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  1. #111
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    If by your use of the term 'racist' you are simply describing the act of noting or distinguishing someone on the basis of their race, then yes. If, however, you are using the term in a way that implies an ideological dislike for races other than the one being distinguished, or any other malicious intent, then I'd say no, not in all cases. At least not if we subscribe to theories of cultural hegemony, like the kind Eileen was describing in an earlier post.

    According to these theories, there is an unequal distribution of power in society. The boundaries between those with more power and those with less are observed to correspond closely with the boundaries of race. This means that one race, (in this case 'white') generally holds more power within society than any other (with 'black' falling in this latter group). It makes sense, therefore, that the representation of someone from the 'black' race in a position of social power, regardless of their particular ideological or political leanings, is a move towards correcting the power imbalance between races.

    So voting for someone on the basis of their race, if the person being voted for belongs to a 'race' that holds less power in society, is not malicious or based on an irrational hatred of other races if the intention in doing so is to equalize the distribution of power between races. If, however, the person being voted for belongs to the 'race' that already holds the most power, then the only possible reason to vote for them on the basis of their race would be out of ideological dislike for other races, since no power imbalance would exist to be corrected on their behalf.

    I think, pure_mercury (and correct me if I'm wrong), that what you are suggesting is that ANY use of 'race' as a distinguishing feature of a candidate is ideologically 'racist'. This would only be true if the races held equal amounts of power in society, in which case the only reason to discriminate based on race would be for ideological reasons, or as a move towards domination over other races. If the amount of power held between races is unequal, as the hegemony theories suggest, then to decry all distinctions based on race as ideologically "racist" is to obfuscate the relationship of power between the races that exists, and automatically maintain the status-quo.

    Of course, as others have correctly pointed out, there are many different 'boundaries' besides the 'racial' kind that correspond to the boundaries of power, such as SEC, geographical location, etc..., which is why it would be foolish to vote for someone purely on the basis of their race. In doing so, one could, for instance, be working to correct the racial power imbalance by voting for a 'black' candidate while at the same time furthering the socio-economic imbalance if that same candidate were a 'corporatist'.

    Anyway, I'll stop rambling now .
    Orangey, our political philosophies must disagree at their bases if you believe this. "Voting to correct power imbalances" sounds absolutely frightening to me, and I would hope that most people do not and would not do that. This sentence, in particular, is nonsense: "If, however, the person being voted for belongs to the 'race' that already holds the most power, then the only possible reason to vote for them on the basis of their race would be out of ideological dislike for other races, since no power imbalance would exist to be corrected on their behalf." That is completely illogical. There is no viable way to say that a white person voting for a candidate simply because the candidate is white is always motivated by ideological dislike whilst AT THE SAME TIME to say that a black person voting for a candidate simply because the candidate is black may not be motivated by ideological dislike. That is untenable, and it shows a gap in thinking filled by these "cultural hegemony" ideas that have different sets of ethical rules for different people. Frankly, they are dehumanizing to minorities, since the not-too-subtle implication is that we expect less from them as citizens.
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  2. #112
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Orangey, our political philosophies must disagree at their bases if you believe this. "Voting to correct power imbalances" sounds absolutely frightening to me, and I would hope that most people do not and would not do that. This sentence, in particular, is nonsense: "If, however, the person being voted for belongs to the 'race' that already holds the most power, then the only possible reason to vote for them on the basis of their race would be out of ideological dislike for other races, since no power imbalance would exist to be corrected on their behalf." That is completely illogical. There is no viable way to say that a white person voting person voting for a candidate simply because the candidate is white is always motivated by ideological dislike whilst AT THE SAME TIME to say that a black person voting for a candidate simply because the candidate is black may not be motivated by ideological dislike. That is untenable, and it shows a gap in thinking filled by these "cultural hegemony" ideas that have different sets of ethical rules for different people. Frankly, they are dehumanizing to minorities, since the not-too-subtle implication is that we expect less from them as citizens.

    I think that what we're facing at this point in the discussion is a fundamental difference in perspective.

    IF you tend to view things in terms of individuals, then it is likely that you will not buy the idea of hegemony. Individuals move, interact, and vote as individuals and are not inextricably connected to a group.

    IF you tend to view things in terms of social groups, hegemony may be more plausible. Individuals may make some decisions, but there is something larger at work, socially (because over the years, hidden rules have been consciously or unconsciously defined such that one group has power and the other group does not). Individuals are, whether they like it or not, connected to a group.

    I think, pure mercury, that you have basically Libertarian values. The individual is responsible. With this belief system, it makes sense that an individual making a decision about another individual based on race is offensive and "racist" to you. However, given another belief system in which the individual is NOT central and where the really important interactions happen on a "macro" level between groups, one may see things differently.

    I'm not trying to point out your wrongness, though. My values are different from yours for sure, but I'm just trying to articulate an observation on where I think the conversation is at this point, not make a judgment.
    INFJ

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  3. #113
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    So you guys are saying that a black man who votes for a black man, not because he dislikes the white candidate but because he wishes to increase the representation of black men in the position, is not racist...? It's surely a nod of the head towards racists otherwise who cares about representing the opinions of a minority that doesn't exist..

    Is it that inconceivable or that unachievable to NOT have minorities? This constant need of certain people to subdivide everything is counterproductive. Just to find the kind of music I like I now have to trawl through probably 5 or 6 different classifications. Why? What was it that prompted the need for such subdivision?

    Anyhow... personally I don't like people who aim to represent minorities as a rule. Most often I find them more racist and divisionist than anyone else.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  4. #114
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I think that what we're facing at this point in the discussion is a fundamental difference in perspective.

    IF you tend to view things in terms of individuals, then it is likely that you will not buy the idea of hegemony. Individuals move, interact, and vote as individuals and are not inextricably connected to a group.

    IF you tend to view things in terms of social groups, hegemony may be more plausible. Individuals may make some decisions, but there is something larger at work, socially (because over the years, hidden rules have been consciously or unconsciously defined such that one group has power and the other group does not). Individuals are, whether they like it or not, connected to a group.

    I think, pure mercury, that you have basically Libertarian values. The individual is responsible. With this belief system, it makes sense that an individual making a decision about another individual based on race is offensive and "racist" to you. However, given another belief system in which the individual is NOT central and where the really important interactions happen on a "macro" level between groups, one may see things differently.

    I'm not trying to point out your wrongness, though. My values are different from yours for sure, but I'm just trying to articulate an observation on where I think the conversation is at this point, not make a judgment.
    You still haven't addressed how behavior that is racist for white people would not be racist for a minority, though. I hold that it's not possible, since we're all human beings and (we are assuming) intelligent and ethical enough to know the difference between right and wrong. This idea "correcting the power imbalance" smacks both of privileged guilt AND a demeaning lack of faith of the wealthy white "liberal" in the ethical standards of the "powerless minority." To me, it is disturbingly reminiscent of the ideas of "The Noble Savage" and of "The White Man's Burden." Besides, when does the behavior stop? Would black people who are used to voting for blacks simply because they are black stop this behavior if/when they reach an equal footing in society? Or would they continue to do until THEY are privileged? Self-aggrandizement is human nature, not a disease of white people. Shouldn't we be far more concerned about the accumulation and exercise of power by everyone in society?
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  5. #115
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    You still haven't addressed how behavior that is racist for white people would not be racist for a minority, though.
    In fairness, I wasn't trying to address that or defend my own ideas in that post. I was trying to point out where the discussion is. I am pretty sure that if it continues on this trajectory, it will become a discussion about Libertarianism.

    And I think that Orangey did try to address that. You just don't buy it.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  6. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    In fairness, I wasn't trying to address that or defend my own ideas in that post. I was trying to point out where the discussion is. I am pretty sure that if it continues on this trajectory, it will become a discussion about Libertarianism.

    And I think that Orangey did try to address that. You just don't buy it.
    Perhaps, but saying "cultural hegemony" is the reason is a little thin, don't you think? Claiming unequal power exists doesn't automatically excuse behavior that would otherwise be considered racist.
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  7. #117
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Perhaps, but saying "cultural hegemony" is the reason is a little thin, don't you think? Claiming unequal power exists doesn't automatically excuse behavior that would otherwise be considered racist.
    I think she explains the position very well here by explaining how voting in a cultural hegemony works:

    Quote Originally Posted by Orangey View Post
    According to these theories, there is an unequal distribution of power in society. The boundaries between those with more power and those with less are observed to correspond closely with the boundaries of race. This means that one race, (in this case 'white') generally holds more power within society than any other (with 'black' falling in this latter group). It makes sense, therefore, that the representation of someone from the 'black' race in a position of social power, regardless of their particular ideological or political leanings, is a move towards correcting the power imbalance between races.

    So voting for someone on the basis of their race, if the person being voted for belongs to a 'race' that holds less power in society, is not malicious or based on an irrational hatred of other races if the intention in doing so is to equalize the distribution of power between races. If, however, the person being voted for belongs to the 'race' that already holds the most power, then the only possible reason to vote for them on the basis of their race would be out of ideological dislike for other races, since no power imbalance would exist to be corrected on their behalf.

    It's about intention. The idea is that it is possible to cast a vote based on race for a minority to correct an imbalance of power.

    However, voting for a member of the "ruling" group because he's a member of that group CANNOT correct the imbalance of power, so using that reasoning, like Orangey pointed out, is going to come from a dislike of other groups. Otherwise, what's the point of voting that way? There *is* a feasible reason for somebody to vote for a minority based on race if you buy the idea that there's an imbalance of power that can be corrected through voting.

    The thing is, it's not about individuals at this level. It's about groups and about power dynamics. It does hinge on the idea that you can "correct" imbalances of power by inserting minorities into power positions, regardless of anything else.

    Now, I would say that taking an extreme approach to voting (one that ONLY takes into account groups and power dynamics or ONLY takes into account individuals) is a problem.

    I believe that there are power imbalances, for sure. There are racial power imbalances, gender power imbalances, sexual orientation/identity power imbalances, etc and that these imbalances are often superficially apparent when you look at how populations are represented in government. I think that it is important that people of color, women, GLBT people, religious minorities, etc hold positions in government.

    However, I also believe that there are sometimes individuals who fit into those groups that do not necessarily have the interests of their group at heart, and that it is reckless to vote for somebody merely because she's a woman, or because he's back, or because he's gay. I think that it's reasonable to EXPECT that members of a group will support and advocate for their group, but I would always advise voters to make sure that this is indeed the case for that individual.

    I guess this is to say, this is how I would vote: If two candidates were, for all intents and purposes, the same and had positions that I agreed with and one was a man and one was a woman, I would vote for the woman because I think it's important that women are visibly represented in government. However, if there was a man and women running and the man's positions were closer to mine, I would vote for the man.
    INFJ

    "I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  8. #118
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Eileen, I don't find that unreasonable, but I also don't think that simple visibility of minorities in positions of power does anything to end racism at the micro level, and possibly nothing at the macro level. Certainly, no racist white man will change his mind about a woman or a black man just because they get elected to office. I can't get over the implication that electing candidates who represent subsections of society "gaining power" is a wholesale endorsement of using political office to grab the spoils for a group. Group behavior is not any more or less ethical than individual behavior. When one person abuses power, it's wrong. When an entire race or power does it, it's still wrong. Plus, I don't think that your example of two candidates being "for all intents and purposes the same" holds much water. When is that ever the case? And how many black Americans have voted for Obama when, upon examination of the platforms, actually are closer in beliefs to Hillary Clinton (or even to John McCain) than to Obama? Your example seems like a hypothetical without much resemblance to the real world.
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  9. #119
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    The same theory that holds for redistricting also holds for the general presidential election of minorities- when someone of a minority group is elected to a higher office it removes some of the invisible barriers that tend to hold back the election of ANY minority or disadvantaged group.

    For instance, after FDR appointed women and minorities to his advising circle and cabinet it became more commonplace, though at the time it was somewhat scandalous to some.
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  10. #120
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    The same theory that holds for redistricting also holds for the general presidential election of minorities- when someone of a minority group is elected to a higher office it removes some of the invisible barriers that tend to hold back the election of ANY minority or disadvantaged group.
    It perhaps sets a good example for people to strive to excel. That is a good thing. It would be awful to set an example of electing someone because of their race, however. If Obama is popular just for being part-black (as opposed to being an exceptional person in ethics and ability), doesn't that send the exact WRONG message to minorities?

    For instance, after FDR appointed women and minorities to his advising circle and cabinet it became more commonplace, though at the time it was somewhat scandalous to some.
    FDR's Cabinet was a revolving door of white guys, with one Jew and one woman. It wasn't particularly scandalous at the time.
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