On Calling Out "White Supremacy"
How to render a phrase meaningless.
I had an amusing experience a while ago when my former employer decided to engage everyone in DEI
indoctrination training (that’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for those who have been living under a rock). Did you know that objective and rational thinking is white supremacy? 1 Of course you didn’t know that, because it isn’t.
That chart in the link above, in that form or another, became somewhat ubiquitous for awhile. It purports to tell us how a bunch of things are really the results of white supremacy. It is also complete bunk. Let us dig deeper into what is going on here.
Whoever wrote that objective and rational thinking are examples of “white supremacy” is either writing in bad faith or is wholly ignorant of other cultures. Even a brief survey of the history of Indian philosophy (to take one example) will show that the idea of rational thinking and objectivity predate white people.2 It also makes you wonder what the author thinks of people of color when that author thinks rational thinking is only for white people. That sounds like a bad old racist stereotype straight out of the bad old Jim Crow South. Yet the wokie left love it.
But rational thought and objectivity are not the only things this chart categorizes as “white supremacy.” Look at the rest of the examples. (Disclaimer: author is not responsible for any loss of IQ you may experience.) Wherein you will find that expecting people to show up on time is white supremacy.3 Try not to retch as you discover that individualism, objectivity, and the written word are all products of white supremacy.
Freelance journalist Matthew Yglesias traced this nonsense back to someone called Tema Okun. You can read Tema in her own words here. It is worth noting that Tema herself is white and has a business doing anti-racism consulting; although you probably guessed that already. I wonder how she squares her rejection of white savior narratives with her work?
Nonetheless, the sort of pernicious nonsense peddled by Tema and picked up by DEI instructors everywhere has the effect of rendering the phrase “white supremacy” meaningless.4
Stop for a moment and think what comes to your mind when you hear or read the phrase “white supremacy.” You probably first think of a belief or ideology that white people are somehow inherently superior to all other people. If so, you are correct because that is what the phrase means. You may also think of Nazi or Klan paraphernalia, or Bull Connor sicking dogs on black people, but those are expressions of the underlying belief that white people are just somehow better.
Now ask yourself the question, how does a belief that white people are somehow superior to everybody else give rise to objectivity, rational thinking, and getting to work on time? The answer is that it doesn’t. How does a belief that white people are somehow superior to everybody else fit together with individualism? The answer is that it doesn’t. Moreover, white supremacy is a collectivist philosophy. It is the standpoint of individualism that shows white supremacy in itself to be a moral abomination. The evil of white supremacy, or any other form of racism, is that you are treating individuals as though who they are is determined by the color of their skin. But if you don’t see individuals as important in themselves, then racism will not look like a problem. I am working on a longer essay on this very point, so let us put it aside for the moment and again turn to this weird misuse of the term ‘white supremacy’.
What is going on here?
[A] word, phrase, or short sentence that keeps people from thinking. A good thoughtstopper is brief, crisp, memorable, and packed with strong emotion. It’s also either absurd, self-contradictory, or irrelevant to the subject to which it’s meant to apply, so that any attempt you might make to reason about it will land you in perplexity. The perplexity won’t do the trick by itself, and neither will the strong emotion; it’s the combination of the two that lets a thoughtstopper throw a monkey wrench in the works of the user’s mind.
‘White supremacy’ has become a thoughtstopper.
The phrase certainly meets Mr. Greer’s criteria. It is brief, crisp, and memorable. It certainly packs strong emotion. When you hear ‘white supremacy’ the images that come to mind include lynchings, guys in Klan robes terrorizing black people, skinheads walking down the street looking for trouble, and losers cosplaying as Nazis - playing at being history’s worst villains. These same people loudly proclaiming that white people are somehow superior to everyone else are the very white people that prove the claim to be false.5 So yes, the phrase ‘white supremacy’ has a strong emotional impact. As well it should.
But now look at what happens when wokies like Tema Okun deploy the phrase ‘white supremacy.’ Let us again refer to the chart in the first link. “White supremacy” includes objectivity and rational thinking, planning for the future, and even the desire to affect change in the face of injustice. I could smoke a bale of weed and still not find a way to link these things to the idea of white people somehow being superior to everyone else.
In fairness, the chart does include some things like rigid time schedules and religious intolerance which are bad. But religious intolerance and rigid scheduling are as old as humanity itself, predating white people and occurring whether white people are in charge or not. Again, we can all agree these are bad, but ‘white supremacy’ means something more than something is bad.
Which brings us to the second part of what makes a thoughtstopper, “[i]t’s also either absurd, self-contradictory, or irrelevant to the subject to which it’s meant to apply[.]” This is so that “any attempt you might make to reason about it will land you in perplexity.” In the case of calling rational thought and punctuality ‘white supremacist’ we have both the absurd and the irrelevant. Calling individualism ‘white supremacy’ is not only absurd and irrelevant, but as noted above it is contradictory.
Once you hear that rational thought, or anything else on that chart is “white supremacy” that monkey wrench has been thrown in your mind. On the one hand, you probably don’t want to be a white supremacist, so the strong emotional impact of that phrase has already chilled your willingness to respond. You cannot figure out how any of this has to do with white supremacy, but you fear that if you speak up you will be accused of defending white supremacy. Since your interlocutor isn’t making sense to begin with, you’re not sure where to begin - and that assumes your interlocutor is speaking in good faith. Thus all thought and conversation on the topic has been brought to an end.
Neat little trick, yes?
But now you know what is going on, and you know it is not being done in good faith. So arm yourself with John Michael Greer’s category of the thoughtstopper. He has given a name to this phenomenon, and when you give something a name you can talk about it more readily. The next time someone uses the phrase ‘white supremacy’ to mean anything other than thinking white people are somehow superior to everyone else, call them out directly for using a thoughtstoppper. Explain both parts of what constitutes a thoughtstopper. Then point out how your interlocutor is borrowing the moral opprobrium rightly attached to the correct definition of ‘white supremacy’ and wrongfully using it to shut down conversation and disagreement about the topic at hand. Refuse to let them use the term “white supremacy.”
You get bonus points if you leave a DEI instructor sputtering in rage.
I linked to the Federalist because the image has been removed from the original Smithsonian website. I take that as a clear sign that they realized it what they were promoting was garbage.
Not to mention that our base-10 numbering system was developed in India and moved westward to Europe though Persia.
As far as I know, my former employer still requires people to show up on time. Draw your own conclusion.
At this point, if you have clicked through the links and read this crap for yourself, you may note that the phrase ‘white supremacy’ is often followed by the word ‘culture’. My guess here is that the wokies use the phrase ‘white supremacy culture’ to obscure the fact that what they are talking about has nothing to do with actual white supremacy. Instead they can claim that rational thought is not inherently about thinking that white people are somehow better than everybody else, but rather arises as a result of the culture created by those who believe that white people are better than everybody else. In other words, ‘white supremacy culture’ is a bit of bafflegab deployed to conceal the fact that the user is expanding ‘white supremacy’ to mean something beyond its accepted meaning.
Then again, this requires objectivity which according to the wokies is “white supremacy.” If we follow wokie logic to its conclusion, calling out Nazism as objectively bad is engaging in white supremacy. No wonder wokies don’t like rational thought.