Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Let’s finish up thinking through these slogans today. When the time is right, you can ask your neighbors who own this sign some of these questions in order to spark conversation and provoke thought, and/or you can ask your kids these questions, as a way to help them think through the slogans. It is important to ask these questions, even if just with your own kids at the dinner table, and not just go with the slogan. Oftentimes, the slogan sounds good, but what is behind it is either bad, false, or confusing. Sometimes the slogan sounds good but when you think about it deeper it turns out the slogan is fairly meaningless. Help your kids to ask the right questions to get behind the slogan. It is important, however, to balance this with considerations of prudence. As previously mentioned in past parts, some of these questions have some barbs on them. Pick your battles, and use wisdom when judging when it is right to ask more open ended questions, and when it is appropriate to be more pointed in the direction you take the conversation. Lastly, these are only samples to demonstrate a general point. I highly encourage you to create your own questions to add to the list!
“WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS” *Can you give me an example? *(if abortion) this action is a woman soliciting a doctor to kill her own unborn child. Why think that is a “human” right? Where does that come from? *Also follow up with standard abortion questioning: what does abortion kill, etc… *(If another, perhaps anodyne “right,” like “women have the right to equal pay.”) That is not especially controversial. I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone, conservative or liberal, who actually thinks it is moral or right to pay a woman less for the exact same work and output of a man...so what are you really getting at? *(If its something on the pay gap) So let me agree for sake of conversation that the statistical pay gap exists. Do you know where that stat came from? What do you think causes it? (If sexism) Why? Why be so monocausal? *”The patriarchy.” I dunno. Seems like women are doing allright these days. They are kicking butt in education, storming into the workplace, they live longer, are getting more degrees and better grades than boys, etc etc….men are orverwhelmingly over-represented in prison, represent somewhere above 90% of the work fatalities, etc. I could go on like this. There was even a book published not too long ago to great feminist fanfare titled *The End of Men.* Among other things, she argued that women’s strengths were better suited to the modern work place, so women excel. Seems like maybe women are doing better than you think? Yea maybe they are vastly under-represented in top positions, but why is that? Think about women and men’s differing lifestyle goals, and how that affects career trajectory, for instance. Is it fair to say that they are under-represented solely (or primarily) because of sexism? Disparities are often produced by a web of causes--why simplistically reduce it to something like *that,* especially given all the ways women *are* excelling in our culture today? Here is an additional one you can ask your kids: *They might also argue that just the concept of “gender roles” itself--where men and women are different, have different strengths, and therefore different roles in the home--is an “oppressive” view and keeps women back. But why think that? Why think that just because someone believes men and women are different, that that therefore keeps women down and means they are inferior? Difference does not equal inferiority. “BLACK LIVES MATTER” *Of course everyone--or almost everyone--believe that black lives matter. Why make it a distinctive slogan then, that sets you apart from others? Surely you aren’t just trying to set yourself apart from people that would really disagree with that (like Neo-Nazis), right? What are you really trying to say? Let me explain this one: I'm not putting up the "all lives matter" retort, here. That kind of response is completely unhelpful, and misunderstands the sentiment. Rather, here's the point: the person who has this sign in their yard has this slogan on it because they think it "makes a statement." That is, it is controversial enough to be noteworthy and to set them apart. No one puts a sign in their yard saying "stealing is wrong" or "running planes into buildings in the name of your god should be a crime" because everyone already agrees. If you ask 100 people on the street if they think black lives matter, 100 will say yes, of course. Sure, you can find a few guys in a mountain Virginia cabin, with beards and muskets, who demur, but there's otherwise wide agreement. So the person with the sign has to be getting at something else, something deeper, such that affirming the slogan sets him apart from other people. What is it? Is it support of the organization? That would make sense, because the organization has co-opted the slogan such that it is very hard to pry the two apart. Is it a statement about our justice system, or about systemic racism, or something else? The question is simply an attempt to dig deeper, that is all.
*I think we can both affirm the black lives matter. What explains that best? Evolution, or God? How do you think black people, along with everyone else, got that inherent dignity? I’m not talking about how their dignity was recognized by others or government...we can both agree that the government doesn’t bestow such things on people, and that blacks had inherent dignity before it was recognized by others. This is the “law above the law” that Martin Luther King Jr appealed to in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” I’m asking: “where did it ultimately come from?” *What changes in policy/society do you think need to be made so that this becomes a reality? *What do you think about the aims of the BLM movement (including but not limited to: reparations, defund police, abolish prisons)? Have you spent any time reading their list of demands on their website? *The BLM movement often insinuates that racism is everywhere, in every interaction between dominant and target groups. Robin DiAngelo (not explicitly part of the movement, but her thought still intersects greatly with the thought of those who are in the movement, for example, on the following point) commonly says, “The question is not ‘Did racism take place?’ but rather, ‘In which ways did racism manifest in this specific context?'” That is, in any interaction between someone of a dominant group and a minoritized group (say, between a white and black person), racism *is* present there. The person of the dominant group is, in some way, foisting their dominant norms onto the other person. You just have to figure out how. Many in the BLM movement echo this sentiment. Do you agree with this? What would that really do to cross-racial relations if people believed that? *Many in the BLM movement also often makes someone’s racial group membership the most important thing about them, rather than individual character. They foreground skin color and background individual character. Do you agree with this? *Many in the BLM movement also identify disparities with racism. Author Ibram Kendi has claimed that racism is the sole cause of racial disparities in this country. Why think that’s true? Disparities are caused by a number of things, not always racial in nature. *What other beliefs follow from this slogan, and why think those are true? *Does everything that falls under the BLM slogan actually help black people? GENERAL: *You know, it kind of sounds like the sign is just an expression of left wing beliefs and political stances, couched in vague slogans. Why think that such a thing--having left wing beliefs and political stances--is something virtuous? Not everything that is called “compassionate” actually *is* compassionate.