Professor creates "guide" to handle racism "deniers"
As a writer, I suppose I shouldn’t actively oppose any words or phrases as a matter of course. After all, any of them could be useful in a given context.
However, there are a few that I find myself reviling more and more.
A prime example is the term “denier.”
It’s often used to try and silence anyone who refuses to go along with a given narrative. Now, this makes a bit of sense when you’re talking about a field of science where, at least in theory, there’s some degree of objectivity you’re denying. It’s still used there for anyone skeptical of a concept like climate change where the models have never panned out, of course, but I can see it applying in other circumstances.
But what about racism? Are you a racism denier?
I know few who think racism simply doesn’t exist. As such, one would imagine that no one could legitimately be labeled a racism denier. And, it’s probably that they can’t. Legitimately, that is.
Still, one professor from Boston University is going to try anyway.
For Phillipe Copeland, statements such as “I don’t see race,” “You’re just playing the race card” and “They were just a person of their time” all are examples of racism denial.
“Racism denial involves obscuring the reality of racism or minimizing its significance,” Copeland writes in The Emancipator. “Racism denial is a political strategy. Its proponents know they benefit from racism and want to perpetuate it. They attempt to convince people racism is no longer an issue or is not a big enough one to require attention.”
Copeland argues racism denial “comes in many forms,” such as:
— “Refuting.” Deniers want to see proof that racism is the fundamental factor behind “certain situations,” and then follow up by challenging any evidence provided.
— “Minimizing.” This is attempting to paint (racist) incidents as isolated matters or “suggesting those incidents are being exaggerated.”
— “Revising history.” For Copeland, pointing out that many/most people in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries viewed slavery as a normal facet of society (that the evolution of civilization is a natural phenomenon) is a “revision.”
— “Myopia.” Defined as “an unwillingness to perceive racism accurately.” If you believe racism had little or no role in certain outcomes, you’re racially nearsighted.
Yeah, this is bad. Oh so very bad.
I don’t mean this is scary or anything, I mean it’s so fundamentally flawed that it should be rendered useless by mainstream academia at just a surface glance.
Yet like many other claims of denial, it’s really all about silencing any disagreement. This guide would seek to dictate the terms of discussion in such a way that any claim that an outcome was the result of racism simply can’t be disputed.
It’s basically saying that anything they say is racist is, in fact, racist and you’re one too if you refuse to accept it.
How is that useful in any meaningful way?
It’s not. But then again, it’s not meant to be useful, now is it?
Alright, that’s not fair. It is meant to be useful, just not useful for discussion, debate, or truth-seeking. It’s useful for those who want to advance a narrative unchallenged. They can’t really prove racism in many cases, so they seek to remove the need to show proof.
What bothers me, though, is the idea that saying someone was a product of their time is considered racism denial.
After all, people are products of their time. We can acknowledge that without seeking to vilify entire generations of people for not holding to our modern standards. It’s not an attempt to excuse what we now see as flaws, it’s simply a call for understanding that they were misguided as most from that day and age were.
If their racism was somehow exceptional for that time, then fine. Show your work.
But it’s clear this is about not having to do anything except make pronouncements like a god calling down from the mountain.
Sorry, but I’m not interested in being dictated to by people uninterested in debate. The good professor can step off.
If that makes me some kind of denier, then fine. At least I’m not denying the fact that reality has nuance.
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