In Defense of the Oppressed: why oppressor speech must be combated

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 15 December 2015

Jose H. Villarreal, Plantation Prison Correspondent

The cry for tolerance in speech has become echoing for sometime now, especially when that speech is aimed at those already marginalized in society. What some refer to as “minority” people or social issues have continued to take on an onslaught of attacks from right wing conservatives - as well as some pseudo-leftists who now plead for “diversity” in the guise of “speech”. Often this “speech” is nothing more than oppressor speech which is a continuous attack by other means on THOSE HISTORICALLY OPPRESSED IN U.S. BORDERS. Jonathan Rauch’s article “in Defense of Prejudice: Why incendiary speech must be protected” (Harpers 1995) attempts to show why we should allow or “protect” oppressive speech, I of course strongly disagree.

In his article Rauch gives a few examples of how opposing “hate speech” has come to be used by the other side and lists Ralph Reed, executive director of a conservative Christian coalition having cried about “religious bigotry” having been used against him or a christian student at a California State University who filed a sexual harassment suit in the millions on his Lesbian Teacher. And he lists this as if to say “gosh people look what happens when we don’t protect any hate speech”. So we should back off of “oppressor” speech because someone on the right holds a press conference or files a lawsuit?

Rauch calls those peace loving people who want an end to racism “crusaders for sweetness and light” and he says this in the second paragraph of his article, he wastes no time in revealing where he stands in the battle of the oppressors and oppressed. In this very same paragraph he states “the very last thing society should do is seek to utterly eradicate racism and other forms of prejudice”. And in the very next paragraph he states “I am not a racist and that is not an article favoring racism”. Okay which one is it, he wants racism to continue in the ideological realm but then he’s not favoring racism in the next sentence.

Flip flopping is a common trait of those not being truthful of their beliefs. You cannot fill the stray cat’s milk bowl every morning and then say that you really don’t want the stray cat to stay hanging out around the house. What does Rauch think will happen to “racism” or to be specific to national oppression if he “protects” it? The word “protect” implies to safeguard something, his arguments are really bizarre.

What Rauch refers to as “intellectual pluralism” is a poor attempt to gloss over sympathy for oppressors. Perhaps we should not expect more from a racist apologist, after all he IS speaking from a place of privilege in U.S. society.

Rauch again attempts to distort history - as racists or Amerikkkan chauvinists often do - in order to pigeon hole or make his “logic” fit. At one point in his article he describes how he feels racism will always exist because according to him “Homo sapiens is a tribal species for whom ‘us versus them’ comes naturally”. He says this as if this is the explanation of why racism exists. He is wrong and here’s why…

First Rauch’s distorted view of “Tribal” does not match up to material reality. If one were to cast even a casual eye to history one would learn that tribes never believed in racism, on the contrary they regularly adopted and accepted peoples of other nationalities into their tribes i.e. the white squaw, or the escaped slaves - which Mardi Gras in New Orleans still commemorates.

Tribal societies have often allowed non-native peoples to enter their lands i.e. the Aztecs, the Mohawk etc, and this openness has often led to devastation to the tribal peoples. Rauch like so many others before him attempts to blame a long legacy of oppression on Tribal cultures, blaming anyone but the people who physically commit this racism - but oh, wait a minute we can’t blame them according to Rauch because we have to “protect” them.

In case Rauch did not know the tribal society of the Taino welcomed Columbus in 1492 to their Island and they were repaid - as in Veracruz, Mexico or the Andes - with genocide and colonization.

Rauch writes his article in the 1990’s Amerikkka where whether Jewish or homosexual he is still seen and treated in many ways as Euro-Amerikkkan thus he was born into a privileged caste compared to most Brown, Black or Native folks. His experience with oppressor speech is thus likewise tainted and watered down, it thus is no surprise that he would be nonchalant with oppressor speech.

I think to allow or “protect” as Rauch described it - oppressor speech allows it to concentrate and anytime we facilitate racists and protect their distorted views only strengthens them and allows casual thoughts to become organized distilleries of hate. The freedom to speak and think in certain ways is something we all strive for but when it comes to such foulness as preying on children or rape, these beliefs or erroneous thoughts should not be “protected” and neither should racism in any form. National oppression is in the same category to me as a rapist speech or a child molestation ideas, it should be challenged and combated by all means wherever we find it.


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