Careful Who You Call ‘Racist’

Imagine that you manage a restaurant, and suddenly during the evening shift a middle-aged woman stands up, points to another diner, and yells “Murderer!” She loudly appeals to everyone to help her restrain and punish this supposed murderer. (Think Catelyn seizing Tyrion in GoT.) When other diners are shy, she demands that you expel this murderer from your restaurant. She says that in a civilized society it is every good person’s duty to oppose murder, and explains her belief that her husband went to an early grave because this older man, her boss, worked him too hard. Sure her husband could have quit his job instead, but he just wasn’t that sort of person.

Will you expel this customer as requested? Probably not. Yes there is a plausible meaning of the word “murder” that applies, but the accused must satisfy a narrower meaning for such an appeal to move you. In this post I will suggest that we take a similar restricted attitude toward “racism” in politics. Let me explain.

Humans have many ways to persuade one another. We can make deals, or we can appeal to self-interest, mutual reciprocity, or shared loyalties. In addition, we can appeal to shared moral/social norms. This last sort of appeal draws on our unique human capacity to enforce what Boehm calls a “reverse dominance hierarchy.” Foragers coordinated to express norms, to monitor for violations, to agree on who is guilty, and then to punish those violators. Such norms covered only a limited range of behaviors, those worth the trouble of invoking this expensive, corruptible, and error-prone mechanism.

With farming and civilization we have introduced law. With law, we added a formal specialized process to support a subset of our especially shared, important, clear, and enforceable norms. Foragers would entertain most any argument against most anyone that most any behavior was a norm violation. For example, a band could declare a disliked forager guilty of using sorcery, even if no concrete physical evidence were offered. But farmer law usually limited accusations to clearly expressed pre-existing law, and limited the kinds of evidence that could be offered.

For example, multiple witnesses were often required, and instead of relying on median public opinion a special judge or jury looked into more detail to make a decision. Negligence levels are made extra forgiving due to the chance of honest mistakes. To be a good candidate for enforcement by farmer law, a norm needed especially wide support, and to be especially clear and easy to prove even by those unfamiliar with the details of a particular person’s habits and life. And the norm needed to be important enough to be worth paying the extra costs of legal enforcement, including a substantial expected level of error and corruption.

In the last few centuries governments have mostly taken over the “criminal” area of law, where it is now they who investigate and prosecute accusations, and punish the guilty. Because such governments can be more corruptible, error-prone, and inefficient, the criminal law process is only applied to an especially important subset of law. And even more restrictions are placed on government law, such as juries, statutes of limitations, prison as punishment, proportionate punishment, and a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof. To avoid costs of error and enforcement, we often try to catch fewer violators and punish them more strongly to compensate.

Today, many kinds of political arguments are offered for and against people, organizations, and policies. While many arguments appeal to self-interest and shared loyalties, others demand priority because of norm violations. The claim is that whatever other different interests we may have and pursue, it is essential that we set those aside to coordinate to punish key norm violations. And since many of these norms are, for various reasons, not enforced by formal law, we depend on other good people and organizations to respond to such moral calls to action.

And this all makes sense so far. But in the last half century in the West, preferences against “racism” have risen to at least near the level of moral norms. (We have related feelings on “sexism” and other “isms” but in this post I’ll focus on racism for concreteness.) Whatever else we may disagree on, we are told, we must coordinate to oppose racists, boycotting their businesses and drumming them out of public office. Which could make sense if enough of us agree strongly enough to make this a priority, and if we share an effective way to collectively identify such violations.

One problem, however, is that our commonly used concepts of “racism” seem more appropriate to ordinary conversation and persuasion than to usefully enforceable strong norms and law. Some favor concepts where most everyone is at least a bit racist, and others concepts based on hard-to-observe dispositions. But while such concepts may be useful in ordinary conversation or academic analysis, they are poorly suited for enforcing strong norms and law.

For example, many today claim that Trump is clearly racist, and invoke a shared norm against racism in their appeal for everyone to oppose Trump. No good person, they suggest, should cooperate in any way with Trump or his supporters. A good person can’t treat this as politics as usual, not when a norm violator stands among us unpunished! It is even hinted that people with positions of influence in important institutions, such as in media, academia, journalism, law, and governance, should deviate from their usual practice of following institutional norms of political neutrality, and instead tip the scales against Trump supporters, now that everything is at stake.

But as Scott Alexander recently tried to argue, the evidence offered for Trump racism doesn’t yet seem sufficient to hold up in a legal court, not at least if that court used a “racism” concept of the sort law prefers. If your concept of “racist” applies to a third of the population, or requires a subjective summing up of everything you’ve ever heard about the accused, it just won’t do for law.

Yes, people are trying Trump in a court of public opinion, not in a court of law. But my whole point here is that there is a continuum of cases, and we should hold a higher more-restrictive more-law-like standard for enforcing strong norms than we should in ordinary conversation and persuasion. Higher standards are also needed for larger more varied communities, when there are stronger possibilities of bias and corruption, and when the enforcing audience pays less attention to its job. So we should be a lot more careful with who we call “racist” than who we call “hot” or “smart”, for example. For those later judgements, which are not the basis of calls to enforcement of shared strong norms, it is more okay to just use your judgement based on everything you’ve heard.

Now I haven’t studied Trump or his supposed racism in much detail. So maybe in fact if you look carefully enough there is enough evidence to convict, even with the sort of simple clear-cut definition of “racism” that would make sense and be useful in law. But this appeal to norm enforcement should and will fail if that evidence can’t be made clear and visible enough to the typical audience member to whom this appeal is targeted. We must convict together or not at all; informal norm enforcement requires a strong consensus among its participants.

Maybe it is time to enshrine our anti-racism norm more formally in law. Then we could gain the benefits of law and avoid the many costs of informal mob enforcement of our anti-racism norms. I really don’t know. But I have a stronger opinion that if you are going to appeal to our sense of a strong shared norm against something like racism, you owe it to us all to hold yourself to a high standard of a clear important and visible violation of a nearly-law-appropriate concept. Because that is how law and norm enforcement need to work.

Yes we are limited in our ability to enforce norms and laws, and this limits our ability to encourage good behavior. And it may gall you to see bad behavior go unpunished due to these limitations. But wishes don’t make horses, and these costs are real. So until we can lower such costs, please do be careful who you call a “racist.”

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  • Peter Gerdes

    I’ve been discussing this issue at length since Scott’s piece and it’s become clear that many liberals are using a simple concept of racism but one that’s not particularly suited toward moral judgement/norm enforcement.

    In particular, many liberals take racism to be something like: supporting policies that are harmful to minorities especially if they are the same policies supported by those with racial animus. Several people have expressly told me that Trump’s border wall is racist merely on account of it’s likely consequences regardless of his motivations for endorsing it. An individual is thus racist if, on balance, they support many policies that harm minorities and few that are beneficial.

    This is a truly disturbing definition since, as those deploying this definition are largely liberal and usually outsource helpful/harmful to minority judgements to traditional (liberal) minority advocacy groups it all but defines conservatives as racist merely on the grounds that minority advocacy groups believe in liberal policies and thus deem them to be helpful/good for minorities and conservative ones to be harmful.

    I think many of these people are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Namely define racism so that they need not prove any suggestion of negative affect/dislike/etc.. toward any ethnic group but retain the associated moral force.

    • Stephen Diamond

      This is troublesome because if racist is to retain it’s norm guiding role it must require unsavory behavior not mere disagreement over policy recommendations.

      This misses the bigger problem: viewpoints being considered “unsavory.”

      [Or else “racism” being misleadingly defined as something other than a viewpoint.]

      • Peter Gerdes

        No, I don’t think racism is a viewpoint.

        Racism is the practice of forming one’s beliefs as the result of racial animus. In other words letting your emotions about race color your epistemic state. However, modulo a handful of insensitive contrarians it is almost impossible to believe in racial superiority/etc.. as am adult without coming to that belief through racial animus. Note that this meaning explains why when scientific consensus settles on a fact that was previously regarded as a racist view it stops being one.

        From a sociological perspective this is also the notion one would expect to be most useful in a culture where many people have racial animus. If you want to know who will make a decent ally and be appropriately inclined to support you to others you want to know if they hold any animus towards people like you that will bias their judgement. It really doesn’t matter much on an individual level what sort of policy (or even scientific) beliefs they have as those won’t substantially influence their beliefs about you after reasonable interaction. Indeed, it might even work out better for you to find allies who are willing to talk up your virtues but that others wouldn’t expect to.

      • Stephen Diamond

        You’re not really saying racism isn’t a viewpoint. (There is such an analysis: “systemic” racism.) What you’re saying is that its a consistently irrational and pernicious viewpoint.

        So I ask you: are there any other viewpoints that also fit this bill? Would you also want to erect norms – even – laws – against them. What about nationalism? Also, should my viewpoint be made against the norms when I show only contempt for Robin Hanson’s possible persons?

        [Your proclamation that racist views are almost invariably the result of animus is, in my opinion, preposterously arrogant.]

    • James Andrix

      Political advocacy is an action that has consequences (if it is successful.)

      Obviously if you bomb a city or dump toxins into a water supply, you are harming people. If you lobby for war or to allow pollution and it happens, you are harming people.

      If someone consistently lobbies for practices that harm a certain group or benefit another group, there is a simple explanation.

      • Peter Gerdes

        Yes, but one can distingush the consequences of your actions from the motivations of your actions.

        Someone who sincerely and without bias/ill-will/etc.. believes that heavily bombing Syrian forces will do the most for Syrian welfare is perfectly kind/nice/good/etc.. even if they turn out to be wrong and instead cause many more deaths than otherwise.

        Yes, having views without proper epistemic justification is a fault but it isn’t considered a character flaw or moral failing (if so we would all be in trouble).

        A racist is someone who adopts their views based on animosity/sucpiscion/etc.. toward other races. If no comparably simple explanation accounts for why someone constantly adopts policies that are clearly particularly harmful to minorities you have good evidence of racism.

        On the other hand Trump’s many other openly acknowledge faults (anti-foreigner, religious bias, and willingness to use any excuse in his defense) explain almost all of the policies you mention. The remaining ones can largely be explained by genuine difference in belief about likely outcomes.

      • oldoddjobs

        “A racist is someone who adopts their views based on animosity/sucpiscion/etc.. toward other races.”

        A laughably antiseptic definition which has nothing to do with our actual reality. By this definition, there should be lots and lots of black and Hispanic racists, but I can’t recall the charge ever sticking to them, only whites. You haven’t noticed this?!

      • Julien Couvreur

        So, if I think liberals’ policies (such as minimum wage, housing/zoning restrictions, government schools, affirmative action, higher-ed subsidies, etc) are harming vulnerable groups and minorities, then I would be justified to call them racist?
        Do you suppose that would advance or retard the discussion?

    • Theresa Klein

      If you oppose immigration on the grounds that you are afraid American culture will be less white in the future, you’re racist.

      Do you disagree?

      • Dave Lindbergh

        Culture and race are not the same thing.

      • Theresa Klein

        So if the Hispanics agree to watch a lot of football and drink beer they’re in, right?

        Maybe if they decided to convert to Christianity?

      • Dave Lindbergh

        I’m on your side, Theresa. I opposed Trump (as I said in another post).

        But I don’t agree that it’s “racist” to have strong cultural preferences.

        “Culturalist” maybe, but not racist.

        People of any race can have any culture – depending on where and how they grew up, education, preference, etc.

        Race and culture are different things.

      • Theresa Klein

        I guess I just don’t see Hispanic culture as being so radically alien that American culture needs protection from it.
        If you can get past the language difference, there is very, very, little separating working class Hispanics and working class white Americans. They’re maybe 20-30 years behind Americans in terms of women’s lb and gay rights and a few other cultural issues, but then there’s a gap between upper class and lower class whites on those subjects too. I guess white people really hate mariachi bands?

      • Dave Lindbergh
      • Stephen Diamond

        I guess white people really hate mariachi bands?

        I hate them. But then racists differ on whether I count as white.
        O.T.Revealing how Trump has moved immediately to relieve Hillary of the slightest worry about prosecution, while he continues to hold potential deportees in indefinite suspense.

      • Stephen Diamond

        Race is in the genes; culture is in the memes.

        But not according to the “human biodiversity” school, which tries to explain cultural differences racially. Cultural preferences aren’t racist, but there are racist defenses of cultural preference.

        [Again, by ‘racist’ I mean expressive of loyalty to a race.]

  • Peter Gerdes

    But perhaps this is inevitable. Social coalitions don’t lightly let go of an effective tool. The very fact that everyone thinks racism is bad ensures that (with KKK style overt racism largely gone) the liberal/democratic coalition will want to deploy this tool against other foes.

  • gvanderleun

    Here’s someone who HAS studied Trump and charges of racism is some detail. Recommended:

    • RobinHanson

      I guess you are one of those “readers” who comment on a post before reading more than 1/2 of it.

      • ovnsætter

        You’ve got to admit that the odds of swaying “readers” with your reasoned calls for moderation are slim, Robin. The shrill cat-ladies who are comparing Trump supporters to the KKK are not reading genteel Robin Hansen articles.

      • Pepper

        Short attention spans are plausibly the main root cause of our current political problems.

      • oldoddjobs

        I like that this post is at the very bottom of the page.

  • NotAFan

    Scott also made the murderism example in his reddit comments discussing the Crying Wolf piece.

    • RobinHanson

      Scott’s posts are long enough – I don’t have time to read his reddit comments too. 🙂

  • Lord

    Honestly, who gives a damn? People will make their cases and succeed or fail and learn from it.

    • Stephen Diamond

      I think it would be good to have better norms about norms. They provide the basis for giving a damn, beyond political expediency.

      Vague norms are bad for the same reason that vague laws are. (I’m a little surprised to see anyone like Robin who leans libertarian being OK with hate-speech laws, if only they were precise.)

      I would add a further requirement. One should oppose norms that one would not countenance as laws if the efficiency issues in law enforcement weren’t present. I’m against hate-speech laws on principle. I should also be against hate-speech norms. (As I am.)

    • Lord

      This is one most perceptive, and predictive pieces on why this is counterproductive and what we can expect from it.

      • Stephen Diamond

        I’m uneasy with the broad brush used to classify opposition to Trump. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with protesting his promised actions. The norm that criticism is diminished during a honeymoon period is a bad norm, enshrining our abysmally weak commitments to campaign promises and tolerance for dishonesty. Hysterical exaggeration of the dangers is something else. And pleas for the electoral college not to vote their mandate are flagrant opportunism. Moreover, the connivance of school administrators with protesters is very disturbing and deeply counterproductive. These aren’t all the same thing.

        As to the effects of attacks on Trump’s character, the gender identity politics associated with the groping b.s. might have lost Clinton the election. But who can rely on a professional swindler? Clinton went easy on Trump U; I suspect quid pro quo for not prosecuting her.

      • Lord

        You need to get out of the echo chamber more. Clinton was never going to be prosecuted because there was never anything to prosecute her for. If anyone needs discipline it is those who have wasted time and money on the endless investigations that have turned up nothing. It was all propaganda from the start. The success of propaganda was the clearest result of the election.

      • Stephen Diamond

        Which echo chamber do you suppose I’m in? The investigators need to be “disciplined”? Sounds like Clinton propaganda.

        I agree that the espionage-act accusations were always bs, as was Benghazi. Not so sure about some conduct through the Clinton Foundation.

        But if you think a vindictive president can’t create a lot of problems for an innocent citizen, you’re in the biggest echo chamber.

  • Sebastian H

    A similar problem is simmering around the word ‘rape’.

    • Caspar Harmer

      Are you sure? I’m pretty sure rape is extremely well legally defined.

  • lMattW

    Robin needs a reminder: Racism isn’t about race (or better said, accusations of racism aren’t about race).

    • neuronerd

      If they’re not about race then what are they about?

      • oldoddjobs

        Power, duh

  • Alas

    Outrageous accusations of racism are bait. They are meant to provoke counter-arguments and cause the untrustworthy to reveal themselves.

  • Unanimous

    About 2 years ago Scott wrote another great post that explains very well (although perhaps with more detail than necessary) why we are seeing what we see now.:

    It’s a bit ironic that Scott is now calling for calm. You’d think he’d remember why such calls are futile.

    Short summary for the impatient: marginal cases are great for signalling allegiance and so become the focus of heated slinging matches and media coverage. Activists therefore are forced to use them to promote causes. I’ll also add the point that modern media depends for its profits on finding these marginal issues and presenting selected facts about them to create controversy. The examples in Scott’s post are very illustrative, and it’s worth reading in full. Such cases are also good for learning and illustrating where the boundaries are, but debate is often poor quality, so much less learning occurs than probably should.

    Trump runs on the margins of racism without clearly crossing into racism. He pushes the border on a number of issues, is well practised at it from his TV career, and therefore is a subject of much signaling. He is a media proprieters dream come true as a politician. Calling for calm is futile.

    15% of the population are more racist than he is. He is a sleazy con-man and personality with some wacky ideas and strange behaviours, but is no Hitler.

    • anon

      > It’s a bit ironic that Scott is now calling for calm.

      It’s quite clear why we’re seeing this now – the election of Donald Trump has killed far-left ‘rage’ for good as a political force, and both Scott and Robin are clearly aware of this. It’s not just Scott or Robin who are calling for restraint now – prominent left-wing intellectuals are also joining the club, and clearly stating that the left should cease appealing to toxic identity politics.

      • Unanimous

        So Trump has been controvesial for the last six months because he won the election two weeks ago? Scott has recanted his previous views that marginal cases are breeding grounds for arguments because the left is dead?

      • Whatever

        I think you misunderstood toxoplasma if you think Scott was saying we should all spread angry memes. First, his post was descriptive, not prescriptive. Second, he clearly states that the ones spreading the angry memes are incentivized to do so in some sense, but at the same time are digging their own graves by picking the memes most likely to spread, which happen to be the most controversial and the least persuasive.

      • Unanimous

        I don’t think Scott was saying we should all spread angry memes. He was describing how inevitable these memes are. Two years later he is asking for it to stop.

        He does not say that they are digging their own grave, on the contrary he is saying that it is the only way to gain publicity despite it also turning a significant proportion of the audience off.

  • Joe

    This description of the anti-racism norm reminds me of your argument that a norm against nepotism had to be introduced and enforced to allow industrial society to function. But that norm managed to be successfully implemented without needing to be sharply defined as precise laws. What’s different here?

    Also, one possible difference: I’m not sure if you think anti-racism is meant to counter inefficiencies cause by racism, as is the case with anti-nepotism norms, or if it’s more of a consumption good, i.e. wealthy dream-timers can afford to get morally outraged over breach of ancient forager norms, above and beyond the efficiency costs of such breaches, and demand their anti-racist preferences be satisfied. Which of these is more true seems like it might have a strong effect on the best kind of anti-racism laws, i.e. whether they should be focused on preventing inefficiencies caused by racism, or whether they should try to satisfy anti-racist preferences while avoiding imposing large efficiency costs in the process.

    • RobinHanson

      Nepotism allows pretty simple lines – you just don’t hire, teach, or buy from your relatives. At least it isn’t you who should make those decisions.

      • Ronfar

        Sometimes nepotism is efficient; it’s easier to trust a relative than a stranger, so it reduces coordination costs. (Think “family business”.) Also, you usually have more information about a relative’s skills and habits than you do about a stranger, even after reading a resume and doing an interview; if you already know your relative can do a competent job, you don’t have to take a chance on anyone else. Of course, the problematic version of nepotism, where you favor the interests of your relative over those of someone else who trusts you to act in their interest, certainly exists too.

  • davidmanheim

    You don’t even need to link to a search for scott alexander motte bailey racism – even without his name, it’s the top result.

  • Theresa Klein

    When people star saying you should be careful what you say, I start thinking, “or else what”?

    The racist aspect of Trump’s program is the call to keep out immigrants, specifically Muslims and Hispanics. The alt-right, which largely supports Trump, is even more explicitly racist when it argues that this is needed to prevent cultural swamping. And still more explicitly racist when it explicitly states that Hispanics are of lower IQ. If you are unaware of these arguments you need to get out more.

    When people start talking about reducing immigration to prevent American culture from being altered they are basically saying that they want American culture to remain white-dominated. Which is literally a white-supremacist position. “Mainstream” American culture is white-dominated culture – it’s exactly what black and Hispanics and Asians have complained about for decades. That they are socially excluded from mainstream culture. And these people are explicitly saying they want that to stay that way. They are white supremacists. Literally.

    • Alas

      But don’t many if not most immigrants want to come to America because they admire its “mainstream” culture and want to partake of it in some fashion? And if mainstream American culture is “white-dominated”, as you accuse it of being, then the biggest favor we could do for immigrants is to keep it “white dominated”. After all, if they wanted to live in a non-white-dominated culture, there are many non-American and decisively not white-dominated countries they could have immigrated to.

      • Stephen Diamond

        I’d call this position racist without much hesitation. You’re attributing the putative superiority of American culture to its being created by white people. Although you through a bone to the immigrants, obviously your main loyalty will be to white people.

      • joshgl

        Who cares if it is “racist”. Is it good or true or just.

      • Stephen Diamond

        I think the consequences of prevalent racism are unjust and bad. (Loyalties aren’t directly governed by truth criteria.) It’s not an unusual position.

        What I’m arguing against is that harboring or voicing racist views is bad or unjust. First, because I’m against thought norms. Second (but related), because repressing racist views (by laws as in Europe and Canada or norms as in the U.S.) obstructs argument against them. Moralistic “antiracism” is partly responsible for Trump.

      • Alas

        Thank you for these interesting comments. But you mistook my meaning. I was pointing out the flaw in Theresa Klein’s assertion that American culture was “white-dominated”, the flaw being that if it were true, it would give racists an excuse to exclude non-whites on the basis of whites having given America a superior cultures.

      • Theresa Klein

        But American culture *is* white dominated. That just isn’t the part of America that immigrants are attracted to. People don’t come here because they love flag-waving jingoism, trucks, and hamburgers. They come here because they like the idea of the freedom to pursue happiness.

      • Theresa Klein

        Exactly, personally I don’t think the attractive aspects of American culture are inherently connected to it’s “whiteness”. There’s a meme among the alt-right types that Americans traditions of individual liberty are protected by it’s white majority and will cease to exist if America ceases to be majority-white. Trump is living proof that that is false. The alt-right just voted for the white version of Juan Peron, all the while clamoring that the Hispanics have to be kept out to avoid bringing their Latin American statist ways.

        In reality, many Hispanic immigrants are better embodiments of the idea of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, hard work, and entrepreneurship than the working-class whites that voted for Trump. You have a group of people that often busts their ass doing manual labor at long hours, compared to a bunch of fat-ass white union guys who think the government should protect them from foreign competition, mandate union membership as a condition of employment, and prevent their employers from firing them. Which one is really a better embodiment of America’s individualist ethos?

    • Jason Young

      I’ll be the nasty person who points out that the answer to the question, “or else what?” is contained in the post you’re replying to. Robin’s main argument is that if we aren’t careful when using the label ”racist” we won’t be able to deploy it effectively to identify, constrain, and punish more dangerous expressions of racism in the future. That’s literally what the post is about. Pretty funny.

      • Stephen Diamond

        I agree that’s what Robin’s post is about. Although I don’t embrace using ideological labels to punish expression. It’s illiberal.

      • Jim Balter

        There isn’t a more dangerous example of racism in the U.S. today than Trump and his upcoming administration. Do people like you and Hansen have any idea who Jeff Sessions is?

      • Theresa Klein

        I’m not someone who has been casual about calling people racist in the past. But I have absolutely no problem calling the alt-right racist. Because it is. We shouldn’t be afraid to call out racism when it genuinely exists, no matter how many stupid people in the past have cried racism over stupid things.

      • Stephen Diamond

        “Calling out racism” = Shaming racists for their beliefs (Am I wrong?)

        When the elites shamed ordinary people as racists, they helped produce Donald Trump. What does it take to show “antiracists” that they must rebut racist viewpoints, not “call them out.” It’s the “calling out” that deserves shaming.

      • Theresa Klein

        It’s usually the left that plays “you’re not allowed to use that word” type games. Playing tone police and denying people language as a means to deny them the ability to effectively debate. If racists are racist then not being allowed to call them racist makes it harder to talk about the problem.

      • Stephen Diamond

        Please read some of my comments in this thread to ascertain whether I’m against using the term racist.

        It would advance intelligent discussion if people paid attention to the manner of debate and not just the substance. It’s a question of whether the label “racist” is the beginning or end of the discussion.

      • Theresa Klein

        “Stop using the word racist” ends discussion rather effectively. How about we just say it’s okay to use the word racist and get on with it?

        Again, do you want a substantive discussion or a discussion about which words it’s okay to say?

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  • Jim Balter

    “Now I haven’t studied Trump or his supposed racism in much detail.”

    Obviously, dickwad.

    • Malcolm_Kirkpatrick

      In modern American English, “racist” means “Caucasian who disagrees with a socialist”.
      Three questions:
      1. What systematic genetically-determined differences between regional varieties may one posit without earning the description “racist”?
      2. Why suppose that nervous system function varies less between regional varieties of human than does, say, dentition, skeletal anatomy, digestive system function, or immune system function?
      3. Does anyone else find remarkable that the issue that most incites proudly anti-racist academics (IQ) is precisely the basis for their claim to exalted status (elevated tax-subsidized salaries for tenured indoor work with no heavy lifting)?
      “I’m really smart, so everyone should subsidize my lifestyle (and, everyone is as smart as me).”
      Cognitive dissonance much?

      • Jim Balter

        ^ idiot

      • Stephen Diamond

        In modern American English, “racist” means “Caucasian who disagrees with a socialist”

        Well, the American right has long been white tribalist. I recall fighting you guys when you were on the side of Jim Crow.

      • Malcolm_Kirkpatrick

        What do you mean by “right” and “you guys”? Consider this electoral map: …

        “I recall fighting you guys when you were on the side of Jim Crow.”
        Then you’re old enough to remember that
        Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to Federal employment.

      • Stephen Diamond

        I’m using your framework: rightists are, like Woodrow Wilson, antisocialists (with emphasis on the most strident antisocialists). If that doesn’t include you, please excuse my misinterpretation.

        (There have been racist socialists – but very rarely.)

      • Malcolm_Kirkpatrick

        The free marketer–socialist continuum is the only sensible interpretation of the right/left classification. Other issues (e.g., abortion, defense policy, rules of evidence in criminal trials, etc.) are perpendicular to and independent of this continuum. Some communist countries criminalized abortion and some mandated abortion, for example.

        Wilson was a progressive Democrat (i.e., a socialist). He brought Jim Crow to Federal employment. That’s easy to establish.

        Where do you get that Senator Goldwater was a racist? I doubt that you can find any support for that contention.

        I’m a devout materialist (fan of Charles Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Willard Van Orman Quine, and Daniel Dennett), and free marketeer (Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, P. T. Bauer, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams). I support freedom of association and freedom of contract. If you prefer to date South Asian women or black men, that is, quite literally, your business. Not mine. If a restaurant owner prefers to employ, or serve, only gay, vegetarian, left-handed Chinese Methodists, that is, quite literally, his (or her) business. Not mine.

        Between (a) “forbidden” and (e) “mandatory” there’s room for (b) “we don’t recommend it but we won’t stop you”, (c) “who cares?” and (d) “we recommend it but we won’t make you”. A society is free to the extent that the legal environment leaves room for b, c, and d.

      • Stephen Diamond

        Wilson opposed the automobile because he feared it would cause envy and thus promote socialism. Some socialist.

      • Malcolm_Kirkpatrick

        “I’d suggest that to look at the association between American rightism and racism, we would better look at the clear socialists and clear rightists.”
        Okay. First, substitute “Free market capitalism” for “rightism” since we agree that the left-right continuum most sensibly aligns with the degree to which resources move in response to political command versus market processes.
        Are you familiar with Plessy versus Ferguson? The streetcar company opposed State-mandated segregation. Southern blacks opposed the first Federal minimum wage legislation (according to Walter Williams, __The State Against Blacks__).
        Who supports admission quotas for State universities? If GPA and SAT scores determined admissions, East Asians, South Asians, and Jews would dominate the Berkeley and CCNY freshman classes (and that wouldn’t bother me at all).

  • sisterray

    Seriously, Paul Ryan was even saying Trump’s Curial comment was racist. WHAT SORT OF METAPHYSICAL PROOF DO YOU PEOPLE REQUIRE TO PROVE RACISM? I think this whole exercise in electing Trump has basically just proved that the anti-racist norm is actually much weaker than we thought… Basically, it seems a ton of people are basically like, “meh, blacks are ok, racists are ok, let’s vote for Trump, whatever.”