Brad R. Torgersen’s Final Word on RaceFail

Hello, RaceFailers.

(reaches hand to chest and silently rubs chevrons)

Get your ass in the front-leaning rest right now.

This will be my final fucking word on this whole RaceFail clusterfuck.

If there is one thing the military does very well, it’s letting you know you are nothing special. You show up at Basic Training and from Hour Zero they drill it into you: you are nothing special, your civilian experiences are nothing special, your personal pains and hurts are nothing special, and any chips you carry on your shoulder are going to be knocked off, smashed to the ground, and stomped flat.

Nobody gets a pass. Not for gender. Not for race. All are expected to perform to standard and meet the grade. Those who can’t or won’t get over themselves and acclimatize to the mission-first mentality, get their asses smoked via corrective PT, or are washed out because the last thing the military needs are a bunch of Special Cases walking around thinking the entire military needs to make an exception for them because they’re Special.

I’ve never seen an organization strip away a person’s pretensions and posturing as quickly or as efficiently as the military. I’ve also never seen an organization more efficiently strip away the onion layers of race. People stop identifying with their skin color or ethnicity, and start identifying with that uniform on their back and the soldiers they bunk with — regardless of what those soldiers look like or where they’re from. Which is probably why virtually any current or prior servicemember can walk up to and shake the hand of any other current or prior servicemember — anywhere in the nation, regardless of race or gender — and there is a bond.

Which is not to say that the military dissolves a person’s personal experiences into nothingness. I’ve not really seen that happen. What the military does do — so far as I am able to discern — is bust it into your head that no matter what you’ve gone through in life, and no matter how badly life has hurt you, you’re still just the same as the soldier — or sailor, or airman, or marine — next to you. You both eat the same chow, wear the same uniform, shit and piss in the same latrine/head, and salute the same flag.

And when it comes right down to it, you both bleed the same color red. Bullets and IED’s don’t give a fuck if you’re black, white, asian, hispanic, etc. Everyone gets killed dead equally.

This has been the message delivered from top to bottom the entire time I’ve been in the service, which is coming up on ten years here pretty quickly. It has been delivered by my NCO’s, the majority of which have been People of Color and/or female. It has been delivered by the officers appointed over us, again the majority of which have been People of Color and/or female. None of us are ever given a free pass for personal pain. But then again, I’ve not met too many servicemembers who expect to be given a pass for personal pain.

Transcending personal pain — getting over yourself — for the sake of the mission, the group, and the goal, is the hallmark of what it is to be a soldier.

So I hope you’ll forgive me if I’ve run out of patience for people who whine. People who think they are Special. People who think they get a free pass because of their pain. People who expect other people to bend over backwards or tie themselves into a knot. There has been an ass-load of that bullshit throughout the entire stupid saga of RaceFail, going back to the beginning of the year.

I’m not much for whining. I’m not much for people wearing their pain on their sleeves and expecting exceptions. That’s just weak. I don’t care who I offend by saying this, that’s just WEAK. You are WEAK for expecting the universe to cater to you and your personal pain. Be it racial or otherwise. That’s not the universe’s job. The universe has better things to do than stop and wait on your navel-gazing ass. Your mission — should you have the intestinal fortitude to accept it — is to suck it up and drive on.

So I guess I’m just a poor backward dinosaur in the midst of all this “progressive” bullshit about unpacking the knapsack and bingo cards and privelege and having to tie myself into a bow tie every time some geeky PoC or a sycophantist ‘ally’ on the InterToob gets his or her undies in a wad — because myself or someone else has failed to do enough genuflecting before the altar of racial pain.

Here’s my “color blind” theory of race:

We all piss yellow, we all shit brown, we all bleed red. From dust we came, and to dust we shall return. Mother Earth doesn’t give a fuck what we looked like or what our special pain was, when we return to her bosom. God won’t give a fuck what we looked like or what our special pain was either, when we stand before Him at Judgement. You’re either standing tall, or you’re not standing at all. Think God will give you a pass and listen to you whine when you try to make excuses for all the shit you’ve done in your life? What about all the shit you didn’t do because you were too busy staring at your own navel and expecting the rest of the human race to do likewise?

We all piss yellow, we all shit brown, we bleed red. f you can’t dig the fundamental truth of that — if you can’t get over yourself long enough to dig it — I don’t even want to speak to or deal with you any more. You are not worth my time. I have nothing to prove to you, and I don’t think anyone else has anything to prove to you either. You are your own problem to solve, not mine. Failure on your part to recognize that fact is also not my problem.

Recover, RaceFailers. Carry on.


  1. “You are your own problem to solve”


    I had a teacher, early in high school, a tough old bastard, who once told us “anything that happens to you is your own fault” — and then successfully argued that point with us for the rest of the class. To pick an extreme example – if you get hit by a meteorite while walking down the street, it’s your fault for walking down that street at that particular time. We all can make choices.

    John W. Campbell used to say that the person who makes slavery possible is the slave — the choice may be to die fighting, but it’s a choice. We may not be able to choose our most-desired outcome — else I’d choose to be independently wealthy and relaxing on a tropical beach right now — but we can choose actions that mitigate against the least-desired outcomes. The passengers of Flight 93 made such a choice.

    Will getting to a particular point be tougher for some people than for others? Of course it will; life isn’t fair. Anyone who insists that it should be had better think seriously about the consequences of giving somebody else the necessary power to “make it fair” — and then think seriously about how long before that power corrupts. (However, just because life isn’t fair is no reason to kick someone when they’re down; we should try to help our fellows back up – but that doesn’t mean anyone has the right to demand we do so.)

    A friend of mine used to drive trucks for a tanker company. He’d just come off a long haul when the company got word that another of their trucks had been in an accident (a fiery one, nasty), and they needed my friend to do yet another run to complete the delivery. He was exhausted, had been out of town for days and wanted to spend time with his family, so he declined. “You don’t understand, you don’t have a choice,” his boss said. “No, you don’t understand,” said my friend, “I always have a choice,” and he quit.

    It all comes down to attitude, which again is a choice. Or as Rush (the rock group, not Limbaugh) puts it: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”

  2. Great comments, Alastair.

    Someone else e-mailed me this morning, and spoke about the soul-rot of entitlement.

    I think he nailed it. I have a deep-seated problem with the entitlement mentality, which always thinks the world and other people, “owe.”

    Ergo, you owe me this, you owe me that, you owe me special consideration because I’m this or that, or have been a victim, etc.

    Which is not to say I won’t offer something extra when I notice that someone truly has had a hard time or is in a bad spot. I’m not deaf or callous to the trials and hardships of the world. But as you noted so well, there is huge difference between being charitable towards your fellow man, and having such “charity” demanded or extorted out of you.

    I just hate it when anyone looks at their own life and thinks that the rest of humanity owes them or should put them on a special pedestal because of what they’ve gone through. Because the truth is these people very often haven’t had it half as bad as some other person somewhere else in the world — someone far wiser, more humble, and with greater dignity than the whiners could ever fathom.

    I had a SSG when I did BNCOC last year who was a good example. Man was Ugandan and had grown up there. He’d then lived in Germany for awhile, before finally coming to the U.S. and joining the Army of all things. This man had seen friends and family murdered in tribal genocide. He’d seen internicine tribal strife at its absolute worst. And he loved the U.S. and had a very humble POV that was not about playing the race card or the My Life Has Been Harder Than Yours card. Somewhere along the way, he’d picked up on the truth that nobody owed him anything. He was his own pilot on the sea of life. He owned himself. And he didn’t hold what he’d been through over the heads of anyone else. IMHO this SSG was awesome.

  3. Equality is not a pedestal, nor is it special treatment. The fact that things have been so unequal for so long make us see the inequality as the status quo and any attempt to fix it as the creation of inequality, which is not the case.

    In your final comment to me on the other post, you assured me that you were considering what I’d said seriously, which was really the main thing I’d hoped for. However here, as well as elsewhere in that comment, you seem to be saying you don’t feel that you need to think about this stuff, end of story. You’ve also implied that, as someone who disagrees with you, I’m a geeky sycophant with my panties in a wad. Doesn’t bother me so much expect that you can’t say that and then also say you respect me or my ideas.

    I agree that there’s not much else to say, but I do want to point out one more inconsistency – in your other response, you said “It is not a sin to ignore an opinion with which you disagree,” but I believe I saw you express that as a significant portion of your dissatisfaction with the discussion that took place on livejournal: you felt that the anti-racism crowd was ignoring what you said simply because you disagreed with them, and not considering dissenting points of view. In their case, I would say they did not ignore your statements but rather had already come across them elsewhere throughout their lives, considered them, and rejected them.

    I also think that part of the reason why many of us allies feel like the disagreements are not irreconcilable, are not like different religions, is that many of us remember thinking and feeling the same way that you do at some point in our lives, until realization or education made us begin to understand that we’d been deceiving ourselves.

    In this case, however, I feel like I’ve made my best effort to get my ideas across and that further attempts to make you take them, and me, seriously would just be self-loathing.

  4. Laura,

    In what way have I expressed my support for inequality?

    Perhaps I should have prefaced my Final Word by saying I wasn’t addressing you in particular. It was more of a general statement to the InterToob at large, due to the number of hits I was getting.

    In their case, I would say they did not ignore your statements but rather had already come across them elsewhere throughout their lives, considered them, and rejected them.

    That’s largely true for me, too. In our exchanges it appears that you’ve trusted in the idea that my problem is simply one of ignorance, and that with enough well-worded “education” I would see the light, as it were. But honestly, it’s not like I’ve not been thinking about a lot of this for years. And yes, I took a lot of time to read your words and consider what was said. I simply came back to my realization that I was operating on a fundamentally different paradigm, that I did not think my paradigm was in any way wrong, just because yours was different and was working for you, and that while both of us were aiming for the same target — an end to racism by whites against PoC — a lot of the processes and assumptions we were employing were so fundamentally different as to make our two viewpoints largely irreconcilable.

    Again, if the new racial discourse is working for you, then great for you. What I resent is the base-line assumption — by people using the new racial language — that their way is the Evolved and Correct way, and that all WP who don’t automatically accept or adopt the new racial discourse are guilty of racism and ignorance.

    At the very root of it, my question for you has to be: who appointed you arbiter of my racial conscience?

    Since the answer is, nobody, then I must reject the new racial language and discourse.

    Yes, I believe you’ve made your best effort. And I do appreciate it. I just can’t in good consience go to the place where you seem to have gone. I am too much of an individualist and I am too opposed to the entitlement mindset. Even if I could convince my fingers to type the words you’d want me to type in order for it to appear that I’ve hade a Come-To-The-New-Racial-Jesus moment, it would be a lie. And I’m not going to lie or pretend, just to satisfy the new anti-racists.

    I’d rather live with some people calling me racist, than mouth empty words on a screen just to appease them, and know I was telling an untruth in my heart. It would be like me throwing down the religion I have embraced in my heart and adopting the language and outward trappings of some other religion — just to go with the crowd and avoid trouble — all the while knowing I was being a fraud underneath.

    Again, I appreciate your effort because I respect effort. I have not agreed with you, but that doesn’t mean your effort was wasted or meaningless. It just means we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

  5. After months and months of reading about various manifestations of RaceFail – and even longer trying to articulate my own feelings on the matter – thank you, THANK YOU for this post!

  6. Happy to oblige, Chris. I too have been thinking for months about RaceFail, why it bugged me so much, and so forth. Things finally came into focus last weekend, so I pounded out my thoughts as quickly as I could, before the focus drifted.

  7. I appreciate your comments and your courage in sharing them. I just wrote a post to express similar frustrations with racial victimhood, and came upon your post in my research. I’m nervous that people in my ordinary life will find my post and come down on me hard. I could even be fired for expressing these views. You may not find other areas of agreement between us . . . I’m an animist and artist, a different kind of conservative who believes in environmental conservation, hard work, god, friendship and kindness.

    Maybe I should stick to writing about animism and you should stick to writing about sci fi, but then we wouldn’t be telling the truth, would we?
    Best wishes,

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