From the Mailbag: Racist Loonball Edition

Every so often, I get a letter I just have to share – whether because it’s so eloquent and insightful that I want more people to read it, or because the author deserves to be roundly mocked by as many people as possible. Here’s an example of the latter.

I got this e-mail the other day. It starts out as seemingly thoughtful praise from someone who’s obviously taken the time to read my website; then it abruptly takes a different turn:

Dear Ebon Musings:

Your front page essay is beautifully evocative; thank you. (You might want to change the word “miniscule” to “minuscule,” however.)

Your passage “From the sky at night, our planet is covered by a spiderweb of glowing lights, testament to our ability to invent and innovate….” was particularly thought-provoking. There are places on the planet, semi-continental in scale, where the human population is quite high, yet the face of the land is almost bereft of light. Satellite imagery makes this quite clear. It is very dark there. The inescapable conclusion is that human evolution has not proceeded equally on every continent.

Of course, it’s very “politically incorrect” to notice this fact, as James Watson discovered. But I suppose I can discuss it with you, since you, as the author of the Ninth New Commandment, would find the very concept of “political correctness” to be repugnant.

With all good wishes,

Kevin Alfred Strom.

OK, here’s all you need to know about Kevin Alfred Strom: He’s a neo-Nazi, an anti-Semite, and the former head of a now-defunct white supremacist group called National Vanguard. He’s also served time in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. (If you read his website, which I won’t link to, you’ll find a long screed in which he vehemently asserts his innocence and blames the charges on a vast conspiracy of enemies who’ve persecuted him for no good reason.)

So much for Mr. Strom’s résumé. The only question I’ve got is: What makes this Nazi cretin think I want to be his friend? Seriously, is there anything on my website that might have had even the slightest possibility of giving him the mistaken idea that I have any sympathy whatsoever for his ideas? Or is it just that racists are so desperate to find support for their views that they can delude themselves into seeing it even where it doesn’t exist?

In a way, it almost makes me feel sorry for him. (Note: I said “almost”.) I’d imagine that most racists are deeply miserable and desperately lonely people – and Strom’s child-porn conviction has probably alienated him even from other racists. Reaching out to some random stranger on the internet, in the hope that he’ll be sympathetic to you, is the kind of thing a person might do under those circumstances. But I must admit that, given the circumstances, I enjoy dashing those hopes. I view all racists as beneath contempt, and I have special scorn for the ones, like this one, that lie and distort evolution in the vain hope of finding scientific validation for their bigotry. Nothing pleases me more than the knowledge that Mr. Strom and his kind are a dying breed.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • penn

    The guy doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. If you look at the light pollution map you’ll see that a lot of dark areas are in deserts and rainforests. Northern Canada and the Sahara will probably never be lit up like the Eastern US. And I’m not sure I want to see the day where the Amazon Rainforest is covered in lights.

    Not to mention the obvious fact that evolution is not at all related to the prevalence of artificial light. All humans and in fact all organisms currently living are all equally “evolved” in the fact that we are still alive at this point in history. This is only meaningful way to measure evolution, since evolution is all about survival.

    Also, I hope the guy read Sarah’s post from yesterday. I think it would be good for him how similar members of other groups are to him in their petty hatreds and undeserved feelings of superiority.

  • http://www.dvorkin.com David Dvorkin

    I don’t think they’re a dying breed at all, unfortunately. Sometimes, I suspect that a certain irreducible percentage of mankind will always be stuck in that kind of insanity.

    If that’s the case, then I suspect that they serve an evolutionary purpose for the species as a whole! Perhaps their function is to serve as a negative example for the rest of us.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    The guy doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. If you look at the light pollution map you’ll see that a lot of dark areas are in deserts and rainforests.

    Not to mention that, by his argument, Australia would be among the least evolved continents of all. ;)

  • Katie M

    @ David-I think they ARE a dying breed. Even just sixty years ago, racism was practically an institution (in America and elsewhere), and look at how things have changed. With each generation, fewer and fewer people are racist.

    @ Ebon-maybe you should keep it “miniscule” to spite him :)

  • http://www.dvorkin.com David Dvorkin

    Katie, you’re certainly right about casual, public racism no longer being as acceptable as it used to be. But I don’t know that that indicates any decrease in the hard-core crazies – that irreducible percentage I referred to.

  • Nathaniel

    I don’t know if racism will ever truly disappear. I think there will always be a core group of people who are always suspicious of others unlike. Reading about authoritarians has been both eye opening, and depressing.

  • 2-D Man

    Not to mention that, by his argument, Australia would be among the least evolved continents of all.

    Well, not really, Mr. Stromfront did throw in this little nuance:

    There are places on the planet, semi-continental in scale, where the human population is quite high…[emphasis added]

    Although, by extension of his argument the most populous areas would also be highly evolved, since more evolved creatures reproduce better. Gah! Why am I trying to make sense out of nonsense? We ought to send him a textbook on evolution.
    Maybe what drew him here was the title of Sarah Braasch’s recent post, I Hate You.

  • Valhar2000

    2-D Man, are you aware of any highly populated areas that do not light up on the map Penn linked to? As far as a I can tell, every part of the world where humans accumulated in great numbers produces a lot of light, regardless of the wealth to be found in the general area.

  • jemand

    @Valhar2000, Sub-Saharan Africa actually has quite high population densities, generally higher than the eastern US I believe. However it is quite poor and thus has little light pollution. I am certain that is what Strom was going for, *especially* with his mention of Watson, who got in trouble for racist comments regarding Africa.

  • Bob Carlson

    Perhaps there needs to be a little more reflection on the possibility that anyone who had the misfortune of being in the environment that Strom was when his world-view was forming, would surely have a world-view more like his than the one that they have otherwise. Like everyone else, the man is a product of the interaction of his genes and his environment. He had nothing to do with the genes part, so the question would appear to be about the extent to which he is responsible for the environment he happened to be in at various points in his life. Just remember that if things had been somewhat different following Strom’s initial exposure to Naziism, he might have become the Pope. :)

  • jemand

    ok, I may just have lied, the only ones comparable to the most eastern states that I can tell are Rwanda and Burundi. Nigeria is getting there, but not quite as populous, comparable to the US state of Georgia. Kenya’s population density is comparable to Vermont and Minnesota. The eastern states like Florida, Maryland, are just way more populous than I thought…

    http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/populations/usadensityh.htm and I’ve just been using wikipedia to look up individual African countries, don’t have a list.

  • jemand

    just compare: http://www.na.unep.net/ms_demo2/population/metadata/afpopd00.png

    and http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USA_states_population_density_map.PNG

    and http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/75/71775-004-0870F408.gif

    and it’s kind of obvious that the better correlation with light is relative prosperity rather than population density.

    and… I’m not entirely sure what my purpose here is, but I hadn’t known the exact details of these population density comparisons before and they are interesting to me, so I figure I might as well post.

  • http://www.patrickoden.com Patrick Oden

    I just wanted to note that “miniscule” is a common (and widely used/accepted) variant of “minuscule.”

    Carry on.

  • mack

    Mr. Strom isn’t really worth mocking. The misunderstanding – deliberate or not – of evolution and how evolution works is pathetic. The correlation of two disparate concepts, such as light pollution and evolution is thoughtful, but a sad and desperate kind of cringe-inducing thoughtful.

    Perhaps we can find a way to select against that kind of thinking; memes, too, should be subject to evolution.

    Mack

  • TommyP

    lol what does artificial light have to do with evolution?

  • Katie M

    @ Tommy-apparently, Strom believes that the more lights there are (evidence of technology), the more “evolved” the people must be. Or some crap like that.

  • Staceyjw

    His misunderstanding of evolution is not surprising, seeing as how many states don’t even want to teach it! He probably learned all he knows from a racist book on the topic, which would be biased and incorrect for sure.
    Maybe a little education could go a long way- maybe not!!!
    Racism is stupid, hatred is not helpful. If you MUST dislike groups of people, at least target things they have control over- like their taste in music, clothes, or religion :)

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    The only question I’ve got is: What makes this Nazi cretin think I want to be his friend? Seriously, is there anything on my website that might have had even the slightest possibility of giving him the mistaken idea that I have any sympathy whatsoever for his ideas?

    C’mon, I always thought it was obvious that Daylight Atheism was a front for the white power movement!

    :-)

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    Someone must have told him that atheists love child porn and worship Hitler!

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com/ pendens proditor

    So the most superior race is the one that has the most technological “firsts” in its history? Hmm. Maybe this Chinese fellow is on to something.

    What’s that? He’s not Chinese? Well then what’s he bragging about?

  • Monty
  • http://protostellarclouds.blogspot.com/ Mathew Wilder

    RE: “miniscule” vs. “minuscule”: I wonder how many racists are also Spelling Nazis? *ba dum ching* (Anyone? Anyone? C’mon, not even a slight chuckle? ;-)

  • Zietlos

    Not a chuckle, but you did get a smirk Mathew. :)

    Though I must say, if we rate evolution by light-pollution, does that not make the aliens who live on the Sun the most evolved of us all? :p Or if we limit it to Earth, clearly the southwestern States are unevolved chimps, and Japan seems to be easily far past all of America and Europe in the evolutionary curve.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Patrick Oden “I just wanted to note that ‘miniscule’ is a common (and widely used/accepted) variant of ‘minuscule’”
    And I just wanted to note that MiniScule was the Ministry of School in nineteen eighty-four. I wanted to, but it turned out that I made it up.

  • Alex Weaver

    There are places on the planet, semi-continental in scale, where the human population is quite high, yet the face of the land is almost bereft of light. Satellite imagery makes this quite clear. It is very dark there. The inescapable conclusion is that human evolution has not proceeded equally on every continent.

    Unless he means to imply that some human populations have a mutation that enables bioluminescence…

  • Katie M

    Okay, off-topic: human bioluminescence would be great :)

    Sorry, the geek in me wanted it said.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Katie M “Okay, off-topic: human bioluminescence would be great :)”
    “Would be great”? “Would be”?! We do glow. What would be great is having eyes that are sensitive enough to pick it up.
    In the meantime, there’s always Argyria, which is Smurftastic.

  • Katie M

    How on Earth did I miss that story?

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    You were busy making one of your delicious colloidal silver milkshakes.

  • CSN

    Modusoperandi “In the meantime, there’s always Argyria, which is Smurftastic.”
    Ah great, if this discussion goes all ‘Avatar’ I’m outta here!

    If we’re going to use light pollution as a measure of human advancement, why not toxic emissions or habitat destruction? That would change the picture a bit, probably in a way Strom wouldn’t be so smug about.

    Having lived in the South for a few years now (though about to escape to the Bay Area, at last) the opportunities to shoot down assumed agreement with racism have not been lacking. I think that’s the best thing that can happen to bigots as feeling like they’re in the “in club” is one of their prime motivators, (along with having a convenient scapegoat for life’s problems.)

    Well done to drag the mold out into the Daylight to shrivel up and crumble.

  • CSN

    ^ Obviously whatever measure we use of societal “advancement” is irrelevant to biological evolution or individual potential anyway. Just thought I should make that clearer.

  • Polly

    How can anyone who respects technological development be an anti-semite? The Jews of Germany owned the XX century in terms of physics(especially) and the other hard sciences. Jews are dispropotionately represented among science Nobel Prize winners.

    Many contributions were made by the Gentile Germans and Americans, of course. I’m using a per-capita basis.

    Kevin Strom, you wanna believe in Aryan power, so be it. But, at least be internally consistent.

  • http://kevinalfredstrom.com/ Kevin Alfred Strom

    There’s nothing in my letter that disparages other races and, in fact, you totally mischaracterize me as some kind of “race hater,” which I am not.

    I am simply a man who recognizes the fact that the human races are distinctly unequal, are evolving differently and most likely apart, and who, although I made no particular mention of it in my letter, wishes each of them to have self-determination and freedom. (I have paid a heavy price for my political advocacy of that self-determination, and the false charges laid against me were purely politically motivated. I’ve never alleged a “vast conspiracy of enemies” as you claim I did — it was dirty politics, pure and simple. See the ‘case’ section of my site if want the whole story.)

    Since you have published my friendly private letter to you in so ungentlemanly a manner, along with a screed of rather vile personal attacks against me, perhaps I entertain a vain hope when I hope that you will allow me to respond. I do challenge you to do so.

    Here’s what you wrote in response to my friendly note:

    Assuming this isn’t some kind of bizarre April Fool’s Day prank, I
    find racists to be repugnant, ignorant and beneath contempt.
    Therefore, I have no desire to “discuss” anything of the kind with
    you. You are not welcome on my website or in my inbox. I cordially
    invite you to find a deep, dark hole to rot in, and I encourage you to
    take your lies and your hatred there with you.

    I does seem to me that you have violated several of your own New Commandments, viz.:

    Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

    In all things, strive to cause no harm.

    Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

    Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

    The above commandment would apply to your unjustified and rather emotional dismissal of my simple and rather obvious statement that human evolution has not proceeded equally on all continents. Clearly it hasn’t, otherwise human populations would be indistinguishable, and even a child can distinguish between silhouettes (where no skin color is visible) of the major human races from a considerable distance.

    Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

    We’ll see how you do with this one.

    With all good wishes,

    Kevin Alfred Strom.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    human evolution has not proceeded equally on all continents. Clearly it hasn’t, otherwise human populations would be indistinguishable, and even a child can distinguish between silhouettes (where no skin color is visible) of the major human races from a considerable distance.

    This is only trivially true in the sense that racial characteristics are reflective of miniscule genetic differences. There is in fact greater geneticic variation within racial groupings than between them so it is simply wrong to argue that there is a significant evolutionary path being taken by each.

    Your racism is evident in this statement:

    I am simply a man who recognizes the fact that the human races are distinctly unequal

    Which is a categorical admission that you believe some races to be superior to others. I will uncharitably but I suspect accurately hypothesise that you consider yourself to belong to the favoured one.

  • Katie M

    We are ONE species.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

    Personally, I give everyone the basic respect demanded by humanity, but I withdraw it once they’ve committed themselves to ideals which seek to break up my interracial family.

    Adam is clearly right to excoriate you and your idiocy, and only the fact that he pretty much covered the bases so well keeps me from letting you have it with both barrels too.

    Finally, I wish I could rep the last sentence in Steve’s post. It is exactly to the point.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I confess, I’m surprised that Mr. Strom dared show his face on my website. I’m even more surprised that he’s still laboring under the delusion that I have any desire to be his friend, or that he can mask his disgusting bigotry by cloaking it in simperingly polite language. Mr. Strom, I’ve treated you exactly as you deserve and exactly as your beliefs merit, and I’ll continue to do so.

    For instance: If anyone ever doubted the manifest stupidity of racists, observe how this one contradicts himself in the space of two sentences:

    There’s nothing in my letter that disparages other races…

    I am simply a man who recognizes the fact that the human races are distinctly unequal…

    I fail to see how calling two groups of people “distinctly unequal” isn’t disparaging at least one of them. I’d challenge you to explain this contradiction, Mr. Strom, if I had any interest whatsoever in hearing you try to defend yourself.

    I does seem to me that you have violated several of your own New Commandments…

    It’s amusing that you think you can quote my own writings against me. If it’s my New Ten Commandments you want to discuss, then I’ll point out that there’s one of them you conspicuously failed to quote:

    Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

    This commandment… recognizes that there will always be those who will not respect the rights of others, and states that it is the responsibility of ethical individuals to stand up to such people, to oppose them firmly and steadfastly, and to prevent them from causing harm to others.

    And that’s exactly what I’ve done in this case: stand up to you and your ideas and oppose them steadfastly. Also relevant is this passage explaining the meaning of my First Commandment:

    Those who freely violate it themselves, who do not let empathy deter them from harming others, may be punished in turn without having their own feelings taken into account. A judge about to sentence a convicted criminal to prison is not expected to empathize with the fear and distress experienced by the criminal upon hearing the sentence pronounced.

    A similar principle holds true in this case. Those who dismiss whole sections of the human race as unequal, as less deserving of moral consideration, in turn forfeit their own right to be treated with the respect and consideration that we would normally grant to a fellow human being. This applies to all varieties of racists, sexists, and other verminous bigots.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    On a side note, I’m reminded of reading Jabberwocky when I was younger.

    And he said, raising the vorpal blade,
    “Seeing their inferiority and our superiority,
    Them negros give me schadenfreude.”*

    My favourite characters were the verminous bigots.

    * It should be noted that I have no idea how to pronounce “schadenfreude”. Nor do I care to find out. My way is funnier. MOnounciation.)


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