Dat Whiteman

The counselor told the student that he had made the choice to join the National Guard and now had to “take responsibility” for the loss of his leg.

What do you want to bet that earlier on, a similarly trained counselor told the student it was his patriotic duty to join the National Guard so as to “take responsibility” for the support of his mother, and for his future education?

Tolstoy’s muzhiks might well have been cheerful about these things and not needed admonishment. But somehow I do not think Tolstoy wrote about such situations so as to call them exemplary.

I really object to all the rhetoric about “choices” that is bandied about today. I find it sadistic. “You made a decision I did not have to, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.” “You were uninformed and made a mistake. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.”

Axé.

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33 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

33 responses to “Dat Whiteman

  1. human

    You are telling me that a real live person said that to another real live person?

    This happened?

    Really?

  2. Yes. Tal cual. (Just like that.)

  3. human

    All right.

    Where do I go to punch this person in the face?

    My god.

    I really object to all the rhetoric about “choices” that is bandied about today. I find it sadistic. “You made a decision I did not have to, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.” “You were uninformed and made a mistake. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.”

    THIS is very well said. Sadistic. Yes. Exactly so.

  4. Well, he’s damaged goods, right? That is very very sad.
    What should be no surprise is that this is business as usual for Amerikans. Where we get our reputation for kindness and charity I will never know.

  5. And by the way: it is the people who write others off in this fashion who whine and complain the most when things go wrong for them.

  6. “…it is the people who write others off in this fashion who whine and complain the most when things go wrong for them.”

    So true.

  7. The way I see it, it is as if animals had been herded into a highly artificial situation. Let us imagine a building with faulty electricity, massive leaking, poor sewerage, no windows, not enough space.

    This is the condition of the contemporary proletariat.

    Then, one by one, the animals succumb to various “accidents” within this unnatural environ.

    Some get sick with cholera through the polluted drinking water. Others are electrocuted. Still more start to develop various symptoms of decline because of a lack of exercise, and due to the poor quality of the light.

    Each of them, however, come to believe that their resulting condition is due to individual “choices” they have each made, separately.

  8. Katie

    Flabbergasted.

  9. Z

    Here’s an interesting piece related to this idea of “choice”: http://www.truthout.org/on-languages-power-and-powerlessness57363

  10. This part, from the text you quote, is surely the basis for all kinds of antifeminism, today — misdirected resentment.

    “In whatever way hatred was conceived, we would rather tend to explain its presence, to the others around and to ourselves, by our will to defend good and noble things which they, those malicious and despicable people, denigrate and conspire against; we would struggle to prove that the reason to hate them, and our determination to get rid of them, have been caused (and justified) by our wish to make sure that an orderly, civilized society survives. We would insist that we hate because we want the world to be free of hatred.”

  11. Actually I think this text is about your idea of “Westernness” — that category I sometimes think is too broad. I think a lot of feminists think in that dichotomous way, too.

  12. Do you think it is “Western” to think in dichotomies? I am starting to conclude so.

    • Z

      Yes, actually I had thought thought upon reading your most recent blog post, which I saw on your blog before seeing as a comment here (it’s the one below).

      • Yes. Right now I have re-encountered an old acquaintance from one of the “Neechy” boards, who is putting me back into my feminine place with purely dichotomised reasoning. I know not of what I speak. My views are too emotional. We all know how this ends up, with the right-wing patriarch persecuting women for the good of the human race.

  13. It strikes me that positivism and dichotomised thinking work hand-in-hand in populist “Western” discourse. In other words, specific buzz-words are utilised to indict people. Or if the buzz-words are not used, then plausible deniability is invoked. In the meantime, one is either represented as a “winna” or a “losa”.

    But all of this denies even the possibility of real communication, whilst maintaining the appearance that people are vying for places within an objective scheme of things.

    Critical thinking has no place — none whatsoever — in conventional (populist) Western discourse.

  14. Re your comment above, in response to mine — yes. I’ve had conversations over the past couple of days with a couple of men who think entirely in dichotomies. And it is as you say: no critical thinking (just parroting of verities), no real communication, and constant vying for places within a scheme of things that is purported to be objective, natural, inevitable, universal, or something like that.

    • Now that I’ve realised how these kinds of conversations go, I am much less inclined to use my energy on them. You can get a sense that a conversation might be going in that direction when the person doesn’t actually acknowledge the content of what you are saying. I think a common trick is for such a person (who doesn’t want to hear what you are saying) to act as if, “well, I heard the emotion behind what you were saying. I heard what you were REALLY intending to say, despite the content of what you were saying.”

  15. Ha! I’ve even had people say that directly. “Your words don’t matter; what matters is my interpretation of the emotion behind them.”

  16. They are greedy people who want to play both sides of the conversation. On the one side, they are playing themselves as the rational actor in the conversation. As the other side, they are playing you as the emotional counterpoint. There is really no point in you intervening in such a wonderful conversation!

  17. Excellent point! :-) And they don’t say things like, “So what you are saying is…” or “So what you mean is…”. They say: “Whatever you think you are saying, what I am hearing from you is this, and that means you are that.”

  18. I usually find that those kinds of people have a lot of pent up emotion. They’re kind of looking for a fight, but don’t want to admit it. More precisely, they are trying to find a way to tap your energy, to make themselves feel more invigorated. So, I simply turn off the tap. They receive neither positive nor negative emotion from me. Nothing. That way I highlight their dependency to them. They were trying to lean on me whilst negating me — and I am negating them, instead.

  19. This would mean that these situations are only allegedly “just” difficulties in communication. Hm.

  20. If they were genuine communication difficulties, then one’s special effort to try to unravel them (I’m talking about somebody with your or my intelligence and goodwill) would improve the quality of the communication. But that is rarely the case. I think many people entrench themselves in positions of power (for instance patriarchal power) by refusing to listen and proclaiming that the other partner has “communications difficulties”. That is why patriarchy is so very pernicious.

  21. For instance, the Oxford thing — they got in touch with me again, and I am now rewriting the paper. This is an example of good will and how it can bridge actual communications gaps. But patriarchs — they always go out of their way to make sure not to hear and not to understand something new. That way they consolidate their power.

  22. This is how it works. And you can’t get through by talking.

  23. I’m trying to find some examples of theses online, so that I can see the general formatting, and note if my name should be on the thesis manuscript (and if so, where).

    I just came across this:
    Hutchinson, Jacquie
    Subject words[LCSH]
    Bullying in the workplace — Australia • Bullying in the workplace — Psychological aspects • Public service employment — Australia
    Abstractabstract
    This is a study of workplace bullying policy in the public service. The research draws on interviews with policy actors from three groups located in four Australian states and one Australian territory. The groups are senior managers, policy implementors and employee advocates. The study is also informed by research and popular literature to examine how assumptions about what the problem is in workplace bullying dictates the direction taken in policy development. Unlike much of the research into workplace bullying that is based on psychological theorisations, this study is influenced by scholars who focus on the power imbalances that underpin workplace bullying. The key argument in this thesis is that the conceptual dominance of ‘gender neutrality’ operates to mask the gendered power imbalances which perpetuate bullying behaviour. Hence, to start to address workplace bullying, the effects of power must be acknowledged and addressed in the organisational policy responses to the growing phenomenon of workplace bullying. However, analysing the effects of power is insufficient if gender is not made visible in the analysis. The methodological touchstone for this is Carol Bacchi’s ‘whats the problem’ approach (1999), which is taken further through feminist organisational theory, post modernist understandings of power realtions and a critique of New Public Management practices. The thesis shows how workplace bullying policies in Australian public service administrations have been carefully crafted as gender-neutral, and interweaves data and literature to develop a thesis for why such an approach is a deeply flawed outcome of gender politics. This thesis concludes with some modest suggestions about how organizations might more effectively develop more effective gender-sensitive approaches to workplace bullying.
    School/Department
    UWA Business School

    University of Western Australia. Faculty of Economics

  24. Oh, I just managed to pull it from the Internet for free. Not sure how that happened. Check your inbox.

  25. My God(dess) it sounds so exact.

  26. Let me know if you can get that pdf file. I have a feeling that these theses have been printed to pdf but without including the soft font, so some of the lettering may be missing. (Unless you are speaking about MY thesis that I also sent you?) In any case, I noticed that an English thesis I downloaded had missing hyphens. What happens is that if you do not include the actual fonts in your thesis, the pdf app. relies upon finding a similar store of them in individual computers, and thereby discrepancies can come in.

  27. OK, it downloads from here clearly although the same .pdf was blurry attached to e-mail. It is longer than the table of contents I could read there suggested! (It’s still fascinating that files can be transferred this way so fast…)

  28. Re. that thesis: It’s amazing how even in the 21st century it is necessary to try to explain to people: “Yes there are power relationships. And they can disadvantage you.” Honestly, I think this is the key point where those of a First World sensibility fall down (because of years of cooptation), whereas Zimbabweans understand the point as if it were the air that they are breathing.

    And unfortunately, the thesis opts for a “postmodern” understanding of power relationships — which is to say, abtract and mutable.

    That notion of power relationships tends to mystify as much as it reveals.

    The patriarchy is far more solid, less mutable, than a po-mo perspective would suppose.

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