Monday, 6 August 2018

Q: Why is racism wrong?

SO WE'VE BEEN HEARING a lot about racism these past few weeks. But we've heard precious little about why racism is wrong.

The mainstream view of racism, when it's discussed at all rather than being shouted about over barricades, is that racism is about "power structures," that racism is in essence just prejudice plus power -- suggesting that racism only exists if a "privileged" person is "punching down."  There is much to be said against this facile view (not least that it should be clear from this view which particular "privileged" group folk are invited to attack at will) but even if you were to grant that "privilege" and "power structures" are a thing, this view still denies the most important things that makes racism so wrong.

Specifically, it denies the importance of what makes us distinctively human -- which is not what places us in a particular position in the group (the mainstream view being at root just another kind of groupthink), but is instead the very thing that makes each us unique and individual.

And what makes each of us individual and human, in the end, are the choices we make for ourselves. Yet this, our ability to choose, names precisely everything that the racist blanks out: the very thing that makes each of us distinctively human, and ourselves.

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that we can choose, and many we cannot -- what makes us who we are, in the end, are the choices we make for ourselves. These are the things that ultimately define us

You might say that for good or ill nature and nurture between them simply give us our starting point -- where we're born, and with what endowments; what we then make from that stew is up to us. It's what we make of it ourselves, by our own choices, that makes us truly ourselves.

This is what is it means to be a being who is "self-made: We each make ourselves by every choice we ever make. It is these choices, for good and bad, that build our character, that make us who we are, that make you one and individual; it is in this that lies our humanity.

And this is why racism is ultimately so foul: because it denies to a person what makes them distinctively human; it denies to them what makes them themselves. You see,iInstead of focusing on the person you have made of yourself by your own choices, the racist instead focuses on the only things you can't control. The things beyond your power of choice -- those things that mark you out as simply part of some tribe.

Like the flag you were born under, or the parents you were born to, or (most visibly of all) the colour of your skin.

It is truly, as Ayn Rand remarked, a barnyard form of collectivism.

And it is precisely as foul as that sounds.




  1. Not just racism but any of the other isms which look at things which divide us, that we can't change.

  2. the drunken watchman6 Aug 2018, 11:26:00

    Thomas Sowell‏ @ThomasSowell · Jul 28

    "Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as 'racists

    Thomas Sowell‏ @ThomasSowell · Jul 19

    “The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything — and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’”


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