Comparing ''white racism'' to ''black racism.'' Is there?

From:    Diane Vera
To:      Tony Iannotti                            Msg #28, 03-Mar-91  08:04pm
Subject: False Symmetry

Earlier today (March 3), you wrote:
.
		 TI >   Care to enlighten me as to why Tim's White Programmer
		 parallel is true symmetry and Mordecai's Black Mason parallel
		 is false? Thanks for the gratuitous insult. It's a bit hard
		 to be willing to understand when superior white people are
		 not willing to explain.
.
Sorry.  You're right.  As long as I was bothering to comment on Tim
Maroney's February 25 message at all, I should have made at least SOME
attempt to let other readers know what I was talking about.  Shame on
me, I usually pride myself on self-contained messages.  Here's my
belated explanation:
.
On February 25, Tim Maroney wrote to Mordecai Shapiro:
.
		 TM >   Let's not get into the false symmetry fallacy.
.
This was in response to Mordecai Shapiro's February 25 message to Tim
Maroney "Re: Gapers And Gawkers", which read:
.
		 MS >   The measure of an organization's racism is not found
		 by looking at its racial makeup, but rather by looking at the
		 relationship of its policies (formal and informal) to its
		 racial makeup. An all-African American Masonic lodge is not
		 racist just because it has no white members; however, if I
		 tried to join and met resistance then I might be justified in
		 thinking that this particular lodge is racist. Of course some
		 people might say that they are racist in any event because
		 they don't have an affirmative action program to bring in
		 white members, even if they had no conscious desire to
		 prevent whites from joining.
.
False Symmetry #1 is Mordecai Shapiro's implied comparison of White
racism to Black racism.  The two have very different causes and
different effects.  While Black racism is deplorable, it does not
(usually!) harm us White people the same way White racism harms Black
people.  In a country where the economy is controlled by White people,
White racism deprives Black people of access to needed resources,
whereas Black racism is (usually!) a mere annoyance.
.
False Symmetry #2: Whether the absence of one race implies racism.  An
organization can be all-African-American without being racist if, for
example, it focusses on African culture, or if it puts an African-
American cultural spin on whatever its aims are.  Such a group may be
all-Black not because it deliberately excludes Whites, but simply
because most Whites lack curiosity about African-American culture.  On
the other hand, the absence of Black programmers is caused by the
inferior schooling most Blacks receive (compounded by Black despair,
a.k.a. "laziness", but let's not forget where the despair came from:
at least 3 centuries of American White racism, which continues today.)
.
What really bothered me was Mordecai Shapiro's dig at affirmative
action, something that is often confused with Black racism.

From:    Tony Iannotti
To:      Diane Vera                               Msg #31, 04-Mar-91  09:34am
Subject: Re: False Symmetry

Thanks you for explaining this. I was sure when Tim called it someting
and did not explain that he was just blowing smoke. I still have some
objections, but now I understand that there is a real point here.
I'm sorry to be such a sarcastic jerk in my message to you. That'll
teach me to wait longer before posting!

 DV> False Symmetry #1 is Mordecai Shapiro's implied comparison of
 DV> White racism to Black racism.  The two have very different
 DV> causes and different effects.  While Black racism is

I know that the forms of racism and their causes are different, but
wasn't the point simply about whether groups admit members of other
races? Not the origins of why or the methods or outcomes? Even if
the forms it takes, and its causes are different, isn't it still
racism? (Or not, in the case of Mordecai's Black Masons, who would
let whites in, but havn't had the need or opportunity.)

 DV> deplorable, it does not (usually!) harm us White people the
 DV> same way White racism harms Black people.  In a country where
 DV> the economy is controlled by White people, White racism
 DV> deprives Black people of access to needed resources, whereas
 DV> Black racism is (usually!) a mere annoyance. .

	Do you mean to say that Occultism is depriving Black people
of needed resources? I would have said that it was more like
Black Racism, actually, in that it seems to be mostly a mere
annoyance, and mostly to, say, Tim. Here I think one might make
the point that his White Computer Programmer example is to the point,
in that Programmers are not _per se_ racist, but their demographics
reflect the historical racism of America.

 DV> False Symmetry #2: Whether the absence of one race implies
 DV> racism.  An organization can be all-African-American without
 DV> being racist if, for example, it focusses on African culture,
 DV> or if it puts an African- American cultural spin on whatever
 DV> its aims are.  Such a group may be all-Black not because it
 DV> deliberately excludes Whites, but simply because most Whites
 DV> lack curiosity about African-American culture.  On the other
 DV> hand, the absence of Black programmers is caused by the
 DV> inferior schooling most Blacks receive (compounded by Black
 DV> despair, a.k.a. "laziness", but let's not forget where the
 DV> despair came from: at least 3 centuries of American White
 DV> racism, which continues today.) . What really bothered me was
 DV> Mordecai Shapiro's dig at affirmative action, something that is
 DV> often confused with Black racism.

	OK, I think I see one problem here, in that I didn't think that
Mordecai's point was against affirmative action so much as saying
just what you said, that a black organisation can be all-black without
being racist. He (I think) was saying that the resistance to whites
or blacks is the measure of racism, not the simple demographics, which
are often set by environment which does make the environment racist,
but you don't whip the baby from comeing from a broken home. (Unless
it asks nicely...)

So given that we might talk about all forms of racism, and if Mordecai
is indeed actually saying the same thing as you, is it really a false
symmetry or is it a not so broad analogy? I agree that Masons are not
occultists, but neither are programmers, and I would be curious to
know how you feel about the true or false symmetry of the White
Programmers example. 93!

Thanks for a clear explanation of your thoughts, especially in
response to the frustrated message I left you.

... Ransom the captive

From:    Tim Maroney
To:      Diane Vera                               Msg #37, 04-Mar-91  12:06pm
Subject: Re: False Symmetry

 DV> I usually pride myself on self-contained messages.

Not me.  I write messages which require a certain amount of th9ought to
understand, and I generally only bother to continue if I get some indication
that thought is happening.  What's the point otherwise?

Your message concerning false symmetry was pretty well on the mark, and you
plainly understood what i said, but there are a couple of things worth adding.
First, the entire reason there are black Masonic lodges in the first place is
because of white racism, which excluded blacks from almost all mainstream
lodges until a few decades ago (and even now they remain very much white
enclaves).  To refer to black Masonry as racist is a horrifying, racist
insult.  Second, there's nothing wrong with groups composed entirely of the
oppressed which serve as a temporary escape from oppression.  This has a lot
to do with the discussion of S&M bars we were having earlier.  People who are
not self-identified members of an oppressed group never seem to understand the
way in which the mere presence of the oppressor can be an inhibition, even
those well-meaning members of the oppressed group who genuinely want to learn.
Sometimes you just need to talk about matters pertaining to the group without
facing hostile stares from the clueless, or educating those who want to get a
clue.  I would never dream of crashing an all-black or all-female gathering,
and I see nothing wrong with the oppressed seeking temporary refuge while
still considering it wrong for white males to maintain our own closed
oppressor-only clubs.  This last point is the one that most white people
absolutely refuse to understand, and it is the most pernicious form of the
false symmetry fallacy.

From:    Diane Vera
To:      Mordecai Shapiro                         Msg #46, 09-Mar-91  12:22am
Subject: Re: False symmetry

On February 25, in a message to Tim Maroney "Re: Gapers and Gawkers"
you speculated about the hypothetical racism of "an all-African
American Masonic lodge".  Tim Maroney replied (also on February 25)
with the following one-line message:
.
		 TM >   Let's not get into the false symmetry fallacy.
.
a sentiment I agreed with in my March 2 message to Tim.  Then, on
March 3, Tony Iannotti asked me:
.
		 TI >   Care to enlighten me as to why Tim's White Programmer
		 parallel is true symmetry and Mordecai's Black Mason parallel
		 is false?
.
I would now like to provide the following clarifications to my March
3 response to Tony Iannotti.
.
I was reacting  *only*  to your implied parallel between White racism
and Black racism.  I had no comment on Tim Maroney's comparison of
White occultists to White programmers.  Actually, I think  *neither*
comparison is valid.
.
While there probably aren't very many Black Thelemites, Kabbalists, or
Wiccans, there's a whole world of specifically African-American forms
of occultism:  Voudou, Santeria, etc.   So it isn't true that there's
a shortage of Black occultists.   Nevertheless, Black occultists  *do*
face some severe racism-related problems.   See my forthcoming message
to Tony Iannotti on "Racism and the Occult".
.
Your February 25 message stepped on a pet peeve of mine, a peeve I
share with Tim:  namely, the way so many Whites get defensive whenever
the topic of White racism is brought up.  A common defensive tactic is
to talk about Black racism as if it were an equivalent moral evil  -
as if Black racism were anywhere nearly as much of a problem for White
people as White racism is for Blacks.  While Black racism is real, it
should not be used as an excuse to avoid dealing with White racism.
.
As for how much racism there is among White programmers, I don't know
enough programmers to be able to answer that.   But I can't help
feeling a little suspicious when someone responds to such a charge by
talking about Black racism, which is  *clearly*  irrelevant to the
world of programmers.

From:    Diane Vera
To:      Tony Iannotti                            Msg #47, 09-Mar-91  12:24am
Subject: Racism and the occult

On March 4, in a message to me "Re: False Symmetry", you wrote:
.
			 TI >  Do you mean to say that Occultism is depriving Black
			 people of needed resources?
.
The separation between Black and White occultists (a separation caused
by many factors, of which racism is one) does indeed deprive Black
occultists of access to needed resources.  Legal and political
resources, in particular.
.
Black practitioners of Voudou, Santeria, and other African Diaspora
religions are among the most persecuted of all occultists.  It's
possible that my impressions are out-of-date (I hope so!), but I've
heard of many instances where the cops raided a Voudou priestess's
house and  *nobody*  raised a fuss  -  not the White-dominated occult
journals, nor the Christian-dominated Black civil rights movement  -
though such police harassment is clearly an expression of cultural
racism.  Nor has it yet become "politically incorrect" to use phrases
like "voodoo economics".
.
Do any readers out there belong to any political groups for
occultists?  If so, does your group have an outreach to the African
Diaspora religions?
.
On a  *spiritual*  level, it can be argued that we Whites are denying
*ourselves*  access to needed resources, since the African Diaspora
religions have a genuinely old, continuous initiatory tradition  -
something that's at best debatable for most European-based forms of
occultism.  (I don't mean that European-based traditions aren't valid,
but we're probably lacking some valuable knowledge.)
.
Alas, even Voudou isn't powerful enough to eliminate persecution,
though it did play a key role (be that role "paranormal" or just
social) in the one and only successful slave revolt in the Western
hemisphere, the Haitian revolution.
.
For answers to some of the other questions you asked me on March 4,
see my messages to Tim Maroney and Mordecai Shapiro above.


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