Positive Action First!
We're so angry, hating everyone we don't know
We can't even take a joke, we should really let it go
And be happy, stop talking shit on our phones
And blocking everyone we know, we've been being buttholes
Buttholes by Tom MacDonald
Thank you Tom for cheering me up! Everybody follow Tom.
As I've become more active socially, I've run into many people with strong and confrontational opinions. I've recently dealt with people I can only assume are neo-nazis, antifa, BLM, progressives, christian conservatives, socialists, and my fellow anarchists.
I have not blocked anyone, and have conversed respectfully toward all of them, usually to mutual benefit. If you take one thing away from this, it is to do the same, instead of judging and blocking each other.
Disclaimer before continuing. I am a humanist and a voluntarist. I love and respect all people of all backgrounds and personal choices. I love diversity, even when diverse people don't love each other. I do not believe in race, and will not refer to people in racial terms here. Please keep an open mind, and try not to judge me or others as you read this.
While I am a depigmented, educated male, I have seen and been subjected to a lot of racism in my life. Yes, that might surprise you, but it is true.
I grew up on the south side of Chicago, which is majority pigmented. I got beat up in school, for no obvious reason. I was called racial slurs. I've been told by many different people that my freckles and complexion are ugly. In fact the root of the word for the chemical that makes me a redhead means "ugly": pheomelanin. I believe some of these kids were upset at my "privilege" or because their parents taught them hate.
I was taught love, and had friends of all races and religions. I have to admit that I interacted with so few depigmented people outside of my family, that I never heard anything "white supremacist" first hand until I was an adult. I did learn in school and from friends a lot of discrimination directed at these communities by big institutions, as well as individual ignoramuses. I believed them, and understood that such discrimination was a serious issue.
After achieving some success as an entrepreneur, I met and hung out with many wealthy individuals. Some of these struck me as bigoted against pigmented people, Jews, or Muslims. I always told them that I disagreed, and explained my humanist position.
I should give credit, by the way to my friend Vijay who helped me become a humanist. While I always gave a minimum level of respect to all individuals, before he helped me, I had a hard time really empathizing with many people. Thanks Vijay!
More recently, I've been living in Latin America. I've experienced and observed a lot of different types of discrimination here. I've seen a bit more discrimination from the rich, institutional class. I've been discriminated against in multiple ways, from people refusing to let me on a bus, to trying to charge me 10x normal taxi fair. I've had flour thrown in my eyes and pick pocketed. I've avoided the worst consequences by using my street smarts, staying out of high-crime areas, and watching my wallet.
More often, I've had to listen to people unburden their hate against others to me. Usually this takes the form of commiserating xenophobia. Panamanians complaining about foreigners (usually Venezuelans, Colombians, or Chinese) buying out all the businesses, and taking all of the jobs. Jews (assuming I am Jewish) telling me how I need to live in a Jewish neighborhood and only do business within the community. An old Afrikaner woman in an airport complaining about "darkies."
Recently, I moved nearby to a migrant camp, and get to see dozens, sometimes hundreds of migrants from all of the world. The majority are from failed Authoritarian and/or Communist states like Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba, but some come from as far away as the Middle East and South Asia.
All of these people are on their way to North America. I say hello and sometimes make conversation with these migrants, but, to be honest, most of them do not want to talk to me. They seem to have hate toward Americans, even as they try to migrate there. The Haitians, in particular, seem hostile, so I make extra effort to smile and be friendly toward them.
Another day I will interview some of them, and help them share their stories with the internet.
The point I'd like to make today, however, is that despite the negativity, the worst I've experienced (after some violent kid fights, I mean as an adult) are rude comments, or waiting for the next taxi or bus.
I have told all of these people how I disagree. Sometimes I was ignored, but never was there any possibility of violence or escalating conflict from these discussions. Some uncomfortable conversations are small price to pay.
Even when people are discriminating against me directly, it doesn't really help to stay silent, or hate back. Usually smiling and humanizing each other breaks the ice, and when not, we sit silently and walk away.
Things are pretty different online, as I'm sure you all know. People do not have to sit next to each other for a bus / plane ride, or conference. There are few incentives to be civil.
Recently, as I've been re-engaging online and beginning to publish and share my opinions, I've run into a lot of really brazen people.
One of the reasons I wanted to begin publishing was because I'm concerned about censorship of topics like covid alarmism, and freedom. I wanted to share the extensive research and reflection I've done on these topics, and to demonstrate to others how technology can empower them to break the censorship wall.
As such, I set out to publish on as wide a set of platforms as I could, engaging on both mainstream sites, as well as new, decentralized and niche ones. One of the things that has been challenging is how balkanized and high-emotion these different communities are.
If you listen to the Democratic party and mainstream media, they say that "white supremacy" is the greatest threat to the US. This is their expressed reason for censoring President Trump, and tens of thousands of others. Now, there definitely are white supremacists out there, and I definitely found some in my exploration of niche social sites.
Note that I will not censor names for the portions that are public, but I did for the Facebook post, which is private.
This week seems to have been particularly high-emotion. I followed this fellow Nick Fuentes, then unfollowed him after this genuinely racist rant on the declining "white" population in the US.
Another made a euro-centric comment.
As a person who knows that race does not exist, I find it unhelpful to divide people up that way. Culture is a much more meaningful division, and something to be genuinely concerned about, as far as the success or failure of a nation or society. Every day of the week, I'll take one Thomas Sowell over a million European Antifa activists.
Another seemingly neo nazi individual made some seriously antisemitic comments on a post of mine.
Interestingly, when confronted, he respectfully explained his feelings.
I was happy to at least engage meaningfully with these people, though I do not follow any of them, and will not go out of my way to hear any more from them. There is no need to block or cancel them, nor for me to avoid or blame the platforms for hosting them. Perhaps through having the opportunity to converse respectfully with people like me, they may even grow more tolerant over time.
I have to say, though this might be a trigger for some, I find Orthodox Jews to be at least as racist as this fellow. Interesting how often discrimination is rooted in feeling discriminated against. Not doing business with others, nor allowing your children to marry others is some pretty serious discrimination. And if you ask nicely, they'll tell you it is because others are not as good as them, blah blah blah. I disagree with both, and tell both to their faces. Both deserve places to socialize and do their things, so long as no one is physically hurt. Orthodox Jews have mainstream media, and this fellow has alt media. Fine.
On the other side of the political spectrum, I definitely did offend some people I didn't expect to, or with information I didn't expect to be offensive.
I won't post the whole conversation, but this fellow was really triggered by what I thought was a universally likable quote. Indeed, I really underestimated how divisive this quote would be, as I was also called a "nationalist" and a "statist" for posting it. LOL! We went back and forth, respectfully, and ultimately agreed to disagree. Also fine. This was a high school friend of mine, and we remain friends, thankfully.
I also didn't expect statistics about Covid risks from Oxford would be labeled "dangerous," but this fellow was not the only one to take offense. This is where I start to feel something is wrong. It was not the neo-nazis, nor the social justice warriors that shut down conversation. It is old, educated, "liberals." I use that term very loosely, since it is hard to see what liberty they are for.
I haven't been canceled yet, though I've been censored a number of times. And that is the danger, in the end. It doesn't hurt to know that people exist who discriminate, or even to hear their discriminatory positions.
I will continue to interact with all of these people, while trying to not actively trigger any of them. I am glad that different communities have places to go, and that diverse opinions exist and are being communicated. I will try to tailor my conversations on these different platforms to keep discourse respectful and constructive.
Still, I have to stand up for what I believe. Calling facts dangerous, and censoring scientific debate are inherently illiberal and damaging to everyone in society. The way to deal with differences is by finding common ground, and humanizing each other. When we cancel, and ignore reality, we become vulnerable, and give others an excuse to become more extreme.