I hoped this post would bring out some interesting ideas and I haven't been disappointed. Thank you all.
What I wanted to explore with this post originally is the acceptance of oppressive and dominant culture ideologies, tactics and mindsets by leftists.
In the struggle for personal freedom and tolerance of difference I cast my lot with the left. Not because it is perfect or completely unbiased but because in general it is more respectful and less violent than the right.
However, the left has some strong prejudices of it's own that have come out clearly in this conversation.
One of the most problematic to me is that there is a difference between hate and racism depending on who it comes from. Certain groups are much more likely to experience certain kinds of hate and violence in our culture. We live in a society were women and minorities are more likely to experience certain kinds of prejudice.
However, this statistical difference is almost meaningless on an individual basis. Suffering is not valid only if you belong to a certain group, if the group you belong to is statistically more likely to experience that violence or only if the violence happens to enough people.
Do you think a molested boy feels any less pain and humiliation than a girl? If that boy is raped and murdered will you say to the child's mother "well at least he wasn't a black girl?" Violence of all types is expressed on an individual level. Being born into a particular racial group or gender does not give you a certain understanding or pain or lead you to the same political conclusions. Being born a certain race or gender only makes it statistically more likely you will experience certain prejudices. Knowledge and pain are not born into us. Individual examples abound -- who knows more about slavery, a white female sex slave (still a major problem) or her male master be he white or black? Who knows more about sexual violence, a man who experienced it as a child or a women who has never been close?
When we think we know who has suffered most because of their race or gender we disregard certain people's suffering, we undermine personal responsibility and we find it easier to setup oppressive systems of our own.
Disregarding personal experience I talked about above. Personal responsibility is undermined by the implication that a certain experience or history controls a person or makes their hate justifiable. It does not. Every human must struggle with hate and struggle to be free. All of us. Yes, some of us have had a more difficult experience but that does not excuse us losing the battle to evil within our hearts.
Past oppression is the most common justification for evil there is. Most of the time people claim this oppression as an reason for their evil they actually were oppressed. Whether it's an adult molester who was molested, the Germans when they were oppressed after WWI or the Jews justifying what they have done to gain Israel. They were oppressed. Their past and current suffering is legitimate. But it does not justify their behavior.
Whatever our past or present we have the freedom to choose hate or love, violence or peace, evil or good. A great book to read on this is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. In the midst of Nazi concentration camps Viktor eventually realized that he could be more free than his captors when he realized that he still had the only freedom he had ever had -- the freedom to chose his own behavior and how he would react to his situation.
Government and history can not stop you or help you to be free or good. It is something we all must choose.
Freedom must be gained individually but there are serious social issues that do need to be addressed. Let's get to work to change them. I will work hard with likeminded individuals. I will walk beside you. I will go first into danger if you allow. I will never force you to walk behind me. But I will never let you force me to walk behind you. I hold my head high. I am not guilty of anything but what I have done. You didn't eat that apple and I didn't sail that ship.
We have all suffered and knowing who has suffered most deeply is not a matter of looking at their skin color or gender. If we are to work for freedom and justice it must be for all of us not just some of us.
Please do not look to the color of my skin or gender to decide if my arguments are valid, please do not trivialize the suffering of any individual and please do not tell me that the land where we are judged by the content of our character must wait for revenge against innocent people because of historical wrongs.
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