Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Everybody is From Somewhere, Right?

By creating "micro-aggression" crimes, aren't leftists actually building barriers between groups by making the price of simple attempts at friendliness an opportunity for a denunciation for a thought crime?

Jonah Goldberg goes off on the "micro-aggression" movement (it is annoying):

The leftwingers — racial, gender, feminist whatever — all subscribe to this “micro-aggression” claptrap. This is the latest term of art for the same political-correctness spiel we’ve been hearing for decades. A “micro-aggression” is when you unintentionally say something (allegedly) insulting or insensitive that only an incredibly sensitive and politically programmed person would immediately take as a sign of oppression. Wikipedia tells me that “microinvalidations” are “communications that subtly exclude negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person and their social identities.” It offers an example of such a microtravesty: “White people ask Latinos where they are from.”

This of course raises the question of whether Sonia Sotomayor is a Wikipedia user or author. As Rich Lowry (Praise Be Upon Him) notes in his column, she makes a great deal of hay about these horrible affronts to human dignity, on the strange assumption that they had anything to do with the legal question before the court.

So here’s the double standard. According to the doctrine of microaggression, if I innocently ask a Latino, “Where are you from?” I am committing some grave, bigoted, thought crime that the Latino has every right to be furious about. But when some lefty screams at me that I am a white supremacist racist blankety blank based on nothing other than some conjured offense drawn from Marcusian hogwash and hooey, I am not only supposed to stand there, take it, and feel guilty about it — I’m also supposed to repent of my evil ways. Asking a Latino “Where are you from?” might be a faux pas — or it might be a friendly way to start a conversation! But as far as aggressions go, it seems awfully micro, even nano, compared with being called a racist because you asked the question.

I find it astounding that your average victim studies student can hear a micro-aggression, and from that tiny visible tip of some perceived "ism" or "phobia" instantly construct an entire iceberg of evil.

It's amazing, really, that a portion of the political spectrum that assumes conservatives are stupid, thinks that conservatives have entire secret languages both to subtly attack minorities when talking to them, but also to speak to each other in coded "dog whistle" terms!

But I digress (as I can!)

Back to the main point. If I may be so bold, everybody is from somewhere.

If someone asks me where I'm from, I say "I'm from Detroit." If I'm away from Michigan, I'll usually say, "I live in Ann Arbor, but I grew up in Detroit."

What I don't say, is "How dare you!? You assume I'm from Europe as if I don't belong here?!!"

Or from Canada. I get that, actually.

In this country, I actually assume someone who speaks with no identifiable foreign accent--regardless of skin tone--is from America. Apart from Native Americans, we are all immigrants or the offspring of immigrants at some point (even Native Americans simply have older immigrant lineage traced through the Bering Strait rather than the Mayflower, no?).

And even if I ask you where you are from in an effort to be friendly and start a conversation, I won't think more or less of you if you say "Mumbai" or "Bogota" rather than "Cleveland."

In this country, asking where you are from doesn't have the same overtones as it does in other parts of the world where blood and soil determine whether you "belong" or not. If you are from Tokyo or Togo, I'm really fine with that.

Russia's population of ethnic Russians is declining, and they may see Ukraine and other pockets of ethnic Russians in their "near abroad" as the raw materials of great power status that Russia must conquer. You can say you are "Ukrainian" now, but Putin just sees a Russian waiting to come out. Blood and soil trumps all.

We, by contrast, create Americans every day when immigrants raise their hands and pledge allegiance to our country--assuming we don't emphasize policies that reduce the incentive to assimilate as past waves of immigrants have become Americans. I know, you look at my picture and it just screams "privileged oppressor." But there was a time when Irish and Central European ancestry were not badges of white privilege in America. Naturalization and assimilation made me a presumed guilty micro-aggressor--not my place of birth.

Come on, people! In other parts of the world, people dream of mere "micro-aggression" as Heaven on Earth! Yet here, leftists want to build walls by making people afraid of starting a perfectly normal conversation with someone with a different skin tone by opening with a "where are you from?" ice breaker, lest they be accused of being a racist or xenophobe, or whatever.

Heck, the funniest response I ever got from a "where are you from?" conversation starter got me the reply "From the sea, if current theories are correct." Heh. We went out on a few dates, although that (predictably) didn't work out. Luckily, she was paler than I am. So no offense was taken about her watery origins.

We're all mutts, right? We're all from somewhere. Give somebody the benefit of the doubt if they ask that question. Have no worries, if they really are some "-ist" or "-phobe" you won't need to seek translation assistance for long to find out for sure. And if that doesn't happen, you might make a friend out of that whole messy conversation thing.