I like Armoured Skeptic’s skeptic videos. But, like a lot of YouTube atheists, he’s clearly pretty right-wing and “anti-SJW”, whatever that means, and it means he makes nonsense arguments.
This is a response to this video, which is in turn a response to MTV’s admittedly less-than-skillful campaign. At the end, I’ll add some points I didn’t make to AS that applies more broadly to right-wingers who don’t like these arguments.
Ah, where to begin?
Is it with the “Hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow, Operation Wetback, depriving the franchise to women, and keeping gay folks in the closet is okay because some black dudes got into the NBA?” argument? The argument that, of course, would not only obviate any complaints anyone had ever, because some member of a group at some point might have succeeded, but in any instance ignores that even plenty of the stars in the NBA came up from tremendous poverty?
Honestly, does any atheist buy this? Would you accept that, because Sam Harris is out as an atheist and is successful, that America is great for atheists?
Madame CJ Walker was a millionaire who died in 1919. She made her money during a period of formal apartheid, during an era where the Klan was about to reach its peak membership of four million. Does anyone really want to defend that her success back then meant that America was great for people of color as a whole?
Hey, I can’t even say that being crippled by a horse is that bad because Christopher Reeve was still a millionaire after it!
Yes, if you want to be pedantic, the accurate thing to say would be that America was “vanishingly rarely great for anyone besides white men, and even pretty bad for poor white men, for most of its history”. “Never” might be a bit strong.
This… this your entire argument, Armoured buddy? That .1% of black millionaires in the country means that the 99.9% don’t face any barriers? By that logic, I couldn’t even say as a matter of fact that “Republicans oppose abortion” or any other statement about even a cohesively defined group, because out of a given thousand you could always find one or more who deviated from it.
If individuals want to be treated as individuals, then racism as an institution has to disappear. Sorry that that’s tough to hear, or not politically correct for entitled right-wingers, but it’s just true. Yes, white folks are a diverse group that are not defined by their genes, just like any other ethno-racial or religious group. But as long as there’s social signals that entrench past inequities and create new ones, whiteness will continue to have consequences, and that’ll effect people’s opportunities for success.
And now to talk to other folks.
Yes, I get that it can be frustrating people wag their finger at a group collectively. I agree that it is very easy to jump the shark from a reasonable call for a group to take individual responsibility to a reification of that group having a collective responsibility, which in turn is just a hop, skip and jump away from bona fide racism.
So… right-wingers, maybe you should stop doing that?
Why is it not okay for the script to be flipped? Is it only people of color who have to take personal responsibility?
It’s just like the criticism of Colin Kaepernick for being unpatriotic during the same time that Trump got to say that America needs to become “great again”.
Yes, it’s important that we be careful to note that every individual has a different responsibility based on their local context. Yes, it’s important to note that there are of course plenty of white folks for whom the criticisms in the MTV Video don’t apply (but if it doesn’t apply to you, why are you talking?)
What’s so reprehensible about Armoured Skeptic is that he despised the idea that a white male should be erudite and care about the impact of his conduct on others. If they got a white individual to say that his own group needs to take responsibility, what excuse do critics have left? Remember that anything that could be said against this video could be said against critics of BLM later.
The fact is that you can’t be neutral on a moving train. We are accountable to each other. And that means that the social systems that we are a part of impart us with responsibility. It sucks, but it’s not avoidable if you want to be responsible.
Atheist authorities like to say that their morality is that they’re accountable to humans, not a “sky Daddy”. Lots of them need to follow that maxim.