A certain someone has written a brilliant little post in which they argues that John Scalzi should be impeached as SFWA president and N.K. Jemisin / Saladin Ahmed should be removed from the Nebula Awards short list because they apparently hate white people. You read that right. And you will also notice that I haven’t linked to said individual’s post, if only because it is mind-numbingly stupid. If you’re desperate enough to read it, though, you can do some clever Google searching. For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to this individual as Mr. Frosty Pants.
The post that has most offended Mr. Frosty Pants seems to be Scalzi’s rather popular “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” I recommend you read that post, since it is obviously a steaming pile of anti-white nonsense (this must be what the white nationalists mean when they huff and puff about the genocide against the white race; damn you, Scalzi, for your word murder). Of course, in the real world, it is a somewhat humorous way to explore how racial privilege works. This is not what Mr. Frosty Pants takes from it, of course. Instead, he argues the following:
And let me add this: defamation is not a numbers game based on how many people are in a country or room at a given time, however much some people would like to pretend otherwise and so think they have a free-fire zone. Defamation is defamation, and it is always wrong. I defy anyone to tell me in what instance defamation would be correct.
Setting aside the fact that he doesn’t actually understand the legal definition of defamation, or the fact that defamation cases are nearly impossible to prove, since a requirement for proof is to demonstrate material damage from a given set of statements, I find the notion that Scalzi (or anyone) can possibly defame an entire race by pointing out even a perceived reality (boy, our politicians are truly fucked if Mr. Frosty Pants is right!). Since Mr. Frosty Pants is, we can assume, a straight white male, it is highly unlikely that discussing the benefits his status entails in a society that remains, even to this day, race-conscious will result in anything approaching material damage. After all, how can Mr. Frosty Pants defend the notion that Scalzi’s, Jemisin’s, or Ahmed’s words have had a realistic impact on his ability to function in a society where straight white men are, not surprisingly, still generally considered to be “at the top of the pack”?
But Mr. Frosty Pants doesn’t accept the premise. Instead, he demands that these three anti-white bastards provide evidence:
There is no racial or gender conspiracy in America to hold back N.K. Jemisin or Saladin Ahmed from doing a single thing in this country. If they believe otherwise, I publicly demand they start producing facts and names and address those specific individuals and stop attacking complete strangers based on the most childish stereotypes of the race and gender of millions of people they have never met. If either John Scalzi, N.K. Jemisin or Saladin Ahmed feel someone in America is contributing to racial stereotypes or cultural xenophobia, name them and confront them and leave the rest of us out of it as co-defendants or guilty parties. You may even find us on your side in such a matter, but not if we are demonized for waking up in the morning or for what we looked like the day we were born.
Of course, since he also rejects the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, and other organizations that actually study this stuff, it’s pretty much impossible to present him with actual evidence, since he won’t believe any of it anyway. But I’ll take a stab by presenting this. In short, that link takes you to the text for the second session of the 109th Congress on July 24th, 2006, in which the speakers point out that race-based discrimination in a great deal of the voting districts originally covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act is still happening. Congress were debating whether to reauthorize that bill, which would allow, among other things, the Federal Government to maintain oversight on historically “racist” voting districts in a number of States. Submitted during those debates were numerous documents and studies showing that most of those same districts had the same problems as they had had in 1965, when Congress decided they had to step in to protect minority votes in areas teaming with racists. We all remember the Civil Rights Movement, don’t we? They weren’t just hosing black people because it was a winter sport, or tossing bricks through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s windows because that’s how you show love in the South. No. They were doing those things because of deep-seeded racial hatred. And it was the white folks who were the primary perpetrators of those crimes. Not all the white folks. Just a hell of a lot of them in certain areas of the country.
The point is that Congress determined that we’re really not over all that stuff yet. While angry white folks are not hosing people anymore (or actively tossing bricks through windows or assassinating Civil Rights leaders), the same racial hatred still exists. Racism certainly has changed over time, generally speaking, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve magically moved on.
So when Scalzi, Jemisin, and Ahmed point out, perhaps with a great deal of snark, that racism isn’t over, they’re not speaking from a position of racial hatred against whites. When they talk about white people doing racist things, they aren’t talking about all of us (there were a lot of progressive-minded white folks in the Civil Rights Movement; some of them were assassinated, too). Even when they are talking more generally about white people, such as in Scalzi’s post, they don’t do it to piss on the white race, or to suggest that the white race is inferior to another (which is the default root of racism); they are pointing out the inherit privileges that still exist for white people. Those advantages can change based on a variety of factors, including, among other things, class. I benefit from my skin color not because there is something wrong with me, but because racism isn’t dead yet (or at least not dead enough that Scalzi’s point becomes a thing of the past). Scalzi’s post is about making us all aware of that default setting so we can actually do something about it.
In other words: pointing out racism when it happens doesn’t mean you hate white people. You’d be hard pressed to convince Scalzi he hates himself because he is white (nor me); he doesn’t. He’s just aware that being white in a country like ours means you have default advantages.
But I guess I’m preaching to the choir here. Mr. Frosty Pants certainly isn’t going to get it. His post is an exercise in “trying not to get it.” And he’s doing a real good job of it…
Oh, and if you’re curious, the House 393 to 33 and the Senate voted 90 to 0 for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. As Mr. Frosty Pants might say, there be a lot of self-hatin’ whites in that group… *insert eye roll here*
In other news, you should go support N.K. Jemisin, Saladin Ahmed, and John Scalzi by buying their books. My recommendations: The Killing Moon by Jemisin; Throne of the Crescent Moon by Ahmed; and Old Man’s War by Scalzi.