Online Dates, Patriots & Racism

On a recent Freakonomics podcast, Alli Reed discussed how she created a fake dating profile as a test to see whether guys on an online dating service really read her profile or were only interested in looks. As she describes it in the resulting cracked.com article:
In making this profile, I made sure my creation touched on every major facet of being truly horrible: mean, spoiled, lazy, racist, manipulative, and willfully ignorant, and I threw in a little gold digging just for funzies. I maintain that there is not a human on this planet who would read this profile and think, "Yes, I'd like to spend any amount of the fleeting time I'm given on my journey around the sun getting to know this person." This profile is my magnum opus; it will be engraved on my tombstone. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair:
She used her model friend's photo and in her attempt to make her fake persona seem as awful as possible, included in her profile such things as "On a typical Friday night I am: knockin the cups out of homeless ppls hands, its sooooo funny to watch them try to pick it all up lolllllll" and "The most private thing I'm willing to admit: convinced my ex i was pregnant and he still pays me child support lolololol"

To cement her racist bona fides, she added "keeping america american" under the topic "The six things I could never do without." On the podcast she explained, "To me, the worst person in the world is definitely racist. And keeping America American, to me, is sort of code for 'I don't like people who don't look like me.'"

And therein lies an interesting distinction in American culture today.

It is noteworthy that Reed sees patriotism as the expression of racism. But for some - I would guess most - patriotism is just love on one's country and/or a perceived set of values. No nefarious secret societies. No hidden agendas.

But some first assume others are racist and therefore everything those others do and say is either overtly or covertly racist. That is how during the 2012 election such words as angry, Chicago, constitution, golf, privileged, crime, welfare and professor were identified as racist "code" words. (Here, here) One can only conclude that words such as these are racist code if one first concludes, with or without evidence, that whoever is using such words is racist. Certainly people that the finger-pointer agrees with, or maybe even they themselves, have used such innocuous words, but they are excused from racist code accusations. Why? Well, because they just can't be racist. Nobody ever bothers to explain why that is so.

Generally speaking, no evidence of racism was ever provided, but rather, it was just assumed or asserted that the person or group was racist, ergo everything they said was outright racist or racist code. And of course, denying the accusation was further proof of the racism. This idiotic 'reasoning' works for many because no evidence was brought to prove the racism to begin with so none is needed to further the claim.

So it seems this is the case with Ms. Reed. There is nothing about the sentiment 'keeping America American' that is necessarily racist. Can she imagine George Washington hoping that the values that formed the new republic endure? Or is it possible that somebody today might hope that the better aspects that are perceived to be uniquely American continue on? Americanism is not tied to people who look similar as she suggests, it is a set of shared values. People of all races can and do share American values.

It is difficult to understand how somebody can make such a ridiculous leap from a wish that a particular set of values be retained to disliking others because of their physical features. By Reed's way of thinking, would a newly naturalized Muslim American be guilty of racism if she were grateful for the blessings of liberty bestowed by Americanism and wished for 'America to remain American'? She would, unless, of course, Reed is willing to limit this racist "code" behavior to a single race or group. And what could be more racist than that?

One wonders whether or not she would suspect code if a like-minded person, a close friend perhaps, lamented a shift in an American value that they embraced. One suspects that because Reed would likely assume good will and decency on the part of her friend that the notion of racist code would be dismissed out of hand. But on what basis does she assume bad motive or indecency for others? For it is only by attributing bad motive that she can conclude that code is at play. And on what basis is that judgment made? Is it based solely on disagreement on certain issues? Is there any evidence to back up her simplified, bigoted assertion?

And, by the way, of course the men were primarily motivated by a pretty picture. The only shocking discovery there is that anybody would be shocked to discover that.

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