Dear Desis, We Don’t End Up Winning This

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Any anti-Muslim policy in America will necessarily become anti-Indian and anti-Hindu in practice once it is turned over to the buffoonery of those who implement policy.

    A terrible insight.

    The main thing that constantly trips me up whenever I find myself attracted to some technocratic policy is the beauty of the thing when it sits on the whiteboard… and then I start thinking about how we need to train people who have never read Kafka to implement it on a national scale.Report

  2. A Muslim ban starts out not far from”everyone who isn’t a white Christian is the enemy” and goes there almost immediately, accompanied by cries of “cuck” and “race traitor”.Report

  3. Avatar notme says:

    Any anti-Muslim policy in America will necessarily become anti-Indian and anti-Hindu in practice once it is turned over to the buffoonery of those who implement policy.

    Why do you assume that?Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    Well, at least Trumps not being blamed……yet.

    It’s likely that we’ll find out that this altercation was the capstone of some difficulties this guy was having, and not out of a deep racial hatred for “brown dudes who look muslim”. But maybe not. Odds are the guy was illegally carrying concealed too, so he may not have been a poster child for righteous living.

    But Vikram, you bring up and interesting question. How DOES one differentiate between a muslim pakistani and and indian hindi?Report

  5. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    The narrative that I have been seeing pushed on this story is that the shooter had personal problems and therefore racism and/or bigotry had nothing to do with it: move right along, nothing to see. This is a fairly standard response to white-on-not-white violence.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      It’s certainly possible that it was racism. Among the other possibles are:

      Job loss due to being replaced by “foreigners”
      Job loss due to personal / mental issues that he took out on the first avail person.
      That the guy is really a closet white supremacist.
      …….Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

        Job loss due to being replaced by “foreigners”

        Which he then takes out on the nearest foreigner. That’s called racism.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Really? Wanna parse that? Because the definition of racism ain’t because said person is a foreigner.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

            I wonder how he knew where these two guys were born.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Damon says:

            I’m not sure how much weight we should put on the precise different between “racism” and “xenophobia” and “religious intolerance” and so on. I mean, if you’re argument is “He hated foreigners enough to murder two of them, but gosh at least he wasn’t racist” — I mean I don’t know what to tell you.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d says:

              I do. Precision in meaning leads to precision in action.
              If you don’t focus on understanding, you begin to paint with a remarkably broad brush.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kim says:

                @kim — The point is, they have equal moral weight. The problem is not the distinction. It is acting as if the distinction changes our evaluation of the people involved.

                Basically, there is a movement of white nationalism right now, which combines various forms of racism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance under one banner — with a fare amount of hatred of LGBTQ people in the mix. This event is, I expect, a manifestation of that, as were the recent murders in Quebec City.

                And yes, “Trumpism” is related to this. So here we are.

                So if someone shouts, “But he wasn’t a racist!”

                Well perhaps not. But he was exactly a flavor of “angry white guy with guns who believes paranoid right wing bullshit” — and that is what should concern us.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to veronica d says:

                This is a late stage of the progression of “racism” in American discourse. The right has–at least in its own mind–achieved that happy state wherein nothing short of standing on street corners screaming the N word constitutes racism. Since few even in the right do that nowadays, to logically follows that racism is vanishingly rare, so we can congratulate ourselves on a problem solved and go back to business as normal.

                Hence the imperative to find something other than “racism” to explain this guy. Sure, this guy shot some random person of color, but so long as it wasn’t “racism” there is still the ability to dismiss out of hand any suggestion that perhaps that problem wasn’t solved quite so completely as is imagined.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                He’s not hateful towards people with brown skin, he just doesn’t like people who aren’t American.

                How’d he know they weren’t American?
                They had brown skin.

                As snarky as this sounds, its actually, I believe, closer to the truth than the simple charge of “racism”.

                He may very likely be one of these guys who “has a black friend”.
                But there is a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety among white American males about the changing world, where the old aristocracy of class and color are crumbling.

                The “economic anxiety” of the Trump voter isn’t separable from the racism of the Trump voter.

                Its one thing to fear competition from an Indian guy who you consider to be your peer and equal.

                Its another thing, infinitely more enraging and confusing, to fear someone you consider beneath you.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                How’d he know they weren’t American?
                They had brown skin.

                IIRC, he actually talked to them beforehand, so he would have been able to tell from their accents. On the other hand, it’s probably not purely by chance that this never happens to English immigrants, so racism seems like a pretty reasonable explanation.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Do any American born folks have accents?Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

                Sure. There are a number of regional American accents, all of which are easily distinguishable from any of the various accents peculiar to Indian immigrants to the US. To the best of my knowledge, Indian Americans born in the US, or who immigrate to the US as children, virtually always speak English with an American accent.

                I have an Indian friend who immigrated to the US at the age of seven, and you’d never guess from his voice that he wasn’t born here. Since he started shaving his head, he’s often mistaken for black, even by actual black people.

                Do you know of any counterexamples?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                And its not purely by chance is it, that these “economically distressed” folks aren’t walking into snooty country clubs and blowing away the smug coastal elites who are outsourcing their jobs.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That would require a degree of pre-planning not in evidence here. It’s not as though it’s unheard of for people to kill their managers or HR reps after being fired or laid off, but I think they usually just go for the people they have easy access to.

                Anyway, it’s not like we have a huge sample size. In a typical year, there are fewer than ten homicides in the US reported as hate crimes. Dylann Roof alone committed half of the bias-motivated homicides reported to the FBI in 2015, and even without him, 9 would have been unusually high for one year.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Even if you dk shout out the N-word on the street corner, you’re just a provocateur.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                The right has–at least in its own mind–achieved that happy state wherein nothing short of standing on street corners screaming the N word constitutes racism.

                Of course, this is a BSDI thing. The left has—at least in its own mind—achieved that happy state where four black people torturing a white person while screaming “F___ white people!” isn’t racist because “racism is prejudice plus power.”

                Accusations of racism have become a political weapon, so people are fighting to control how that weapon can be used.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to veronica d says:

                Please define “paranoid right wing bullshit”.

                I’m a white guy and often angry. I have guns. I can afford to buy more guns. I’ve made racists and insensitive comments in the past (hasn’t everyone?) Are you concerned about me?

                If not, please draw that I have to cross to get you concerned.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Damon,
                I would like to bet that you didn’t buy guns or ammo from the “Obama’s gonna send Jackbooted Thugs to take your guns.” commercials.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim says:

                Nope.

                My state’s had more restrictive purchase polices than the feds have for a long time. And I’ve never been a fan of “black guns”. Not a fan of the .223 I’d love to have some full auto vintage weapons but I cant afford the money.

                Christ, do you know what a laser sight costs for a pistol?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Damon,
                Does a laser sight do any good for a pistol? I thought they were pretty inaccurate…Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim says:

                I believe so. I’ve never tried and wanted to give it a shot, so to speak, but the coinage was a bit more than I wanted to spend.

                http://blog.beretta.com/handgun-laser-myths-busted

                This seems on point. It’s from the home defense POV. I just wanted to try it on the range but I think the points made are decent.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

                Okay, seems reasonable for low light — not for longer accuracy.
                (I still feel like folks using guns for home defense is stupid, unless you’re pretty confident you’ll figure out you’ve got a problem with the bad guy still well outside your home)Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim says:

                Opinions differ. Like I said, I wanted to see if it improved my groupings at the standard range distance, not for home defense. Either way, it was a bit more than I wanted to spend for “an experiment”. I’ve not seen, outside of movies and video games, rifles with lasers provide any benefits.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Damon says:

                @damon — “Paranoid right wing bullshit” is a spectrum of belief that includes things like “pizzagate” and “white genocide” and the belief that contemporary blacks are better off (as a population) than contemporary whites. It includes fear of a UN takeover, black helicopters, “buy gold”, etc.

                Which, I’m not going to draw bright lines, any more than I can say exactly what “Jazz” is — in such a way that will give you a precise bright-line answer about whether this-or-that contemporary band plays “Jazz.”

                But we know its general contours.

                In any case, there is a right wing media ecosystem. It is weird, paranoid, and deeply allergic to truth. Todd has been writing about it for a while now. It’s pretty easy to see.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to veronica d says:

                So if I have or do buy, gold, I’m on the list? If not, how many of those things do I have to participate in to get on the list?

                Maybe I think “pizzagate probably isn’t a thing” but I’m not convinced it’s NOT a thing? Am I on the list now?

                Maybe I think King was right that people should be judged by their actions not the color of their skin and we’ve gone too far away from that? Am I on the list now?

                Maybe I do think that UN wants to be at the top of a one world gov’t, and given the some of the wacko stuff coming out of it (us small arms trade) might need to be reigned in. Am I on the list now?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

                veronica doesn’t have an actual list.
                We do have a list, and you aren’t on it (because you aren’t Paranoid and Stupid and Gullible). [List is only to be used in the event the US Gov’t goes FUBAR, of course]Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim says:

                Well, that’s a comfort 🙂Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Damon says:

                Wow, that was a brilliantly disingenuous deke.

                Which, I’m not going to draw bright lines, any more than I can say exactly what “Jazz” is — in such a way that will give you a precise bright-line answer about whether this-or-that contemporary band plays “Jazz.”

                But we know its general contours.

                “Oh, so you’re saying every band that has a snare drum is jazz.”Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to veronica d says:

              As Kim said below. Frankly, I don’t know, and we don’t know, all the particulars. When folks get angry, they don’t necessarily think straight, but they often say things to be hurtful that may or may not be related to the confrontation under discussion. I was speculating that there’s lots of reasons this guy could have been set off, not suggesting excuses. Time will tell that the real dealeo is.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

            I’m very tired of “Yes, it’s murderous hatred of all X but X is not technically a race. So there.”Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Are you going to claim racism when I express my murderous hatred of hipsters and Bronies?

              I wasn’t excusing his actions or explaining them away. I was offering alternative reasons why some guy who’s previously demonstrated zero problems suddenly “goes off”.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Damon says:

                Are you going to claim racism when I express my murderous hatred of hipsters and Bronies?

                Honestly, no, but I think there is a spectrum of intolerance where religious intolerance and xenophobia look a lot like racism and where smug-snooty culture stuff does not.

                For example, I don’t categorize the whole “coastal elites” thing as “racist.” It’s just — not like racism, whereas the hatred of Muslims does seem a lot like racism.

                Just look, has anyone murdered a brony for being a brony in some anti-brony purge? Is it surprising to you that the “white populism” movement seems to combine xenophobia, racism, and religious intolerance the way they do?

                Here’s the point: we oppose racism not only because it is irrational, but because it is widespread, culturally ingrained, literally murderous. Likewise for xenophobia. Likewise for religious intolerance. (And may I add homophobia and transphobia.)

                There is a reason we talk about these things together.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Mike,
          Actually, it’s xenophobia. Perhaps you should consult a dictionary more often.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Damon says:

        Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
        This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
        It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
        He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!

        Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
        This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
        Society’s played him a terrible trick,
        And sociologic’ly he’s sick!Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Perhaps, but witness reports the guy spending time shouting racial slurs at the victims, so if some flavor of race/ethnic/xeno -ism isn’t going on, I’ll eat my hat.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky says:

    Vikram – Are you saying that Desis shouldn’t support these policies because it would hurt the country, or because it would hurt them?Report

  7. Avatar fillyjonk says:

    I’ll just leave here that back in the late 80s/early 90s I had a number of friends who were either immigrants from, or children of immigrants from, India.

    They took a fair amount of crap for being who they were. In some cases it was probably a skin-color thing. In other cases I strongly suspect it was some kind of inferiority-complex thing in the white people who were harassing them – they were good students and were poised to achieve a lot with their life, and that seems to be a common “positive stereotype” of people from India. I vaguely remember one case of what was probably a hate crime against an Indian student (not someone I knew; it was a big campus) at my undergrad university. They were beaten up and a slur that was clearly anti-Hindu/anti-Indian culture was used. (Some of you may know which one; I’m not going to repeat it)

    So the “brown skinned person with accent is Other” thing isn’t new, though it may be increasing over time.

    I fully expect to see the Othering get worse before it gets better. And not just of people with “not white” skin – lots of different people who fit into lots of different groups.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to fillyjonk says:

      What makes you think Othering is going to get better after it gets worse? First, I don’t see how you can measure it meaningfully. Second, do you believe that humanity is on an overall trend away from Othering, and if so, why? I sometimes think that Othering sickens people on the right and the left equally, but surprises people on the left more. People on the right don’t expect human nature to change without supernatural intervention.Report

      • Avatar Catchling in reply to Pinky says:

        People on the right don’t expect human nature to change without supernatural intervention.

        There are plenty of areas in which both left and right expect people to rise above themselves one some moral scale or other, and when they carve out a “well, human nature, what can you do” exception, it’s tipping a hand. For example, when liberals oppose abstinence-only sex ed with “You can’t stop teens from having sex, be realistic” (with the implication that teen culture itself is incapable of change here), they’re indicating, without wanting to say so, they they have a much lower level of concern over teens having sex than do conservatives.

        I think othering is a universal problem that all political stripes and subcultures need to work on. (Of course, I think Those People have more of a problem with it than My People do… you know how it is with them.)Report

  8. If Desis support this, they got a whole lot of ‘splainin to do.Report

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