Seeing people as people


National Review's John Derbyshire was fired this weekend for publishing a racially incindiary column in another magazine -- a column in which he wrote, among other things, that he had taught his children to avoid helping or working for black people. NR's Andrew McCarthy, weighing in on the firing, did a good job explaining why it needed to happen:
It is important that research be done, that conclusions not be rigged, and that we are at liberty to speak frankly about what it tells us. But that is not an argument for a priori conclusions about how individual persons ought to be treated in various situations -- or for calculating fear or friendship based on race alone.
Elizabeth Scalia, though writing on a different subject altogether -- the Trayvon Martin killing and the inflammatory rhetoric of the press, including NBC's selective editing of the 911 tape -- suggests a solution for the kind of racist thinking Derbyshire displayed:

. . . I wonder if part of the press’ problem is that they don’t see human beings, anymore, as individual persons before them; they see identity groups into which persons can be fitted and toward which narratives can be spun, but fixating on identifiers is like not seeing a tree, for the forest. It misses the fact that groups are just individual people, and people — more than anything else in the world — want to know that they — their individual, unique selves — matter; that their loveableness is seen by someone and appreciated. People like Mother Teresa know this instinctively; the rest of us often have to be reminded. . . .

The class-warfare rhetoric and race-baiting is all around us and it’s an election year, which means it’s probably not going away anytime soon. . . . Actually seeing the human person placed before us, not as a "type" or as a member of some "group", but as simply another human being with a common need to be acknowledged, can defeat all of that.

Comments:

I suppose you could argue that everyone here including Gina was a part of "the press" directly or indirectly.
Touche, Ellen!
Interesting phrase: "the press’ problem." The identity group "The Press" or "The Media" is also composed of individuals.
I don't know about press in general but I do get the impression that it is common to divide people into "oppressed groups" and "oppressor groups" which is degrading to the first because it taints all with the sins of a few. And degrading to the second because it reduces their purpose into a means of flattering the sanctimoniousness of their supposed advocates and implies that they must always be oppressed. After all, if they cease being oppressed they must be assumed to be oppressors.

Aside from being distasteful it is illogical as everyone belongs to dozens of categories and so is both oppressed and oppressor.
Gina, you are correct. However, I believe the primary reason is greedy self-interest. Of course, if you dig down deep enough, you come to the fact that you have to despise or deny the humanity of the people you take advantage of before you take advantage.
I missed a chance to hear Condoleezza Rice in person, and I'm still upset about it. If Thomas Sowell or Colin Powell or Clarence Thomas were in town, I'd do all in my power to hear them.

But, as you say, Gina, I just named individuals.

Derb won a Pyrrhic victory, proving that "the talk" is acceptable only if it comes from a favored race. Primary, though, he showed the end result of godless materialism, how it destroys the cohesion a society needs.

The press, and the opportunistic "leadership" of the black community (who have done little to nothing to help their community, but have exploited them instead), are making the same mistake. They're mixing anecdotes and half-baked statistics in order to divide, for their own selfish purposes. A pity they won't also get fired.
How does one go about seeing people as "individuals"? If they are not members of a specific group, they will in fact be seen as "part of an undefined crowd".
But I think your first reason is related to the problem Scalia identified. The idea that all encounters are racially based could easily stem from a tendency to see all people solely as group members.
I don't think that is really the root of why the press has manipulated the coverage of Trayvon Martin's death. I think the real root is two-fold. The first is a pre-disposed idea that all encounters between people are racially-based. The second is the more important: a cynical determination to do whatever it takes to boost ratings. Controversy and antagonism boost ratings. Controversy that breeds more antagonism is ideal from their viewpoint.




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