In Defense of Jack Waller: Welfare is a Personal Responsibility

Joonsoo Yi:

In reaction to Mr. Waller’s recent article suggesting that the BME and the Women’s Officers position in YUSU should be abolished, many people have called him out not on the arguments he had constructed defending his case for a policy revision, but on the basis of irrational personal attacks intended to create problems that were never there, such as attacking him on the charge of racism and sexism.

To recapitulate Mr. Waller’s case: 1) The BME Officers position should be abolished on the basis  that it is redundant and that it actually incites division, instead of inclusion and 2) the Women’s Officers have been misusing their responsibilities by creating controversies and prioritizing putting forward their own personal agendas. His proposal is that in place of these positions, there should be two welfare officers: one male and one female.

I am inclined to agree with his proposal, though I do not necessarily think that redundancy equates to elimination. The actual components of YUSU, where its elected positions are concerned, are not something I am concerned with, and I do not think the elimination of the said positions would make much of a difference, if any.

What I am concerned with is the general mentality of the people attacking Mr. Waller’s proposal, accusing him of sexism and racism. As Mr. Waller points out in his articles, if the goal is an inclusive society, these people’s actions reflect an opposite, perhaps personal, aim. Additionally, I believe that welfare, to a very large extent, is a personal responsibility. Welfare Officers’ positions and policies such as Safe Space and No Platform mean absolutely nothing if the people that they aim to protect continue to victimize themselves, delude themselves with lies by twisting people’s words, and ultimately make very little effort to improve themselves as individuals and accept themselves for who they are. So, this is the case of psychology where lack of confidence (as a result of not being comfortable with their own identities) leads to depression and cynicism of other people, and coping with that by embracing the notion that “Everyone’s out to get me. They’re all assholes. I’m always right. They’re always wrong”.

  1. Victimization: This is largely a racial issue, and less so have to do with sexual orientation. It is not uncommon to see that when people move to a different country, they tend to only socialize with people who share the same cultural backgrounds. This is not strictly a language issue, because many Americans in the UK (especially in London, where there is a larger American presence) tend to only socialize with other Americans as well. Consequently, this is a matter of people not being able to adapt to new environments (which is fine), but once they begin to victimize themselves by claiming that the people in the country they moved to aren’t nice, and that they’re not nice because they are racists, it no longer becomes an issue which can be addressed at an institutional level. However, there is a value in having societies such as the ISA, and the International Officers’ positions, because they make foreign students realize that they are not the only foreign students on campus, and that others are undergoing the same trouble of having to adapt to a new environment. However, as Mr. Waller points out, the BME positions are inherently divisive by being redundant in the sense that the extra-labeling creates seclusion, rather than inclusion, and I would add that it almost encourages self-victimization, the deluded notion that all white British people are racists.
  2. Delusion: Many people who have reacted to Mr. Waller’s article in a negative way, have done so by making unfounded claims that he is a sexist and a racist. That, in 30 words, is an example of delusion. By twisting and deliberately misconstruing his words, his policy proposal based on rational thought and logical reasoning becomes a racist and a sexist one. And if they happen to concede that such accusations were unfounded, they begin to claim that he has no say in the matter as he is a white male.
  3. Self-Improvement: The assumption that the radical feminists swear by is the notion that the vast majority of people in the UK (and the United States) are racist, sexist, and homophobic. And since this is not the case, their assumption is a false one, based on (1) victimization and (2) delusion. But, the POTUS is black, the leading contender to be the next POTUS is a female, and a gay man just won an Oscar. Hence, there are good reasons to think that the reason for falling into the trap of this false assumption is lack of confidence. The United Kingdom is one of the most, if not the most, open and embracing countries in the world. It is not its policies that reflect this necessarily, but the general attitude of the people, who are very nice. In York, vast majority of the people, especially among students, do not see being gay as an issue, and incidents of actual racism and sexism are very rare. If this is the case, then the only reason for believing that there is an institutionalized racism, sexism and homophobia in York is that the person holding such a belief perceives it to be so. Consequently, this is again a personal issue, which leads to unwarranted name-calling, and the “us vs them” mentality where anyone who disagrees with them even slightly must be a racist, sexist and a homophobe. This makes one wonder if people like President Obama and Hilary Clinton could have gotten to where they are now today if they continued to victimize themselves, and believed that they would never succeed because they are not a white male, instead of actually improving on themselves, accepting themselves for who they are and work harder to be better than everyone else. However, this is not the case with the people who attacked Mr. Waller. They are not comfortable with being gay, they are not comfortable with being a woman, and they are not comfortable with being an ethnic minority in the United Kingdom, when nobody else thinks it is an issue.  So, they continue to believe the notion that they are being discriminated against by everyone, and that people are sexist, homophobic and racist.

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