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Today’s buzzword: Intersectionality

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Word definitions change. Author Lewis Carrol, in “Through the Looking Glass,” wrote this dialog:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Today’s word is Intersectionality, which Oxford Languages defines as: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Why the Myth of White, Red, Black and Yellow Persists -
Which of these children is at fault for bigotry?

You are you. You are a minority of one.

As a minority, you have unique characteristics, some of which may subject you to prejudice at various times. As a minority of one, you also are part of larger minorities based on race, religion, age, intelligence, job, wealth, physical abilities, talents, health, etc.

Let’s say you are a man. You are part of the minority called “men,” which doesn’t include other minorities such as boys, girls, women, all deceased people and other living creatures.

If you are a 50-year-old man you live at the intersection of men and 50-year-olds, with each experiencing some unique form of bigotry or oppression.

Perhaps, by virtue of your being 50, you did not receive the job you were qualified to hold. Or, by being a man you didn’t receive that job.

The intersection of maleness and “50-ness” provided somewhat greater disadvantages than either one, alone.. Add race, health etc. to the mix, and you might be a 50-year-old, black, one-legged, gay man, who did not attend college, and is in poor health. (In mathematics, that is known as a “set.”)

Those intersections cumulatively preclude you from many aspects of life that would be enjoyed by someone with fewer disadvantageous intersections — that is, disadvantageous in the eyes of any certain evaluators.

As with all human descriptions, intersectionality can devolve into oppression hierarchies. For instance, who is more oppressed, a black, teenaged, Catholic boy or an elderly white, gay man?

And what sort of oppression are we talking about? Economic? Social? Legal? You may have been involved in discussions centering on the phrase, “You don’t know what it’s like to be {black, gay, female, poor, sick, etc.]. The speaker is attempting to dominate by disadvantage.

It’s “Because I’m _______________ I am worse off than you, so my opinion counts more than yours.”

And it goes even further to: “Because you are not black, gay, female, poor, etc. you can’t really imagine the problems of those who are, so any solutions you may suggest are based on your ignorance and are invalid.”

This devolves to, “The only people who can understand and solve the problems are people who have all those problems.”

And this devolves to: “We people who have all those problems are superior to you people who don’t have the problems.”

In that scenario, the white Christian American male might become the inferior and even the villain. Therin lies the irony, for that is the definition of bigotry — hating people because they are part of a group, or more accurately, not part of a group.

It is the fundamental reason why whites, especially Southern whites, and most especially straight, Southern white men object to teaching Critical Race Theory.

Despite ostensibly being part of the majority set, they feel discriminated against. They feel accused, and so, are resentful. Even with an innocent attempt at objectivity, every story has a good guy and a bad guy who tries to victimize the good guy.

So, it is a conundrum. If we ignore or deny the reality of bigotry in America — if we leave bigotry to its own devices without objection — we long have learned that evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

But if we try to take action against bigotry, without explaining the historical basis for the action, we risk creating even more hatred, resentment, and pushback.

So, perhaps our goal should not be to eliminate bigoted hatred; the goal should be to eliminate bigoted hateful actions. We all carry in our hearts various levels of dislike, but so long as we don’t act on those emotions, we should be considered innocent.

I despise the WWII Germans, Poles, Austrians et al who participated in the Holocaust murders. But I don’t hate those  Germans, Poles, Austrians et al who had nothing to do with the atrocities, but were just fallible humans caught up in the evil of the times.

And I certainly don’t hate those of today’s Germans, Poles, Austrians who do not participate in, or countenance, bigotry.

America’s overly sainted founders, from George Washington forward, surely knew slavery was evil. They, in fact, were not saints. 

They were men who did many good things and bad things, and I hate the bad things they did. Keeping slaves will forever be a blot on their memory.

It is up to me to weigh the bad and the good, and to decide to condemn or to praise each of them as individuals, and not only as “America’s founders” or as “slave keepers.”

Slavery is evil. There are degrees of evil. Slavery is near the top, right beside murder and torture.

But even in the most heinous of acts, we cannot judge by absolutes without knowing circumstances. Soldiers commit murder, but depending on circumstances, they can be heroes.

We all have sinned at various times, and we ask only to be judged by the totality of our lives. Christians ask forgiveness; Jews pray for atonement.

Keeping slaves today is quite uncommon. So, by what logic can a large group of people, alive now, be blamed for past slavery? 

Similarly, by what logic can any group of people be blamed for anything unless the goals of the individuals in that group correspond with the blameworthy facts.

Should all blacks be blamed for black crime or should the blame rest specifically with those who participate, aid, abet, or countenance black crime? Should all Republicans be blamed or credited for Donald Trump’s heinous actions, or should the blame or credit go to those who aid, abet, and countenance his actions?

Bernie Madoff was a Jew and a Democrat. Are Jews and Democrats to be blamed for his crimes? Donald Trump is Presbyterian. What does that say about Presbyterians?

Nothing, actually.

The answers are obvious, but that begs the question, how to inform without leveling blame. How can America learn of past crimes, so these crimes can be anticipated in the future — and still not level blame at groups of innocent people?

Governor DeSantis, and those of his ilk, burn the history books. His mantra is, “Florida is where woke comes to die.”

One dictionary describes “woke” as: “Alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism.” Another describes it as: “Aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Is there anything objectionable in these definitions? Is social justice what DeSantis proudly wishes to exterminate? What is his problem with “woke”?

Is the problem one of blame? More likely, DeSantis believes “woke” is not mere history, but rather is a device to empower blacks by blaming all whites for the injustices many blacks have endured and still endure.

Rather than clarify that deliberate or unintentional misunderstanding, he has chosen to deny the need for education — the “throw out the baby with the bathwater approach, and has banned lessons that would alert students to injustice, discrimination and racism.

For political purposes he has redefined “woke” to mean “blame today’s white children for yesterday’s slavery.” He hopes to gin up white fear, hatred, and resentment that will translate into votes for him.

And while he’s at it, he also hopes to gin up fear, hatred, and resentment at the entire gay community by claiming they are trying to “groom” (a favorite word among the anti-gays) straight children into being gay.

And he has succeeded, primarily because of latent bigotry and ignorance.


“Intersectionality,” as a concept, is neither good nor bad. It is a description.

But somehow, it has become a code word for both sides of the bigotry debate.

Intersectionality refers to the fact that bigotry is not simple. It is composed of many parts and directed toward multiple aspects of the human condition. If, for example, you are a black, gay, Muslim, and someone hates Muslims, they will, by extension also hate straight blacks and gay blacks, and gay or straight Muslims. 

That is how the contagion of bigotry spreads: From intersection to intersection.

All hatred is based on fear. It is quite rare to hate without fear involved.

DeSanitis’s hatred for “woke” is based on his fear of being blamed for racism. His anti-woke, bigoted book-burnings, like all witch hunts, comes from his fear of knowledge and blame — his two  “witches.”

While it is not feasible to eliminate bigotry, a first step in reducing it is to reduce the fear, specifically the fear of being blamed. All “woke” courses should begin with, and emphasize:

Can a label help prevent fear and hatred?

This should be framed and hung in every history class and pasted as a label in every history book.

Then “woke” and Critical Race Theory will be able to accomplish their educational mission without pushback from those who feel accused. History is important.

As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we don’t teach our children about “bad” events in America, they will be condemned to repeat them.

We will see repeats of slavery, school segregation, Tuskeegee experiments, Japanese internment, mass shootings, Salem witch hunts, attacks on Congress, bigotry against blacks, Muslims, Jews, and gays.

For children to learn right from wrong, they must learn about both right and wrong.

So-called “woke” and CRT teach that, but the lessons must be taught without accusing those being taught.

Only then will we be able to eliminate the pushback against learning America’s real history.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


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