aNewDomain — My favorite fantasy novels are the Black Company series by Glen Cook. Two of the central characters are Goblin and One-Eye, a white sorcerer and a black sorcerer who are both well over 100 years old. They’re the best of friends but, paradoxically, have also been feuding for generations. When they get to drinking, they get to fighting, and the fighting generally has consequences for everyone in the vicinity.
Their little plots tend to involve getting their revenge in first. If the other guy is even, he’s actually ahead. Gotta put a stop to that.
Whether that says anything about modern race relations, I’m not sure. But we do have a habit around here of getting our revenge in first.
Men’s Rights groups are springing up everywhere. Ostensibly, they’re to take back rights eroded by women’s advocacy. Sometimes they even seem to make sense.
For example: Is it fair and legal that women virtually always win custody of children, or is there some sexism at work here?
But too often the lawyers operating as male advocates in fact use the children as pawns in negotiations. The aim is not to reach a fair and equitable agreement. When the lawyers are involved, it’s because we’ve decided not to do fair and equitable.
The aim is to destroy one another.
Take a closer look at the notions of men’s rights, though, and maybe we’ll see a little of Goblin and One-Eye at work here.
Women need women’s rights organizations because women have been historically oppressed by men at every level of society. Indeed, women remain oppressed. Like racism, sexism is not a historical issue but a modern one with historical antecedents. Women’s rights groups don’t want to get ahead, they just want to get even. But men – some men? – can’t tolerate even. We want to be ahead.
It’s good to be ahead. When we’re ahead, we get what we want. The best jobs, the most influence, the right to have all the privileges and none of the responsibilities. We can even hold women accountable for their own sexual assaults and call the need for basic human decency “political correctness,” with a sneer.
Inasmuch as White Power groups arise in response to Black Power groups, they make the same mistakes. That is, if we credit this to errors of logic and not just willful twisting of facts. The mistakes are:
Black Power arises not as an attempt to get ahead, but as an attempt to get even.
White Power has always been a factor here. The legal system holds White Supremacy as inherent by refusing to revisit and overturn the Dred Scott decision of 1857, calling Negroes: ” … beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Black rights groups get attacked all the time as being racist. But racism means holding one group to be superior based on race. These groups just want to get even. We’ve overturned a lot of the laws and protections meant to help with this, like affirmative action, on the premise that such laws unduly privilege particular people based on their skin color.
But the net effect and intent of affirmative action was never to help black folk get ahead, but to attempt to account for centuries of discrimination.
The actual effect of ending AA was not that people only got their due. It was a new racial hierarchy based on color-blind racism. Stanford, for example, found itself disproportionately serving Asian minorities and underserving black ones.
In basically every one of the Black Company novels in which they actually appear, Goblin or One-Eye are about to get even, so the other one has to pro-actively get further ahead. I doubt seriously that Cook had men’s rights in mind, or whether he meant to call black advocacy groups racist. Sorry, Glen. But if the shoe fits …
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.
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