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Friday, April 29, 2016

Joshua Chiang critiques Privilege Theory

Via Joshua Chiang - Because she was oppressed by facts. Not sure if... (I do not think the other person's comments are very interesting and anyway you can tell what they are by Joshua's responses):

"I have always, even before she came on the scene, made it clear there is Chinese hegemony which whether intentionally or not makes the system benefit Chinese people more. In fact when I was CE of TOC I felt it was an important angle to write about and had - though unsuccessfully - tried to rope in Malay and Indian writers to write about their experiences. What I had disagreed right from the start is the rhetoric of privilege and the obnoxious white-knighting ways in which Adeline Koh came along and told everyone else to shush - which reflects the very problem of privilege rhetoric in that its proponents find it very easy to deflect any valid crictisms as people speaking from a privileged position. Without realising they are using their scholarly 'privilege' to shut discourse.

Two - just because we are having this conversation, and only because I give a shit, doesn't mean that a lot of people are. What they are discussing however is how obnoxious Sangeetha is. I'm sorry to say that if she had any issues and agenda to champion, she has pretty much derailed it and made it only about her."

""A critical change is whether the issue is being discussed or not at all - and right now, more people are starting to try and understand what the fuss is all about. This, believe it or not, is progress."

Just like how Sept 11 got everyone talking about terrorism and the West's culpability in meddling in the Middle East?"

"My main objection has always been on using 'privilege' theory as a form of advocacy and Sangeetha being a terrible advocate. You think her style has led to some progress even in the discourse, I beg to differ. If anything she is totally unreliable as someone you can trust or work with; the penchant of her judging who should be her 'allies' and then turning against them is the stuff of legend among civil society circles now.

And again, you make the assumptions that we know very little of the 'unknown-knowns', since TOC days, we've already known how thick skulls are with regards to stubborn resistance to change on a whole range of issues. The whole of Singapore is NOT ready to abolish DP. It is NOT ready for LGBTQ rights. It is NOT ready for Migrant Workers' right. Heck it is NOT even ready to consider a day without the PAP.

So how? Scream and shout oppression at every damn thing? Do you see an LGBTQ advocate going around scolding straight people for 'het privilege'?"

"Dude. Don't assume. Because I can get started on your non-colorblind privilege. And then we can compete on who experiences more oppression on a daily level... Do not even assume I am not offended by your constant assumptions of my experiences... The moment u start talkimg about pain, u begin to assume I have never experienced some form of daily "oppression"... Also do not forget your experiences even if they are a result of institutionalized racism is not a universal experience - I've spoken to minorities who don't feel the way you do. So how? It doesn't mean institutionalized racism doesnt exist but we can't take your pain as a yardstick to action. And when u start making your pain the most important thing in this discussion and start going into things like oh go and be academic with people who lost a child, you are being offensive to my experiences of losing someone and knowing what it is to lose someone. I seldom bring these up because we are talking about ideas and whether this and that work. Not our own subjective pain."

"i think u need to a) check ur binary thinking b) stop mansplaining what is privilege as if I never did my research (you on the other hand appear not to know any of the criticisms against privilege theory) and c) find a safe space if you think discussing on an academic level is very triggering."

"You also need to check the microaggression. Don't forget i am technically disabled because of my color blindness."

"the only reason why you can't even address my points on grounds of logic IS because privilege theory and rhetoric has no legs to stand on. At the end the only position you can take is that of righteous outrage based on some assumed 'victim/oppressor' relationship we have and claiming my moral inferiority to yours based on the 'privilege' I have in making statements you claim offence at, claiming some pain in the unique position you know I cannot reasonably say to experience but at best approximate because hey, I am HUMAN and I know what it is like to feel hurt, rejected, insulted etc.

THAT is the shaky ground in which privilege theory has made you stand on. This chasm that I have been trying to build a bridge across but you steadfastly refuse to close because you want to claim the moral high ground that privilege theory offers you.

It's bullshit and I am sick of it.

And I'm OFFENDED. I'm offended because folks like us, we do our best to right the wrongs which we had no part in, but we're never good enough. Boy did we listen, did we listen hard, but fuck. You're just not happy unless you get some bleeding confession of guilt some fucking pound of flesh. And guess what? At the end, we folks will stand up for you - and do not presume there is no personal cost in sticking our necks out, sometimes further than what you do for yourself, and yet you'll still call us oppressors by virtue of the color of our skin, unless we acknowledge to some intellectually bankrupt theory.

But I don't think you know how that feels. This pain. Even though I'm pretty sure you know what being wronged feels like. Because hey, you're a minority. You cannot feel what I feel, right?

And since according to the same theory and reasoning, anger is a legit response, then here's my most legit response. FUCK YOU. FUCKING FUCK YOU."

"my exasperation has nothing to do with my race or yours. When we have a discourse, the only tools we bring to the table are our knowledge and our brains. Whatever class, race, gender advantage you or I have over each other, that exists in the real world, they have an impact on our lives, that's true, I have never denied that. But here, my IQ, yours, my knowledge, yours, it is not coloured by race. It should not even be coloured by experience. A discussion on a theory based in social science, however hard to empirically study compared to physical science, need necessarily be based also on more or less logical principles.

I lay it on the table, why I think privilege theory is a very bad articulation of social facts that we can agree on. You did not address the issue. You did not give me reasons why you think it is a good theory, or better than a lot of existing theories out there that studies the power relationships between groups of people, e.g. Foucault's theory of hegemony.

Instead you keep bringing the privilege card whenever you can. And then you think it's some kind of truimph when I let loose my exasperation and you're like 'hey that is exactly how we feel everyday in a racist world!" Wow. Breaking news. Like none of us have ever done thought experiments before. Like you cannot bloody see the reason why we want to make things better is because we know this anger this injustice and it is unconsciensable. But see where this goes? Nowhere. I keep saying, I see your point, I feel your burn. Do you see mine? Do you recognise the frustration of being judged everyday as some oppressor merely by the color of our skin? Maybe the injury you suffer from is a left hook to the face. The one I get is punch to the stomach. Different places, same hurt.

So we do have things in common. Pain. And the desire to improve things. But all I'm getting from you is - NO HEAR ME ROAR HEAR MY PAIN MY PAIN IS MOST IMPORTANT. Well, then where were you when I was standing alone against the police and MCYS officers taking a real risk of being arrested for getting in the way of police procedures because they want to evict a group of homeless Malays and Indians - OPPRESSED MINORITIES - from the beach?"

"you simply have no end goal, because privilege theory doesn't propose any. It's just this fuzzy thing that you think describes your situation, from your perspective, without consideration of the perspective of those you frame 'oppressors'. And instead of seeing how we can bridge that gap with those who want to, you just stand on your pedestal and shout "you won't understand one!" "
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