The musings and meandering thoughts of a crotchety old man as he observes life in the world and in a small, rural town in South East Nebraska. My Pledge-Nulla dies sine linea-Not a day with out a line.
Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Racism Isn't That Complicated
Mr Holdsworth discusses racism and the idea of systemic racism.
I think it’s safe to say that every person of good will finds racism and its various expressions repellent and reprehensible.
No good person wants to see innocent people discriminated against, victimized, abused, or worst of all murdered by those who insist on acting on an incoherent creed of supremacy and hatred. And when I say that, I truly believe that I’m describing most people. Most people care about their fellow man enough to detest racism.
So if that’s true, I think it’s a safe bet that we’d all like to find meaningful solutions to resolving that insidious influence in our communities and in our countries which means that fundamentally, the majority of people are on the same side.
When it comes right down to it, we want the same thing. We want equal opportunities for everyone, we want irrational hatred dispelled, and we want people to live in peace regardless of their racial background. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., a person should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
But in order to truly find meaningful, constructive solutions, we have to understand the problem. We have to properly and accurately diagnose it. Just like any illness, if you want to find the right medicine, you have to accurately diagnose what is wrong and if we don’t, we’ll just cause more damage and unfortunately, I think we’re seeing a lot of that happening as this issue gets swept up in an appetite of escalation.
We so easily get caught up in trading in a currency of injustice by refusing to respond in measure and equal proportion. Some people like to say, an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. Actually, it doesn’t. It leaves everyone with one good eye. That’s the whole point of that biblical teaching. It’s to ensure restraint. It means that if someone steals your car, you don’t find justice by firebombing their house.
Long before we ever get to the more difficult teachings in the Bible like, love your enemies and turn the other cheek, or the teachings of mercy, at the very least, we have to learn to learn what justice is by responding proportionately. If someone steals $40 from you, justice demands $40 is returned. Not a thousand dollars - an eye for an eye.
But the discourse in the media or online is about escalation and revenge. Nobody seems to be having rational conversations. This is not how reasonable people respond to real problems in the interest of finding meaningful solutions.
For those of us that do want to take the difficult high road in seeking those solutions, the best place to start is by defining the terms we’re working with. Language is the means by which we understand each other and we can’t have peace and harmony unless we understand each other.
But what we see happening far too much in debates that have a political ingredient is the manipulation of language to prevent sides from coming together and I see a lot of that taking place in the debate around racism and racial justice.
And that’s something we need to be especially attentive too because accurate understanding of words creates wisdom and knowledge and knowledge is powerful and liberating to those who have it. So what does it tell you when people in powerful positions, whether in the media or in political activism, deliberately work to confuse our language? It shows that they want to confiscate that power. The less power the majority of us have, the more easily we are manipulated for someone else’s ends.
And as much as I’d like to explain that further, that’s not what this video’s about so I’ll just leave you with an encouragement to read an essay by Josef Pieper called “Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.” It will help immunize you against that kind of manipulation.
So, let’s start with the definition of racism. Because that’s a serious word and a serious thing to accuse someone of. But we see people in politics and in the media brandishing it casually and recklessly which again, leads to confusion about what it means.
Here in Canada, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau made a statement about the issue recently by saying that anti-black racism is happening in Canada everywhere… every day. Which leaves me with the impression that if it were that pervasive, you couldn’t lave the house without witnessing it.
Well, to know if that’s true, again we have to come back to a consistent understanding of what the word racism means. Racism is the tendency to act antagonistically towards people of other races because of the belief that your race is superior. The ingredient of racial superiority is essential to the definition.
Read the rest at https://brianholdsworth.ca/digressions