Nonsensical theories dressed as science: you MUST prove racism and sexism!

Courtesy of Psychology Today’s piece, “Yoko Ono: "Racism played a role…” How do you know?“ , today’s dose of bad science (emphasis mine):

Anderson Cooper 360, just yesterday, ran an interview with Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon. Ono disclosed how she felt unfairly blamed for the breakup of the Beatles, and invoked both race and gender  as having played a role in the blame game. "You know, Japanese woman and whatever,” Ono reflected. While certainly a provocative claim, her lack of specificity in actually explaining how race and gender may have played a role did not enlighten many. It’s reminiscent of the way LeBron James evoked race as playing a role in reactions to “The Decision,"  but not going into the specifics of how. "It definitely played a role in some of the stuff that came out in the media, things that were written, for sure,” asserted James.  OK, but how?

My guess is that Ono and James probably only have an ill-defined sense that if they were not members of their particular social categories, things would have been different. Yet, since Ono and James cannot turn into different people – she cannot but be a Japanese woman, and he a black man– and things can only turn out one way, the rest is delegated to the land of conjecture. This is where we get into angry debates, since nobody can actually prove or disprove whether racism, sexism, or discrimination indeed played a role.

And this is the way you shut down the complains: prove that I intended to offend you! First, the perpetuation that it is the job of those who belong to a minority, the ones who take offense, to educate and enlighten their oppressor. However, immediately after, cast a shadow on the capacity to educate because being a member of a minority only gives someone “an ill defined sense” of racism or sexism. So, you are asked to educate and enlighten but at the same time your capability to do so is put into question because of your “ill defined sense” of subjectivity. Come to think of it, this has become a common tactic in politics and public speech. The anti Muslim sentiment, the not so thinly veiled racism, the continuous “othering” of groups; hate speech always dressed up in ways that allow for a weaseling out. The narrow escape of “intent”; context, background and historical processes be damned. After all, because you are not a member of the oppressive majority, you can only have an ill defined sense of offense.

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