Take It Down! Take it Down!
I posted a graphic of Kyle J. Howard, which made light of his speech impediment by (mis)spelling “racial trauma counselor” phonetically, how he says it. Twitter exploded.
I shouldn’t make light of his impediment because, frankly, it’s not very nice. I ignored previous, similar criticism because I thought it asinine that anyone believes Howard’s claim that he was a “professional battle rapper” when he can’t pronounce the word, “rap.” It’s as likely as his claim to have been in a gang in high school (Howard – who was raised in an affluent Atlanta suburb by two highly educated parents in a high-income household – has zero corroborating evidence that he was ever a part of any gang except the debate club).
However, Howard’s calling as a lifelong student, community organizer, leftist change agent and “racial trauma counselor” (PS that’s not a thing) is dependent upon his status as a perpetual victim, regardless of him being raised in the privileged “one percent.” The term is “victimology,” and it is a Marxist strategy to convince as many people as possible that they’re victims of systemic unfairness. Even though Howard has experienced more privilege than the vast majority of Americans could ever dream of, his identity is victimhood and oppression because his politically-fueled worldview demands it. I’m actually quite sorry I gave him another thing through which he could be made into a victim.
However, making light of his impediment was unseemly and unnecessarily rude. I apologized after a friend reached out to me and said it was virtually the same as making fun of his inability to walk, and while I disagree with that comparison because my friend never claimed to have been a professional dancer (for that would be a suitable comparison), I can at least survey his point-of-view from where I’m at. So, I apologized, albeit without sackcloth and ashes.
But anyway, back to the Twitter explosion.
Someone had called me “racist” for pointing out that Howard is as much Caucasian as he is black, and thus he is as much a member of the “Oppressor Class” as he is the “Victim Class.” Of course, as anyone who is paying attention already knows, to leftists a “racist” is “anyone who does not agree with me.” For a Critical Race Theorist, everything is explained by race. It works like this:
Disagree with a black man’s point of view? That’s because you’re a racist.
Disagree with illegal immigration? That’s because you’re a racist.
Disagree with the welfare state? That’s because you’re a racist.
Do you like vanilla more than chocolate ice cream? That’s because you’re a racist.
You get the point. To be perfectly candid, my posting of the graphic, which earlier had circulated in social media, was to demonstrate that Critical Race Theorists view everything as racist. It’s Critical Race Theory. That’s the point. This is why I asked the question when posting it, “What about this? Is this racist?”
Of course, the graphic was not in the slightest bit racist. No one – and I mean no one – could explain why they would call it such (not that it stopped them). A caricature of a black man isn’t any more inherently racist than a caricature of a white man. The point was not his skin color, but the way in which he speaks. But in the minds of a Critical Race Theorist, if you criticize a black man – for anything – it must be because he’s black. I’ve done some astoundingly good impressions of Jacob Prasch’s voice without ever once being called a racist, but I digress…
That said, what I want to explain is why I refused to take down the graphic, even though I apologized for posting it, and even though there were wide appeals to “Take it down! Take it down! Take it down!”
Ladies and gentlemen, what we’re dealing with here is textbook fascism. No, I don’t mean that disagreeing with someone’s speech is fascist. It’s not. It’s not the slightest bit fascist to take issue with what any person says or how any person expresses themselves. In the Marketplace of Ideas, people can freely disagree with the veracity, validity or even morality of what any other person says. Likewise, the right to say something does not mean that saying something is right. What I resist is not criticism towards my (or anyone else’s) personal expression, but the demand that certain expressions of thought aren’t to be allowed in the Marketplace of Ideas. If I say something that I should not have said, or express myself in a way I should not have expressed myself, it profits the world nothing to make it go away. It profits the world to hold up that idea, word, or personal expression and lift it to mockery, scorn, and criticism.
What the insurgence of the Marxist-left is trying to accomplish is the eradication of viewpoints – and ultimately, ideas – that they don’t like. Because ideas are intangible, they set their sights on banning personal expression. For example, Kyle J Howard has argued that calling someone a Marxist is just another way to call someone the infamous “n-word.” His goal is obvious; make it so that people are so ashamed of using the word Marxist – because of supposed racist overtones – that they stop pointing out Marxism. Even bringing up Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, or Marxism is to be ultimately banned as supposedly racist code-words. I insist, dear friends, that what you’re seeing is not a battle for mere words, but a battle for ideas.
American discourse is currently replete with the inherently fascist demand to make certain kinds of personal expressions (words, pictures, etc) prohibited so that – ultimately -thoughts themselves will become crimes. When something perceived to be “politically incorrect” is said – whether it is right or wrong, moral or immoral, sensitive or insensitive – the demand to “take it down” is reminiscent of Winston’s “memory hole” in Orwell’s 1984. It’s not that fascists want to destroy the argument made against them, or else they would contest it with ideas. Rather, they just want the arguments made against them to go away. And the best way to make arguments go away is through (1) the coercion of government via laws against certain kinds of speech, (2) forced censorship from a corporatocracy (numerous complaints were filed with Twitter that my tweet constituted “hate or abusive speech,” which Twitter rejected) as we are now seeing in the major social media platforms, or (3) by public demand (organized boycotts, pitchforks and torches, for example).
Never before in America have fascists had so much control and influenced so many. For those who love freedom and are fully persuaded of our own ideas, we do not desire comments or personal expressions with which we profoundly disagree to go away. Instead, we desire those thoughts to remain on display in the Marketplace of Ideas that we may renounce them, reprove them, and rebuke them.
How many time has Pulpit & Pen lamented certain evangelical leaders who “Canerized” their comments before we could screenshot them? How many times have we had to link to the Wayback Machine because an evangelical leader pulled down an article or blog from their website because of public outrage? When someone says something we detest, and they delete it because of the outcry, we are not under the naive impression that the offender has changed their mind. We are only under the impression that they are cowards.
Ultimately, deleting a comment doesn’t make it go away (the many screenshots of our tweet posted by angry critics, which did nothing but allow many thousands more to see the graphic in question, demonstrate this point). Neither does deleting a comment make it unsaid. Neither does it necessarily imply the comment is no longer meant and believed by the one who originally said it. Finally – and this is important – deleting a comment does not make critics any less critical, when what they really want is a pound of flesh.
Deleting a comment that some perceive as offensive (rightly or wrongly) to the pressure of mob demand, serves little but to strengthen the tendency toward fascism that has already strangled American discourse. If you don’t like Confederate statues, for example, it is best to leave them up as an ebenezer to our national shame. The world is better with reminders of what was wrong than without them. If Rosanne Barr called some racially ambiguous-looking woman a monkey in a Tweet (which she did), then don’t demand it be taken down, but demand it be left up to demonstrate whatever level of shame you think appropriate. Let it be an albatross around the neck of your enemies. Don’t assist the white-washing (is that racist?) of history by flushing it down the vacuum tube at the Ministry of Truth.
Ridicule it. Say it’s wrong. But when you demand that something publicly said be unsaid, not only does it demonstrate that you don’t really know how words work, it demonstrates that perhaps you’re not fully prepared to thoughtfully critique it. Don’t erase ideas you find objectionable; refute them.
That being said, while some of my friends thought it was “fair game,” a few of my friends thoughtfully critiqued my mockery of Kyle J. Howard’s speech. I’m glad they explained what they felt to be the problem. I actually found parts of their critiques helpful. Leaving up the comment might just help others, too.
And if not, at least snowflakes out there somewhere are still melting.
[Contributed by JD Hall]