Thursday, July 30, 2009
Racism is the New Witchcraft
You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by this. [Later: the video has been removed, but you can get the facts here.]
I wonder if Prof. Gates finds this a teachable moment. He might learn that, just as angrily hurling racial epithets is hurtful, so angrily hurling accusations of racism is hurtful. Among the many consequences of his intemperate response to her 911 call about an apparent break-in his home, he has caused actual suffering on the part of Lucia Whelan, apparently a completely inoffensive person.
In our culture, the charge of racism is like the charge of witchcraft during the Middle Ages. It alleges an offense so terrible that, unlike battery, fraud, homicide and countless other offenses, it cannot possibly be justified. Almost every other offense comes with conditions (eg., self-defense) that can show it was the right thing to do. But not this one. Racism can no more be justified than being in league with Satan can be justified.
The offense itself is so evil that a mere accusation, even before evidence is brought forth, is damaging in itself, as you can see in this video.
Academics in the race industry have been preaching for years about "words that wound." Maybe they should listen to their own sermons.
I hope it goes without saying that I am not taking back my earlier claim that he should not have been arrested. That is a separate issue. Nor do I blame Gates one bit for immediately suspecting he was being profiled. It is in fact the first thing that came into my head when I saw the first news reports about his arrest. That too is a separate issue. This one is about the ethics of speech.