Saturday, November 28, 2020

In Which Rod Dreher Springs A Kafka Trap on Himself

Preface: I really like Rod Dreher. I agree with about 85% of what he says and I've muddled my way through most of two of his books - The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies. I recommend them both, though I find their prescriptions altogether too passive. Those are topics for another day. I'm giving this preface in case Rod stumbles upon this blog post to let him know I'm a fan. 

On with the show.

Writing over at The American Conservative, his blog post from yesterday caught my eye. It deals with the current transgender mania and how sex role expectations have changed. He shows graphics from a feminist Twitter account of women of yesterday raising a family and women of today raising glasses of white wine while dragging rollaboard luggage behind them. "Hurrah for freedom! Down with the drudgery of expectations!" say the images. Here's what Rod says.

So, what unites these examples of the contemporary spirit? A rejection of the familistic ideal, which entails traditional sex roles.

Before we get started here, can we please put aside the idea that I believe that women should be confined to maternal roles, and not allowed to pursue careers? I don’t believe that. But we can’t pretend that there isn’t a severe social cost to be paid for abandoning natural sex roles.

Emphasis mine because I wanted to emphasize it.

What Rod is doing here is springing a Kafka Trap on himself. I didn't understand what one was until I read this thread on Twitter. A Kafka Trap is best shown by this example:

"You're a racist!"

"No, I'm not"

"That's just what a racist would say."

The other person defines you and then traps you into the definition when you deny it. A good response might be this:

"You're a racist!"

"No, I'm not"

"That's just what a racist would say."

"It's also what an innocent person would say."

I didn't know the term Kafka Trap before, but I have heard examples of it over and over again from people like Rod. It commonly happens in conjunction with expressions of concern over black illegitimacy or murder rates.

"It's really sad that so many black children grow up without fathers. Now before I go farther, let me assure you I don't think that all black children are fatherless or that some black mothers don't do heroic jobs and produce wonderful young adults ..."

What drives me batty is that the speaker is anticipating the trap and that reinforces its use. Instead, I'd like to see it left alone and if someone else tries to spring it, the response should be very aggressive. Like so.

"It's really sad that so many black children grow up without fathers."

"So, are you saying that black mothers aren't any good?"

"No, I said it's sad that a lot of them don't have dads. Are you deaf? Or is it that you think you can read minds? Here, what number am I thinking of right now? It's between 1 and 100. WRONG. So you can't read minds, can you? Maybe you ought to try listening more and not inserting words into people's mouths, you jerk."


Note that in this exchange, I'm dealing with what was really said and they are not. I didn't say blacks are inferior. They did suggest that they could read my mind.

The Kafka Trap is destined to fail in the face of a solid counterattack because it's a hollow fraud. It's the act of someone telling you what you meant. That's being a jerk in my book. If they're going to accuse you of sexism / racism / The Phobia Flavor Of The Month, that's an act of aggression against you. You might as well give them a dose of that medicine and see how they like the taste of it.

Hint: It tastes yucky.


Foxfier said...

So what you're saying is---
(To quote an infamously bad attempt to attack Jordon Peterson by expecting him to go along with an abject lie about himself.)

One Brow said...

This post misses the point about how the culture we were raised in affects of all. The real way to avoid the 'Kafka trap' is to respond, "Well, isn't everyone?".

K T Cat said...

No, we aren't all like that. That's the point. Unless you're able to read minds, you can't say that about anyone.

Mostly Nothing said...

I think I would go with something like
"Why do you think that?"

One Brow said...

K T Cat,

We're not all human? We didn't have our responses and opinions shaped by the images of the various books, cartoons, movies, etc. produced in our culture?