Whites and Suicide

Debate and discussion on racism and related issues

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Purple Knight
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Whites and Suicide

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Post by Purple Knight »

Question for debate: Is it possible that suicide is the most moral option for someone who, through being born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, is bound to be an oppressor themselves?

Even if you try not to be racist, as a white person, you are still racist. You benefit and contribute to a power structure which is objectively hurting people. This is true for every white person, even the staunchest ally. (Reference here.)

Arguably the idea that white people ought to commit suicide is an anti-selection moral edict. In other words, because it's an honour system wherein people would be asked to choose to follow that edict, only those who want to help most would heed it, and the worst would tend to ignore it, you would end up with more worse people and fewer better ones. The moral edict itself selects out those who follow it, and rewards those who break or ignore it. I often argue that morality should not be self-defeating in this way; it should not punish those who follow it only to reward those who break it, and that a moral edict that destroys itself in this way is worse than one that is not universalisable. I don't get a lot of agreement with this idea, however.

Again though, minus one oppressor is minus one oppressor. You could also argue that cutting down on the white population enough to bring disassembly of the power structures that facilitate oppression within reach is what is needed, rather than reward people who are "trying" because, well, they're not succeeding, and in the end, when you have an end, that's what matters. The idea that white people shouldn't commit suicide also relies on the premise that most racism is intentional rather than accidental. If whites are forever blundering into oppressing others and can't help it, but they can at least see that, then the way is clear.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

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I'm not sure I buy the idea that white racism isn't on purpose. This does mean a definite no to whether whites must morally commit suicide; that's my answer.

However, it means that if there aren't any non-racist ones, it's not because, as the article politely assumes, whites are "born into that gang" - it's because there is not one white person alive who is actually trying. Arguably this constitutes an actual evil race.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

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Post by otseng »

Purple Knight wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:00 pm Question for debate: Is it possible that suicide is the most moral option for someone who, through being born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, is bound to be an oppressor themselves?
No, I do not think it's the most moral option.

If someone is born in a class of oppressors, then it does not automatically mean that person would also be an oppressor. Nor does it mean that person would bear the guilt of all the other oppressors.

If the person does follow his peers and oppresses others, the most moral option would be to stop being an oppressor. Killing oneself would certainly fulfill that, but it's not the best course of action. They should acknowledge their errors and change their behavior.

If the person is unwilling or unable to change his oppressive behavior, then he should be forced to stop by isolating that person.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

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Post by Purple Knight »

otseng wrote: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:18 amIf the person does follow his peers and oppresses others, the most moral option would be to stop being an oppressor. Killing oneself would certainly fulfill that, but it's not the best course of action. They should acknowledge their errors and change their behavior.
The problem is that no one is free of these errors and no one has changed their behaviour. All whites are racist. This is explained in the book: White Fragility by Robin Diangelo.

https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2020/09 ... re-racist/
Against this backdrop, DiAngelo’s book began to emerge as a sort of explanation for what was happening. She argued that white people are simply racist and cannot help it.

“White fragility is not weakness per se. In fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage,” DiAngelo said in a 2018 talk on the Seattle Channel.

DiAngelo’s concept infuriated many white people, who felt they were not racist and not a part of some conspiracy to keep Blacks people down.

Consider a workplace seminar on racial sensitivity. White people will often say things like, “I’m colorblind. I judge people by their character, not the color of their skin. I don’t care if a person is white, Black, purple, or polka-dotted, My best friend is Black. I marched in the 60s.”

According to DiAngelo none of that matters.

If you are white you are still racist. And, she claims the more you believe you are leaned into the Black cause and the more you think you get it, the worse you are.
No one can possibly dispute that this is true in today's era. All white people are guilty. The question is whether anyone really wants to change. I know I do. At least, I think I do.

But I have to question myself at this stage. Is anything I've done enough? Is anything I want to do enough? If not, why not? Maybe it's because I'm evil in my truest self and I don't want to change. If this is true for every last white person, I have to think suicide is the only answer. Sometimes I examine what I could do or stop doing to stop being racist, and nothing I come up with invalidates DiAngelo's rock-solid argument. If I did this, would I still be racist? If I gave up that? If I stopped doing that other thing? My answer is always that it doesn't make a difference because DiAngelo says it doesn't make a difference. In her book she explains that these attempts to stop being racist are just pathetic attempts to seem like you're a good person so you can continue to be racist. I don't disagree. No one could disagree. Her case is airtight. Flawless.

There's just one thing I could do that would actually stop be from being racist despite still falling into the category of something a racist does to appear non-racist: I could cease being alive. Obviously that doesn't make up for being alive this long and not stopping before now, but it does stop any future damage I would do to minorities.

In short, I've accepted that I'm a 100% evil person who doesn't actually want to stop being evil, or I would have stopped already. I've accepted that anything I do to try to be good is simply me trying to trick myself into seeming good while not being good. Can a person like this ever be good? Well no. Anything that originates in their head is just one more piece of trickery to seem good. They can never be good. But they can take themself off the board.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

Post #5

Post by Dimmesdale »

Purple Knight wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:00 pm Question for debate: Is it possible that suicide is the most moral option for someone who, through being born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, is bound to be an oppressor themselves?
Suicide as a form of genuine self-sacrifice has some merit in my mind, but the context in which that is called for is very exceptional in my view. This certainly doesn't fit the bill in my opinion.

You have rights as a human being. Even if you happen to stumble over (a lot) of people's toes, even kill some (so long as you did not at that time mean it) you have the right to stand forth your own inexorable self. If you are forced by circumstance to "be" an oppressor (whatever that means), or occupy that role, your responsibility is still greatly diminished simply by virtue of the fact that you ARE NOT ACTIVELY WILLING THAT NOW.

I believing in making the best of a bad situation. Nothing is ideal in reality. Also, what is evil? Evil is not simply oppressing the same way you breath, automatically. Actually, if you have no malice in your heart, no evil INTENT, then I would argue you are not really evil in the relevant moral sense. You don't have the right to be put to death, by your or anyone's hand.

That said, we should continue endeavoring in making this world a better place and voiding former wrongs. But not at the expense of sovereignty.
Last edited by Dimmesdale on Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

Post #6

Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:00 pm Question for debate: Is it possible that suicide is the most moral option for someone who, through being born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, is bound to be an oppressor themselves?
Unless you have evidence that those born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, are bound to be an oppressor, your premise here lacks any truth value and is therefore logically flawed. Besides, I fail to see any moral component in suicide.


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Re: Whites and Suicide

Post #7

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Miles wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 4:06 pm
Purple Knight wrote: Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:00 pm Question for debate: Is it possible that suicide is the most moral option for someone who, through being born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, is bound to be an oppressor themselves?
Unless you have evidence that those born into a race of thoughtless oppressors and a system of power that rewards being an oppressor, are bound to be an oppressor, your premise here lacks any truth value and is therefore logically flawed.
I gave a reference. I don't see how anyone could dispute it. I've never been so blown away by pure logic and truth in my life. As far as I see, the article is flawless.

Besides, the question isn't about this being true (even though it is). The question is, what if this is true? Is suicide necessary in that case? Dimmesdale makes a case based on human rights, but I'm not sure oppressors and Nazis have those. That's what we're talking about really: People involuntarily being Nazis. Well, they're still Nazis.
Dimmesdale wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:54 pmYou have rights as a human being. Even if you happen to stumble over (a lot) of people's toes, even kill some (so long as you did not at that time mean it) you have the right to stand forth your own inexorable self. If you are forced by circumstance to "be" an oppressor (whatever that means), or occupy that role, your responsibility is still greatly diminished simply by virtue of the fact that you ARE NOT ACTIVELY WILLING THAT NOW.
Diminished, but that responsibility still exists. Manslaughter is still a crime. People are punished for it. Should they be?

When I try to discover if a principle is valid, I try to debunk it in one case. If I can do that, it proves that the principle is not valid. When I consider the "I didn't mean to" argument, I imagine someone carrying a horrible disease or a xenomorph who themselves means no ill will and will presumably die without assistance.

So, we have someone who has a xenomorph banging on the door of the spaceship. Do we let him in? The real questions are two: 1) Is it right to let him in? 2) Is it right not to let him in?

By the human rights argument, we at least can't flush him out the airlock if he's already in, or demand he commit suicide, even to save everyone else. I'm not sure if this human rights argument is valid because it seems to mandate ruin in extreme circumstances. If he's really going to hurt people, even if he can't help it, I think it's permissible to do whatever needs to be done in order to save those people from harm.

Now, as far as what needs to be done, if we can remove the xenomorph or isolate the fellow so he poses no harm, it does seem like that would be the way to go, and that flushing him out the airlock would then be morally impermissible. Does this mean it was always impermissible? What if we later find a way to remove xenomorphs without killing the host? Does that them mean we were immoral to flush him even if we didn't yet know that way? If there were some magic word of power that when uttered to a criminal, would reform them instantly, are we wrong to put them in jail even if we don't know that word, simply because it does exist? I have a lot of questions about morality and not many answers.
Dimmesdale wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 3:54 pmI believing in making the best of a bad situation. Nothing is ideal in reality. Also, what is evil? Evil is not simply oppressing the same way you breath, automatically. Actually, if you have no malice in your heart, no evil INTENT, then I would argue you are not really evil in the relevant moral sense.
There seems to be an odd "third space" for white people, whose self-deception is so deep that not one white person has ever seen beyond it and become non-racist. Arguably white people have moral agency, otherwise, as you've said, it wouldn't be evil. I agree with that.

However, the evil comes in at the point of self-deception. This at least seems to add up to a truly evil race, which should be impossible. Can a white person avoid racism? Technically yes. They have moral agency. Do they use that moral agency? No. In every single case, no. Every last white person self-deceives so they can continue to be racist, even if it's subconscious. Not one has been good enough to peel away this evil completely.

I have come to the conclusion that this may be a case of men becoming beasts. Animal nature becomes stronger and the ability to self-analyse recedes. If we have one glimmer of humanity, one success at avoiding racism as a result of introspection and subsequent change, we can say, there is a person. If not, there is a case that white people are merely animals. If so they have no human rights.

So either every last white person has chosen evil, in which case punish them, or they are animals, in which case they can be eliminated in the same way as a cockroach infestation without fear of moral wrong. What I think of as a third space may be a measure of politeness, as in, well, we can't assume that particular white person is evil... even though we know by pure logic that there are no exceptions to white racism and that racism is evil.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

Post #8

Post by Dimmesdale »

Purple Knight wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:54 pm
Diminished, but that responsibility still exists. Manslaughter is still a crime. People are punished for it. Should they be?
In which case we have to come up with novel ways to go about treating that responsibility. Suicide is about the most boring solution you can think of. It isn't suited to such complex cases as are found in the real world. I would say manslaughter is a crime. But maybe we should come at it from different (and more thoughtful) angles, that actually treat it with the complexity it requires....
Purple Knight wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:54 pmWhen I try to discover if a principle is valid, I try to debunk it in one case. If I can do that, it proves that the principle is not valid. When I consider the "I didn't mean to" argument, I imagine someone carrying a horrible disease or a xenomorph who themselves means no ill will and will presumably die without assistance.

So, we have someone who has a xenomorph banging on the door of the spaceship. Do we let him in? The real questions are two: 1) Is it right to let him in? 2) Is it right not to let him in?
I would need more context to know what exactly is right and wrong. I think you are lacking the bigger picture, especially regards things as cosmic and staggering in scope as race and civilization.
Purple Knight wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:54 pmBy the human rights argument, we at least can't flush him out the airlock if he's already in, or demand he commit suicide, even to save everyone else. I'm not sure if this human rights argument is valid because it seems to mandate ruin in extreme circumstances. If he's really going to hurt people, even if he can't help it, I think it's permissible to do whatever needs to be done in order to save those people from harm.
Maybe, maybe not. I would need more information personally.
Purple Knight wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:54 pmNow, as far as what needs to be done, if we can remove the xenomorph or isolate the fellow so he poses no harm, it does seem like that would be the way to go, and that flushing him out the airlock would then be morally impermissible. Does this mean it was always impermissible? What if we later find a way to remove xenomorphs without killing the host? Does that them mean we were immoral to flush him even if we didn't yet know that way? If there were some magic word of power that when uttered to a criminal, would reform them instantly, are we wrong to put them in jail even if we don't know that word, simply because it does exist? I have a lot of questions about morality and not many answers.
One thing is for sure: you have to act, here and now. No one has all the answers laid out before him in every given situation. Sometimes there simply isn't any time.

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Re: Whites and Suicide

Post #9

Post by Miles »

Purple Knight wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 6:54 pm
I gave a reference. I don't see how anyone could dispute it. I've never been so blown away by pure logic and truth in my life. As far as I see, the article is flawless.

Besides, the question isn't about this being true (even though it is). The question is, what if this is true? Is suicide necessary in that case? Dimmesdale makes a case based on human rights, but I'm not sure oppressors and Nazis have those. That's what we're talking about really: People involuntarily being Nazis. Well, they're still Nazis.
There is only one question in your OP and there isn't a single "if" in it.


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Re: Whites and Suicide

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Post by Purple Knight »

Dimmesdale wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:23 pmI think you are lacking the bigger picture, especially regards things as cosmic and staggering in scope as race and civilization.
I took a step back intentionally to try to establish which principles are valid. Small picture first, then the big. Simple first, then the complex. The simplest question is whether you can morally hurt or kill someone innocent of deliberate wrongdoing because that innocent person harms or threatens you. If your answer is "need more information" then that implies sometimes yes, otherwise you would say no. Sometimes yes = yes. There may simply be other mitigating factors.

The first step would be establishing which factors make the default yes into a no. I suggested that one of those factors might be, if you can stop this person from harming you some other way.
Dimmesdale wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:23 pmNo one has all the answers laid out before him in every given situation.
No, but it certainly seems that way. I can point to dozens of people I know never made a mistake in their lives.
Miles wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 7:56 pmThere is only one question in your OP and there isn't a single "if" in it.
No, but it refers to a person who is basically born an oppressor. If he's hypothetical so be it. (He's not: This is every white person, and I provided a reference.) The question is, for someone who, which asks what the right answer is for that person in that situation.

I don't think it matters much whether someone is forever bumbling into hurting others or if he's doing it on purpose. He's got to be stopped. But I'm not very sure. Sometimes it seems as if people agree to stop the harm, and sometimes it seems they only care if it's deliberate, and if it's not, the wrongdoer should not be punished or deterred in any way.

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