Monday, November 23, 2015

'Whitesplaining': what it is and how it works

Leftists usually run away from  any contact with conservative discourse because the factual points made by conservatives are toxic to Leftist beliefs.  As a conservative, however, I have no fears about Leftist discourse and am always ready to learn so I read quite a lot of Leftist writing, even though I am often disappointed by its vacuity.

So I read with interest the attempt below by Catriona Elder (an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney) to explain some very fashionable Leftist tropes.

There she is, complete with feminist haircut

Sadly, however, amid her long ramble below I have found nothing but opinion.  I would have thought that a social science professor might have brought some facts and data to bear but she has not done so.

And even her reasoning is just a ramble.  I have read the article carefully, with particular attention to her view that being "colour-blind" is somehow wrong.  Why is it wrong?  She does not  say -- but simply asserts that we are not in fact colour blind. Our behaviour does not match our beliefs.  That is no new point, however; psychologists have been saying that since the 1930s.

But surely being color blind is a worthy goal? Perhaps not.  It is difficult to get a grip on what she is saying but she seems to think that we should become MORE race-conscious.  She wants us to SEE racial differences rather than ignore them.

That is very naive.  The whole motivation behind the colour-blind  people is to avoid us seeing too much.  There ARE real race differences in educational attainmemnt, occupational attainment, crime-rates, IQ and much else.  In one way I could be seen as her ideal person.  I DO look at and report race differences.  I have many published academic journal articles on race-related topics. And, as a psychometrician, I always feel free to mention black IQ if it is relevant.

Is that what she wants?  I doubt it.  She wants some ideal world where people see only those things that she wants them to see.

And her comments on privilege are frankly Marxist.  Marx said that what you see depends on where you are.  While that is trivially true in some ways, Marx meant that there was no objective truth and that what you see as truth will depend on your social class position. Catriona thinks the same, except that she sees your race as the important influence on your perceptions.

The nature of truth is a very large philosophical topic so, despite my interest in such matters I will forgo any attempt to address it fully here.  Suffice it to say that those who deploy the "no absolute truth" weapon aim a gun at their own heads.

For example, if there is no absolute truth, why should I believe anything that Catriona says?  She might simply be seeing the world from her own privileged viewpoint (I think she does) and all her resultant conclusions from that might simply be wrong and worthy only of being disregarded. She evidently wants to say that nothing is right excerpt what she says.  Which is roughly what Mussolini said.  She is a neo-Fascist.

So as far as I can see, what she says is an expression of muddled and poorly-founded opinion that expresses a diffuse sense of rage but achieves nothing more.  I certainly fail to see from her writing that "race-blind" people are doing anything unworthy.  Given that there are real and not always congenial differences between the races, I think that they are in fact rather heroic people.  Ignoring race differences may be the best most people can do when it comes to fostering harmonious race relations.

I am not entirely sure that I am spending my time wisely in  commenting on the addled lucubration of an airhead like Catriona but her position in a senior university post is significant.  The feebleness of her "explanations" should help to confirm in the minds of my fellow conservatives that even the smarter end of Leftism is intellectually incompetent.  Had her screed been presented to me as a student essay in my time teaching sociology at Uni NSW, I would have failed it on the grounds of its incoherence.

Have you ever had an experience where someone is explaining to you, maybe in a lot of detail, something you actually already know quite a lot about? Possibly about your own life?

It’s frustrating. But it’s not a random occurrence, and it’s often about power. There’s a word for it: “whitesplaining”.

It’s a term that’s been in high rotation over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Hollywood film star Matt Damon and Australian radio and TV personality Kyle Sandilands, whose comments around issues of racial diversity and sexuality have sparked debate around issues of white privilege and “colour-blindness”.

Let’s reexamine their comments:

While appearing on Project Greenlight two weeks ago, Matt Damon - in the midst of a discussion about forming a directorial team for a reality show - argued the decision to appoint a director should be based on merit rather than diversity.

His comments suggest diversity is only an issue when casting actors, not behind-the-scenes crew such as directors.

A short while later, Damon gave an interview to The Observer where he argued gay actors should remain private about their sexuality:

"But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play."

As Nigel Smith pointed out in The Guardian, Damon’s point negated the interview he then gave, which spanned such personal topics as how he met his wife, their children and family life, his childhood and his political views.

Closer to home, Kyle Sandilands last week explained to the Australia television viewing public that the lack of non-white contestants on a new season of The Bachelorette is irrelevant:

"I think a lot of young people don’t think like that. They don’t think 'Oh we better have a black, we better have a brown'."

Being ‘colour-blind’ and why it’s a problem

Let’s begin by unpacking Sandilands' comments. His perspective is one that suggests “people are people”.

About 20 years ago academic Ruth Frankenberg studied the phenomenon of white people explaining away race and difference by declaring “people are people”. Her book White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993), explores the unspoken racial hierarchies around us.

In her terms, Sandilands self-identifies as “colour-blind”. It means you say you don’t see racial difference. Often making reference to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote about being judged not “by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,” proponents argue that drawing any attention to race is, in fact, more racist.

An extreme form of a colour-blind attitude to race can be seen in the US movement Unhyphenate America, which argues terms such as African-American are divisive:

"Cultural cohesion and connectedness are more important than having a 'diversity' of skin colour. Anyone can choose to be a part of this culture, because the principles aren’t ethnically exclusive."

Sandilands made his on-air comments in response to his guest Sam Frost’s defence that The Bachelorette producers didn’t even think about race when casting the show.

But in a “colour-blind” world, they should have thought about it - because all the contestants for The Bachelorette are the same colour. In fact, Australian television in general fails to reflect our diverse population. So what’s happening here?

The selection process for who ends up on our screens is not neutral because, like it or not, we do notice difference, including race or ethnic differences, and we act on this awareness in subtle ways.

Ways that end up suggesting that the bachelors of Australia are white.

This is where the episode of Damon “whitesplaining” the world of race to an African-American woman is useful to explore. Richard Dyer, another scholar of race and culture, describes these situations in terms of white invisibility and white privilege:

"White people create the dominant images of the world and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their image."

White people move through the world in a way that is made to suit a particular worldview. Damon, in explaining away any need for affirmative action, or awareness of race in film and TV, is only saying: I, personally, did not need it. He does not see his whiteness and all the privileges that come along with it.


Whitesplaining - derived from “mansplaining” - is a new, zietgeisty, word, but it’s essentially an expression of privilege: the unconscious, unearned and largely un-examined benefits of prejudice.

The concept of “privilege” was fully articulated in its modern form by Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 essay,White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

In it, McIntosh lists specific and personal examples of her white privilege. Point number thirty is particularly relevant here:

"If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of colour will have."

Sandilands and Damon are white, famous, middle-aged men. They used their platforms to make statements about the nonexistence of social issues that actively benefit them.

All of this is not to say Damon or Sandilands are necessarily racist. Their comments, however, are examples of how easy it is for those with privilege to assume their experiences are universal. Because our media, our government and our cultural institutions constantly reflect whiteness back at us, it is easy act as if is the default.

Privilege is insidious because benefiting generally involves little to no effort. It is often the result of other people’s actions towards you, and requires simply that you look a certain way. Conversely, perpetuating privilege means acting on invisibly socialised patterns of behaviour.

Calling out whitesplaining is not about saying white people can’t talk about race: it means prioritising the voices of those with experience, not those with the loudest megaphone.


Australia  blocks sale of cattle farms to Chinese

When Greenies, the National Party and the Labor party agree on something, they're likely to get their way.  But, as Senator Leyonhjelm, notes below it is pretty irrational.  And the farms can still be sold off individually! What does that achieve? 

The Nationals are also putting sentiment before self-interest in the matter. Keeping foreigners out of the pool of buyers is bad for prices.  Farmers selling up will get less for their land

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has emphasised the national security threat posed by allowing the sale of cattle company, S. Kidman and Co, after Treasurer Scott Morrison blocked the proposed sale.

In the second veto of a major investment in agribusiness since the Coalition came to power in 2013, the government ruled the company’s holdings — valued at more than $350 million — could not be sold to a single foreign bidder.

In a statement today, Mr Morrison said selling the entire company to an overseas bidder would be “contrary to the national interest”.

Amid allegations of pandering to anti-Chinese sentiment, Mr Turnbull stressed there was “no issue of discrimination” as buyers from multiple countries had expressed an interest in the assets.

“It’s a huge piece of Australia, these Kidman properties being sold in one line, and a large part of the acreage is in the Woomera Prohibited Area,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Manila.

“Plainly the Woomera Prohibited Area is called the ‘prohibited area’ for a reason. It is actively used for weapons testing and trials and it’s an area that obviously raises national security issues.

“I noticed you asked me about backlash from the Chinese government. You would be wrong to assume that there was only one foreign country associated with buyers. So there’s no issue of discrimination here.”

About half of Anna Creek station, the single largest property holding in Australia, is located within the Woomera Prohibited Area.

Mr Turnbull said: “There’s nothing to stop them to recalibrate or restructure the way in which they’re selling these assets and resubmit. So no doubt they will reflect on that.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten said of Mr Morrison’s decision: “I look at the process. It was a big parcel of land. I think it’s 1.3 per cent of land, 2.5 per cent of agricultural land. Now, personally I had concerns. It’s a big issue but that’s why we have a Foreign Investment Review Board process.”

Greens senator Rachel Siewert welcomed the government’s decision as “a step in the right direction” and called for tougher foreign investment laws.

“The Kidman properties are not only iconic, they have high environmental values and are an important part of our agricultural production,” Senator Siewert said.

“Given the iconic nature and environmental value of some of or part of these properties I would encourage the government to look at how some parts of the holdings could contribute to our conservation estate and/or indigenous protected areas.”

The company’s holdings comprise 10 working cattle stations spanning 101,411 square kilometres across Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Kidman is Australia’s largest private land owner and holds approximately 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area, and 2.5 per cent of Australia’s agricultural land.

Mr Morrison said Kidman could consider whether it chose to break up the company and sell its component parts.

“I will consider any such future alternate proposal or set of proposals on its merits, consistent with my obligation to ensure that, any such sale is on terms that are not contrary to the national interest.”

In a statement, S. Kidman & Co said it acknowledged the government’s concerns and would “seek clarity around those concerns and the deal parameters, so that stakeholders can continue to work with the government in good faith to reach a satisfactory outcome”.

It is possible the assets could be split and sold separately, but several rural agents have suggested this would have significant tax implications and would not be the preferred route for the Kidman family.

Meanwhile, one underbidder, the Hong Kong-based Genius Link Asset Management (GLAM), had until today continued its search for a local partner, with the Australian Agricultural Company or the Jumbuck Pastoral Company understood to be the most likely partner.

Joel Chang, the chairman of GLAM, told The Australian he wasn’t disappointed by Mr Morrison’s decision, and he remained interested in the Kidman portfolio and other agricultural investments in Australia.

“I’m quite calm because in a way this is part of the process, and we respect the decision of the treasurer,” Mr Chang said.

“We will keep looking at cooperation and investment in Australia because the market definitely has attractiveness, and we will find ways to cooperate with Australian partners to have a business here.”

A number of China-backed syndicates were believed to have been bidding for the sprawling pastoral empire and China’s Shanghai Pengxin had been in exclusive due diligence for the portfolio.

GLAM was poised to lob a bid of as high as $370m if Pengxin, failed to close the deal this week.

Mr Chang said he would formalise a strategy after today’s announcement, and would consider bidding for individual stations if the pastoral company was sold in parts.

“We will just evaluate rationally each of the stations … and we will consider the commercial situation and if it is justified we are definitely interested,” he said.

“Australia, together with New Zealand, is the only country in the Asia-Pacific region that has the export capacity, and being an overseas bidder we see this as very interesting and that’s why we are looking at the Australian landscape.

“We accept these kinds of decisions; we see (Australia) is even more interesting because there is more scarcity in terms of opportunity.”

Kidman is viewed by many Coalition MPs, especially within the Nationals, as an iconic agricultural asset that must be kept in Australian hands.

Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm criticised the treasurer’s decision as “xenophobic”.

“It’s hard to understand. The farm can’t be taken anywhere, its owner pays tax in Australia, buys supplies in Australia and employs Australians who pay tax in Australia,” the crossbencher told The Australian.

“I will start worrying about foreign companies buying our farms when I see the farm being loaded onto a ship and taken overseas.

“What they’re worried about mainly is Chinese investment. There’s an undercurrent of racism to it.”

The Kidman deal was viewed as a major big foreign investment test for the Turnbull government and Mr Morrison.

It comes almost two years to the day since Morrison’s predecessor Joe Hockey controversially knocked back a bid by US agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland for GrainCorp.

The Abbott government earlier this year also tightened restrictions and threshold limits on all foreign purchases of agricultural land, largely in line with the election platforms of its Coalition partner, the Nationals.

Foreign Investment Review Board approval is now required for all farm deals once a foreign company owns or plans to buy Australian agricultural land worth more than $15m.

Mr Morrison stressed his government “welcomes foreign investment where it is consistent with our national interests”.

“Foreign investment has underpinned the development of our nation and we must continue to attract the strong inflows of foreign capital that our economy requires. Without it, Australia’s output, employment and standard of living would all be lower,” he said.

“Foreign investment rules facilitate such investment while giving assurance to the community that the investment is being made in a way which ensures that Australia’s national interest is protected.”

Founded in 1899 by Sir Sidney Kidman, it is now one of the country’s largest beef producers supplying markets in Japan, the United States and South-East Asia.

The company reported a net profit of $50 million in June.


Police misconduct in Cairns

By Madelaine Stover, writing very recently (20th)

Wow!!!!! What a crazy 48 hours our family has just been through.

It started yesterday morning when the police came to our house without a warrant to arrest my dad. They then ended up arresting my sister and letting her go which i'm assuming because the officers reason for the arrest wouldn't match up to the facts?

Then sometime between 2:30-3:00 am the property was raided by what I now know where members from the tactical crime squad. They all refused to identify themselves and came through my place without producing a warrant or any ID. They were forcing me to comply to their orders (even though I had no idea who they were) by using a dog to scare and intimidate me.

Then this morning another large number of police officers or tactical crime squad members swarmed the property and arrested my dad...I witnessed the officer slam his face into the ground and jam his knee into the center of my dads back. An extremely unnecessary force for a peaceful man who was complying (in fact one officer tripped over and my dad kindly asked him if he was okay while he was handcuffed....because that is the type of man my dad is).

My dad had his court case today and was released without any charges after he represented himself. All this force when no crime has been commited by this man.

My dad, sister and I have all been treated in such an unprofessional, disturbing way by the Cairns police in the past 48 hours and we have NO CHARGES and NO CRIMES have been committed by any of us.

This is important for people to know as there have been a couple of nasty comments such as 'well if you want to be treated fairly by police then don't break the law'. None of us have and the result of the court case today shows that.

Some people are aware that my dad reveals disturbing information about the police and the fraud of the government. We strongly believe this was the reason for being targeted by the police.

Everything that happened over the past 48 hours was in relation to an alleged minor traffic infringement, which my dad wasn't charged for in the court today. A lot of force for something so small right!?! A whole tactical squad (which is very expensive tax dollars) for an alleged traffic incident that my dad was not found guilty of.

The CCC have been contacted and were concerned about the police and the way they conducted their procedures. We will be putting our evidence together for them to start their investigation.

The past 48 hours were scary and tough for our family. Everyones kind words, love and support are what helped us through. Thank you so much to everyone who supported. We are all okay for now smile emoticon big love!!

SOURCE.  Video here

We must decide which refugees we accept

COALITION prime minister John Howard famously declared “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.

The UN has now made it clear it will take that decision out of Australians’ hands.  In an interview with the ABC’s PM program, Andrew Harper, of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, says Australians are going to have to take Sunni Muslim refugees no matter what our politicians say, and the Turnbull government is going along with it.

In September, just before he was deposed by Malcolm Turnbull, former prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to increase Australia’s refugee intake by 12,000 and said the focus would be on “families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in camps neighbouring Syria and Iraq”.

Australia, he said, was in a position to take more refugees because of the government’s success in stopping illegal boat arrivals.

Expectations were that significant numbers of the refugees to come to Australia would be from the persecuted Christian and Yazidi groups, among the most threatened in the Middle East.

According to Harper, however: “We do not take too much notice of what politicians anywhere in the world have to say. Some are being very forthright in their positions. What we will do is remain objective and focus on the criteria which we have, which is vulnerability.

“When people are talking about focusing only on minorities, that’s not necessarily a true reflection of the people who are probably most at risk.

“So if people start pushing the minority card or the religious card, we are going to be pushing that back and saying this is not the most ­important element for us.”

That’s fine for the UN but it isn’t a nation and its staffers don’t pay taxes and it is dominated by people who would really prefer an unelected one-world government that they run.

Australia should tell the UN that Australians have their own criteria and they are not tools of the UN.

The UN is a failure, and Australia is not. Had Mr Howard buckled to the UN’s agenda, as Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard did, Australians would not be paying for a far larger number of illegal boat arrivals than the more than 50,000 who arrived on their watch.

There would also be a far greater number of corpses floating in the seas around Christmas Island.

Australians expect to receive Christian and vulnerable people from the non-Muslim minorities. They have nowhere else to go.

We should tell the UN to stick its criteria and stand up for those most in need.


China acknowledges Australia coal concerns

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has acknowledged concerns over import controls that stymie $9 billion in Australian coal exports, agreeing with Malcolm Turnbull that work should be done to “streamline” the rules.

Mr Li pointedly praised Australian coal in his first formal bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister late yesterday, responding to fears about the curbs at a time when the two nations are finalising a free trade deal.

Mr Li also reiterated that the Chinese economy was expected to grow by about 7 per cent, in line with previous forecasts and giving Australia a long-term source of demand for its natural resources.

While there was no shift in policy, the bilateral meeting agreed that officials from both countries should find ways to “streamline the process” that is causing huge concern among Australian coal exporters.

Mr Turnbull is in Kuala Lumpur for the East Asia Summit of more than 18 leaders from around the region, but he spent some of Saturday afternoon in a private meeting with Mr Li, the Chinese leader with greatest responsibility for economic policy.

Amid talk of freer trade between the two countries, China imposed tougher standards last year to reduce the percentage of ash and sulphur in its imported coal, thereby helping domestic producers who struggle to compete against Australian suppliers.

The Prime Minister raised the matter in his meeting with Mr Li, leading the Chinese premier to praise the quality of Australian coal.

Australian coal exports to China were worth about $9bn last year, according to an Austrade report in February, but the quality checks have introduced new uncertainties into the trade.

Local authorities at the port of Taizhou said a 40,000-tonne Australian coal shipment was turned away on environmental grounds in July after sitting at the port for more than three months, Reuters reported earlier this year.

Weaker demand has also undercut the trade, with China’s coal imports down 37.5 per cent by volume in the six months to the end of June compared to the same period last year.

The Australian was told Mr Li described the relationship between China and Australia as being in “great shape” and spoke with Mr Turnbull about the prospect of the China Australia free trade agreement coming into force by the end of this year.

The Chinese premier also told Mr Turnbull of an expectation that China would grow at about 7 per cent.

The figure is in line with the World Bank forecast of 7.1 per cent growth for China this year, but the remarks offer comfort to Australian exporters given the increasing reliance on Chinese demand.


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