The idea that “we all do it”.
You are familiar with the theme, I promise.
“We’re all a little racist.”
“Everyone engages in cultural appropriation.”
And so on.
Although the intended message is supposedly, “we’re all human and we make mistakes”, that’s not really what’s being said. These phrases are messages of absolution. After all if everyone else is doing it, it can’t be that bad.
It’s even more complex of course. It’s a refusal to admit guilt. It is a way of implicating everyone else so that there can be no guilt. “If I’m guilty then so are you and therefore you can’t judge me!”
It is also a stunning display of an inability to conceive of reality outside one’s own reality. What is true for the speaker must be true for all.
The obvious answer to all of this is that no, we aren’t all a little racist. We don’t all do those things you say we do. This is a scary thought, one that is generally discarded immediately as impossible. Don’t even try to explain the structural issues involved in the term racism, because merely calling someone ‘white’ is morally on par with slavery and genocide. No really. No, that’s not ridiculous at all! You’d have done the same to us if the situations were reversed. Why? Because human beings are all the same (re: European).
Didn’t black people enslave other black people? Didn’t some indigenous peoples keep slaves? Ghengis Khan! Look at what he did! How very European of him! Haven’t you read Lord of the Flies? Violence and struggles for power are the essence of the human condition! I know this because European philosophers have told me so!
The extraordinary paradox involved in all of this is the straight up fact that at the same time these people are swearing up and down that human beings are all the same…they are also firmly entrenched in the idea that human beings are not in fact the same. “We are all equal…but some of us are more equal than others…”
Blacks are violent.
Native Americans are alcoholics.
Hispanics are lazy.
Asians are smart…but Asian (to different to be white).
Italians, Germans, Irish, Spanish, Ukrainians, Russians, English folks…are white.
And all of this, my friends, is backed up by classical European logic. Great men who invented rational thought have managed to create systems of thought that allow all of these things to make sense! If you don’t understand how, then you are not rational. Not logical. You may even be mentally deficient.
Yup. It takes an astonishing intellect to rationalise all of this.
And if things had been different….if Europeans hadn’t rampaged across the face of the earth murdering, raping, looting and terrorising every corner of every continent…
Well gosh. Someone else would have done it.
Because we all do it.
The false equivalence logic and the pre-emptive violence logic.
Of course, if you just transpose it, it becomes so clear how bullshit it is:
“Oh, well you said something mean to me therefore you would do exactly like I would have done- that is, get a gun, stalk you for 3 years, shoot your family then eat their carcasses, right? After all, we’re all a little mean. I HAD TO DEFEND MYSELF BY DOING IT TO YOU FIRST.”