Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why Identitarians Can't Empathize: on the reactions to a Baby Taken by an Alligator and a Mass Shooting in Orlando

Quick take:

Why can't identitarians empathize? Because they can't identify with people who have social identities that they consider "other". Conservative (or right) identitarians can't identify with people who don't share their identity, whether it's racial or ethnic. Liberal (or left) identitarians can't identify with people they assign to "oppressor" identities.

And so a left identitarian, a white woman, was able to tweet this:


Because identitarians tend to be authoritarians, they think people should obey signs. But in this case, the sign merely said "No swimming" and had no mention of alligators, so a number of parents thought it was safe to let their children wade there. See PRAY, PRAY so hard for the family & for those... - Jennifer Venditti.

Longer take:

You might think Brienne of Snarth didn't have to share her inability to care about parents seeing their baby carried to its death by an alligator. But for identitarians, sharing their indifference to tragedy involving people they consider "other" is effectively a religious obligation. I wrote in Malcolm X, "A very beautiful thing", Bahar Mustafa, and #KillAllWhiteMen:
In 1962, while Malcolm X was still part of the Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, Air France Flight 007 crashed carrying 122 white art patrons from Athens, Georgia and ten crew members. All of the passengers and eight crew members were killed. Ann Uhry Abrams wrote that “the impact on the city in 1962 was comparable to New York of September 11." Out of respect for the mourners, Martin Luther King canceled a sit-in that had been planned to protest segregation.

But Malcolm X said, "I would like to announce a very beautiful thing that has happened...I got a wire from God today...well, all right, somebody came and told me that he really had answered our prayers over in France. He dropped an airplane out of the sky with over 120 white people on it because the Muslims believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But thanks to God, or Jehovah, or Allah, we will continue to pray, and we hope that every day another plane falls out of the sky."
After discussing the very privileged Ms. Mustafa,  I concluded,
In 1964, Malcolm X came back from Mecca with a new understanding of the world. He said, "I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy," and declared, "I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin."

Insh'allah, Ms. Bahar and her fellow identitarians will someday catch up to Malcolm half a century ago.
Sady Doyle defended Brienne of Snarth on Twitter:

Doug Henwood shared her tweet on Facebook with the comment "Something we should keep in mind before feeling any sympathy over a 2-year-old eaten by an alligator."

I am sorry I'm not able to ask Brienne of Snarth, a lesbian, about another tragedy that some left identitarians exploited. After the slaughter at a GLBT club in Orlando, a  #BlackLivesMatter activist decided to take over a memorial service:



When that killing was called America's worst attack by a mass shooter, a Portland woman sent out a press release to remind people of 19th century attacks on American Indians. Other activists brought up killings by mobs during the Jim Crow era. I posted this on Facebook:
Dear people who are sharing other massacres to diminish the effect of what happened in Orlando: Orlando's killing is the greatest mass shooting by a single person in the US—it's the US's equivalent of what Anders Breivik did in Norway. Pointing to other massacres involving more attackers does not change that. Right now, the gay community has been attacked. Give them a day or two before you rush in with false comparisons to Wounded Knee and Greenwood.
Will identitarians ever change? Only if, like Malcolm X, they outgrow their identitarianism. Two days before he was murdered, he said,
I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years.

That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.
ETA: Tonia Thompson defends Brienne of Snarth: In The Wake Of Tragedy, Black Parents Face A Racist Double Standard - The Establishment. Her argument boils down to "We're just like the white racists who blamed the mother whose baby got into a gorilla pen." She assumes every critic of the mother at the gorilla pen is racist, even though parents of all races are damned by some people when their kids do wrong. Moreover, Thompson's guilty of false equivalency: the mother at the gorilla pen knew there were gorillas there, and the child in the gorilla pen survived. The latter means that mother's critics did not need to consider whether she might be grieving; they knew she had her living child. That said, no parent can be watchful every second of every day; that mother does not deserve to be blamed for her child slipping into the pen.