[eDebate] Right, *Russia* is at the core of everything

JP Lacy lacyjp
Fri Apr 25 20:44:11 CDT 2008


Honestly, I don't disagree at all that the debate community could vastly 
improve its research about race and racism.

But, when you write thing like "[this is not] an attack on anybody 
personally", but "[its] impossible for ... [KU's] ... alt to be taken 
more out of context," how many allies do you hope to gain?

While you may be right that "Kansas got crossed up," why do you need to 
preface that with "your cards were out of context?"

"Out of context" is the next most serious ethical challenge to 
"fabrication."

Do you really think Kansas intentionally distorted the meaning of 
evidence in the final round of a National Championship? [Of course you 
didn't, what you meant was that the community is largely 
under-researched in a vitally important area.]

I've said before that "trash talk" about Towson diminishes their 
achievement in winning the National Championship.

So does accusing their opponents of cheating.

--JP Lacy
lacyjp at wfu.edu




Tom Meagher wrote:
> I really should not be posting to eDebate but can't help myself.
>
> I debated in high school, and this is the sixth spring in a row I've 
> considered returning to debate in some capacity. I miss it. I miss it 
> painfully, as so many former debaters do. But each time I think about 
> coming back, I actually have to do the research - talk to old friends, 
> check out case lists, eDebate, et cetera, and see what debaters are 
> talking about.
>
> So yeah, ridiculous though it may be, I've been following eDebate a 
> little over the last month, watched CEDA finals, scoured case lists. 
> I'll set as many of my opinions aside as possible to focus on the one 
> issue that is abundantly clear:
>
> The debate community does a terrible job of researching racism.
>
> I understood why when I would make debates about issues related to 
> racism in high school rounds in 2000-2002 the other team only had 
> cards from law reviews. Lexis-nexis + a lot of lawyers and people on 
> the legal track in the community. Same reason most of the cards I cut 
> were from law reviews, especially since it was pretty hard for me to 
> access research libraries at the time. But then I went to college, and 
> discovered its limitless research potential. I spent the summer after 
> high school excitedly using a research university's resources for the 
> first time, and quickly discovered that I didn't care much about the 
> treaties topic, especially when my research assignment was CO2 Good.
>
> And then TWO of the coaches on my top-ranked college squad told me to 
> abandon my plans to make Ethnic Studies my major. And after 50 hours a 
> week of CO2 Good for the next five weeks, I decided I'd rather not owe 
> the squad anything more, and quit before going to a tournament. Debate 
> was just not good for my academic pursuits, and as I stayed close to 
> it as a dedicated high school coach for two years, this became even 
> clearer. I'm not saying I could not have found a good setup in debate. 
> There was a year in there where I'd convinced myself my life would 
> have been pretty good if I'd reached out to Fullerton and gone there. 
> But it's basically undeniable that I learned a hell of a lot more 
> about racism, colonialism, and a myriad of other issues by being a 
> hard-working student and independent researcher in an Ethnic Studies 
> department. And I'll go toe-to-toe with any member of this community 
> on the value of that education, so if you want to defend your legal 
> studies, area studies, political science or postmodern literary or 
> philosophical studies against me in front of any damn critic in this 
> community, I'm game.
>
> I look at Calum's arguments for the Russia topic. Russia is 
> foundational. Great argument. But can you even produce a decent 
> argument that the history of European colonialism since 1455 is not at 
> the core of US-Russia relations, and was not the engine of the entire 
> Cold War? Perhaps you'd like to engage that debate, but have you 
> actually researched it? Not to mention that global coloniality has 
> dictated the course of agriculture, health care, education, arms 
> control, genetic engineering, and, of course, reparations.
>
> I'm tempted to make these arguments here. But really, I'd much rather 
> that the debaters following this topic discussion ask themselves 
> whether they've done any substantial research on the topic of 
> coloniality. And by substaintial research, I do not mean asking the 
> scholars wedded to the disciplines that have emerged as technologies 
> of coloniality what they think of racism. As long as debaters are 
> almost entirely reading from legal studies, poli sci, area studies and 
> IR, and Eurocentric philosophy (including the 'post-colonial studies' 
> that largely divorces itself from centuries of decolonial scholarship 
> and theory in order to appropriate Continental Philosophy), they are 
> not going to be able to adequately address questions of racism. 
> Period. If you want to take this as cause to research, go ahead. If 
> you want to backchannel me for research suggestions, I pledge to go 
> out of my way to assist and provide extensive bibliographies and 
> support. But I'm not going to post a list of articles to serve as a 
> strawperson (given the origins of the term, strawman really is a more 
> accurate term, but that's a different though related discussion) for 
> the right-wing vanguard. Feel free to try to change my mind.
>
> I am genuinely curious if Calum is willing to make the (correct) 
> argument that the Soviet Union profoundly affected the US's racial 
> politics and practices without also acknowledging that the US's racial 
> politics and the period of global coloniality going back to 1455 are 
> the only historical phenomenon that could possibly have caused the 
> Cold War. Are the multitude of debaters who make 'capitalism' 
> arguments unaware of a) the historical period that created the 
> phenomenon of capitalism, b) the global division of labor that served 
> as a prerequisite for it, and c) the intellectual history of discourse 
> on capitalism? I think the answer to these question is that they are 
> not by and large unaware, but they have been exposed primarily to 
> paradigms that preclude an actual examination.
>
> Watching the final round of CEDA online was encouraging and 
> disheartening. Please allow me to make an observation about the two 
> main authors used in this debate as a comment on phenomena in the 
> debate community. Please, try to see what I am saying as a response to 
> the state of the debate community and not as a response to the 
> individual teams or squads, who are both extremely talented and 
> hardworking and had their reasons for choosing these arguments.
>
> Let me first address Towson use of Charles Mills' arguments from the 
> Racial Contract. This is indeed a valuable piece of scholarship, and 
> it has inspired much discussion. Let me relate the main argument 
> against it that I am familiar with. Mills self-consciously adapted his 
> arguments - which of course draws heavily from the lineage of 
> decolonial theory and, especially for Mills, Caribbean thought - for 
> Eurocentric audiences. Focusing on the concept of the Social Contract 
> was a move related to legitimacy, and a close reading of the texts 
> makes clear how his arguments are filtered and somewhat altered by his 
> attempt to secure relevance to particular intellectual communities. 
> Towson focuses on Mills' concept of the White Aesthetic, which for 
> strategic purposes makes a great deal of sense. But "the White 
> Aesthetic" is only a particular formulation of a concept that is 
> widespread in decolonial theory, which is that the categories of 
> thought, intellectual traditions, political insitutions, and even 
> basic human ability to perceive the world with the senses are 
> profoundly impacted by the completely unprecedented phenomenon of 
> global coloniality (this phenomenon emerged in 1455 with the papal 
> decree and Portugal's initial foray into African slavery, became the 
> first truly global human phenomenon in 1492, and has shaped every 
> element of history and nearly every element of human reality since). I 
> take no issue with Towson's choice of Mills, and I haven't seen their 
> previous debates so I can't offer commentary, but I must ask if it is 
> significant that Towson's inclusion of a mainstreamed piece of 
> decolonizing scholarship coincided with their ascension in results. 
> Would they have been as successful if, for instance, they had based 
> their arguments on a text that is denser and more uncompromising but 
> ultimately more true to reality and the lived experiences of the 
> underside of modernity? Could they have gotten anywhere with 'cards' 
> from a text that was much more groundbreaking and influential than 
> Mills' but that does not attempt to address itself to a contemporary 
> U.S. white experience (I have in mind, as one example, Discourse on 
> Colonialism by the recently deceased Aime Cesaire, which makes Mills' 
> main points and many, many more in a much more concise fashion, but 
> one surely deemed too out of touch and too easily dismissed for petty 
> misunderstandings of meaning to resonate with the bulk of debate 
> judges)? None of this, it should be clear, is a knock on Towson. I 
> really congratulate you on actually accomplishing something that I 
> chickened out on even trying multiple times.
>
> Now, let me bring up something that no one I've talked to seems to be 
> aware of (maybe I'm talking to the wrong people). Kansas read 
> alternative evidence for its 'love' argument from Sandoval 2000. This 
> is Chela Sandoval, the head of UCSB's Chicana/o Studies program, from 
> her hugely influential work Methodology of the Oppressed. This text 
> offers a very thorough methodology, as the title promises (though I 
> must note that her original title, Theory Uprising, better captures 
> what the work is about but was rejected by the publisher). READ THIS 
> BOOK. ABSOLUTELY. It is a masterpiece, and especially given debate's 
> fascination with Continental Philosophy and her very tolerant 
> treatment of it (which has, unfortunately, caused Sandoval's text to 
> be misappropriated as a defense of Foucault, Barthes, et cetera when 
> it is instead an appreciation of their relation to feminist and 
> decolonial thought that offers an explicit challenge to them), it 
> figures to resonate with many in the community and hopefully open them 
> up to new areas of study.
>
> So you would expect me to be excited upon hearing this evidence. 
> Except... uh, I heard the rest of the 1NC. And it is completely 
> improbable and arguably close to impossible for a K alt to be taken 
> more out of context. Kansas read a piece of eveidence from the FIRST 
> TWO PAGES of the book, and their extension evidence was from Angela 
> Davis' foreword. Did the person cutting the book just give up after 
> getting those two cards? Because the entire book is about the VITAL 
> NECESSITY of REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS and OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS. 
> The two main tenets of Towson's aff that Kansas was critiquing! 
> Sandoval's entire book outlines what she means by "love," and to 
> synopsize (again, read the book, pretty please with the topping of 
> your choice), love is a process, a decolonizing movement that actively 
> requires a specific methodology (i.e., the "methodology of the 
> oppressed") which itself cannot "solve" without AFFIRMING 
> REVOLUTIONARY POLITICS AND OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS. This is even in 
> the paragraph that Kansas used in this debate (OK, oppositional 
> consciousness is; for revolutionary politics, you could have looked at 
> the table of contents or even just flipped forward to the concluding 
> sentence of the book).
>
> Love, for Sandoval, does NOT mean, as Kansas stated, "everybody love 
> everybody." Unfortunately, Towson was not familiar with that 
> particular work, so they were not able to point out the obvious 
> problem early in the debate. But then Kansas reads 1nr evidence from 
> ANGELA DAVIS (which does not talk about 'love' but about Sandoval's 
> Methodology of the Oppressed!) as an extension of their alt and then 
> makes a multitude of nonsensical arguments that follow from this:
>
> "We are reading a multitude of authors, including African-American 
> activists like Angela Davis which is a reason as to why your argument 
> about white supremacy and epistemology of our arguments does not apply 
> to us." (The obvious response being that grossly misinterpreting these 
> authors and then using their identities as evidence that you are not 
> subject to white supremacism is a move inextricable from white 
> supremacism.)
>
> "What is the permutation? It is love and openness but with the 
> infusion of revolutionary ethics in the 1ac ... it says that it is 
> open but thrives on the rejection of the white aesthetic and 
> potentially revolutionary partners. ... The perm is not open or 
> loving." (When Sandoval's entire text is devoted to arguing that 
> 'love' cannot exist without movements whose revolutionary ethics 
> require that they explicitly reject particular 'aesthetics' and 
> revolutionary partners! This is like if an aff running, I don't know, 
> the Kyoto Protocol, faced a K that argued for the adoption of an 
> environmental ethic using evidence only from someone who said that a) 
> activists should lobby the US to ratify Kyoto and b) the US should 
> ratify Kyoto, and then asserted throughout the 2nr that the perm could 
> not be an environmental ethic because it included a policy.)
>
> "Revolutionary politics are something that she [Angela Davis] turned 
> away from because they are not effective, because they were so 
> rejective." (Riiiiiiiiight. And they said this after Towson called BS.)
>
> No knock on Kansas specifically. I understand how hard it can be to do 
> this research, and I don't really blame anyone for seeing the text and 
> being confused and just taking what could be found from its intro. I 
> apologize in advance for bringing this up and calling you out, because 
> I have much respect for all the debaters and coaches, and fondly 
> remember Scott Harris being of amazing help to me at summer camp in 
> 2000. Kansas got crossed up, and that happens. But I want to know: on 
> an 11 person panel of major figures in debate, not one was able to 
> identify that a major text in ethnic and gender studies which has been 
> used at least by Fullerton was taken way, way, way out of context? And 
> that none of the debaters I asked about this knew what the hell I was 
> talking about? In a hugely publicized round? It's not a scandal that a 
> team was able to win four ballots in the national championship from 
> judges who voted for their alt card because it avoided criticisms that 
> are directly antithetical to the alternative? Is anyone willing to 
> take this as evidence that the debate community needs to massively 
> upgrade the level of its research on racism?
>
> Andy Ellis and others have called for a topic that will put research 
> on racism at the forefront, because debaters desperately need to 
> improve their understanding and research of these issues. Calum 
> Matheson makes the same argument for Russia. Put aside ground, 
> mechanisms, etc., for a moment to consider whether the evidence is 
> stronger for Andy's claim or Calum's. Do debaters, by and large, have 
> a better basic understanding of Russia or coloniality? And even if 
> Calum is ahead, if I win my 'coloniality influences everything about 
> US-Russia relations' argument, shouldn't a research focus on 
> coloniality come first?
>
> What's more is that the reparations topic actually does encourage new 
> and better research in these areas than any previous topic. The civil 
> rights topic, for instance, could be debated with a very high reliance 
> on the legal literature, and was limited to a very small portion of 
> the scope of racism and coloniality. Reparations actually requires a 
> pretty thorough examination of a lot of things. And what's more, it 
> requires a mechanism that has a very active solvency debate in concert 
> with a limitless number of CP's with obvious grounding in the 
> literature. If you do not think that there is good negative ground on 
> a reparations topic, it is straight up because you are not familiar 
> with enough relevant research. (I hope it is clear by now that the 
> scope of relevant research is not the policy literature on 
> reparations.) If you told me I had to go neg every round on the topic, 
> I would be just fine, and you will not find people in the community 
> who think that the oppressions the topic would address are more 
> influential than I do.
>
> Please do not take this as an attack on anybody personally. I just 
> wanted to present some of the evidence that this community has a very 
> different depth and distribution of knowledge on race studies than it 
> does for the main disciplines it draws upon, and even those who 
> profess some level of expertise are often just very familiar with some 
> limited and often specific-to-another-discipline scope. How many 
> debaters go on to graduate studies in area studies, poli sci, or law, 
> and how many pursue studies in racism? If you see that you may 
> contribute to this disparity, are you okay with that because you think 
> the other areas are more important? If so, is that a result of 
> research or assumption/conditioning? And to the directors and coaches 
> of the community: if, for pedagogical reasons, you are opposed to a 
> race-focused topic, are you also incorporating or willing to 
> incorporate a researched curriculum on race/coloniality in your debate 
> program?
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