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Am I Being Racist?

Entry 1993, on 2019-08-01 at 19:09:54 (Rating 5, Politics)

Back in the day, when I was more politically naive, I used to get really sick of people who opposed my then naively liberal views, especially those who tried to make the point that personal responsibility was an important point to consider.

Like many things, I now see that those people, who had what I would now describe as more conservative or libertarian views, were partly right. I mean, many of them tried to over-apply the idea of personal responsibility, but in hindsight it is now very obvious that I under-applied it.

So now is the time to correct that error, because I'm getting pretty damn sick of the bleeding heart liberals (like I maybe used to be - mea culpa) ignoring the personal responsibility aspect of many current political issues, and blaming someone else for the situation disadvantaged groups find themelves in.

Before I give an example, there is one important point I need to make here. That is that most political issues are complex, and the current situation for any group can almost never be attributed to a single cause. But I am not trying to make that claim, although many of my opponents are. As I have mentioned in past posts, the people I debate with seem to never want to compromise or moderate their position.

OK, so now for an example...

Currently, here in New Zealand, there is an ongoing protest over the fact that many babies are being taken into care by the state because the government agency involved thinks they are in imminent danger of harm from their parents. The issue is made worse by the fact that the majority of these actions happen to Maori people (who are the native people of New Zealand).

Of course, the standard narrative expounded by most politicians, commentators, and the media, is that this is an example of racism. Why else would people of a particular ethnicity be targeted far more than others? Well, there are many reasons this might be the case, including the very obvious possibility that - for reasons which we don't need to deal with yet - Maori children are far more likely to be the victims of violence than other groups.

But this possibility is rarely discussed, because anyone doing this is likely to be labelled a racist. And, when I even suggest this as one possible explanation which might be worth examining, I am labelled that way immediately. It really has got to the point where "racist" is just used as an ad hominem attack with the intention of closing down awkward debates. But, as regular readers will know by now, I don't take any notice of these slurs because they really are completely meaningless now. I'm not saying that some people aren't really racist, but how would you know since the insult is also used against moderate people so often?

As I said above, the media are extremely biased on issues of this sort, and rarely mention even the vague possibility that Maori might be partly to blame for their own plight. So it was refreshing to see our acting prime minister, Winston Peters, point out that since this debate began, three Maori children had died in a way that might have been prevented if they had been taken into care.

I'm not saying that this justifies the state "confiscating" children, and I'm not saying this proves that the whole problem is caused primarily by some deficiency in Maori character or culture, but I am saying that this is part of the issue we should be paying more attention to.

As I said above, the reason why this happens is open to question. Again, there are likely to be several causes, including Maori disadvantage as a result of some degree of racism, but we should be prepared to also ask whether there is also an underlying problem with Maori culture itself.

Because Maori aren't the only group who have suffered some disadvantages in the past. In New Zealand, Chinese people, for example, were treated poorly at various times, yet today they are quite successful by many traditional measures of success. And despite there most likely being some vestiges of racial disadvantage in society today, there are also many advantages to being Maori, so it seems that a simple appeal to oppression by the dominant culture being the cause of these problems just doesn't make sense.

I can't see how the possibility that there is some Maori cultural issue which needs to be addressed could be denied, yet when I directly ask people online they say there is zero chance that part of the problem is inherent in Maori culture.

A similar issue applies to other "oppressed" groups. When people complain that women aren't as well represented in some professions as as men, I directly ask then if they would consider there is any chance at all that it is because men's general temperament is better suited to that profession. And I get outright denial. They will just not even consider the possibility, despite the fact that they are perfectly happy to accept the reality of a greater proportion of women in some quite highly rated professions, like medicine.

These people are living in denial as a result of their worldview being based around concepts of political correctness rather than what the evidence really points to. Am I being racist or sexist by even suggesting that possibility that they are wrong? Don't know. Don't care.

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