Over the course of a long debate earlier today, it became apparent to me that people operate under a false assumption where concepts such as racism, sexism and the like are concerned. Orwell’s 1984 tells us of “thoughtcrimes,” thoughts that are considered evil by the state. The very concept of a thoughtcrime is ludicrous. A thought is not an action. Every day a reasonable and good-natured human being will have a number of malicious thoughts they will never act on. Action can be good or evil, but thoughts are neither.
I view racism as fundamentally similar. Hitler wasn’t evil because he didn’t like Jewish people, that was merely a foolish thought. He was evil because he committed genocide against them. Murder, theft, assault and abuse are evils, but thinking is not. If the malevolent dictator had kept his twisted thoughts to himself in the manner of a reasonable individual, no damage would have resulted from them. A thought can be unwise and twisted. A thought can focus on an evil activity. But a thought is not itself inherently evil without an accompanying action.
Thus we need to divorce the concept of racism the thought and racism the activity. If someone accuses you of being a racist, your response should not be to defend yourself, as if you were being accused of a crime. Do not list out your properly diverse friends as if at a ComIntern political event, naming the right names. Your response should be to challenge the validity of the question in the first place. You should say “what have I done that is racist?” Frequently the only offense that can be cited is some vague reference that someone thought sounded improper.
Furthermore, for racism to be an actionable item, there must be harm that was done. Somebody looking at you funny is not harm. Even someone hurling a racial slur is not inherently harmful. Yes the person hurling the slur is probably a racist prick, but the racist activity was limited to something you can easily tune out. Don’t listen to the racist, if the racist is a friend on Facebook, then delete that individual from your life. When the racist wanders life wondering why everyone treats him like an asshole, perhaps that person will change their tune.
Now, if an actual crime occurs, then you punish the crime. Racism in the Jim Crow South wasn’t just about segregation, it was about whites getting away with crimes against blacks. That is obviously unconscionable. However, if a crime occurred because of racial motivation, or if a crime occurred simply because the criminal was a depraved individual, what does it matter? You punish the criminal either way. As Larry Elder said in his book, Ten Things You Can’t Say In America, if a KKK member bashes someone over the head with a brick, the operative is being bashed in the head with a brick, not the KKK part. The racism in the South was evil because it was active permission for whites to do things to blacks that would not be permitted were the situation reversed.
Now, substitute with any “ism.” The same concept applies to sexism. If someone is of the opinion that men are better than women, what crime is that? One might say the individual is stuck in the Victorian Age, one might tune him out and seek more interesting conversation elsewhere, but as much you might not like it, he has done nothing to harm you. You would have to give your consent in order to be offended and hurt.
The difference is between the subjective and the objective. Having your arm broken by an assailant is objective harm. You have a broken arm due to the actions of the criminal. Having your arm broken by a defective piece of industrial machinery is objective harm due to the negligence of the manufacturer. Having your feelings hurt, however, is not objective harm, it is subjective. It depends only on your perspective. Another individual might have ignored the verbal barb, or simply not listened to it in the first place. People giving you dirty looks is not an actionable item, either. Nevermind that these things can sometimes be the result of simple misunderstandings. I’ve heard white people calling each other by the n-word, repeating some inane crap fed to them by the music industry. A lot of racial slurs are used in this “musical sense” by people of questionable intelligence. But we can at least say they did not intend to harm you when they used the word.
My point with all this is that racism and sexism are false flags, subjects any reasonable person can get upset about but are frequently trumped up to push an agenda. Politicians, race-baiters and professional victims will milk these for all they are worth, trying to come up with the next divisive issue to sell to you. But you have to remember, in order for racism to be actionable, it must accompany direct objective harm. Do not try to sell me on some nebulous male conspiracy to hold back women, or some secret cabal of neo-plantation aristocrats secretly trying to keep the black man down. If you want to insist these things exist, you better have evidence to back up your assertion. Show me the meeting times for the plantation owners or show me today’s sexist male pig agenda. Demonstrate that racism or sexism truly harmed you in an objective manner.
Racism the thought is not a crime. Sexism the slur is not a crime. Hurting somebody in a measurable, direct fashion is a crime, and it doesn’t matter what the sex or race of either the attacker or victim were, it’s still a crime and it should be punished regardless. Anything else would be, you guessed it, racism.