If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a bit baffled by the claims that one cannot be racist against white people, or that white people are the only people who can be racist. If I’m discussing any race related issues with members of the radical left, it seems that we cannot even agree on what racism is defined as. When two people have a disagreement, it isn’t helpful to either party if the definition of the words they want to use to argue their points don’t mean the same thing to all parties. It’s important that people are aware of the biases that seem to have become entangled in simple definitions if they want to understand and argue the issue.
So, what are these different definitions exactly and what separates them?
The Oxford English dictionary defines racism as “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”. I should think that most of you reading this read that definition and conclude that this definition accurately describes what racism means. Nowhere in this definition does it barr any specific group from experiencing or ‘dishing out’ racism, or present a history lesson, or describe ‘white privilege’. So, if not this definition, what definition does the so-called “social justice warrior”-left use for racism, then? Luke Visconti, of Diversity Inc, argues that the Oxford definition of racism is “too white” due to those running the Oxford University Press being primarily white. He goes on to describe how ‘white privilege’, the belief that white people are better off in life simply because of the colour of their skin, is a serious issue and that leaders need to understand why it is that this ‘privilege’ invalidates this Oxford English definition of racism.
Members of the radical left, when asked about their definition of racism, seem to consistently refer to buzzwords they regurgitate from their Buzzfeed articles and Tumblr blogs, like ‘systemic oppression’, ‘majority privilege’, ‘institutionalized racism’, and others. They refer to racism being about power, that you “cannot oppress the oppressor”, that since white people are in a place of power in society and that the western world is founded upon racism and slavery, that our society is required to rewrite our dictionaries. If that’s the way they wish to describe the western world, and what they believe, that is absolutely fine by me; they’re entitled to their opinion. When I see someone treated differently simply because their skin is white, that, to me, is racism. When presented with the same situation, the radical left would not conclude that any racism took place. So, who is correct? Well… therein lies the problem.
In each side’s specific world-view, and by what they mean by the word ‘racism’, we are both correct. My problem with the radical leftist definition of racism is that it contains a specific worldview and set of political beliefs baked in to the definition. It’s silly to say “no, that’s not racist” or “yes, that is racist” in response because the other person means something completely different by the word racist! Using different definitions for the same word doesn’t lead to reasonable discourse, but to people talking past each other. No matter what your view on the particular issue, I hope we can agree that communicating effectively is a good thing, and that having simple definitions is beneficial.
By Riley Moher