Saturday, June 12, 2004
Reversal of stereotypes
My heartwarming tale of “Dinesh and me” has generated lots of interest over the past two days, and I continue to be amazed that blogs are read by approximately 1000 times more people than the number who read my discussions of D’Souza in Public Access and Transition magazine in the 1990s. But one friend has written to me privately to say hold the phone-- how can you discuss The End of Racism on your blog without mentioning D’Souza’s theory of “rational discrimination,” which underlies the whole thing? Fair question. Here’s how the theory works, in D’Souza’s own words:
Only because group traits have an empirical basis in shared experience can we invoke them without fear of contradiction. Think of how people would react if someone said that “Koreans
are lazy” or that “Hispanics are constantly trying to find ways to make money.” Despite the prevalence of anti-Semitism, Jews are rarely accused of stupidity. Blacks are never accused of being tight with a dollar, or of conspiring to take over the world. By reversing stereotypes we can see how their persistence relies, not simply on the assumptions of the viewer, but also on the characteristics of the group being described.
Here’s what I said about this in Transition: “This, perhaps, is right-wing sociology’s finest moment: reversal of stereotypes! why didn’t we think of that? OK, now let’s get this straight. Koreans are not lazy, Hispanics do not try to make money, Blacks are spendthrifts, and . . . hey! wait a minute! those tightfisted clever Jews really are trying to take over the world!”
A creative misreading, yes, but you get the point. All right, that’s enough of that. I have to shower too, you know.