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Disclaimer: I do not write on behalf of the Brown Daily Herald or any student organization. My thoughts are my own and are being represented as such. Take them with a grain of salt or better yet a spoonful of (brown) sugar.
I see two chairs. One is a wooden chair. It is made of oak. It has four individual legs and does not fold. It holds me up no matter how much weight I put on it. It is nicely polished. It is handmade. It is more expensive. I see the other chair. The wooden chair is the better of the two.
opinion noun opin·ion ə-ˈpin-yən: belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge
While these may look like the disparate fragments of an ESL class, there’s a point to my “See Spot Run” cold open. With a thinkpiece for the most obscure social and global woes sprouting up by the minute, freedom of expression and thought are under an all time scrutiny. While the release and deconstructing of complex ideas proves therapeutic to most and as source of affinity and solidarity, it is often reduced to a pissing contest of whose oppression is bigger. Every argument boils down to a staunch line in the sand protecting the notion of “my opinion” at all costs of rationale and exchange. However, what constitutes an opinion? And what constitutes the promulgation of harmful ideology, racism, bigotry and the like. Who is to determine that answer?
In the case of the two chairs, the wooden chair is given a near to complete history, it has been evaluated by a breadth of factors, and ultimately given a value judgment based on these considerations. I can merely view the chairs with no context and arbitrarily pick one as better or more valuable, but is that a matter of opinion or simply an impression influenced by my preconceived notions and exposure to a lifetime’s worth of chairs. Without any discernable education or evidence of the mystery chair, what makes my immovable stance more than just biased taste? How are you to know that I am not also evaluating a seemingly equal wooden chair. Is my say so simply enough? Isn’t the lack of positive knowledge maddening? One can base their choices on the chairs attributes and surface, but what value judgments do we miss without actual positive knowledge? Is the wooden chair stolen? Will it last longer than the mystery chair? Will I get another if I damage this one?
Herein lies my struggle, with and between, social justice warriors and this seemingly new class of “oppressed minorities” that are conservatives. Opinion versus downright baseless bigotry. In my experience—I will type “my” again for emphasis…MY—op-ed pieces written from the point of view of conservative individuals, or those not entirely aligned with social justice movements veil bigotry and ignorance under the iron curtain of “free speech” and “matters of opinion.” While I stand for both of those luxuries, the roadblock stopping my matte black, four-door Aventador is the blatant and bold lack of education and research done by conservatives before penning these literary whoopie cushions.
Speaking with considerable amount of positive knowledge, these thinkpieces claim that social justice warriors choose to be victims fabricating privilege and institutionalized oppression when it is convenient and beneficial and merely shucking it off when no longer advantageous. While I find this line of logic as sound as building a house out of chocolate pudding, contrary ideas should not simply be dismissed. However, when faced with immediate opposition and the expectation of providing supporting material and factual evidence, the badge of victimhood is quickly repinned. Suddenly conservative ideas and views are under attack, freedom of speech is in flames, and the guillotine has been dusted off and rolled into the town square. No ma’am, no sir. It is this attempt at slight of hand to distract from having no actual opinions based in anything more than conjecture, bias, and bigotry that is why you are getting hit by a tidal wave.
The same conservatives that claim that race and inequality have scientific origin, ignore the abhorrent racism of the scientific community that hypersexualized black women then paraded Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman not long before displaying her dismembered body parts like a prized deer, allowed black individuals to be displayed as zoo animals, and asserted that running away from a slave master’s dehumanizing treatment was a matter of scientific ailment. OH NO, I MENTIONED SLAVERY…I can smell the spray of saltiness from the sharply dressed fuccbois and their sundried lady counterparts.
It is unfair to bring up history unless it goes to prove that marginalized people complain too much, no? Is that a matter of opinion or positive knowledge proven by each assertion that using history of Black Americans to support present day effects is “playing a race card”? Whiteness and conservatives alike have been taught that black history is niche history in February with little to no global impact, with also seemingly no present day impact. These attempts to silence, erase, and minimalize history are mere admissions that this is an area in which they have no anchors, no working knowledge and therefore no upper hand. Therefore, it is not their responsibility to be educated. Therefore it is unfair.
These same conservatives that tar their faces and braid and perm their hair to defend their opinion that cultural appropriation is no big deal grant not a single thought of 12-year-old Vanessa Van Dyke who was nearly expelled for refusing to change her natural hair. Same goes for Collier Meyerson who politely refused to tie up her hair at the opera and was called disgusting, not to mention Rhonda Lee who was fired when she defended her natural hair and racist attacks against her news network via social media. Just for fun, let’s add a schoolteacher cutting Lamya Cammon’s braided hair for playing with it during class and when the military banned black hairstyles, cause you know…it’s hard to focus on invading other nations if you’re worried about deep conditioning that night.
I had not intended to bring up the author that inspired this piece but after her callous disrespect when a student questioned the BDH’s response, she will get her reckoning. M. Dzhali Maier’s writing and methodology was greatly predicated on the notion that due to falling on the autistic spectrum, she was incapable of evaluating social cues and is “virtually incapable of political correctness.” She only follows logic. Hmmmm. While I can’t speak to how her own circumstance impacts her, I do find it very interesting that when she is challenged and chastised for her views she is able to understand and feel offense, but only as a means to speak to solely her emotional state of being oppressed and maliciously attacked. Her circumstance cannot wash her hands of the causal effect of her language, behavior, and lack of education. She must bear witness to the ways in which her thinly veiled proposals of eugenics and assertion that race is biological have historically been promoted to produce immoral yet “logical”, reactionary, and violent consequences. She understands the effect of her words, proved by bookending her diatribes with pleas of good intentions and wishes for this future equality that she had immediately suggested was unattainable. This comes off as a means to soften the impact of her contrary “beliefs” to avoid the inevitable dragging coming her way. Her writing provides no analytical data, analysis, or evidence. She uses no positive knowledge and has been proven to only seek validation for mere impressions that cherry-pick debunked scientific sewage strung together with frayed threads of ignorance and intolerance.
In short, her sense of logic is as scientific as a papier-mâché volcano. There has never been logic to racism. What was the logic to racially attacking 3-year-old Cayden Jenkins? There has never been an actual definitive reason to separate these constructed races and assign arbitrary value to them that has benefited this world. Other than inflating the egos of sad powdered men who could not cope with “uncivilized” cultures’ ability to create and maintain culture and society at a more intuitive level, of course. Because eurocentric governing bodies were able to consort power does not mean that conquering, displacing, murdering, and enslaving people was the next logical and excusable steps. She is bobbing head first for apples from a tree rooted in poison. Just because she can think these ideas, does not mean they have the entitlement of being accepted and promoted through our university. In my opinion, simply because she claims she cannot feel does not mean or entitle her to determining that the rest of us do not either.
As for the Brown Daily Herald’s response, it was unclear whether or not they believed the reader’s’ intelligence was that of the cows Maier lovingly wrote about, or if they too attended the M. Dzhali Maier School of Reason and Logic for Racists Who Really Want to Feel Good. While I admire the BDH’s attempt to get their Olivia Pope on, simply blaming the publishing of this piece on internal error is simply irresponsible, unacceptable, and unbelievable. I have already had to make several edits to this piece and it’s my first; Maier has written at least three or four pieces for the Herald, not to mention a greatest racist hits of public Facebook comments that should have prompted the Herald to swiftly suggest she do anything but write for their paper. The Herald’s primary critique of Maier’s “factual inaccuracies regarding biology” comes off as more crucial to address and debunk than the flat-out racism she has been spewing for some time. To also suggest that it unintentionally published one of her pieces really makes the Herald appear to function like A Night at the Museum, where everything is seemingly in order, but anything goes when the doors close.
This is not the first time that the Brown Daily Herald has been put on watch for its insensitive and improper conduct. The continuation of such work, sanctioned at a University level, is a bold statement to the student body that they disregard the feedback and emotional safety of their readers. I hope that the publisher has been able to get the bus tire marks off of their shirt and will next time take their phone off Do Not Disturb mode when the Herald attempts to retract articles.