Archives for category: manners

I oppose the concept of “gender” and quite a bit of today’s intersectionalist nomenclature. This is especially the case with the trans mania.

But I should clarify. For the record, I am not “trans-exclusionary.” That term of alleged opprobrium doesn’t do my position justice. I am a trans denier. Whether or not I play along with other people’s fantasies and fakes and frauds is a matter of whimsy only, circumscribed by manners and fleeting circumstance. On principle, anyone who threatens me — in the realm of manners or in courts of law — to obtain my compliance with their fantasies and fakes and frauds will gain only my contempt and defiance. The current trans movement is a bullying idiocy.

Now, though I oppose current trends in trans advocacy, I have no great animus against these sexually confused and deliberately confusing people. When I was young I knew a number of trannies. That is what they called themselves. Trannies. They were technically called pre-op transexuals, I think. But whatever they were called, I liked them. I had no trouble with them. I thought their passion for drag shows was stupid, but I think most other people’s pastimes are stupid, and as everyday people I got along with them fine.

But at no point did I think of these men as women. Lacking two X chromosomes and sporting dangling pudenda put the kibosh on any of that. Putative trans women, even after plastic surgery, are still not women. Though if they can pass I give them a pass.

But that was yesterday — today’s trans activists are my enemies.

Why? Well, they have gotten increasingly bold in their effrontery. About once per month I encounter some public argument to the effect that I am somehow bad if I do not want to get naked and engage in penetrative sexual play with a “trans person” just because I do not like their genitalia. Well, I like women. Well, a very few women. And I have a fondness for their genitalia, too. And I have no interest in naked play with any man. I would be most happy if I could go the rest of my life without seeing another penis, at least up close. The idea that trans activists think they can guilt me into accepting their hidden or mangled pudenda appalls me.

And I have a right to my feelings.

My values.

My sexual preferences.

Today’s trannies who seek to take away my right are evil.

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Stelter’s tweet is rather like Cain’s reply when asked where Abel was. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Well, Cain’s rhetorical question implies a truth: we are not our brothers’ keepers. But that was hardly the point, was it? Cain had murdered his brother. Cain used his rhetorical expression of a truth to conceal a crime. He had made himself the keeper, so the tale goes, of his brother’s corpse.

Just so, Brian Stelter — I would be tempted to call him the most witless man on television, except that he is on CNN and he is way down the line of nincompoopery — expresses a truth: one faked victimization event does not negate any other real crimes of a similar variety. But that is hardly the point, is it?

The reason we stick pols’ and journos’ noses into this foul fraud is that they fell for the hoax without questioning it — indeed, they fell all over themselves touting its cultural importance, as yet another example of their political opponents’ evil natures. When discovering that their celebrated cause was indeed a hoax — that their honored victim was a liar — they should have expressed shame, made an apology. Not a defensive excuse.

What the event revealed was that they, the major media and cultural and political elite, are themselves bigoted, racist and evil. Not their opponents.

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On Gab before the proof came in about the hoax.

It used to be a joke. Old people would regale us with all the difficulties that they had had to endure when young: walking home from school, splitting firewood, etc. Some of this was funny because it was such a cliché, some because it spoke to real progress but was said with such fondness, and some because . . . well, I walked a ways away home from school, and with a French horn case; and I split, and threw and stacked firewood, too.

Nowadays it is the youngsters who regale us with the horrors of their lives, their ordeals. We “just do not know” what they go through. They now often tell us of all the racism and homophobia that gets directed to them.

Their lip-smacking glee in the telling, however, is less innocent than the oldsters’ old complaints, and their most obvious guilt is the fact that many of the worst, most celebrated instances of victimization turn out to be hoaxes. Ah, Jussie Smollett is just the latest.

There is, as Gad Saad often asserts, a sort of Münchhausen’s syndrome in play: get attention by malingering, by pretending to be sick; get attention by pretending to be a victim.

Note that the hoaxers are not pretending to any great heroism or achievement: that would be jejune! They pretend to be victims.

If you ask me, there is more honor in pretending to have achieved something one has not achieved than in pretending to having been victimized when one has not. At least the former promotes achievement; the latter promotes resentment.

These are the days of the Last Men. They are only grimly funny.

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The point being that you need moral leukocytes.

Not a scandal.

Robby Soave, over at Reason, defended Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against those on the right who mock her for her telling of whoppers about her past, about her pose as a poor person, and for her recently unearthed dance video, which I have no interest in seeing. Since AO-C is a pulchritudinous woman, I am certain I would have no great objection to her alleged Terpsichorean antics.

There. I got out my inner Bill Buckley, so I can move on.

Anyway, the meat of Soave’s defense and remonstrance (or is that mere warning?) is this:

Conservatives who obsessively comment on Ocasio-Cortez’s wardrobe and dance video are feeding into the narrative that the right is anti-women and does’t treat them seriously. Bafflingly, they are also attacking her strengths. Being a young person with a sense of style is a good thing! Occasionally unwinding, dancing, and livestreaming dinner while taking questions from constituents: also good.

Robby Soave, “Criticize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Socialist Policies, Not Her Extremely Likable Dance Video” (January 3, 2019)

Just as Aristotle reminded us that one swallow does not make a spring, I insist that calling attention to the young pol’s pretentions to poverty and Woman of the People status is not an obsession. Not yet.

And just calling attention to a dance video? It is fun to note the quirks of one’s opponents,

Of course, criticizing her for her mad policy preferences is best.

But it is not as if progressives do not actually obsess about Trump’s looks and his manner of speech. And it is not as if they did not relentlessly attack Sarah Palin for her looks and her cultural goofs more than they did her substantive errors.

Sure, anyone not a leftist criticizing a leftist woman on non-policy grounds is going to “feed a narrative” of misogyny. But that is just a marker for the besetting sin of the left, who regard negative comments against any particular woman as being a sign of the dread attitude of being “anti-women.” There is not much we can do about that.

Donald Trump, though, was brilliant in his response to Megyn Kelley’s famous and rather sexist challenge of his alleged anti-woman attitudes. Did he say nasty things about a few women? Sure. He also said many nasty things about men. But no one ever accused him of misandry. Just misogyny.

Mr Trump — one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides. In particular, when it comes to women. You call women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.’

So Trump’s reponse was spot on: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” He particularized. Megyn Kelley collectivized. As is so common in the media, as well as, generally, on the left.

The cultural left.

Which is why any criticism of a famous left-of-center woman will be added to the evidence for misogyny. Because leftists will take even the most iffy opportunities as license to make the misogyny charge.

It is a similar case with feminism. Were I to say that “I hate feminism,” such a statement routinely would go through at least three transformations: (1) “I hate feminists”; (2) “I hate all feminists”; (3) “I hate all women.” Truth is, of course, feminism is not feminists is not all feminists is not all women.

But ideologues of a collectivist bent proclaim the opposite.

Miss AO-C is quite obviously “Trumpian” in one important way: she has a few peculiarities in the looks department, she is astoundingly ignorant, she says goofy things, and she is not on the side of the angels. And, in our rather superficial age, I reserve the right to make fun of her for any and all reasons. Which narratives that might feed? I do not care much. Progressives cannot be reached. I make my pitch to convince others.

Still, caving in to doing politics like the left does politics is, I suppose, not any great advance.

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Dr. Jordan Peterson came into fame and infamy for refusing to comply with a Canadian law forcing him to use the “preferred pronouns” of self-designated “gender non-binaries.”

Recently, he was challenged by linguist John McWhorter on this issue, mainly on the tangential matter of psychological insight. McWhorter’s point was that while he admitted that some students who desired a peculiar manner of address might indeed be trying to push a power play upon him, he could not be sure, and it was just easier to comply with their requests, no matter how bizarre.

Well, prudence was not Peterson’s issue with the law, and, were I in such a position, it would not be mine, either. Besides, there is an issue even more basic than politics. Easier? How is changing the basic, most in-grained features of one’s language “easier”?

But there is one sense in which McWhorter is right, it is easy to comply. Because the whole thing is in most cases a non-issue. And I am surprised that a linguist of McWhorter’s brilliance would not make a point of it. One does not address another by a “gendered” pronoun, in today’s Engish. One uses “you.”

sure-ill-address-you-by-your-preferred-pronoun-shall-it-be-you-or-thou

What all this talk about preferred pronouns is really about, as near as I can make out, is how we address others “behind their backs,” so to speak.

“I’m asked, often,” says Professor McWhorter, “to call people, singularly, ‘they.’”

In the third person.

So, what these gender-obsessed youngsters are really fretting about is not how they are addressed, but how they are referred to — in conversation in groups where they are being referenced to other people with personal and possessive pronouns.

Peterson is surely in the right that this sort of thing should be negotiated. People who cannot handle social negotiations of this sort may understandably yearn to cry to Big Brother to enforce the exact terms, but if they are bucking a long tradition, they need to stop being such . . . juveniles. And conjure up from deep within themselves a little tolerance.

And maybe even respect for the past. And biology. And . . .

After all, is it not the people who wish to change others’ behavior, and tradition of long standing, who must prove the most? The burden of persuasion usually falls upon the radicals. It is they who must be expected to be the more tolerant and forgiving. (Amusingly, in the collective, their non-gendered pronoun falls trippingly off the tongue as well as the typing fingertips — for there is no gendering of “they/them/their/theirs.”)

That they are not tolerant, in this issue, but demanding, instead, is a sign that they are pampered, “privileged” whiners with little to recommend them as civilized beings.

And, as for me . . .

mygender-meme

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N. B. The first graphic “meme,” above, is from my second memegenerator.net account: Wirkman. (Not my first, Lucian.) The second graphic meme refers to a philosophy central in the early science fiction novels of F. Paul Wilson, which featured prominently in his LaNague Federation books such as Healer (1976) and An Enemy of the State (1980). “KYFHO” stands for “Keep Your Fucking Hands Off.”

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Snopes makes much of the “different contexts” between Obama’s 2016 “shit show” comment and Trump’s alleged and recent “shit hole” query. Snopes somehow doesn’t make much of the fact that while there is no doubt that Obama used the language, Trump’s epithet was not merely given in private, it was divulged by his enemy, Sen. Durbin, who may have misreported it — or even lied about it. Typically, further testimony has tended to fall out along partisan lines.

0291B6E8-31A4-438F-B5CA-AB705BB7D680Also, Snopes’ “mostly false” judgment relies on the setup question, concentrating on “did the media ignore” rather than “did the media repeat the word as a horrible affront to all that is good and decent hundreds of times in one day and relentlessly ever since”?

Leftists have stumbled onto a new mantra, it appears:

shit hole shit hole
shit shit hole hole
hole shit hole shit

Now, I strongly suspect that Trump did in fact say “shit hole” re Haiti. He maybe shouldn’t have. But Durbin should not have repeated it as hearsay, and the press should not have repeated it ad nauseam as an excuse to malign the president, as malignable as he may be.

And, for the record, the Libya mission did turn out to be a shit show, and Haiti is indeed a shit hole country.

img_0742But forget for a moment the putative unacceptability of the language of these two presidential pearls. The Libya operation itself reflects badly on Obama . . . and Hillary Clinton. The exact phrasing strikes me as not nearly as interesting.

And is the near facticity of Haiti’s shit hole status really racist?

It seems like a frank (if vulgar) recognition of the dire poverty of the nation. It doesn’t mean Haitians are bad people, but it does indicate that they have not got the knack, as a group, for civilization yet.

But the fact that the Clinton Foundation exploited Haitian tragedy to do good mainly for itself, that does reflect badly on . . . Hillary Clinton!

338A95F6-C260-4AF8-88A3-37079C26C39FWho somehow managed to appear as a key player in both the shit show and the shit hole scandals. And not for saying something naughty and un-nice, but for being incompetent and perhaps even murderous and corrupt.

Great going, Hillary; great going, Democrats.

But let us get down to the bedrock issue: is Trump a “racist”? Well, he does say racist things now and then. This may be — but probably is not — one of them.

How? Well, Trump’s comment was not directed at just Haiti, but also at “El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and African countries in the temporary protected status program,” according to a competent report summary. And that is not just black people, but Latin American browns, too. Note that many, many countries with brown-and-darker skinned inhabitants were not also maligned. No mention of Botswana, Brazil, what-have-you.

img_1569The most reasonable interpretation of Trump’s query is that it pertained to the current and quite idiotic country-of-origin criterion for granting legal immigration status, and that Trump simply does not understand why America would not use an individual criteria set for granting visas and green cards and the like. And the idea that folks from countries in the very worst conditions might provide emigres with more cultural baggage for assimilation is not a crazy notion. Nor necessarily racist.

Though I know, I know: lots of immigrants from around the world, regardless of country of origin, do well here — often better than those natives who have fallen into the welfare state rut.

Of course, objecting to the phrasing of Trump’s query is not entirely unreasonable. It is “beneath the dignity of the office,” sure, but tell that to all the previous White House vulgarians, greatest of which was probably LBJ. Much of this is really about media focus. Once upon a time, journalists and news outlets ignored this kind of thing. Now they revel in it.

Especially when it is the Republicans who prove the loose tongued.

Many complaints against the query are silly, of course, or worse — school-marmy. Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen insisted that “Language like that shouldn’t be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn’t be heard in the White House.”

What a pompous, impertinent Ms. Grundy. What goes on in locker rooms is none of her shit hole business. The entitlement with which some women in power think they can legislate for men’s speech and lives is astounding,

Utah Rep. Mia Love’s lament is a bit more understandable, for her judgment was that Trump’s wording and sentiment were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” Though that last bit is a bit much. I have read American history. I know American values. They are not lockstep prudish or high-minded, no matter how hard some folks have tried to make them so.

Besides, might not America have earned a right to some elitism? People want to come here, from all over the world. Reverse migration to Haiti, Nicaragua and other “temporary protected status” countries is not all that common.

Why?

Well, you know the answer.

Of course, it is the sign of magnanimity not to lord one’s superiority over others. Trump is not magnanimous. Surprise surprise.

But his enemies are relentless in their sanctimony. Is it possible to be more loathsomely and hubristically moralistic than the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke? Maybe had Trump’s statement been less ambiguous, Huppke’s litany of moral challenges to the reader would be easier to take. But as it stands. . . .

Here is the nut of Huppke’s “your response will be remembered” phillipic:

Did you call out the obvious racism behind those statements? Did you acknowledge that the leader of the free world — by title, anyway — had shown himself to be a white supremacist, casually expressing his dislike of brown-skinned immigrants and preference for white European immigrants?

The racism is only “obvious” if all you have is race on the brain. And white supremacist? Come on.

Trump is an American supremacist. That is what is obvious. How racist is he? Probably not much more racist than he is homophobic — which is what leftists were charging him with last year … on no evidence whatsoever.

The tendency to turn one’s enemy into an utter evil monster might best be avoided. And the attempt, running throughout the left’s (and, especially, Democratic partisans’) excoriations, to turn anyone defending the president into a Deplorable? Well, it may make you feel good, but it will probably lead to your cause’s demise. Those called Deplorable will not like it, and may end up rejecting your very standards themselves.

I did not vote for Trump, nor will I if he runs again. But I do hope the Left continues this insane hysteria against Trump and all his supporters. Why?

I want them to lose. They are insufferable fools and Pharisaic posturers.

And Snopes’ pretension to objectivity? Not believable.

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For Democrats and Republicans, the biggest issue dredged up by ever-increasing number of sexual harassment accusations against Hollywood, media and political celebrities is whether the scandals will morph from Teachable Moment to Impeachable.

But maybe a better way to look it pertains to what you might call “the demarcation problem”: the thing we need to know, of any particular accusation — apart from its factuality, its truth-value — is the nature of the behavior:

Creepy or Criminal?

According to the exact wording of Donald Trump’s infamous recorded boasts, his offenses were, if true,* merely creepy. But, if his boasted-of grabby hands were not always met with assent, then in those non-consensual instances his offenses were likely criminal.

Indeed, the reason so many people think Trump has confessed to sexual assault is that no one really believes that all the women he has hit on consented to grabbing of them “by the pussy.”

With Senate candidate Roy Moore, on the other hand, we have quite a number of very specific allegations, of which we learn more every day. Moore apparently liked very young women, and we have heard the most about a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old, both of whom he had “courted” when he was much, much older.

That may indeed be creepy. (Most people seem to think so.) But not illegal, since Alabama’s age of consent is 16.

It gets worse for Moore, however, since he is also accused of inappropriate relations with a 14-year-old, and outright sexual assault, too. Those would be criminal.

rat-styleAnd Moore, as Jacob Sullum sagely notes at Reason, has made matters worse for his own cause, putting out conflicting stories about his relations with his older inappropriate inamorata. This undermines his defenses regarding the truly more serious allegations.

Meanwhile, Republicans are rallying around Moore — as if their complaints about the creepy-and-criminal Clintons were just a matter of partisan convenience.

And that is creepy.

What is missing, here? Our attention has been called, once again, away from substantive crimes of the federal government. Like in the Wag the Dog days, the criminal aspects of our government receive scant attention. All the fuss is over the sex stuff — the sloppy kisses, blue dresses, unwanted ass-grabs, and worse.**

The creeps and criminals have distracted us from the true enormities.

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* But remember — the boastful are notorious liars.

** Note that what is missing from a lot of this is any consideration of the appropriate level at which creepy or merely unwanted advances (or even mere ribaldry) might be distinguished from those very few grave affronts requiring a full warlock hunt (as I put it a few weeks ago, and as Claire Berlinsky dubbed the mania more recently) and those crimes that deserve prosecution. (And then there is the technical difficulty of coming to the truth, especially after decades’ long lags, and the horrific institutionalization of enabling mere accusations to ruin lives. Warlock hunt, indeed — what is being established is the cultural totalitarianism of Ms. Grundy.) Most of what we are dealing with, here, are not rapes or sexual assaults, but, instead, faux pas best handled at the level of manners, and not made the federal cases or national outrages that the great Paul Jacob judges with more approbation than I can muster.

A Conjecture

Maybe because my aesthetic tastes are so resolutely minority (or ultra-minority), I have never been inclined — even before I developed any political opinions to speak of — to seek to prohibit the publication, exhibition or performance of any work of art on “community standards” or even moral grounds. Could it be that those people with more standard, popular tastes, are precisely those most likely to leap to censorship or even boycott pressure to squelch art or ideas they do not like, simply because the commonality of their tastes suggests to them the power of majority opinion, and thus the likelihood of success?

IMG_2025And could we be witnessing the loudest crowing for abridgements of free speech (“hate speech is not free speech!”) from college campuses and media enclaves for reasons of this very principle? Universities and Hollywood and major media are de facto intellectual bubbles, self-selected (as well as pressure-driven by intranigent minorities) to enforce ideological ideologial uniformity . . . and thus the perception of majority taste. Leading, in turn, to the current anti-free speech mania.

Well, it’s a theory. A conjecture.

I advance it, in part, to explain why illiberal ideas take form and grow. Perhaps they crystallize when there is too much cultural homogeneity.

Which, if true, would be the cream of the jest, since the current batch of illiberals are those progressives who yammer the most about “diversity.”

But, as is now widely known, they are not really interested in value diversity. They are interested in racial and sexual (OK: “gender”) diversity only. By sharing a value-dependent moral vision — not a transaction-based principled vision — they have developed a surprisingly strong sense of community, and use their commonality to enforce strong pressure to out-groups to conform to their in-group.

Even while, yes, preaching the doctrine of “inclusion.”

There is nothing about progressivism which does not give cause for sardonic laughter.

In this context, it has been a hoot to watch major media figures fall from grace over the issue of sexual harassment . . . and graver sexual misconduct. Call it Schadenfreude on my part. It is truly rich. Mainly, what we are seeing here is the purging from the Sanctimonious Classes eminent figures who, it turns out (and to only feigned surprise), had no good reason for self-righteousness, or any standing for righteousness at all.

I may be disturbed by the witch-huntery of mass boycott and social censure that sends the Weinsteins and Lauers and the like into the Outer Darkness — without trial or rules of evidence or much nuance about the acts actually mentioned — but to witness the celerity of the “punishment,” and its apparent extremity (no livelihood left for any of these? Really?), directed at people who have been so smugly censorious of others on these very grounds? Priceless.

When Patrick J. Buchanan declared a culture war, decades ago, I confess: I was not impressed. But he was right. (I know: “far right”! Ha ha.) We are now in full-out culture war on largely political grounds, and I have been thrown in with conservatives whose general approach to life (“there is no kill like overkill”) I have some basic difficulties with. But, though the conservative temper may be fear-based about cultural cohesion, and far too prone to the vices of rage and vindictiveness, progressive vices now seem more dangerous. I can live peacefully among conservatives. But would I be given any peace from progressives? I think not. They would love to tax and regulate me and those I know into conformity with their values. They would never cease to hector me for my disagreements with their dogmas. And their vices? Envy alone could destroy civilization, if it be entirely unleashed. Rage leads to warfare; envy to totalitarianism.

But of course, as I’ve said many times before, progressives in politics are the new conservatives in temper. It is they who rage against differences of opinion. It is they who scream at their ideological opponents and refuse to use reason in debate. It is they who join hands and use the social controls of boycott, shunning, shaming, and moralistic opprobrium to marginalize others.

So, how to attack them? Perhaps reason will not cut it — not to begin with, any way. They must learn that their basic values are not universally shared. That their tastes are not universal, and not written into the warp and woof of the universe.

Maybe, chastened, shown not to be as “open” to diversity as they had pretended, they will then listen to reason, and learn that the way to accommodate diversity is with the easy yoke of liberty and not the dead hand of the totalitarian state.

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I pity the young.

They’ve been programmed to believe that because some men do bad things, we all do bad things, and that when some of those bad things are sexual abuse of women, that makes us all “misogynists.” And “trash.” But listen:

  • You are not trash for wanting sexual relations with women.
  • You are not trash for being forward about it.
  • You may be, however, if you are disgusting about it. (“Trashy,” at least.)
  • You definitely are if you use force to get what you desire.

The crimes of a few (or even the many) does not imbue you with guilt, ineluctably.

IMG_2026Yes, these thoughts are brought to you by a specific essay that has been brought to my attention: “How, If You’re a Man, To Deal with the Fact that You’re Trash,” by Damon Young.

I pity Young himself.

But I am not going to critique his dreadful confession of intellectual cravenness. I will let you read it and judge for yourself.

I am on a rant here.

The problem of the present age is that the only form of chivalry left is what has been subsumed by feminism, which is chivalry metamorphosed and corrupted.

And the only form of modesty with current cultural cachet appears to be the hyper-faux-puritanism of major media scolds.

img_2320Why does the puritanical mindset so quickly lead to witch (and warlock) hunts?

I pity the young. They have not been taught the skills to recognize b.s. when they encounter it. They do not seem to realize that most messages they receive are not simple but complex, and one need not accept or reject anything wholesale. Pick at the ideas, men. Prescind one notion from another. Discover principles. Take ideas apart, see what the consequences may be, and then slowly start putting them back together.

If you’d do that, then you would see that much of what is dominating Twitter and cable news is trash talk cruelty and bigotry. It is that way not because important issues are being raised, but because important stuff is being wed to triviality.

IMG_2080And let’s get real: if people would consider marriage as the primary outlet for sexual passion, a lot of this would change. A lot of this is the de facto sexual freedom we have, and the unprepared reactions to it by men (and women) of ambition.

I pity the young. They are caught in the rush of history and it is not slowing down even as it reaches the ocean of oblivion.

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Brain

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My little sister had red hair. I mean, really red hair: dark, bright, astounding.

When she was a very young child, adults, particularly women, would gush over how beautiful her hair looked. This constant barrage got on her nerves.

One day, after being asked for the umpteenth time where she got her “beautiful red hair,” she responded, “my hair is black!”

That was a statement, a social statement. I am not sure if it was irony, exactly, but it was a signal: stop bugging me.

Many statements are not what they seem. What looks like a false statement may very well be a performance of some sort, a “speech act” more than a proposition.

Which brings us to race. In America, sometimes it seems as if everything brings us back to race. The fretting about race is so ubiquitous that I would not be shocked to hear someone respond to some inapt racial query with “my race is red, white and blue.”

But we probably will not hear this from Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris.

83FE0212-4584-44EE-85DE-EB247C7E6E80“Most people,” she says, “that don’t know me call me white. I’ve got light skin and, especially since I’ve had my hair blond, I look like I was born in Finland or something.”

So, doesn’t that make her white?

At least “off-white”?

Not according to her father, who “would look me in the eyes and he’d point his finger at me and he’d be like, ‘You’re Black. Be proud of your roots.’”

Dutifully, she follows her late father’s instructions. “I consider myself Black,” she says.

She does not look “black.”

I guess the one-drop rule still applies. The commonsense color-coded race designators no longer apply; it is not about color as such, any more. The issue seems to be tribal membership, instead . . . and there is open enrollment.

Or maybe it is about self-identification, the presentation of self in a social context. It is a badge.

Progress? Regress?

I confess, it seems utter perversity to me. But then, I not only look “like I was born in Finland or something,” according to 23andMe I am thoroughly and almost entirely Finnish. To me, race and ethnicity are fun games to play, something of a lark. But seriously, I “identify” as my very own self, an individual. Or That Individual, as Kierkegaard put it.

Others do not have — or take — that “privilege.”

They seem to prefer not to emphasize their personhood.

Bizarre.

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