The Persuasive Value Of “Shut Up And Listen”

In the aftermath of the midterm elections, my pal Elie Mystal noted the voting pattern of that heinous group of awful people, white women.

It’s almost as if there is something wrong with people voting the way they choose to vote, which is particularly odd given that Jill Filipovic attributed the aspect of the election she deemed good to women. Not just black women, but white women. Women. So which is it, are women the heroes or the villains?

In response to Elie, Filipovic tried to skirt the issue. Urban educated women will vote the “right” way, while those dumb white rural women need to be guided by their moral superiors like Filipovic to be brought into the fold.

Putting aside the question of whether Filipovic’s problem is that women who don’t vote as she deems right are just too dumb to be allowed to exercise their franchise without her moral guidance, there is a question of why these awful white women don’t vote the way they should.

Will this do the trick, scolding white women and their “alabaster” friends? Does this shame you into voting the way that won’t infuriate April? The predominant method of persuasion by the woke is scolding and shaming, but more importantly, it’s demanding that you “shut up and listen.”

Perhaps the leaders of the the intersectionality movement should study this time in history. Their cause certainly needs allies, but they have no idea how to cultivate them. Instead of being welcomed into the “good fight,” potential allies are instead expected to jump through hoops to prove their worthiness. Alliance is seen as a privilege doled out in meager portions to only the most compliant.

The Left has strategically redefined words, which is exactly what happened to “ally,” although in this case the strategy backfired. Whereas alliance-building once meant forming a coalition of parties with common goals, it now bears a closer resemblance to an exclusive country club appraising potential members. Unlike the country club, however, there are few perks of membership for the “privileged” in the intersectionality movement, unless you like having to always sit silently in the back of the room.

To a certain extent, shaming has worked with a certain group of privileged people, who feel guilty about the fact that they have never missed a meal while others, due to discrimination, suffer the detriments of their skin color. It’s not that they are, themselves, racist, so much as they’re inadequately anti-racist, as April complains. What that means, however, is where this all gets sticky.

Elie and I have been arguing about this for years, and as his twit yesterday shows, the problem persists:

 So I asked:

Are they building consensus or driving too many people away? The minority needs consensus more than majority.

While recognizing this dilemma, Elie felt I failed to appreciate it. This is where Elie tried his best to explain to me what I didn’t get.

We sure is sorry bout botherin whites with our concerns. We tries our best to make it so you folks want to hep us.


I reject the premise that winning over white people is the job of the African-American community.

Elie has a point, that his (on behalf of all African-Americans everywhere?) view was that he shouldn’t have to justify his view to me, or to anyone. And indeed, he doesn’t. But then, “White women gonna white”? So they need to justify their awful view to Elie, or are they just not allowed to have a different view without being denigrated for the race and gender?

Elections are a numbers game, despite the fantastical contentions about the House and Senate “popular vote,” or the persistent presidential popular vote despite the electoral college having worked just fine when President Obama was elected. Twice. African-Americans comprise about 13% of the population. Even with their allies, the ones guilty enough to suspend their existence for the sake of being good allies, and even with an opposition so unsavory as Trump and the Republicans, they lack the numbers to comprise a majority in every voting district.

Part of the problem is that people, even white women (and, dare I say it, white men), have a right to vote for whomever best reflects their interests. They may be wrong, and their chosen candidate may be literally awful in the eyes of Elie, even Filipovic, but still, that’s the nature of voting.

The majority wins elections. The question is not who you decide is the best candidate, but who receives the most votes, even if the voters are totally wrong and awful. And if you lack the numbers to win, then you have two choices: persuade more people to vote the way you would prefer or stick to your guns and lose.

The mistake McKenzie and her people are making in trying to establish a revamped power structure is that their rules for allies were all wrong from day one. They lacked the self-awareness to scrap them and reboot. Telling potential allies to shut up is not an intelligent way to get them to help you. Making them apologize for their physical attributes is not an effective way to motivate them into action/

Not to crush Elie’s dreams, but chances aren’t good that the majority of Americans, regardless of their skin color or gender, will vote the way he would prefer just because he says so or April is infuriated and will block anyone who questions her. There’s a fairly good chance that people, even white women, will vote for the person they choose. After all, it’s not like Filipovic gave up her New York Times op-ed slot to Roxane Gay, but hypocritically kept it to herself to express her alabaster thoughts.

The way to win friends and influence people isn’t to tell them to shut up and call them racist and sexist for not doing as you demand. People need to listen to each other and reach consensus. Unfortunately, that means you won’t get everything you believe you’re entitled to, but maybe we can do far better electing people to serve the common good than we are now.

52 thoughts on “The Persuasive Value Of “Shut Up And Listen”

  1. paleo

    Spend years calling a group of people nothing but racist Nazis and they may not consider you a friend. Who knew?

  2. Nick Lidakis

    …to win friends and influence people…

    If only someone wrote a book with that title. It would be an instant pop culture classic.

        1. ShootingHipster

          Speaking of “rules for”, reading this post had me thinking of Bennett’s 10 Practical Rules for Dealing with the Borderline Personality, which I think of every time intersectionality is being discussed.

  3. Dan

    “I reject the premise that winning over white people is the job of the African-American community.”

    Granted. Do you want things to change, or would you rather continue to complain about the way they are?

    1. SHG Post author

      Based upon experience since those words were uttered, we have the answer, though I’m not sure “complain” is the right characterization.

    2. B. McLeod

      A constant racist screed bitching about Whitey is Elie’s shtick. Back when he was just a staff writer and did these rants occasionally, they were sometimes amusing. Now they are omnipresent they are just tired and old and redundant. Now that he is Boss of the AtL site and the whole thing has slid into a leftist parody of its former existence, there is nothing left to differentiate it from any of the other dime-a-dozen sites trying to cash in on the #Resistance.

  4. Scott Jacobs

    If “winning over white people isn’t the job of the African-American community” then how does he propose us white folk come to his side? Threats?

    There was a town hall thing here and a young black student that said he had no interest in teaching white people about the African American experience or whatnot. My thought to that was “then how am I supposed to learn? If you don’t care enough to explain it, I’m not feeling all that motivated to go find out.”

    1. PF Thought

      “My thought to that was “then how am I supposed to learn? If you don’t care enough to explain it, I’m not feeling all that motivated to go find out.”

      Presuming the town hall had something to do with racial issues, it may have been beneficial for him to share. He missed an opportunity.

      Though, your response belies the fact that the opportunity to learn about the African-American experience exists outside of your town hall meeting. Your lack of motivation speaks for itself.

      1. Scott Jacobs

        If they aren’t willing to explain, I’m under no obligation to hunt down dusty tomes and ancient scrolls to do what they refuse to do.

        And I’m sure you grasp that the kid wasn’t talking about not feeling the need to educate right then and there, but not feeling the need to do it ever, right?

        And I’m not saying he does have such a duty, but likewise I’m not required to go “learn for myself.”

        1. PF Thought

          Of course you are not required, but I assume you were not forced under duress to attend the town hall, so something piqued your interest.

          No tomb raiding needed , just continued motivation for whatever brought you to the town hall.

          And that is his right, though he will miss out on those person who show genuine interest.

          1. Scott Jacobs

            so something piqued your interest.

            Yes, the foolish thought someone might explain, while attending college, (and saying things that the university administration may not agree with) how they are oppressed.

            More fool me.

  5. Paul

    Setting aside thinking that skin color and genitalia should dictate (pun intended) how you vote…

    Those numbers are very unconvincing. 51% votes for DeSantis? Hardly a trend… 59% for Cruz in a deep red state? So what? The stats he chose more strongly indicates a preference among black women – yet imagine the furor if some white guy (with no grasp of correlation or individual thought and choice) posted those with “black women gonna black”.

    Elie is a smart guy – but this is a dumb tweet (along with his responses). Which suggest he is purposefully being disingenuous.

  6. Patrick Maupin

    “White women gonna white” implies some sort of homogeneity, and in the given context, applies it to voting. But which bloc is more homogeneous — the one that votes 76%, 59%, 51%, or the one that votes 95%, 97%, 82%? And by what metric do “white women white” more so than “black women black?” Is “white women whiting” worse than “black women blacking,” and, if so, why?

  7. Hunting Guy

    Tamara Winfrey Harris.

    “The triumph of President-elect Donald Trump represents the failure of many things. One of them is white feminism,”

  8. phv3773

    I’d cut Elie some slack. There was a lot of talk about how white women, especially college-educated, suburban, white women, were enraged by the Kavanaugh business and going to march to the polls in legions and cause a blue wave. And from Elie’s point of view, it didn’t happen, and he’s irked.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      Elie’s certainly allowed to be irked because things didn’t go his way.

      And you’re allowed to point that out.

      But some of us are irked because we think one of the reasons we got here is because too many people who know better keep saying stupid shit. So if I’m* allowed to be irked, I’m really irked at Elie for keeping the stupid shit tradition alive, and even at you for stupid apologetic shit.

      * Not at all clear — I have no victim points.

  9. Black Bellamy

    As an admirer of Dr. King, I judge Elie Mystal not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character, but then again I’m pretty lazy like that. It’s hard to judge by skin color. Sometimes it’s the lighting, or they’re really far away, or they’re wearing too much clothing, or they’re just dolezaling. I salute Elie because it’s a lot of work and he seems to be dedicated. So kudos! I take the easy way out. Character is just so much easier to judge. It’s embedded in every tweet or post or article, and it’s right there in front of my face, no effort required. It almost feels like cheating.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s anti-termite, dammit. More seriously, that one step farther from not being racist (and, I would submit, everyone is racist to some extent) to committing oneself to fighting racism as an ally is a big problematic one. What does it take to be a good enough ally? Yell at people on behalf of the marginalized? Hand over the keys to the new Mercedes to the downtrodden? Give your job to someone less privilege? What about your kids’ dinner when there is a starving child somewhere who needs it? Where does it go? Where does it end? How far are people expected to go to be that “good ally”?

      So am I to vote my self-interest or yours? Or hers? And not to point the flip side of racism, but does Elie or April speak for all minorities as if they all think as one?

      1. B. McLeod

        Elie is one of the most rabid racists I have seen, and yes, he stereotypes black people constantly in his attempts to speak for them. At Commenteriat Commune there is a contributor who looks like Elie in a blond wig, and posts as “Vera Rassist.” Every Vera Rassist post is simply a racist Elie Mystal post with “black” and “white” reversed, and somehow, that seems to make it possible for the otherwise-oblivious to see the open racism.

        As far as anything on a moral level or anything rationally persuasive, the folks with Louis Farrakhan in their Democratic “big tent” have no room lecturing anyone. Their racism and LGBT-bashing is not better than or superior to anyone else’s racism and LGBT-bashing. Their anti-Semitism is the same as the white nationalists’ anti-Semitism. They are just too hypocritical to admit it.

      2. PF Thought

        “What does it take to be a good enough ally? ”

        A simple approach, acknowledging the persistence of racism and validating its continued impact. Secondly, self-reflect on what it may mean to be white person in America. Listening before responding.

        Yelling at others isn’t required (due to risk of bodily harm), but if you are a witness to a situation, displaying concern and support toward the marginalized person could help (even afterward). Challenging someone in your circle regarding their racist beliefs could help as well.

        Regarding voting, Elie is presenting a difficult argument because individually, a person casts their vote for a myriad of reasons so racial issues may not carry more weight than say reproductive rights.

        “So am I to vote my self-interest or yours?”

        To the extent that we’ve reached a consensus on being antiracist then our self-interest should align. Should you change that at the moment it counts the most, because of your other self-interest well… A good ally is a consistent one.

        “And not to point the flip side of racism, but does Elie or April speak for all minorities as if they all think as one?”

        No he doesn’t, but I would submit he speaks to a shared experience of figuring out how we will respond to the struggles resulting from racism and the exhaustion that comes with constantly attempting to educate other groups while facing indifference, deflective questioning faux support etc…

        1. paleo

          “To the extent that we’ve reached a consensus on being antiracist then our self-interest should align.”

          That doesn’t follow at all. You’ve just eliminated one variable out of fifty.

          You many want more permissive immigration and I may want it more restrictive. You may want lower taxes and I may want higher. I may want weed legalized and you may want it to remain illegal. You may want a more left leaning judiciary and I may want it more right leaning. Or vice versa on all of the above. One of us just may not like the way one of the candidates carries themselves (I’m from Texas and I’ve always thought Cruz to be a jerk). Who knows?

          I grew up in the Old South and my white mother marched with civil rights protestors, at great social and (maybe) physical risk. In 2016 she voted for Trump because she just simply can’t stand Hillary. She hasn’t changed her attitude toward racial issues since I was a child, but to Mystal and his ilk she’s now a white supremacist Nazi and it’s beyond discussion.

          Mystal’s problem is that he assumes it’s all racial, and nothing else. Note that he doesn’t explain how presumably racist white women would favor a candidate with a Cuban father like Cruz over an Irish-American like Beto. He starts with a flawed assumption and you can’t tell him it’s wrong.

          1. SHG Post author

            Forget your mom voting for Trump. I was chatting with an old college buddy who was deep into SDS and we both laughed about how we’re Nazis in the eyes of the kids for not being SJWs and thinking their identity politics is lunacy. And I didn’t vote for Trump.

            1. paleo

              Wow. Even I’m not old enough to have a peer that was in the SDS. When they were really a thing I was peeking at girls bras in junior high (thereby presumably eliminating myself from future consideration for the Supreme Court).

              But, yeah. Over Labor Day my father-in-law turned 90, so they threw him a big party with a lot of family there. One night we were at dinner and my daughter and two of her cousins (all between 20 and 26) were talking political stuff. I literally didn’t say a word, and really didn’t pay them much attention. Unprovoked, one of my nieces turned to me and said “You’re part of the problem”. Because I’m 60 and white and male? She backed off a little when I told her I think Trump is a horse’s ass, but still. Oh, and she’s a journalism major, so the future looks pretty damn bleak……

          2. PF Thought

            A consensus, being reached, regarding a subject matter, does not reflect a shared self-interest? Silly political campaigns.

            Your mother marching with civil right protesters exemplifies my argument. Right down to the “great social and (maybe) physical risk.”

            Maybe she preferred cooking Sunday dinner that day, maybe she decides she’s white and this isn’t her fight, maybe it was a long day at work and she is tired. There will always be another variable, but the fact of the matter is she decided (based upon the variable(s) most relevant) to align herself with the protesters. Presumably because competing variables didn’t carry more weight.

            Now imagine if a majority of the other protesters decided not to show up the day she went out to march; because of some other variable? It would be their right, though I imagine she would want some answers pertaining to their whereabouts.

            Regarding voting reasons, I previously mentioned the difficulty in Elie’s approach (at least at face value), especially using the percentages he provided, as Patrick pointed out.

            1. SHG Post author

              If you’re not going to actually express a cogent thought while murdering words, then you’re really not a good use of my bandwidth. Am I making myself clear?

  10. Lee

    And if I cannot learn about the African American Experience, why should I give a damn?

    My experience is that the better one knows knows and understands another group, the more one is likely to sympathise with that group and its struggles. But I’m just an old white guy, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.

  11. David Meyer-Lindenberg

    Yes, Elie is indistinguishable from Mike Cernovich except for which tribe’s idiots he runs his scam on. That said, I’m surprised by the commenter who thinks that if African-Americans don’t want it to be incumbent on them to reach out to whites for help dealing with injustice, African-Americans are undeserving of help. That doesn’t follow at all from Elie’s bullshit, and is a harsh and narrow-minded attitude.

    1. SHG Post author

      Be circumspect, both in your comparisons and criticism. Just because people take extreme positions doesn’t make them right, wrong or somewhere in between. And all people are deserving of help, but when and how raise the details that matter. Just because someone is simplistic doesn’t mean we have to follow suit.

    2. LocoYokel

      ” I’m surprised by the commenter who thinks that if African-Americans don’t want it to be incumbent on them to reach out to whites for help dealing with injustice, African-Americans are undeserving of help”

      Doctor, I’ve had this pain and been feeling sick for the past month.

      What are your symptoms?

      I don’t feel it’s my job to tell you that, just make it better.

      ??? I’m sorry, I can’t help you if you don’t help me understand what the problem is.

      You Nazi scum!!

      Thank you for coming by but you’ll have to leave now.

      See how that works? If you want help you have to help people help you. And spitting in their eye when they try really makes them dis-inclined to try.

      1. David Meyer-Lindenberg

        That’d be a great comparison if the “diagnosis” weren’t already public – maybe one of the most public things in American life. As for “If you want help you have to help people help you,” it misses the point. It’s not about what kind of messaging works best for them – and it’s not like I disagreethat activists haven’t done a great job of reaching out to people with similar concerns, like about police brutality, but different motivations – but whether something like Elie’s hissy fits relieves us of our moral obligations.

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