The Cat is Out of the Box
One might say that I have become fascinated with Erwin Schrödinger and his infamous cat. I’ve certainly written about them enough in recent weeks to justify such an observation. For those who aren’t aware of the significance, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment pertaining to a problem with applying quantum mechanics. Schrödinger proposed that if a cat were placed into a sealed box containing a radio active particle within a vial that could be broken at any time, the cat could be considered to be both dead and alive at the same time by any person outside the box. Only by opening the box could that person know the truth about the cat.
Schrödinger’s cat has been substituted by others with a rapist and I have added that the woman observing the rapist could be considered Schrödinger’s sexist. It works like this, A woman walking down an alley at night sees a strange man in the alley. She immediately becomes concerned for her safety and fears that he might rape her. The man is Schrödinger’s rapist, she has no way of knowing whether he is or isn’t a rapist so he becomes both in her mind. If she would not react in this same manner upon seeing a strange woman, she is a sexist.
Schrödinger’s rapist is an adaptation of Schrödinger’s cat often attributed to a female writer calling herself Phaedra Starling. Another adaptation can be referred to as Schrödinger’s racist or Schrödinger’s mugger. This is the idea that a White person might be fearful of a Black person encountered on the street. The mugger would be the Black person; the racist would be the White person.
In either case, if the racist or the sexist is fearful and thinks it is necessary to take precautionary steps to protect themselves (provided they don’t attack the rapist or mugger), I don’t really have much of a problem with this. Better safe than sorry. On the other hand they are no less a sexist or racist because they are acting from a sexist or racist perspective. The actions are based on prejudice and stereotype.
I bring this up because I have seen several article over the last few days concerning an author named John Derbyshire who apparently wrote an article for Taki’s Magazine that many consider to be racist and for which he was fired from his position at the National Review. The article is a sort of primer for use by parents of White children to teach them how not to become the victim of Blacks. After identifying what he considers to be differences between Blacks and Whites, he advises the following:
“(10a)Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.” – Taki’s Magazine
The article goes on, but that’s more than enough to make my point. I’m not going to argue whether or not his statements are justified or whether his advice is prudent. Others have attempted such justifications. I am only going to point out that he is the perfect example of Schrödinger’s racist and he is speaking to other Schrödinger’s racists. Basically he is telling Whites to act as though their fears of Blacks are justified.
What I am going to say is that whether or not this advice is justifiable or prudent, it is racist. It is based on prejudice and stereotype.
There are better ways to instruct children on personal safety. The race and/or sex of a stranger shouldn’t matter. Children can simply be told not to walk into dark alleys at night. They can be taught to walk in pairs or small groups. They can be taught about gang attire, gang signs, graffiti, etc. and to avoid any person dressed in that manner or any place with lots of graffiti. If a neighborhood is burned out or abandoned, they should be wary of all the people they see, not just Blacks, or Hispanics, or men. Whites can be dangerous too, so can women. Teaching children only to fear Blacks, or only to fear men can provide a false sense of security making them more vulnerable in certain circumstances.
There is no room in society for fear based on prejudice and stereotype. It is hateful. It is dangerous. It is divisive. It is destructive. It should not be tolerated, justified, or promoted. If we kill off Schrödinger’s racist and Schrödinger’s sexist, Schrödinger’s rapist and Schrödinger’s mugger will cease to exist. Perhaps then, Schrödinger’s cat will be free to live or rest in peace.