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Xiphias Gladius

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By the way, I DO divide the world into "good guys" and "bad guys". [Aug. 19th, 2010|05:52 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Just so you know: if you're against the building of an Islamic community center in Downtown Manhattan, you're one of the bad guys.

If you are saying, "well, sure, they have the LEGAL right to do it, but by putting it there, they're just being provocative," then you may not be particularly evil yourself, but you're intimidated by the evil people into being one of their henchmen. People doing completely normal things like building community centers aren't being provocative. The people who you are afraid they will provoke? Those are the bad guys. And if you are saying that they should modify their behaviors to do what the bad guys want, then you are saying that you support the bad guys.

And that means that you're one of the bad guys.

And THAT means that I find you a danger to me, personally. I'm Jewish. Right now, Jews are mostly considered more or less white. But that could change. And the second it does, people will start saying things like, "Well, sure, they COULD build a synagogue there, but wouldn't that just be asking for trouble?"

Everything that people are saying about the downtown Manhattan community center, I just automatically hear people saying that about something that I might want to do someday. If you're against them, then you're against me, and you're also against justice, freedom, and every ideal that this country stands for.

Just so we're clear on that.

[User Picture]From: dancing_kiralee
2010-08-24 05:49 pm (UTC)
Then, xiphias, you're not claiming that I have white privilege; but holzman is. This is exactly the problem that I have with your semantics.

It would be best if everyone in the world was treated with respect - what in your language would be referred to as everyone having white privilege; but since that isn't the case, it's necessary for those people in the world who aren't treated with respect to be able to say "Hey, this is wrong," whether that's based on skin color, facial features, cultural cues, or the ability to maintain a decent wardrobe (don't laugh; very likely this is a major part of the discrimination I've faced).

I don't mind holzman's use of white privilege to apply only to racist persecution, as long as it isn't conflated with immunity to other forms of persecution, as your definitions / explanations of "whiteness" suggest, and for that matter, as the narrative of "Jews" being assimilated into "whites" sometime in the 1950s suggests.

I don't mind the ideas that you've presented when you provide your definitions / explanations of what "whiteness" and "white privilege" mean to you. They are, in fact, extremely useful ideas, and I would like to have a way to talk about them that doesn't put me in danger of social censorship. It's useful to be able to talk about 'belonging to the group that isn't discriminated against;' about what assimilation into that group means; and about circumstances that make assimilation or inclusiveness in that group provisional.

But I want language *I* can use. I don't want to be told, if I claim not to have white privilege, that of course this is bullshit, because that person, like most people, thinks I'm white. I don't belong to an ethnic group with a recent history of assimilation and a long history of persecution to use as evidence or explanation of my position.

dichroic talks about online discussions where "it's clear that .... 'white' means 'part of the privileged group, possssing power by virtue of birth.'" Conflating this meaning of white with a more specifically racial one bothers me less; and so I haven't spoken out. However, when you talk about "white" being used "as shorthand for 'safe from persecution'," as I think dichrioc correctly points out you are doing in this instance, that rings my alarm bells and pushes my buttons.

I don't want to be told, by someone like holzman (although I seriously doubt that holzman himself would do this), that I have white privilege, in a discussion, such as might happen in your journal, xiphias, where white and white privilege are being used to mean "free from persecution" rather than "free from racial persecution."

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