“You’re a RACIST!” screams the offended voice. “And, why is that?” answers the unabashed reply. “Because you defamed my race, and offended my dignity,” replies the irritated and indignant voice. “Then, perhaps your fame and dignity are too sensitive,” responds the self-assured answer, “because it wasn’t your RACE that I was criticizing, it was your IDEAS.”
Hasn’t this irrational, speciously-defined accusation about RACISM gotten out of hand lately? It’s thrown around by people wallowing in the mud of abstract ideas and political opinion like it’s an exacting arrow of truth, but it’s really just a vaguely-defined, imprecisely-applied, and impossibly-agreed upon term that’s used to punish those who disagree with the position of a person who is not a Caucasian.
What has developed is a way for non-Caucasians to defend themselves and their ideas from Caucasians who object to what they’re saying by labeling the objection as “racist”. It is used like a shield to defend and protect the sanctity of what was said even though it may be ridiculous, unfair, unsubstantiated, and indefensible.
When a non-Caucasian person – a person of color – is criticized or disagreed with by a Caucasian person – a “white” person which, in itself, is a derogatory racial description of anyone who is not an anemically, antiseptically “white” person – if the disagreement is not about a specifically racial issue – like which race can run faster, jump higher, sing better, has more rhythm, etc. – then it is a disagreement about IDEAS that one person has, not about ideas that one RACE has.
This means that just because a person of a certain RACE purports the idea, it isn’t any more a position of RACE than it is a position of SEX, EDUCATION, WEALTH, AGE, or GEOGRAPHIC heritage. Anyone trying to turn these differences of opinion into matters of RACE, is then trying to GENERALIZE the disagreement into something it IS NOT from a SPECIFIC something that it at one time WAS.
Rather than providing a reliable judgment, then, which adheres to reviewable criteria and carefully composed definitions – like those used by a referee or a courtroom judge – the disagreement becomes one of “name-calling” not RACISM.
How can a distinction, then, be made between what is RACIST and what is not? A dictionary definition for the word “racist” says that it is a person “who believes that one’s own racial group is superior, or that a particular racial group is inferior, to the others.”
This seems to me to be a little too vague to be effective, so I would offer these further points:
1) Can a different race person be inserted into the situation without a change of the criticism?
2) Does the criticism apply to others of the same race or only to that particular person?
3) Has the person used a racial stereotype to make their point, or one that may apply equally to other races?
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If we use criteria like these, in which specific charges can be identified that make a criticism “racist”, then there may be a meaningful application of the term. But, if something is called “racist” merely because a person of one race criticizes or disagrees with a person of another race, this becomes a case of name-calling. Those who use the term in this way use it like a badge of shame or indignity they wish to place upon someone. Yet, they neither have to be more specific to use it nor to elaborate on its designation to apply the term. It sticks like a splat of mud, yet it has as much clarity as well.
Now, are there actual cases and incidents of racism? Of course there are. But, when “racism” is correctly identified, all parties will be able to identify it because it shows that the distinction is between racial differences not ideological ones. If something is identified to have a racial bias or preference – as with a food, a word of slang, a fashion, a belief, or a custom – then it can accurately be called a racial characteristic and, in my opinion, it is much more accurate to call a person “intellectually challenged” than a “racist”.
Mr. Conrad is a retired college Economics instructor who enjoys expressing his opinion on controversial political, economic, and social issues not because he has all the answers but because he likes discussing the issues.