Monday, January 09, 2006

Interesting View of Racism

Have you ever been just browsing and come across something someone wrote and it seemed to crystallize something you had thought and felt about often but failed to bring together in a concise coherent manner. It happened to me today and I have to say that this comes pretty close to what I think but not totally. Here it is anyway..
There are really two types of racism.

Real racism is not in the eye of the beholder. Real racism is when you irrationally use the characteristics you believe are true of a "race" to judge a member of that race. It becomes especially destructive when the characteristics believed true are false and derogatory, and especially destructive when it involves judging the value of a person (something not intrinsically wrong in certain contexts... "would I hire this person?" "is that person going to try to kill me?" we make value judgements every day).

This is as close to an emprically verifiable term as you can ever get when dealing with humans, assuming you can get at the inner state of the person.

The second type of racism is in the eye of the beholder, and it has gotten to the point where "That's racist!" is one step shy of "I don't like that!", only much, much meaner. The distinguishing characteristic of this kind of "racism" is that if the accuser can come up with any reason that the accusee might be doing or saying something for a racist reason, regardless of how likely or even how true that reason is, the accusee can be presumed racist, and should therefore be vilified. Fortunately, I think we're very near the point where that accusation will have been so overused that it will be diluted into nearly no effect.

As a homework exercise, estimate the probability that this form of racism will ever be "eliminated", and consider the consequences of your answer.

Often, it's hard to tell which is which. I prefer to cultivate an attitude more like the South Park children than the current attitudes of people who are hypersensitive about the second type of racism. This is the first I've heard that "of course" King Kong is a stand-in for black people. Personally, I thought he was just a giant monster. Since this accusation is a "projection" type accusation, I am inclined to think this is the second kind of "racism."

(Incidentally, the second type of "racism" is not itself really racist. It's just evil, in every sense of the term, especially including how it destroys the one afflicted with it. No apology for that belief.)


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