After the second night of fires in Minneapolis I engaged a Twitter post by questioning whether the author intended to say that the protesters were justified in burning small businesses, neighborhood grocery stores, places of employment. I was quickly reigned in with the going come-back du jour: Do you value property or human life?
These six words kept mainstream Minneapolitans and politicians suspended in inaction while the five mile stretch of Lake Street burned from May 26th to Saturday the 30th when the National Guard was let into the city and shut down the evening arsonists.
I pressed further with an attempt to perhaps weigh out some of the tradeoffs at hand; tradeoffs that were of great expense to the minority community. Instead of a conversation, I was told: Give it a rest, Karen.
Luckily for me, a few days later my Dictionary.com feed explained the term. Karen is a pejorative slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors. I was excited to be brought up to date on the slang, and got back to my accuser.
The Atlantic ran in depth look at the use of the term. Here is one specialist’s clarification:
Their defining essence is “entitlement, selfishness, a desire to complain,” according to Heather Suzanne Woods, a meme researcher and professor at Kansas State University. A Karen “demands the world exist according to her standards with little regard for others, and she is willing to risk or demean others to achieve her ends.
Let’s think about those terms: entitled, selfish, and a complainer. Is it just me or does this pretty well frame up a grudge against anybody on the outside that is getting some benefit? Let’s try a couple of examples.
Welfare recipients have been accused of acting entitled to their benefits, selfish for not getting a job and caring for themselves, and complaining that they need more. Or, the white male wage earner feels entitled to his job, selfish for keeping his paycheck all to himself and constantly complaining he is supporting everyone else. Or the civil servant is entitled for their extensive benefit package, selfish for living off the taxpayers, and constantly complaining that they are taken advantage of as they could earn way more in the private sector.
So you see, it’s not about Karen at all. It is all about which group you are in and what the others feel about what you get in contrast to what they get. To understand the dynamics, and this is important, you must understand the groups.
Which brings me to a challenge that Tyler Cowen just upped in his post What is the future of the intellectual right.?
If you are on the Left, note that it does not suffice to dislike the Right, you have to dislike most parts of the Left as well (why is that? Can you model this?).
For the last fifty years the left has been comprised of one issue activists. They seem unable to balance through trade-offs, as this in some way would defeat or dilute the cause. There was no interest in understanding the devastation of the fires, I was Karen for suggesting as much. George Floyd had died, and property damage was nada, not one consideration, of absolutely no significance, in comparison to his life.
Yet 240 people have been shot, 13 killed, in Minneapolis since May 25th. Do you know their names? Neither do I. Because it was not about life at all. It was about the cause of police violence against minorities.
And this is where the left is fracturing. The black community in Minneapolis does not seem to be interested in anyone except the black community. I just caught a term: Linden Hills (posh Minneapolis neighborhood) Liberals, and wasn’t meant in a supportive manner. The BLM yard signs just aren’t enough anymore.
The white urban liberals thought they were supporting the minority protesters while the city burned. It was when they started finding laundry baskets of wood dowsed in accellernets tucked under bushes in their allies, that it occurred to them that arsonists were burning the city, not enraged-beyond-grief marchers. These folks seem to have gone quiet in face of the defund the police movement.
The one-issue-torch is causing all sorts of sub-groups under the left’s umbrella. Claims of holding the trump cause is getting impractical, conflicting, and churning out a new vocabulary of name calling. But they might as well just say it for what it is: you don’t support my group’s objectives, so you are selfish, entitled and a complainer. I’ll call you Karen.