Time to get political again. Oh boy.
You may have heard by now of the controversy surrounding YouTube personality JonTron. For those unacquainted, basically, Jon went on a livestream last week for the purpose of a political debate and expressed a number of extremely questionable sentiments which bordered uncomfortably close to the realms of racism and white nationalism.
But, I'm not here to talk about that. Rather, yesterday, he uploaded a video entitled My Statement: in which he discussed the debate which had taken place, and attempted to clarify his stance on the issues discussed (transcript here). Personally, I found this speech deeply troubling. Essentially, Jon expressed his disdain for "the increasing tribalization of our culture." That is to say, he disagrees with the increasing tendency of society to regard itself in terms of explicit groups along lines such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.
In a vacuum, this is an entirely reasonable and sound argument. My issue with it is that it we don't live in a vacuum. Thus, it completely ignores the reality we live in. We exist in a historically racist civilization. This is no utopia where we can all agree to stop talking about race and it suddenly stops being an issue. In the US, black persons tend to occupy the lower tiers of a socioeconomic ladder as a direct result of slavery and subsequent racist societal overtones over the century following its abolishment. Black children are 3 times more likely to live in poverty than white children. Black adults are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts. This is a problem incredibly deeply engrained in our society, and ignoring it is simply not an option.
Later in the speech, Jon makes some points in regard to the tendency of society to overlook racism against white people. Is this a valid point? Technically, yeah. Generalizing the majority is still racist. Attending a school with an enormous number of minority students, I've experienced it firsthand, and thus cannot in good conscience dismiss it as a non-issue. So yes, he has a point in that we should stop framing the discussion on race in this particular way. But he doesn't limit his argument to specifically this context. opting instead to generalize it universally in arguing that we should stop talking about race altogether. It's a hopelessly naÃ¯ve notion, formed under the assumption that the problem of ingrained racism will magically resolve itself. This is precisely why programs like Affirmative Action exist. Strictly speaking, they're somewhat racist in themselves, and it wouldn't be particularly difficult to formulate an argument against them on moral grounds akin to what Jon has done in his speech. But such an argument only works if you ignore the fact that they exist for a specific purpose, which is to systematically combat the inherent imbalance of power and opportunity in society such that race eventually does become a non-issue.
In conclusion, I think Jon is building his argument on a flawed perception of reality, either resultant from general naÃ¯vity, or willful and potentially malicious ignorance. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but he almost seems too politically well-spoken to express such idealistic views. In any case, it's deeply troubling and pushes an agenda which is ultimately passively destructive. I sincerely hope that he's telling the truth in regard to his previous debate, in that he didn't express his true opinions properly and that his questionable prior rhetoric was ill-phrased and misleading, but in any case, it's clear he needs to stay the hell away from politics, as frankly his views are ultimately disturbing one way or another and better left unsaid for his own sake.