Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Proposition for the Destruction of Minority Groups

We all long to be part of some kind of group and when we find that group we tend to think of ourselves as better than others in a powerful yet often subconscious way. We see our own groups as in-groups and others as out-groups which poses a very dangerous situation when it comes to human rights. In his book Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinow puts together a very good argument regarding such groups and how it affects the behavior of its constituents—often for the worse. We become more willing to overlook the faults of those within our group while being all the more strict with those without. We will hear the evidence within and mock the opinions of those without. It is not hard to see this in everyday life. There are opposing factions everywhere: liberal versus conservative, white versus black, man versus woman, democrat versus republican, Christian versus Muslim versus atheist. And yet it is entirely rare to see any two people of any group agree upon everything wholesale nor behave in the exact same manner as one another. Despite this obvious fact that no two people are alike, Leonard points out that our in-groups cause us to perceive other groups as more similarly-minded and less variable in their ideals and behaviors than ourselves and our groups. This is quite evidenced in the fact that each group always seems ready and willing to bad-mouth the other with the most sincere hatred or sarcasm oozing from every orifice.

My Facebook feed is daily filled with the rants of one group against another group subtly proclaiming superiority yet proving they have no such valid claim. I often see Christians taking joy in the suffering of Muslims while any and all atrocious acts are news-worthy if and only if the perpetrator is a majority while the victim is a minority. It is only a story if it is an in-group versus out-group conflict. It is quite appalling what conflict our groups cause. In hopes to reduce or even eradicate such group conflicts over time, I offer a suggestion that I believe is worth some sincere thought. The in-group versus out-group philosophy currently in place often hinders the suggestion from being taken seriously, but I urge you to hear me out.

What I suggest is to abolish social constructs based upon minority statuses. If you strive for equality then call yourself a human—for the moment you call yourself black, white, man, or woman, you have proclaimed a difference to the very ones with whom you aspire to be equal. If women continue advocating the rights of women as opposed to the rights of humanity of which they so obviously belong and share common ground with men, then they are setting themselves apart from half the population. They have created an in-group of people—mostly women of course—who focus entirely on women’s rights. But there is also a need to fight for the rights of black people, Muslims, Mexicans, and dare I say white men? Each one creates their own unique group and sets themselves apart rather than promoting the fact that they already belong to the same in-group of humanity.

These minority in-groups were constructed because the members felt discriminated against. Their entire existence is thus based solely on the fact that the out-group is their enemy of which they must rise up and fight against. Black people are held down by the white man and thus the white man is the enemy. Women are oppressed by men and thus men become the enemy. It is not seen as a particular individual who is the enemy but an entire group despite being made up of all kinds of different people. Every super group has its villains and heroes.

The KKK is a Christian white supremacist group which has murdered many innocent black people. There are black gangs that return the favor. ISIS is a Muslim group which has beheaded many journalists yet Catholics committed the most atrocious crimes of torture to any non-believer or heretic and slaughtered countless Muslims in the Crusades. Pol Pot was an atheist who committed genocide and yet Einstein was an atheist who is known for contributing to scientific progress more than any other human alive.

Being a Christian does not make someone holy. It also does not make one a hater. Many are willing to say this, but how many actually behave like it? Being an atheist or a Muslim does not make one humanitarian or terrorist. There are many great Christians, many great Muslims, and many great atheists that would never consider hurting another human being. Some from each group would even remain nonviolent at the expense of their own lives. There are similarly many men who treat women with the utmost respect and many women who would just as soon throw every man off a cliff. These groups are entirely meaningless when it comes to determining the quality of a person or judging character. And this is why we need to stop acting like it does. The only two groups that ought to exist and truly “separate the wheat from the chaff” to use a Biblical metaphor, is humanists versus oppressors. It is impossible for a humanist to go on a rampage and still be considered a humanist by the very definition of what a humanist is: one who cares for the rights of all humanity.

Any groups beyond these two will set up conflicts within the ranks and set us at odds with one another. What good is having a feminist group when the population contains both humanists and misandrists? What good is having a black rights group when the population contains both peaceful and murderous intentions? I cannot join hand in hand with the misandrists of the feminist movement. I cannot join hand in hand with a group containing murderous intentions and hatred for the very group of white men that I belong to. I can only join with fellow humanists who do not see me, the white man, as the enemy. Drawing the lines and continuing the constructs of race, religion, and sex is ultimately damning to the cause.

Having a Black Engineer of the Year award, for example is nothing but a reminder that blacks must overcome the oppressive whites. I agree that it is harder for a black person than a white person to succeed in much of the United States which may suggest that we ought to celebrate the achievement all the more, but reinforcing the existence of discriminatory in-groups and out-groups is counter-productive. When discrimination occurs, it is only natural to want to point it out and call shenanigans in hopes to rectify the situation, but I contend that it makes matters worse. This is, of course, a very sticky subject. And it is sticky mostly because of the groups we make.

Here I am a white man trying to discuss the troubles of the black man. What could I know, right? I am not in the in-group of the black struggles and thus I am inferior in understanding. My opinion is often diminished in this fashion. If someone cannot understand a point of view via discussion and evidence without being in the in-group, then that is a sure-fire sign of confirmation bias. If an opinion cannot be voiced be it ignorant or not without undue hateful poison spewed in retort, then this is clear-cut out-group discrimination. This reverse discrimination happens a lot except it is not politically correct to complain about it. How dare the white man complain about discrimination? How dare he because he is the enemy, right? He is the culprit and thus has no right, right? He is from the out-group. He is the villain. What happened to equality?

I truly hope this is not coming off the wrong way. I recognize inequality exists and it tears me to pieces. I daily contemplate how to rectify the situation. I recognize that the majority white man has it easier on average than the black or the female. I do not contest the white privilege but merely the method of removing it and the disdain that goes along with it—especially since much of the difficulty is now circumstances from past failures and not particularly the explicit acts of the majority today. There is no reason that I should be viewed as an enemy or part of an out-group simply because I am a white male. In all reality, I am a humanist through and through. I want equality for all humanity. I am an ally.

When the white man is continually labeled the villain, however, the white man will subconsciously create social norms around that fact and it will make it more difficult to remove the hatred. Further, when the white man is the villain, black people will view them this way and drive even more disdain toward themselves from their own discriminatory behavior and false accusations against well-meaning people. Drawing the lines will cause hatred in both directions. This is clearly my own opinion, but I believe my deduction to be based upon the studies of human psychology. We need to have a more inclusive group in which to belong. Minorities need to appeal to their humanity and not their race, religion, or sex.

It is not a tragedy that three Muslims were killed simply because they were Muslim and the attacker was a white man. It is a tragedy because one human took the life of three other humans before their time. Being Muslim, whether it was a hate crime or not, does not add to the sadness of the events. Hatred is brutal and sad no matter to whom it occurs.

If a black man deserved an award that was given to a white man, we do not need to cry racism. We simply need to call foul that a human was denied what was better suited to him for whatever the underlying reason. There is no reason to yet again say that white man is oppressing the black man and feed the fire of hatred and racism all over again.

If a woman is cat-called, mishandled, or raped, we need not say that man is oppressing women. A human who did not care for the rights of another human performed a terrible act. Those who are humanists can rally together and condemn the culprit. Why bring all of men into it as if they all did something evil? Men are not the bad guy from the acts of a single man. Even if 70% of men were rapists, it removes the 30% of men from the ranks of potential advocates to proclaim that men are evil. Instead, we ought to state that humans are being mistreated by other humans and proclaiming that we need humanists to vilify the offense. When it comes to the fight for rights, freedom, and social justice we need all the humanitarians we can get. It does not make sense to disclude anyone or to further segregate one type of human from another. As humanists, we need to shame actions as opposed to entire groups of people. The act of rape is shameful—not men. The act of murder and silencing of women is shameful—not Islam.

I propose an active movement of people to unite under the common banner of humanism and deconstruct the minority clubs. Calling oneself a mere feminist, for example, is a limited approach that focuses only on the rights of women with no concern for man or other minorities. I cannot imagine that is the intent, but I have certainly come across many feminists who have taken their in-group to a new level of hatred for men. And in response, I have seen many men entirely irate at the whole construct who then become the very misogynists that women were trying to stop. The boundaries need to be eradicated and humanity uplifted over any particular group. We must make our in-group that of humanity. We are all humans and are equally in need of equal rights. We must recognize only two groups and ignore the constructs of any other while maligning such use by others. There are humanitarian humans and inhumane humans. That is it. Us versus them. Those concerned with human rights must fight those who would oppress others and it must permeate all other constructs of groups as if they do not even exist.

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