Friday, October 28, 2005

Are you Proud of your race?

In a forum I frequent a poster stated that she was proud of her race. I would ask why are you proud of your race? Now it is important to emphasize the correct word here, I am not asking why she is proud of *her* race, or proud of her *race*, but why she is *proud* of her race. One should not attach any special significance to their race because that, in itself, is a form of racism.

Consider the negation; you are ashamed of your race. Everyone immediately recognizes why that is wrong. Being ashamed of something implies that it is wrong and you have erred in some manner. How can you err in your race? You have no choice over it. If it is wrong to be ashamed of your race then it must necessarily be wrong to be the opposite, proud. The fact is, implying you are proud or ashamed of your race corrupts the very notion of pride and shame. Pride and shame direct our actions. You can not be proud or ashamed of things you have had no choice in.

She later gives the example of a fat women being proud of her weight? Why? What is good about being fat? Coming from someone who struggles with his weight, it is unhealthy and makes you more likely to die in any number of ways, including significantly increasing your risk of cancer. What is there to be proud of? Perhaps if they tried really hard to be fat and it was her goal, they can be proud of it. If not, and this is what her statement really implies, than you can be proud of anything you want for whatever reason, which again undermines the very idea of pride.

You should only be proud of things that are good. Consider the modern ghetto culture of America, or the Yobs of Europe, which derive value and pride from intimidation and violence. Are these proper things to be proud of? They do not bother concerning themselves with why something should make you proud, you simply must be proud or you are inferior. So people become proud of whatever they want, it is a form of value hedonism; a wanton embellishment of whatever arbitrary whim happens to catch ones fancy. It means a person’s self esteem and is based on nothing specific and is blown about in the wind by the slightest breeze.

Being proud of a race, class, or family heritage is nothing more than an attempt to gain value through the hard work of other people. Being proud of the great accomplishments of the Chinese as a group because you are Chinese means you think you are better because other people that are like you in some particular arbitrary manner accomplished something more than what you have accomplished, so you get to feel good about yourself. Being proud of your race is just as wrong as disliking someone else because of their race, both are based on the same misconceptions, group think, and arbitrary valuation of attributes people have no control over. The truth is the only just way to judge yourself is through your own actions, and the consequences of your actions are the only things you should be proud, or ashamed of.

One of my best friends is Greek, and he jokes about all the great things the Greeks accomplished. They sure accomplished a great deal; about 2,000 years ago. But he jokingly implied that this somehow makes him special. Is he proud to be Greek? He didn’t accomplish any of those things. Yet many modern Greeks try to 2nd hand a lot of value from the accomplishments of all other Greeks to such an extent that native Greeks exhibit a form of ancestor worship hardly paralleled in any other culture. It is all just a form of group think and it is all an attempt to steal and create false value and a false sense of self worth.

If you can be proud of your race can I feel bad for you because of your race? Gee, it’s too bad you are Chinese, or Vietnamese or black. I feel sorry for you, because group XXX hasn’t accomplished much, and therefore you will not accomplish much. All of these attitudes absolutely destroy the concept and the value of the individual. Or, to put it another way, if you can be proud of your race, are you ashamed of it for its atrocities? Are Germans ashamed of the Holocaust and feel guilt because of it? Japanese ashamed of who they are because of the Rape of Nan King, Whites for the conquest of the New World, Vietnamese for putting Pol Pot into power? No one should ever suffer from un earned guilt, and conversely, revel in un earned pride. Being proud of something that is completely arbitrary corrupts the notion of pride. Try to define the concept of pride and you will see what I mean.

Let us take a look at Aristotle’s definition, from Nichomachaen ethics. “With regard to honour and dishonour the mean is proper pride, the excess is known as a sort of 'empty vanity', and the deficiency is undue humility;” and further “A proper sense of oneself is based on a reverent love for the truth” Being proud of your race is an empty vanity just as being ashamed of it is an undue humility. Your race has no moral value, it is a non moral attribute.

In the future we will be able to choose our height, weight, eye color and skin color as easily as we choose our hair color now. What will we derive our value from then? When any *person* can choose to be man or woman (or both) and choose to be any *race* (as if were even a real concept in the first place) what will they then base their sense of self on? They are going to have to derive their value the good old fashioned way, through what they have accomplished and the kind of person they are and have chosen to be.

Furthermore, by crying about discrimination against Asian Americans she was actually being racist. What is an Asian American? Well it’s an individual one is lumping into a group to be judge as a group and to have political interests as a group, instead of as an individual. It is discrimination in general, in all forms that must be fought. Not just against Asian Americans or Black Americans or Sweedish Americans, but against the concept of pre-judging someone based on an un-chosen attribute. Violence against individuals that should be adamantly opposed, not violence against groups.

Consider other alternative groups you can be proud of, and the absurdity becomes obvious. Am I proud of my blue eyes? A lot of blue eyed people have accomplished a great many things. I should be proud of the heritage of the blue eyes. Am I proud of my brown hair, well us brown hairs have also accomplished a great many things.

You have to be proud of things for a reason, not just simply because they are a part of you. You need to learn to think of yourself as an individual, not a foggy conception of a group. Being proud of your race is a form of racism, as racism is defined by judging someone or attributing something to them merely because of their race. You are not a race or a gender, and if you use either as your primary identifier of yourself then you are not an individual but a foggy conglomeration of a lot of other individuals.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This post was written to VietPundit, a Vietnamese American who writes a popular blog. Someone accused him of being a 'chickenhawk' and this was my response to him.


First let me thank you sincerely for taking the time to create and maintain this blog, America is severely lacking in voices which tell a more accurate story of the Vietnam War. As an <30 year old American, I was not around during that war, but I have done my best to try to educate people on the vicious aftermath of the war and deride the hypocrisy of the anti war protestors who could not give a shit about the people of Vietnam, as evident from their complete and total evasion of everything that happened there, and in Laos, and in Cambodia. It is disgusting.

As for being a ‘chickenhawk’, don't consider yourself one, or even consider the term a valid criticism. As other posters have pointed out, one can certainly have beliefs yet not drop absolutely everything they are doing and follow those convictions whole heartedly, if that were the case you would not be allowed to have opinions on anything except the one thing you devote your life to. Besides, if you are a productive hard working American, and you voted for an administration that seeks to spread liberal democracy and freedom, then you are putting actions to your values. I think in your fight for freedom you have all ready been through enough anyway, far more than any of these ‘chickenhawk’ crying coffee shop Marxist warrior bums could ever imagine, so tell them they can go to hell.

I consider the ‘chickenhawk’ argument is fallacious for the following reasons

1) It asserts that someone must do absolutely everything to follow a conviction, e.g. if you support the war you should be fighting it (as opposed to preferring to see more freedom in the world than less) But I also support freedom for the people of Iran, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, China, etc, etc, etc. Must I take up arms against everyone of these brutal dictatorial governments? No. Yet the anti war activists are the ones that are opposing, every step of the way, any effort to remove these murderers from power. I am also pro choice and support gay rights, but that does not mean I am required to partake in marches and parades, nor invade countries that brutally supress such things. Interestingly most people who support these things are the ones that would call you a chicken hawk and who themselves would do nothing to stop the worst of the oppression of gays and women; that in fundamentalist ruled Islamic countries. Which leads me to point 2

2) Those making the claim that we must draw out every belief to it’s full logical conclusion and act on it wholly themselves do not abide by it. If they oppose the Iraq war, then continuing to work and be a productive American is contributing to the spread of an imperialistic murderous bush tyranny (according to them). Yet I do not see them pulling any Ted Kaczyisnkis and living off the grid and no longer contributing productively to the perpetuation of a government they see as murderous. So by asserting you are a chickenhawk they are also acknowledging that they are hypocrites.

3) it ignores the concept of division of labor. War is a dirty and nasty thing, often bloody and painful. So is being an Emergency Medical Technician or a Doctor or a Police Officer (as you point out) yet they are perfectly content paying other people to do that dirty work for them. They believe they have the right to be free from aggression and are perfectly content in paying other people to enforce that right. Similarly we believe all people of the world should be free and some are perfectly content in paying other people to bring that about.

The main point is that all of us make compromises in our lives between the world we want to see and the world we want to live, the supporters of the war and the opposers of it. The chickenhawk argument is basically asserting that no compromises can be made, but that means they themselves also can not make those compromises.