Over the past few days, The 2014 Isla Vista Killings came to the forefront of my mind again. I previously did an article on Elliot Rodger that was directed at the people who disavowed the arguments that Rodger was misogynist because most of his victims were men, and disavowed the argument that he was racist because he was half-Asian.
As a quick recap of my previous article:
- Rodger was misogynist. In his manifesto, “My Twisted World” he says women make poor decisions about who they date (a.k.a men who weren’t him) since their brains are less developed than men’s. Yes, he killed mostly men, but those men represented the men who took the girls he felt entitled to. Let’s not forget that Rodger’s primary target was a sorority house, but since he couldn’t get access to the people inside he settled for killing people nearby.
- Rodger was half-Asian, that doesn’t mean he can’t be racist. While the alt-right and other conservative groups love to complain about white people always being the target of accusations of racism, they also tend to use the “but he’s a minority” excuse to derail conversations on racism. In Rodger’s own words, full-blooded Asians are “disgusting ugly”. Rodger only wanted white girls, particularly blondes, and he repeatedly expresses frustration that other men, especially minorities, could get white girls when he couldn’t. “How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?…I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more.”
Now, with those arguments out of the way, I had to get some thoughts of my chest regarding people’s willingness to choose ignorance. All of the people who deny that Rodger was racist of misogynist likely didn’t bother to do any research to prove their point. They looked at the most basic statistics, his half-Asian identity and the demographics of his victims, and then dropped the mic on the conversation. This method of argument is easy and convenient, and is becoming all too popular. Despite being able to access information easier than ever, it is also easier to block out the information we don’t want to see.
I previously remember seeing this phenomenon when I was doing research for a paper on the racial portrayal of Egypt in Hollywood films. I argued that racist conceptions fueled the dominant portrayals of Egyptians as either white or Arab, but rarely black. I used Exodus: Gods and Kings (Exodus) as a case study, finding information on the time period (1300 BCE) to prove that the portrayal of a white Egyptian royal family clashes with known history. I did research on Ancient Egypt to prove that dark-skinned black Africans did rule Egypt at numerous points in history and accounted for a significant portion of its soldiers, civil servants and royalty, at least until the Greek invasion later in Egypt’s history.
Another part of my study was analyzing moviegoer’s thoughts on Exodus and it’s portrayal, analyzing the arguments people used to defend it. While some people resorted to the easy “it’s a movie” argument (which they would probably reject if they saw a black person playing an ancient Greek), some argued that Ancient Egyptians were white. I remember a thread on IMDB’s forums, which no longer exist, where someone presented a link showing proof of Cushite-ruled Egypt. Cushite is a term for those who came from “Kush”, an area located in or near modern-day Sudan (Bennett 499). The term Cushite refers to dark-skinned Africans and is replaced by “Ethiopians” in the King James version of the Bible (“Communications” 683). Instead of checking the link, one poster simply responded that he refused to read that “liberal propaganda”. Now, this person could have Googled “Cushites”, or “Cushite-ruled Egypt” to see that the term isn’t just propaganda.
Although it may be easier to read through a link, it is also easier to ignore a link someone sends you than to read a book or passage that they present in person. The above user chose ignorance when he decided that he simply didn’t want to read any information that might disprove his world view. I can’t just blame this random IMDB user either, this is something many people do that erodes the intellect we’re supposed to possess in this techno-savvy era.
Bennett Jr., Robert A. “Africa and the Biblical Period.” The Harvard Theological Review 64.4 (1971): 483-500. Print.
“Communications.” The William and Mary Quarterly 54.3 (1987): 682-690. Print.