Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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REPLY #4 TO
(R) Ok, so now I'm responding to Web pages. *shrug*
(MB) Well, that *is* the basic idea here...*grin*
Amazingly enough, even though every non-Indian citizen of this country is either an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants, the issue of "foreigners" coming to this country raises the hackles of many people.
(R) Actually, the American Indians were immigrants too, humans aren't indiginous to North America.
(MB) Absolutely! Of course, that applies to every part of the world other than a small portion of East Africa. Knowing that, however, at least American Indians have some claim to being "native" -- or, at least, to having tenure here. Certainly, no non-Indian can say that.
...an off-hand remark by a white professional golfer can cause a national uproar of racist outrage at the same time that "urban contemporary" music artists can attract widespread praise and legions of fans while selling millions of CDs which contain blatantly overt lyrics extolling such things as racial hatred, cop killing, and sexual abuse of women. Something doesn't add up.
(R) Funnily enough, there aren't millions of exploited "urban contemporary" youth buying those CDs.
(MB) *Somebody* is buying them, since they do sell quite well. The point here is not who is buying them, but why they seem to be protected or immune from the same critical standards applied to other forms of expression. I seriously doubt that any hypothetical "The KKK's Greatest Hits" CD would gain too many prominent spots on store shelves.
(R) While we're at it, the people making the bulk of the monetary gains off of them in general, large predominantly white-owned corporations.
(MB) Yep. They do know how to market products at a willing audience, don't they? Consider that the NAACP was originally founded by white businessmen, too.
(R) There's probably some deeper social comentary to be had in the target demographics of those CD sales than in their inception.
(MB) Perhaps. Certainly, they're not aimed at WASPs in Suburbia or Bible thumpers in the Midwest. But, isn't there similar targeting for other kinds of music, as well? After all, one doesn't increase sales by hawking his product to those unlikely to buy it.
(R) While we're on the "cop killing" subject - though I'm not sure how it got wedged in there - a couple of the more popular press targets of the type, _Fuck_the_Police_ by NWA, and _Cop_Killer_ by BodyCount are about the abuse of powers by *bad cops*, not just killing police. _Fuck_the_Police_ was in fact a quite timely social statement about the attitudes and behaviour of the Los Angeles Police Department that subsequently gave us all the Rodney King video. If the attention paid to its title had been paid to its message, maybe we all would have been spared that airing.
(MB) This is quite possible. Why, then, give an incendiary name to the song if the message is something different? Also, don't such songs have the effect of projecting the actions of a few bad apples onto the entirety of the police force and making an isolated, bad situation into a general crisis?
I won't, for a moment, defend the actions of the police in the Rodney King incident. However, doesn't hatred directed at the police over the incident ignore the fact that King wouldn't have been stopped if he hadn't committed his traffic violation(s) and would likely not have been a beating victim at all if he had not resisted his arrest? People were much too quick to project the whole thing into a "white cops vs. black motorist" issue.
(R) There aren't a large number of "urban contemporary" media outlets, music happens to be one. That's not to say that there aren't racist songs, or songs that would be considered socially unacceptable, but like all categorizations, it's doomed to an ammount of failure.
(MB) Music is the easiest way to reach the greatest numbers. Even the greatest books won't reach the audience numbers that can be affected by music. Even if one would never buy a particular CD for himself (or didn't know about it), he can still hear it when it is played by others around him. One never "accidentally" reads a book.
If Blacks had never been enslaved in America, it's highly doubtful that "racism" would be a major social issue today in this country.
(R) That's difficult to believe. Anti-semitism is a major social issue, and Jews were never enslaved in the US.
(MB) True, but when have there ever been "Jews only" water fountains or bathrooms? When have Jews been forced to the back of the bus? When have demographic surveys ever listed Jews as a separate category? American animosity towards Jews is mainly a religious issue.
Attitudes towards Blacks are quite different due to the history of slavery in this country. Without the depredations of slavery, Blacks would probably be viewed in the same manner that Asians or Hispanics are today by the White majority. It would be just another instance of our natural tendency to form homogenous groups or "choose up sides".
(R) Blacks were never enslaved in Germany, and racism is a major issue there.
(MB) Germany has its own insular "Aryan" tradition that peaked during the rampages of Hitler and hasn't yet gone away. Old habits die hard.
(R) Putting racism in quotes doesn't make it less of an issue, and the "us versus them" syndrome that tends to incite the worst in some groups of people tends to become a major social issue irregardless of who "us" and "them" are.
(MB) I put "racism" in quotes to emphasize my belief that it is often made into more of an issue than what really exists and is often used as the scapegoat by some who fail to achieve their personal goals.
"Us vs. Them" goes all the way back to the first human societal groups. If you weren't a member of the group, you were somebody who was to be conquered, exploited, or just plain inferior. This doesn't even have to be a matter of race. If we were all one race, we'd still find a way to choose up sides. The fact that some groups of people have different skin colors just makes it easier to make those irrational choices.
As another example, look at the tradition of using colors to identify armies, sports teams, gangs, etc. Supporters of those groups often wear their "colors" and those who don't wear them or who wear other "colors" risk becoming one of "them".
Part of the problem is evidenced by how we choose to identify ourselves. We still like to see ourselves as members of smaller, homogenous groups rather than trying to be "Americans" first and foremost.
(R) Something I've not seen cited often, which probably should be is General Benjamin O. Davis' refusal to have his picture placed at West Point as an "example for other Black cadets" simply because he felt that he wasn't being honored as an example to *all* cadets. I'd highly recommend reading his biography, _Benjamin_O._Davis,_American_.
(MB) Excellent example!
I'm of Norwegian heritage and am the 3rd generation of my family here in the United States, but I don't demand to be classified as a "Norwegian-American".
(R) As you so aptly pointed out, it's a rather inobvious categorization which doesn't automatically bring attention to you by the groups of rabid anti-Norwegian-American thugs wandering around.
(MB) Heck, I never know when I might encounter someone of European descent who still resents what my Viking ancestors did to his ancestors a thousand years ago...*grin*
(R) There's a basic human instinct to band together under oppression and take pride in the reason for ones oppression. It's seen in POWs, elite military units, social, and racial groups. Right or wrong, it happens, and part of the "fix" is to not make the oppression happen (simply stopping it doesn't seem to break that bond or make late-comers not attempt to follow in the footsteps of their idols).
(MB) That would be an ideal solution, but it's also clear that some people will always find some way to consider themselves to be "oppressed". Maybe it's to elicit sympathy for a cause. Maybe it's to attract others of a similar mindset. Maybe it's to build inner strength in time of conflict. Maybe it's just to rationalize their behaviors or failures. In any case, group bonding is going to happen. What we really need to do is to soften the negative and unproductive aspects of "us vs. them" attitudes.
(R) If women clutched their purses to themselves every time a red-headed man got onto an elevator, then a large number of red-headed guys would start agressively jumping into elevators.
(MB) I guess this would depend on the reason for the purse-clutching in the first place. In a case where red-headed men commonly snatched unclutched purses, then the woman's reaction would be rational (although it may be unnecessary for the particular red-headed man in question at that moment). Here, the solution is not for the woman to drop her guard, but for red-headed men to change their behavior as a group and to improve the public's perceptions of them.
On the other hand, if the woman's reaction is based solely upon an irrational bias against red-headed men, the solution is education and understanding.
(R) Strangely enough, other than in social exercises, hair and eye color seem to be some of the few things that haven't resulted in groupthink, even though hairstyles have.
(MB) Considering the popularity of "dumb blonde" jokes, I'm not sure that hair color is immune from the ravages of groupthink, either. Eye color is not something that is immediately obvious from anything other than very close visual range, so it's an unlikely source of group bonding.
It is easy for anyone to befriend anyone else. It is much better to use one's arms to open doors...
(R) One-on-one it's true, group dynamics can change that situation quite a bit.
(MB) Of course. This illustrates one of the effects of individual morality as opposed to group morality. If they conflict, one's choices are determined by which morality he considers to be more important.
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