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Hullabaloo


Sunday, August 20, 2017

 
And they call us snowflakes

by digby




Why are young white men radicalized by white supremacy? German Lopez at Vox delves into the question and it's interesting. But it always comes back to this, doesn't it?
If radicalization is a result of messaging that extremists deploy to attract people with specific grievances, then one way to prevent radicalization may be to develop countermessaging that addresses those grievances in a way that avoids radicalization.

In the context of white supremacists, part of addressing this may mean expanding the Overton window — meaning what’s acceptable to talk about in public discourse. “The more we put things off limits, the more we empower bad actors who will talk about things other people aren’t willing to,” Gartenstein-Ross said.

For instance, right now it’s difficult for a white man to bring up concerns about changing racial demographics without getting labeled as racist. But maybe his concerns don’t have anything to do with race. He may be concerned that as the group he belongs to loses status, he will as well — economically, socially, and so on. A good response to this could point out that, for example, New York City is very diverse and still people, including white men, lead prosperous lives (and it has a below-average crime rate, contrary to what some dog whistles may suggest).

But if that person never has that kind of discussion because he’s dismissed as a racist, his concerns about changing demographics won’t go away. So he might search for answers outside the mainstream, and that might lead him to an extremist group. That is especially true if he experiences what sociologists call “white fragility”: When white people are asked to answer for potential racism, some become defensive — pushing them into denial that they’ve done anything wrong and, in some cases, hardening their racist attitudes. (Much more on that in a previous piece I wrote about this research.)

I know I'm supposed to be empathetic toward all this. But racism has been with us forever and it's really hard for me to believe that if we only allow racists to express their hatred without passing judgment and then offer them some statistics about how they're wrong, they'll come over to the light. But that's just me --- I'm not terribly tolerant of this idea that we have to be kind to racists because nobody know the trouble they've seen.

When I see these young dudes sneering at the Korean immigrants who work 14 hour days 7 days a week down at the corner store in my neighborhood or condemning Latina maids sending most of their paychecks home to their families or treating hard working middle class African American men like lackeys I'm not inclined to feel sorry for them because their granddads lost their factory job back in the 1970s. We are at 4% unemployment right now. I know there are still places where the jobs are scarce but those white college boys and their KKK pals shouting "Jews will not replace us" the other night don't live there.

Maybe we could offer more mental health care, better schools, and drug treatment to communities full of hopeless, directionless people. I've always been for that. But racism didn't cause those problems and coddling people in their belief that their lives have gone to hell because people of color, foreigners and uppity women have ruined everything isn't going solve them.

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