When Racism is Bad, and When it isn’t (Necessarily)
I routinely run into people with strong opinions against racism (don’t we all?). The thing is that, in my opinion, they often mix up what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to racism. Let’s first look at what the term means in the first place.
I can find at least two meanings of the word “racism”. Boiled down, the first meaning is a belief in inherent differences between races. The second involves hatred towards or discrimination against a particular race or races.
Now, I can’t see anything wrong with the first belief, at least in its pure form. I think it’s a fairly well-established that there are inherent differences between different races. Take as an example the superiority of long-runners from sub-Saharan Africa, compared to those from other parts of the world. These people simply have greater stamina; their top-athletes do, anyway. This could be because of their slightly different leg-structure, or it could be because of a better ability to absorb oxygen. Either way, they are different (and superior, in this regard).
Having the opinion that races (on average) are different isn’t necessarily an evil thing. What is evil, though, can be expressed very easily: treating people badly. If one treats people badly (and that includes treating people discriminatorily) solely on the basis of those people’s race, then one is evil. This is the second definition of racism as outlined above.
A lot of energy in every-day arguments is wasted on people calling others racist (or at least implying it). And a lot of the time the claim of racism rests on the basis of the first definition of racism, the opinion that races are different. Considering that the truly bad thing about racism is really just the bad treatment of others, this energy should be used on these “true” racists, and not wasted on what often amounts to accusations made by over-sensitive anti-racists, keen on seeing racism in all and everything.
It’s simple, really: just treat others well.
4 Comments »
Leave a Reply
| Next »