Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What is racism? 

Context: Trump was asked if he thought White nationalism was on the rise around the world. He said that he didn't think so. So AOC concluded that this response meant that he would turn a blind eye to acts of terrorism. I was arrested by her bizarre conclusion, because I myself would have responded pretty much the way Trump did, and that doesn't mean I like terrorism.

This is a big subject. Hard to talk about it without bringing in so many side issues. It's very involved. To get the history, it may be to your advantage to give a listen to my podcast on the American Civil War, but you don't necessarily need to do it first.

Although I have been interested and concerned about this issue since I was a kid reading about the Underground Railroad, the thing that set me off this time was the media reaction to Trump's statement to the "Squad:"

[So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world, now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.]
Now as I explain in the podcast, Trump applied this statement too broadly. For three of the four people, it doesn't fit. I don't want to elaborate here, because I explain it in detail in the podcast. But for one of them (Ilhan Omar), it fits perfectly. It is not racist, and is entirely appropriate. So let me edit the above statement to make it apply to one person:
[So interesting to see a ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswoman, who originally came from a country whose government is a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world, now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why doesn't she go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested place from which she came. Then come back and show us how it is done.]
As you can see, the only thing I have changed is the reference (from three persons to one person). There is nothing racist about that statement. It is a very appropriate and needed exhortation. I certainly do not deny that Trump has said things with which I do not agree. But I could not agree with this one more. But it happens to be a criticism of a person of color, so to the media, it is automatically regarded as racist. That's stupid and dishonest. When you define racism as disagreeing with a Black person, you have robbed it of any significant meaning.

But, as I mentioned in the podcast, the thing that really set me off was watching a CNN "journalist" who was interviewing some folks about racism. She read a definition of racism from a dictionary, by which definition Trump was clearly not a racist. She then looked triumphantly at them as if she had just proven that Trump was a racist. This made me realize that I had to come up with a definition for racism that is so simple that even a CNN journalist can understand it. So here it is: A racist is someone who believes that moral qualities are genetically derived. That's it. Very simple. Even a CNN journalist could figure it out. I am not a racist. I do not believe it is right to present someone's ethic grouping as being morally inferiur. Genes are morally neutral. But I am a critic of culture. Culture is not morally neutral. As Frances Schaeffer said, "If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, society is absolute." I have been a student of culture since I moved to America when I was thirteen years old. I do believe that people of conscience should stand in judgment of culture when it strays from the moral standard God has written on our hearts--such as Confucius (孔子) in The Analects, which I read from in this podcast. So I guess you could say I am a culturist. Here then are the definitions we are going to be using in our discussion of this subject:

racism the belief that moral qualities are genetically derived

culturism the belief that some cultures are morally superior to others, or more precisely, that certain aspects of some cultures are morally superior to certain aspects of other cultures

If you don't like my definitions, you can throw them away when you finish listening to this podcast. But if you listen carefully, I hope you won't want to.

The video below contains a discussion about Kanye West. In the video, Bakari Sellers says "This is what happens when Negroes don't read." This is a reference to a Chris Rock comedy routine from the nineties. You don't need to watch all of that comedy routine, but if you can manage to endure the first three-and-a-half minutes, you will hear the statement that Bakari Sellers paraphrases in the video below. Clearly, Sellers is saying that Kanye West belongs to the category of Black people to whom Chris Rock is referring. That is unfair and disgusting. Listen yourself and see what you think.

Book List:

The Warmth of Other Suns

Gone With the Wind

Movie List:
Green Book

Mississippi Burning


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Sunday, March 29, 2020

An Ounce of Prevention 

It's very simple: Throw away your face mask and wash your hands. The video above shows how most cases of the Corona virus start from hand contact. So what about face masks? I am going to explain:

Face Masks.

There is a lot of debate about face masks, so if you're confused, I don't blame you. Basically, a face mask protects other people from you, it does not protect you from other people. Why is this? It's because surgical masks are not designed to, nor are they capable of filtering out a virus. To a virus, the smallest hole in a surgical mask is a mile wide. The face mask does not hinder it in any way. So why do surgeons use them? Because they do protect other people from you if you cough or sneeze. When you sneeze the sneeze comes out into the air in droplets. Those droplets seem small to you, but to a virus that droplet is a tsunami. It swallows the virus. The mask cannot stop a virus, but it can easily stop that tsunami. So don't ever think that surgical masks don't work. Hospitals have to be sterile. So there is no way surgeons would use surgical masks if they were not effective in preventing the spread of germs (from them to their patients). So of course they work or they would not be used so widely by medical professionals. They just don't work the way you think they do. .

The feeling about masks differs very widely between Americans and Asians. It amuses me to see how people regard their mask as protection from something that is much, much smaller than the smallest hole in their mask. But there is a very important reason why they are more needed in Asia than in America. In China, as in most Asian countries, people travel on crowded subways. If someone coughs or sneezes, you will not be protected if you are wearing a mask. But you will be protected if he is wearing a mask. But how do you get him to do that? If there were a big sign at the subway station saying, "If you are sick, please wear a face mask," how many people do you think would be wearing a mask? In China, not very many. In Japan people typically wear a face mask when they have a cold, in order to protect the people around them. But in China this is not common. People here generally cough or sneeze into the air.

But if you require everyone who gets on the subway to wear a face mask, everyone will be protected. So I don't know...maybe it's a good thing people think that a face mask protects them from other people, because then they will all wear one. But it's troubling to see people getting all upset about a shortage of masks, as if the face mask could actually keep them safe. I saw one picture of a man in Hong Kong who was in tears because he could not get a face mask. I wanted to tell him, "Don't worry, if everyone else is wearing one, won't need one." I think Hong Kong people are a little superstitious about face masks anyway. Believe it or not, there is actually a Fengshui master in Hong Kong who is teaching people how to cast a spell on their face masks to make them more effective.

In America, people typically drive to work in their cars. There's no reason to be wearing a face mask when you are by yourself in a car. If you have a carpool, then it might be a good idea for all of you to agree that you will wear a face mask. That way, if someone in your car pool has a cold or something, he will not have to be embarrassed about wearing a face mask, since everyone else is wearing one too. But again, wearing a face mask does not protect you from someone else. And if it makes you touch your face more often, you're better off without it.

Hand Washing

When we think about the spread of disease, people tend to think of bacteria. So alcohol is commonly used because it kills bacteria. But the Cornoa virus is not bacteria. It is a virus, and you cannot really kill a virus, because a virus is not living. But it turns out that an ordinary bar of soap is deadly to a virus. This article explains why:

Generally, I think that ordinary bar soap is probably more effective at dealing with a virus than hand sanitizer. But a bar of soap has one great weakness: It is pretty much useless without running water. So if you have running water, a bar of soap would be more effective. If not, then hand sanitizer would be better.

Does it matter how long you wash your hands? I don't know. Don't obsess about that. Just grab a bar of soap and wash your hands. As for face masks, if it makes you feel better, wear one. But if it inclines you to touch your face more often, then get rid of it. It's doing more harm than good.



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