In response to a tweet about modern Nazis spouting off about racism and doing Nazi salutes, Michael Shermer tweets back:
This is what identity politics leads to. If you identify by color & push for non-white identities, white identities will push back. Stop it. https://t.co/pwnwj7mhYu
— Michael Shermer (@michaelshermer) November 21, 2016
You hear that, black Americans? If you push back against racism, it’s your fault when the Nazis come after you. Jews, be quiet unless you want to stir them up again. Stop it, troublemakers!
His timeline is currently full of tweets in which he disingenuously points out over and over again that gosh, things are so much better for black folk now — interracial marriage is allowed, white people say they don’t mind black families living near them, etc., etc., etc. If there is incremental improvement, well, that just means you’ve got nothing to complain about.
What an ass.
So forming politics around being targeted by the majority because of an identity leads to reactionary politics around targeting people because of their identity?
I feel like causation is backwards here. Discrimination motivated identity politics, not the other way around.
So if we complain, Nazis will whine? So what.
Oh, and fuck you, Mr. Shermer.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Shermer, please show me EVIDENCE that blacks and whites have the same income and criminal charges on the average here in the US.
Being a blind asshole irrationally/evidencely believing in a post racist society without evidence is signs of a liar and bullshitter. You are a bullshitter.
chigau (違う) says
He’s not oblivious, he means exactly what he wrote.
It’s a threat.
The linked tweet is from November, but Shermer is currently trying to defend it. His “defense” involves changing the subject to talk about how racism has declined over time.
Shermer is no different than Bill Maher who pretty much said that the Left should shut the hell up when White men make racist jokes at the expense of racial minorities.
I guess Shermer, Maher and ilk feel that racial minorities should just shut the hell up and take whatever comes their way. Or be accused of stirring up the racism which they endure. It’s not as if racial minorities know best how to stand up for their own interests.
What happened to Shermer? Didn’t he used to be one of the sane ones, or was I just not paying enough attention?
Obviously, nothing changed as a result of identity politics.
SC (Salty Current) says
Shermer literally wrote a book about the Holocaust. Does he now believe Nazi persecution and genocide was pushback against Jewish identity politics?
Shermer is pathetic. Sad.
Anyway, as I understand it, white people invented identity politics in the first place, around the end of the 17th century, and in Virginia at that. Their motivation was probably to create a divide between working people with skin color as an easy choice.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Shermer does indeed have causation backwards. Shermer does indeed have a thoroughly distorted understanding of what “identity politics” is both in common use and in political science.
Fuck him for that, but I’ve got even bigger problems with his thoroughly white view of racism and racists.
I wonder if he will ever employ his skepticism to move himself from his own standpoint long enough to understand anyone who isn’t just like him.
Anyone recall Operation Pipeline? It was masterminded in Volusia County Florida and spread like a virus. Basically pretextual stops aka “driving while black”:
One of my heroes is Robert Wilkins who was seriously the wrong guy to fuck with:
“The Maryland State Police made perhaps the biggest tactical blunder in the program’s history in 1992, when a Pipeline unit pulled over a black family in a rental car outside Washington, D. C., ordered them out into the rain, and then ran a drug-sniffing dog in and out of their car, over their repeated objections. The driver turned out to be a Harvard Law graduate, Robert Wilkins, a public defender who was on his way home from a family funeral in Chicago. Wilkins slapped the Maryland State Police with a civil-rights suit and accepted a settlement that forced the cops to keep detailed records of their Pipeline stops for the next three years. The results were more proof of Pipeline’s unique affinity for minorities: Of the 732 people who were detained and searched during 1995 and 1996, 75 percent were black and 5 percent Hispanic. The Maryland ACLU has filed another civil-rights suit based on those figures.”
And a great book to read would be _The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness_ by Michelle Alexander.
When Obama got elected I thought I was vindicated in that everybody thought as I did and we were going postracial. I regret that naive sentiment. I am an idiot.
But this was my attitude and soundtrack going in to vote for Obama:
And this is probably the best politically charged hiphop song ever:
As a coming of age kid Public Enemy had a big impact on me. And later Rage Against the Machine!!!!!!!!!
Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says
If only LGBT communities weren’t so damned vocal on twitter, maybe Alan Turing wouldn’t have been arrested?
Yes, yes, the causation seems a little fishy, but time is relative, so it all makes perfect sense. It’s like the finale episode of of Star Trek TNG – actions in the future are directly responsible for repercussions in the past. If it makes sense in Star Trek, it surely makes sense in the modern world.
On the topic of time, I would point out that the quoted tweet is from several months ago… not actually to suggest that the criticism is wrong, just so it’s been pointed out. I mean, maybe he’s had it pointed out to him that oppression against minority groups isn’t a new phenomenon of the twenty-teens, adjusted his views and corrected his comments, as any good skeptic* would?
*The question of whether a good skeptic would be unaware of this fact is, of course, one that we should all consider, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook such niche ideas as the centuries of oppression carried our in the varied names of white supremacy, Christianity, and imperialism that have merely shaped the entirety of western, if not world history.
Rapists are all about victim blaming. Why would you ever expect anything different?
Something wrong with your link.
Yeah, the more I look at Shermer’s twitter, the more utterly dishonest the whole interaction seems.
He started out by saying people shouldn’t identify by race. People tell him racism cannot be ignored, “colorblindness” doesn’t work, and he completely changes to subject to talk about how we’ve come a long way on race. He goes on about this for a long time, and one gets the sense that he just wanted to talk about his book, The Moral Arc, and forgot what the original argument was about. He says he’s not denying that racism still exists–but then why did he bring it up in the first place? It was a total non sequitur.
Oh, and then he invites Tara Smith to an open dialogue on a friend’s show, so they can discuss whether racism has declined. She sensibly declines. Then Shermer goes on about how none of his opponents have evidence that racism has gotten worse over time, and people on the right are so much more willing to have dialogue than people on the left.
Even apart from the things Shermer argues for, I am deeply offended by his argument techniques.
He’s such a poor thinker.
I wonder what will happen if someone asks him to define what he means by “pushing for non-white identities”
PZ Myers says
That friend is Dave Rubin, a youtuber who likes to skirt the edge of alt-right sentiment as it is.
Exactly. Waaaay too many otherwise reasonable people treat racist people like Shermer as if they’re committing gaffes instead of speaking their minds.
Has he commented on the negative reactions to Milo or Richard Spencer yet? I have a feeling his favorite fruit is peaches stored below 0 deg Celsius.
The latter. He was always a free market fundamentalist and he was influenced by reading Atlas Shrugged. I don’t see how anyone who knows how anything works (physically, economically or socially) be impressed by that fairy story. Like you, I was fooled for while, but he let his freak flag fly early on.
Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says
Reading his twitter feed is just making me angry now. So he’s arguing that there’s an arc to the moral universe that bends toward justice (MLK quote, right? Or paraphrase anyway?) but seems to believe that this arc would be best served by those who suffer injustice not actually doing anything about it? Despite the fact that the bending of this moral arc has, at all points throughout history, been driven by human beings who were driven by what would now be called identity politics? And he calls himself a skeptic? Is considered by some to be a skeptical leader? How come you need to be accredited to call yourself a dietitian, but apparently any thoughtless rando can call themselves a skeptic?
Mind you, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m pretty sure my first interaction with a self described skeptic was with some guy who argued that the Apollo missions couldn’t have gone to the moon, because tv transmissions back then used enormous broadcast towers and there was no way to get one of those into orbit on the side of a rocket. Because, you know, we had to keep the Martians up to speed as well. Or something. I don’t even know.
More and more, I think anyone who explicitly self-describes as a skeptic should be assumed to be dishonest or credulous until proven otherwise. Though, to be honest, the only reason I don’t already assume that of everyone is that, believe it or not after this comment, I actively resist cynicism.
Remember, it’s OK for Michael Shermer to say things have improved for minorities since the 18th century so they should stop complaining. But criticising that view brings politics into the skeptical community and must be avoided at all costs.
When I have met assholes like this, their common thread is “Well, I’m not a racist, but ____________.”
Can we please just admit that Shermer is White Nationalist/Supremacist and be done with it?
Because that is exactly what this is. It’s not a gaffe, or mis-tweeted statement. Chigau is 100% correct.
It’s a threat.
From a White Supremacist.
I can only ask of Shermer, why do you believe weird things?
I don’t use twitter, so I don’t know if anyone has called him out for his hypocrisy here, but it’s easy to change a couple of words here and… presto:
“If you identify as atheist and push for non-religious identities, religious identities will push back. Stop it.”
I don’t know enough about him to form any real exact judgement on what he is or is not. other than he has not given me the slightest reason to find out more about him nor his writings.
I think I would just as soon watch bill o reruns if I need to get sick and angry
Some minority communities have been struggling with heroin addiction for decades. When a few white kids in Salem, Mass. start keeling over from overdose, it suddenly becomes an epidemic.
This is what identity politics leads to. Stop it.
Shermer you’re not a nazi. You’re a quisling.
family born here generations ago. family fought for this country. I still get asked if I’m from here.
it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how long you’ve been here. If you melanin is to high, your not “one of us” by default.
While Shermer’s statement seems to be nothing more than your typical privileged person telling the marginalized to stop complaining, and doesn’t lend itself to more nuanced interpretations, I believe there’s still something to be said about the negative effects of “identity politics”.
Identity is absolutely vital to identify instances and sources of discrimination, and for formalizing oppositions and alliances.
But there’s also cases where identity is used in ways that (at least superficially) don’t seem to advance social justice at all.
The one example I can think of and that had worried me for a while now is the use of ethnic demographics in election polling and forecasting.
American voters have been told by pundits and analysts for over a decade now that “Hispanics are going to decide the next election”, that “Hispanics are going to save the GOP” or “something, something, urban vote”.
I can easily see statements like those driving some white voters to try to prove them wrong. And arguably they did.
There might also be politicians that see these proposed dynamics, take the wrong lessons from it, and decide to react to them in an ineffectual or counterproductive manner, even though I personally can’t think of any obvious cases atm.
I think this boils down to a much bigger question about the very nature of the democratic process.
As of late I’m somehow tempted to think that it might be best to treat democracy as this black box in which the will of the people flows in and change comes out. To do away with all the “sciency” stuff to not disrupt the magic. But that’s probably a very bad idea in it’s own right.
Alex the Pretty Good says
So I guess Schermer will take responsibility for the Origin of Daesh? After all, “if you identify by non-muslim identities, Muslim identities Will push back.”
Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says
If that’s what Shermer was trying to say, and subsequently trying to defend, he is a poor communicator.
He’s a white atheist thought leader. You can’t expect him to reason or think logically.
If the current state of american politics makes you despair about democracy, consider that the USA never has been, nor was even intended to be, a democracy. It’s a nation created by rich white slave owners for rich white slave owners.
If you want to muse about how democracy should function, look elsewhere.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I didn’t want to engage in identity politics
Yeah, what he said.
Even for idiot Shermer, this is really stupid.
1. Identity politics have always existed.
It started here when the white Europeans colonized North America and pushed out the Native Americans.
They then brought in slaves from Africa who just happened to be black.
2. The big identity politics on the 19th century were anti-German, anti-Catholic, anti_Irish. There were riots that killed hundreds.
The famous MIllard Filmore was the presidential candidate of the nativist party.
3. Later anti-Italian and anti-Slavs were added to the mix.
4. Today it is anti-Hispanic, anti-Moslem, and anti-nonwhite generally.
Nothing new about identity politics at all.
It starts in the bible with the Israelis genociding the Canaanites.
The usual issue that comes up about identity politics for the Democrats (not for the GOP, which is the rich white party only) is whether they should push identity politics or progressive social justice.
It’s a false dichotomy!!!
They should do both.
IMO, social justice is a far more important issue though.
When everyone truly has equal opportunities, social mobility exists, and the average American isn’t getting poorer every year, identity becomes a lot less important.
There are a lot of whites falling down the socio-economic ladder lately and they are people too.
I see what Shermer did here. He equates anti-racism = identity politics. It’s extremely dishonest.
To translate from Nazi speak to English:
This is what anti-racism lead to. If you are anti-racist and push for equality under the law and social justice, privileged whites will push back.
Stating the obvious here and it’s been this way for a few centuries now.
What Shermer sees as a bug, we see as a feature.
Today’s Shermer brings us this quote from Jonathan Haidt. Gee, Shermer, if you really want to say “Fuck you!”, then just say it. Fuck you, Shermer. See, that wasn’t too hard.
Looks like he got his fee fees hurt from the criticism and just tweeted this:
A little rewording for the rapey man who is bad at critical thinking:
People are sick and tired of being called religious bigots for innocent things they’ve said or done. The response to being called a religious bigot unfairly is never to say, ‘Gee, what did I do that led to me being called this? I should be more careful.’ The response is almost always, ‘Fuck you!
Another example of his poor thinking skills is that he used the term “innocent things”. Well, of course being outraged at someone for “innocent things” is bad. Which exact “innocent things” are these people being called racist for, hmm?
Ah, beaten to it :(
Note to Nose: Fist no like be told no hit you. No fair tell me that. That’s nose-ism.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
And rape is caused by women refusing to voluntarily have sex with Shermer
PZ Myers says
#41, #42: also he used that revealing phrase, “witch hunts”. It’s revealing because it implies that all criticism is unfair and undeserved, and that he’s being excessively punished while innocent.
Haidt is another guy I’ve long since lost any respect for.
I really don’t get why so many other white people act like petulant little shits when they’re called out for being prejudiced. I don’t have any problem with examining my attitudes as a white person towards other races, so why are assholes like Shermer so averse to self-reflection?
Apparently, non-white people are supposed to just grin and bear the racism they face in modern society, or else entitled white people will go full Nazi when you call them out on their bullshit.
Yeah, they think that’s supposed to be a credit to them. They think that’s a quality.
It’s nothing less than a clear threat. It’s no different from telling black people a few decades ago to stop trying to send your kids to our school or we’ll have to go back to slavery. And that will be your fault.
Anton Mates says
No, Mr. Haidt, that’s your response, because you’re thin-skinned and self-centered, and also a racist. Plenty of other white people have responded to accusations of racism with some version of “Sorry, I’ll be more careful.” And then folks like you accuse them of “white guilt” because they’re making you look bad.
Yup, given that he spoke in favour of Dinesh DeSouza (IIRC he provided a character reference) during the latter’s legal difficulties.
Pierce R. Butler says
The Wall Street Journal now prints the word “fuck”?!?
Maybe some hyperchristians will sign the “Deport Murdoch the Undesirable Alien” petition now.
By Shermer’s tweet we can tell there are only two identities: white and non-white.
How blissful such a simple dichotomous worldview must be.