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Ending racism?
February 4, 2001 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Ending racism? This site contains several "exhibits" about race and racism. It makes a pretty non-controversial argument, that racism is evil. But what is racism? Ageism, sexism, ableism, "geneism" and classism all fit the bill put forth here. Can't putting all of these causes under one umbrella be counter productive? [more inside]
posted by croutonsupafreak (19 comments total)

 
First off, let me say that I hope this thread does not turn into an argument about whether racism exists or not and whether or not white people should feel guilty. My issues with the site don't have much to do with what it says about skin color.

My biggest problem, of course, is the fact that it wants me to have IE 5.5 and the latest version of Flash. It's tough to fight any sort of battle if you don't let most of your potential audience see your message.

And then there's the message. This, for example:

"The ultimate form of racism is the belief that the human race is superior to other species with whom we may not be able to mate -- either animals or Vulcans. The more scientists learn about apes, for example, the more closely related to them we appear to be."

How stupid can you get? I happen to sort of agree with the message, but if you call everyone who thinks they're better than an earthworm a racist, how are you going to accomplish anything?

I can't help but wonder, looking over this site, if it's part of some vast right-wing conspiracy, trying to make liberals look like a bunch of morons. (That last bit was sarcasm, so don't flame me, please).
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:09 PM on February 4, 2001


The weirdest thing about this site was how I found it: It was advertised at a movie theatre during the slide show they put on before the official previews, with some sort of message about how race is a social construct.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:11 PM on February 4, 2001


Wow, that is one poorly designed site. And the Flash animations are even worse (hint to all: not ever telling the user where to click or why is a Bad Idea).

And yes, you're right about these people looking like a bunch of morons. They're trying to put across some sort of incoherent political message more than they're attacking racism as most people define it, and all that does is turn off any average user who might visit their site. I'm sure the ultra-leftists will love it, but those people already subscribe to all that stuff anyway, so what's the point?
posted by aaron at 10:22 PM on February 4, 2001



Poor design = no significant traffic.
posted by bjgeiger at 11:03 PM on February 4, 2001


How stupid can you get? I happen to sort of agree with the message, but if you call everyone who thinks they're better than an earthworm a racist, how are you going to accomplish anything?

Yeah, it's pretty ham-handed. (No disrespect intended to eaters of swine anywhere ...) But I took it as an encouragement to readers to check themselves about their beliefs about other species, not simply a blanket insult to every Homo sapiens with a browser and the patience to navigate through the site.

Anything positive the site accomplishes will probably first happen internally, if/when people are encouraged to look and think critically about their own attitudes toward racism, sexism, discrimination and other forms of societal division.

aaron: can you cut us ultra-leftists some slack, please? i'll go ahead and say it: bad site design's not just for conservatives anymore ... ;/)


posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:21 AM on February 5, 2001


...and while you're at it, could you stop using that Leninist rhetoric?
posted by lagado at 3:04 AM on February 5, 2001


What does the reference to not being able to mate with animals mean? Lions? alligators? sure, there are limits but.....
posted by Postroad at 5:17 AM on February 5, 2001


Bad design, and you're right it probably won't get good traffic.

For some reason, because the statements on the site are to the extreme and kind of sacrastic, I doubt it was made by a liberal.

Its funny how some people on metafilter can sometimes overlook the issue of a link presented and only talk about webdesign.
posted by passionblack at 5:19 AM on February 5, 2001


Anything positive the site accomplishes will probably first happen internally, if/when people are encouraged to look and think critically about their own attitudes toward racism, sexism, discrimination and other forms of societal division.

Here's the thing: I agree that people need to critically examine societal division. But I also think that this web site is undermining its own goals. By saying that specisism is the same thing as racism, it's going to get a lot of people to dismiss the whole message as bunk, whereas theoretically a discussion about "race" as we understand it could have been more effective.

Also, by grouping skin color together with physical ability and genetic predisposition, you're undermining the argument that race is socially constructed. Because while the genetics behind skin color may be insignificant, the fact that I am a human and not a muskrat is all about genetics.


Perhaps these other forms of discrimination should be fought in other forums. At the very least, they ought not be put under the banner of "racism."


Its funny how some people on metafilter can sometimes overlook the issue of a link presented and only talk about webdesign.

I think the web design is part of the issue. What's the point of trying to change the world, if most people can't access your message, and those who can are likely to give up trying before they get anywhere?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:57 AM on February 5, 2001


Its funny how some people on metafilter can sometimes overlook the issue of a link presented and only talk about webdesign.

Well, in a site dedicated to ending discrimination, the fact that they require you to have the latest web browser is somewhat ironic, don't you think?

End old-browser-ism now!
posted by dagnyscott at 5:58 AM on February 5, 2001


Since everyone has lambasted the design, lets talk racism (or any -ism at all). I think Dennis Miller said it best when he said "Why hate someone based on the color of their skin, when if you just take the time to get to know that person, you can find a million other reasons to hate them."

Basically, from my point of view, prejudice stems from blame and pride. There are many people in this world who feel downtrodden (overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, etc...) and they are looking for someone to blame for their problems. Since they don't want to blame themselves, or people like themselves, they blame people who are different in some way (skin color, sex, age, etc...)

Everyone is probably prejudiced in some way, we kinda have to be prejudiced because we really don't have time to get to know all the people we hate. We need some sort of filtration system, even if it is imperfect. (BTW, I'm not trying to defend any racist behaviour or anything...)

So thats it. A pretty simple problem stated imperfectly in a few paragraphs (no flash needed). The solution, however, probably isn't quite so simple.
posted by tallman at 6:05 AM on February 5, 2001


Groan. I was hoping this would not turn into this. Oh well, here goes ...

tallman - I disagree with you in sooo many ways.

There are many people in this world who feel downtrodden (overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, etc...) and they are looking for someone to blame for their problems. Since they don't want to blame themselves, or people like themselves, they blame people who are different in some way (skin color, sex, age, etc...)

Oy. Okay, let's take a hypothetical scenario: Sweatshops. If a person can find no source of income other than a sweatshop, and is as a result "downtrodden (overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, etc...)" would you then say they are being prejudiced and classist when they blame the wealthy elite that creates a situation they have no power to get beyond? And would you say that these well-to-do factory owners have committed no crime, since they don't resent their sweatshop laborers at all?

Because I feel the exact opposite to be the case.

Besides, if you really want to hate someone, there are lots of legitimate reasons to hate people. I, for example, hate all people who don't use turn signals. I guess you could say this prejudice stems from "blame and pride" -- I blame them for not signaling, I'm proud that I do signal. But mostly is stems from fear for life and limb.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:23 AM on February 5, 2001


Good points, but I didn't say it applied to everyone in every situation. I said "From my perspective" and "many people" because most of the racists I come into contact with act that way. Sorry if I was being too narrow, its just how I approach racism in my life (I don't know of any sweatshops near me).

The whole sweatshop scenario is a good one, and I agree with you on all points. I guess I could argue that the sweatshop owner was the one who is so proud that he must oppress others to keep his sense of power or whatever the hell the reason he oppresses people for, but I won't. You are right. Perhaps downtrodden was the wrong word...

I also agree with your whole last paragraph (as I already said), though your prejudice in the case of car signals is well founded, where prejudice based on the color of one's skin has no reason at all.
posted by tallman at 6:50 AM on February 5, 2001


I am superstarist. Because I am the superstar. The master superstar. Who ever even heard of earthworm superstars? Only in little earthworm dreams, no doubt. I step on them.
posted by mblandi at 6:56 AM on February 5, 2001


Tallman: Dennis Miller is of course currently on the tv screen but years ago a guy named Mark Twain, accused of being a hater of Jews, said in his defense that he hated Jews the way he hated all people: because they were human beings.
posted by Postroad at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2001


I never made it to the anti-speciesism rant -- I left the site when I saw the Flash animation of a Japanese soldier shooting a civilian at Nanking.

Now that's education!
posted by argybarg at 7:57 AM on February 5, 2001


I'm disappointed in the ridicule that any claim for an animal having rights always gets. Perhaps it's the silly rhetoric that gets used, or the problem that human oppression occurs simultaneously with unnecessary cruelty to animals means that some think it's a zero sum game on the "fighting oppression" front. The fact remains that animal rights are on the cutting edge of academic rights theory, and this ridicule is broadly reminiscent of previous rights movements in their early stages.

My personal feeling is that animals deserve some protection based on sentience; i.e., squish them earthworms but maybe realize the massive suffering caused to extremely close relatives such as by primate vivisection is a Bad Thing. I'm no extremist, and I find some of the claims made by animal rights extremists in that last link pretty laughable, but I just can't accept the notion that the only animals that think on earth are humans. It just doesn't make sense to me. Flame away.
posted by norm at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2001


The argument for including all the -isms listed in the post is that they're all forms of oppression. They operate differently and affect different groups, but a thorough look at any one of the problems reveals some fundamental truths about all oppression. Each is wrong for different reasons, but as a society we in the U.S. generally agree that providing equal opportunity & equal rights to all is a worthwhile and feasible goal. Individual, cultural, and institutional enactment of these oppressions is what keeps us from our goal.

That said, it's still a bad site -- evidenced by the fact that no one here seems to have learned anything from it, though there is a fair amount of good information there.
posted by sudama at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2001


I agree with both of you, norm & sudama. I oppose oppression, and think it's valid to fight it's different faces in one front.

But I think it's absurd to call someone a racist if they think it's okay to hunt or eat meat or step on earthworms. I think that animal rights activism ought to be outside the realm of a web site called "endracism.org." I also think sexism should be outside its purview. If the site was endoppression.org or enddiscrimination.org that would be another matter.

Also, the potentially good information is destroyed by the presentation. And I'm not just talking about the fact that it's an ugly site that over uses flash. I'm also talking about the words. I'm going to repeat a quote I used earlier:

"The ultimate form of racism is the belief that the human race is superior to other species with whom we may not be able to mate -- either animals or Vulcans. The more scientists learn about apes, for example, the more closely related to them we appear to be."

This is a prime example of bad and illogical writing, I don't care what point you're trying to make.

I understand that the web site has good intentions, but I think they're counter productive. If I was a middle of the road non-political individual and I came across this site, knowing that it was fairly left-wing, I'd likely form a very negative view of the left wing altogether.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:33 PM on February 5, 2001


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