Why I Do Not Believe In “Systemic Racism”

Now that I have your attention with that title about issues of race and justice and police and all that, let me ask a question that is on a separate subject: “Do you believe in Epicycles?”

If you don’t understand the question, it’s probably because you are not as interested in astronomy as I am. I bet that since you occupy such a privileged position in history to have electric lights and all that drown out the starlight and oppress people like me who enjoy looking at the stars, you might not notice certain things that happen in the darkness. That’s okay, I’ll explain the concept of Epicycles to you.

An “Epicycle” is a description of the way planets have retrograde motion in the sky. The retrograde motion of the planets in the sky is an absolutely incontrovertible fact which is how planets move one direction, come back, and then return to their original motion against the background of the stars.

To prove this fact, I’ll show you a diagram of the position of the planet Mars in the sky over several months.

That chart above is an example of literally MILLIONS of observations of people like me, and you would be an idiot to doubt these facts.

So let me ask again: Do you believe in Epicycles?

The Problem With Bad Questions

If you said “yes,” then there is a problem. Yes, retrograde motion of the planets in the sky is an incontrovertible fact. But “Epicycles” are not.

Epicycles are an explanation of the retrograde motion of the planets if you believe in a geocentric universe. If you believe in that kind of universe, then the way you explain the retrograde motion of the planets looks something like this:

But then again, if you believe that the planets go around the Sun, then the explanation of the incontrovertable fact changes. Instead, it looks something like this:

Back to the Subject at Hand

Now that this tangent is over, let me ask another question that is seemingly unrelated to the structure of the universe: “Do you believe in Systemic Racism?”

I personally, do not. But the reason I do not believe in “Systemic Racism” is that this phrase is an EXPLANATION of many incontrovertible facts (as well as some mistaken observations). It is not a phrase that refers to “incontrovertible facts” themselves.

The Problem With Changing Definitions

When thinking about “Systemic Racism,” most people understand “racism” according to its old and ordinary definition. In that definition, “racism” means:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

Additionally, many people understand the adjective “systemic” according to the ordinary definition, meaning:

of or relating to a system

Therefore, people believe that “Systemic Racism” is just a belief or doctrine about a particular racial group that affects our system.

Fair enough. There is a good question about whether the things we see are the result about stereotypes. There is a good question about whether these things are the result of individual ignorance of the actors. There is a good question about whether these things are the result of malice and oppression of others. (There are also questions about whether the things we are seeing are the result of pre-packaged vignettes that are meant to tell a story and not objectively reflect the facts, but that’s a different conversation.)

However, the term of “Systemic Racism” does not mean that. Instead, just like the word “Epicycle,” the term is a highly technical term that requires the acceptance of many background assumptions about the universe. As you can find in many places, like this website, for instance, the “Systemic Racism” can come in many forms with different technical meanings, including:

Cultural: The ways in which the dominant culture is founded upon and then defines and shapes norms, values, beliefs and standards to advantage white people and oppress People of Color?

Institutional: The ways in which the structures, systems, policies, and procedures of institutions in the U.S. are founded upon and then promote, reproduce, and perpetuate advantages for white people and the oppression of People of Color. 

So let me ask that first question about “Systemic Racism” in a clearer way, based on the TECHNICAL definition of what “Systemic Racism” is:

Do you believe that “White culture” is the “dominant culture” not only in the United States as a whole, but in every sub-community of the United States, and that this “White culture” defines and shapes norms, values, beliefs, and standards FOR THE PURPOSE of advantaging White people and oppressing People of Color?

Do you believe that the United States of America, including our legal system, was FOUNDED UPON and now promotes, reproduces, and perpetuates advantages for White people and the oppression of People of Color?

I don’t. Do you?

Answering The Full Question on Systemic Racism

If you do believe that, then you probably would go so far as to say that the “founding” of America was not in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed and when we declared our independence from Great Britain, honestly (but imperfectly) declaring that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Instead, you might believe the “founding” of America was in 1619, when there were hardly more than 10,000 Europeans on the entire North American continent, but when the first individuals who could be considered “slaves” also arrived on our shore.

That sounds crazy, but if you do believe in Systemic Racism, then not only might you make such a claim, but you might also award a Pulitzer Prize to the person who made and pushed that claim, which is what happened this year.

What These Questions Expose

If you think it is “obvious” that America was founded in 1776, do not think that this 1619 belief is “stupid.” It is also not a “mistake” to say that the founding events of a nation are not important (for example, note that there were two original “founding” settlements in the United States. One was in Virginia. It’s goal was to make money. The other was in Massachusetts. It’s goal was to be a religious community and a “city on a hill” as an example to the world. Think that hasn’t affected America?) Instead, these answers to questions about Systemic Racism are the LOGICAL conclusions of foundational assumptions. What they reveal is staggering.

What these questions and answers expose is an ideological divide about how both civilization and the universe is structured. This divide is LARGER than the divide that existed between those who believed “the Earth is the center of the universe” and those who believed “the Earth goes around the Sun.

If you think that is hyperbole, it’s not. After all, even Galileo and the Pope agreed on “Math.” But for postmodernist today, “Math has been used to oppress people” (see the link, but don’t accept the claims at face value). Both Galileo and the Pope agreed that they had not observed a parallax, which would be evidence to definitively prove the heliocentric theory. But for the postmodernist today, even the reliance on “evidence” and “logic” is the system that is used to oppress, and is rejected as needed.

Is the Postmodernist system COHERENT? Yes. It is. It is coherent just as the Ptolemaic pre-Copernican and pre-Scientific understanding of the universe was “coherent.” But is it TRUE? If you’re a Postmodernist, that concept doesn’t exist.

What If What I See Still Bothers Me?

If you don’t believe in “Systemic Racism” after seeing the curtain pulled back on that VERY loaded term, you may still be worried about all these things that have been CALLED “Systemic Racism.”

To that, I say: “Good.” However, there is another way to make sense of these issues.

Perhaps you could say that things that were not INTENDED to be unjust when it comes to races have BECOME that way, regardless of anyone’s intention.

Perhaps you could say that when people and entire cultures are not familiar with each other in any meaningful sense, maybe they will have a hard time distinguishing between jovial friendliness and sarcastic derision.

Maybe they will have a hard time distinguishing between a really bad guy and a guy who is having a really bad day.

Maybe when these failures to know each other become so wide, it breaks apart the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that lets a “jury of your peers” be composed of “peers” and instead leads to a group of people who have NO IDEA why someone would be carrying that much crack if they weren’t some horrible person destroying our community (when they have a bottle of OxyContin in their purse for their chronic pain).

Additionally, maybe you could say that the motivating factor of some obvious racial oppression is not “the oppression of the dominant racial culture against the minority racial culture” but just ordinary greed. Maybe the “intent” of an injustice was “generating revenue,” and the EFFECT was to “violate the law and undermine community trust, especially among African Americans.” In case you are wondering, that is EXACTLY what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and I’m sure it has happened many other places, as well.

Are these not-quite-intentionally-racist things still BAD? Of COURSE!!! Would I go on to say that many of them move from “bad” into the realm of EVIL? Well, that’s a much harder case to make and it would require a lot of—YES!

But that’s not the end of the matter. There is a frightening conclusion to this other way of thinking about the things that worry us.

The frightening conclusion that comes when we reject a highly ideological explanation of “Systemic Racism” but still become worried about the things we see is this:

Under one set of assumptions, the solution is to push back against the “oppressors,” who are the REAL problem.

Under the other set of assumptions, the problem is a bunch of ordinary people minding their own business, not raising a big fuss about things “over there,” and telling their small little lies here and there to make themselves comfortable or explain the world around them.

What To Do Based On Your Answer

If you do believe in the technical definition of Systemic Racism, then what you do is obvious. You overthrow the oppressing system and culture. If you need to break a few eggs to make an omelette, then oh well. The oppressing class has enough eggs to spare. We need omelettes.

But when you don’t believe in Systemic Racism, the frightening conclusion is that the problem becomes YOU and ME, regardless of your race, regardless of your wealth, regardless of your occupation, regardless of your faith, regardless of your privilege, and regardless of your power.

In this way of understanding the universe, the plea of “But I didn’t DO anything!” is not a proof of innocence. It is an admission of guilt. You did not do anything when your obligation as a citizen is to DO something that improves your community and BE someone who is virtuous.

But there is hope beyond that frightening fact. In the world of Postmodern Systemic Racism, the entire structure of the universe prevents meaningful progress, because the system is always oppressing those who are downtrodden. The only way to advance is to burn things down. Sadly, when “the system” burns, many of those who once believed these assumptions about the universe will find their homes, their families, and themselves burned and destroyed, too.

But when the responsibility to change the world is put on YOU and ME, then a single kind word, a single awkward moment voluntarily accepted, a single friendship, a single gift, a single discovery, a single child taught, a single sin forgiven, and a single smile received can be the first TRUE step in making the world a better place.

And THAT is why I do not believe in “Systemic Racism.”

25 Comments Add yours

  1. A says:

    Caleb, hey man… It’s Seth’s friend, Andy. Bro, unfortunately, YOU and ME don’t make the policies that dictate the existences of millions of non-white people in this country. The difference in effect between a single kind word and a single legislative act is the difference between an ant hill and a mountain. It’s not to say the ant hill has no height. But it’s dwarfed by multiple orders of magnitude compared to the mountain.

    Based on what you’ve written here, I’d be surprised if you’ve read any book on race. By and large, there are people who have read about it and people who haven’t. Your ideas lead me to believe you haven’t. I understand if you’re reacting against the swarming mentality of others who you may view as poor thinkers (of all races). But you ought to pause.

    If you’ve not read any book by the following authors, you should strongly reconsider airing your public opinions about systemic racism and making technical, esoteric linguistic arguments that don’t prove what you imagine they do. Worthwhile authors include: Coates, Diangelo, Oluo, Alexander, Stevenson, Carol Anderson, West, Pinkney, or Elijah Anderson.

    Racism is not the systemic vs. personal, either/or dilemma you setup. It’s both/and. Unfortunately for us, the former has multitudes more impact on society and individuals than the latter. Thankfully for us, the real power centers for change are at the local level. Federal matters some but state/local government matters a LOT.

    Until you read, maybe, three books by the authors above, you’re ignorant, brother. I’m not saying it to be rude to you. It’s a definitional fact. You don’t know what you don’t know. There’s no other way to say it than plainly. What you write here in this post is the biblical definition of foolishness. “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” If you’d like to discuss this further, feel free to get my email from your bro. You’ve got to educate yourself on this, man, because you’re wrong.

    1. The Jones says:

      Hi Andy! I agree that policies and legislative acts matter. A jury without racism is an excellent thing. A jury with racism is a terrible thing. But I agree that laws themselves can be bad, even without the input of an individual’s racism. (As a lawyer, I’ve experienced this first hand).

      I guess my main point is that things that ARE racist (like Ferguson’s policing for money) have causes that are not “founded on” racism. A jury that simply doesn’t understand or know a community of a different race can have the same effect as a jury that is actually full of racists. My point isn’t that the problem is smaller. It’s that the problem is BIGGER.

      As for the books on race, I’ve read a few. It started in undergrad where I wrote a paper on black politics in America, and the importance of the symbolic uses of politics (a topic on which Republicans are utterly defunct). I’ve read books by everyone from Shelby Steele (not my favorite) to John McWhorter (my style) to Malcom X (not my style but quite a read). I’ve read Booker T and W.E.B. I’ve read Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson) and Stamped from the Beginning (Ibraim Kendi) and Divided By Faith (Michael Emerson and Christian Smith). I’ve even read some books that are not ABOUT race, but definitely bring an amazing historical background to key moments in American History, including Democracy in America (1830s), Rising Tide (1920s), and the like. I haven’t read Cornel West, but I’ve definitely heard him talk in a youtube-lecture format. I also read ALL the DOJ reports on Ferguson and Mike Brown (the Policing for Money one is one I think should be required reading). And while I don’t know exactly how much I’ve read, but I can assure you I’ve read books on race.

      I also agree it’s both/and. But the systemic part is WAAAAAY more complicated than it’s being made out to be. I’ve already put out one suggestion to fix one small part of policing the police, which is to create actual criminal and civil LAWS that punish police for not following police policy (which right now is not a crime, only a reason to get someone fired). So while I don’t agree that the problem is MAINLY systemic, I do know that if people don’t trust the system, then by definition, it is not working.

      As for the “foolishness” I will not offer a defense of my intelligence. I’ve had way too much experience with myself to do that. I’ll just plead my good intentions, and say that I’m hoping whatever foolishness I have is saved by the promise that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27)

      But I thank you for your input. I appreciate the time it took to read, consider, think, and write back. It’s okay that we don’t agree, but it’s even better that we had the exchange. You can track down my email address through Seth (he has my permission to give it to you), and I hope to see you in person soon. I’d love to talk about this stuff again!

  2. A says:

    Dude, I gotta be honest, I still truly have no idea what you’re saying or advocating for. I wrongly assumed you had read no books on race because you’re not communicating clearly at all. This is the primary reason I doubted you’d read about race…

    You ask at the beginning of your blog post: “Do you believe that the United States of America, including our legal system, was FOUNDED UPON and now promotes, reproduces, and perpetuates advantages for White people and the oppression of People of Color? I don’t.”

    And yet, it does. It’s incredible someone with your level of education and the reading list you cite (specifically, Kendi, applies here) can seriously ask this question and then say no. Did you really read Kendi? Or did you read him and just disagree with everything he wrote? Both he and Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project trace the historical origins of racism as founding principles of BOTH our legal and cultural systems.

    From the beginning (whether 1619 or 1776), virtually no black person was free in our country. They couldn’t vote in this country. They couldn’t go to school with white people in places in this country. They were lynched and those murders were never investigated or prosecuted in our country. To this very day, black people are incarcerated at unequal rates for the same crimes, they’re given longer terms for the same crimes, they’re racially profiled in extra police stops increasing the chances they’ll die at the hands of a police officer, they’re denied services through redlining, they’re disenfranchised in numerous ways. The list goes on. All sanctioned by our legal system. All these things “promote, reproduce, and perpetuate advantages for White people and the oppression of People of Color.”

    Are you not being precise enough in your language? Do you mean to be asking whether our country and legal system was solely founded upon racial exclusion? That answer is no. But that question would be a straw man (yes, I realize I’m setting one up here myself but it’s because your argument is really obtuse and I can’t understand how you’d answer ‘no’ to the question you posed). Racial exclusion and oppression was and is an ongoing tradition of our country and legal system.

    I also assumed you’d read very little about race because you conclude the post by lamenting the changing of structures, pejoratively describing it as “burning things down” and pejoratively describing advocates of this as “Postmodernists,” describing the consequences in solely negative and apocalyptic terms.

    With the way you opened and ended your post (and much of the content in between), you need to understand you open yourself to the charge of being called ignorant on race topics, if not racist. If this isn’t your intent (and it doesn’t seem to be based on your reply), you need to write with WAY more clarity than you’re writing with now.

    1. The Jones says:

      I suppose the confusion might be that something can ACTUALLY do something even if it was never intended to do that thing. The example I gave of the city of Ferguson is a great example. Did they intend to “oppress black people” when they began passing laws to raise revenue for the town? No. But did they? Yes.

      When that’s the case, you can’t solve the issue of oppression by attacking “racism,” because the people who are doing it don’t know what they’re doing. You have to go to the actual intent (the desire for town income through illegitimate means) to actually make the people see what is going on. That’s my intent.

      And yes, I really read Kendi, but of course I didn’t agree with what I actually read. I can’t agree with or even believe everything I read. That would be crazy. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with all of the beliefs I’d have to change in the process. I take it in, I think about it. I see if the statements corresponds with the world that I see, the other statements in the work, and with other things that I know to be true, and I use that to build my own base of knowledge.

      When I lamented the “burning things down,” I was not referring to the changing of structures. Structures always change, and often that’s precisely what we need. What I was referring to was the specific method of changing structures that I’ve seen in recent weeks, namely things catching on fire and burning down in cities across the country.

      Metaphorically, I was referring to people condemning entire structures (like the legal structure) which they wrongly believe was FOUNDED upon oppression, rather than merely misused, as all things can be.

      But yes, I do see Postmodernism as a very bad thing that is extremely destructive.

      And yes, I agree that I open myself up to the charge of being called ignorant on race topics, including being called racist. But I’m an attorney. I know I have good evidence. I’m quite comfortable defending myself against those charges. I’m confident enough not to take it personally.

  3. Seth says:

    We’ve spoken about this in private so I won’t belabor here, but for the life of me I can’t understand what point you’re trying to make. Beyond that, the tone-deafness is what is most disheartening. No compassionate mention of victims. No solidarity. It would be akin to someone writing a think-piece about how Cystic Fibrosis was a drain on our healthcare system and how we should rethink the coverage we offer to CF patients while you lay in a hospital bed battling the disease. Your writing on George Floyd was the same. Frankly, it’s shocking. Down to the final line of “And THAT is why I do not believe in ‘Systemic Racism.'” this blog is about convincing people they’re wrong. No mention of the problems. No solutions. No compassion. I agree with Andy, I don’t know how much racism you have or don’t have in your heart, but yourself being a white descendant of the 38th largest slaveowner in American history, whose job puts people into the criminal justice, who doesn’t seem to understand the landscape or have any compassion for the suffering of your brothers and sisters… People will draw their conclusions, and perhaps rightly. As long as the evidence in your head silences the heart, I don’t believe there’s anything anyone can offer you other than a sparring match.

    1. The Jones says:

      In reading this comment, it’s like you haven’t read anything I’ve written. It’s hard to take any of this seriously.

  4. A says:

    Your premise: “something can ACTUALLY do something even if it was never intended to do that thing… Did they intend to “oppress black people” when they began passing laws to raise revenue for the town? No. But did they? Yes.”

    The fallacy of composition. In this one instance, perhaps civil asset forfeiture wasn’t designed as racist. But there are an incredible number of examples of practices in our country’s history and from today that are explicitly designed to oppress black people and advantage white people. Some today: gerrymandering, voter roll purging, felony disenfranchisement, redlining, etc.

    What do you mean when you ask/answer, “[I don’t] believe that the United States of America, including our legal system, was FOUNDED UPON and now promotes, reproduces, and perpetuates advantages for White people and the oppression of People of Color.”

    Can you explain how you get to this statement? With how I’m reading this, it’s very easily disproven with many examples.

  5. The Jones says:

    Well, I think your examples show why we disagree. Some of the things you claim as “explicitly designed to oppress black people and advantage white people.”

    For example, gerrymandering CAN be used to disenfranchise black and minority voters, but “gerrymandering” is a term from 1812, before blacks could even vote. It wasn’t created to oppress blacks or minorities. It was created to oppress the opposite political party who were all white. And voter roll purging wasn’t created to oppress blacks or minorities. It’s a necessary function of maintaining a list or registered voters that is either done too harshly (according to Dems) or not harshly enough (according to the GOP). I won’t pretend to know “the” answer to that, but I do know it isn’t “designed” to oppress black people. And felony disenfranchisement wasn’t “designed” to oppress blacks or minorities. It is as old as the common law in England. It was designed to disenfranchise felons, as the name suggests. The one example that I certainly agree with is Redlining, which obviously WAS created to discriminate against black people. But that’s also the only thing on the list that is totally illegal and can get you fined or put in jail, so that kind of works against your point.

    So yes, I agree that all those things can be used (and in many cases HAVE been used) to oppress people of color, but it is just simply false to say that they were created/founded upon/intended/etc. to oppress people of color. That’s why I say that.

    If we falsely believe that the root of “the problem” is in something that isn’t the root, then we will eliminate whatever benefits exist of our legal system/political system/whatever system, and still be left with the core PROBLEM of different types of people being treated differently when they should be treated equally. That’s a “solution” that’s going to be worse than the problem, because “the problem” (of unequal treatment) will remain, but other good things will go away.

  6. Seth Jones says:

    I don’t know how the architect of one of the systems could state any more plainly what its purpose was.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.

    “You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

  7. A says:

    I want to be more precise about this phrase “explicitly designed” as it’s causing confusion. Policies and laws can be classified in three broad groups as having primary intentional consequence (producing expected effects), secondary consequence (also producing expected effects), or unintentional consequence (producing unexpected effects).

    Gerrymandering is about power. However, by and large, geography = race = party. Even when district lines are politically redrawn through cracking, packing, or whatever other scheme, race is involved. Political gain of either party is a primary intentional consequence of modern gerrymandering. Additionally, because of the Voter Rights Act, racial effects are always a known and expected secondary consequence. While racism is not the exclusive design of the policy, the policy was designed explicitly with race in view. The effect for black people with gerrymandering is the same regardless – usually misrepresentation – if not on race itself then in a lopsided efficiency gap which often produces unfair ideological representation (see Wisconsin’s gerrymandering effects and the remanded Gill v Whitford). At design time, racial effects are known. This is what I mean by “explicitly designed.” I now see this phrase is unclear. Going forward I’ll likely use “knowingly designed.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but your standard of burden for defining something as racist seems to be policies that are intentionally, exclusively, and punitively designed to disadvantage black people. I lower that bar to include policies with secondary expected effects or even with unintended consequences that end up disadvantaging black people.

    Why? The important point is not the intent. Nor is it whether the policy is exclusively race-based. Nor is it even whether a law or policy is labeled as “racist.” This is a false dilemma. All of these cases are roots of the same tree called Power. This tree does not exist to oppress black people but it does far too often produce various branches of diseased fruit that leads to asymmetrical black suffering. There is, in fact, promotion, reproduction, and perpetuation of disadvantaging blacks in America – systemically – for 400 years now. Catch my assertion here. It’s not done in the name of racism, but power. The root is not racism, the effect is. The point is protecting the lives, dignity, and humanity of black folk and removing the suffering they’re made to experience from laws and policies that you and I don’t face as white people. We need new policies and new laws across a myriad of systems to eliminate their old suffering.

    I’m curious. If you were asked to advise black people on their way forward to a better life as a race, how would you advise them?

  8. The Jones says:

    I think I have to correct you. Things don’t have to be intentionally, exclusively, and punitively designed to disadvantage black people in order to be racist. But I AM saying that a requirement to be “racist” is that they have to have some level of bad intent. Is our method of funding education in our country “racist”? No. It’s the result of a million different things, and is primarily a function of property taxes. But can someone like a politician draw a line to take advantage of the situation, and THAT be racist? OF COURSE! That’s the distinction I make.

    My main point is that things that are the result of “ignorance” are usually not racist, because that’s a lack of intent. (The exception is when someone has a duty to know something, and still remains ignorant due to laziness, lack of care, etc.) When we calling someone “racist” when they are only ignorant just lessens the power of the word. And I KNOW that the moral effect of the word “racist” is going down among white people, because of the changing definition of the word. I think that’s a bad thing.

    A good example of something that is “not racist” was the 1994 Clinton crime bill. Was that law “good”? It appears not. But was it “racist”? Definitely not. I know from my own research that black leaders back then were asking for it and supported it. Why? Because certain communities were crumbling under the crack epidemic, and the BELIEF was that hard enforcement would lead to better outcomes for the community. Regardless of whether that was true, the fact was it was honestly believed. That’s why it wasn’t racist. That’s not the same thing as being “good.”

    If I were asked to advise black people on their way forward to better their life as a race? Awww… heck. What do I know? I guess the only thing I could say is to “be patient” with white people. We’re just as stupid as anyone else, but in our own unique ways. As far as something closer to “advice,” is one thing I’ve noticed about white people (especially middle-to-upper-class white people) in the South is that we are “polite” but not “nice.” Politeness is the facade of “niceness” that we put up so we know not to go to war. “Nice” people don’t go to war. We’re nice with our families, but not anyone else. With everyone else, we’re “polite.” The more not-at-ease white people are in a situation, the more “polite” they are, until they figure they need to “go to war” (everything from “calling the manager” to literally going to war), and then it flips, sometimes immediately. From my experience, I’ve seen black people (especially economically-lower-class black people) see that “politeness” as “fake.” And to an extent, that’s true, but in another sense, it’s not “bad.” Polite is WAY better than “war.” I don’t think that’s any “advice” but that’s literally something I told a black guy yesterday in a conversation about stuff like this. I don’t know if it qualifies as “advice,” but it’s just information that I hope they can use.

    And I think I still we disagree on some of the facts, but I don’t think it matters as much. I don’t think that geography=race=party. I also know some of the ins-and-outs of racial political gerrymandering which are sometimes REQUIRED by the VRA. There are lots of things like that, and all I’m saying is “it’s complicated.”

    But I do catch your meaning that you think things are done from the perspective of “power,” with the effect of race. But I disagree. Sure, SOME things are done from the perspective of “power,” but certainly not everything, and not even most things. Most of the time, people do things because they think it is “right” or “correct” or “the way things SHOULD be done” which is a moral judgment. Morality isn’t power (unless you’re a postmodernist, in which objective morality doesn’t exist and everything is power). People are often wrong about their moral assumptions. Sometimes its due to a lack of facts and sometimes it’s due to bad morals. But if you approach that problem with the lens of power/racism, we’re not going to get anywhere, because that’s not what’s happening.

  9. A says:

    What’s the goal of your writing on this blog? What do you hope to achieve?

    1. A says:

      I mean broadly on the entire blog, not just this post.

  10. The Jones says:

    Normally, it’s just an outlet for my thoughts. But with the George Floyd stuff, I’m hoping that some understanding of the situation can prevent a riot when a “Not Guilty” verdict comes back.

  11. A says:

    Cool. Happy writing, man. We could go round and round on all this and it wouldn’t lead anywhere so I’ll shove off now. I’ve read a half dozen of your posts and I do think you’d be well-served not to be so hostile in your writing – especially your anger at postmodernism and seemingly all of its attached ideas, people, and effects. I don’t see how being so combative and dismissive of others who disagree with you can be healthy for the human spirit. There’s a lot of belittling on your blog. You come across as cold-hearted and dogmatic. Very rigid and ungenerous. I’ve got to be honest: the persona your portray in your writing is not very likeable. I actually had the thought, “I hope Caleb’s blog doesn’t affect his career down the line. Many people would likely be turned off.” And it wouldn’t have anything to do with being Christian, but your general presentation and approach. That may not matter to you or maybe you’re self-employed but the thought suddenly came to me just now. Forgive my frankness if that’s offensive, man. I sense it’s something I’m supposed to say.

    1. The Jones says:

      I smell sarcasm.

  12. A says:

    Wait, I’m genuinely confused. What do you mean by sarcasm?

  13. A says:

    I also want to offer an apology to you for the presumption I showed in my initial comment and for my own arrogance in later comments. In my spirit, I don’t think I valued you highly enough and I wanted to say I’m sorry for that. Finally, I should have done all this over email and I’m sorry for that, too, man.

    1. The Jones says:

      Before, I thought you were genuinely confused by my point of view. This is understandable, because the point of this piece is that we don’t just have a difference of opinion on a set of facts, but instead, we have a different way of seeing the ENTIRE UNIVERSE, which is the reason I bring up the whole “Epicycles” thing as a parallel thought on systemic racism.

      The sarcasm was something I thought with that last comment. The “Cool. Happy writing, man.” was the initial kick off. I also thought there was sarcasm due to the fact that I have explicitly tried to NOT be a Tucker Carlson, or a Sean Hannity, or someone with anger in their voice who talks about “thugs” or whatever who are “destroying this country.” But I am trying to describe a very dangerous ideology which leads people (who are otherwise no different from me) to act in ways that are evil, all the while, thinking that they are doing something good. So, yes. It’s serious and heavy, but “anger” and all that is something I know is not right. The reason I write about “heresy” that comes into Christianity is because that’s exactly what I think it is. That’s not hyperbole. The reason I call “it” (the philosophy, btw, not the people) a “lying enemy” is because that’s exactly what I think it is. That’s not hyperbole. But “cold and dogmatic”? Really? You’ve got to be honest that the persona I portray in my writing is not very likable? Really? That’s just so hard for me to believe, and I think it’s sarcasm.

      The real reason I thought it was sarcasm, and wondered if it was a veiled threat was that you brought up my job and when you say: “I actually had the thought, “I hope Caleb’s blog doesn’t affect his career down the line. Many people would likely be turned off.”” That sounds like a threat, like the last thing that someone sees on the internet before they get doxxed.

      If you’re really worried about that, then thank you for the warning, but I think I’m okay. I’m a lawyer who does civil litigation, and often represents churches and cops, so I think I’m good. But in light of the other stuff, I thought it was sarcasm and a veiled threat. It felt quite offensive.

      I can accept that last apology, though, and that’s fine. But that’s the reason I was thinking that about the sarcasm.

  14. baker w says:

    hey, i posted a comment on this post that was never published. would love to continue the conversation with you.

  15. baker wardlaw says:

    would you mind approving the original comment?

    1. The Jones says:

      I don’t see it, unfortunately. I approve all comments as soon as I see them. Just type it again.

  16. Oldo says:

    The earth as the universal center cannot be determined absolutely. Without a fixed unmoving point of reference its not possible to determine the relative motion of two bodies in space. Just because it’s not the the center of the solar system nor the galaxy says nothing about its position in the universe, except by inference.

    1. The Jones says:

      I have once made the passing observation that if there is no “center” of the universe, and (as relativity tells us) that the only way to make an accurate observation is from “the perspective of the observer,” then it looks like the ancients were right that the Earth is the “center” of the Universe in a technical sense.

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