“Class is real and important but it’s not the same as gender and race and those are important to.” To which I would say… well, yeah!
Is there a stereotype of socialists who say “it’s not about race” or similar nonsense? Sure. Such people are stupid and should be told so. Race and gender are separate from class, women and people of color face types of discrimination and oppression that are separate from class oppressions, and it’s our responsibility to address those issues head-on.
The ultimate point, for me, is that while race and gender injustice are inherently separate from class injustice, the best solutions to race and gender injustice are class solutions.
And here is hipster professor Karl Steel, a tenured radical at Brooklyn College, responding to that piece:
It should go without saying, but this is a lie. It’s an intentional and direct misrepresentation of what I wrote. It’s a lie. There is no way that any remotely honest human being could read my piece and believe that I said that race doesn’t matter. None. At all. It is flagrantly dishonest. Karl Steel: you are a liar and a coward. I know that being cool with the right people is all that people like you care about. I know this is all about teams, for you. I know that politics is, for people like Karl Steel, a game of popularity and digital strokes, where what matters is not that what you say is true or fair or generative or politically valuable or smart, but rather that it deliver the right kind of reciprocal regard for others so that you can get favorites and retweets in return. I get that all of these people are a few years away from NIMBY liberalism and, finally, affluent apathy. I still find it sort of shocking that some people can be so basically, directly dishonest.
Steel’s an extreme example, but this is what Twitter is. This is the world Twitter has made. It’s a world where you’re invited to say blatant lies about people, knowing that you will receive digital support anyway, because these relationships are based on elevating each other in a popularity hierarchy rather than, you know, actually winning political victory. And I know that, of course, the affluent Twitter left will turn around and get on me for this. Look at me again, expecting honesty! Calling someone out for lying! And when they do, will any of them point out that Steel directly and unquestionably misrepresented what I said, claiming that I said that race doesn’t matter when I explicitly said it does over and over? Of course not! I’m used to that. I’m used to connected, protected people feeling free to lie about someone with no connections and no protection, and I’m used to the crowd defending itself by mocking anyone who criticizes it. But I still think basic human honesty matters. I’m crazy that way.
I know that this is shouting into the wind; the koffee klatsch that is the credit-seeking left, which wants only to advance itself and not to achieve justice, cannot be moved by asking people to maintain basic manners and honesty. And I know that, when it comes to me, they are relying on the fact that I don’t play ball the way they do, so I can’t rally the digital troops in the way they can. But it’s worth saying, because the truth matters. If you think that honesty still matters, and that a public intellectual who enjoys the protection of a degree and a Karl should be more honest, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at him at @karlsteel. Ask him if he thinks that reading that post and claiming I believe “race doesn’t matter” is a remotely honest way to behave. And ask him if he thinks that honesty matters at all.
Six years in to blogging, I know that being direct, frank, and public in calling people out for indefensible behavior will always be unpopular. But that unpopularity makes it even more important to me. If people aren’t honest and they aren’t willing to be direct, then nothing will ever change.