A funny thing happened on the way to Sarcastro’s place. It happened in the comments section of his comments on commenting on someone else’s comment. From Short&Fat:
I consider racist a pretty ugly term on par with c*nt, n*gg*r, and f*gg*t especially when hurled at other people for no real apparent reason.(I flipped over and read B and AC’s respective posts). I believe this sort of invective is an attempt to invalidate a person’s point (in this case AC’s) without a discussion of a merit of their argument.
I’m not sure what B read that I missed to inspire the vitriol. But if KKK=racist and AC=racist, then AC=KKK and I just don’t believe that to be true. B may think that I’m too narrowly defining the term, but that’s what 90% (true stat) of America believes.
The syllogysm is way off here. KKK can equal racist and AC can either say racist things or may actually be a racist (I’m just shy of writing him off completely), however that doesn’t mean AC is the KKK kind of racist. All along in the Big Racism Battle that brewed over at B’s spot, people wanted to exclude themselves from the class “racist” by defining racist so narrowly as only to include the Stormfront types. One thinks as long as they treat people well enough by their own standards that they aren’t racist.
If 90% of Americans believe that being racist only means the kind of lynching, name calling attitude is racism, I’m afraid 90% of Americans are wrong. However, I really don’t buy the statistic at all. Even a dullard like Michelle Malkin can grasp this (at least when it suits her whining).
I’ve always thought that it is up to the “other” to be the ultimate arbitor of what constitutes racist behavior towards them. Like with homophobia, I don’t think of myself as a homophobe. That’s just an idea swirling around in my head that isn’t tested until I’m in interaction with a significant number of gay or lesbian people on a regular basis. My idea of myself as gay friendly hasn’t been tested in any significant way. If the barrier is simply that I’m not walking the streets with a bat looking to beat up on some poofters, then that barrier is pretty low, because there’s always other societal hurdles that may impede that kind of expression (cops, my mom slapping me, etc).
I think it’s a safe argument that a lot of people who were opining on B’s post are in a similar position. I have my doubts that they’ve had their ideas of themselves as “not racist” tested in any significant way. (Yes, yes, I know, you sit next to a Black guy at work, and a Mexican family moved in down the street from you. That amounts to anecdotal experience.) And the alternative, to suggest to themselves that they might actually be racist, or harbor ideas that may be considered racist, is so distasteful as to inspire the kind of reactions you can see above.
That isn’t to say that people can’t reflect on their own behavior re: racism. I was in a convienence store the other day and an older Puerto Rican cat was talking about New York and we got into a discussion of my 2nd favorite city in the world (Nashville is NOT #1). He asked me over the course of the conversation if I was Puerto Rican (maybe because I used the word Boricua, not sure). At the office, I told the story to a Boricua with whom I work. Afterwards, I asked myself why him? Why not other people in the office, who might have also found the anecdote amusing? Would I be at least a bit uncomfortable if an Asian person started out of the blue telling me a bunch of stories about . . . oh . . . meeting Al Sharpton?*
If you are at all concerned about the issue, concerned enough to violate Gandalf’s Edict (Thou shalt not invoke MLK’s “Dream” speech when discussing racism), then as I see it you have a couple of options; ask yourself some tough questions, or get out in the world beyond your own enclaves.
I should probably decline to comment on Short&Fat’s assertion that calling someone “racist” (yes, for “no good reason”) is the same as calling someone a n****r. Might make my headache come back. I’d like to think that at least the logical fallacy stands bare to most people, though sadly it probably does not. I would be interested to hear if he ever got into a fight with someone who called him a racist, and if people felt he was justified in swinging on the person who called him a racist.
A lot of people were inspired to comment in their own blogs about what went down over at B’s place, writing it off completely with lame snark (guess he’s one of those people who are “above racism.”) or writing it off as a “semantic debate” (it most certainly was not that simple). It got people talking, at least.
*If all you get from this is that “black people are racist, too,” then I’d be pretty sad. During any discussion about racism, even if it’s about Latinos, you’re likely to read/hear this phrase. It’s a meaningless, fallacious argument (A is bad? Well, B is bad, too!). It’s really telling. You read a long series of posts by White ex-pats living in Tokyo about problems dealing with Japanese people and inevitably, by the third page they’re talking about Black people. That’s how ingrained, how massive the issue of relations between Black and White have become. Oh, my head . . .