Many folks, especially in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, have found themselves faced with people who insist, “You’re injecting race into this” or “By telling me I’m privileged, you’re exemplifying the exact prejudice you’re decrying” or “This isn’t about race; it’s about gun laws.” Engaging these kinds of claims is utterly exhausting, as it locks you into the Catch-22 from Proverbs: “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (26:4-5). What’s one to do? One stress-relieving option is satire, and so I offer our readers this entertaining but dead serious link to the guide “Derailing for Dummies.”
It is a treasure-trove of rhetorical techniques for privileged people who find themselves debating someone from a marginalized group:
They might be a person of color or a queer person. Maybe they’re a woman, or a person with disability. They could even be a trans person or a sex worker. The point is they’re trying to tell you they know better than you about their issues and you know that’s just plain wrong. How could you be wrong?
This website will teach you the tried-and-true ways of derailing almost any conversation in which you feel yourself unfairly accused of perpetuating oppression.
There’s the “You’re Arguing with Opinions, Not Fact”:
If you really want to excel as a privileged person you need to learn to value data, statistics, research studies and empirical evidence above all things, but especially above personal experiences. You can pretend you are oblivious to the fact most studies have been carried out by privileged people and therefore carry inherent biases, and insist that the marginalized person produce “Evidence” of what they‘re claiming. Their experience does not count as evidence, for it is subjective and therefore worthless.
Or the “If You Won’t Educate Me, How Can I Learn”:
By insisting you can only learn if they right then and there sacrifice further hours of time going over the same ground they have so often in the past, you may also make them give up and go away altogether, enabling you to win by default. But further, you give the impression that you really want to learn, but they’re holding you back! That’s right, using this tactic you can suggest that full understanding is what you crave – you want to be a better, more connected and compassionate person – but it’s not your fault! Nobody ever gave you the education! And now that someone is here who is so obviously qualified, they’re denying you your privilege given right to have everything you want handed to you on a platter!
Or the good old fashioned “You’re Just As Bad As They Are!”:
Because they’re angry about the treatment they undergo and because they are aggressive and persistent in wanting to see change happen, you can target this behavior (remembering that it is unseemly for marginalized people – they’re supposed to set an example at all times by being humble and long-suffering) by suggesting it puts them on a par with the people and system that stigmatize ostracize and target them every second of every day of their lives. This also suggests that reacting to such discrimination is totally unreasonable and out of proportion (they should just take their knocks!) and that has the benefit of indicating your ignorance to just how pervasive and constant this discrimination truly is.