Neither Ignorant nor Stupid, but Sociopathic
"...And you sit there when they're putting the rope around your neck saying, 'Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do.' As long as they've been doing it, they're experts at it, they know what they're doing."So I'm reading about Shirley Sherrod and the rest of the dramatis personae, when I come across the whole Mark Williams sitch. Normally, I'd do a good a drapto file on him or some such, but I find that how people are describing him is a symptom of a much greater problem.
~ Malcolm X, 1965
People...stop describing the likes of Williams, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter as "ignorant". Or "stupid." They're neither. They're not even crazy. Furthermore, "ignorant" has been around since I was kid, but instead of it dying and being replaced with a more appropriate adjective, even more people are using it. Talk about retching at an overused - and extremely inaccurate - term.
These folks know what they're doing and saying. They know it's wrong. But they're doing it nonetheless - just like their ancestors did. What's that saying...the more things change, the more they stay the same? When you call people like this ignorant - and I bet you it was white folks who popularized and perpetuated the usage - you're basically letting them off the hook. It's like you're snapping your fingers, shaking your head, and saying, "Aw, shucks darn. If only you knew better...you'd be a wonderful person."
Uh...no. They already do know better, and they don't care. And they're awful people, through and through. Whether out of genuine belief, or the need for fame, or the desire for money, they honestly think their actions are okay. They believe the ends justify the means. So to say they're draptoresponsic would be a pointless understatement at this juncture.
The word people of color are searching for - and that most white people are desperately avoiding - is sociopathic. Once more, kids: Tim Wise and Dr. Robert Jensen warned their fellow white people of sociopathy as a byproduct of white privilege and institutionalized racism. These people, and the millions like them, are operating without essential human parts, the most integral of all being the conscience. They are soulless and lacking; they are empty and utterly defective. Oh...they were born human, but then white privilege conditioned the "human" out of them.
They don't care. Their fans and followers don't care. Just like their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, all those before them...they don't care. They're doing wrong and they know it's wrong, but white privilege tells them to be comfortable and confident enough to keep doing it because they know formalized white supremacy will keep them safe from consequences.
So people, use the right term. And then follow the correct procedure in dealing with these people, which is don't. Do not speak or go near such people unless you absolutely have to. You cannot talk sense into people like these, and if you're a person of color, it's not your job to do so anyway. White America will never see true progress until it finally cleans up its own house once and for all.
"I have a choice: I can be white — that is, I can refuse to challenge white supremacy or centrality — or I can be a human being. I can rest comfortably in the privileges that come with being white, or I can struggle to be fully human. But I can’t do both. Though the work is difficult, the choice for those of us who are white should be easy."
"People of color are going to liberate themselves from white supremacy - bet on that. The question is, who's going to liberate us?"
~ Tim Wise