[eDebate] Deven and Dayvon

Josh Branson harobran
Wed Apr 9 18:30:01 CDT 2008

Deven, Dayvon (and other concerned parties) 
I'm going to be brutally honest because I think this needs to be said. I think there have been some good (and depressing points) made in this thread, but there have also been some dumb ones. This ordeal about the clapping/cheering at CEDA falls into the latter category. 
1. It's the nature of competition 
When you're the champ, people come gunning for you. We see this phenomenon in IR with counterbalancing theory, we see it in sports (it's why so many people hate the Yankees, and recently, the Red Sox), and we certainly see it in debate. It's a competitive activity. When one team wins, it comes at the expense of other teams. It's just human instinct that people resent those who beat them. I sincerely doubt that it has anything to do with race. If I recall correctly, when Tristan and I won the NDT, an entire ROOMFUL of people upstairs at the party booed. Was I thrilled with that? Not particularly, but whatever, it comes with the territory. When you try to beat people and are successful at it, people resent you. Maybe people didn't want Northwestern to win again, maybe they just didn't like the two of us, maybe we had beat some of them and they were still pissed, whatever. It happens. Just like I remember when CSU Long Beach beat us pretty soundly in the octos of one tournament, and Klinger/Tarloff came up and offered some fake condolences, but it was obvious that they were pretty thrilled we had lost. Just like I was when they lost. Was this because of some secret US-Chinese racial animosity between Klinger and me? No, it was because we were competitors and it's a competitive activity. 
So guys, my advice is just to act like your the champs and stop whining about the trivial stuff. You were (and are) the reigning national champs going into the NDT; is it really that big of a shock that people wanted you to lose? Maybe they resented you because you had beat them, maybe they were friends with Osborne (who is pretty lovable), maybe they were just plain jealous of you and didn't want the CEDA champs to repeat and claim both titles. Whatever. But I sincerely doubt the people high fiving were thinking "whew thank god the black kids are out of the tournament." Let's give people a little more credit than that. In my mind, some healthy competitive dislike is a sign of respect, not of denigration. Maybe they shouldn't have gloated it in front of you two specifically, but come on that's what happens at the NDT. I'd need about 20 more hands to count the number of people who congratulated Wayne State in my presence after they knocked me out of the NDT. It happens. In fact, if Andy Ellis was there I'm damn sure he would have been happy we lost, after all, he's called me a liar and a semi-racist before because of some argument I made against Fullerton. Big deal. You've got a big national title trophy to comfort you. For us to claim that this is about race is disingenuous. I cannot emphasize enough how much I think this discussion has been overblown. 
2. You reap what you sew. 
When you make debates personal, what do you expect? People do not react well to being labeled as racists. Believe it or not, some of the rich white elite kids really do work their asses off on debate, they really do enjoy the issues, and flying 1/2 way across the country to be forced to defend yourself against direct emotional attacks is not the most pleasant experience. I'm not passing judgment on the substance of Towson's arguments (frankly I don't even know the details), but rather just saying that, regardless of their substantive merit, this style of debate is very very uncomfortable and emotionally draining for the other side. It's only human to kind of resent that. In fact, I understand that one of the classic Louisville/Fullerton et al solvency arguments depends upon exposing and forcing this level of discomfort. I totally understand that strategy, and I can't say with 100% certainty that I wouldn't do the exact same thing if I were in a different racial/socioeconomic position. But discomfort breeds resentment.
If I called (or insinuated) you a bigoted jackass and meant it in a debate, and not only that but based my entire conception of the ballot around the need to reject you personally, I can pretty much guarantee you'd be happy when I lost too. 
Like a quote from a recent post:"Where are the elite schools who craft these bogus areguments against us because they don't want to come to grips with their whiteness." Can you honestly say that you're shocked that people might be a little alienated by statements like these? 
Note that I have no problem with the presence of alternative conceptions of debate. In fact I've posted previously about their value, and I know that I personally learned a decent amount from both the cognitive and emotional difficulty presented by those types of debates. But that doesn't mean that I thought it was fun or enjoyed it at the time. While I respect the Fullerton debaters and the Long Beach debaters that beat me, I can't say that I was rooting for them or that I particularly relished the opportunity to debate them. Does this mean I'm racist? Surely you guys don't view the world that simplistically. 
3. Overextending your argument is damaging to the cause. 
I think (and I know other people who think) that you have some good points. But whining about the trivial stuff is counterproductive (like seriously an all-caps-lock post about how the fact that some team won on a Capitalism Kritik proves that debate is totally doomed? Come on now...) And before you call me an elitist asshole or whatever, I want you to know that this email is a sign of respect for you (about which you may or may not care). Not everyone is gonna like you, especially with your style of debate and the confrontational flair you bring to the activity. It comes with the territory. 
If some wanker wants to cheer when you lose, it doesn't mean that the world is out to get you. You're the national champs. Enjoy it, and congratulations. 
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