Toughness Signalling

I’m continually amazed at people’s hunger for toughness signaling. I’m going to hazard that the modern American form of it started with professional wrestlers, who are basically anger clowns, like Ann Coulter. They have these pretend rivalries, and the villains are so very villainous. Also see comic books, where villains are “bad guys” and heroes are “good guys.” And Westerns.

Toughness signaling has to do with strict gender dimorphism. Those who feel that the blurring of gender boundaries threatens their very identity, engage in toughness signaling to confirm their manhood.

Of course, toughness in a vacuum is idiotic. You need a threat. That’s why Trump needed to claim that there was “carnage,” and why some folk claim there is “white genocide” or “lynching.” It has to be a very dramatic threat, after all, to justify the level of toughness signaling they feel they need to perform.

Here is a UN document on atrocity crimes. Heavy reading.

I am reminded of a domestic situation (let’s leave it at that level of detail) in which one party is irritated at what the other party does, and reacts angrily. It just feels right to be angry. And that seductive feeling ramps up to even more operatic, greater expression of anger. Then the reasoning brain kicks in, and says, “you need a bigger threat to justify all that yelling.” So the angry person decides that what the other person did was not merely irritating but truly mean and horrible. Then the anger is totally justified! A post-hoc rationalization. They retroactively redefine (or “retcon”, to use comic book jargon) what the other person did, so that they’d be doormats if they didn’t express that much anger, and more, even! Because not only was the other person terrible and mean, but that is evidence of their total contempt for, not just you, but whatever class of people you belong to!

And the spiral continues until the anger burns itself out all on its own.

Everything wrong with America, in light of Amazon buying WF

So, maybe Amazon’s growing ubiquity will be great! Big Box stores will suffer, which might be good, we won’t spend as much time driving, which is certainly good, and we won’t even see each other in the soulless, fluorescent-lit, ad-choked Gehenna that is a mall store. Is that good?

Maybe this is part of what will make America Great. I don’t know. But here’s a different story, one of cultural dissolution and etiolation (hey, it’s my blog which nobody reads; I can use Buckley verbiage).

Due to investors’ and Wall St’s inexorable downward pressure on wages since the 70s, facilitated by cultural changes in the white community which caused them to abandon unionization, people abandoned their neighbors’ businesses (and thus their neighbors’ welfare) for vast publicly-owned “big box” enterprises (not just stores; megachurches are big-box phenomena), thereby erasing whatever small-town local culture they had.

The resulting anomie and soullessness of their community fed into the dissolution of any sense of togetherness or combined destiny. Initially innocent celebrations of ethnic identity (Kiss Me, I’m Irish, or even claiming to be German-American, as I do) led to other, more marginalized citizens claiming and brandishing their ethnic identities, leading those who imagine themselves as ethnically “American” (a meaningless designation, unless you’re of the First People) to panic further. This results in balkanization, segregation, and fantasies about walls and safety.

Small town, white working class and suburban America has shed its wholesome post WWII identity, under the financial pressure exerted by the investor community, embodied in Wall St. Because our politicians have to protect their clients from anti-trust, regulation, and taxation, private unelected entities now control many aspects of our society.

The Slants copyright case and reclaiming slurs

Saw a comment on Slashdot, about SCOTUS permitting the band The Slants to copyright their name, that it’s great to take ownership of a slur, to defang it. But if you do that (the commenter wrote) you have to permit anyone to use it. The example they gave was “nerd”, which I think is charming. So, basically, they want to lose “intent” as a consideration.

I’m inclined to argue, based on that most-hated-by-people-with-social-power argument, that there are people with social power who should have more restrictions on them than those with less social power. By that logic, nerds could use the words, but jocks (for ex) ought not.

Of course, people with social power deny that any such thing as social power exists; that they are treated any differently by gov’tal agencies, police, or institutions such as banking, for instance. This is coupled with the myth that, until Obama, we lived in a “color-blind” society. That myth enabled whites to maintain privilege while preventing non-whites from complaining about it, because then they were playing the “race card.”

Emboldened by Obama’s presidency, non-whites began to be more vociferous about negative treatment, including, say, being shot to death for being scary to white cops. This began to be called “identity politics,” and frowned upon. After all, the rule under the “color blind” regime was one ought not discuss racial things, and if you just said “please and thank you” enough, everything would be fine.

I am often reminded that for many Americans, this is a nation of a proud defiant white people, and a careful, patient, endlessly polite, obsequious brown people. White people with foreign accents will be taken on a case-by-case basis and they should watch their step.