Why you can’t win arguments against intersectionality — and shouldn’t try

The Sky is Blue

(source) Two statements, same assertion:

1) “The sky is blue.”

2) “Sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered in all directions by all the gases and particles in the air. Blue light is scattered more than the other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time.”

Both statements include the same claim.

The first is a statement with readily observable properties and immediately available provability/disprovability. It allows for very specific discussion and debate, and a consensus on this point will allow further research into the factors behind it.

The second can still be discussed, but there’s so much context and reference that to argue it one must systematically accept or reject many assertions, and risk looking ignorant at each one.

The argument, in this case, is not strengthened by logic, but by volume.

Most of the claims the second statement makes, we accept on faith. Most people have never seen a molecule. Most have never experimented with atmospheric gasses. Most have never delved into light theory, and have only a generic understanding of the relationship of wavelength and other properties related to light and color.

Fortunately, we can all agree the proposition at issue is true.

The Sky is Red

But let’s change it up a bit, and submit two more claims.

1) “The sky is red.”

2) “The sky is red because the atmosphere is full of quintillions of microscopic organisms that grow and multiply every night, and then during the day, the sunlight slowly kills most of them and they begin emitting a florescent reddish glow. This red color is apparent to most animals, with the exception of human beings, whose eyes have no receptor for the exact wavelength of red emitted, so our brains interpret this unidentifiable color as blue, except at such times as we inhale trace amounts of Ozone, which allows us to see the red in the sky once in a while. And this is also strongly supported by my experience — I’ve personally seen red in the sky, so if you think the sky is blue, you’re invalidating my experience and questioning my reality, and that makes you a horrible human being who doesn’t deserve to speak in a civilized society.”

As before, the first statement is a single assertion that can be proved or disproved using any number of objective measurements.

But the second is rendered nearly impervious to attack, once again by volume. In order to argue that the sky isn’t red, you have to deny the existence of these microbes, the effect of sunlight on some similar microorganisms, clearly observable examples of bioluminescence elsewhere in nature, as well as brazenly calling into question someone’s lived experience.

And all the while you’re on the clock, because in taking the contrary position and working to disprove the various claims, you’re cementing the final claim — that you’re a horrible human being.

Any opponent starts out in the defensive position and must produce copious amounts of research and expertise to substantiate all claims to the contrary, since the original claim, though utterly ridiculous, is extremely cohesive — it exists within its own stitched and armored mythological framework, whereby a challenge to any one point is dispersed across the entirety of the ideological fabric, and resisted equally by all.

This is the endgame of intersectionality.

And it’s why conservative arguments against it fall flat.

Not because they’re factually wrong, but because it’s just one piece of a postmodern mythology that we have failed to effectively understand and combat in its more nascent and manageable stages.

Now the mythology is mature, and has become a religion that demands unquestioning loyalty and unflinching sacrifice.

And we have no answer for it, because it’s a hydra — for each head you cut off, two more take its place.

Each part makes sense to adherents, not because of externally-substantiated fact or logical flow, but because of the self-referencing nature of its claims.

It is *designed* to be insular, to shed attacks, and to ultimately define all who oppose it as heretics and enemies of the common good.

George Floyd’s death

Now let’s try two final statements.

1) “George Floyd’s death was immoral and criminal, and his killers should face justice.”

2) “George Floyd’s death immoral and criminal, and was the inevitable result of systemic racism in law enforcement, which itself an expression of rampant racism in broader American society, and that’s due to longstanding white privilege shown in everything from economic inequality to life expectancy. Plus, I and people I know have personally experienced this, so if you try to tell me that it’s not due to systemic racism, you’re invalidating my personal experiences, and that means you’re probably a racist too.”

If you have been engaged in this debate lately and feel frustrated that facts and figures bounce off of the social justice crowd, don’t be discouraged. You’re not just challenging a media narrative or a faulty assumption. You’re calling into question an entire worldview, and leaving the other person without a frame of reference through which to understand the world. And when you challenge someone’s innermost worldview, you’re not just questioning their understanding of politics or current events, you’re challenging their identity, their character, their priorities, and their morality.

They can’t concede any one piece of intersectional dogma, because (just as in other religions) to concede the errancy of one piece of canon means leaving all the rest of it vulnerable to attack.

So in order to defend against that, they will build more and more context, weave more and more mythology around the premise under attack, leaving you with insufficient time, energy, or information to dismantle it all — leaving their holy scripture intact.

The only way to win is not to play.

“I’m not sexist/homophobic/a science denier/judgemental/partisan, but…” Mistake

Don’t accept the negative position — build and defend a positive one. Endless seminars, videos, books, and conferences have sought to be the final nail in the coffin of postmodernism, critical theory, socialism, secular materialism, etc., and none have succeeded, because people convinced of a worldview can easily muster — or manufacture — sufficient fact in support of it.

Don’t be forced into someone else’s gameplan.

Assert truth.

Substantiate truth.

Defend truth.

Force the other side to play defense, and stop apologizing, qualifying, weakening, and negating your own positions.

When you begin a post with “I’m not a racist, but…” you’ve already lost your argument and your audience, and the best result you can hope, no matter what point you’re making, is establishing, or undermining, that baseline.

Ditto for “I’m not sexist/homophobic/a science denier/judgemental/partisan, but…”

When truth is at issue, let truth fight for itself, and don’t allow consideration for your self-image to blunt its blade.

One thought on “Why you can’t win arguments against intersectionality — and shouldn’t try

Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on larrysmusings and commented:
    Life is not a popularity contest. Be true to yourself, and understand that that will cost you “friends”. Break with the herd. Thinking critically is now a revolutionary act in these terrible times.

    Liked by 1 person

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