world, the extent of which most white people don't fully comprehend. They do need to be told. But there is a tipping point at which lecturing about the evils of white people simply becomes counter-productive. White and non-white need to work together if any kind of equitable and harmonious multi-ethnic society is to be achieved. This can't happen if non-white people live in constant suspicion about the motives of white people, and it can't happen if white people refuse to engage because they feel they won't be given the benefit of the doubt.

In an ideal world in which many radical anti-racists dwell, whites would cop to their privilege and properly make right the litany of injustices perpetrated so that they could enjoy the most advantageous position they enjoy in the scheme of things today. But since that's not really going to happen, I don't think that constantly telling white people how racist they are is going to reap the desired reward.

26 comments:

  1. I think Dave Chappelle's humour works because his of his goofy, wisecracking delivery. That, and he also injects a good bit of self-deprecation into his act. George Carlin was

    Aamer Rahman, on the other hand, can be funny, but too many of his skits could more accurately be classified under "rants" than stand-up comedy. His message is one thing, but the fact that it is communicated so abrasively is not likely to endear him to certain people in the community - even those who acknowledge that, in the Australian (or American) context at least, white-on-non-white racism has been more damaging than the other way around.

    At the end of the day, Aamer is only going to appeal to those on his wavelength; those who aren't will ignore him. So if he thinks he is using his comedy as a tool for social change, he needs to think again.

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  2. This can't happen if non-white people live in constant suspicion about the motives of white people, and it can't happen if white people refuse to engage because they feel they won't be given the benefit of the doubt.

    The second part of that sentence is the most important. Even if I didn't subscribe to the views that I do, I simply couldn't engage with people who are essentially putting me on eternal probation, where any wrong move will result in a barrage of accusations of "privilege" and "racism."

    Another problem is with the term "privilege." When the average person thinks of "privilege," they think of it mainly in socioeconomic terms. Someone who was raised in a wealthy family, could attend good schools, had access to certain private clubs, etc, is considered privileged.

    Basically, when these leftists call someone "privileged," the average person doesn't think, "hmm, well, perhaps I have certain advantages or can avoid headaches in certain situations, and perhaps I should reflect on how others aren't so lucky." When they hear "privilege," they hear, "you spoiled rich boy!"

    I don't think most white people are going to react with great anger or hostility to someone like Rahman. They'll simply tune him out, and frankly, you can't blame them.

    As usual, ES, you are the voice of reason among anti-racists. But I'm afraid your words will fall on deaf ears. From what I've gathered, anti-racists care more about maintaining their ideological purity and credentials than actually getting anything done. Therefore, anything that's seen as "compromising" towards white people will be denounced as accommodating "privilege."

    Of course, the white nationalist and alternative right scene is plagued by similar problems with ideological purity, but that's another topic entirely.

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    1. The problem is, white people really aren't collectively responsible for the crimes of people who look like them. Period.

      Moreover, there were only a handful of European colonial powers, and the most brutal of them all, the Spanish, are considered "oppressed brown people" by the smug and historically/anthropologically illiterate so-called "anti-racists". Arabs, Turks, and North Africans (all of whom regard themselves as white by the way, regardless of what white American and European "progressives" classify them as) also held large empires and oppressed black Africans.

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    2. @ Joe G:
      The problem is, white people really aren't collectively responsible for the crimes of people who look like them. Period.

      Ok... but since the people who were responsible for say, slavery, are all long dead, yet the consequences of slavery still have an impact on the descendants of slaves, then do we just say that no one is responsible?

      Put it this way: I live in Australia, which was once populated exclusively by Aborigines, until the British came along and killed some and dispossessed those who were left. I'm fairly sure that none of my relatives were involved in directly committing these acts against Aborigines. I certainly didn't do it myself.
      Yet, I get to live the privileged life that I do, only because someone came and drove Aborigines off their land. I may not be personally responsible, yet I am living off the spoils.

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    3. But people like Aamer live a privileged life on Aborigine land as well but seem to have no "liberal guilt" over it and imagine only whites ought to.

      As far as responsibility goes, no one alive today bears the responsibility of guilt for what was done to, say, the Australian Aborigines, to cite your example. We all should feel a sense of responsibility towards our fellow human beings to improve their lot, in this case the plight of indigenous Australians whose problems certainly stem largely from past injustices.

      Aamer, and perhaps yourself, seem to think this is solely the responsibility of whites, because they look like the people who drove the Aborigines off their lands. This is a morally irrational position.

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  3. Aamer, and perhaps yourself, seem to think this is solely the responsibility of whites, because they look like the people who drove the Aborigines off their lands. This is a morally irrational position.

    I'm half white, so if we are holding white people responsible for something then I get counted as well.

    Anyway, I would argue that 1) most white people do not have a full appreciation of the extent to which the formation and success of many white societies has come at the expense of everyone else, and 2) white people still occupy the most privileged position in white society.

    If one is well-informed about racial issues, it is easy to assume that everyone has a fair understanding about them as well. But honestly, most people don't really get why, for example, indigenous Americans and Australians have crippling problems with alcoholism, or why black Americans have a sometimes complicated relationship with the n-word.

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  4. "I'm half white, so if we are holding white people responsible for something then I get counted as well."

    Why wouldn't you hold, say, Asians and Africans responsible as well? After all is said and done you are really just attributing "responsibility" to people who look like those who were cruel to (in this case) Aborigines, which is morally irrational. If I see someone get mugged, I feel "responsible" in the sense that I feel morally obliged to help the victim, out of empathy, not because I feel as though I am guilty of the mugging. Whether you realize it or not, you are essentially arguing that (a) people who look like the mugger in my example are guilty of the mugging as well and that (b) people who look like the mug victim have also been mugged.

    "Anyway, I would argue that 1) most white people do not have a full appreciation of the extent to which the formation and success of many white societies has come at the expense of everyone else"

    Really? What is your source for this? Did you collect hard data or is it just an assumption? Also, this notion that the success of white societies has come at the expense of "everyone else" is easy to say but harder to document rigorously. Everyone else? Really? Seems like a politically informed hasty generalization to me. But I am willing to accept it as true if you can point to unambiguous data to support your sweeping claim.

    "2) white people still occupy the most privileged position in white society." Well, wouldn't one expect that in a "white society"? It would be rather striking of the most privileged members of a "white society" were not white, just as one would expect the most privileged members of an Asian society to be Asian etc.

    [It's probably worth pointing out that in the US, Asians earn more per capita than whites.]

    "If one is well-informed about racial issues, it is easy to assume that everyone has a fair understanding about them as well."

    One who is poorly informed about racial issues may imagine themselves well informed and arrogantly assume few share their level of understanding. I'm not interested in unsupported politically correct assumptions, I want to see facts and data to support claims.

    "But honestly, most people don't really get why, for example, indigenous Americans and Australians have crippling problems with alcoholism, or why black Americans have a sometimes complicated relationship with the n-word."

    Really? Again, what is your source for this statement? Do you have hard data to support this, or it it merely inferred from anecdotal experience? If you can show me sound supporting data from a reliable source using sound methodology, great. If not, you might want to ask yourself why you are representing your impressions or assumptions as brute facts.

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    1. You want hard data to support every argument? In other words you want me to spend half an hour fishing around on the internet for evidence for every statement I make, so I can satisfy some commenter I don't know?

      You should realise I don't get paid for this and have lots of other things to get done in my life.

      I'm certainly not saying that every opinion that a "person of colour" makes about racism is valid. But when I'm making observations from that perspective which to me are pretty fucking obvious, and yet you will only accept them if you see hard data... it seems like a waste of my time to bother arguing with you.

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    2. "You want hard data to support every argument?"

      Absolutely, when discussing serious issues serious, especially race, which can be so divisive. I think it's essential that claims as strong and wide sweeping as "most white people do not have a full appreciation of the extent to which the formation and success of many white societies has come at the expense of everyone else" and "most people don't really get why, for example, indigenous Americans and Australians have crippling problems with alcoholism" are either supported with sound data or presented clearly for what they are; assumptions and impressions.

      "In other words you want me to spend half an hour fishing around on the internet for evidence for every statement I make, so I can satisfy some commenter I don't know?"

      It's not about satisfying me, it's about speaking responsibly. It's matters whether the things we say are actually true, particularly when they are as damning as some of your generalizations. I appreciate the fact that you are honest enough to concede you haven't vetted your polemical assertions as factual. If you are going to say things like "I think The Beatles are overrated", find. It's an opinion. But if you are going to say "most white people do not have a full appreciation of the extent to which the formation and success of many white societies has come at the expense of everyone else" you'd better be basing that in something factual. At the very least, in the absence of supporting data, preface such statements with a qualifier such as "I suspect that..."

      "You should realise I don't get paid for this and have lots of other things to get done in my life."

      I didn't imagine this was your day job. You actually seem like a pretty fair minded conscientious person; that's actually why I was kind of disappointed to see you casually toss about such damning sweeping generalizations without backing it up.

      "I'm certainly not saying that every opinion that a 'person of colour' makes about racism is valid. But when I'm making observations from that perspective which to me are pretty fucking obvious, and yet you will only accept them if you see hard data... it seems like a waste of my time to bother arguing with you."

      I actually think you have a lot to say worth listening to. It's rare to see someone in the so-called "anti-racist" blogosphere as willing to look at both sides of some of these issues without regurgitating all the boilerplate "privilege" narrative cliches.

      But being a "person of color" (whatever that means) doesn't mean what seems "pretty fucking obvious" to you is actually true. It's "pretty fucking obvious" to an anti-Semite that Jews control everything and "it's pretty fucking obvious" to religious right extremists in the US that Obama is a communist from Kenya.

      Honestly, it's "fucking obvious" to me that most self styled anti-racists are privileged, economically comfortable, well educated people who don't have the foggiest notion of what genuine "oppression" and "racism" is, but rather are driven by a pathological and almost fetishistic preoccupation with ethnicity and "white guilt" that wildly distorts their perception of social realities (if indeed they actually believe what they say; I'm convinced most do not but rather are seeking to make a conspicuous display of their 'progressive' bonafides).

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    3. Funny that you should be asking for hard data when you, yourself don't provide any hard data and instead make baseless assertions

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    4. Funny that you don't specifically cite a single "baseless assertion". Cite them and I assure you I will provide hard data for anything I said.

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  5. joe g

    Let's imagine that your demonic ancestors were responsible for all those crimes and that their descendants have a clean slate...then explain to me who is responsible for

    1. filling usa prisons with 90% blacks when whites committ 90% of the crimes
    2. nuclear bombing japan TWICE AFTER THEIR SURRENDER
    3. Invading Vietnam, raping defenseless girls and women, using chemical weapons, burning their arable land so they'd starve to death, which also caused a ripple effect across south east asia
    4. who engages in sex tourism (hint since they think you're all innocent. white people)
    5. who puts out racist imagery against Asian men? and fetishizes Asian women
    6. who infiltrated Black's rap movement and morphed it from an empowering force to brainwashing.
    7. who is poisoning ghettos with drugs
    8. who upholds a bs war on drugs to imprison blacks and inflate their budgets for a pointless dea and also causing south "america" to suffer a drug/gang epidemic
    9. who dumps their toxic shit onto 3rd world nations
    10. rewriting history to romanticize white people pochahontas, dances with wolves, you whites even do it to non-existent blue species in Avatar.
    11. invading a new innocent country every 5-10 years and starting wars.
    12. forcing poor 3rd world farmers to buy their gmo shit - 25,000+ whom have committed suicide in India
    13. go watch the documentary the end of poverty to see how your government intentionally keeps other nations down through violence and economic sanctions (eg North Korea).

    the answer to much of the above is white people.

    When people like you claim that "it's all in the past", people like me who are informed, know to tune you out like the noise that you are.

    If you want to be taken seriously then fight the evil that is the doing of your ancestors and your peers.

    When you stand on the sidelines and talk about just you are for not committing crimes it's like listening to a bystander watch someone getting mugged and doing nothing. Yet, they claim their are not evil.

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    1. Part 1 of 3

      @methinksyouwrong:

      Your incoherent and confused rant above offers a perfect illustration of the problem of 'reverse racism'. You have proven my point a thousand fold.

      Now let's take a look at what you say in a bit more detail:

      "Let's imagine that your demonic ancestors were responsible for all those crimes and that their descendants have a clean slate...then explain to me who is responsible for"

      -Right off the bat you assume I'm white (I never identified my race) and attribute guilt on the basis of collective and inherited guilt. This is the essence of irrational bigotry.


      "1. filling usa prisons with 90% blacks when whites committ 90% of the crimes"

      -You are pulling this from your ass. US prisons are not 90% black , and whites do not commit 90% of crimes. The US has a black president by way, despite a population that is roughly 80% white and only about 15% black.

      "2. nuclear bombing japan TWICE AFTER THEIR SURRENDER"

      -Another item pulled straight out of your ass. Japan did NOT SURRENDER prior to either nuclear bombing. The conventional bombing of lily white Dresden actually was a lot more destructive, and had the bomb been ready to use prior to Germany's surrender it would certainly have beeb used on Berlin.

      "3. Invading Vietnam, raping defenseless girls and women, using chemical weapons, burning their arable land so they'd starve to death, which also caused a ripple effect across south east asia"

      -You can criticize the Viet Nam war all you want but the suggestion that it was a 'race war' is strained to say the least. If genuine racism itself were so pervasive you wouldn't need to reach so far, lol.

      "4. who engages in sex tourism (hint since they think you're all innocent. white people)"
      -People of all races engage in sex tourism. See number 3; the same applies here.


      "5. who puts out racist imagery against Asian men? and fetishizes Asian women"

      -There is hardly a massive catalogue of racist imagery against Asian men (paranoids and people intent on seeing racism will however manage to see it anywhere). It is hardly the case that most whites fetishize Asian women, and certainly people of any race can and do fetishize people of other races. In any event, any one who puts out racist imagery or 'fetishizes Asian women" are themselves as individuals solely responsible; guilt doesn't magically passed on to others of the same race.

      "6. who infiltrated Black's rap movement and morphed it from an empowering force to brainwashing."

      Here you broadcast the fact that you are a delusional paranoid. Nobody "infiltrated" the "Black rap movement", and anyone who looks to a pop music genre for "an empowering force" is a jack ass.

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    2. Part 2 of 3

      "7. who is poisoning ghettos with drugs"

      -Drug dealers, who are of all races. Incidentally, nobody is putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to take drugs. Most drug dealers at all levels in predominantly black communities are NOT white. You are really extraordinarily misinformed about a great many things.

      "8. who upholds a bs war on drugs to imprison blacks and inflate their budgets for a pointless dea and also causing south "america" to suffer a drug/gang epidemic"

      -Currently the war on drugs is being waged principally by Barack Obama. I agree the "war on drugs" is wrongheaded, but it is not an instance of white racism (an absurd suggestion); it has to do with an outdated, irrational prohibitionist stance on illicit drug use.

      "9. who dumps their toxic shit onto 3rd world nations"

      -Obviously you think this is something to be blamed exclusively on white people, indeed all white people, which indicates you are a profoundly irrational and racist person. You clearly have issues. The dumping of 'toxic shit' in or on third world nations or elsewhere is hardly limited to whites or even to developed nations.

      "10. rewriting history to romanticize white people pochahontas, dances with wolves, you whites even do it to non-existent blue species in Avatar."

      Again you assume I'm white when you have no idea what I am.

      Avatar? Wow. You are really disturbed.

      "11. invading a new innocent country every 5-10 years and starting wars."

      -Afghanistan was hardly an innocent country. In any case, invading countries is hardly something only whites do and the US has a black president. Japan and China and lots of other non-white countries have a long history of starting wars.

      "12. forcing poor 3rd world farmers to buy their gmo shit - 25,000+ whom have committed suicide in India"

      -Actually, irrational fears of gmo foods has led directly to unnecessary starvation in impoverished and famine stricken third world countries.


      "13. go watch the documentary the end of poverty to see how your government intentionally keeps other nations down through violence and economic sanctions (eg North Korea)."

      I'm not going to watch anything you recommend; you have demonstrated conclusively that you are not in possession of a normally functioning brain.

      "the answer to much of the above is white people."

      Actually, you have failed to identify a single thing that whites in general can reasonably be held accountable for. You are the quintessential racist, seeking to blame a whole race of people for the real or in the cases you cite, imagined actions of people of that race.

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    3. Part 3 of 3

      "When people like you claim that "it's all in the past", people like me who are informed, know to tune you out like the noise that you are."

      I never claimed anything was or was not "all in the past"; the fact remains, individuals are responsible for their actions, not races of people.

      "If you want to be taken seriously then fight the
      evil that is the doing of your ancestors and your peers."

      You obviously take me extremely seriously, having taken the time to write your novel sized response, complete with your 13 rambling, incoherent points. And again you assume I am white (you have no idea what I am). Even if I was white, the majority of white people are not descended from racist imperialists. There was never an Irish, Scandinavian, Russian, Balkan, Slavic colonial empires. Even amongst the colonial powers, most of the people were not involved in the crimes of their government. But even if they were, the guilt is there's alone; it is not passed on to their descendants. Using your moral calculus, the children of murderers out to be incarcerated. You are clearly a very bad person.

      On the other hand, the Japanese, Chinese, Turks, Spaniards, Portuguese, and many Arab states (some or all of whom are regarded as "people of color" by today's "anti-racists") had huge colonial empires and most enslaved black Africans, whom they regarded as inferior. 95% of the black slaves brought to the Americas served Latin masters. Among European powers, Spain and Portugal were the first to get involved on the slave trade and the last to get out (Spain doing so only because Britain demanded it).

      "When you stand on the sidelines and talk about just you are for not committing crimes it's like listening to a bystander watch someone getting mugged and doing nothing. Yet, they claim their are not evil."

      Your idea of stopping a mugging is to hold those who look like the mugger responsible rather than the actual mugger, and to regard those who have not been mugged but simply look like the mug victim as victims. This is profoundly irrational.

      You are good for one thing; though you are less articulate and less intelligent than most, you still provide a very useful illustration of the self righteous, vindictive, and profoundly racist mindset of too many of those who fancy themselves "anti-racists". You offer a textbook example of psychological projection; you are projecting your own deep seated racism onto others and deriving a smug sense of moral superiority in doing so. You are the sort of person who would have been calling for the burning of 'witches' in Salem.

      Best regards =)

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    4. Post script: I was compelled to respond here using the "Name/URL" option because "Eurasian Sensation" chose to respond to my mild critique of his comments, which were liberally peppered with compliments, by blocking me. Pathetic.

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    5. Joe G:
      I never blocked you - I don't think I've ever blocked anyone from commenting - and you are more than welcome to keep commenting. If this blogging platform has some quirks and sometimes prevents you from commenting, that's not really my fault.

      You know what is pathetic? Calling someone else pathetic based on your mistaken assumptions about what you thought they did.

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    6. Fair enough ES; I apologize.

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    7. Accepted. Just refrain from leaping to paranoid conclusions, particularly on a thread in which you are trying hard to appear as the voice of reason and rationality.

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    8. @ methinksyouwrong:

      there is some truth in your points, and a lot of hysterical exaggerations. Don't expect to post highly speculative things like "6. who infiltrated Black's rap movement and morphed it from an empowering force to brainwashing" and expect to be taken seriously. This is exactly the kind of comment which is counter-productive to any serious mutual understanding between white and non-white.

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  6. At the end of the day, I believe the best policy is to treat others how the would want to be treated. Be civil to others because it is the right thing to do. No-one can move forward if everyone is stuck in a cycle of hatred and blame, or has to continuously view people of a different skin colour with suspicion or animosity.

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    1. The truth of the matter is, so-called "anti-racists" are for the most part not fighting genuine racism but rather getting a smug sense of self righteous satisfaction by guilt tripping pale people for the crimes of either their ancestors or modern day racists those that look like them. It's collective guilt and racism posing as "social justice".

      It seems to me that the vast majority of the cases of "racism" cited in forums like these are simply the obnoxious comments of anonymous Internet trolls, most of whom are likely juveniles (see Eurasian Sensation's post about the Kiwi pop singer mocked by trolls on the net for dating a geeky looking Asian guy) and not necessarily white.

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  7. I need to show this to every white person I ever encounter.

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  8. Straight FACTS if it was the other way around they would never be able to handle it some of them are so mentally weak it's ridiculous.

    Mariz
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  9. I think most people are missing the educational point coming from his comedy -- racism is not the same as discrimination. Racism, through the media, has become defined as simply the hatred of someone based on their racial makeup.

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