Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ayn Rand, Racism

            In this chapter Racism, Ayn Rand names racism as a byproduct of collectivism. Rand begins by introducing the absurdity of racism as an ancestral and chemical bias. We are judged by the genes and actions of our ancestors. To her it seems wrong that if our relatives were intelligent or moronic, then we should be deemed intelligent or moronic, respectively. After establishing her opposition to slavery Rand suggests the solution to racism: individualism and capitalism. These would eliminate racism because they allow rights of a group to be limited to the rights of its individual members. However, she argues that our individualist notions, which can account for the rise of the West, were negated when collectivism began to surface. Rand says that over time our society has gravitated toward the belief that authority and power should belong to the group. And that our tendency was to join the “least demanding” collective: race. Because of this, our individualism was no more. When Rand looks at the people responsible, she does not single out a certain group, she deals blame to both the oppressor and the oppressed. Her claim that “there can be no such thing as the right of some men to violate the rights of others” has not been followed by our society. Instead Negro leaders are contradicting their cause by establishing racial quotas, conservatives (mostly southern) claim to be “defenders of freedom, yet advocate racism”, and liberals defend minorities but support the sacrifice of individual rights to majority rule. Together those three contradictions have culminated in the Civil Rights bill, something Rand despises. Ultimately to Rand it is a Laissez-Faire capitalistic-individualistic government that we need, not a bill which “breaches property rights.”
            Although initially Rand’s piece on racism seemed sort of crazy, I am starting to agree with some of her arguments. The main point she makes, which I agree with, is that with collectivism comes the tendency to join groups. By lowering the significance of the individual and raising the importance of a whole, we segregate ourselves into bigger groups (usually racial groups). Instead if our approach was entirely individualistic, we would have a different minority group for every person on the planet, no grouping would be necessary. Her whole idea of eliminating the sense of one’s own inferiority is something I agree with, and is something that contributes to the idea of individualism. I also agree with the three main contradictions she points out involving liberals, conservatives, and Negro leaders. It helps people understand problems with racism and segregation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle, Sedaris

            I think Sedaris’ story as a whole was a mess. He ended up sitting by a married woman, so there is no chance of him having a flirty conversation. Then she ends up thinking he’s an asshole and the two of them spend the whole plane ride going back and forth. Finally the situation culminates with a cough drop stuck to the woman’s pants. What a shitty plane ride.
My Joke:
            Not really a joke, more of a really short story…After I read this piece I summarized it and wrote a paragraph on what I thought about it. Then I went to Otto’s sample blog and read the first line: “Don't summarize, it that would be kind of dumb.” Needless to say, I felt pretty dumb.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Klansman who won’t use the N-word

                In this piece Ronson chronicles the transformation of the Ku Klux Klan. By personally attending the clan “workshop” Ronson acts as a primary source while explaining his encounter with the Klan. Early he develops an acquaintance with Thom, the clan leader, and learns that the clan has adopted a friendlier, modernized approach. Instead of the familiar lynching or genuine hatred associated with Klans of the past, current members are encouraged to limit racial slurs. Also, they should encourage white supremacy over black inferiority. According to Thom, Klan numbers are down in recent years. This is perhaps what calls for such drastic changes in one of the world’s most well-known racist organizations.  
                After reading this piece I was surprised to see this particular Klan hide so much hatred. Whether or not they openly “hate” races other than Caucasian, hatred can be seen. Thom keeps his composure fairly well, however, disdain toward other races can be seen when Ronson talks to the other members of the clan. Personally I don’t think taking a new approach justifies their hatred of other people. It appears that they are being euphemistic. It would be hypocritical, however, for me to hate these people just for hating Blacks or Jews. I just think what they’re doing is wrong.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bitch Summary

In her piece titled bitch Gross chronicles the use of the word “bitch” and the evolution of its connotative meanings towards women. She points out that although the word may have begun as a substitute for a female dog, it is now used loosely to describe a woman who jeopardizes a man’s ego. Gross provides examples through seven specific cases where a woman is dubbed “bitch” by a man. Her examples cover cases in politics, literature, pop culture, etc. It is because of her anecdotal arsenal that we are able to see Gross’s frustration with men. Ultimately, to Gross, it is unjust for men to treat women with such disdain, however, women should not be hindered by it.
I understand why this issue upsets Gross, but I think she is exaggerating. It seems that she is generalizing too much. Not all men think women are bitches, or are threatened by them (although many are). Personally, I use the word bitch to describe women who are cold and callous.
One aspect I found interesting is how she talks about women in power receiving the “bitch” name tag. From personal experience in the work force I can confidently say that nearly all the women in power fit my description as “bitch”. This is not because I felt threatened by them (they were already higher rank than I was), but because of how insensitive they were. I do think, however, that women have to act a certain way to gain positions of power. Overall I agree that women can be frustrated with the word “bitch”, but I don’t think a man’s ego is to blame.