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Faulty Dichotomies: Fort Hood and Reverse Racism | Dr. Jose Yulo | November 7, 2009 | Ignatius Insight
neither Man nor Angel can discern
the only evil that walks
except to God alone,
his permissive will, through Heav'n and Earth. — John Milton
"By liberalism I mean false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon
matters, in which, from the constitution of the human mind, cannot be brought
to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place" — Cardinal John Henry Newman
is a mere twenty-four hours since the news broke on the attack by a gunman on
an army base in Texas. With the appropriate reserve owed to an event of such
severity, various media outlets were hesitant at first to speculate on the
identity and ethnic origin of the assailant, not wanting to foment irrational
fears and reactions.
motivation behind the massacre still remains mysterious. What is intriguing,
however, was the quickness with which some news organizations began the
narrative of a soldier ridiculed because of his ethnicity, ultimately cracking
and lashing out in a rage against his perceived persecution. Making matters
more interesting was the possibility of the murders carried out because of
post-traumatic stress, an unusual possibility to say the least since, by latest
account, the attacker had not yet been deployed overseas and therefore had yet
to experience the fire of combat.
unknown to its various authors, the roots of this narrative run deep and
parallel to the precedents set forth by certain philosophical schools in the
last century. Paramount here is the dichotomous worldview ham-fistedly
established by Marx and perennially finding converts among cultural elites. The
dialectical clash between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is often
chameleon-like, assuming the suitable color and hue to fit the assigned
the liberation theology of Paulo Freire, the paradigm of the oppressor and the
oppressed takes form as the basis for the Brazilian's distillation of Socratic
dialogue into "conscientization." In this third world setting, members of the
latter class are made aware of their assigned status and encouraged to rebel,
sometimes violently, against the former since, as Freire claims, rebellion is an
"act of love."
in this school of thought is the belief that group membership in the oppressed
class, even removed by both time and current economic conditions, permits for a
looser interpretation of moral norms, enabling a historically underprivileged
group the license to "correct" their plights by means restricted only by their
an example removed from the wages of war will be helpful.
1990, an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii wrote a letter to a
school publication addressing the word "haole" as it was and is used in pidgin
Hawaiian. The term literally denoted a foreigner, but as most who have visited
or lived in Hawaii would know, it is more specifically focused on people of
Caucasian descent. The student went on to describe how he had discovered the
many negative associations to the term, relating to his own experiences within
the island of Oahu, up to and including his being assaulted and beaten more
than once simply for his ethnicity alone.
would expect at a university a spirited letter or essay submitted to counter
such claims, if only for the academic exercise they would involve. Such
counterarguments did not come. Rather, what came in response surprised most
observers. A faculty member in Hawaiian Studies wrote a letter to the same
publication, seeking to build a case, if one can call it that, not against the
nature of the word "haole," but against the student, a Caucasian male from
Louisiana, who had the temerity to even suggest he was victimized because of
professor expounded that the student's forefathers had permanently afflicted
"her" homeland with racism, disease and all manner of oppression. In her words
he was a haole, and ought resign himself to his negative treatment by reason of
this. If he found such status difficult to bear, the faculty member advised him
to take one of the many flights off the island and "go back to Louisiana."
Little is further known of the student who was involved in this case, though
within three years, the lady teacher of Hawaiian Studies was awarded a full
professorship by the university.
are two noteworthy errors exhibited by the reasoning of faculty member in this
case. Both are predictably caused by the faulty dichotomous worldview cited
the zeal with which students of this school of thought compartmentalize
individuals into oppressor and oppressed camps allows for a generalization
always tempting for the sociologist and liberation theologian alike. Namely,
the assumption that since the student in question "belonged" to a historically
privileged class, he must have ontologically enjoyed his lineage's perks and
savored its depredations.
is most ironic that this blanket perspective on race and culture is usually
perpetrated by those who supposedly educate against such stereotype and
prejudice. In short, the student in question may be a bad student, perhaps even
a deplorable human being as well. Yet, the simple fact remains: he was not
guilty of the crimes the professor cited. In a departure from ex post facto law, he
was not guilty now from something he did legally then. Rather, he was guilty now for something someone
else did a century before. It would
appear that the teacher had loftier ambitions than professorship, assuming
Yahweh's capacity of punishing the sons for the sins of the fathers.
the professor's implied approval and sanctioning of the ills visited upon the
student logically extended from a stilted perspective on the plight of the
oppressed. Name-calling, ostracizing, and physical beatings were "expected"
repercussions by those from oppressed groups, even if the oppression occurred
to someone else a century before. It is almost pitiable, this lack of exposure
to Augustinian lessons on man's free will. What is at work here however, is
something more than blithe ignorance of medieval philosophy.
allowing "the oppressed" to bend, if not to overtly break moral standards of
behavior, the professor, and the would-be apologists for the Fort Hood shooter
write a common chapter with a shared pen. They write, "some people, because of
the group they belong to, cannot be blamed for acts of malevolence."
the evidence has yielded so far, only one man has his bloody prints on the
murder weapons in Texas. Instead of excusing such behavior, which is the
ultimate wish and end of such prevarication, a most condescending form of
patronization is produced. Who do societies claim are not responsible for their
actions? The answers are fairly obvious: children and lunatics.
asserting that certain segments of the population should be absolved of their
freely chosen acts of mayhem, those who write this narrative do "the oppressed"
a greater disservice than overt oppression: the rendering of convenient
calibanization of human beings for the cause.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Links, Columns, and Articles:
False Freedoms: On the Terror in Mumbai | Dr. Jose Yulo
Spartans, Traitors, and Terrorists | Dr. Jose Yulo
Martyrs and Suicide Bombers | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
On the Term "Islamo-Fascism" | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Plato's Ring in the Sudan: How Freedom Begets Isolation of the Soul | Dr. Jose Yulo
The Echo of Melos: How Ancient Honor Unmasks Islamic Terror | Dr. Jose Yulo
From Defeat to Victory: On the Question of Evil | Alice von Hildebrand
Jose Yulo, Ed.D. teaches courses on philosophy, western civilization,
United States history, and public speaking at the Academy
of Art University in San Francisco. He has a Doctorate in Education
from the University of San Francisco, with an emphasis on the philosophy
of education. He also holds a Master's degree in political communication
from Emerson College in Boston, as well as a Bachelor's degree in the classical
liberal arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD.
Originally from Manila
in the Philippines, his research interests lie in Greek philosophy, the
histories of Greek and Roman politics and warfare, and the literature of
J. R. R. Tolkien. He has written several articles for IgnatiusInsight.com.
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