Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not All Anybodies

At Salon they point out two people who took on Rupert Murdoch's post-Charlie Hebdo Tweet (“Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”) with humor and anger, leading to
the brilliant hashtag #RupertsFault bloomed, laying at the mogul’s feet responsibility for everything terrible from Uber surge pricing to Panda Express to the popularity of “The Big Bang Theory.” Well done, Twitter, well done.
The thing is, for too many people around these parts (in a geopolitical sense of "these parts"), being Christian is like being white is like being male: it's the default.

This brilliant xkcd cartoon catches what I mean:

It's why when something happens to or is done by a black person, it's generalized to all blacks. Whites are never "a credit to their race". Disturbed white people shoot up schools or theaters and it's "a disturbed loner/person", but if a black person did his race would be the headline. White rioters can be as deadly as any, but they're never described as "mobs" or "thugs", even when the cause of their rioting is somewhat less noble than slaughtered kids (pumpkins and football games come to mind). Black-on-black crime is invoked a lot; white-on-white never (remember Rudy Giuliani saying "there is virtually no homicide in the white community"?) even though the overwhelming majority of white murder victims were killed by white murderers.

The same thing holds for Christians. Even when a murder is explicitly linked to the murderer's Christian beliefs, Christianity is not accused of spawning terror. Instead, the murderer's psychiatric state is analyzed, and his beliefs become "political". No one demands that "all Christians" take responsibility for abortion clinic bombings or murders, for instance. Just as no one insists that "all whites" are to blame for the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings, let alone for Columbine or Sandy Hook.

Thus, for too many people - like Rupert Murdoch - when white Christian (straight) men do things, it's those individuals doing it, even if they're in mobs, er, groups. Because white Christian (straight) men are people. But when anybody else does something, like a handful of Muslims or a group, sorry mob, of black people, they represent their whole demographic.

And that's a way of looking at things that needs to change. Feminism, #BlackLivesMatter, and the like are ways of trying to change that. Until we don't automatically assume that "people" are "white, straight, male, and Christian" - for instance, when you go to a movie and 52% of the extras or minor roles are women, 12% are black, 6% Asian, and 12% Hispanic - we need to acknowledge this unfortunate fact. Only when it's no longer the default reporting and reacting standard can we can start worrying about whether "all Muslims" are "responsible" for what some do. And then we won't worry for long.

Just like we* don't worry now about Christians or whites.

* for certain values of 'we' obviously

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