Artillery Row

Ignoring race won’t help anything

The dangers of pathological altruism

On Saturday June 19th, the Chicago Police responded to an incident that occurred at 401 South Wacker. A young woman had been walking through the loop area of the city when she was jumped and stabbed multiple times. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital but Doctors were unable to save her. She was later pronounced dead.

Such tragic events are unfortunately common in Chicago. As of June 23 there have been 316 homicides in the city – one of which was the woman in question, Anat Kimchi.

What all of these people experienced was a culture clash. They seemed to adopt the view that all cultures are equal

Not much was initially known about her. But it was later confirmed that she was a 31 year-old doctoral student studying criminal justice at the University of Maryland. Described as a “brilliant young scholar” Kimchi’s research focused on the supposed ethnic and racial disparities found within the justice system. In 2019 she had a paper published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology that sought to investigate how the U.S criminal justice system was racist against young black offenders.

I have no doubt that some people would believe mentioning an individual’s ethnicity is irrelevant when it comes to reporting on violent crime. A standpoint that was made explicit by Poynter. The fact checking group put out a tweet urging local media outlets to refrain from mentioning skin colour as it fosters “systemic racism” in its coverage. Fortunately CWB Chicago didn’t get that particular tweet and were initially the only outlet to describe the attacker. “A slim Black male with long dreadlocks who wore a red bandana.” A week later 41 year old Tony Robinson, a homeless black man was charged with her death.

So we have an intelligent and passionate young activist who campaigned tirelessly to highlight the discrimination against young black criminals being murdered by a black individual.

The reason I bring this up is not to simply provide a case study in progressive hypocrisy. Kimchi’s death was tragic. It should’ve never happened. And I hope the perpetrator gets life for this heinous despicable act. Questions arise as to why she was walking alone in a dangerous area. Why I mentioned it was to use it as a framing device in an effort to try and understand why this happens and why people do this.

Unfortunately what happened to Kimchi is not an isolated case. There are countless examples where people believe the world to be something it most certainly is not. For clarity and concision I will provide one. Arguably the most famous – “the naive cyclists”.

Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin were stuck in dead end jobs. They decided to embrace their free spirit and embark on a cycling holiday around the world. On their blog “SimplyCycling”, Austin wrote: “you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. ‘People,’ the narrative goes, ‘are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.’ I don’t buy it.” The U.S couple were killed in Tajikistan by ISIS.

I would like to offer two plausible explanations as to why this might happen.

The racial justice narrative put forth by mainstream media suggests black people are being killed by police all the time. When George Floyd, an unarmed black man died at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, the world paid attention. As tragic as Floyd’s death was, it is not a regular occurrence in America. One possible reason people adopt this flawed and progressive vision of reality comes from Daniel Kahneman. The Nobel-prize winning economist calls this “the availability heuristic”. It describes the mental shortcut human beings employ when our intuitions are shaped by events that are easy to recall – news and personal stories. It makes us prone to mistake rare events for trends. This is a form of cognitive bias that perhaps influenced Kimchi’s research. In one survey, among those who identify as very liberal, 8 percent of respondents believe police officers killed more than 10,000 unarmed black men in 2019. The real number that were killed that year was 13.

Is there anything else that might have shaped the secular evangelism that motivated these activists? What all of these people experienced was a culture clash. They seemed to adopt the view that all cultures are equal. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a homogeneous world. The idea that we all share a common global culture is perhaps noble but it does not lead to a harmonious society replete with notions of peace and love. Different cultures exist and not all are equally peaceful. In the real world evil exists.

This belief, that all cultures are equal is a fundamental tenet of cultural relativism. This is the idea that a person’s beliefs, ideas and morals must be seen within the context of that individual’s culture. Advocates of cultural relativism argue that it is wrong to make judgments on another culture based on our own moral standards.

For example, one culture’s morality might be guided by religion – with antiquated notions of justice and cultural norms. But it is here where we encounter serious problems. The grooming gang scandal that ripped the heart out of rural northern towns like Rotherham and Rochdale for over thirty years provides ample evidence of this clash of cultures. In court, one defendant argued that it was his religious right to have sex with underage girls.

When it comes to morality, right and wrong should always relate to human well being. Although culture is a powerful tool for establishing identity through in-group preference, the wider goal of social cohesion needs to be maintained. As such culture should seek to maximise human well being, not diminish it.

We are told it is wrong to judge another culture based on the standards of one’s own culture -anthropologists call this ethnocentrism. But some cultures are simply better than others. In parts of Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan Bacha bazi is a centuries old tradition that involves older men engaging in sexual abuse with children. Nor are cultures in any way equal. In Chinese medicine, the consumption of tiger penis is said to be a potent aphrodisiac – even though there’s no scientific proof of this. This beautiful animal is now one of the most endangered animals in the Far East.

When it comes to morality, right and wrong should always relate to human well being

The reason we mention someone’s race or ethnicity is not to stoke a race war. It’s important if we are going to address the multitude of reasons why an individual commits crime. And culture can be one of those reasons. The failure of the MEN Arena security guard to address the bomber due to allegations of racism is a prime example.

I would rather be honest than politically correct. Critique of another culture is necessary if we are to stop the kind of thing that has taken the lives of countless activists. It is not racist or an example of ethnocentrism to seek to promote liberal ideas of justice and fairness.

Pathological altruism amplified by a media lying by omission has led to the death of countless activists convinced that their enlightened sense of culture will help save the world. It needs to stop.

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