Does your school have a Black students society? Or a Korean club? How about an Indian students club? What about a Latin American culture society?
Yes? Yes? Mostly yes? All yes?
What about a White students club? No? Why not? That sounds racist? In that case, why is a club dedicated to Black students not racist but one dedicated to White students racist?
In the autumn of my sophomore year at MIT, I walked into a 6.006 exam, and saw the following on the board.
Good luck on 6.006, Miriam! *
*The actual name on the board was not Miriam. I chose a different name so as to redact who this message was aimed toward.
That bothered me. I wasn’t sure what it was for a while, and then it occurred to me. What if what was written on the board was instead the following.
Good luck on 6.006, Mexicans!
My guess is that most people are not disturbed by the first sign but are disturbed by the second. Why? What is it that makes saying good luck to Miriams okay but saying good luck to Mexicans not okay?
What do you think about people who lock their car doors upon seeing certain types of people? What do you think about people who lock the doors of a building? Is your answer to these two questions different? If so, why?
Ten years ago, it was socially acceptable nearly everywhere to make derogatory homophobic remarks in joking mannerism, but now, any influential figure in America better be on the side for homosexual rights, or have a serious mark on their reputation: Brendan Eich was pressured into resigning his position at Mozilla due to his history of supporting California’s Proposition 8, despite one’s stance of homosexuality clearly not having anything to do with their technological abilities (although I have heard at least one person argue that there isn’t necessarily no connection), and even Chick-fil-A decided to switch over to the pro-gay side after significant negative publicity. To hear the world making social progress is wonderful, but at the same time, one that has witnessed both of these two social standards with such a short time of transition in between has to wonder how a huge mass of people could have such a dramatic, synchronized change in thought so readily. What I believe is probably the case is that many who now nod towards homosexuality don’t actually approve of it, but feel the need to adhere to the social standard. And even if I think anti-homosexual stances are absurd, I would still more respect someone who is anti-homosexual and is willing to say so than someone who is anti-homosexual but says they support LGBT rights because society discourages their particular mindset. And I would want to encourage people to express their actual opinions. And if the number of people who actually warmly smile at homosexuality is much less than what it appears to be from listening to the crowd of the world, than we are not actually making that much social progress. We’re making less: we have simply donned a layer of deceit.
I feel that we as society have reached a stage where we frown at discrimination more frequently because the people around us tell us that we should frown at discrimination and not because we fundamentally understand why such forms of discrimination are awful. Why is discrimination by race, gender, or orientation bad? It’s because one who denies someone a certain right or ostracizes them based on their race, gender, or orientation wrongly asserts that these make them less qualified, when to the best of our knowledge those attributes are unrelated to their ability to responsibly exercise their rights or hold constructive memberships or positions. The wrong in wrongful discrimination lies in the misattribution of credit and blame. It is transmitted by social atmospheres dominated by people who believe wrongly that such credit and blame is properly attributed.
Continue reading “The Nature of Discrimination, the Obsession Over Equality, and the Fallacy of Human Rights”