Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My what a mundane interesting thought experiment! 

This article is all the rage among my Facebook friends:
Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

People often play this game from the opposite end of the spectrum, particularly in response to fashionable counter-tribal trends, "hate crimes" or when discussing preferences. Certainly I remember criticism of the "miliion man march" as off-limits, and anyone who dared put it down the way the bien pensant revile the Tea Party would be branded a racist. The million-man march didn't arrive "armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition." But then again, neither did the Tea Party.

But what's also interesting is that a lot of these hypotheticals exist (despite the fact that a few of the above incidents actually don't). There's been all sorts of violent revolution fantasy. Here's one I encountered recently.
In 2008, I saw not one but two different plays featuring very literal violence against President George W. Bush. One, titled "Beast," by Michael Weller, was appalling in several respects. First, to my eye it was simply bad theater, casting returning Iraq veterans as violent zombies--caricatures of humans, lacking all soul. Then came the scenes with Bush, in which they kidnapped him, tied him to a chair, and burned him alive, to permit him to experience what he'd done to our soldiers. More shocking than the raw hatred, the heartless treatment of soldiers and the murderous attitude toward our president was the (apparently correct) expectation that the likely audience would find it unobjectionable. To be sure, I heard some audience members complaining that it was lousy. But I heard not one object to the events depicted or the sentiments expressed.....

The other 2008 play was titled "Old Comedy After Aristophanes Frogs," written by and performed by David Greenspan. That one featured a monologue that describes the literal and elaborate dismemberment of George W. Bush. What this had to do with Aristophanes, I don't know.

I'm ready to believe that American society would find a crowd made predominantly of any minority, all things being equal, more threatening than a crowd of people who look like them. But you wonder why these events, featuring actual violence and threats, didn't prompt Mr. Wise's oh-so-sagacious thought experiment.

Tastes great (if you like that sort of thing), less filling.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Feb 03, 12:57:00 PM:

Imagine if that large group asked the government to leave them alone, get out of their lives and end wealth distribution.  

By Anonymous PMain, at Thu Feb 03, 01:04:00 PM:

Don't have to imagine it, the Black Panther Party did just that in 1968 & that's why CA has some of the most oppressive gun laws in the US & didn't recognize the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution until the McDonald Case last year. Funny, those laws haven't made California any safer or less violent.  

By Anonymous alanstorm, at Fri Feb 04, 02:20:00 PM:

Imagine someone who makes his living providing "anti-racism" training NOT finding racism wherever he looks!

Imagine someone coming up with actual examples of what he purports to show, rather than finding oft-disproved ones like the "spitting on Congressmen" farce!

Imagine someone actually noticing that the vitriol directed at Obama is no greater, and probably less than that directed at Bush, who was kinda pale!

I know, I'm a dreamer.

This one was a scream:

"Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress."

Um, I seem to recall some people just recently yelling about lynching Justice Thomas...and those weren't TPers, were they?

This guy is a tool, with the requisite dimbulb followers. What a bunch of sheep.  

By Blogger ruralcounsel, at Mon Feb 14, 12:07:00 PM:

Weren't the RTKBA/Right-To-Carry gatherings open to ANYONE who wanted to show? It wasn't a racial thing, it was a gunowner thing. And they were deliberately held away from the general public, i.e. not on private lands per se, but not in downtown DC either. So really not 'descending" on the capital in a overt threatening manner, just near enough to get noticed.

If they are going to construct a strawman argument, least they could do is use enough straw.  

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