Thursday, June 23, 2011

Want To Defend This?

FLG commented on this over at A&J, but do any left-leaning readers of this blog want to defend this statement?:
Racism isn’t just about thinking someone is unequal to you which I don’t think is actually where much of the right wing wants to see itself. It’s also about promoting legislation that perpetuates or exacerbates legacy inequalities, even if inadvertently.

This seems to argue that if a person doesn't prioritize not perpetuating or exacerbating legacy inequalities above all else when weighing legislation, regardless of whatever other reasons a person might have, then that person is a racist.

Moreover, this seems to be a self-issued carte blanche to denounce anybody who disagrees with the author's preferred policy choices as racist, regardless of their actual reasons. (And in light of FLG's Time Horizons theory, this would probably mean even if the perpetuation or exacerbation is short-term, but ameliorated in the long run.)

FLG recognizes that he may have his own cognitive biases in this and might not be reading this passage sympathetically. So, he asks his more left-leaning readers if they have a defense, or to put a less negative connotation on this, an explanation of this statement.


George Pal said...

This is called sweating the details. Who is or is not a ‘racist’ has been pretty much determined. University of Delaware, Office of Residence Life Diversity Education Training:

“A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.

All that’s left to do now is jump up and down on a dead body - and Ms. Contee has no hops.

The Ancient said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ancient said...

Typos ...

That "perpetuates or exaggerates" is striking, because it precisely mirrors how Democrats often behave in practice. For example, for the past twenty-plus years, Democrats on the tax writing committees have had CBO score any potential change in the tax system for its re-distributional impact.

P.S. Having spent much of my adult life in a predominantly black city, I would dispute the notion that whites are, on average, more racist than blacks. (It's a wonderment that Obama refers to Louis Farrakhan in such respectful terms, since Farrakhan is at least as racist -- and far more influential -- than David Duke was in his long-ago prime. When a black president gives a pass to a prominent racist, he damages the entire anti-racism cause. It's a pity that Obama is too blinkered in his world view to see this.)

william randolph brafford said...

The notion of systemic racism ("exacerbating inequalities") is useful, but if you use it, you have to be careful about the jump to "racist." That label carries power because it implies that the person so labeled intends or desires some kind of race-based advantage or segregation, but this isn't true just because someone supports a policy that "perpetuates or exacerbates legacy inequalities" -- they may have other reasons for supporting it, or they might not understand its consequences, etc. So since the writers are making this jump -- calling all these conservatives racists -- I'll say it seems like a bad idea.

I've wanted to come up with a better terminology, but I haven't had much luck.

J. Otto Pohl said...

The term is "institutional racism" and it was popularized in the late 1960s by S. Carmichael and other Black Power advocates. They redefined racism from being a matter of individual attitudes to political and social structures that perpetrated inequality along racial lines. As William notes the problem with this is that it shifts the definition of racism from deliberately treating people differently on a racial basis to policies that for what ever reason effect different racial groups differently. It has some merit as an analytical category, but it really needs another name. Carmichael and others referred to these causes of racial inequality as racism in order to be deliberately provocative.

Andrew Stevens said...

I'm actually fine with the word racist for all the things being discussed here. What we really need is a stronger word for the KKK and the Third Reich, so that we're not using the same word for them as we use for an elderly lady who crosses the street when she notices a young man of a different race behind her.

For example, gender politics. If you call me sexist, I'm prepared to discuss it. I do believe that there are inherent differences between the genders (overlapping bell curves), if only for hormonal reasons, and arguably this makes me a sexist by definition, even if I absolutely do not believe that either gender is better than the other. And sometimes I might say something stupid which a woman finds offensive and she can say, "Well, I think that was a pretty sexist remark." I'm not saying there aren't men who wouldn't get huffy and offended by this, but I'm perfectly prepared to listen to her viewpoint and apologize if I've said something out of unconscious sexism. But partly this is because we have a perfectly good word - "misogynist" for those who hate and mistreat women. (And I very much dislike what I see as a disturbing trend among a small subset of modern feminists to start labeling words, deeds, or attitudes which are obviously sexist or condescending as misogynist, when they equally obviously are not.) If you call me a misogynist, the discussion must end. Now you're just engaging in name-calling and attempting to smear my reputation, because that word should be reserved for those who deserve it.

The problem with the word racist is that it's too broad. If you call me a racist, I don't know what you're accusing me of. You could be accusing me of making an insensitive comment or you could be accusing me of harboring murderous hatred for people of other races. I think it makes sense for the word to be that broad, if you just consider the etymology, but we really need something stronger for the violent racists or you start getting the hypersensitivity to its use that we currently have.

Zog Karndon said...

Andrew -

Isn't that pretty much the _point_? If leftists/liberals couldn't equivocate about words like 'racist' and 'sexist', they would have to rely on their rhetorical skills, which are usually lacking.

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