Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy

Evil is, as evil does

with one comment

Today, I encountered a blog post titled The nazi-behaviour of the lefte (“Vänsterns nazistbeteende”), written by a member of the controversial and much maligned party Sverigedemokraterna (SD)—perfectly timed for the blog post I had planned. A pertinent quote:

I jämförelse med judarna i 1930 talets Tyskland har jag det avsevärt lättare. Men jag har drabbats av Berufsverbot och stötts bort från ett arbete. Man har inte målat Davidsstjärnan på min dörr, utan texten RASIST. Varför? Jag har varit folkvald riksdagsledamot för SD.

Är det någon skillnad i den grundläggande mekanismen om en jude får Davidsstjärnan målad på sin dörr och får yrkesförbud eller om en sverigedemokrat får sin dörr hatsprejad och likaledes beläggs med yrkesförbud?

Så vilka är de verkliga fascisterna?

(Compared to the Jews in the 1930s Germany, I have it considerably easier. But I have been affected by Berufsverbotw and been rejected from a job. The Star of David has not been painted on my door, but the text RACIST. Why? I have been a publicly elected member of parliament for SD.

Is there a difference in the basic mechanism if a Jew gets the Star of David painted on his door and receives a profession ban or if an SD member gets his door hate-sprayed and also receives a profession ban.

So, who are the real fascists?

This is a special case of something I have seen again and again: Some people are merely because of their opinions considered so evil that evil actions are taken against them in the name of good. To make matters worse, as with SD, the opinions in question are normally not even the actual opinions of the victims, but the opinions that their abusers claim they would have…

The politically correct, leftists, self-proclaimed anti-racists and equally self-proclaimed anti-fascists are among the dominant sources of such evil. (A recurring topic in my writings. Cf e.g. [1], [2].) These people are often blind to the burning cross in their own eyes, while complaining loudly about the ember in their neighbour’s.

Let us repeat and generalize that important question:

So, who are the real fascists?

So, who are truly evil?

The underlying problem seems to be the neglect of a simple principle:

Evil is, as evil does.

It is neither urges nor opinions that determine whether someone is evil, but his actions. Indeed, the figure who actually considers himself evil is found in children’s cartoons and comic books—not real life. Even the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao tend to see themselves as … good. Did Hitler kill Jews because he enjoyed causing suffering or out of a mere disregard for human life? No: He did so because he considered the Jews a force of evil that must be fought with all means for the benefit of society … Whether he tried to exterminate Jews, Nazis, the educated, or sailors is beside the point, as are his exact motivations: What matters is that he tried to exterminate and in doing so caused the world an evil that outweighed anything positive he (strictly hypothetically) could have achieved.

To bring out the difference between action and thought, consider two people:

The first is a pedophile. The second is dedicated to the well-being of fellow humans. The first has resisted every urge, for fear of harming children. The second is a believer in corporeal punishment as a means of building character and discipline, and takes every opportunity to give a child a solid thrashing.

Which of the two does harm in this world and which is harmless?

Now, some may protest that the pedophile is an accident waiting to happen or that the risks are too large. To a large part, this is just prejudice, built on media portrayals and political propaganda: To my knowledge, there is no indication whatsoever that pedophiles would be more different from non-pedophiles than homosexuals from non-homosexuals, Christians from atheists, or women from men. (Indeed, compared to the last case the difference is bound to be smaller, and the same may well be true for typical individuals in the former two cases.) Further, most of us spend a majority of our lives with sex partners that are far from what we consider optimal—or go without partners entirely. Why should pedophiles be considered unable to control themselves when almost everyone else is?

Indeed, this is one of the most common problems with the issue: It is seen as near unavoidable that the pedophile will lose control and rape the neighbour’s children; that the member of the “extreme right” will (metaphorically or literally) build concentration camps and invade Poland, should he land in power; etc. Notably, this happens even when the risk is objectively small and when in direct opposition to the own judgment or stated opinion of the presumed perpetrator. A particular problem is circular reasoning along the lines of “X is evil because he has opinion A. That X denies having opinion A is irrelevant—after all, he is evil and, therefore, a liar.”, which leaves the victim without a defense.

Besides, if we set out to eliminate every possible risk of evil, we would create a despotic police state with no regard for human rights—which certainly would be a thing of very great evil.

To expand on the above discussion of Hitler: How do we know that Hitler was evil? Well, Hitler’s evil did not manifest in hating Jews or being a nationalist—but in waging unjustifiable wars and committing genocide. If we look merely at his opinions and ideology, there are, today as well as then, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people with opinions of a similar extremeness—some on the left, some on the right; some Christian, some Muslim, some atheist; some men, some women; some German, some Tibetan; some vegan, some meat loving; some racist, some anti-racist; … What makes the difference is not what they believed, but what they actually did. Someone who hates Jews is merely misguided—not evil. Someone who kills the Jew-hater, despite his being innocent of anything other than thought—now, he is evil. Indeed, if hate against a particular group of people was a crime worthy of punishment (be it capital or otherwise), then very few of us would go unpunished: Those of us who have never hated another group, no matter their current feelings, are a very small minority. Then again, how many of us actually acted on that hate? In contrast, how many have now overcome it?

My urgent plea to those who are convinced that they do the work of good and that the means justify the end against the evil they fight: Remember that “evil is, as evil does” and re-examine your own actions for signs of actually having become a greater evil than the evil you set out to fight. The road to Hell is built with good intentions.

Disclaimer: The above is not intended to be a full treatment of the concept of “evil”, and deliberately ignores a number of issues (including whether evil truly exists and whether e.g. a mentally ill person could be considered evil). The topic is more narrowly focused on a “bad guy”/“good guy” differentiation.

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Written by michaeleriksson

July 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him

with one comment

I just encountered a post titled Quotes I likee stating:

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.
Martin Luther King Jr.
US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 – 1968)

I was struck by the great contrast between this and the very often hateful attitude of the self-proclaimed anti-racists of today. For instance, just yesterday, I saw the following commente:

Rasister är vidriga. Måtte de döden dö.

(Racists are despicable. They should die. [Lit. “May they die the death”, a Swedish expression.])

Written by michaeleriksson

June 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm

“The Male Privilege Checklist” debunked

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Earlier today, I encountered a self-proclaimed Male Privilege Checkliste. I have added a discussion/debunking to my own article on the myth of white male privilege.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Reversing the accusation

with 6 comments

Something that has occurred to me again and again in discussions with feminists, creationists, and similar groups, is that they like to accuse others of exactly the errors they themselves excel in making. Often (but not always) their accusations are also unfounded or very exaggerated. In at least some cases, they even try to reverse criticism in an odd manner. Below, I will give some recent examples by the Swedish commenter “Tuggmotstånd” (“Chewing resistance”), all made on a blog that tries to counter-act the disproportionate emphasis on women’s issue and women’s perspective in Swedish society, when compared to men’s.

From http://genusnytt.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/genusperspektiv-pa-en-jarnbalk/e:

[…] men det känns också som att du frånser förhållanden som många kvinnor lever/har levt under när du anlägger dina sk. ”genusperspektiv”.

([…] but it feels like you neglect the circumstance that many women live/have lived under when you apply your so called “gender perspectives”.)

The blog entry (to which this was a reply) was obviously ironical and pointing to how Swedish feminists apply gender-perspectives and come to the conclusion that women are poor victims. Between the lines, the blog entry said “Feminist gender-perspectives tend to overlook that men have problems too.”, while her explicit reply amounted to “You overlook that women have problems too.”—making the reply almost surreal.

Note: It appears to me, from the sum of her comments, that Tuggmotstånd has not in any way understood the intents and contents of the blog entry.

Jo, men just nu känns det som att Ström söker intensivt med lykta efter saker att haka upp sig på.

(Yes, but now it feels like Ström [the blogger] is intensively searching [original idiom both misformulated and untranslatable] for things to get hanged up on.)

He does not: He picks from the many and easily found examples that illustrate how Swedish feminists, gender “scientists”, politicians, newspapers, whatnot, behave—including how feminists seem to be deliberately searching for things to get hanged up on… (Indeed, in the form of gender-glassese, this search borders on an official recommendation.)

Jag blir frustrerad över att någon som inte har verktygen och perspektiven hänger sig åt denna blogg, men lämnar alla problem orörda på ytan. Det är synd om män bara, men ni vill helst inte ha några svar på varför.

(I become frustrated over that someone who does not have the tools [read: is involved in gender-studies] and perspectives [read: the women’s/feminists’/gender-glassed perspectives, or similar] dedicates himself to this blog, but leaves all problems untouched on the surface. Men are just to be pitied [in her view of the message of the blog], but you do not like to know why.)

One of the main criticisms of gender-feminism is exactly that it paints a picture where women are to be pitied, but an attempt to explain why is often missing (or only filled by a cliche or an unsupported claim). Similarly, one of the main criticisms of gender studies is that its “researchers” are lacking in tools (including scientific methods and critical thinking) and perspectives (other than their own, personal, perspective or that of women as a group—respectively, what they perceive to be the perspective of women as a group).

From http://genusnytt.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/las-juristens-svar-till-genusnytt/e:

Jag har en fråga till er:

Skulle ni ställa er lika negativa till en positiv särbehandling för män inom yrkesgrupper där män är underrepresenterade?

(I have a question for you:

Would you be as negative to affirmative action for men in professions where men are underrepresented?)

This comment was made on a post that discussed the hypocritical treatment of men and women were affirmative action is concerned: When women are underrepresented, affirmative action is seen as positive; when men are, affirmative action is suddenly an inacceptable injustice. (Specifically, this case dealt with an affirmative action program to increase the number of female professors; and should be seen in the light of an affirmative action program to increase the number of male psychology students being struck down earlier in the year—with considerable complaints about unfairness against women.)

In effect, the blogger says “Feminists and the like have a double-standard where affirmative action is concerned.”—and her reply is to imply that the blogger and the majority of the commenters only are upset because men were disadvantaged in this particular instance (i.e. that they have a double-standard). (As with the previously discussed post, I strongly suspect that Tuggmotstånd simply did not understand the message. Notably, she otherwise appears to misinterpret a very significant proportion of the statements others make.)

Detsamma. Mer otrevlig person har jag sällan mött på.

(Ditto. A more unpleasant person I have rarely encountered.)

Her reply to my statement that I would likely leave further comments by her unanswered—after she from go and without any reasonable excuse had used personal attacks and expletives, distorted my statements, and committed a number of gross errors of reasoning. (While my own tone certainly adapted to her behaviour, I did remain factual and ad rem, except as answer to a preceding ad hominem attack.)

Generally, Tuggmotstånd is herself very prone to personal attacks, displays of ignorance, unfounded claims of superior knowledge, errors of reasoning, etc.—and equally prone to accuse others of exactly these errors. In this, she is a muster example for this post.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 5, 2010 at 7:00 am

Lack of consistency between ethics and actions—“You would do the same!”

with one comment

It is far from uncommon to be met with the argument “You would do the same in that situation. [Implicitly: Therefore, there is nothing wrong with doing so.]” (with many variations) when discussing the ethics of a particular behaviour. This post is mostly intended as standard answer to give to those who follow this, in my eyes, highly naive line of argumentation.

I argue the following:

  1. That someone else would also act in a certain manner in a certain situation does not make that action ethical—it can equally point to human fallability. Speaking for myself, I make no pretense of being infallible, and I readily admit that it is easier to preach than to practice.

  2. Such hypothetical situations can be dangerous; in particular, because there is often a great difference between what people say that they would do and what they actually would do. (For a number of reasons, including lying, honest misestimation, inconsistent actions and opinions from event to event, considerable dependency on circumstances, and the possibility that an unthinking “auto-pilot” action takes place.)

    In contrast, the use of well-formulated ethical dilemmas asking for what is right and wrong (not “What would you do?”) can be a valuable guide.

  3. Similar dangers arise from the fact that behaviour in specific situations will vary from person to person. For the same reason, “You would do the same.” is often even an incorrect argument, and certainly not generally convincing.

    Individual opinions on ethics are perfectly legitimate, and unavoidable, but more abstract reasoning can make them smaller and less arbitrary.

  4. There is typically more than one side to any issue and merely focusing on what one party would do cannot generally lead to a conclusion about what is right and wrong.

    A specific example: Picture yourself on an aeroplane with all engines malfunctioning. As one of two passengers, you have the opportunity to grab the one parachute and survive—or you can give the parachute to the other passenger and take a (hypothetically) 10 % chance of surviving the emergency landing. In this situation, the “You would do the same!” argument may seem plausible to you—but now picture yourself in the shoes of the other passenger instead…

    Note in particular the Golden Rulew.

  5. Case specific reasoning can easily create an inconsistent “system” of ethics, with analogous situations being treated very differently based on unimportant circumstances and superficially differences, and where broad and general rules are replaced by a large set of detailed regulations. Compare the following hypothetical rule sets:

    It is wrong to steal, unless considered necessary in order to avert a danger to life and limb or damage which is disproportionally larger than the damage caused by the theft. In the latter cases, due care must be taken to minimize the damage to the owner.

    It is wrong to steal, unless the theft is of a boat to rescue someone drowning, but only if there is no other means to save him; or of a chainsaw to cut someone out from under a fallen tree, but …; or of …, but …; [and so on ad nauseam].

  6. Humans are generally far too driven by instinct and egoism for them to be considered (naturally) ethical, and ethics is therefore best agreed upon in advance, from an abstract and disengaged “ivory tower” POV, and not left to the individual in the moment. (Where “ivory tower”, in this specific use, should not be taken to deny the value of previous practical and personal experiences of various sides and issues—quite the contrary.)

I stress that the above is directed at those who look for ethical justification or try to divert criticism—not those who are willing to admit to ethical fallability or to egoism. (Nor those who can give an ethical justification by other means.)

In a close parallel, I have heard the dangerous variation that ones “true” ethics, what one truly believes to be right and wrong, would only be revealed in a time of need. This, of course, makes a mockery of the concept of ethics—and is often hypocritical: It amounts to saying that the speaker never violates his ethics, never commits a wrongful act, but only adapts his understanding of right and wrong. A more self-insightful approach would be to realize that he is not perfectly moral, that he is human, that he occasionally does things that he should not do.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 8, 2010 at 4:18 am

Comment censorship and comment policies VIIIs: Coloured bloggers in need of a reality check (follow-up)

with 3 comments

To give a better perspective of the kind of thinking that goes on at the blog discussed in the previously installment:

  1. The following post is titled I blame the Patriarchy for my technical incompetence.e, giving a clear indication of the closeness in thought to harmful variations of feminism.

  2. Before I (relatively soon) left the discussion on the page, AfroCan made a number of illogical or ad hominem statements confirming my earlier opinions. These included (among many others) attacking me for using “racism” in its correct meaning instead of his own Newspeak distortion of the term, which, per definitionem, would make it impossible for coloured to be racists and near unavoidable for white to be so. (An evil rhetorical trick, which I recently saw echoed on the blog of a participant of a brain-washing seminare. For more on abuse of “racism”, see a previous article.)

    It is also clear that AfroCan has not actually bothered to understand what claims I actually make or the greater context of those claims.

    The following statement is downright scary:

    That is part of your White arrogance right there! Everything Whites extol is “truth” but the experiences of people of colour are “fabrications”, “lies” and “rantings”!

  3. Further misleading statements were made by Jennifer Kesler, including

    Michael, the argument that bigotry is perpetuated by angry marginalized people yapping excessively (which is what your quoted statement here boils down to) is an old silencing tactic. There’s a huge amount of privilege baked into the very idea.

    Here an argument that I have never made is associated with me as an excuse for the accusation of using a silencing tactic. This is the more absurd, seeing that silencing tactics are the speciality of the PC movement. Indeed, Jennifer’s own statement is exactly that—a silencing tactic. (Criticism of the “truths” of the movement are “proof” of being bigoted or “privileged” and, ipso facto, invalidate the criticism.) Further, an entirely irrelevant and factually incorrect claim about privilege is made.

    Further

    You’re attempting to show AfroCan what his place is. How textbook racist is that? No one’s alienating you. You’re just looking for rationalizations to back up what you’ve already decided.

    Again a highly misleading representation of my statements—followed by a grossly incorrect conclusion: I do not care the least about AfroCan’s skin color. What I care about is his destructiveness, lack of objectivity and insight, and flawed reasoning.

    I have never spoken about alienation concerning myself, but, irrespective of intentions, I am being alienated by the unreasonable behaviour shown by large parts of the PC movement.

    I am certainly not looking for rationalizations—even more certainly not for the alleged racist views that Jennifer tries to ascribe to me: My topics are evil rhetoric, lack of critical thinking, the harmful misguidedness of the PC movement, and similar. Criticizing idiocy among self-proclaimed anti-racists is not racism! I note that her claim about rationalizations amounts to directing the criticism against the PC movement (with its ideological blindness, rationalizations, and unwillingness to listen to factual arguments) back against those who raise the criticism in the first place. (More generally, I have noted that feminists are very prone to attack their opponents for exactly the sins that they, themselves, are the worst perpetrators of. A notable example is härskarteknikerw, including ridiculing and shaming, which are used on a very large scale by many feminist groups, debaters, and bloggers.)

Written by michaeleriksson

November 4, 2010 at 9:58 am

Haters, haters everywhere

with 3 comments

Words often have little to do with reality. Consider the pick-pocket in Casablanca, who kindly warns people against the (metaphorical and human) “vultures, vultures everywhere”—while having his own hand wandering into their pockets…

Similarly, the people who complain about haters are often themselves the true haters—and in most other cases they are misguided, over- and misinterpret, or otherwise unfairly accuse.

To recap and expand upon a recent comment of minee:

  1. Many cases are totally unfounded blanket-accusations: Those opposed to feminism do not automatically hate feminists—let alone women. Those wishing for lower taxes do not automatically hate the poor. Someone committing a crime against a member of a minority or against a woman does not automatically hate the group the victim belongs to—a wish to get easy cash (or whatever the crime was aimed at) is a more likely explanation. Etc.

    Yes, even outright racists do not necessarily hate people of other races: A number of other feelings are possible, including indifference, loathing, a “we are better, but in the end we are all human” (similar to what followers of different sports teams, employees of different firms, students at different schools, whatnot, can feel), and charitability akin to “The White Man’s burden”. In a twist, I have so far seen far more dislike of “anti-racists” than of coloured people in the blogosphere—and there certainly appear to be far more people around hating racists (or those claimed to be racists…) than either.

    Yet, these are accusations that I have seen levied many times on no better grounds than above. I have even seen cases where someone has been condemned as sexist or misogynist for using the word “bitch”… What kind of utter mental disconnect is needed to arrive at this conclusion!

  2. A very good example is fans (of mostly athletes) who call other fans “haters” on very unjust grounds. (In my observations, many fans of Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt fall into this category). Notably, the alleged hate of the athlete, or the jealousy at his success, is not even actually related to the athlete—but to his obnoxious fans. Basically, the latter behave like complete idiots, belittle other athletes, taunt other fans, fill their comments with annoying repetitions of all-caps statements (“VAMOS RAFA!!!!!!!!”), whatnot. Then, when other participants start to show their natural annoyance, this annoyance is written of as “hate” towards the athlete and taken as an excuse for more obnoxious behaviour…

    For examples, see e.g. http://www.tennistalk.com/en/e.

  3. The Swedish retort “den som sa det, han var det” (“he who said it, was it”, similar to the English “he who smelt it, dealt it”) is often the appropriate response to accusations of hate:

    The accusation usually says more about the accuser than the accused. Notably, it is often stemming from an intense emotional involvement and a presumption of guilt on behalf of the former.

  4. The accusation of hate is usually combined with a lack of actual arguments—both concerning the alleged hate and with regard to the actual statements that lead to the accusation. If a motivation is given, it is usually entirely lacking in reason, e.g. “How can you say something like that and deny your hatred!”.

    In this, “hate” joins a number of other words, most notably “sexist” and “misogynist”, but also “racist”, “xenophobe”, “homophobe”, “fascist”, “communist”, “capitalist”, “imperialist”, … (With a great variety on the context, e.g. year, country, audience. Notwithstanding that the accusations are occasionally justified.)

Finally, a little gem that provides a beautiful illustration of my pointe.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 4, 2010 at 9:36 am