The “Lived Experience” of The Ideological Minority…

The Left loves to talk about the idea of the “lived experience” of their chosen special interest groups. As you might guess, one’s “lived experience” is just that: life experience. Specifically though for the Left, one’s oppressed experience! To bring up your lived experience is to recount the ways in which you feel you were microaggressed, or worse. For an example, someone in a minority group saying they feel alienated and isolated and that no one around them can relate to their life struggles in a majority-group environment.

Of course, from a Leftist view, this feeling of alienation and isolation in one’s lived experience is due to white people, and white males more specifically! However, believe it or not, any minority group can feel somewhat alone when others take for granted that not everyone feels and thinks as they do. This especially is true for one of the most overlooked types of minority groups: Ideological minorities. An incident from my college days resonated deeply for me as it made my ideological minority status stand out like a sore thumb.

Like many colleges, the one I went to has new “woke” diversity goals and training for students and faculty. There were complaints at my comparatively moderate school about a lack of diversity as well as feelings of being in the out-group by students and faculty of color. This surprised me in that I always felt my school to be a welcoming and inclusive environment, and was not the exclusionary hot spot it was accused of being. Never the less, the school took these allegations seriously and instituted even more aggressive diversity reforms as they genuinely did not want anyone to feel left out. Of course, the limitations of the new woke diversity agendas in general, are that they bring a substantial risk of stifling free academic speech and can come off as infallible edicts handed down from above, not to be questioned or critiqued. To my even greater surprise, a few faculty members and students wrote their own letter critiquing the college’s diversity plans. This letter merely said that those who wrote it were in favor of increasing diversity at the school, but felt the way it was being done was problematic in that it stifled free academic speech and forbid ideas against their narrative. I can’t show you the one I reference, as I don’t want to reveal specific identities of those involved on either side, but I’m sure others have written similar statements and got denounced just as much.

For this ideological heresy, many faculty and students reacted as if the letter’s contents were arguing for a whites only campus and KKK rallies! Calls for solidarity and emotional support as well as a space to “debrief” from the letter were emailed out to students. To many Left leaning students and professors, the letter critiquing the college’s position on their diversity initiatives was deeply upsetting, even traumatic. Honestly, I bet most never even read the letter in its entirety and only skimmed it before joining the chorus of outrage. They seemed to make a straw-man argument claiming those who wrote the letter were against diversity as a whole, not merely the approach to which it is done.

This story is old news of course, for many who have been in academia and experienced similar instances of collective outrage, but the magnitude of the outrage and grief was a bit of a shock coming from a more moderate school. So why was this mainly typical college experience so resonating for me? Let’s start with the e-mail sent out to all of campus and alumni. In it, it said that people were there for emotional support and that you (as in the reader) probably had a lot of feelings of outrage, hurt, anger and shock for some choice words. It also said resources were available for anyone needing to “debrief” after reading the letter. For those on the Left, this probably came as a welcoming reassurance, but they assumed everyone felt as they did.

When I read that e-mail, I too felt a sense of shock and confusion, but for opposite reasons. The “enemies” of this incident were the ones I cheered on, not denounced as the rest presumably did. I admired the courage it took for those who signed their names to that letter, as each risked their personal and professional reputations and the reaction from the rest of campus confirmed that. In reading the “official” reaction to the letter, I felt isolated, alienated and in the out-group. The inclusivity my school purported to foster did not reach me and anyone else who agreed with the points contained within the letter, or maybe simply could tolerate reading a view different from their own. The implicit message in all this: If you don’t denounce the views in that letter, you don’t belong in our “diverse” community.

If your opinions align with the majority opinion, it is easy to take for granted what it is like to feel accepted and affirmed. To get a sense of how isolating this can be, imagine yourself in a position where you admire a person everyone else denounces. What others are lamenting about as an issue you see as a solution. Not only that, those who think like you are not only wrong, but immoral! Imagine also, that you felt there was no one “safe” to open up to in expressing your views. How do you react when what supposedly makes everyone else feel self righteous “hurt, anger and grief” is what makes you feel relieved that others do think like you?

I don’t understand how so many honestly felt threatened by the mere statement of another perspective on an issue. The letter never argued for abolishing diversity, or claiming it to be non-important. It suggested that diversity initiatives could be done better another way than the current way. How is this different from the diversity committee having members who agree on the overall goals but quibble over how to best implement them? Even so, just because some people wrote a letter to the school doesn’t mean they’ll get their way! So what was so traumatic about it that it required “debriefing”? To me, it seems far more problematic to assume minority students and faculty are so fragile, so vulnerable that the mere critique of a viewpoint is enough to be considered emotionally traumatizing. Talk about condescension and infantilization!

A professional way to have handled a proposal they disagreed with would be to have simply said something along the lines of “we carefully considered your points and value your input, however we decided to move forward with our own plans as we feel they best suit our needs due to A, B and C, etc…”. I guess I can understand why they didn’t though: That would make them have to actually craft arguments to support their agendas and not just throw around buzz words and slogans.

I know by choosing to not think in lock step with the Left, I’ll experience many more instances like these where I am ideologically on the outs, but sometimes specific events stand out and make the sting of isolation feel fresh again. I don’t regret choosing to become an ideological minority in an increasingly Leftist society, as a mind free to think wherever reason leads it is a far greater reward than superficial acceptance. However I am also human, and sometimes, I need to be reassured that I’m not alone in being an ideological minority. That is my “lived experience”.

What’s been your “lived experience” in having a minority viewpoint? Please share in the comments!

“Learned Victimhood”: A Consequence of The Left’s Indoctrination

The Left’s emphasis on constant, often ad nauseam discussions on race relations, racial bias and “systematic racism” have been only increasing in recent years, and especially in the wake of the recent turmoil this past summer. Their argument is that these frank, and often heated discussions while cringe worthy at times, are essential and long overdue for highlighting and hopefully addressing the issue of racial bias and prejudice in society. White people are often accused of being the ones who wish to silence such discussions, but I argue that is not the case. Rather, many don’t wish to be lectured and talked down to and labeled a racist and “speaking from privilege” if their views and lived experiences happen to differ and they bring a differing perspective. I wholeheartedly agree we need an open honest discussion on race relations, but one with cool heads and logical thoughts. Not a monologue on how whites are the supreme oppressors and that all views of people of color are to be declared infallible.

Never the less, the left pushes the narrative of the victim vs. oppressor instead of a cool headed rational debate. In doing so, they have set out to indoctrinate the next generation with messages that they are oppressed from birth onward and will never achieve what white people can without working extra-hard, or never even be able to attempt to reach their goals due to a myriad of systematic oppressive forces. Teachers, parents, authority figures, peers, news media, TV shows, movies, books etc… all send collective messages to youth of color that society was designed against them, to oppress and exploit them and that they are viewed as worthless in the eyes of white people who are “privileged”.

This is all under the guise of awareness and “education” and is supposed to affirm what they already know: They’re victims of systematic oppression. Studies the left cites argue they do know from a young age simply by being in society without overt messages, such as a famous doll study exploring children’s preferences for lighter or darker skinned dolls in the 1940’s. The obvious limitation now is race relations have changed drastically since the 1940’s! Even more recent replications of the study are prone to confirmation bias of the researchers and political pressures. Sadly even science is not immune from political correctness these days 😦 Other arguments the left gives for these trendy race education indoctrination sessions is to prepare children for future instances of encountering prejudice, like a birds and bees sort of talk.

At first glance, these reasons seem like reasonable ideas, but looking closer, they have a negative unintended consequence: Children can learn they are “oppressed” and victims of society not by lived experiences, but by external instruction. Basically, for some children, their encounter with a conscious sense of being marginalized is simply adults telling them they are or will be. It’s one thing to address an instance of prejudice or bias when it comes up in direct experience, it’s another thing to prime a child to actively look for signs of oppression, such as trying to figure out if the slightest thing might be a bias incident or not!

I propose we call this phenomenon learned victimhood. This is not the conventional experienced victimhood one might encounter through specific events, but learning to have a sense of victimhood even when nothing has actually happened yet to marginalize or oppress you, but others have told you you are in fact, on the outskirts of society so you must be a victim by default. You can be socially conditioned to believe what others tell you about yourself, even if you don’t experience or feel what they say is true. If everyone I trust and respect tells me something, I’m more likely than not to believe it!

A prime yet very sad example I recently saw was from a TV show: A mom explicitly telling her 5 to 6-ish year old daughter that because she is black, she will be seen as less than by white people, and will have to work 3 times as hard to only get half as far in life. Even if there is a grain of truth to it, to make such a negative blanket statement only primes the child to see her life prospects in a negative and pessimistic light. Rather than a message of empowerment and resilience in the face of adversities she may face, it was one teaching disempowerment and pessimism. Even more sad and disturbing to me was the child seemed to show no previous awareness of a sense of inferiority and oppression, and even didn’t really understand what mom was saying. She thought when mom said the word “disenfranchised” it meant she was a franchise like a business! In real life, this attitude breeds the resentment and divide in this country over race young… Obviously, this is fiction so of course it doesn’t have the same weight as a real life example, but it reflects what I’m sure many “woke” parents are teaching their kids, and the naivete of young children. Also, what about kids and parents who watched that TV show? They too absorb the message that that scenario is a normal and beneficial thing to reenact in real life! We often model what we observe…

This has tangible consequences: Those who believe themselves to be marginalized and an outsider often under perform on tasks such as academics or work. This is called stereotype threat, due to the feelings arising from perceived negative stereotypes and many studies show this is a real phenomenon going on. Now, the left cites systematic oppression from society as the main cause of this, and argues that stereotype threat is so insidious as it is often subconscious. However, could an explicitly taught sense of victimhood and marginalization also cause stereotype threat? I think the answer is an easy yes. Of course you’ll feel less confident and able to do well in school or on the job if you are constantly told people like you chronically underachieve due to forces (ex. white privilege) outside their control! A study by Walter and Cohen (2007, 2011) observed that:

“For instance, consider a Black freshman who had a bad day. Say his teacher criticized him in class or he was not invited to dinner by dorm mates. Already worried about his belonging, he is more likely than a White student to see it as proof that he does not belong.”

Why is he so worried about whether or not others see him as belonging? Yes, it could have been due to incidents where he was excluded. But could it also be because he is constantly reminded of his supposed victimhood and the idea that it is constantly ongoing and systemic by everyone all the time? What would have been isolated incidents of exclusion in his past then would be viewed as being generalized to every instance, not just a few negative experiences. Fortunately with Walter and Cohen’s interventions, in this case diary entries and other activities to counter these perceptions, these feelings decreased.

“Daily diary surveys completed in the week following the intervention showed that, in the control condition, Black students’ daily sense of belonging in school rose and fell with the level of adversity they experienced each day. To these students, negative social events seemed to convey that they did not belong in the school in general. The treatment cut off this relationship—here, Black students experienced similar levels of adversity, but adversity no longer led them to question their belonging.”

Sometimes, people just have an off day and might be short with you. A professor is simply a tough grader and it’s not about you personally at all. You may not always mesh in a particular friend group and be relegated to the outskirts as more of an acquaintance. A negative experience does not necessarily have to have anything to do with you personally, but if you are told to be on high alert for any bias incident or microaggression, or seek out evidence of this victimization others have insisted is true, then you will see it in everything you encounter! Confirmation bias is a thing, people…

I do not deny that there are some actual experiences of bias and prejudice, and even implicit bias, but I do strongly believe that actual prevalence of these incidents are fewer than what the left reports… Not every negative experience happened because of your race or any other identity! We need frank and candid discussions on race, including talking about negative experiences that people think have to do with race. However, telling our youth they are victims from the moment they’re born, unable to achieve in life due to a society stacked against them and a whole race that resents them only breeds a sense of learned victimhood, rather than affirming real victimhood.

At the very least, can we wait until someone experiences an actual incident of prejudice or bias before declaring them a victim for life?

Confirmation bias anyone???

The Science Is In: Political Correctness Doesn’t Work!

Conservatives have known this intuitively for years: Political correctness doesn’t work! As described in great detail in my post Several Reasons Why We “Resist” Political Correctness, some major reasons for backlash against it has to do with the Left’s double standards and hypocrisy in applying it, the denial of safety issues, attacks on our identity and culture, and simply the fact that many people are fed up with the constant edicts and demands that never seem to stop! Now, scientific studies have given us yet another reason why we don’t respond to PC demands: They don’t appeal to our internal motivations to change.

Many on the Left emphasize actions they feel ought to be taken to create a less prejudiced society. Don’t say these words. Don’t say this as a compliment. Don’t ask that question. Don’t wear that outfit. Don’t listen to that music, watch that show, read that book. Shun anyone who thinks differently and declare them persona non grata. Put this sign on your yard. Vote for these candidates. Use this hashtag. Boycott this store, or that brand. Say these catchy slogans and buzzwords. Hold these ideologies and don’t deviate from their worldview. Think conservatives are backwards. You see this repeated in workplaces and schools through every class “dialogue” (which is really a Leftist monologue) sensitivity training, diversity orientation, safe space training, racism seminars promoting white guilt, among others.

Yet, does this even work? It certainly doesn’t for us conservatives! The Left declares you a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc. if you aren’t fully into their little teaching sessions as many have experienced. We’re not any of those things they accuse us of, yet we don’t embrace their narrow view of how “good” people should act. Sadly, to protect our careers, reputations and social connections, sometimes, we play along and parrot their edicts back to them while holding true to our own views privately. In essence, the Left’s indoctrination sessions in the classroom or the workplace merely foster social pressure to conform rather than internalized beliefs that they are correct, and morally superior.

This is where the science comes in. We all have intrinsic and extrinsic reasons for why we believe in and conform to certain things. Intrinsic motivators are our deeply held values. If we do something for intrinsic reasons, we want to do it. If we do something for an extrinsic reason, it is often because we want to conform out of social pressures or fear of some imposed consequence, or conversely, have an external reward to gain from it. Research shows what conservatives knew already: Appeals to extrinsic motivators to be more “woke” or PC such as intense social pressure and cancel culture does not work. Nor does giving out a laundry list of arbitrary rules make anyone more desiring to become less prejudiced.

In a paper published in 2011 called “Ironic Effects of Antiprejudice Messages: How Motivational Interventions Can Reduce (but Also Increase) Prejudice” by Lisa Legault, Jennifer Gutsell, and Michael Inzlicht, they studied the effects of more extrinsic, or “controlling” messages and more intrinsic, or “autonomy focused” messages on reducing prejudice. Controlling messages do just as expected, they are meant to control one’s actions. Autonomy focused messages also as expected, focus more on the person’s autonomy to make a choice not to be prejudiced as a personal moral value. The researchers hypothesized that autonomy focused messaging would have a greater effect at reducing prejudice than controlling messages.

To test this, Legault and her research partners designed two experiments. In the first experiment, participants read a brochure on the topic of prejudice. They assigned the participants to one of three conditions:

  1. Read an autonomy focused brochure.
  2. Read a controlling brochure.
  3. Read a neutral brochure to use as a control group.

Those assigned to read the autonomy-brochure read information emphasizing one’s choice to embrace values of non-prejudice. Those assigned to the controlling-brochure read the message that one needs to comply with social norms, (a.k.a political correctness) to fight prejudice. The control group only read about defining the concept of prejudice.

Afterward, the researchers used surveys to measure prejudice and screen for intrinsic or extrinsic motivations. Results showed those who read the autonomy-brochure had decreased prejudice, and those who read the controlling-brochure emphasizing social norms had increased prejudice. Even more shocking, those in the controlling-brochure condition had more prejudice than those in the control group!

Believe it or not, their second experiment had even more striking results! In the second experiment, they used surveys to measure participants’ agreement with statements about prejudice that were either more autonomy focused or controlling in nature. After, participants were asked to write a few sentences with prompts that emphasized an autonomy focused approach or a controlling approach depending on which condition they were assigned to. Results showed the same pattern as the first experiment, but even more dramatically, as there was a greater difference between the autonomy condition and the other two. Legault’s research clearly supports evidence that extrinsic motivators are not effective, and may actually decrease motivation to become less prejudice than having no motivation at all!

A second study published more recently in 2017 called “Training away bias: The differential effects of counter stereotype training and self-regulation on stereotype activation and application” by Mason D. Burns, Margo J. Monteith and Laura R.Parker reinforced Legault’s findings about intrinsic motivation being a stronger force for less prejudice. Burns and his team researched whether conscious means to retrain the mind to associate counter-stereotypical words with certain groups instead of associating them with negative words would reduce implicit bias. Counter stereotype training consists of learning to pair positive words such as “intelligent” or “competent”, with various races that are often negatively stereotyped with negative words such as “unintelligent” or “incompetent”. The goal is to eventually out compete the negative implicit associations by retraining one’s mind to associate new positive words with various racial groups. Burns hypothesized that counter stereotype training would reduce implicit bias more than having received no training.

The experiment was to have participants look at a computer screen with pictures of either white or black people and click on words that were counter stereotypical for them as fast as possible. Participants were assigned to three conditions:

  1. A group who read a list of counter stereotypes before doing the task.
  2. A group who was only warned to be aware of stereotypes but received no counter stereotype list.
  3. A control group who just did the online task with no further instructions.

Results showed that despite some positive effects of counter stereotype training, it was not effective overall contrary to Burns and colleagues’ initial hypothesis. Those who were given the warning not to think stereotypically but not trained had less biased responses than the counter stereotype condition. The researchers theorized this was because the warning was a prompt to activate participants’ intrinsic motivation not to be biased through increasing their awareness of how bias conflicts with their values. The implications of Burns’ research is that those mind-control training seminars at work or in the classroom the Left likes impose on us don’t work!

The findings of these two studies easily highlight yet another reason we resist political correctness and the Left’s agenda. In addition to being hypocritical, a threat to safety in some cases, an attack on our culture and values, and simply annoying, scientific evidence shows the Left has gone about it all wrong. If they truly wanted to make change, they would have more luck appealing to our values over dictating what we must do to appease the Left. Then again, what values do they really have? From what I’ve seen, it definitely is not about equality for all, just who they pick and choose.

This is just my own theory, but perhaps they don’t appeal to our values because we’d discover theirs and ours are not alike at all! The evidence the Left gives for their arbitrary pronouncements points to a different motive: Power and control.

So when do we decide it’s time to act on our internal values, and not their external pressures?

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