Good intentions

or, A waltz down the primrose path of I-don't-even-know-what

I've been meaning to finish the companion piece to this blog post (forming the third in a trilogy of social justice musings) but then Facebook happened. Okay, I might have poked a hornet's nest with this one, but I really want to understand a certain mindset. There's a certain kind of person who holds social justice as a very high goal (not bad; in fact, commendable) but who takes up the arms and armor of highly charged political language. I don't know what to call these people other than "social justice crusaders." They're activists-plus. They confuse the hell out of me.

Just to get some things out of the way: I think I share their goals. I want social justice for everyone—a society where everyone is treated equitably, without undue irrational privilege or prejudice. Not judged by the color of their skin (or their religion, or their choice of whom to love or...) but by the content of their character, and so on. A society where all human voices (and hopefully other-than-human!) can be heard and welcomed into a boisterous, cantankerous, but ultimately progressive conversation.

But quibble with them even slightly on their methods or language, and I get labeled a white supremacist.


So here's a play-by-play of the Facebook thread. Somebody give some commentary, because I'm at a loss. (I won't bother with names.)

OP: (this was a picture of a tweet by Richard Dawkins*) "Learn to think clearly and use language precisely. You may JUSTIFY racism & sexism towards white males. But it's still racist and sexist."
*Dawkins says a lot of old-white-British-dude crap, but this rang somewhat true to me. People don't always use the best words to describe stuff. I know I don't, but I try. I think it's especially hard when righteous indignation (that heady, addictive drug) is going strong.
Me: Er, is his point that sometimes well-meaning social justice crusaders use language poorly? Because I agree with that, times a million. What's the context for those tweets?
Okay, so jumping in with "social justice crusaders" was probably a tone fail for me. It probably came off as adversarial when it's really not. Again, I'm not directly opposed to this crusade, just trying to understand/mediate in a "woah, settle down" sort of way.
OP: I don't trust anyone who uses the term "social justice crusaders."
Not very much context was given, but you can check his twitter for more tweets just like that and a lot of really islamophobic sexist bullshit too.
Yeah, Dawkins shoves head and foot up his own ass a lot. No bearing on that one statement, though. I think.
Also what's really interesting? He's wrong. You cannot be racist again white people and you cannot be sexist against men. You can have prejudice but sexism and racism need institutional backing, which is something that women and folks of color don't have. In the same way heterophobia is bullshit, so is reverse racism and sexism.
And here we go with the "racism = prejudice + power" definition. Somehow, as we'll see later, prejudice against a group is not necessarily bad, according to this line of thinking.
Person #2: context is completely irrelevant, though. if he's claiming that reverse racism/sexism exists then anything else he says on the matter becomes utterly invalid.
Huh. Here's where the problem emerges: I hold a different operating definition of "racism" than do these people, and they seem utterly incapable of entertaining my position. I try to do that for them (principle of charity, after all) but I come up short, so I ask what the goal is (all definitions have some goal in mind)... and get raked over the coals.
Me: When you define it that way, the other statements become tautologies: vacuously true. Why pack so much into a single word? I'm perfectly happy acknowledging that *institutional racism* in America is directed at non-white people. And that institutional sexism is directed at non-males / non-men. I can also find examples here and there of people making ignorant, prejudiced generalizations about white people or males/men--racist or sexist statements. Not as bad as institutional prejudice, but worth calling out as exactly what it is.
Agreement counter: 2

Put more simply, I think this dual definition of racism (e.g.) is trying to do too much work. And there's a clear mapping between my definition and theirs:

My definition: Institutional racism = prejudice against a group based on "race" + power
Their definition: Racism = prejudice (against a racial group) + power

So clearly "Institutional racism" == "Racism," but I allow for "racism" to mean exactly "prejudice against a group based on 'race'" so that nobody gets away with saying stupid shit. Note also the quotes around "race"—independent of modern anthropologists or whoever, prejudice just puts fancy labels on "us" and "them." Look at the history of racism (especially in the United States) and you'll see all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify calling any lesser people "black," or any favored people "white."
P2: first institutionalized racism & sexism, the only kinds that actually exist, are incapable of being turned upon those benefitting.
So rather than saying "we're playing with different definitions here" (which I wasn't subtle about!) this guy just dogmatically asserts that his version of -isms are the only kinds that actually exist—a huge claim, with no backup.
anything else you'd call racism or sexism, especially if it refers to somebody slighting you as a white man is just you bitching and moaning and nobody needs to hear it.
Dismissal and minimization right off the bat. Also laughable how quick OP assumes that I'm just whining "what about teh whitez?" as you shall see near the end. (Spoiler alert: I'm none of Jewish, Chinese, or Korean.)
it is not racist for people of color to hate white people. it's REASONABLE. it's not sexist for women to hate men, it's a pretty fucking good idea considering how much predation and violence they experience.
Uh huh. 
Me: Look, a black racist: (link to the Southern Poverty Law Center's profile of Louis Farrakhan, whacko anti-Semitic black supremacist leader of the Nation of Islam)
And here I thought I was going too extreme, though it's enough to demonstrate the existence of one counter-example to shut down a logical statement. His: "there are no non-white racists." Of course, playing by different definitions gets in the way...
Is that "just bitching and moaning"? They exist! They're just not as problematic as white racists. And, as I granted, institutional prejudice is pretty one-way, no disagreement there.
Agreement counter: 4
Person #3: Words like "racism" and "sexism" have complex meanings because they are complex issues. People who can't deal the repercussions of using words like that shouldn't be using them.
Ignoring the weird thoughtcrime implication, that's sort of a just-so explanation. Their definitions are complex because they're describing a complex issue that they themselves complexified! To wit, packing two factors into a single definition (which was already complex). The implication is that my definition is too simplistic, when in fact I'm just laying the complexity out there for everyone to see: "Institutional" has a clear connotation, and so does "racism," and when you put the two together...
If a woman expresses prejudice against a man for being a man, that's not sexism, that's a reaction to sexism that they've had to deal with their entire life. Same with other types of institutionalized oppression.
Here I got really confused. "Prejudice against a man for being a man"... would that be like yelling fuck the patriarchy! to someone dressed up as a Hollister dudebro? I can't see how that's justified by the clothing. If someone acts like a sexist dudebro (which I'm pretty sure P3 et al define as "being a man") then yeah, call 'em out, but that's not prejudice. That's a natural "reaction to sexism." So again, either tautological or tenuous. I'm starting to wonder what the point is.

Back to my attempted counterexample with Farrakhan:
P2: no, that is somebody with an incredibly justified viewpoint. considering them a racist is bitching and moaning.
Again, Farrakhan has said (among other things) that "the Jews" control the media, that they were primarily responsible for the African slave trade, and that they were actually behind Hitler's rise to power but that they "lost control" of him. So... yeah.
i may not agree with nation of islam because of its various practices and because i am, as a rule vehemently opposed to religion, but i respect to a great extent the right for them to exist.
You might note that nowhere did I say they didn't. This is the other definition coming through: if you take the dual definition, a racist organization cannot be allowed to exist. Which, actual bad behavior aside, sort of goes against freedom of association. Better racists associate with each other than deal with the rest of us mature, respectful folk.
being a man simply means that you benefit from the patriarchal society that exists in this world. you have what every bullshit MRA runs screaming from with their fingers in their ears, you have male privilege.
Possible implication that I'm an MRA (denoting the stupid internet version in particular). Also a binary view of dominance hierarchies, implying that nobody from the out-group benefits. Silly; an oppressive system always finds enforcers, but that's yet another tangent.
people of color and women don't have the privilege of ignoring patriarchy, so it's monstrous to indulge yours.
Now I'm a "monster." Also, since the patriarchy model hadn't even been brought up (except in that loaded statement from before) a grand assumption on P2's part.
Me: Uh, whut. Have you read any of Farrakhan's (many, many) bigoted anti-Semitic quotes? Is that justified, even "incredibly" so? Also, white racists have unambiguously been terrible to people of color, but I still don't think that justifies ("incredibly" or otherwise) his weird worldview about white people being the clone army of an evil black scientist from before recorded history or whatever. (Srsly, dude's a nutcase.) And here I thought I picked a too-extreme example.
Agreement counter: 5

For what it's worth, I wasn't really distorting the Nation of Islam's theology. It's pretty nutty.
Re: privilege, way ahead of you. I was testing the waters because people DO interchange gender and sex terms (I'm still working on being precise, it's hard), and say (biologically) "male" when they mean (socially) "a man". No need to get preachy.
And they do. I think it's one reason why internet-feminists and internet-MRAs get into such vicious battles over the MRA concept of "the disposable male"—they interchange or conflate the concepts of (biological) "male"/"female" and (gender) "man"/"woman." Yet another tangent, which I will leave here.
P2: yes. farrakhan is totally fucked up and an anti-semite. that is entirely separate from race and racism, though.
This is the opening to a very deep rabbit hole, as we shall see. Now, the connection between antisemitism and racism is sometimes flaky, but what I had in mind (Nazi-style antisemitism) is definitely racist. And I do think that more often than not antisemitism is a kind of racism.
as i said before, the nation of islam has fucked up beliefs. you know who else does? calvinists, roman catholics, klansmen, methodists, PCUSA, mormons, scientologists, pretty much any other flavor of jesus cult you can think of, et cetera. thing is, those are largely white (or at the least not pro-people of color) organizations, so they don't get any of the flack.
The KKK and Church of Scientology don't get any flak. Huh. Now, I don't think that's because they're white, but rather because they're some flavor of Christian, and Christian privilege is mighty strong in this country.

Then a bit of an expansion on the white male privilege theme, with this kicker:
white men are not inherently evil, but we have been taught to be.
Huh. And now a parsed back and forth (we originally lumped them into single comments)...
Me: And here I thought anti-Semitism was a subset of racism, because it walks like racism and quacks like racism. That seems like a dodge. Neither does it explain your too-quick dismissal of his views as "incredibly justified."

P2: jewish aint a race, bro. hebrew is a race, that accounts for the biological markers of a culturally distinct population that is equated w/ judaism, but there are jews of every possible race and ethnicity. there are african populations of orthodox jews that are completely distinct and have been for millennia, there are chinese jews in a whole rainbow of ethnicities and overriding cultures. anti semitism isn't a subset of racism, it's a subset of OPPRESSION.
Because I was apparently in dire need of an education on this... except I did have the African Jewish population in mind as a possible caveat. I stuck with it though because antisemitism is overwhelmingly directed against the Hebrew people and has very little to do with the Jewish religion itself, when antisemites get right down to it.
i dismiss farrakhan's beliefs regarding race as justified because they boil down to regarding white people as undeserved oppressors, vague religious trappings and mythos aside. that belief is an entirely justified one, in my mind.
If that's what they really boil down to, it's still racist. Those beliefs are ahistorical; they assert that white people are inherently oppressors/tyrants/whatever. Simply. Not. Justified. Moreover, racist.
anti semitism as a concept has nothing to do with race, but in any kind of practice is always informed by the anti-semitic individuals racial beliefs.
Huh. Yeah, that seems easy to determine. Meanwhile I will default to Occam's razor and say that if it looks like racist shit, it probably is just that.
one other very important thing to state is that an integral part of REAL racism is societal backing,
Again the bald assertion of the dual definition. Zero backup.
i mean, the fbi shot MLK, and he was the embodiment of american nonviolent resistance.
 And a conspiracy theory for good measure.
Me: Well, I think it DOES have something to do with race ("Semitic" being a reference to the Hebrew people) but we'll let that go. I do wonder where this assertion of "an integral part of *real* racism is societal backing" "racism = prejudice + power" is justified. I liked my own definition ("racism = the unscientific ranking of ethnic groups to fit one's own prejudices") just fine, and clearly if one wields power in a (my definition of) racist way that's a major cause for concern
 Agreement counter: 6

In other words: "I'd like to know why/how you formulated your model. Here's my model, I think it works okay, what do you think?"
P2: in terms of racism, a much more useful definition free of white supremacist logic is racism as a systematic oppression based upon skin color & other ephemeral physical indicators.
Possible implication that I'm a white supremacist, along with yet another bald assertion of the dual definition.
again, not a unique assertion on my part but the central premise of Peggy Mcintosh's 'Unpacking the invisible knapsack' which is pretty generally agreed by any scholars who admit that racism is a social concept worthy of continued thought.
If I had a nickel for every time someone pointed to Peggy McIntosh's essay as if it were the be-all end-all discussion-stopper truth-teller they make it out to be (notice the free appeal to authority)...
while i agree that antisemitism has etymological roots referring to the hebrew ethnicity, that has more to do with its genesis in 19th century german rhetoric because it sounded more professional that just saying you hated jews.
 A dodge to etymology... which I will allow Wikipedia to elucidate:
Wiki:  Although Wilhelm Marr is generally credited with coining the word anti-Semitism (see below), Alex Bein writes that the word was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider in the phrase "anti-Semitic prejudices".[12] Steinschneider used this phrase to characterize Ernest Renan's ideas about how "Semitic races" were inferior to "Aryan races." These pseudo-scientific theories concerning race, civilization, and "progress" had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism.
So it's not my fault that 19th-century racists conflated Jewish culture with Hebrew ethnicity, but that's how we got the modern usage of "antisemitism," and that's how pretty much everyone understands the term.
P2: in short, the reason i'm arguing with your terminology usage is because a great deal of the more 'common' language regarding race, racism and privilege is defined by old white men with very expensive education.
Which prima facie says nothing about their utility. After all, a lot of mathematics was described by the same kind of person, but it works so we don't bother with hand-wringing over historical ethnic/gender disparities. (Current ethnic/gender disparities, on the other hand...)
for example 'overprivileged' isn't in the OED (or it might be as of recently, but wasn't for a very, very long time)
 I'll bite...
Me: 1. What "white supremacist logic"? AFAIK the "old" definition was pretty generalizable. Or is that specifically the problem..?

2. Surely there have been more essays than the Invisible Knapsack...

3. If you actually look at anti-Semitic propaganda
and agitprop (especially the German stuff, for obvious reasons) it's always couched in racial terms. To them, "Jewish" was a race, and Jews were "polluting" the blood of "Aryans."

4. Does being born from an old, white, and educated mind makes an idea prima facie wrong? This smells like a purely political argument, which, if so, isn't bad...

5. "Overprivileged" seems... almost redundant, but okay, if we take the logical inverse of "underprivileged," it would be "enjoying a higher standard of living or rights as the majority of people in a society," with a heavy implication of "and ought not to be." Fine, though that still doesn't quite match every "privilege" I've read about (particularly the "freedom from" ones). Lack of specificity is a big problem here. I do like this reformulation by Best of the Left, breaking it down into "majority" and "dominance" privilege:

Then it becomes really obvious (I think) what's what, it generalizes really well, and easily fits with my own (larger) theory that it's all a reflection of whichever elites got to set the rules back in the day. (It also helps show what's the bigger monster... majority privilege is largely a matter of ignorance, but dominance privilege is abuse of power.)
The YouTube clip from the BotL podcast is a good one, I think. But it seems nobody bothered with that.
P2: tell you what. you go get educated about this, and then we'll talk more. i don't have time for this. to be honest i don't have time for anyone who tries to argue the semantics of nazi germany.
Reading comprehension fail, with a side of condescending dismissal? As far as I was aware, I was trying to include Nazi antisemitism under the category of racism, and because the Nazis were actually in power, that fits the dual definition as well. Somehow this makes me a bad person.
Me: Thanks for the condescension! Come back in a few years and we'll see whose politics gets farther towards the SAME FUCKING GOAL.
I got a bit miffed. But maybe we don't have the same goals? I dunno. At this point I really can't tell.
OP: hahah (Facebook friend) why are you friends with white supremacists? I'm a little bit surprised.
Imagine my shock at this gem.
Alright so let me take a crack at this. you define racism as defining race based on arbitrary physical characteristics. you're right, race is a social construct. but you know what? money is also a social construct and I don't see you arguing anything about classism not being real.
 As though I was arguing that racism isn't real. Huh. Not sure if reading comprehension fail or what.
Anyone anywhere at any time can be prejudice, I'm not taking that away from you. I am prejudice against cis hetero white boys and I freely admit it. However that is not racism, because that prejudice comes from conversations like this.
 Implying that I'm full of horrible prejudices.
The more you deny that racism is institutional, the more you continue to perpetuate a culture of violence.
Huh. Note the subtle equivocation. I deny that racism is only institutional, but it would be patently absurd to deny institutional racism when I said, right in that thread, that institutional racism (a) exists; and (b) is the thing we need to fight.
White people get away with murdering folks of color all the time because the system allows and even encourages it. You are completely full of shit if you can't acknowledge the difference.
Pretty sure I did acknowledge the difference, but pre-emptive ad hominem attacks are so nice.
Considering the way you defend Dawkins, I would guess that you're a really big fan of privileged white guys who get away with racism under the guise of semi-political correct rhetoric.
More unwarranted guessing at my thoughts, as well as passively calling me a crypto-racist. As it happens, I used to like Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, until I learned about their bigoted statements. Now, I appreciate Dawkins' explanations of evolution (pretty good), I freely use Harris' (probably not unique) metaphor of the "moral landscape" (but that's it), and I find Hitchens a guilty pleasure because he can really turn a phrase. Also, oddly enough, I found myself backpedaling from the FreethoughtBlogs community because of bullshit mindkiller drama like this.
You should probably be aware that language is malleable, and even if some dictionaries agree with you, who do you think defined those terms? A white supremacist culture defined those terms, and as always, it comes at a huge cost.
 All evidence that doesn't fit the position is a tool of the Enemy: classic. Anyway, language isn't freely malleable. You do have to communicate.
But clearly you're more concerned with prejudice against white people than you are the violence that people of color experience. That's really shitty of you, but I'm not surprised.
Yeah, that's so obvious from my numerous agreements that white racism (against people of color) is the worst kind, especially the violent kind. More ad hom at this point is just icing on the very indignant cake.
and before you start yelling and acting like a condescending asshole you could try to give me an example of a system where people of color benefit at the expense of white people. annnnd you can't.
More ad hominems with a side of projection (my favorite). A huge assumption about where my train of thought was going. Shockingly the whole world isn't divided into "non-whites" and "whites."
The Nazis did not even try to excuse killing people of color, LGBTQ folks, disabled folks, artists. They were murderers but that is not even close to the same thing as reverse racism, especially since the nazis were white supremacists too.
Which was not remotely the point I was trying to make. If you follow the chain of inferences back, I was attempting to show that antisemitism is a form of racism. Oddly, the Nazis had elaborate pseduoscientific explanations for why people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people, artists, et al were enemies of Aryanism and needed a final solution, so OP's misconstruing history here.
pro tip: if you're ever trying to defend nazis, you should look at your life and look at your choices.
Another reading comprehension fail. If someone would be so kind and go back and tell me where I seem like I'm defending Nazis, please tell me. I don't want to defend Nazis.
FF: I disagree with Dawkins's assertion that people of color can be racist against white people and that women can be sexist against men. Institutionalized racism and sexism benefit white men overwhelmingly, if not solely. Prejudice by people of color against white folk and prejudice by women against men is a natural backlash against the dominant institutions of white supremacist patriarchy. So, if we understand racism and sexism as institutions, then white people and men cannot be victims of them in Western culture.
The key point. At least my friend seems to realize that there's a difference in definitions here, but unfortunately he's not telling me anything I didn't know already at this point.

Oddly enough, even with my definition the concept of "reverse racism" is incoherent. A statement is racist or it isn't. A behavior is racist or it isn't. A person is racist or they aren't. Racism just isn't "reversible" in any useful way.
Me: (after a long string of rebuttals) You think I would give a counter example with POC vs white people? No, I would give a counter example of (e.g.) Japanese vs. non-Japanese (they have pretty racist immigration laws, and oh my what they did to the Ainu people) or the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, or...
Okay, check this against my definition first.
P2: okay yeah. except none of the things you bring up and emphasize matter on the scope on institutionalized racism
I would say that's tautologically true, but that would be a horrible disservice to the Ainu or the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Those things were very much prejudice + power, institutional racism in other words. If "racism" has "white people vs. non-white people" baked in, of course my counterexamples fall apart, but why should they? It strikes me as special pleading.
your logic serves one purpose only; to further validate your beliefs.
 Irony meter broken.
on the nazi's, the hate was of the culture. culture is distinct from race, and it is only the kind of bullshit rhetoric brought to your by the third reich inc. that says otherwise.
Mental gymnastics. Unless I'm grossly mistaken, you can determine a racist by his or her agitprop. One has to actually look at what the Nazis and their intellectual predecessors wrote and said. Shockingly, the language is racial. People were obsessed with this at the time, because finally Darwinism could be hijacked to lend pseudoscientific credence to long-held prejudices.
but my main point, and my final one is that nothing you've said has progressed any discussions or made any important points in regards to the ongoing dialogue of the nature of race. i admit i haven't been kind or patient, but i have been trying to educate you on the matters.
Saying nothing new, and dodging my questions/critiques/everything. Huge unspoken preconceptions about what the "ongoing dialogue of the nature of race" is and ought to be. But go back and check: why was there no progress?
but overwhelmingly everything you'vesaid has served the sole purpose of trying to make it seem like you aren't wrong.
That would be how anyone would make an argument, but notice the implication that I really am wrong and ignorant of the fact. Well, maybe I am, but nobody has said why, and instead just asserted that their position was correct.
you don't care about racism, clearly.
 More assumptions, based on the dual definition no less. Clearly...
here's an experiment, i'll say XYZ and you'll disagree with X, dissent with Y and tell me something about Z that makes it seem like you're invested in the concept.
Well, if someone's wrong, they're wrong. Especially if it's on the Internet. ^_^
also one should distinguish colonialism from racism. YES: they happen at once, often. but not when people of color are involved.
Special pleading up a storm.
are you going to claim that islam was full of racists in 1000 CE because they converted the majority of equatorial eurasia and northern africa? i sincerely hope not. because they weren't. all they wanted to do was teach people about algebra and irrigation.
Not sure which of my examples was strictly colonialism. Maybe the Rwandan one, since colonialism basically was the power structure which allowed for it, but it sure as hell wasn't white people doing the slaughtering. The tribal tensions had been there all along. P2's claim about Islamic intentions is laughably wrong. Also offensive, since I'm pretty sure the cultures of the Middle East and Africa knew what fucking irrigation was.
FF: Racism and sexism are institutionalized in the West to favor white men. I'd say the recognition of that needs to be central to any discussion of racism or sexism in the West, regardless of how well you understand the issues.
Which I never disagreed with. Notice the implicit use of my definition, otherwise the sentence becomes redundant (and I don't think he was being redundant).
People of color can be prejudiced against whites, and women against men, but that's largely a reaction to institutionalized racism and sexism in favor of white men.
I guess my point is that prejudicial ranking of arbitrary groups isn't justified independent of who does the ranking. Similarly, assertions that a god exists aren't justified independent of who does the asserting. Or any number of examples.
Along that line, I'm no fan of Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitism, but I understand that it's largely a reaction to Zionism, which has been responsible for systematic aggression against Muslims, Ethiopians, Arabs, etc.
Touchy issue, but tangential.
Certainly, there are examples of institutionalized racism that aren't against white people, but those fall predominantly, if not entirely, outside of the West. Since we're addressing Dawkins's quote here, we assume we're dealing with the West.
It's fine to limit the scope, though it's not at all clear that Dawkins was limited as such. In fact he made the tweet just after some about Islam, a non-Western culture. So...
P2: and uh. kinda makes sense that japan would be wary of foreigners, considering their the ONLY people EVER to have suffered nuclear attacks. (well except the people at bikini atoll... )
Well, the older feudal-period policy of strict border control (sakoku) was a means of maintaining the shogunate's power, without destabilizing foreign influence. Yet more shades of elitism. In modern times, there was a Japanese eugenics movement and they still have problems with non-Japanese minorities and the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido. So no, it wasn't because of the nukes, especially because the major problems are between Japanese and Koreans or Chinese...

And finally, after a long and tortuous road:
Me: Quickly, no, the Nazis were racist. Very very racist. It was all about race for them. No, Islam is a religion. I could describe ancient *tribal* thinking as being racist but there wouldn't be much point because everyone thought that way. Japanese policy about largely excluding non-ethnic-Japanese is pretty racist, IMO. (And I don't think it was because of nukes...) Worth noting that I wouldn't force them to change, I just think it's a dumb policy.

I suspect (hope) that we have the same end goals, and are arguing about the means. But that's politics. Just, please don't assume you know my thinking. That's bad form.

(FF), I'm totally on board with that. I think it's better to not narrow the scope by redefinition, but rather keep a VERY firm concept of priorities along with a broader scope. Again, I see institutional prejudice and privilege as functions of whoever the elites are, so it's all about elitism to me.
With that, the thread came to a close (well, save for another friend who jumped in to call out P2 on his bad history). I came away bewildered and disheartened.

Most problematic was the following apparent chain of implications:
  • Racism = prejudice + power.
  • People without power can be prejudiced.
  • But that prejudice is probably justified.
In other words, the weight is almost entirely on power. I don't think that gives prejudice its due, and really fouls up any reconstruction efforts once the system is well and thoroughly smashed. Again, power's definitely the bigger deal in practical terms, but prejudice is the motivating force, and a much deeper thing. We ignore it at our future peril.

I haven't fully elucidated my model of privilege as the fruit of elitism, and I don't have time for it here. Yet another post awaits. In the meantime, check out my previous thinking on these topics, and marvel at the labels cast at my feet now.