My local Unitarian-Universalist church sent out an email today announcing that they’ll be having “training” on “micro-aggressions.” The email I composed, but haven’t sent and probably won’t, because the people running the church just wouldn’t get it, goes like this:
Thanks, but I already know how to commit micro-aggressions. I’m good at it. I don’t need any training.
Oh, wait. You’re suggesting that I need to learn something about how to detect if people are committing micro-aggressions against me? Well, hey, if I don’t notice it, then it isn’t a micro-aggression, so that should be no problem at all. No training needed.
Oh, wait. You’re suggesting that I may be committing micro-aggressions without knowing that I’m doing it and need training in how to stop? And you have detected this in my personal behavior when, exactly? Have you analyzed my behavior and found anything of the sort? No? Then I’m sorry, but you’re not entitled to think that I need any information on this topic. You’re inappropriately generalizing. In addition, you’re confused about the definition of your own term. If it’s not an intentional (and intentionally insulting) act on the part of whoever does it, IT IS NOT A MICRO-AGGRESSION. It may be rudeness, but it is not a micro-aggression. The tendency to confuse rudeness with micro-aggressions is, I believe, rather widespread. But unless the training clarifies this — unless the training makes it clear that many or most of the things that the alleged victims characterize as micro-aggressions would be better understood as simple rudeness, thoughtlessness, or a misapprehension on the part of the alleged victim — then the training is actually going to be harmful rather than helpful.
And no, I’m not kidding. Well, the first two paragraphs were kidding, but the third one isn’t. The third paragraph is entirely serious. It is simply not possible for a statement or an action to be a micro-aggression if it is not consciously and intentionally an aggression. This is very clear.
The idea that we all ought to be policing our own behavior to detect unintentional slights that could be hurtful to people in marginalized groups is part of the culture of victimhood. It’s part of the assault of postmodernism on logic and society. The rationale is, if someone feels hurt by something I did or said, then that person is automatically right. I have hurt them. This is postmodernism in action: the idea that there is no objective truth, and therefore that all accounts of what happened (and especially the accounts of people in marginalized groups) are to be believed, not questioned or examined. Therefore it’s my job as a white male to start every personal encounter by being careful — by feeling guilty in advanced, lest I say or do anything that causes hurt feelings (also known as “harm” — a favorite weasel term of the Social Justice Thought Police).
I’ve got news for the people at my UU church: If there is such a thing as an unintentional micro-aggression, your sending out that email qualifies. I’m insulted. I’m offended. And if anyone has the right to decide that they’re being hurt by an unintended insult, we all do. The idea that a black or indigenous or gay or deaf or fat person is entitled to claim that they were hurt by a micro-aggression, but that I’m not entitled to do so because I’m white and, at least for purposes of discussion, none of those other things (though I really ought to lose a few pounds) — that’s just bullshit.
This is precisely the kind of bullshit that is being shoveled onto us by Critical Race Theory and the Social Justice Thought Police.
As my mother used to say (quoting the caption of a New Yorker cartoon from the 1930s), I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.